AN EXCITING NEW YEAR AND SOME RECENT(ISH) DABBLINGS WITH ABSTRACT WATERCOLOUR

Helen Simms dot watercolour painting

I think it’s acceptable on the 13th of January to still be saying Happy New Year to you – especially since I’m ashamed to say that my last blog post has not been since the end of May! With that in mind, it’s also a fair assumption what my new years resolution is going to be! I’m definitely aiming to create more work and share my process with you on here – warts and all.

2015 was an excellent year for me. I had some exciting clients – including L’oreal and TIME Inc and  am currently anxiously waiting to see my illustrations “come to life” for a project I did with Sanctuary Spa back in summer, that will be launching nationwide later this month ….. watch this space! Not only that, me and Mr Simms managed to buy our very own house together. We got to kiss goodbye to the perils of renting and set about making our house into a home, ripping out bathrooms, carpets and dated 70s style fireplace cladding and completely redecorating (aside from the kitchen – our budget didn’t quite stretch that far!)

With that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that my creative practice became a little sidelined since the move as I began to find more and more instagram accounts to follow – based purely on how their creators had styled their home, searched Pinterest to create mood boards for each of the rooms and quite a few hours on ebay trying to get the best price on vintage french furniture.

However, the projects that I did focus on got me thinking about my overall style. A few of my clients encouraged me to be looser with my technique. I LOVE working this way and certainly the works that I have considered most successful in the past have shown a really loose, confident technique that I would love to develop this year. Sometimes I feel like I need to give myself permission to work this way – it seems too easy, too enjoyable … but then I guess it takes a certain amount of confidence to give oneself that kind of permission and shut everything else out.

Helen Simms abstract watercolour

 

Helen Simms abstract watercolour 2

Helen Simms abstract watercolour 3

abstract watercolour helen simms 4

 

Above are a few abstract experiments trying to loosen up both my technique and my mind! Also, living in the country, I’m often inspired by botanicals and again I wanted to loosen up my response to them.

helen simms abstract watercolour 5

helen simms abstract watercolour 6

The Lipstick Conundrum

A couple of years ago I met up with some of my old girlfriends for dinner. I hadn’t seen them in ages and wanted to look my best. It was the middle of winter and as my skin is naturally pale and hadn’t seen anything resembling sunshine in months, I reached for the fake tan. I swear by St.Tropez. If you apply it wearing gloves and have exfoliated etc beforehand, it can give you a very natural looking tan, which usually boosts my confidence.

But …later on that evening, after a few glasses of wine, one of the girls took a photo of the group. When we looked at the photo somebody commented “Helen looks SO brown!” I looked at the photo and yes, I did look very brown, no, orange! My eyebrows were even darkened by the stuff. I looked like an oompa loompa!

I think the problem was this – I had put on the tan on the morning of the event and as such, while I thought I looked naturally sun kissed in a “I’ve just popped back from the South of France” kind of way, the tan had actually had time to develop throughout the day and by the time the photo was taken I was a little overdone. It was then that I vowed to only use the fake tan a night or even two nights before an event, allowing enough time to wash the stuff off and for it to look natural.

So, once I accepted my natural paleness, I decided to embrace it! I love a strong red lipstick on others, especially those, like Dita Von Teese with beautifully pale complexions. The result is so retro and glamorous. So I figured I may as well try vamping it up myself. I went to MAC to talk to one of their makeup artists since usually I’m actually a bit scared of lipstick and only ever shove on a little of their Politely Pink (seriously, that’s what it’s called). The very helpful lady picked out a fantastic matt colour called “Ruby Woo”. Woah! Very red! We put it on and I was all lips! I liked it though.

Feeling slightly self conscious I wandered out the store, towards Pret a Manger. It was lunchtime. But, after tucking into my sandwich I nipped to the loo. There was lipstick on my chin and a weird patchy bit in the middle of my lips where most of the lipstick had been removed. It was hideous! No wonder I had some funny looks when leaving Pret.

There is obviously much to be learned about the fine art of wearing lipstick. If I go for gloss it will always, I mean always, be a windy day and I end up with my hair stuck to my lips and with bright lipstick you clearly can’t eat anything (is this why French women are so thin?)

What do you think? Any tips?

 

 

 

 

Count Your Blessings to Find What You Look For …

 

Chanel No 5 and that Brad Ad!

In the lead up to Christmas we were hit with the inevitable barrage of perfume adverts during our favourite programs. Seems reasonable, given that perfume is a “relatively” inexpensive gift. I’m sure the festive season helps many fashion houses’ profits tremendously in this respect and Chanel No.5 is one of my favourite perfumes of all time. Classic, classy and elegant. Like a Chanel suit, it will never go out of style, but unlike a Chanel suit, most people can afford the perfume, even if it is a bit of a treat.

I also (usually) love Chanel’s perfume adverts. In the past they usually have a narrative of some kind and a romance! They just seem so…..well, so French! One of my faves of the past was the previous no 5 ad featuring Audrey Tatou searching for her mystery love, with Billie Holiday’s melodic tones in the background. Like I said, French, romantic and with a narrative. Perfect.

But then the first time I saw the new No.5 advert, the one in which Brad Pitt is shot in black and white and recites a monologue directly to the camera, well, I wasn’t sure what to think?

I like Brad Pitt a lot. He’s a brilliant actor and if you think about it, I guess it was really quite innovative of Chanel to choose a man as the face of a woman’s perfume. It’s never been done before. But I think it’s the fact that there’s no real narrative and a lot of the romance and ALL of the Frenchness has gone. Maybe all the budget went on Brad’s fee (dare I say it?!), or perhaps, more likely, the director felt Brad’s monologue would have more impact if it was stripped back and direct to camera?

Perhaps I just don’t like change?!

What do you think about it?

 

 

 

50 Shades of Natural Darkest Brown

I found my first grey hair at the age of 19. I was on holiday in Greece and an old Greek man remarked that it was a sign of wisdom. Well, 10 years on and  I’ve been telling myself that ever since!

I started out with very dark hair. My Dad and brother were the same (though annoyingly my bro has only just found his first grey hairs despite the fact that he is 3 years my senior). Perhaps it’s linked to stress? Humph!

My point is, at what age (if at all) is it okay to accept the inevitable and stop pouring horrible chemicals on my head every 6 weeks? Meryl Streep looks so glamourous with her white hair. It’s almost empowering to see. But for a woman in her 20s (yes, I’m holding on to that title for as long as I can), wouldn’t it look a bit odd? Moreover, I don’t think I’m quite ready to go grey!

 

Brow Envy

Helen Simms brow envy

 

The people that know me really well are the ones that know just how obsessed I am with eyebrows…. and I mean seriously obsessed! Since I was, I don’t know, I guess, 12, I realised just what a big deal they are in terms of shaping and enhancing your whole face. However, unfortunately, at that age, I got hold of my Mother’s tweezers, armed with magazine pictures of popstars and actresses and just started to pluck. Ooops! Needless to say, I over plucked! My eyebrows were too short in length (I did not adhere to the old rule of holding a pencil at the side of my nose and lining it up with the edge of my eye to show the place at which my eyebrows should stop), generally over-plucked and uneven (not helped by the fact that in my teenage years I would constantly raise one eyebrow, largely because most of my friends couldn’t).

I have been paying for these early mistakes ever since and I’m sure I’m not alone. I even remember one girl at my school decided to shave (yes, shave!) her eyebrows. Gah!! Oh, how I long for big, beautiful Audrey Hepburn-esque brows!

Anyway, just over a year ago I discovered a new phenomenon known as HD Brows. It’s a 7 step process in which they do all kinds of things to your brows – including threading, dying, waxing etc. and after the year, I must say I can see a huge difference. The downside is that it’s quite pricey – (£35 a pop!) and that they recommend you completely leave your brows alone between your 6 weekly visits, which is very hard for someone as obsessed as myself : )

Anyone else got any good brow recommendations?

What is it with Geek Chic?

Helen Simms Geek Chic Illustration

 

Is it just me that’s obsessed with Geek Chic?

It’s one of those looks (like 1950s glamour) that I never seem to get bored of …. maybe it’s the allure of wearing spectacles and seeming super intelligent or maybe it’s just that there’s something very sexy about covering up – wearing blouses buttoned up right to the top and wearing our hair a la Zooey Deschannel in New Girl. I am, incidentally, thinking of getting my hair cut like hers next time I’m due for a trim, but then, that’s another story….

Edie Sedgwick

Helen Simms edie sedgwick

Helen Simms edie sedgwick

Ah .. to pull off a headband!

Fashion Illustration by Helen Simms