Tag Archives: illustration

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.

Visions of Sugar Plums

Snowflakes

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 moiraswiatkowski@gmail.com .

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.

Etsy

 

My Etsy shop has original watercolors and pen and ink drawings on paper. https://www.etsy.com/shop/atlanticmo?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

Society6

 

My Society6 shop has quality prints as well as other merchandise such as fun t-shirts, tote bags, mugs and leggings. https://society6.com/atlanticmo

 

Spoonflower

 

My Spoonflower shop is for my pattern work which is available as fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap. http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/atlanticmoira

 

CafePress

 

OK, the main reason to go to my CafePress shop is for the Breaching Mermaid Shower Curtain. http://www.cafepress.com/atlanticmo

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.

xo

Moira

 

 

 

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 https://www.etsy.com/shop/atlanticmo?ref=hdr_shop_menu

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, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTF-dscagu8 .

2406web

20

 

 

 

 

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, https://instagram.com/atlanticmo/

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, https://society6.com/atlanticmo/prints?show=new

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.

moiraswiatkowski@gmail.com

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 http://moiraswiatkowski.com/2015/06/16/coffee-and-watercolors/). 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 https://www.etsy.com/shop/atlanticmo

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 moiraswiatkowski@gmail.com 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 https://www.etsy.com/shop/atlanticmo?ref=hdr_shop_menu

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. moiraswiatkowski@gmail.com

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. https://www.youtube.com/user/atlanticmo/videos

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,

Moira

 

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.
IMG_4351

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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/779844532109918/

…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.

seagull

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.

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