Staying on her Toes

Ballet Bag

This is my daughter’s ballet bag that I designed for her when she first started ballet.

At the time I didn’t know how long she or the bag would last with ballet. Twelve is a little late to start and the classes only get more intense as you get older.
I’m proud to say that at 15 she’s still dancing, taking classes and performing.
As for the bag it is still in great shape. And the drawings on it of her 12 year old feet in the five positions are a great reminder of where she started.


Buy some art for Holiday gifts or a gift for yourself.
I recommend ordering by December10th.
If you order from my Etsy shop between November 26 and November 29 you will get a FREE Rainbow Bird poster.

As always, you can contact me directly to buy my art or to schedule at studio visit at

For Original Art –
For Prints and Merchandise –
For Fabric, Wallpaper, Wrapping Paper –


Crowe Quill

A few weeks back I was contacted by literary agent, Sara Crowe to do some hand lettering of her name for the relaunch of her website.

With a name like Crowe, how could I resist?

After some initial emails I got an idea of what she was looking for.

My first step was to brainstorm by writing her name over and over again like a middle schooler does her crush.

I used mostly a brush with either ink or black watercolor on bristol board or watercolor paper.


After looking through all of the versions, I narrowed it down to the hand lettered styles that I liked and that would suit a website for a literary agent that specializes in children and young adult literature.

I also wanted to incorporate a crow somehow, of course.

I looked through my existing crow drawings and drew a couple of new ones hoping I could figure out a way to make them fit in. They all distracted from the hand lettering and Sara’s name which I wanted to keep the focus on.

CrowOne day I was having lunch in the back yard when I noticed a feather in the grass.

I finished my sandwich and went back in the art studio with a new idea.


Now it was time to put the pieces together in Photoshop and email them to Sara to get her feedback.

I sent her three designs to choose from and this is the one that she and I both liked best.



Sara sent it to her web designer, IceyDesigns who did a great job incorporating it into her beautiful new website.

logo2This was a fun project to work on.

Let me know if you or any of your friends need custom lettering or any bird related artwork at

or find me on social media

Facebook Moira Birch Swiatkowski

Twitter @atlanticmoira

Snapchat @atlanticmoira

Instagram @atlanticmo




Visions of Sugar Plums


We haven’t seen any real snowflakes at our house yet. But I have been in the holiday spirit because I have been working on pictures inspired by the Nutcracker Ballet.

My mini sketches that I paint every morning have been characters from the famous ballet.

I also have been working on a picture book idea about a little ballerina’s first performance. I am using one of the images from that story for my next promotional postcard. Here is a sneak peak.Postcard Peek

If you are not already on my mailing list and you want me to send you a postcard let me know. Tell me your address at .

A couple of picture book authors I know, Debbi Ohi and Josh Funk wrote blog posts about how you can support an author besides buying the book. So I was inspired to make my own list of ways you can support me in case you are not in a position to publish my book or to hire me as an illustrator.

Number One: Buy Some Merch.

I have items for sale that are either handmade or print-on-demand from four online retailers.



My Etsy shop has original watercolors and pen and ink drawings on paper.




My Society6 shop has quality prints as well as other merchandise such as fun t-shirts, tote bags, mugs and leggings.




My Spoonflower shop is for my pattern work which is available as fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap.




OK, the main reason to go to my CafePress shop is for the Breaching Mermaid Shower Curtain.

On demand printing requires a couple of more days to receive since they aren’t sitting ready to go in a warehouse so keep that in mind if you are holiday shopping.

Number Two: Share

Ballet Bag from Society6 Moira Birch Swiatkowski

If you do buy something, please take a photo and share it on social media or send it to me to share. I love to see that stuff out in the world.

I also appreciate it when you share links to my shops, website, blog posts and pictures.

Pinning something to Pinterest from my website or shops is also greatly appreciated.

Number Three: A Kind Word …or Heart or Thumbs Up

I do truly appreciate all of your encouragement whether it is in private or on social media. I mostly talk to myself up here in the art studio and those little bits of encouragement from my friends goes a long way.

Now I will pirouette my way back to the drawing board.






Falling Forward

Last week I took the boogie boards, beach chairs and umbrella out of my car and put them in the garage for winter storage. I even vacuumed the half ton of sand that we progressively brought home from the beach this summer.

Summer is over, for real.

Thankfully, Fall is so dang beautiful here in New England that it distracts us from what we know to be true, Winter is coming.

I had some other good distractions this month.

I had a show of the Mini Sketches at the Dennis Public Library. The show had a good response and even some sales. The show is currently down now but you can check out the Mini Sketches for sale from the show here

Art Show Inspiration and Art Packing it up





The other fun thing I did in October was Inktober. I drew 31 ink drawing for all the days of the month. This year I did a sequential story based on a real story I heard about some birds that helped each other out. I made a video so you can see the story unfold. It’s on my YouTube channel here, .







I’ve started a new series of morning sketches. I am randomly choosing different characters from the Nutcracker ballet. I am working on a story about a little ballerina and this will help me work out some ideas and keep my mind on ballet.

If you want to follow along check out my Instagram  here,

Fritz Sugar Plum Fairy








leggingsAs per request I have added some dogs to my Society6 shop and I will be adding more as we get closer to the holidays. They have leggings now which I think I might just need a pair. Check those out here,

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be working on some stories and portfolio pieces. I will have another postcard going out after Thanksgiving. Email me if you want to be on the mailing list.

It should be a pretty busy month which hopefully will end with me eating some pumpkin pie.

Watercolor Memories

I was excited to sell this little painting (3″x4″) at the reception for my “Quick Mini Morning Sketches” show.

As much as I was happy to get the money. And I was delighted that I successfully managed to charge the buyer’s credit card by using my phone (for the first time). These weren’t the things that gave me the most joy about the sale.

miniAll of the paintings from this series are done on a small scale without a lot of contemplation (as explained here The idea for this one quickly came to my mind. I had recently heard a friend talking about their kids camping in the back yard which made me think of my own memory of pitching a tent in the backyard with my sister. Those fresh thoughts were right there for me to grab and put on paper.

The man who bought the painting saw the picture at the reception and it reminded him of his own childhood and an experience with his sister.

His sister is a friend of mine and that’s how he happened to be at the reception with her. While he was holding the painting in his hand he shared the story of how he and his brother would play army and make the sister be the red cross nurse. This role mostly involved sitting in the tent waiting while the brothers ran off and played.

I could see as he was telling the story that he was putting himself right back there and that’s what really made me the most happy. This little painting that was created out of a few sparks from my own mind could act as a little window into the mind of someone else.

To see more paintings for sale from the “Quick Mini Morning Sketches” series follow the link to my Etsy page

Just Checking In

In between swimming and ice cream eating  this summer, I was able to sneak off to the art studio just about every day. Here is an update of what I’ve been up to up there.

I finished a new promotional postcard and sent it out. If you didn’t get one and you want one email me your postal address at and I’ll send it right out.Dog Postcard

I also finished some portfolio pieces from the Peter and the Wolf Story.

Peter and the WolfDuck and CatWolf and Bird





The one thing I was able to do almost every day was my “Quick, Mini, Morning Sketch“.

It is a good thing they are small since they are really stacking up in the art studio. I am still doing a daily sketch almost every day. The best way to follow that is on Instagram.

In an effort to get some of those little paintings out of the studio I am going to have a show of some of them at the framed minisDennis Public Library  for the month of October.  All of the framed originals will be for sale.

There will be an opening for the show on October 15th at 4:00pm at Dennis Public Library. I hope you can make it.

I have updated my Etsy shop with some of the Mini Sketches, framed and not framed for sale. Buy one, give it a decent home.

Check them out

I was tmini cardsrying to figure out a way to print some of the Mini Sketches when I remembered that Moo lets you make cards with up to 50 different images. So, I uploaded 50 of the Mini Sketches and ordered their square business cards.

Now they are even more mini. I have enough to give away at the opening and to mail out to anyone who wants one. Email me your postal address if you would like one.

Specify if you want a particular one and I’ll see if I have it otherwise I will take the next card from the deck.

In other news; Did you know I had a YouTube channel? Well, I do.

Thats about it for now. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you at the opening of the show.

See you in Inktober,



Breakfast Special

We’ve got a lot of breakfast joints around here. There are more breakfast places than ice cream parlors here on sunny Cape Cod. Most places have lines out the door in the summer and a decent crowd of regulars in the off season.

I love to go out to breakfast.

I usually get one of those big meals with a name like, “Farmer’s Special”. Eggs, bacon, homefries, toast and coffee. Yes, please. I’ll have some coffee.

I got this love of breakfast from my dad.

When we were kids, Dad worked a lot of hours as a repairman for for the phone company. On weekdays, Joe would pick him up in the New England Telephone van before we left for school in the morning. We’d see Dad again at dinner and shortly thereafter say we’d say “goodnight”.
Saturdays were for running errands, doing yard work or repairs to the house, as well as keeping an eye on a good percentage of us five kids.

Sundays were a different story. If you got up and went with Dad to the early Mass at St. Mary’s there was breakfast in the deal.

I’m no early riser. There are few things I cherish more than sleeping in. Breakfast with my dad is one of them.

From my Sunday morning slumber, I would hear Dad getting ready to go. In a semi-conscious state I would get myself dressed and in the kitchen just in time to go with Dad. “Ready?”, he’d say and we’d be out the door.

There wasn’t a lot of conversation. I would still be waking up on the short ride to church. Other than, “Peace be with you” we didn’t talk during Mass. At the diner, Dad would say, “Hello” to a few folks. He’d say a few words about the headlines or the Red Sox to the guys sitting at the counter seats. Those guys would wave to me as he reminded them which kid I was.

The meal itself was usually pretty quiet. When we were done, Dad would say, “All set?” and we’d head back home.

These days I see Sunday morning from the mom’s perspective. My husband takes the kids out to breakfast and I stay in bed on the one day that I can. I don’t do this purely for the love of my comforter and down pillow.

I’m staying out of the way of breakfast with Dad.

* I originally i posted this on my old blog in 2011.

Coffee and Watercolors

Every studio day starts with a bowl of Cheerios on the stairs while I watch the birds.
BreakfastThen I grab my coffee with just a splash of half and half and head to the art studio.

IMG_4349Before I get to any projects or paperwork I do my “Quick Mini Morning Sketch”.

The reason I started doing this is simple and selfish. I wanted a guarantee that everyday I would get to do at least one fun drawing that I didn’t over think or over work.

When I started I gave myself some parameters to keep the whole thing fresh and stimulating, much like my beloved cup of coffee.

I started with a list. I love lists.

I got this one from a talk Dan Santat did at the NESCBWI Conference.
listDan Santat








I believe this was a list of good things to have in your portfolio if you are illustrating for the children’s market. Perfect.

So I wrote all of these words down on slips of paper (I have since added new words) and folded them up and put them into a little pinch pot. Every morning I grab a folded slip as a prompt for a sketch. The surprise keeps me from over thinking. I have to come up with an idea on the spot.pinch pot paper








I have some watercolor paper cut into small pieces so I can’t work on it for too long or make it too precious. Also this paper will turn into a soggy cocktail napkin if it gets too wet.

If you want to give yourself limits I recommend watercolor. Once you make a mark that’s it. You’re stuck with it. I use a travel set and travel watercolor brushes because there is little to no set up time. I just open them and go.

It’s a lot of fun to work in a medium that you don’t know how to use.

I used to be afraid to use watercolors because it seemed like you had to have the painting all planned out if you didn’t want a muddy mess. Turns out you can be spontanious with watercolor…and bonus, you will make a muddy mess.

set up IMG_4216







I draw the first somewhat useful idea that pops into my head. Sometimes it is a memory or related to something I saw recently. Other times I’m inspired by what I see out my window.

When I’m done I post them on Instagram  and twitter.

Posting the picture means I’m done and I can get started on my other projects in the studio.

So far this has been a great way to start the day, almost as good as my coffee. Almost.

Boys of Spring

Osprey in the OutfieldThis Winter was a bit much even for the seasoned New Englander. It wasn’t just the record snow. We’ve seen a lot of snow before. It was the snow never went away, not even a little bit. It was too damn cold. The temperature refused to rise above 32 degrees for any sustained amount of time. So the next storm just piled on top of last like a Dagwood sandwich of snow.

Winter 2015 sailed right past it’s March 21st expiration date while a blanket of white continued to cover my yard.

At this point of despair I started to look to signs of Spring beyond the view of my lawn.

The two most sure signs that Spring has returned to Cape Cod are nesting Osprey and youth baseball.

Baseball came first with an email with the subject header, “Pirates”. Right away you know that’s going to be a good email. It was from my son’s coach alerting us to his first (indoor since the ball field was also blanketed with snow) practice.

The next was a Facebook post a couple weeks later from Cape Cod Museum of Natural History letting us know that the Osprey were back.

These two events made me very happy. They gave me hope.

And then this week I had the real proof of Spring. I was at my son’s baseball game on a sunny enough day that I wasn’t wearing my knit hat or quilted jacket. I was already satisfied with this beautiful day. Over head I heard and then saw a beautiful pair of Osprey flying over the boy’s ball game.

Spring had sprung.