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!!!”

 

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!

 

Hujambo and thank you

Meet Moyo
Thank you for scrolling through my website to get this far! I am so excited about the imminent launch of “Moyo’s Journey” and I look forward to sharing her travels with you all.

My own journey to Moyo is because of the love, inspiration and opportunity that so many of you provide. To my hiking and walking friends for patiently listening to page by page accounts of my progress; to everyone who gave valuable and insightful editorial feedback as the journey progressed – particularly the ever diplomatic and extremely talented Lu; to my family for living it day by day; and particularly to Owen for giving me the world – I thank and value you all.

I came to Moyo because of my passionate belief in the importance of travel, of seizing opportunities and of being true to yourself. I also know that nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than kindness. Future blogs will circle “Moyo’s Journey” and encompass all that we discover and experience with her and the creatures she encounters.

I welcome your own voices on all of these – send me your guest posts, your photos of travel and learning from others, your tales of kindness, of adventure, of opportunity. And your photos of the wild and majestic creatures with whom we share this planet.