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Hello Friends,

Ginny, Corrado, Pico and Chiara were with me for much of the Easter week. The weather was perfect and the beach was the main attraction, though the waters of the Gulf were still too cold for my liking. Back on our side of the peninsula where we look onto Tampa Bay, we explored the bike paths on a bicycle made for six. I had been wanting to try out one of these machines but with only Malcolm and I there, it seemed better to wait until we had more peddle power.

On a bicycle built for 6!

Chiara in the banyan tree.

After Easter Mass on Sunday, Marlyn DeWaard and Joyce Wilson came over for a late lunch. The children had set off back to Waynesboro. Marlyn arrived with a delicious pot roast and I prepared a salad, vegetables, garlic bread and a strawberries and ice cream dessert. The local Florida strawberries are at their best this time of the year.

After our meal we watched the closing stages of The Masters golf tournament. Both Joyce and Marlyn are avid watchers of golf on TV but this was my first experience. The excitement of the battle of skill and nerves had me as much involved as the other two. Phil Mickelson had never won a major tournament in forty-three attempts. He smiled all day as if he knew this was his moment and so it turned out to be. If you had heard our outburst of cheering when he sunk the final putt, you would have thought our team had just won the Super Bowl.

The pelicans love hanging out at the bait house.

I have never played golf. I considered it to be too long-winded. I preferred my tennis. Malcolm used to say that my ability to return the tennis ball over the net and land it just where I wanted would make me hard to beat in golf.

Now to the studio. This week I completed the first painting of a series that will relate to nursery rhymes. I hope that the tradition of nursery rhymes will never be lost in the passing of the generations. I know that what we loved as children often does not have appeal to the young of today and that we should not expect them to share all the enthusiasms of our youth. There are other attractions that fill their minds. However, nursery rhymes are not a passing fad but a part of our heritage. The coupling of words with images is the greatest stimulating of the imagination. I know because this week as I worked on the first rhyme, Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater, my imagination was hard at work.

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater original for a series of nursery rhyme prints.

I have two add-ons this week. A report by Dell Phillpot, Program Coordinator of the Foundation on another event that took place recently at the Museum and a news piece from Panama where Malcolm has been splitting his time between the schools, and the farm.

I am delighted the Foundation and the Museum are regularly offering programs for children. The Starry Night event commemorating the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh is fully worthy of sharing with you and I hope you will take a moment to read about it.

We need more programs such this to combat the young's obsession with video games and watching TV. I have nothing against video games when played in moderation and know that they teach quick reactions and are an entree to computer skills. Unfortunately for many our young they are an addiction and replace creative thought with passive reaction. Creative thought and implementation is an essential part of developing the full potential of the mind. If we are to win the children away from their addiction, we must offer them exciting art events capable of stimulating their own imaginations.

Four years ago, Malcolm and I took our respective oldest granddaughters to Paris and there we visited the Musee D'Orsay and came across Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. Later we bought four pieces of artboard and oil crayons and that night in the hotel we each "painted" our versions of Starry Night. Malcolm had always been too embarrassed by his lack of artistic skills to seriously attempt a painting. His Starry Night was an inspired work and fully worthy of the framing we gave to it. All people are creative but for some the door to creativity needs to be unlocked. Well done all who were involved with the Museum's Starry Night! If you would like to create a similar event in your home area, Dell will be delighted to answer any question you may have. She can be contacted at or 540-932-1728.

That is it for this week. I must get back to the studio where I am starting on the painting for "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe."' Next week's letter will be my last from this Florida visit. I will be then be headed to Waynesboro and the barn show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 23-25. Then on to Kingsport, Tennessee for our collectors convention which looks set to be a great two days. If you want to come and join us there, there is still time to do so. Call your local Moss Gallery or call 1-800-430-1320. Either way you can find out the details and reserve a ticket.


Starry Night at the Museum
A Report by Dell Phillpot, Administrator The P Buckley Moss Foundation:

Since humans first viewed the heavens, the galaxies and all their stars have been a magical sight. Fourteen children from the Ladd Elementary School will agree with this and that Vincent Van Gogh added to this magic with his painting Starry Night.

On a Friday evening, the students gathered at the Moss Museum to learn more about the galaxies from Jack Wine of the Shenandoah Valley Stargazers. We had telescopes available, but unfortunately the heavy cloud coverage that night made it impossible to view the stars and the constellations. Instead, Mr. Wine showed slides. The most interesting ones were of the unusual aurora borealis last summer. The vivid and colorful display of the northern lights was especially intriguing as the colors were brighter in the southern skies then the typical northern areas.

The discovery of both dark skies and bright stars made the transition into Vincent Van Gogh’s art quite easy. Jason Miles, our art teacher, led the children in a sketching activity by having the studio in complete darkness, then to light, back to darkness and finally bright light. He emphasized Van Gogh’s quickness in painting caused by his desire to catch the light and the dark as Van Gogh worked. Jason and the students spent some time discussing Van Gogh’s life and how his work was not considered great until 30 years after his death. Each one was given a copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night to study and review before the next morning.

Early Saturday morning Jason and the students returned to the studio of the Moss Museum and began their interpretation of Starry Night. Each was given a large piece of black frame board and sketched their ideas. When they were satisfied with their sketches, the students then began to draw with oil pastels, trying to use the strokes of Van Gogh. Just when they thought their work was complete, Jason gave them another assignment. They were to use crayon and draw something on a white piece of frame board to add to their drawing to give it a dimensional appearance. These were cut out and pasted to the individual’s drawing which added a whole new countenance to their art.

Since Van Gogh’s birthday was that week, a birthday cake with Starry Night as the decoration was presented. The children sang “Happy Birthday” to “Vinnie” and enjoyed his cake with milk. By the end of the session, each one had a piece of their own starry night to be proud of and felt Vincent Van Gogh was now a friend.

The children’s artwork will be on display at the Moss Museum April 19th through April 26th.

News from Malcolm in Panama:

School is back after the long summer break. Yesterday, Virginia Vasquez, Natalia McFarlane and I took school materials and supplies, donated by the Society through its English Program, to the elementary schools in Isla Carrenero and Bahia Honda (Deep Bay). Seven years ago when Pat and I arrived to live on Isla Carrenero, there were 67 students in the two roomed school. Today there are 110. The physical expansion of schools in our province is not keeping pace with the population growth and a crisis is on hand. At Isla Carrenero, the school "cafeteria" serves as a third classroom.

Many hands helped Virginia and Natalia carry the school materials at Isla Carrenero.

I wish that all Society members could have been with me yesterday as our boat pulled into the little wooden dock at Bahia Honda. Children came running at full pace to meet us and threw their arms around Virginia and Natalia calling "maestra, maestra." (teacher, teacher). Virginia and Natalia were almost knocked down as the children tried to climb into their arms. The two of them were then escorted to the two roomed school with their hands being held by three children either side. The Society's English program is a bright light in the lives of these children. This scene and the high performance of our students when they progress to high school is confirmation of the tremendous benefit of the Society's donation that makes this possible.

Tomorrow Andres and I will be taking notebooks, pencils and pencil sharpeners for each child at the school in Darklands. These are a contribution from the farm along with a turkey to add to the usual lunch menu of of plantain, yucca and rice.

The rains came at last to the farm, ending an unexpected dry period that was running us short on good pasture. Immediately the grass was growing again and by the next day the sheep and goats were hard at work.

The principle project now is the construction of a pond in which to grow talapia. By digging out the mud on the edge of a small spring fed swamp and replacing it with volcanic boulders taken from the farm, we are laying a broad firm base for a dam to contain the minimum water depth of one meter necessary for the fish. Fortunately near by is a creek that never runs dry from which we can pump water if need be.

The sheep and the goats have been producing babies and it is a joy to have them around. As usual, the baby goats are the most inquisitive.

Instead of staying near their momma, the young goats are forever exploring.


The Moss Portfolio
HC 69 Box 17118 Poplar Grove Lane
Mathews, VA 23109
(800) 430-1320
©P. Buckley Moss 2004

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