Design Challenge One: Holly Helgeson

Helgeson dc1 Emerald Kingdom

Emerald Kingdom 10″ x 10″

Helgeson dc1 close-up

Emerald Kingdom Detail

Helgeson dc1 close-up2

Emerald Kingdom Detail 2

Helgeson dc1 coordinates

Emerald Kingdom Coordinates

Holly Helgeson Profile PicFollow your wanderlust…WOW, what a FUN challenge! Truth be told, when I read the first challenge I was not only giddy, but a little nervous too. I knew right away that if I could pack my bags and set off to a far away land I would travel to Ireland. I believe my true passion for Ireland came shortly after I graduated high school. The movie “Far & Away” had just been released, and I fell in love with the amazing cinematography of Ireland. It was absolutely stunning! And, I may or may not have had a slight crush on Tom Cruise at that time…but I digress.

197525133626193835NTW59oPncIreland has always captivated me with its lush emerald rolling hills, spectacular ocean views, breathtaking cliffs, and gorgeous stone castles that have stood for hundreds of years. Yes, this is a place I wanted to explore! So, I dove into my research. The more I researched and read about Ireland, the more enticed I became. Not only was I drawn to the beauty of the land, but the rich history and culture fascinated me as well. Ahhh, I was torn. I was soon flooded with so many design ideas that I wanted to develop. But I wasn’t sure if I should base my design around the landscape or the history and culture…or a combination of all three. Really, the deciding factor for me came down to my own style. I knew if I was true to my own style and followed my heart (followed my wanderlust) I would be completely happy with my entry. So, I followed my heart and developed “my” design.


Blarney Castle

Maybe it was partly because I have young children who still love stories about knights, kingdoms, Vikings, and far off lands. Maybe it is because I always wanted to be a princess, like my daughter, when I was little (really…what little girl doesn’t dream about being a princess). Or, maybe it’s just because I am completely in awe at the mere sight of these majestic structures. Whatever my exact reason, I decided to use Ireland’s many castles as the focus of my design.


Dromoland Castle

pantoneMy process for developing my design was pretty typical. Like I previously stated, I did lots of research. I searched Pinterest. I Googled Ireland. I scanned Flickr. I looked high and low for design inspiration. Once I settled on my focus, I relaxed and the design took shape. I knew I wanted my design to be colored with lots of lush greens that reflected the natural beauty and depth in the landscape of Ireland. In addition, I needed to compile some complimentary cool blue-grays to accentuate the stone castles. I found several color palettes from Design Seeds, Photo Card Boutique, Studio Press, Color Collective, and Pantone that I fell in love with. I also pulled together inspirational images that were saturated with the hues that I knew would work well in my design.

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Helgeson dc 1castle sketch

Once my mood board was complete, I got out my sketchbook and began to draw. I sketched multiple castles and experimented with detail and scale. After I had developed the look of the castles, I started drawing the landscape. Beautiful rolling hills began to take shape. Texture was then added to create interest and depth. After I completed my sketches, I scanned the images into Photoshop. I put all the elements into a square repeat, cleaned up any loose ends, and played with color. Finally my design came together and I could really visualize the colorway possibilities. I could see that the design would work well for both little boys and little girls. After all, every little princess needs a kingdom too…a pink and purple kingdom of course!

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Helgeson dc 1 castle sketch

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Helgeson dc 1 landscape sketch

So, here is my whimsical design. I followed my wanderlust all the way to Ireland…with a fairy tale twist…happily ever after.

The End

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8 comments on “Design Challenge One: Holly Helgeson

  1. Super fun design Holly. Love the movement of the mountains and how it does evoke a far far away land… Kind of a setting for a fairy tale story :)

  2. Jill C on said:

    Holly! After reading this, I am just sitting here amazed at your God-given talent! Wow! Love all the knowledge and passion behind the design. :)

  3. fun design, Holly! my daughter liked yours best so you’ve hit your target market! would love to see this made into a collection and hope you get to Ireland!

  4. Rebecca on said:

    Great design & sketches…Ireland does seem like a magical place

  5. It makes me want to go live in a castle, preferably an awesome structure located in the wonderful Emerald Kingdom you’ve created. Great job!

  6. Holly Helgeson on said:

    Thank you all again for your sweet comments! It has really been an awesome opportunity for me and I really look forward to seeing your next designs! Best of luck!

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