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…
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.
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Great days start with great mornings so I wanted to create a positive, inspiring breakfast cereal in response to the brief: Create a fun sized design concept and packaging for a new cereal product.
I wanted to inspire and uplift women through a positive, confident image of a female pilot. She already has three stripes so she’s doing well; metaphorically and literally she is flying high.
Here are my rough drawings whilst brainstorming ideas for the box creative…
The character was further inspired by the aviation PR work I’ve been busy enjoying in recent weeks, thanks to my client in Florida.
I thought that aeroplane shaped breakfast cereal would be fun and novel. This idea was warmly received in consumer testing, with enthusiastic feedback.
I later added the fruit, and additional cereal aircraft, into the bowl for the final iteration.
Once I had the character idea I felt the breakfast cereal design concept formed around her.
In order to create the entire packaging concept it was necessary to define the target market, and what would appeal to them, to decide the ingredients, flavours, also to create a cereal brand, logo and product name.
I had all this in mind when choosing the colour palette of gold, red wine and cobalt blue. These were colours I could use throughout to represent the morning sun, and the colourful sunrise sky.
I chose ‘Inspired Mornings’ for the cereal company brand, and after painting a sun in watercolours I recreated the round window effect of my ‘Inspire by Kim’ logo and added the new brand name.
Nutrition and natural ingredients are key to wellbeing, which is fuel for a positive frame of mind, so I wanted the flavours and sweetness to be natural, therefore I chose fruit flavours on a Tropical theme, This flavour choice was to evoke the idea that the pilot is flying to a tropical island destination.
Travel, new experiences and the relaxation enjoyed on holiday/ vacation are fundamental to enjoyment of life, so by bringing flavours that are associated with holidays into the cereal concept the consumer would start the day enjoying a breakfast that the brain can associate with positive, pleasant experiences and help the person benefit from the associated holiday feelgood factor.
By illustrating the ingredients it was possible to give the consumer quick visual references and these were to denote the fresh, healthy, natural qualities of the product and brand values.
The reverse side of the cereal box was a great fun opportunity to further inspire the consumer and providing positive affirmations to start the day, in the form of a circular word search.
The wordsearch was placed over the watercolour sun using my favourite digital application of present, Procreate.
I created a template to fit the sizes in the brief, 4×3 inches, and arranged the completed panels within this.
This was the completed concept.
I was delighted that as I completed the design I saw the Virgin Atlantic campaign to inspire young women with a day of activity using the hasttag #seeherfly Wonderful that this timing coincided with my design.
I cringed when I read the brief for September’s #portfolioclub “Folk Costume”, but illustration briefs aren’t always going to be something I’m jumping up and down to illustrate, so I ploughed on, trying to keep an open mind.
However I have enjoyed the exercise; probably because I decided to illustrate a costume based on my favourite things, the sun, nature and rainbows. If Inspire by Kim was a country this would be the costume, echoing the beauty of life.
This was an early drawing where I was developing the idea of the costume mirroring the environment.
I developed the idea whilst travelling so in black pen and then added colour digitally.
the Inktense version was less effective.
This concept then started to feel a little fluffy and idealistic and wasn’t saying enough about my causes. So I had a think about what the costume would be for this theme…
I might revisit this alternative concept but the first concept felt incomplete. I came to the conclusion that either way a folk costume should be illustrated using fabric.
So I free machine embroidered the design onto a shiny fabric from @sunnybankmills.
I then painted the design with fabric paints from @colourcraft.
Next stage was to hand sew and embellish the dress.
Here’s the completed work with embroidery silks, thread, metallic thread, glass beads and crystal organza.
Life drawing is important for my work as my art is very much about feeling good about life and doing one’s best to stay positive, as I’m female the characters in my art are most often female, so being able to represent women through drawing is important.
A number of life drawing sessions were timetables for the start of the Foundation Studies course, as the figure is considered to be one of the hardest things to draw.
I used a beautiful life drawing from UAL Chelsea and used Lino cutting techniques to cut into rubber.
I added feathers when printing. I’m delighted with the outcomes.
I love the vividness of the colours achieved and contrast with printing inks on the white paper.
I think I prefer this print reversed…
I cleaned the Lino with white spirit then cut further her into the Lino and re-inked and created more prints.
The second part of this challenge was to Lino cut directly from looking at the life model using just the cutting tool and Lino. Here are the resulting prints with the bright colours being inspired by Alberto Giacometti’s ceiling murals that I saw in Zurich Police Headquarters last week.
The first time trying life drawing is an unusual experience but once you relax into the drawing process Life Drawing requires a careful process of looking, marking the paper, looking again, making marks. The careful consideration of the model’s form and trying to accurately represent it leaves little room for other thoughts making it relaxing and a way of switching off/disconnecting from our busy lives.
I struggle to meditate, find mindfulness a bit confusing but when I’m life drawing I can find a place of conscious thinking which is also a little unconscious. Sometimes I sit back from my drawing and I wonder where it has come from and how that came about as the many small marks become a whole representative piece.
Non-judgement of the drawing during its creation calms the mind, slows the breathing and allows for an enjoyable process. I use the thought that ‘with practice the drawing will only get better’, so I try not to judge the drawing but let the process of practice deal with my development.
I first tried life drawing 13 months ago, here are the drawings from the latest session. This session began a little differently as the model was wearing a satin gown, so we could try to capture the texture and folds of the fabric. This was inspired by the ‘Robes‘ series of artworks by American artist Jim Dine created over an almost 50 year period as a form of self portrait from 1964 onwards. (Bizarre concept but fab colours)?
It’s a very pure form of art that has remained the same process for hundreds of years.
You can use whatever medium you wish for life drawing in this session I worked in Quink, my favourite pink drawing ink and also at the end of session oil pastels.
The drawing is valuable practice in representing form of all kinds and aids observation skills, so it’s beneficial to all art work. If you’ve not tried it, and like me forget that you were trying to meditate or be mindful, then maybe try life drawing to achieve calm.
Here are a range of related posts.
Thanks for being here, have fun!
It is my goal to inspire people, so if you have been inspired at all I’d love to hear about that or see art or creations as a result. Thank you sincerely for your support, for following my blog, for visiting. If there is anyone that you think might be inspired by my art please share http://www.inspirebkim.com with them, for this I would be grateful.
Fabulous time up high in the mountains of the French Alps yesterday.
The stunning autumn colours and the beautiful blue skies made me feel like my character in my Leaves Lady artwork and video created one year ago this week.
Leaves Lady 22 second movie.
Enjoy this wonderful time of year when nature changes its colour palette in such a dramatic way.
A big part of life drawing is recognising one’s style and letting it emerge.
Life drawing is a valuable exercise as it is very difficult so it’s great practice for all drawing, which enables my art to be able to develop and allows me to constantly evolve how I can represent my ideas and communicate positive energy.
Here are the pieces from the latest session, I felt challenged by a busy mind, distraction from background noise and the small paper size, but pushed on and when it then came to he final piece which was A2 I am happy with the result. The final pose appeals to me as it’s a pensive, contemplative pose which captures my imagination of what the woman in my ink painting could be thinking or, better still, day dreaming about. Thinking idealistically about this is much more hope encouraging for me.