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 have often seen deer, foxes and wild boar whilst driving the mountain roads at night. The marmots we see emerging from hibernation in the spring, enjoying eating crocus as the snow melts away. I once encountered an imposing bouquetin at high altitude by the glacier near Val Thorens. We would also see herds of bouquetin grazing and fighting on the slopes of Champagny Le Haut. Mountain hare tracks can be seen from the chairlifts indicating their nocturnal presence. Whilst driving by Lake Annecy a family of five wild boar crossed the road ahead of us, parent and their young, so cute.
I also painted a Eurasian brown bear which lives in the Caucasus mountains of Russia, where we skied over bear tracks in the snow. Next to our hotel was a woodcarver’s yard where he whittled life sized bears from huge tree trunks. I chose a small carved bear as a souvenir of the trip. To read about heli-skiing in Russia click here.
My first composition (below) felt predatory, I needed a less confrontational arrangement of the elements.
Therefore I chose a tower of animals, united in assistance for the story’s main character, painting them in a less literal style for the final artwork.
I’m determined to keep learning and growing my skills through study of theory and techniques, practical art and colourful exploration. You can follow my blog to see work as it develops and the projects progress.
My intention is editorial illustration work, ideally the cover of Flow magazine, and commercial artwork for ‘change for good’ marketing campaigns. The big dream is an interactive art TV programme.
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.
I wasn’t sure as to whether there is relevance to continuing on with my ski A-Z project in the present global climate. But time is spent in lockdown should be time made better by finding the joy, and I get a lot of joy from making this work, and so I found that it felt best to continue. There’s a lot of people who enjoy skiing and mountain sports and so maybe share in the work can share some joy too.
If you’ve not seen my artworks for the letters from A to D then check out the links at the bottom of this blog post to catch up there.
Next up is the letter ‘E’ there are a lot of words that came to mind for E and I have incorporated this into a large artwork which illustrates some of my favourite ski feelings.
Enjoyment of the soaring peaks and stunning views of the mountain environment.
Exhilaration of skiing strong and fast, putting myself against the challenge of the mountain slopes. I always enjoyed giant slalom, over slalom courses, when we were ski racing.
Experiences – Skiing is a great switch off as it’s so engrossing physically and mentally that it’s hard to think of anything else meaning it’s a magic kind of mountain meditation.
One of the ways I love to experience and soak up the mountain atmosphere is to get off the piste and find somewhere to just sit, and be in an entirely natural environment, ideally with a semmel sandwich and a refreshing drink. To sit awhile and take it all in. For the non skiers, if you can get your skis into the snow you can use your ski poles between them to make a seat. Alternatively you can sit on the snow, ideally on a rucksack or plastic bag to avoid getting a soggy ski pants.
Extreme skiing needs you to have your wits about you and is so satisfying when you look back up a slope that you’ve achieved. Often having experienced a range of emotions on the way from doubt and fear to joy and euphoria.
My most extreme ski experience was Heli-skiing in the Caucasus mountains of Russia and Georgia. I illustrated an account of this trip which you can read and see at this link.
Here are the links to the Ski A-Z work already created…
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.
Intending to capture the atmosphere after a day on the slopes and feeling everything from euphoria of achievement, to relaxing relief, I painted this conceptual illustration in honey based watercolour paints. This will be applied as editorial illustration and wall art for limited edition prints.
The artwork features a live music band entertaining skiers and snowboarders, some are dancing on tables, two are relaxing in deck chairs, there’s a little romance on the balcony whilst a discussion of the day’s route tales place over a piste map, and a light hearted snowball fight is underway.
Apres-Ski – detail
And because Apres-Ski is reputed to be a party straight from slopes, whilst still wearing ski boots, it’s all happening in a ski boot. A nod to the children’s rhyme about the old lady who lives in a shoe, “had so many children she didn’t know what to do”.
I’m intending this piece as the first in an Illustrated A-Z of skiing. I’ll be sharing the work as I continue to create it so please follow along here and on my Instagram or Facebook.
I’ll be putting words with the illustrations so I’m interested to hear how Apres-Ski is across the globe so please share this project with your ski friends, and tell me about Apres-Ski in your favourite resorts.
Thanks so much for being here. If you know someone who’d enjoy seeing my work please share www.inspirebykim.com or if it sparks an idea of how my illustration can promote your brand or service then please get in touch. To discuss licensing and commissions contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bye for now and happy skiing. Have fun and stay safe. Don’t be the one who takes it too far, like the guy in the Apres-Ski illustration who’s balancing precariously one the high balcony 😊.
May all your nights have fresh snowfall and your days be blue sky ones, with the magic of sunshine. I love it most when the sun causes a myriad of tiny colours to refract in the snow crystals.
The mountains are a wonderful place for a perspective reset. They are eternal whereas problems are more transient and will pass in time. Have a good day.
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 have skied since I was 5 years old, thanks to our local council taking the bold steps to build one of the first artificial ski slopes in Britain.
I decided to illustrate a subject matter that I know well and began painting ski equipment, there is a lot needed for a day on the snow.
I’ve been working on a number of ski icons as part of this project. Here’s are the pieces so far throughout this email…
The ski slope was our playground. We trained there, made friends, raced, jumped, fell, got up and enjoyed skiing in all weather from baking heat through drenching rain to the delight of freshly fallen snow.
Often travelling with friends and the local ski club we travelled to the Alps for the added magic of real mountain skiing.
More to come on this project as I’ll bring these elements into compositions for editorial illustrations and marketing campaign visuals. So follow my blog to see the development of this work.
I have been busy painting skiers, ski lifts, and most recently I started to paint some of the additional snow based activities such as snowmobiling.
One of my favourite pieces in the project so far is this Parascending painting.
I’ve found an ease to this work, knowing the subject matter and working from experience. I love these watercolour paints, they’re lush hues and a delight to create with.
If you’d like unique, eye catching visuals for your marketing campaign, editorial or activity you can email me at email@example.com
It’s been a productive January with ski illustrations and two sewn projects.
I’d love to know what you think of this work so please Like if you do and comment below. I’m keen to reach people who will enjoy my work, so if you’ve a friend or colleague that springs to mind please share this post with them.