Slow Muse is about the raw material that influences a visual artist. The intake comes in from every imaginable corner—the earth, the body, space, books, poetry, ideas, technology, music, cuisine, architecture, wisdom traditions. What ties all of these observations together is my passion for art that makes you stop and pay attention.

What we need more of is slow art: art that holds time as a vase holds water: art that grows out of modes of perception and making whose skill and doggedness make you think and feel; art that isn’t merely sensational, that doesn’t get its message across in ten seconds, that isn’t falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep-running in our natures. In a word, art that is the very opposite of mass media. — Robert Hughes

My painting website:
Deborah Barlow



Other Slow blogs:
Slow Painting – Art news that is noteworthy from a variety of online sites
Slow Painters – What started out as my personal art collection has now expanded to include artists whose work I admire

  • Share on Tumblr
  1. Paula Estey’s avatar


    How can I sign up for this blog?



  2. Sharon Denning’s avatar

    Wow – can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this – thank you! Sharon


  3. pradeep v. nerurkar’s avatar

    Hi,Dear,deborah barlow

    I saw your works on slow muse, its very beautifull, The idia of slow muse is great, its great to read.



  4. pradeep v. nerurkar’s avatar

    Hi . Dear,deborah.

    I saw slow muse i like this very much . how to sign this blog?



  5. Nicole Long’s avatar


    I am compelled by the juxtaposition of the Hubble images with the surfaces of you made. The way you describe the process, it seems to have a mystical dimension, but you do not draw that out. Perhaps it would be overbearing to do so. Perhaps it would “ruin it with words.”

    There are two thoughts I have regarding your posting on poetry today. As an instructor at a Historically Black College, I struggle with trying to communicate across a chasm created by generation and by race. My students come from a variety of backgrounds and there is never the luxury of getting to know students as thoroughly as I’d like. I do my best. I sit us in circles. I ask questions. I get personal.

    Students don’t want to read literature. There is much more adrenaline in the other forms of input for them. In reading, one has to be with oneself. Last Friday, I asked my students if anyone ever purposely sat in silence. No. I asked what it would be like if I collected their cell phones for the weekend just to give them a chance to spend more time with themselves. For the first time all semester, they became animated. I heard “no way”, and “I’d die” and “Naw, uhuh. No way.”

    If we are a world in a feedback loop of our destructive making, then what matters is surviving. For many people, this means staying revved up in whatever way possible. Literature invites us into some kind of contemplatioin. It is not about getting high, but, in a sense, it is about getting low. Particularly if one spends time with the words. If we pause and savor every beautiful phrasing like the sublte flavors of an artisan stew.

    There are many poems that arise out of connections with nature. It seems to me that when our culture nurtures a connection to nature, it is superficial–a purely aesthetic connection to the way nature looks. An experience for the eye. A flower on a bottle of shampoo. A happy pig on an advertisement for ham. Or, more subtley, a orchid rich vista as a backdrop to an “escape.”

    Even our farmers are different. Most of the people who we have regarded as being connected to the land are in fact “agribusiness” people. They are not in sacred relationship, but in touch with the methods to force from the planet the hugest yield regardless of the toll it takes. And, we all want them to do this. We like things cheap.

    But, back to a fruit born of my challeges in accompanying students as they encounter literature.

    In an effort to help my students connect with the character Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s play, “Death of a Salesman,” I emphasized the way Willy, when he was upset, would gripe about the inability to grow a carrot in the back yard, or how the apartment buildings were taking up the experience of the sky. In my search for articles on the spiritual dimension of the human/nature connection to give to the students, I encountered the Spanish term “susto.” This word means having a heart-sickness from being disconnected from nature.

    Throughout the semester, I ask my students questions like, have you ever been on a ship in the middle of the ocean and felt what it feels like to see no land?

    Blank stares.

    Anybody ever grow your own garden, or grow up with a family member who did?

    One hand.

    Anybody ever accompanied a person as they journeyed toward dying?

    Two tentative hands creep up.

    These people in my classrooms are young. But there is, in addition to inexperience, something sorely wrong. There is one young man in my class who is from Africa. He has a different relationship with these things, having grown up in a small village. He has slaughtered his own animals for food. He knows some significant dimensions of his relationship to living and nature.

    I think that part of the decline in the reading of poetry has to do with a decline in the capacity of humans to have a heart connection with creation.
    I believe there is a powerful connection between this loss and the loss of our connection with elders in society. We must have this capacity nurtured within us. In our obsession with youth and youngness, we forget to emphasize the wisdom of age, and of the ages. In old age, there can be a kind of acceptance that so many are starving for. There is a perspective in maturity that sees the broader context where competition is the bratty cousin of insight, compassion and patience.

    Most of us seek to dominate life.
    Poetry presumes a desire to be intimate with life.
    Poetry assumes the capacity for wonder, the willingness to be thwarted by awe.



    1. tomsturch’s avatar

      Nicole, please contact me. You can find me on facebook at Tom Sturch. Thanks!


  6. David Smith’s avatar

    Hi Deborah,
    After more than a year, a visit to your site never fails to inspire and impress me. I am proud to continue to refer slowmuse to others as a reliable source of insightful inspiration. You continue to reveal new artists and poets to me… the best online read I know of.

    In our little town in Northern California, we have our own poet laureate. and monthly readings by locals and regional guests. I’m sit on the board of the committee that brings poetry to the local schools and hosts the ukiahaiku festival, now in its 7th year. In addition to the adult categories we have several for various ages of students from 1st – 12th grades (~1600 submissions this year). Typically, the best poems come from the 4-6th graders. It seems they are old enough to comprehend the form and the concept of a haiku and patient enough to think and write. The high school submissions are more often a direct experience of their teen life activity, and seem to be dashed off the night before without including the quiet moments of personal intimacy Nicole describes above.

    I confess that were I not involved, I would hear less poetry and write less. The experience of hearing a good poem by a good reader puts me in that kind of quiet space that lingers when I come home, and sometimes I write to sustain the feeling.

    In spite of all the other things in the world, poetry still lives.



  7. Gordon Waters’s avatar

    Hi Deborah-
    I don’t know how you do it-all this material on the blog, so diverse and interesting covering so many different ways of perceiving life. I must make a point of tuning in more often. I will read the Wallace Stevens with application as I have explored his work before and found it hard to penetrate.I suspect like all worthwhile things it takes patience and perseverance. I have a good friend who loves his work-I will let him know about the new book.
    A show is coming soon for me and so I will send you the invite and perhaps some images to post?
    Keep leading us to new places.
    Love from us in a far away place.
    Gordon and Anna


  8. Gordon Waters’s avatar

    You have done it again!
    If you view my updated website you will see a rather humble profile statement that adresses some of the very same concerns regarding non-objective art. You have handled them with aplomb and intellectual dexterity-my effort is less in depth, but the subject fascinates me and in here in Australia the dialogue, I feel, is a bit one sided. That is the indigenous contribution so outweighs the non-indigenous one that I get frustrated. We painters commited to “abstract” picture making take risks that perhaps(and the representational painters might take offense to this)separate us by the nature of the risks we take. “Just try”, I ask the landscape painters in my head when I see their paintings, “to walk into the studio without your subject matter staring you in the face.”
    The indigenous artists need not do this of course because it isn’t staring them right in the face, it’s inside of them, the same way our imagery dwells within us. Have a look at some of the paintings recently on display at Utopia Fine art in Sydney this month. It never ceases to amaze me how “contemporary” the work looks.
    Our language is universal-modernist or not.
    I love your site. Have a look at mine and tell me what you think about the new work.


  9. Terresa Wellborn’s avatar

    This is gorgeous. This is what the rest of the world is missing: slowing down, leisure time, space to contemplate a blade of grass, children’s freckles, a loaf of warm bread. Your thoughts are lovely.


  10. Kim’s avatar

    Deborah, I have been talking about slow art, slowing the muse, slow creativity, etc. for a while now. I am so glad to see you have a dedicated blog to this subject. I will be hanging out with you and hopefully the other very thoughtful commenters here for some time to come! This is beautiful! Thank you.


  11. Jerelyn C. Gilstrap’s avatar



  12. g from t in i’s avatar

    Just to express my sincerest appreciation- this is not a slow comment unfortunately- yet, to any blog that discuss “all lust is grief” – I can only applaud. This is interesting stuff.

    g in tel-aviv


  13. David Smith’s avatar

    I see that almost another year has gone by… Just to let you know I still find your postings to this site to be the best I’ve found on the net.

    Your continued fan from out West,


  14. Jon’s avatar

    It would be great if you opened a Cc:Everybody account (cceverybody.com) and give us (your readers) a way of emailing you publicly. This way the work you put into answering those emails won’t go to waste in the inbox, and we can all read about your views and opinions about the topic we send you – what do you say?


  15. afallingleaf’s avatar

    Glad to have “found” you … as well as other blogs/artists … and potential inspiration!

    Warmest regards ~ Shawn Catherine Fisher


  16. Jim Coleman’s avatar

    Hi, Deborah. Tempted to say ‘I don’t know how to thank you for the years of Slow Muse.’ Infrequent looks but always a great pleasure and I do know that a graceful, big, enormously detailed encomium would be the most righteous way to thank you.

    However, all you get now is this small note. Ah, well.

    Maybe this is of some value—have you seen the Delux paint company’s international project “Let’s Paint”? Even in this 2-min video (which begins and ends in India) we have an impressive something: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV4IoCgi2QA&feature=related It was mentioned in the Financial Times this morning; I checked it out and thought of you. Love, Jim


  17. wordbone’s avatar

    Love the kindling you provided for my dwindling creative hearth of paint and words. Big concepts can cause indigestion, but your simple palette extracts and offers just enough, delicious. A note to myself to visit again! wordbone at wordbone.wordpress.com


  18. broadsideblog’s avatar

    What a great site!

    Can’t wait to start digging into all these links. I’m a professional writer and photographer, always hungry for inspiration and people who care as passionately about this stuff as I do.


  19. cozomiya’s avatar

    And so another smile was born.



  20. whimsiexoxo’s avatar

    HI! I am kinda new to Word Press, and have some questions about how it works…They are on my blog. Since your blog looks really good, I was wondering if you could help me? If you have time, my questions are on my blog. Thank you so much!


  21. Ian’s avatar

    like all the posts/info, best


  22. Merilyn Jackson’s avatar

    Good post on Fluxus, the movement that just keeps on Keeping it Fresh.


  23. Chris Twomey’s avatar

    Hi Deborah,

    Please subscribe me to Slow Muse…!

    Thank you, Chris


  24. Maria Clara Paulino’s avatar

    Hello Deborah,

    How can I subscribe to this blog?
    Thank you,



  25. Heather’s avatar

    Always interesting, always wise, and you manage to keep in touch with new developments in so many areas. Most impressive – and inspiring. Thank you.



  26. Hazlo’s avatar

    Slow Art? What else?!


  27. David’s avatar

    Designs of Bhutan. Volume 1. Graphic catalogue.
    Republished in digital format: January 2012. Originally published in paperback, 1985.
    White Lotus, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Textile Designs of Bhutan. Volume 2. Graphic catalogue. Published November. 2011.

    Bhutan: Textile Designs. Volume 3. Parts 1 & 2. Graphic catalogue. Published January 2012

    Earth, Wood and Stone. The Bhutanese House. January 2013. http://issuu.com/dkbbkk/docs/bhutan_house


  28. Mariarosa Benso’s avatar

    Hello Debora, is it possible to subscribe to this blog?
    Thank you so much.
    Maria Rosa


Leave a Reply