Oh, oh Frida: Seven faces of the colourful Ms Kahlo.

Last weekend, I was having a chat with my boyfriend when I happened to mention Frida Kahlo. He had no idea who she was. Somehow, he had managed to go almost 30 years without seeing any picture of the iconic woman or her artwork, and I felt the need to rectify that. I dragged him to my computer and Google Image searched her name, talking all the while about her life and her struggles, her colours and flowers, and of course those magnificent, defiant eyebrows.

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Consequently, I’ve been thinking about Frida all week, and when I picked up my sketchbook last night it was to draw her face. Or, rather, to draw a face…Fridafied. I started with a pen drawing but I ultimately ended up on Photoshop, where I completely let loose. I layered colours over colours and textures over textures. Pattern, blur, filter, smudge. Spots, dots, swipes and stripes.  I ended up with a whole series of Fridas, which is what I’m showing you today.

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Helena-Maratheftis-Frida-no outlines-600 Continue reading

Green Screening: Photography with a little somethin’ extra.

Hello! Did I tell you I published a book? Well, I did…sort of.

These images are from a personal publishing project completed in April. They are the result of a dress-up photo shoot set against a green screen backdrop (actually a cheap tarpaulin, ahem) + a fair bit of unsubtle image manipulation. I created the images as a special gift for a friend who – despite being in the photo shoot – had no clue what I was going to do with the photos! The final set of images were published in a beautiful, glossy, hard backed book using the excellent Blurb BooksHere is a tiny selection of my favourite shots*:

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Below: one of the ‘before’ shots, where you can see the faaancy green screen in the background.

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Things I discovered while making this book: I really like making books. Apart from the sheer playful joy of taking photos and creating composite images (some of which featured gorillas and robots), I loved designing the layout of the 50+ pages. I’d happily do it again, so if any of you are feeling inspired…you know who to call!

*re. pixellation: This is partly for my friends’ internet anonymity, but also because I like occasional dramatic use of Photoshop filters. (The images in the published book are uncensored, of course, because a memento with unrecognisable faces is a useless memento.)

Double Dolls: Playing With Patterns.

Hello! I had some free time yesterday, so I picked up a red pen and started scribbling on scraps of paper. I scanned one of the drawings – a doll in a party hat – and went wild on Photoshop. As you can see, I’m a fan of creating repeating patterns and layering one on top of the other. I get really excited when I get to play around with colours and patterns – I guess my retinas really enjoy being bombarded!

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Helena-Maratheftis-double-dolls-small3 Helena-Maratheftis-double-dolls-small2A funny thought: Although red is the colour I wear the most, I hardly ever use it in my artwork. On the contrary, you’ll find shades of blue all over my drawings, but I don’t own a single piece of blue clothing (except for a single pair of electric blue tights). Isn’t that strange? I wonder why that is.

Random observations aside, I reckon the last image would make for some excellent wrapping paper. What do you think?

Simple Things: A Belle & Sebastian drawing

Hello! I’ve always been inspired by song lyrics, and around 2008, I was obsessed with this song by Belle & Sebastian. I have a mountain of sketches inspired by that short, sweet song. I found the bones of a drawing in a folder today, and have spent the last few hours turning it into this:

‘If you want me look me up

I don’t exist in usual places

subtle as the wind is grey’

This song fills me with the good kind of melancholy. I love it.

Album Covers Re-imagined: Illustration Rally

Hello! These are my contributions to the Album Cover Rally, by Illustration Rally blog. The idea was to redesign the covers of our favourite music albums. I remixed some old artwork to recreate two covers: Beck’s iconic album Odelay, as well as the lesser known (but equally delightful) Since I Left You, by The Avalanches.

These albums use quirky audio sampling to similar effect: A playful, unusual and richly textured sonic experience.  I thought the use of ‘audio collage’ would work well with the visual collage in my cover designs! I hope you like them.

What I Wore Today

Hello! On Tuesday night, I attended the book tour for Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. It got me really inspired, so I decided to contribute to Gemma Correll‘s amazing What I Wore Today Flickr group. (I’ve been considering contributing for ages, but never got around to it.) Below is the final result…and I like it…although I think I’ve made myself look a bit like the Incredible Hulk.

Click here to see Gemma’s blog of the same name. It’s really addictive!

All of the Pets I’ve Ever Had

Hello! Today I’ve been responding to Illustration Rally’s call for patterns on the theme of pets. Now, I’ve had a lot of pets in my lifetime, and I don’t like to choose favourites. I clearly had no choice but to draw them all (and I’ve had a very pleasant trip down memory lane in the process of drawing this).

Yes, those are silkworms. (My family also had a pet goat, but that was before I was born so I didn’t draw him.)

This was a quick sketch, hand drawn and then tinkered with on Photoshop for about 20 minutes. I really love these sorts of exercises that encourage me to experiment and have a good play with different techniques. I hope you like it!