Weekly Inspiration: Visual Overload in Rome.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

I spent last week on holiday in Rome. There was so, so much to see! It was an overwhelming bombardment of colours and patterns and forms, a total visual feast. As expected, my camera shutter finger was on rapid-fire mode , and I came home with many reminders of the beautiful things I’d seen. Most of the photos below were taken in the streets of Rome, or the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. As usual, I’ve focused on small details that caught my eye, so don’t expect a tour guide to Rome and the Vatican!
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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour-rome-12Above: Tapestries and frescoes in the Vatican Museums. The ornate ceilings are just…off the charts. If I had to paint something while lying on my back, I’d just end up with a splattered face. The mosaics also blow my mind, with their luminous colours and level of intricacy. I was seriously impressed.

Below: A few impressions of St. Peter’s Basilica. My boyfriend made me climb up the (several hundred) stairs to get a view from the top. It was incredible, but it was also very hot and I may or may not have done a lot of whining. Anyway, to the point: Wow. When I see things like this, I think ‘damn! Humans are awesome!’ (And, yes, I do see the irony in using the word ‘damn’ to express my feelings about a church.) Continue reading

An Illustrated Coat of Arms

Hello! This has been a real Summer of Love at Thefty HQ, as this is the 2nd (out of three!) wedding-based commissions I’ve worked on since June! This one was commissioned as a gift for a wedding which took place last month. The brief was to create a Coat of Arms for the bride and groom, incorporating the couple’s story, as well as their favourite things and personal jokes. What a sweet, thoughtful gift, huh? I really enjoyed working on it.

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Helena-Maratheftis-Coatofarms-SMALL-05 Helena-Maratheftis-Coatofarms-SMALL-03 Helena-Maratheftis-Coatofarms-SMALL-04Before starting this piece, I was given a long list of things to potentially include in the design. Here’s some of the back story to what I’ve drawn:

Firstly, the groom loves bananas (one of his nicknames is ‘Banania’, I’m told) and the bride is a vegetarian, hence the inclusion of a whole freakin’ grocery store on the coat of arms. (I really love the bananas – they look quite grand yet also very silly.) The bridges represent where the couple is from and where they live – Sydney and London respectively. There are also some owls at the top, which are the couple’s favourite animal (I drew two of them, to represent the Love Birds themselves, hee hee).The ring is quite self-explanatory, but the bike? Well, that’s the Engagement Bike that the bride gave to the groom! Ha! Finally, I also included the wedding date, and the initials of the Bride and groom.

Oh, and I added some rhinestones too, but that was my own input ;-)

Congratulations, guys! May the House of C&I prosper!

Hold me closer tiny canvas (aka Little John)

For my birthday,  a friend of mine gave me a bunch of tiny canvasses. I got excited when I saw them, but I also had no idea what to do with them. However, I had a bit of an aha! moment this week. You see, whenever I do big paintings, I always end up with leftover paint which I hate to throw out. In the past, I’ve used the leftovers to paint my flowerpots…but I have now run out of flowerpots. And now? Well now, it’s tiny canvasses to the rescue:

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I love how silly the tiny canvas looks next to my massive portrait of my boyfriend. (Yes, that’s Andy Warhol’s Mao hiding my boyfriend’s face. My Dearest One started to get weirded out by seeing himself hanging on the wall all the time, so we’ve covered him up for the time being.) After I finished drawing on my tiny canvas, It struck me that the man I’d drawn looked kinda like my brother. I’m therefore going to call this one ‘Little John‘.

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The best thing about tiny canvasses is that they’re unintimidating. There isn’t a massive blank space staring at you, daring you to mess it up. It was so easy to slather the hand-sized canvas in paint, and and to pick up my black marker and doodle a face on top. So easy. Sometimes, it’s nice to draw easy things.

p.s. if you’re wondering what this post title is all about, listen here.

Weekly Inspiration: Shapes and Colours at Kew Gardens.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

This weekend I visited Kew Gardens and it was a complete visual assault, of the best kind. As far as I’m concerned, nature is the best source of inspiration. You already know that I’m crazy about beetles, but as an equal opportunities nature lover, I’m also a big fan of plants – the bigger and brighter (and weirder) the better. Here are some of my favourite photos from Kew:

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour225-01The next few photos were taken inside the Victorian palm house, which was the biggest glass house I’d ever seen. It was filled with warm, humid air as well as exotic plants from all over the world. I would quite happily live in there.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour225-08Sunlight passing through leaves never gets boring, I say. Luminous colours are the best colours.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour225-07This is the Chenille plant, Acalypha hispida. Can you even believe this thing exists? It looks like a pre-decorated Christmas tree, laden with long, fuzzy strands of hot pink tinsel. I couldn’t stop looking at it.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour225-05We climbed to the top of the palm house on this spiral, wrought iron staircase. Below: the view from the top.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour225-13I loved these tiny, star-shaped flowers which had 5 stamens apiece. They were barely a half centimetre wide, yet so exquisitely detailed. This is where the phrase ‘small, yet perfectly formed’ comes in. Continue reading

Wedding Illustrations: Cities of lurrrve!

OK, so, here’s the truth: Some illustration projects are more fun than others. This one was definitely one of my favourites, and I’ve been dying to show it to you!

I created a series of ten framed drawings for the wedding of Tom and Sophie, one for each table at the reception. The couple asked me to draw the cities that they have visited together, including where they got engaged, where they live, and where they where they went to university. They sent me a list of things they did in each city (mainly revolving around drinking, ahem!) so that I could incorporate them into my illustrations. I love projects where I can add lots of tiny details and personal touches, so this was right up my street.

Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-1bNo. 1 Tom asked Sophie to marry him in art deco bar in Sofia, Bulgaria. (She said yes.)
Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-2No. 2 Living and studying in London, England (hence the fruit flies and microscopes).

Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-3No. 3 Sophie and Tom went on a train trip around Europe, which involved ‘flat bums and lots of queues’.
Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-4bNo. 4 NYC, USA! A holiday involving lots and lots and lots of shopping and sightseeing!Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-5 No. 5 Oxford, England. Studying, punting, and drinking, drinking, drinking.Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-6No. 6 A holiday in Tokyo, with ‘lots of temples and sushi’Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-7 No. 7 A trip to Berlin, where Sophie and Tom drank cocktails by the river in Traditional German Beach Chairs.Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-8No. 8 Barcelona, Spain. Swimming, beaches and Gaudi!

Helena-Maratheftis-table-numbers-collageSophie and Tom wanted to decorate the wedding venue very simply, with floral bouquets and my illustrations giving colour to the room. The colour scheme for the wedding was apple green, orange, and berry pinks – I was so happy that my drawings perfectly matched the floral arrangements on the tables, as you can see below!

Helena-Maratheftis-wedding-numbers-small-bloomsAfter the wedding, Tom and Sophie told me that they’re planning to hang the illustrations in their living room, to remind them of their wedding day. What a sweet, lovely idea! I’m so pleased that they were happy with my work.

Congratulations, Tom & Sophie!

Weekly Inspiration: Exploring art (and cake) in beautiful Vienna.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

I’ve always wanted to visit Vienna. I blame (or rather, thank) my high school art teachers who raised me on a diet of  Hundertwasser and Klimt and Schiele, all Viennese artists. Of course, Vienna is known as much for its cakes as it is for its art, so it’s doubly surprising that it took me so long to make my pilgrimage. However, I finally made it! I spent four glorious days in Vienna last week, and I’ve got the photographic evidence to prove it! I’ve left out the standard tourist shots of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and instead am presenting a Thefty-eye-view of the city. I hope you enjoy it.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-02St. Stephen’s Cathedral is pretty fantastic. By night, it was illuminated in rainbow colours. By day, the incredible tile work looked beautiful in the sun. My friend, referring to the stripy bits, said,  ‘That looks like the sort of cathedral you’d design.’

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-04The golden orb on top of the Secession building is basically a beacon for magpies like me. We went inside to view the mural by Klimt, and it did not disappoint.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-06Afterwards, we decided to check out the contemporary version of Vienna, which involved a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK).  This was followed by a sunbathing session on huge, neon loungers in the museum’s public courtyard. Well played, Vienna.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-10Later on, we did some cake-perving. Naturally, this culminated in an afternoon coffee and cake session at the famous Sacher Hotel. Yes, we had Sachertorte. Yes, it was good (but admittedly not my favourite treat of the trip. So shoot me!).

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-11The highlight of my trip (apart from cake) was visiting the Hundertwasser Museum. I thought my obsession with his work had peaked in my late teens, but after fighting back tears the whole time I was at the museum, I concluded that Hundertwasser’s work still speaks to me. (I also concluded that I am the world’s biggest crier.)

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-13Photography was prohibited inside the exhibition, so I could only photograph the (very striking) interior of the building. Colours and patterns, ahoy!

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Hundertwasser believed in’ diversity over monotony, for romanticism, for the organic and for unregimented irregularity, for spontaneous vegetation and for a life in harmony with nature’…all concepts which I can happily get behind.

Continue reading

The English Summer Breaks My Heart

Hi. The sky is grey today and I’m feeling gloomy. I’ve lived in England for almost a decade, and I love London so much, but every June my heart starts to tremble and long for sun-drenched lands. This weather makes me homesick. I need some good, summery vibes!

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My current solution to this grey-skied homesickness problem is to fill my house with colourful flowers and play Belle & Sebastian as loudly as possible, while making drawing after drawing after drawing. Any other tips would be received gratefully!

Beetles! A new collection at the NHM.

Hello! Welcome to my Beetles! series. I take photos for the beetles department at the Natural History Museum (aka the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’). There are plenty of photos to share. Stay tuned!

Last week was extra-exciting, as the team unveiled thousands of new specimens acquired for the museum collection. I was invited to take a peek at the new material…and encouraged to take lots of pictures, as usual. Here are some of my favourites. (You’ll be entirely shocked to discover that my favourites were the most heavily coloured and patterned beetles of the bunch!)

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Helena-Maratheftis-NHM-new-collection-600-03Jade greens and dusty blues…spots and stripes and abstract prints…gloss and matte and metallic finishes… these little guys give me so much inspiration for my artwork. They are just too cool.

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Helena-Maratheftis-NHM-new-collection-600-09Row after row of little white boxes, filled with specimens from all around the globe. These will soon be integrated with the museum’s current collection.

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Continue reading

Theftypix on Instagram!

Psssssst! I recently joined Instagram, and as predicted, I’ve become a total Instajunkie.  Fortunately, I’ve managed to keep the food shots to a minimum (I swear). I’ve been having a lot of fun snapping at my palette and works in progress, and I’ve posted some of my favourites below.

Come and join me @theftypix!

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Are you on Instagram? Leave your handle in the comments so I can follow you back!

Mr. Turtle: My colourful plastic sculpture

Hello! This is Mr. Turtle, my latest in a series of colourful turtle sculptures (see here and here). He is the result of a private commission, and is destined to hang in the sunny kitchen of an Oxfordshire home, swimming for evermore through the air. The sculpture is made almost entirely of up-cycled materials, including plastic bottles and old shopping bags – his snouty little face is made of a ginger beer bottle! Have a look:

Plastic Turtle Sculpture by Helena Maratheftis

Plastic Turtle Sculpture by Helena MaratheftisSince the sculpture is going to hang from the ceiling, I focused on decorating the underside. I went for bold stripes and contrasting colours. I wasn’t given a particular colour scheme, but was simply told to make it as colourful as possible.  He’s covered in many, many coats of acrylic paint, and embellished with splashes of silver ink. 

Plastic Turtle Sculpture by Helena Maratheftis

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You know, I’m pretty fond of this guy. He doesn’t have a name yet (and could be a Ms. Turtle for all I know). I handed him over with the request that he must be given a name! I can’t wait to find out what it is.

Weekly Inspiration: Fruit, flowers and feet…in Cyprus!

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

I spent the first two weeks of May in Cyprus, and I had a pretty rosy time: We visited the mountain village of Agros, which is famous for it’s fragrant Damask rose plantations. I’d always wanted to go but somehow always missed rose blooming season. We visited the rose water distillery, where there were huge piles of pink roses with a smell sweet enough to knock you out! I came home with a bottle of rose liqueur and a bellyful of rose sorbet (my childhood favourite). Below are a few of the most colourful photos from my trip.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour22-11Above: Jacaranda petals and geometric markings. So much colour!

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour22-09Bare toes and bougainvillea petals. Oh man, I miss the Mediterranean summer.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour22-06The next few photos are from the local fruit market, selling fresh fruit, veg, cured meats and flowers.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour22-01Below: A few quick snaps from a wedding I attended. I couldn’t resist those colourful legs!
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Have you ever visited Cyprus? It’s a very small but very beautiful island, and on grey London days I dream of its pristine beaches and blue skies. I love it there.

Memento Mori: Death, tarot cards, and a strange photo booth.

Hello! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember the funny/macabre tarot cards I designed for Moving Dust Productions. I finally got my hands on a set of cards, after the first set mysteriously vanished in the post (that’s what you get for messing with the occult). Anyway, Here they are! I’ve alsoposted some snaps of my very own brush with Death, for your enhanced viewing pleasure (please take extra note of my glamorous veil).

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The cards are for The Box, an installation where participants get to meet death…in his photo booth. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I was invited to take part in the latest incarnation of The Box and, let me tell you, Death was a hoot!

If you fancy your own (harmless) brush with death, follow Moving Dust on Facebook for updates.

Beetles! The Cheeky Butterfly Edition.

Hello! This is part of my Natural History Museum series – I’ve been taking photos for the beetles department (aka the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’). I will be sharing my favourite images with you every week!

Last week at the museum, I was looking through drawers of new specimens when I stumbled across trays of butterflies. It was a surprise to find them in the beetles department – butterflies are not beetles! They’re classed as lepidoptera, and they have their own museum hangout! However, after weeks of looking at compact little beetles, I was struck by the sheer novelty of broad, soft wings. I couldn’t help but whip my camera back out of my bag to take a few quick snaps.

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These particular butterflies were brought back from Tanzania. Aren’t they beautiful? I love the vibrant colours and crisp black lines and fuzzy little bodies. There’s just something so non-threatening about them, which probably explains why they’re loved by even the most passionate  of insect-haters. How can you hate something so delicate and good-looking? It’s just not possible.

Wisdom Teeth: Pain, Illustrated.

Hello. I’ve been quiet for too long, and this is part of the reason why: WISDOM TEETH. Evil, evil wisdom teeth making my gums look like angry red balloons. I have a history of drawing my way through pain and illness, and this episode has been no exception. Behold!

Helena-Maratheftis-wisdom-tooth-600pxThat’s all from me today – I’m off to gargle some salt water! I should be back to regular programming shortly  and have a bunch of new drawings and photos to share with you. Oh, and, If you get a spare second, please send some good vibes to my miserable mouth!

Weekly Inspiration: Earthy Greens & Muted Tones.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

I went to the Beach House concert in London last week, and the stage was filled with ethereal lights and smoky colours. The show seemed to subconsciously inspire me, because I’ve been taking a lot of foggy photos in a similar colour palette. I’ve thrown all the photos together in this post, as I think they play off each other nicely. I hope you enjoy them!

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STARS / SKY / SNOW / RAIN / GREEN / LEAVES / LIGHT / NATURE