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.


Head Cook and Bottle Washer

I made this poster for my sister-in-law, Bricken. For part of her master’s degree program she is doing a project called, “The Great Tap Water Challenge”.

The idea is quite simple, stop using plastic, disposable bottles or cups to hold your beverages.

reusable poster

My family has a case of bottled water that sits on our back porch that can be grabbed on the way out the door for sports, road trips and dance class. It is very convenient when we don’t have time to find, clean or fill the reusable water bottles.

This winter, when Bricken told me about the Great Tap Water Challenge, that case of water was frozen solid with a couple of inches of snow on it. This was perfect timing for our family to make the switch. We decided to leave the frozen bottles alone and make a new habit to switch to reusable.

What seemed like a big inconvenience has been no big deal at all. We all have easy to wash and handle containers that suit our styles and activities. My husband has a large stainless steel one that is perfect for a construction job site. Mine is made of glass since I use it mostly in the art studio or car. My daughter has a fashionable, lightweight bottle which fits nicely into her dance bag. My son has a sturdy one with a handle that matches his bat bag.

And if we do forget our bottle we look for a bubbler (drinking fountain) or a vendor that will give us a paper cup of tap water. So far, no one has gone thirsty.

If you want to join in, you can go to the Facebook event page.

…or you can just do it on your own. Do it for a month. See how it goes.

And if you don’t think you can give up your bottled water, please recycle.


Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water

Baby Moira

Baby Moira

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”, is one of many old adages that I would hear as a child that was confusing and sometimes frightening to me.

Here are some other favorites:

If you were over doing something you’d get, “Don’t gild the lily”. Did this have something to do with the Lollipop Guild?

If you had a question about anything in the future, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it”. I think this is the same bridge that we were told not to burn.

If you had to wait at all, “A watched pot will never boil”. This was scientifically proven to be false in seventh grade home economics class.

If you were about to ruin a surprise, “Loose lips, sink ships”. No pressure

The baby and the bath water one eventually made sense to me. In my personal life I stick to the wisdom of not tossing everything out when some things aren’t working, especially cute little babies.

As an artist…I don’t listen to this advice. Sometimes you need a fresh start. Sometimes it is a great choice and oh so satisfying.

Babies will be thrown, bridges and old artwork will be burned.

Last year I started working in a new style*. I was and have been loving the way I am working now. It feels really good and there is still plenty of room to explore what I can express with the new techniques that I am using now.

I’m buying new supplies. I have been drawing and painting stacks and stacks of pictures in the art studio. It’s exciting. I want to share what I have been working on.

Then I took a look at my website. It was full of my “old” work.

There were still plenty of images that I was proud of. And there were many that expressed ideas in a successful way but none of them were like the new style.

I knew I had to rebuild my online portfolio, start fresh.

I took all of the old images down and slowly, over the past year I have been putting new pictures up. Until this week none of the new pictures were for the children’s market. This is funny because the idea for working in the new style originally came from an idea I had for a picture book.

Well, Spring has sprung a perfect time for rebirth.

So here are some new babies.

Quack LessonsYuri and HandsomeMr. Woodduck

I plan on adding some more in the next few weeks so keep a look out.

Here’s to them growing up to be children’s books one day.

*Ugh, that word, “stlyle”. I know, I know.

Love Bird

For the past few years I have been making custom Valentines for my children.

This year they are both in Middle School. I don’t know if they are going to want to give them out to their classmates. But I wanted to keep up the tradition anyways. Here is what I came up with for 2015.

I have Valentines to download and print at home for sale at my Etsy shop if you want to avoid the snowbound shopping. ducklingHappy Valentine’s Day!

Sending warm thoughts,



Keeping Me on my Toes

My ballet dancing daughter, who sometimes acts as my art director needed a new bag to hold her dance gear and she had the great idea for me to make of a pattern with the five positions.

Ballet BagSo, once dinner and homework was done I went up in the studio and drew my daughter’s feet.

ballet sketch

Since I never took ballet classes, I used the internet to make sure I had the positions correct and in my research I learned the french names for the different positions. So, I added some hand lettered text to the pattern with the french names bellow each foot position. I added a touch of ballet pink and a few transparent butterflies.

As the French say, “Voila”.

ballet pattern

I got the pattern done that night and uploaded it to my Society6 shop.

A few days later the package arrived from Society6 and my daughter quickly filled her new bag and headed to dance class.

It’s always a good feeling to have a happy client.

ballet girl

Society Row

Thank you so much to everyone who has made purchases at my online shops. XOXO

Buying something from one of my shops gives you a chance to cyber shop, shop small and to get a unique item.

This week my Society6 shop is going to have a bunch of good deals each day for the next seven days. I’ll let you know about those through my Instagram account as they come.

Today is the first deal. Through Dec. 14, 2014 midnight PST, I have an artist promo for my shop.

Use the link below to get free shipping* plus $5 off everything in my shop.

*Offer excludes Framed Art Prints, Stretched Canvases and Rugs

Don’t forget about my other shops and thanks again,




PreSeason Training

I’ve updated my shops just in time for the pre-season, shopping season for the holidays season.
I have four shops right now.
One is my Etsy shop which has some original, hand drawn, one of a kind paintings swiped from the stacks in my studio. Check those out here,


Two is my Society6 shop that has high quality prints, shirts, phone cases, etc. They are always running some kind of deal this time of year so keep a lookout for when I post info. about those. The link for that shop is,


Three is a new one for me, Spoonflower. Spoonflower sells custom fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap. You can check out my designs here,


Fourth is CafePress. This is where I’ve kept a couple of classic images which are available on a ton of products. Here’s the link,


I appreciate any purchases you make.
I also appreciate any shares or thumbs up or hearts you want to give to boost my merchandise. Shares and positive reviews are the most helpful.
All of this information is at my website so if you lose this post down the road you can always go there,
Or you can just Google my name. As far as I know I’m the only Moira Swiatkowski out there.
Thanks again for all of your support,

A Pattern Developing

Not that long ago I learned how to make a repeat pattern using Photoshop.

I wanted to use pattern for some of my products in my Society6 shop. I love the way some of the other artists at Society6 us pattern on the pillows, duvet covers, shower curtains and tote bags. I’m always up for learning new things so I thought I’d try it out with some images I already had.

Pattern making was so much fun, once I got the hang of it. I just wanted to make everything into a pattern and now I want to learn more techniques other than a basic repeat.

Once I got going I remembered some friends that had made some patterns into fabric at the Spoonflower website. I thought that could be fun and I opened a shop there.

As I was exploring the Spoonflower website I saw that they have a weekly themed contest. As I clicked on the contest page I hoped that this week’s theme would be “Birds”. Ha, ha that would be too easy. It wasn’t “Birds”. It was, “Ballet” and the deadline to enter was that night at midnight.

Thanks to my ballet dancing daughter, I was already planning a ballet design. And It just so happened that earlier that day I had taken pictures of my daughter’s feet in the five basic ballet positions.

My daughter who sometimes acts as my art director needed a new bag for ballet and she had the great idea of a pattern with the five positions.

So, once dinner and homework was done I went up in the studio and drew my daughter’s feet.

ballet sketch

I used the internet to make sure I had the positions correct and in my research I learned the french names for the different positions. So, I added some hand lettered text to the pattern with the french names bellow each foot position. I added a touch of ballet pink and a few transparent butterflies.

As the French say, “Voila”.

ballet pattern

I got the pattern done in time for that midnight deadline with five minutes to spare.

I didn’t win the contest that week, but I did have one very happy client.

ballet girl

Bird Count

bird contact pageThe bird thing started this past winter.

I had been doing most of my illustration digitally using a stylus and tablet for the past few years and before that my main medium was brush and acrylic paint on canvas. Some time in late February I decided to try something new and I started drawing with pen and ink on watercolor paper.

Around that same time I had an idea for a picture book that involved birds.

I thought, I should learn how to draw birds in this new medium.

Now, the best way to learn how to draw something is to draw it.

It felt good to be learning something new. I knew very little about working with pen and ink but that knowledge was a lot compared to what I knew about birds.

I started with the most common bird at my feeder, the chickadee, one of the handful of birds I can confidently identify.chickadee 2

Getting the hang of using the dip pen took a little while to get used to. I fooled around with the pen on dry paper and wet paper. I tried using a little ink, then a lot of ink. I used an ink wash with some soft brushes. I added a bit of watercolor.

Then I drew it again and again until I felt like the little guy looked like an actual bird.

Next I did the titmouse, then the cardinal, the woodpecker and one by one the usual gang at the bird feeder including squirrels, bunnies.squirrel bunny

All this trial and error drawing was leading to a fat stack of bumpy watercolor paper with birds painted on both sides of the paper and on any free white space.

I had been posting on Instagram my progress and friends were starting to ask me, “What’s the deal with the birds?”. I have answered them by muddling through my explanation about the children’s book which is only the beginning of the answer.

The truth is I really like drawing the birds. I want to draw more birds. I want to learn more about birds. I think this feeling must be akin to what bird watchers experience when they first start.

I never understood the fascination. I couldn’t understand how people could spend their free time and money just looking at birds.

I get it now. There is something magical and otherworldly going on with these creatures that is so different from our human existence that goes on unnoticed most of the time.

I notice now.

Birds of a Feather

Here is the piece that is in the “Work + Play” show at the Land Gallery in Portland, Oregon.  While the show is up you can buy a high quality print of mine and/or one of the 70 selected works. The show will be up until August 24, 2014. I hope that if you are local you will check it out in person. They also have a fun shop just below the gallery space.

Here is the link to purchase the print:

The show was a collaboration with ICON8, The Illustration Conference which I attended this year. I took a bunch of iPhone pictures of the event which I put up on my flickr page if you want to check them out.

I also made a video of the great experience of the Tape Mural Workshop with Brian Rea.

I’m still processing my time out in Portland with so many wonderful, creative people. Portland is a very welcoming and walkable city which was a nice bonus to my trip.

Probably the biggest take-away from the event is that I can’t wait to get back in my studio and get making.