I’m delighted to share that I’ve completed the Ski A-Z book cover design which I’ve been developing over the past month.
The Cover Design
It’s a bright, bold design with three cover stars supporting the title letters in a mountain setting, The book will appeal to both those wanting to find out more about the sport, and to seasoned skiers.
Here’s the cover mocked up on a coffee table setting with ski themed props to bring the book concept to life. Notice the ceramic snowflake as a coaster for the edelweiss coffee cup.
The Book Concept
The Ski A-Z book concept – a practical, informative, fun, illustrated glossary of skiing with hints, tips and advice.
It’s the kind of book that you’d recommend to the friend that wants to get into skiing, it’s a gift for a ski lover, it’s a conversation starter for an evening in the chalet during your holiday.
The Design Process
I created the background and skiing characters in watercolours and ink, used a glue gun to give the letters texture and composed it digitally in Procreate.
I had an idea to animate some of the book characters ‘excited to meet the readers’ to demonstrate the energy of the book.
I had a wonderful start to 2020 with skiing in France and Bulgaria, and little did I know when watching Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall in March that it would be the last theatre visit of the year. Since we first went into lockdown in March my creative work has been enjoyable distraction and focus. As a result it’s been a productive year for my art and illustration work.
I have explored editorial illustration, children’s picture book work, and the themes of food and travel. Enjoyed the wonderful Make Art That Sells global community, and also the UK/US illustrator group that I’m blessed to be part of.
After a day skiing in Les 3 Vallees, France I relaxed by painting ski related equipment.
This initiated the Ski A-Z book project which I have worked on throughout the year and will be in book form in early 2021.
Sharing these ski illustrations on social media led to an exciting client commission, which I will be able to reveal in the coming weeks – watch this space.
Here are my favourite ski illustrations of 2020 (that aren’t embargoed). I find that often the favourite pieces are breakthroughs in terms of the detail, materials, and/or techniques.
My intention with the project has been to demonstrate the joy and emotions of skiing and related activities in a way that is often less apparent in photographic images.
There are people who are at their happiest when skiing, unfortunately many of them aren’t able to ski at present, I hope they can feel some comfort by seeing the work and vicariously having some ski escapism.
I’ve had a number of people requests prints of the ski work, so I’m pleased to reveal that I’ll be producing limited edition prints in 2021. Follow my blog for more details when they’re available. If there are ski illustrations that you’d like to be included in the selection made into prints please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Top 9 of 2020
Here are my overall favourite 9 pieces of 2020 across ski, travel, food and character design…
I worked hard on the first to show an expression of joy in this freestyle skiing pose. The second was a children’s book character I created for the Make Art That Sells Illustrating Children’s Books briefs. The third was a painting of juxtaposed elements of our biking holiday in Flamborough, the stunning scenery and incredible bird life.
The fourth was for an illustrated travel memoir of heli-skiing in Russia. The fifth is a conceptual illustration for Apres-Ski fun, my entry for the AOI World Illustration Awards. Sixth was my favourite piece from a number of dessert illustrations.
Seventh – the delightful feeling of calm and seclusion when enjoying some quiet time after skiing, warm and snuggly as the temperatures drop outside. I contacted Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards for a quote about the feeling of flying, and created this illustration from images that at Eddie provided. The ninth was a festive illustration/animation of steel deliveries at Santa’s Metal Workshop, commissioned by steel stockholder K Steels for their social media channels.
A particular highlight of lockdown, and since, were regular ‘Art Chats’ with my friend. We simultaneously worked on our individual creative projects on video calls. Being able to see the development of each other’s work, and to get ‘work in progress’ feedback, was helpful, I have found that chatting can help to divert the conscious mind and allow the subconscious to create in flow; the art nirvana that one can experience in particular circumstances and creative activities.
In the course of the chats my friend created an entire 2021 calendar of bird watercolours. You can see his work at
For me personally good has to come out if a challenging situation, and thus I’ve made it a productive year with development of my skills and evolution of my illustration work. Here’s to a good 2021. Enjoy this short illustrated gif…
Thank you for each view, like, comment and all the support in 2020. Sharing my work gives me the impetus to continue to create, and to push myself to be able to more and more effectively express concepts visually.
It is always my mission to spread joy and inspiration so I hope that it contributes to the positive vibes going out into the world consciousness.
I continue to create the Ski A-Z book, spurred on by the upcoming winter season, here are the latest illustrations…
‘L’ for Lunches
A long lunch after a great morning skiing is a delight in the spring months. The cool morning air is replaced with the sun, which bathes and warms away any winter blues from long winter nights of the previous months. A leisurely lunch on the mountain restaurant terrace is ideally followed by time reclining in a deck chair.
But not every day is sunny with blue skies, the snow has to fall sometimes (preferably at night).
This illustration represents the lunch breaks on colder days, maybe even in a whiteout or blustery weather.
Warming up on a cold snowy day in the refuge of a mountain restaurant is like finding a safe harbour in a storm.
This illustration is based on a memory of a very cold day when I was a kid. My Dad helped me to get warm, which seemed to take a long time as I’d been lost for an hour.
The intention is to illustrate the feeling, not a likenesses to anyone in particular.
Once warmed up and recharged there’s chance for more fun in the snow, and if it’s accumulated a chance to ski deep snow.
Although I’ve created illustrations for the letter ‘F’ (see the illustrations here) I kept feeling called to represent family ski days – so here is the content I’ve created…
‘F’ for Family
Skiing is a sport that all ages can do together. Meaning it’s great fun family time. I treasure many memories of skiing together as a family, from being a child, to leading the children and instructing, and now letting them lead when it’s safe for them to pick their own path. This one is inspired by a fab three generation ski day in Meribel, France.
Pop the word ‘Ski’ in my blog search box to see all the Ski content created so far and follow on social media to see the work as it’s created…
Thanks so much for being here, please share this post with ski friends who’ll enjoy seeing it. If you work in the ski industry and would like illustrations for your promotional activity then please email me at email@example.com
I’m celebrating my work being published in a brand new book by an Extreme Skier in the United States. I was commissioned to create 24 bespoke illustrations for the book. It is wonderful to see my work in print. Illustrations by Kim for new book 30 Years in A White Haze by Dan Egan and Eric Wilbur #30yearsinawhitehaze
I hadn’t considered that children’s books was an area I wanted to explore, but knew that my drawing skills and illustration techniques would progress by doing the Illustrating Children’s Books course.
However, what I experienced during the intensive five week course was a wonderful journey through the process of creating characters and their world.
The Make Art That Sells course was a live global gathering of aspiring and professional illustrators having a wonderful shared experience towards a common goal.
I chose Zoë Tucker’s story about a balloon with wanderlust to travel the world; a feeling which I imagine a lot of people can relate to this year.
I decided early in the process that Bob would be a heart shaped balloon, as our world needs love.
In the story Bob the balloon lives with his best friend Bug in a lighthouse; until he’s gusted away on an unexpected magical adventure.
I created Bob using four small heart balloons (blue, pink, teal and purple), overlaid digitally and areas selected to give Bob’s unique colours, highlights, shadows and transparency. I added facial features to one of them to help with three quarter, side, high and low angle perspectives.
The challenge then was to demonstrate Bob and Bug’s different emotions, whilst keeping the characters and colour palette consistent.
Initially I thought that Bob might change colour with his feelings but then decided to keep the main shade of blue consistent. The real balloons were helpful in understanding the form, movement, bulging and deflation characteristics for Bob.
Whilst considering the character motivations I felt that Bug’s fascination with the balloon (Bob) may have been due to physical limitations, maybe she wished she could be light and rise off the ground. I experienced such yearnings after major knee injury, so could relate to these feelings. Therefore I developed Bug’s character to represent a person who is assisted to move around using a wheelchair, whether this be temporary (due to injury), or ongoing.
It was a criteria of the course to demonstrate the character in different action poses to give the character life.
The culmination of the course was a double page spread (16 x 10) inches of a scene from the book. I chose to represent a sunset scene where Bug is telling Bob stories of far away lands in her cosy nook bed. I made a pop-up book to include in the scene and made it cast a shadow on the wood panelling behind Bug. I added my watercolour paintings as wall art and soft furnishings. The globe form is inspired by a garden ornament at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire.
By conveying emotions that draw the reader and child into the narrative, they will care about the characters. I wanted to demonstrate the connection between the characters and to give them a place to exist which is in a consistent style and medium.
The final task was to create the book cover, important for point of sale marketing whether viewed on a book shop shelf or as a tiny thumbnail on Amazon.
Thanks to Make Art That Sells, art agent Lilla Rogers and children’s book author/art director Zoë Tucker for a fabulous course and the wealth of informative content, sketch prompts, and weekly assignments. I felt my work shift forward enormously during the five weeks. I invested a lot of time, was determined, and am pleased with the outcomes.
Thanks also the the many insects who landed close by me during the course, which seemed quite serendipitous.
Mediums used include inks, gouache, watercolours, cut paper for the pop up book, and digital techniques.
I am open to illustration projects, editorial and children’s book illustrations so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for being here and following my work. I’m creating new work all the time so please pop back soon or head over to my Instagram space to see work as it is created. My latest posts follow and a link to an illustrated children’s book that I created a few years ago.
G is for Gloves – an essential piece of ski kit as cold hands cam spoil the day. I love it when fresh snowflakes fall on my gloves and remain there whilst their intricacy can be observed. I’ve noticed this most often when on a chairlift in snowy conditions.
I created these snowflakes using free motion embroidery and secondly with icing sugar.
Mittens are great alternatives to gloves for children, and for extremely cold conditions. Good quality ski mittens have separate fingers spaces inside, to add to their warmth.
Key ski items also starting with the letter G are Gondola, for non skiers, this is not the Venetian boat but one of the popular ski lift types, and also Goggles.
Goggles are as fundamental as gloves for well-being and comfort for cold temperatures and snowy days on the mountains.
This illustration is for Gondola, Goggles and Gloves. There’s also one other thing that starts with a G, to be spotted.
Watch this space for the letter H illustrations and if you’ve not seen them previously you can see the previous illustrations at these links….
The latest instalment of my Ski A-Z for the letter ‘F’
There is flow and freedom in skiing which can feel like you’re flying. I love it when gliding along on skis on the mountain tops can feel like flying. Often birds can be seen flying in the valleys below.
I wanted to capture this feeling in this artwork. A sunny day is a must to conjure this magic feeling.
I feel this sensation of flight most in Les 3 Vallees above St Martin de Belleville and Meribel, when heading in the direction of Val Thorens.
The feeling of flying got me thinking about how Olympian Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards must be the British person who has most experienced a feeling of flying on skis. Unusually Eddie, originally a downhill racer, first ski jumped as an adult. In a feat of courage and resolve he created a new British ski jumping record of 73.5 metres, the equivalent of jumping over 6 double decker buses.
I contacted Eddie (his given name is Michael), now inspiring people as a motivational speaker. I asked him about how skiing can feel like flying.
Eddie Edwards, said, “To fly……. is to be free!!”
I wanted to create an illustration which captured the freedom of flight mentioned in Eddie’s quote, along with the joy he demonstrated to the crowds after his Olympic ski jumps.
I don’t usually have a person in mind when painting faces for the Ski A-Z characters, I’m more trying to demonstrate joy and emotion in the expressions of the skiers.
A big thank you to Eddie for the quote, and the inspiration for the illustration.
Finally here’s a very short animation of the Fly, Freedom, Flow painting with a delicate ethereal stitched wing, to bridge between reality and imagination.
So, next up is the letter ‘G’ watch this space and follow to be sure to see the new work as it’s created.
Many people missed out on skiing this winter or had their seasons cut short. I hope that my artworks can give a positive vibe, to spark feel good memories.
If you’ve not seen the previous ski illustrations I’ve been working on you can see them at these links.
Last week, before the world shifted on its axis, I worked on further illustrations for my intended A-Z Glossary of Ski. The previous post A-C can be found here.
Thinking of everyone at this time. We are all existing in a new uncertain era. Whatever brings us joy can be our elixir for hope and positivity so if yours is skiing, or you want some escapism, then read on…
This work seems less relevant with so many ski areas closed, but as I’ve already completed it, here it is. I asked on my Facebook Page and the consensus was to continue to share this work. Follow this blog to see more.
D for Drag Lifts
Next up is D for Drag Lifts. There are the solo kind – button lifts and pomas, and the more challenging t-bar. The t-bar can be romantic but if boot buckles get stuck together or there is a significant height difference it can be a battle to stay on the lift all the way to the top.
One of my closest friends was tiny so the poma lifted her off the snow, and she would be literally sitting, holding on, rotating. We would see her and hope that when she got to the top she’d be facing forwards.
B is also for Bindings
This idea kept popping into my head so I backtracked to letter B, and in addition to the Piste-Basher artwork I created this technical illustration to demonstrate ski bindings.
These vital pieces of ski equipment save your legs, and knees, by releasing in the event of a fall or irregular force.
I used hand drawing and then digital techniques to make this piece on paper and iPad and Apple Pencil. Creating some fun pink and yellow screwdrivers in the process.
Piste Off – Jumping on to S for Signs
This was one of the ideas I had for ‘S’ for Signs for the A-Z of Ski, a play on off-piste, which sadly is internationally appropriate, and how many skiers are saying that they feel online.
I’d next intended to use the letter ‘E’ for Extreme Skiing and maybe eating and adventures when I work on this project. I’m open to suggestions. What’s your favourite extreme skiing memory? Share your memories in the comments, would be great to read them, alternatively email me.
I’ve had a good number of requests for prints of ski illustrations. I’ll be exploring selling these as downloads for print at home, with global logistics in mind. More on this soon.
Regular bright cheery doses of inspiration emerge on my favourite social media Instagram, also on Facebook and my art movies and animation on YouTube.
And finally: Smile
Smiling causes the brain to release endorphins, triggering positive feelings, this lowering stress levels and enhancing your mood.
Follow the arrow directions on the diagram to trigger better feelings. Even pretend smiling has positive effects. Repeat whenever you feel blue.
If you need creative communications solutions, crisis management support, or visual content, get in contact.
Stay light, stay home, keep finding ways to feel joy.
This post is an illustrated travel feature from my heli-skiing trip to the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. I have illustrated my account in artworks created in watercolour paints.
Heli-Skiing in Russia
By Kimberley Kay
As the Russian ski guide, Jonanin, adjusts my avalanche detector I pray I won’t need to use it. He tightens the straps across my chest and I realise I am not breathing.
Jonanin asks if I am okay – at least that is what I think he asks, I can’t hear him over the deafening roar of the helicopter rotors. I give the required ‘thumbs up’ – although I am sure that my eyes belie the fact that I am far from ‘okay’.
We climb away from the ramshackle village of Kransnaya Polyana. The peeling paint of the houses and the rusty roofs shrink to miniature as I peer through the window. The helicopter has seen better days, the interior is basic and dirty – I wonder whether the helicopter or the ski descents of the Caucasus Mountains pose greatest risk to my existence.
I have skied since I was five years old – but I know that the heli-skiing will be more challenging than any piste or slalom course I have ever encountered. I knew this when I booked the trip last October, I knew it when I boarded the plane in Moscow to fly south – I hope I have the mental strength to overcome the physical challenge.
Nausea set in at breakfast – I ate what I could stomach, knowing I would need the fuel – but recalling the smell of the dill laced fried eggs makes me wince once more.
We soar towards the mountains where Russia borders Georgia, near the Black Sea. I spot the shadow of the helicopter projected onto the snowy canvas. We are flying level with the mountains – it feels close enough to catch a rotary blade on the jagged granite rock – time to get a grip and calm down.
Twenty minutes later the helicopter begins to slow and hover – my heartbeat quickens and my mouth is dry. On the guide’s signal the skiers one by one jump from the doorway disappearing out of sight. I pull my goggles over my eyes, thank my former self from having the foresight to invest in a helmet, then I jump. Jumping in ski boots isn’t easy – they are rigid and can hyper extend your knee. I break through the icy crust into the soft sugary snow beneath. The lead guide’s advice front of mind, “stay low so that you don’t get sucked into the rotors”. I crawl across the steep slope to the rest of the group, digging my boots in to keep me from falling. The power of the blades whisks up the air. I feel like a commando – it feels hardcore and I like it. What an adventure!
Immediately the guide signals to the pilot, the helicopter rises and banks away – the noise goes with it leaving silence. The isolation of our location sinks in – we are aloft the landscape with peaks around us 360 degrees, the mountain slopes shimmer in the sun – looking like they have been draped in fondant icing.
My consciousness returns to my situation, knelt at the top of a slope – I look down between my boots and the world drops away almost vertically – oh my… I peer forwards to see over the crest of snow in front of me and see a valley that tumbles away as fiercely as the first. I start to feel my body go heavy as the reality sets in. I dig my skis into the snow at 45 degrees – the only way to clip into the bindings on such an incline.
The guide signals the off and drops over a cornice – I point my skis downwards, taking a deep breath. I focus what lies immediately ahead as I don’t want to become overfaced by the scale of the location.
These are the kind of conditions when people die – loosing their grip and ‘rag dolling’ down the slope until hitting the rocks below. I grip the icy incline with the edges of my skis determined that I will not fall.
Narrowly missing a crevasse brings home to me my naivety about the mountain conditions – I conclude that I have a better chance of surviving staying close to our French guide, Marc. I put my faith in him. And with the helicopter nowhere in sight or earshot and Marc and Jonanin holding the radios, the only means of hailing our ride home, who else can I count on.
I follow Marc down the steep slope my skis juddering on the ice as I fight to stay in control and ensure that I am attacking the mountain and not the other way round.
As we continue to descend the icy surface is then snow, and my skis glide on the surface, I relax and take in the view. There are only mountain peaks as far as I can see, that and the blue sky, I feel like I’m literally on top of the world. It feels like I’m a bird, flying.
We encounter the path of an avalanche – which has thundered down the mountain leaving behind a barrage of boulders of snow. I stand contemplating my descent.
My mind is telling me repeatedly that I can’t do this, as I hear the thoughts my body feels heavy and clumsy. I feel fear coursing through my muscles – debilitating and dangerous. I fight to change the thoughts, to believe I can ski this terrain. Before I have chance to think better of it I point my skis downhill.
Picking a route through icy avalanched snow blocks is like skiing through a collapsed building – very different from the perfectly groomed pistes where I normally ski.
I traverse to an area untracked by the avalanche – the snow is suddenly soft and my knees come up to my chest, throwing me forwards unexpectedly – my helmet hits the snow. The momentum, and the smooth surface of my helmet, means my legs flip quickly over – my helmet hits the snow again – once more the momentum ‘flick flacks’ my body over and I land on my skis. I laugh as I brush the snow crystals from my goggles – I had executed a double front somersault and skied out of it – I’m feeling awesome.
We must have covered 3 kilometres already. The snow is heavy now – it’s April after all. I pull on my strength, my resolve and my determination to ski the run of my life.
And then I am down, joining the guide as one by one the group arrive and gather for the helicopter pick up. To fly us another mountain to ski.
I peel my helmet from my head and survey the slope I have conquered. As the pain in my legs subsides my breath slows and I feel an overwhelming sense of achievement. I look up at the mountain so silent and still, yet so dangerous – an unpredictable opponent.
We all stand at the foot of a deep gorge waiting for our pick up. There is tranquillity in being so far from the busyness of the world. The only other sign of life are bear tracks. I scan the slopes to ensure that there aren’t any bears planning to bound down for an easy lunch. We wouldn’t stand a chance the snow here is too heavy to run or ski on.
The helicopter is now heading straight for us. Although we have to stay squatted down my instinct is to bolt.
Three more heli drops later I savour a bottle of cool water – such exertion in spring temperatures makes me feel like I have had a sauna with my ski gear on.
As we leave the snowy wilderness behind the foliage seems greener than before. It feels like we are flying through the seasons – from winter to spring. The day is warm so I choose to walk the two miles back to hotel. The houses I pass indicate the simple lifestyle of the residents which contrasts uneasily with the extravagance of our morning’s pursuit.
Back at the hotel I relax in the sunshine, my exerted muscles soothed by the sun’s warmth. My perfect day – a great morning skiing and then being able to get my bikini on and enjoy the sun in the hotel garden. I wear a smile inwardly and on my face – I have pitted myself against nature and survived – with some quite fun acrobatics.
Thanks so much for being here. This post is a departure from my usual posts which are about my art process. If you’ve enjoyed the post please comment and/ or Like it. If there is someone that springs to mind who would enjoy it please share it with them, it’s my goal to reach people through my work.
I regularly post new work, but not so frequently as to bother you. To see more you can follow this blog. To see more regular updates you are welcome to follow me on Instagram @Inspire by Kim