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.”

Celebrating earth’s gentle giants on WORLD GIRAFFE DAY

Giraffe painted on silk by MirandaRobertsArt
“Josephine” painted on silk by MirandaRobertsArt

Well in case you missed it on my social media all week, today is WORLD GIRAFFE DAY, which pleases “Josephine” no end!

Tragically, giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent in the last 30 years and are now thought to number fewer than 98,000 in the wild. Thus they have recently been listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation in Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Alarmingly, some subspecies may be even more at risk of extinction than is currently recognised.*
So really, EVERY day should be WORLD GIRAFFE DAY! Today’s date was chosen by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation however, to celebrate the longest-necked animal on earth on either the longest day or night of the year, depending on which hemisphere you live!

In my picture-book-for-all-ages, “Moyo’s Journey”, we join Moyo on a short trip into the African Savanna. There she learns the importance of individuality from the zebra. She could also have learned this from the giraffe as each and every hide is unique, like a thumbprint. Moyo is the Swahili word for Heart. The Swahili word for giraffe is “Twiga”.

Moyo learns from the giraffe on her African Safari
Moyo in Africa on her rainbow Journey

Giraffe Facts you may not know:
While it seems hard to believe, giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in their necks  (7) as humans.

Giraffes have excellent eyesight enabling them to see danger from a distance. It is thought that this is the reason that other animals congregate nearby, for an early warning of approaching predators. It also helps them find their herd easily, despite the excellent camouflage provided by their hides.

While their eyesight may be excellent, they do have the highest blood pressure of any land mammal and need a very big heart to pump the blood all the way up to their head. The average giraffe heart weighs about 22lbs and can be up to 2 foot long. Because they have to bend so low to drink, giraffes have a complex pressure regulation system in their upper necks to prevent excess blood flow to the brain.

Giraffes and NASA? Blood flows differently in space and so the circulatory system of the legs doesn’t have to work as hard as it does on earth, in order to pump the blood back up. As a result, the leg veins of astronauts get thin, and weak, which can create medical complications when returning to Earth. Observing the rapidly inflating leg veins of giraffes, scientists created an airtight tube that seals below the waist and applies periodic vacuum pressure. This makes blood rush into the legs and pelvic area helping keep the astronaut’s leg veins in shape. An example of this in giraffes is seen clearly in babies who are able to stand almost immediately after they are born and are able to run alongside their herd within 10 hours of being born!

And talking of running – giraffes can reach speeds of over 30 mph. Although their ambling gait – they pick up both legs on the same side at the same time – makes it appear as if they are strolling leisurely, they can cover over 15ft with each step!

Giraffes are browsers and feed mainly from the top of acacia and commiphora (myrrh) trees. They are capable of eating up to 140lbs of leaves and twigs a day – with the aid of their very long, prehensile tongues. These can extend as far as 18” and are dark in color to prevent sun damage. They also have unique 2 or 3 lobed canine teeth which they use to strip leaves from branches. Males and females, eat from different parts of the tree to avoid competition for food.

Collective Nouns: I’m rather obsessed with collective nouns and they are sometimes a source of inspiration for paintings for me. Here are a few pertaining to giraffes:
a corps of giraffes
a herd of giraffes
a tower of giraffes
a stretch of giraffes
a totter of giraffes.

The original painting of “Josephine” has been SOLD, but prints, canvasses, clothing and home decor are availb on my Redbubble or Zazzle stores.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only NGO in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. If you are interested in supporting them and the invaluable work they do – please click here to donate – OR here to adopt a giraffe (no, you can’t take it home with you!).

Here is one last fact – and IMO the WEIRDEST: The closest relative to the Giraffe is the okapi. And that in itself is both a painting and a blog post for another day!

SOURCES:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180103194743.htm
www.thefactsite.com
http://listverse.com/2013/10/12/12-fascinating-facts-about-giraffes/
http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/hoofed_mammals/giraffe.html

Put laughter in your life and on your walls

national rose month flower painting by MirandaRobertsArt
My “In My Garden” collection of paintings and merch brings me much joy, despite allergies to the perfumes of many blossoms, and a thumb that is only green after a day spent painting in my studio! I do, however, love the outdoors and all that it offers. Spring hiking in the local area with my biologist buddy is a slow and beautiful event and we stop every few paces to macro-capture emerging shoots, taking home albums of photographs to transform into paintings.

I may not enjoy all the fragrances, but I do appreciate the visual beauty of big, blowsy blooms. I’m drawn to the sculptural quality of their petals juxtaposed with their leaves. You can tell from my portfolio that, like a butterfly, I am drawn to color. I love the lexicon of words we have for colors, I love its sometime gaudiness, the fragility of its tints, and the impossibility that all of this exists in nature. I’m gladdened that flowers are a home and food source to many of the little creatures I paint, and I am in awe of the fact that they turn their faces sunwards every day. I might not have much talent as a gardener, but I laugh alongside every bloom.

June is “National Rose Month” so it seemed right to feature these flowers particularly, this week. They are all-encompassing and synonymous with love and beauty, war and politics. So much so in fact, that on November 20, 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution making the rose the national floral emblem at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden…

“More often than any other flower, we hold the rose dear as the symbol of life and love and devotion, of beauty and eternity… The study of fossils reveals that the rose has existed in America for age upon age… We find roses throughout our art, music, and literature. We decorate our celebrations and parades with roses. Most of all, we present roses to those we love, and we lavish them on our altars, our civil shrines, and the final resting places of our honored dead…
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 159 has designated the rose as the National Floral Emblem of the United States and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation declaring this fact.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the rose as the National Floral emblem of the United States of America.”

The “In My Garden” series in my online stores – Redbubble and Zazzle – features canvas, framed and metal prints. The collection is not limited to these more traditional forms of décor however, and you can find my flowers on phone cases, luggage tags, mugs, pillows, clocks, tote bags and clothing.

“The earth laughs in flowers”. Ralph Waldo Emerson

A special (and free) downloadable coloring page was created to accompany this post and is available on the “Gifts From Me to You” page on my website. Print it out and enjoy creating!

And remember to pre-order your copy of “Moyo’s Journey” here too! Thank you!

 

Silk Painting 101: #3 From Start to Finish

How to do silk painting How to do silk painting
While you are practicing the very basic techniques I outlined in the last blog post (Silk Painting 101: #2 Practice Piece), start considering what it is you are going to paint and how it will be displayed.

Drawing
Draw your design in pencil and keep it as simple as possible. Because I will be showing the gutta technique, you need to consider the simplicity of the design while you work on your drawing. I decided to paint a pangolin because the symmetry of their scales seems to lend itself well to my drawing style.
Silk Painting with MirandaRobertsArt
Transferring the design onto the silk
Once you are happy with handling the gutta applicator, and with your pencil design, you will need to transfer it to the silk. Now – its perfectly fine to draw the outlines in gutta directly onto the silk, as you did with the practice piece, but (did I mention I was a control freak?) I want to keep my final product pretty similar to my original drawing.

To trace your illustration onto the silk, it will need to be flush up against the silk. For this part, I use a very (non) hi-tech pile of books to attain the right height, with the illustration on the top, directly on the silk. Trace the picture in pencil onto the silk. You can also use one of those disappearing embroidery pencils if you want to be all fancy. You don’t need to trace ALL of the details of the design – as long as you have the bold outlines, you can add the finer points directly onto the silk, if you feel confident. It’s actually a lot harder to apply gutta over the pencil than it appears!

You might want to apply the gutta in stages allowing it time to dry. If your picture is complex, its hard to do the outline without leaning on the silk and smudging wet gutta, so take it slowly and be patient. Once the entire outline is complete and dry, you’ll be ready to start the painting.

Adding the color
Remembering the spread and flow of the silk paint from your practice piece, start applying the color to your design. Because you can’t really erase the paint once you have applied it, I suggest that you begin with your lightest color, that way, if you DO make an “error” then you can paint over it with a darker color once it is dry. I don’t really think anything is ever “wrong” or erroneous in art, it’s just an opportunity to see how creatively you can rescue a situation!
For small areas remember to only put a little paint on your brush. You’ll see that it spreads to the gutta and stops – hence the term “resist technique”.

That’s really all there is to it. I made a cheeky little video for you to enjoy. Next week I’ll try and troubleshoot any questions you have sent me. I’m pretty responsive to email so feel free to contact me or Facebook message me through my MirandaRobertsArt page and I’ll get back to you asap. Kind of unofficial “online help”!

Oh and be sure head on over and pre-order your copy of “Moyo’s Journey” today!