The Great British Beige Off

Bank holiday. That celebrated British institution. For once it’s been a glorious one. And like many other self-respecting Brit, I spent a day of it travelling cross country to see family; in my case … my dear, frail, bed bound and ever so slightly nuts Grandma. Now in her 90th year, she has spent the last two of them in a nursing home.

As I walked the length of the home’s corridor, I was struck by two things: the first was the number of funeral Order of Service handouts affixed to the notice board … about six in total, all marking the passing of former residents. Nothing screams ‘Time’s nearly up friends!!!’ quite as well as this, I thought. The second detail of note, was the distinct beige quality of the home. I don’t just mean the walls (though they were an evident offender.) I’m talking furniture, pictures, soft furnishings, signage ….. meh.

Why is it that Bupa – or any other elderly care provider for that matter – feel it appropriate or necessary to bedeck their care homes with magnolia, embellished only by a scattering of ill-placed pastoral scenes or inoffensive nautical sketches? I’m not saying they should to go all Damien Hirst, and maybe I’m just plain wrong: maybe all individuals over the age of 80 favour a nice shade of biscuit on their walls … to go with the nice crumbly biscuits they dunk in their tea … because that’s all the over 80s are interested in doing right?? Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, an injection of colour would      prompt a smile, brighten a day …. bring joy.

Life is precious and worth celebrating. It is, by its very nature, colourful – both literally and metaphorically.  Life should be full of colour. We all need colour. It doesn’t need to be brash or in your face. It doesn’t need to parade itself in front of those who do not crave it. It doesn’t need to be all consuming. It just needs to be.

In some way, shape or form, colour must be accessible to all who want it…. to all who need it.

It’s a slightly tenuous link, but today’s visual offering (just the one … more to follow) comes in the form of a re-working of last week’s post on Prosecco. I wasn’t especially happy with any of the designs. But this week I’m being a little more brave with textural experimentation … and really loving it! So, in honour of my darling Grandma, who fuelled me with enough wine at my uncle’s wedding to run a fresher’s party ……. (I was 14) ….. Here’s to a life of colour. Cheers!!

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A bit too little, a bit too late

Well, I promised blogging honesty (!), so here goes ….. turns out I value sleep (i.e. sanity), over blogging four times a week as intended. As such, today’s blog will be tomorrow’s blog. Must add ‘time management: sort it out’ to my clueless designer ‘to do’ list. In the meantime, here’s the starting point of some ideas I’m hoping to put together for tomorrow. It all starts off in my kitchen with some black acrylic paint and anything I can get my hands on to print with. It one of my favourite parts of the process!

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A bit of garden magic

Today’s planned blog has been hampered by small humans various (quelle surprise). On the plus side, the day has been beautiful, and I managed to sit out in our beautiful garden, undisturbed (but for the for the dulcet background notes of warring tots), for a whole ten minutes . More impressive still …. I finished an entire mug of instant; quite the achievement.

On the theme of garden loveliness, the botanical motifs in these designs were all pre-drawn a few months back during one of my sketching jaunts to a local cafe. (This is something I manage to do once every few weeks: me, my headphones, a few sheets of paper and my trusty black pen. My piece of heaven.) Today I experimented with different textures to add a bit of depth, and also added some colour. The palette in the third design is quite a departure from my usual blues and corals. I think I like it …..  maybe it’s probably a grower. Regardless, the process was a whole heap of fun.

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A bit of garden magic

Today’s planned blog has been hampered by small humans various (quelle surprise). On the plus side, the day has been beautiful, and I managed to sit out in our beautiful garden, undisturbed (but for the for the dulcet background notes of warring tots), for a whole ten minutes . More impressive still …. I finished an entire mug of instant; quite the achievement.

On the theme of garden loveliness, the botanical motifs in these designs were all pre-drawn a few months back during one of my sketching jaunts to a local cafe. (This is something I manage to do once every few weeks: me, my headphones, a few sheets of paper and my trusty black pen. My piece of heaven.) Today I experimented with different textures to add a bit of depth, and also added some colour. The palette in the third design is quite a departure from my usual blues and corals. I think I like it …..  maybe it’s probably a grower. Regardless, the process was a whole heap of fun.

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Ode to a mug

Maybe it’s an age thing, but of late I’ve started to become picky about mugs.  More specifically, I’m really rather choosy when comes to deciding from which mug I should drink which hot beverage. It’s a foible which began to rear its finicky head when I found myself drifting into the mid-thirties neck of the woods.

By tradition I’m an Early Grey and Americano-with-a-dash-of-milk drinker, (though I have been known to venture into herbal tea territory, and more infrequently still, hot chocolate).  Tea must be consumed from a tall, dusky purple number, embellished with abstract foliage. Drinking it from my lovely Tate Modern offering, with designer paint drips running down the sides, is also acceptable. To select the mug decorated with gardening implements various, on the other hand, demonstrates a bona fide brew emergency. Conversely, coffee from the same would be admissible. Coffee from the Paperchase zebra mug, however, is always preferable.

Yesterday my darling Sister-in-law gifted me two scrumptious Queens Couture mugs by Churchill (Toucan Crush and Flamingo Crush, below). Drinking anything from these beauties will be unashamedly gratifying. Which is exactly how it should be.

Queens Couture Toucan Crush Mug by Churchill.Queens Couture Flamingo Crush Mug by Churchill

It suddenly occurred to me that all mugs should serve this purpose; they play as much a part in pleasure giving as the beverage itself. A light bolt moment: there is no longer room in my life for ugly mugs…. worse still, dull mugs. Today I have done away with four such offending articles. It felt good.

Until now I hadn’t really thought about printing my designs onto mugs as a first step into manufacturing. But given today’s epiphany, perhaps I should. I’ve no idea where to start in terms of printers, materials, cost etc., but I have to start somewhere, and start I shall.

Here are some beverage-related scribbles …. not designs for mugs themselves, but a thoroughly delicious exercise exploring line and texture. I had a lot of fun with both.

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Perfecting simplicity

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Prosecco. Is there anything better? Sharing Prosecco with a friend of equally fabulous character. That is definitely better. You know … the kind of friend who knows exactly when you’re about to hit melting point (after 24 hours of exceptionally putrid sproglet behaviour) … who senses that you need sugar (because it’s too early for Prosecco) … who takes you out, buys six different varieties of cake, and then makes the noxious brood wait for theirs while you choose first. That friend.

I have one just like her. And we spent the weekend doing just that.

What better way to salute two days of splendidness, than by drawing a simple Prosecco-ish shaped bottle, and immortalising our weekend of merriment with a simple pattern design. Simple.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, keeping it simple is …. well ……. not.  It’s complicated. Granted, it doesn’t need to be complicated, and I rather hope that in a year or two I’ll be able to ‘do’ simple with a little more ease and confidence. But as it stands, I suck at it. This is somewhat bothersome as it’s exactly the kind of design I’m aspiring to achieve: simple and beautiful.

The problem, I think, lies in the sheer possibility of one single drawing. You can alter the shape, the size, the position, the colour, the opacity … all before you even think about repeating that one drawing, with one click of the mouse. You can repeat it once, twice, 10 fold, 30 fold … you catch my drift. And then? Then the same number of editing possibilities apply to all those copies of that one drawing. And that’s before even considering adding some background texture, or – dare we venture – another ‘simple’ drawing to the mix. So long did I take experimenting with my one drawing, that yesterday’s ‘quick’ blog post was rather less speedy than intended; 24 hours later, it’s nearly at the finish line.

Am I happy with any of the below-listed? Some possibly, some not really. The problem is, I don’t really know; I’ve been staring at them for too long. But here they are, nonetheless,  in all their (not so) simple glory. Perhaps in a few weeks I shall view them differently.

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Alliums and small people

Ahh ….. the Summer holidays. That wonderful time when attempting to begin new design projects is futile. Tweens, tots, and time in the studio? Jog on. Yes … my plans to throw together some quick Christmas giftwrap ideas over August, have been well and truly thwarted. I’ve probably missed the boat when it comes to getting festive stuff finished in time anyway, but come September I shall soldier on regardless. (There’s always 2018 after all.)

In the mean time, TCPD posts will comprise random snippets of this and that: inspiration, random sketches or photos, or just stuff that makes me smile.

Today’s morsel comes in the form of Alliums. I spotted some beautiful dead heads today on the dashboard of our lovely gardener’s van. (Our gardener is the second most indispensable constant in our lives after toilet roll: i) because our garden is a wild beast which needs taming with the greenest of fingers ii) I am even more baffled by horticulture than by Photoshop.) Earlier this year she gave me some deadheads from our own garden, which now sit in a jug looking beautiful. Inspiration ensued, I got scribbling, and here’s what happened …..

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In celebration of The Ugly.

So I’m a Blogger. Not fully fledged, granted. But I’ve not had a job title in nearly 10 years, and it feels good.  As my chosen blogger name suggests, I really have no idea what I’m doing. So this evening I sought help, courtesy of a fabulously insightful and honest podcast aptly named, The Honest Designers Show. Rather astutely (I think), I opt for the episode entitled Social Media for Designers. Imagine my horror 14 minutes in, when I hear the words:

“[….. ] blogging has kind of died”

…… not terribly helpful to a nonplussed blogging novice who can’t even fathom how to add a link to The Honest Designers Show in her post.

There is good news though! (Brilliant. I can practically feel the whoop-whoops!! bubbling up inside me.) Apparently, aiming for perfection in a blog is just plain silly; it’s labour intensive, more stressful, and there’s no reason to suggest you’ll gain a greater following as a result. Plus …. as you’ll likely spend more time on a ‘perfect’ blog than on one just thrown together, you’ll also likely to be posting less often. And what do blog followers like? Consistency (apparently.) You have to post often. So here, according to The Honest Designers, is the good news:

  • It doesn’t need to be clever
  • It doesn’t need to be witty
  • Ugly sketches are good (People like to witness your ‘human’ side apparently.)

Already I can see that I’m onto a winner. Henceforth I shall adopt the suggested guideline: give yourself just 30 minutes a day in which to cobble something together. Then just post it. In the spirit of the afore-mentioned (and given today’s allotted time expired 15 minutes ago), I leave you with a few selected pieces which whole-heartedly embrace The Ugly, (and prove I’m human):

(Yes, they all embody the ‘bleugh’ factor, but they’re my bleugh designs damnit. They get a bleugh Cat Christopherson Design copyright ©)

 

 

 

Clueless …. no, really.

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Well isn’t this funny. My very first Blog post. I’ve promised to be completely honest about my foray into the world of surface pattern design. And what better way to start than to share with the world that I cannot even fathom how to upload a jpeg to customise my Header… (I think that’s what it’s called). Yes … this is the level of primitiveness we’re talking here.

Still, on the plus side, at least I’ll have given those ‘happiness’ engineers at WordPress a  laugh. And making people laugh is a joyous thing. So at least I can sleep safe in the knowledge I have performed a good deed today.

The only way is up.

(Or so I’m told …..)