Alpacas and Llamas and Pacha Mama

Alpacas and Llamas Moyo's Journey

A Spittoon of Alpacas: Friends of Moyo
Alpacas and Llamas Moyo's Journey

Today is Alpaca Day.
On the Blue page of “Moyo’s Journey” we see a pair of inquisitive llamas – close relatives of the alpaca, but with a few differences.
Here are some fun facts about these Friends of Moyo:

Alpacas have short spear-shaped ears and blunter shaped faces while the lengthier faced llama has longer, banana shaped ears. Llamas also have less hair on their heads and faces than alpacas.
Alpacas are shorter at around 35″ high, weighing less than half of their taller cousins, who can tip the scales at as much as 400lb and stand at around 43”.
For more than 5,000 years alpacas have been bred for their coats (and in Peru for meat as well), while llamas have traditionally been bred as pack animals and for their meat.
Alpacas produce a finer and greater quantity of fleece than llamas, in a wider variety of colors. The alpaca also produces more fleece than its larger cousin and in a much greater variety of colors. Llamas also generally do not have as much hair on their head and face as alpacas do.
While Alpacas are herd animals – I like to call the collective noun a spittoon – llamas are more independent creatures and are often used as guard animals for alpacas, sheep, and other small livestock.
Oh and they all love sunbathing!

A bit of history…
I found this story from Andean mythology and thought I would share it here:
According to both the Aimara and Quechua-speaking peoples of South America, the ancient world was comprised two superimposed worlds, the upper and the lower.
The lower world was populated by enormous herds of plump, sleek alpacas belonging to the Apu, or mountain god, and were tended to by his daughter. The alpacas of the upper world, by contrast, were far fewer in number and were inferior in quality, with only a short fleece
Because the Apu’s daughter had difficulty in protecting her alpacas from the region’s numerous predators, her father arranged for her to marry a young herdsman from the upper world who could help her tend these herds. The Apu’s daughter and her husband lived contentedly in the lower world for a while until the young herdsman began to grow homesick. He told his wife that he wished to return to his own world, and to enrich it with the lower world’s herds of alpaca.
The mountain god’s daughter agreed and, collecting her alpacas, began traveling via the springs and lakes to live with her husband in the upper world. Her father’s only condition to his daughter’s marriage was that her husband was always to take good care of the herds and especially of a tiny alpaca that always had to be carried. Sadly, the daughter’s husband proved to be lazy and one day dropped the tiny alpaca on the ground, leaving it to fend for itself.
When his wife saw this she took fright and immediately ran to the nearest spring and began swimming towards the lower world. The alpacas followed her, although a few were prevented from doing so by the herdsman.
Ever since, the alpacas of the upper world have remained near springs and lakes. There, they continue to yearn after their mistress who, as yet, has never returned.
The myth of the origin of alpacas contains a basic lesson that is still understood by Andean herders today – in the beginning life was difficult, by the grace of the mountain gods, alpaca herds increased, the world became fertile and life for a time became leisurely. Mankind then disobeyed the gods’ wishes, causing the herds to decline so that now they must be tended to continually.”

Sources: https://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/difference-between-llama-and-alpaca/

World Whale Shark Day

Friends of Moyo: Oceans
Miranda Roberts Art Whale Shark Landscape

In “Moyo’s Journey”, on the Indigo page, she explores the deep oceans along with many creatures we know. Not included in the original illustration from the book is the world’s largest fish and one of the biggest creatures on earth – the gentle whale shark. I guess I’m holding out for a standalone “Oceans Journey” follow-up with Moyo, sometime in the future.

The only predator these magnificent animals have is us humans. Yup. Again. They are considered to be some of the most vulnerable marine animals and some of the most endangered sharks. I always believe that to love something you need to know more about it, so here on World Whale Shark Day are some facts I’ve gleaned from around the web, in order for us to learn a little more about them together. (Credits below.)

Scientific Name: Rhincodon typus
Average Length: 18 – 40 foot and the females are larger than the males
Average Weight: 20.6 tons. That is equal to the combined weight of three average African elephants (not that there is ANYTHING average about an African Elephant!)
Average Width of Mouth: 5 foot and this consists of 300 rows of tiny teeth, each only 6mm long! With this huge mouth they can suck up to 600 cubic meters of water every hour. As they feed mostly from scooped up plankton, they have no need for larger teeth.
Swimming Speed is around 3 mph and they can dive up to around 3000 feet. Sadly, they prefer to live at around 150 feet which makes them susceptible to unsustainable fishing practices and damage from larger vessels.
Communication: Whale Sharks do not use sound for communication but instead respond to the vibrations created by sound.
Their migration habits are still a source of relatively new study and therefore not fully understood. We do know however that they gather in large groups in specific places and at specific times. Regular followers of “Moyo’s Journey” on social media will know that I am a HUGE fan of collective nouns – official and otherwise. I came across and interesting article on this with specific regard to whale sharks: A constellation of whale sharks.
And that leads smoothly to their skin – hard and scaly, it can be up to 4” thick. Interestingly, like many animals, their pattern is utterly unique to each animal and an obvious reason for the choice of informal collective noun.

As with so many of Friends of Moyo, we need to honor these gentle beasts more.

Mermaids – raise your glasses for Whale Shark Day.

 Society 6 Logo
Click on the logo above for Whale Shark inspired merch at my new Society6 store

(Source: https://oceanscubadive.com/facts-about-whale-sharks)

International Bat Night

Friends of Moyo
The bat hanging upside down laughs at the topsy turvey world. (Proverb)
Miranda Roberts Art International Bat NIght Friends of Moyo
Tonight is International Bat Night so let’s show them some love… and really why not?
Apart from super cool facts like they live for about forty years,
and are the only mammals naturally capable of sustained flight (yes you read that last bit correctly), there is one MAJOR reason to love and appreciate bats:
in an hour, a single bat can eat over 1000 mosquitoes – that’s the equivalent of you or me eating 25 pizzas in one night.
Bats – I salute you!
I appreciate you.
I am batty about you! (Ok so maybe that’s going a bit too far… but seriously… let’s get a colony).
.
Oh and alongside bees and butterflies, they are huge pollinators… Some seeds will not sprout unless they have passed through the digestive tracts of a bat. Additionally, bats spread millions of seeds every year from the ripe fruit they eat. Approximately 95% of the reforestation of the tropical rainforest is a result of seed dispersal from bats.
(Source: https://www.factretriever.com/bat-facts)

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists 24 bat species as Critically Endangered, meaning they face an imminent risk of extinction. Fifty-three others are Endangered, and 104 bat species are considered Vulnerable. Bats also are among the most under-studied of mammals. The IUCN lists 226 bat species as “Data Deficient”– there is simply too little information available to determine their conservation status. Of the 1,296 bat species that have been assessed by the IUCN almost a third are considered either threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) or data deficient, indicating the need for more conservation attention to these species. The IUCN continually updates information on species assessments and numbers may vary slightly as new assessments are completed.
(Source: http://www.batcon.org/why-bats/bats-are/bats-are-threatened)

“International Bat Night was established to help promote the good image of bats, and to help start creating some clarity on the facts about them above and beyond the rumors and Hollywood image. While we often think of bats as nocturnal predators feasting on the blood of the innocent and harboring rabies, the truth is quite different. Yes, there are bats that feed on blood, but they mostly feed on insects and believe us, you want bats to be out there patrolling the night and helping eliminate them.”
(Source: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-bat-night)

WORLD RHINO DAY. Honoring them while we still can…

We are the sole cause of the dwindling numbers of rhino’s around the world. That’s right. Humans. This information is well documented but I wanted to use this day to share that fact again. Rhino’s have NO natural predators. The decline in their population is as a result of poaching and shrinking natural habitat. That’s it. It’s a rather dreadful fact.

A Few More Rather Serious Rhino Facts:
“Two species of rhino in Asia—Javan and Sumatran—are critically endangered. A subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011. A small population of the Javan rhino still clings for survival on the Indonesian island of Java. Successful conservation efforts have helped the third Asian species, the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino, to increase in number. Their status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, but the species is still poached for its horn.
In Africa, southern white rhinos, once thought to be extinct, now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as near threatened. But the western black rhino and northern white rhinos have recently gone extinct in the wild. The only three remaining northern white rhino are kept under 24-hour guard in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of fewer than 2,500 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century.”
Source: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/rhino

On A Lighter Note:
The collective noun for rhinos: A crash of rhinos
Closest relatives: Tapirs, zebras and horses
Swahili word for rhino: kifaru

Click here for a free downloadable rhino coloring page from me to you. There are lots more on my “Gifts” page on this website.

Rhino’s appear twice in “Moyo’s Journey” on the African Savanna page and in the Indian jungle page.

Musings from Moyo: The Disappearing Art of Letter Writing

Cards from silk painting originals by Miranda Roberts Cards from silk painting originals by Miranda Roberts
“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

Phyllis Theroux

If you’ve been following by latest adventures since publishing my first book “Moyo’s Journey”, you will know that I am currently living aboard a 48 foot catamaran sailboat in Chesapeake Bay, with my humans. Maintenance is an ongoing requirement of boat life and so “Sarabi” is currently out of the water being painted. As a result, my humans decided to take a land expedition to New York City. Someone had to oversee things at the boat yard so I stayed alone “at the helm”. I think possibly I should be promoted to Rear Admiral after this responsibility (little steps Moyo, little steps).

With them away, things were a little quiet on board and while I followed their Instagram and Facebook posts to stay in touch, it got me thinking about the lost art of letter writing – and that includes sending postcards, greetings cards of all sorts and thank you cards. Not those (irritating) electronic versions with the cheesy music but rather, ones involving real paper stock, envelopes, stamps – the works. Words on paper that last until the ink fades, tucked tenderly inside keep sake boxes to be revisited often. Tangible evidence of connection and affection. Letters on cards do not have to be lengthy – the joy comes in the unexpected arrival of mail aside from bills, business and advertising; the knowledge that someone cares enough to choose a card just for you, then write a message, address and mail it. A postcard from New York or simply just an “I Love You” to a friend.

A pet peeve on our boat is the unacknowledged: the unrecognized gift; the unappreciated dinner party; the unvalued time. Healthy relationships work two ways so silence following table laden feasts; birthdays that warrant no more than a Facebook one liner; and the roaring hush of distant friendships are a puzzle. We are a technology centered boat in a technology driven world but that disappearing tradition of the real written communication is something the three of us still try to embrace.

The advent of online stores like Redbubble, Zazzle and Etsy make miniature artworks available to everyone. Make sure you have a good supply of unique cards for the Holidays and lets hold on to this fast disappearing tradition!

“The act of writing itself is like an act of love. There is contact. There is exchange too. We no longer know whether the words come out of the ink onto the page, or whether they emerge from the page itself where they were sleeping, the ink merely giving them color.”
Georges Rodenbach: The Bells of Bruges

Cards from my silk paintings are available at www.redbubble.com/people/MirandaRoberts

An Inspirational Story Time with Moyo


Thank you to Chrissy Brackett from Woodinville, WA for this inspirational story time with Moyo.. Copies available here, from MirandaRobertsArt, Etsy and Amazon.com. Where will YOU take Moyo?

“Once a month I run a Children’s StoryTime at the bookstore where I work. At the last event, I chose to share “Moyo’s Journey”. It was amazing to see children as young as 3 entranced by the vibrant artwork, the 8 & up kids enjoying the different places that Moyo travels to and the adults listening closely to the message being delivered through the words. The kids then did a hands-on project of painting with watercolors a place that they thought Moyo should visit – most were imaginary places of wonder – and they placed their own “Moyo” polar bear in their special place. It was a wonderful story time that everyone enjoyed for a variety of reasons.
Afterwards, my two helpers (a 9 and 11 year old), who have attended StoryTime for several years, were looking through the back pages and reading through the facts (with their mom). I surprised them by gifting this very special book to them. They were so excited to take the book home and share it with their dad, who is from New Zealand! A family treasure is what I’ve been told by their mom.
Thank you, Miranda Roberts, for writing and illustrating a children’s book that entertains all ages! I highly recommend “Moyo’s Journey” for families, librarians and teachers!!!”

 

Moyo’s Memoir: Summer


A polar bear traveling the world.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but its on my list.” (Susan Sontag)

If you’ve read my first book – “Moyo’s Journey” – written and illustrated on silk by Miranda Roberts, you’ll know that I believe in the importance of travel. We learn so much through exploration – about earth and her creatures; about global cultures and creativity, and about the ancient guides that we can’t see but who can teach and influence us.

My humans and I recently embarked on another life adventure and the three of us are currently headed to the Chesapeake in a 48’ catamaran, for a summer of exploration there. Dotting our daily routine of horizon gazing, sail trimming and other various boat duties, we eagerly anticipate sightings of dolphins, seabirds, jellyfish. Miranda has captured some of these ocean dwellers in her silk paintings, on the My Stores page on this website.

As a precursor to this sailing trip, in “Moyo’s Journey”, I explored the indigo waters of the ocean towards the end of my travels in the rainbow’s path. Amongst the tiny neon fish and other brightly hued inhabitants of the reefs, I encountered a turtle. In observing him, I realized that we shared the ability to adapt to our surroundings, and that both of us were equally at home on land and sea.

This got me thinking of how important versatility is in our lives, for our mental, spiritual and emotional growth. I look at my little boat family and realize that they are doing a similar thing. They have cast off the lines from a land-bound life in the High Sierra, and are planning on years and years of coastal and ocean adventure. With no set agenda apart from visiting new (to them) places – and discovering all that these destinations have to offer, they have shed their old lives and are bravely adventuring on their own rainbow journey. I am so glad they took me along with them – although traveling squashed inside a sports bag is one life experience I hope never to repeat! (Versatility Moyo, versatility!).

Follow my polar bear adventures of all kinds, on right here!

Anthony Bourdain summed it up: “It seems the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it. How many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn.”

Silk Painting 101 with Miranda Roberts : Getting Started

SIlk Painting materials
You asked – so here it is – the first in a series of blog posts on “How to”… I guess you could call the collection “Silk Painting 101”, which seems a lot more polite than “Silk Painting for Dummies”!
There are various silk painting techniques. I like to describe them as Controlled Gutta Styling, Loose Gutta Accenting and Free Flow. As I am (admittedly) a bit of a control freak, I prefer the Controlled Gutta Style which some say is reminiscent of stained glass. This method best suits the bold outlines of my drawing style and is the technique I will be discussing in the next few blogs.

Materials:
I purchase most of my materials online from Dharma Trading*.
1: Habotei 8 White Silk
I prefer this weight as it works well with a range of different matting and mounting choices.
2: Adjustable stretcher frame
I have had mine for years and it is known as batik style – I haven’t found an identical style here in the US however. The most important thing is that it needs to be adjustable so that you have flexibility in your choice of painting sizes. A cheap alternative to try initially is a circular embroidery frame. As long as the silk can be stretched taut for painting, this will work.
3: Pins
Three prong silk thumb tacks to hold the silk in place. I require these for my particular frame – make sure you purchase the ones that work with best with the frame you choose.
4: Gutta
This is a latex based outliner/resist and is available in many colors. I prefer black, and occasionally use clear which will result in white outlines or accents. On the red illustration page in “Moyo’s Journey” I used this to create the aboriginal dot style effect.
5: Gutta applicator nozzle
These come in two sizes – #4 and #6. I prefer #6 as it allows the gutta to flow a little more freely.
6: Gutta applicator bottle
The gutta comes in larger bottles and needs to be decanted into these smaller applicator bottles. A messy business if you aren’t patient!
7: Marabu Silk Paints
There are many different brands of silk paint available but I prefer this range as it does not need to be steam set – just ironed. I also prefer to purchase from the wide selection of colors available instead of mixing. A little goes an incredibly long way. I have white in my palette but I have never used it – probably something I should experiment with down the line, to mix some pastels. The paint is extremely liquid – like ink – and is water soluble. This is good for creating tonal variation in your art AND for cleaning up afterwards.
8′ Paintbrushes in 3 sizes – your preference. I like the nylon bristle size 7 as my go-to brush for finer work.

Decisions, decisions!
You will also need to decide whether you are going to have your silk painting professional dry mounted and matted (expensive), whether you are going to stretch it over a blank canvas (pretty simple), or whether you are going to glue it with ModgePodge directly to the canvas (not without its own issues!). This choice will probably determine the size of your original painting.

So – get online and get shopping. I DO prefer to shop locally but where I live, its difficult to find the materials. I like to I support Dharma Trading, who are doing a lot of good in the global community, have been in business for 49 years and work hard to have a green environmental scorecard. Check them out

*Disclaimer – I did not receive payment from Dharma for this post, I am just a long standing customer who is happy with the products and service they provide.

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