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.
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
I’m pleased to have made it through to the fourth and final week of #Inktober. Here are this week’s ink artworks… apologies that they aren’t in order.
A tricky prompt was day 25, tasty. I did a line drawing which has been a bit of a breakthrough piece for me as it has helped me realise that it is conceptual illustration that I really want to excel at.
I did an ink line drawing which I then developed into a painted piece. Painted on the beach whilst on holiday in Turkey, in my favourite watercolours.
“The Doctor will see you now”. Ink and cherry 🍒 juice.
I’m not really into Halloween anymore but the illustration prompts are all part of the challenge. So here is my macabre drawing for the Day 22 #Inktober prompt Ghost and #portfolioclub which gave me the haunted prompts ‘doctor’ and ‘conservatory’.
Happened upon this ancient species today, sadly it was dead. So have honoured it for today’s #inktober2019 drawing.
This fascinating ancient species was a pleasure to study.
These next three pieces I drew inflight, whilst travelling back from my holiday. I find the seating and table position on aircraft ideal for drawing.
Inktober day 27 prompt is coat. This and recent observations made me think about how inhibitions, self-consciousness and fear can become a heavy, restrictive coat, holding a person back from fully enjoying life.
#Inktober day 29 prompt is Injured. This of course took me back to my knee injury and this climb back from injury that I’ve illustrated is ‘inspired’ by the long rehab experience.
I started with a page from #breathemagazine that I thought represented the climb back from the lows of injury, the uphill struggle and having to keep picking oneself up, both mentally and physically. Drawn inflight.
#Inktober day 31 – the final prompt of the month is Ripe. Without colour ripeness if a tricky thing to show so I thought about readiness, strength, mental preparedness in the form of belief, being at your best, in your prime and from somewhere came a superhero strawberry wearing power pants.
And with that I’ll call #inktober2019 officially done. And I’ll sigh, rest my eyes for a moment and then get on to the next project, powered up and ready for creative challenges.
Ps I find this piece kind of weird but haven’t got time to do anything else. 🤣
Also in a line drawn style I recently made this card for the newest bundle of joy to arrive in our family. Tiny sparkles were added to the paper card which was personalised with baby’s name and birth date.
Cheers for being here to see my work. Sharing helps me to continue developing my work. I figure it will only get better with practise and keeping creating. So support and feeling my work is reaching people really helps spur me on. I’m always interested to read comments and hear which pieces you like so feel free to comment. Supportive comments always most welcome.
Here are the previous weeks drawings. I’ll be selecting my favourite ones and then calling #Inktober2019 done!
It is four years since I decide to push visual arts to the top of my priority list.
Major knee injury meant I had to pass on the opportunity that I’d been hankering for years, to manage the PR for Meadowhall. Facing months on crutches and unable to drive, life was taken up by the countless rehab exercises and everything normal took three times as long. With a recovery period quoted in years rather than weeks time began to feel different. I had so little time spare that I had to get to the nub of spending time how my soul needed and what emerged from valuable sessions with my wonderful life coach Heidi-Mai, was art… making… creating, colour, I felt like there was a whole lot of colour and creations inside me that needed to be let out into the world. And so my visual art journey changed up a gear and I began to prioritise this work, moving it from the ‘indulgent, blissful hobby’ to the ‘if I don’t have much time available I’m going to spend it on what feels great’. And with a feeling of naughty delight I signed up for an Art Foundation course.
What an exploration it has been, and continues to be. I’ve always enjoyed a steep learning curve and staying on such a curve keeps me interested and motivated.
In the first four years I’ve had a solo exhibition, had work in four public exhibitions, have begun teaching fabric design techniques, have shared art skills in school, created commissioned artworks, designs, infographics, videos, animations and have made products from miniature pot plants to fabric birds.
I don’t know where the work is leading and when I’m in the creative moment I don’t think it really matters where or whether it leads. For me creating and making is calming, rejuvenating and present. It’s my antidote to the harrowing stories that the media try to intrude into my calm.
Here are my favourite pieces from the past four years. I look forward to seeing what will emerge from my work in the future.
I’m not stopping here. I’m busy preparing for my next workshop on Sunday 2nd June at Stitched Up and Fleeced, Sheffield.
I’m working on personal projects and strategic commercial communications. I’ve a plan for a book, watch this space, and have some exciting collaborations ahead.
Here are my favourite posts from the past four years:
Here are anniversary stories from the years you may have missed. I’ve always worked on the proviso that my work will improve, although I’ve a good way to go to be at the level I aspire to, when I reflect I can see the progression. Practice makes better…
Celebrating 3 years: It’s now three years since I began focussing on art and making. After injuring my knee I decided to follow my heart and felt a need to let out the colour and creative potential that I instinctively knew was within me.
Switching to a less commercial line of work has not been easy and has taken courage and conviction, but as I continue to explore and my work evolves I’m keen to see what I’ll be creating next.
The highlights of the past three years have been two Art and Design year long course Distinctions, a solo art exhibition, and being commissioned by customers to create bespoke artworks and gifts.
Collage of my favourite 9 from the past 3 years…
Latest work: My latest creation is an embroidered work for a dear friend, inspired by an image. I felt real flow in this work and felt guided in creating it by some artistic wisdom that joined me while I hand and machine appliquéd and stitched.
Workshop Development: Exciting news is that I’m developing a heat press workshop. This will given people the opportunities to develop a design and print it onto fabric in just 2 hours. Watch this space for news and dates. if you’re not signed up to receive Inspire news then you can do so by typing your email address into the box above.
Work in progress: Miniature plants need a miniature place to grow so I’ve been building a greenhouse in Fab lolly sticks with a Magnum stick for decoration. I’ve also tried a more rustic ones from twigs pruned from my Japanese Acer. Need to eat a fab lolly or two more to be able to complete the roof structure. I’m considering whether to plant miniature climbing plants with the rustic greenhouse to encourage them to grown up and within it.
Greenhouse picture 1 &2
Ceramics: I’m exploring ceramics, its not an area I’ve studied before so I’m learning hand building techniques. More on that when the pieces have been fired.
Commission Time: Christmas is coming and its traditionally a time for commissioned artworks for loved ones, providing a bespoke gift made for them. My deadline this year for commission requests, to be ready in time for Christmas is 31st October. Please email me and I’ll help determine all that’s needed to begin the creation of your unique artwork.
Thanks for the support in the past three years and here’s to the future. To creativity, and beyond!
October is #Inktober: I’m taking the #Inktober challenge again this year. My intention is to try to illustrate the prompt words simply and clearly. You can see my ink creations in my Instagram ‘stories’.
Here are latest highlights from my Instagram feed. I like Instagram as I can send my work across the planet and people near and far can see it, maybe in far flung places that I can only imagine. From my life to theirs in an instant. Shared interests found.
It’s been a busy time with my Foundation Studies final exhibition. My products exhibited for the first time after months of hard, but enjoyable, work at The Workstation in Sheffield City Centre.
I remembered my intricate paintings of the white dog Sam, completed a year ago, on his journey as he hoped to fly. I shared a previously private video of the ebook. You can watch this, 55 seconds movie, here.
Work In Progress – A rare sunny no breeze day meant I was able to work outside on my next intricate paper cut picture. This imagined scene is inspired by the Brighton’s seafront, with a tearoom, vintage style dress and ladies wear shop, and next a beach goods shop. This is the latest in my series of paper-cut pictures.
For a family birthday for an avid French Alps skier I turned a microfibre glasses cloth into zipper bag on my wonderful Bernina sewing machine.
I hand painted, printed and sewed a shower cap as my final exhibition product. Wipeable lining from my friend’s Sheffield haberdashery emporium Direct. Loved the pink satin binding – a beautiful find from Berwick Street, London.
I made a video of my recent work to promote my exhibition.
And finally my dress design fabulously modelled by Lucy.
I was so proud of my Ice Cream paper-cut picture that I used it for another love of mine, creating a jigsaw with it.
Even before I could talk I loved jigsaws, and in some ways when I’m creating my paper pictures they can feel like a jigsaw that I am creating the pieces of as I go.
The detail, size (A3) and colour palette of Hot Days Eating Cool Ice Cream felt ideal for a jigsaw so I ordered a master at myphotopuzzle.com. I was so surprised at how quickly the order was created and got more excited with each update email about its progress.
When the parcel arrived I was delighted to hear and feel the pieces in the box and was so chuffed to see and hold the box of my very own jigsaw.
I can’t wait to spend time savouring the artwork and putting the pieces together in this similar but different way. Maybe it will be almost as much fun as making the picture was. It’s a little bit of my legacy.
To order a limited edition 200 or 500 piece jigsaw email with your preference of 200 piece jigsaw £32, or 500 piece £36 (including postage and packaging to England, Wales and Scotland) and your full name and address, details of the payment process will be sent forthwith.
I have wanted to create a book since I was 7 years old.
The fluffy white Maltese Terrier Dog Sam has featured in each of my paper cut pictures, so I started to feel a story was emerging.
‘Sam’s Adventures’ came to mind and I decided to sign up for a Writing Children’s Books workshop with London-based publishers Nosy Crow. I ticked the box for the option for a manuscript review, and then was shocked when I received an email asking for the manuscript a good time ahead of the course. I swung into action and started to build a book from the pictures I had created.
I didn’t enjoy the process and the publisher’s MD didn’t like the outcome, as the character wasn’t prominent enough in the illustrations.
In the time between sending the manuscript and the course I had a burst of courage in my painting ability and I decided to paint the character and hoped to capture his spirit.
Here are some of the watercolour and acrylics paintings I created of Sam.
Sam was my brother’s dog, we had great adventures in the Alps and Provence together. I loved him very much and although it would be wonderful to have a dog of our own for the time being creating stories for Sam will have to suffice.
On the theme of Sam the dog wanting to fly I created a range of artworks. I scanned my paintings and created a PDF file which I then uploaded to create an e-book through Kindle Direct Publishing. I’m proud to say that the book is now available online.
Update April 2018 – A hard copy of the book is available at my Folksy Shop
The first book was about the scenes, the second book/ iteration was about the character. My challenge now is to find ways of putting the more developed character into unique environments and settings. When I achieve that I will share the outcome. Watch this space. You can do that by following the blog, just add your preferred email address in the box at the top sides of the page. I love welcoming new followers to the fold and won’t clog your inbox.
“My latest paper masterpiece, “Hot Days Eating Cool Ice Cream”. It is pretty with details and interest, always something more to see and packed with pictorial love from corner to corner.”
Read the full story:
I often have an idealistic view of what an event will be like. For instance say to me garden party and instantly an image conjures of pretty bunting flapping in the wind, smiling faces, beautiful colourful tablecloths, bright blooms, pink lemonade with ice glinting in the sun, gorgeous dresses and a cloud leisurely tracking across a vivid blue sky. My idealism can often lead to the reality being a little disappointing. I had seen this as a trait that was negative, that I was being naive and childishly silly.
But I have realised that it is this ideal world imagination that is the magic that can make my special kind of art.
My growing number of paper cut creations, finely crafted like a self-made jigsaw, come from this visual idealism.
Best seen in their original form the pictures are intricate and unique. In their creation is a calm happy place for me, one where I am in that sweet spot between consciousness and subconscious. Piece by piece, thought by thought I cut and stick to form a whole that when I step back I wonder how that came about.
When I was a youngster I would get frustrated that my art did not look like I had envisioned. That I could not recreate on paper the picture that I had in my head. But my paper artworks never start from a whole vision, it begins like a building, first the walls go in place, then I furnish the building with pretty furniture from my imagination and add personal items that belong to the imaginary owners, curated over their lives.
Ta-Da… My Latest Picture Revealed
I very recently completed what I feel is my latest masterpiece, “Hot Days Eating Cool Ice Cream”. Like the earlier smaller (A4) Beach Huts, Allotments and Ski Chalet (all in the strip above), it is pretty with details and interest, always something more to see, but this new piece is A3 and packed with pictorial love from corner to corner.
I created the Ice Cream artwork with new colour understanding after studying the relationships between colours. As a result it really pops off the page.
So here it is for your visual consumption. Have a Flake with that.
Hot Days Eating Cool ice Cream is a design made entirely from pieces of paper cut into shapes to make a bright, colourful work of art. The design feature an ice cream cafe on a sunny day. The ice-cream maker also sells the delicious ice creams out and about in the sparkly ice-cream van.
Two girls are at the cafe to enjoy ice-cream and a small white dog trots by to in the hope of a little chocolate or sweet treat.
In the distance people enjoy the fun and thrill of a rollercoaster ride and a plane flies overhead to spread the work about the wonderful ice-creams.
This is my first paper cut work that prominently features people. This was a challenge, at first I painted people and cut and added those, but later recreated them in paper and am happier with the paper characters.
Here are some details from the picture… (watermarked).
And now the fun starts on creating canvases, fabric and products which will take the picture out and about and on the move in the world.
I am seeking an art agent or art business mentor/manager to assist my art out into the world. Please share my post so that it can find its way to the ideal person to help.
If you’ve enjoyed this post here are related posts to feast your eyes and imagination on. Enjoy!