Blogstagram: The week in Instagram Pictures.

Hello! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve had a very colourful few weeks! Spring is coming and it’s a total relief to see the days  getting longer. Flowers are appearing, as is the sun and the blue sky. Hell-freaking-yes. All this colour and light has put me in a the mood for drawing and decorating, so I’ve been filling up my sketchbook with doodles and filling up my house with patterns and flowers. And, of course, I’ve been packing Retroviral mug orders…which never gets old! Here are a few recent Instagram snaps.

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Sickness Sketches Vol. 57804785760047

You may have figured out by now that I have a terrible immune system, and that I like to draw my way through my illness-induced misery. Last week’s cold was no exception, and I posted a couple of my sickness sketches onto my Instagram:

Helena-Maratheftis-instasicky1 Helena-Maratheftis-instasicky2Drawing – along with copious amounts of Haribo, tissues, cookies and Vitamin C – helped me through my week of fever and sniffling. Drawing is my ultimate distraction from everything happening around me (and I’m guessing that most illustrators would say the same). I also enjoy looking at my sickness sketches once I’m better, because there’s something about the melodrama and self-pity which is kind of hilarious to me!

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that I’m better now, and it’s back to regular programming on Instagram!

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!

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!

Be Happy: Good Vibe Doodles.

Here are some good vibes for you:

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Hello! These are some sketches from the last few days. Ironically, I started drawing while I was in a very bad mood. I’ve now cheered up considerably (and I like to think that’s ’cause of these doodles). I’m thinking of turning them into posters. What do you think?

Christmas Decorations: A Doodle.

Hello! I’ve got a cold. A disgusting, horrible, unwelcome cold. I spent yesterday wrapped in a blanket, popping paracetamol like candy. On the upside, I got a great view of our Christmas tree from my spot on the couch…and so I drew some of our tree decorations. Of course.

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Our tree is a 6 foot, ‘champagne’ coloured, tinsel monstrosity. We love it. It’s loaded with decorations, most of them being gifts from family and friends.

What’s on your tree?

Gingerbread Stars: An Illustrated Recipe.

Hello! This blog post is part of my illustrated recipes series, because I love making food as much as I love drawing it.

Helena-Maratheftis-gingerbread1Every Christmas, I make gingerbread. I love the way it makes the house smell spicy and amazing, and I love spending a couple of hours decorating the cookies. For this year’s first batch, I made gingerbread stars. However, you can make any shape you like. I don’t judge.

My cookie recipe is the Waitrose Christmas Gingerbread recipe. It’s essentially foolproof, so I’ll leave you to it. However, I DO have some decorating ideas I’d like to share!

GINGERBREAD DECORATING IDEA #1: Crunchy sugar icing

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Directions (consult above diagram for help):

1. Mix 2 cups icing sugar and 3-4 tablespoons of warm water in a large bowl. You want the icing to be ‘spreadable’, so add water to loosen or add more sugar to thicken it if necessary. Add a few drops of food colouring if desired (I added green food colouring to half of my icing, and left the other half white)

2. In a separate dish, spread a thin layer (half a centimetre will do) of caster sugar. If you like, combine – or replace! – the caster sugar with sprinkles of your choice. I added blue and green sugar balls.

3. Use a butter knife to spread a thin coating of icing all over each cookie. Alternatively, place a thick blob of icing in the centre of the cookie.

4. Immediately place the cookie into the dish of sugar, with the iced side facing down. The sugar (or sprinkles) will stick to the icing and create a sparkling, crunchy surface.

5. Dust off the excess topping by gently tapping the cookie, then allow the icing to harden on a tray or wire rack.

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GINGERBREAD DECORATING IDEA #2: Piped decorations

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can opt for delicate piped decorations (see above). For example, if you make gingerbread men instead of stars, you can use a piping bag to ‘draw’ eyes, noses and buttons.

Make the icing in the same way as before, but rather than applying it to the cookies with a knife, fill a piping bag with a small, circular nozzle…and get piping! Alternatively, you can buy icing in a tube from most supermarkets. All you do is open the packet and squeeeeeze. Simple. Feel free to decorate with coloured sprinkles, and make sure to let the icing dry thoroughly before you stack the cookies.

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The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of weeks, so you can make them in advance and give them as Christmas presents. They look pretty and taste delicious, so what are you waiting for? Eh? Enjoy!

Pencils and Pie: Drawing the Great British Bake Off.

Hello! Who is a fan of Great British Bake Off ? I am. Last week I caught up on all the episodes I’d missed (I’d had no internet or TV for 3 weeks), and I decided to do some sketching while I watched. I drew some of the droolworthy treats, as well as some of my favourite contestants: BrendanCathrynJohn and James.

This was from the pie episode, in case it isn’t obvious. I really love pie (in case that also isn’t obvious).

Food is a beautiful thing! I love watching it, drawing it…and eating it. I can’t wait to watch tonight’s episode! Good luck to the remaining contestants.

A portrait of Gayle

Hello! My friend Gayle visited me this week, and I painted her portrait while we drank about 50 cups of tea in the space of an hour. I haven’t had a good portrait painting session in a very long time. As much as I love my black pens and Photoshop, it’s nice to ditch them every once in a while.

Now, I have a history of making beautiful people look grotesque when I bust out the paints, but I’m quite pleased with this one.  I think it’s a decent likeness for a quick sketch (if you ignore the wonky eye, that is).

Gayle is an excellent model because she sits still, has nice cheekbones, and brings cake. I would happily paint her again (if she lets me).

p.s. Irrelevant side note: I’m on Pinterest! I’m new to it and it’s lonely, so please follow me!

Self-Portrait: A Moody Greek Maybe.

Hello! I’ve been rifling through folders of old sketches this week. This is a typically moody and indecisive self portrait from a while ago. I quite like the fluid lines. I added the blue dot pattern for a bit of extra texture.

Are you wondering what it says? The text is in Greek, and reads ‘isos‘, which means ‘maybe‘.

I used to add Greek text to my drawings because it felt quite … private. If I wanted to be moody, then no-one would know (as most of my friends aren’t Greek speakers). Perhaps I grew out of the Greek-lettering habit around the time I stopped being so moody? Ha!

I think the Greek alphabet is beautiful and expressive, and I might give it another shot. What do you think?

Piano Head: A sketch

Hello! Here’s another pen drawing from the archives. I don’t know why it never made it onto the blog!

I freshened it up with crisp blue dots and a splash of sea foam green (one of my TOP 5 favourite colours, ever).

I have no idea what inspired this drawing, but I like the idea of a piano-keyed head.