Why I started using colour in my designs

January 16, 2024 5 min read

Introducing colour into my work - is it led by design or my community?

If you have followed my creative journey as an artist and designer for a while, you will know that Powder Butterfly has always been a monochrome brand except for a flash of colour on my puffin collectionWhitley Bay Bag, Red Kite mugDurham Mug and now my Sunderland mug.


I also have to give a special mention to one of my best-selling products, the 2023 Sycamore Gap Flowers mug. As my emotional response to the illegal felling of the tree, I added a very subtle cluster of poppies at the base of where the tree once stood. You can read more about why I created this collection in my blog post about Sycamore Gap here.

Traditionally, I wanted to create neutral products that would fit in with my lovely customer community's interior design scheme. But this was not the only consideration that made me go down this route.

I always knew I wanted to create fine china gifts, but with every colour you add to the design there are a number of things to consider. Cost, manufacturing time and potential challenges during the manufacturing process were all additional considerations when adding colour. Of course, as a small business, I also wanted to keep my products cost-effective and wasn't prepared to sacrifice the artwork's or final product's quality (dare to dream!) 


Another consideration was that my original vision was to create gender-neutral products. As a company, our general customer base is female. However, many of my products are bought or gifted to men. As a creator and a business owner, I am forever mindful of the end user, ensuring that they connect emotionally to the products and adore them as much as I love creating them. As my collections grow and I develop my skills as an artist, I realise this may be an outdated way of looking at things, and defining products by gender isn't as important as it used to be.

To recap, the reasons I have not embraced colour in my designs until now are:

  • A desire to create neutral colour scheme designs that fit in with a wide variety of customers homes
  • Minimal colour palettes are more cost-effective when creating fine china products.
  • Creating gender-neutral products was my original vision - appealing to customers and end users has always been my focus.

One of the things I love about owning my own business is that you can shape it in the way that works for you. But it is also important to 'read the room' and listen to feedback. This is why I looovvvve doing well-chosen face-to-face events, as it lets me get direct information from the people who love what I do. This isinvaluable when developing new products and collections. Instead of creating products that I 'think' might work, I create products and collections that my community really want.

Ok, so I have established why colour has not been a predominant feature of my work to date. Now, I want to explain why I am excitedly introducing colour to my work.

If you have followed my journey as a creative over 2023, you will know I had the opportunity to paint a Shaun the Sheep for St Oswalds Shaun on the Tyne Sculpture trail.

Shaun on the Tyne


With previous trails, I had stuck to my usual monochrome colour palette with some gold detailing. This time, I wanted to do something different and feel freer when creating my design. Other artists do multiple trails every year, and they get to hone their craft when it comes to painting these beautiful sculptures. For me, the sculpture trail is an opportunity to be creative without using digital technology, do something entirely different and showcase my artistic skill.

The theme I chose was more topical than I had anticipated. I submitted the drawings for my sculpture at the beginning of 2023, and by April, I heard that my proposal had been successful. My design was called Club Tropicana, and I developed the concept and design during the colder months of the year when so many of us were worried about putting the heating on. I wanted to create something that reminded me of bright summer holidays and family fun. As you will see from the drawings below, I wanted to create a bold, colourful design with a variety of tropical flowers and leaves and glitter-covered legs. In the original plan, the legs would be gold, but they ended up being more of an iridescent silver colour. In fact, the legs were the most popular feature of the sculpture and ended up stealing the show, especially when the light fell on them, and they really had an opportunity to sparkle! 

Image of me as a child drawing and my Shaun on the Tyne drawings

What I hadn't anticipated was that my design would coincide with George Michael's 60th birthday year, and as a result, there would be a lot of Wham and George Michael celebrations and remembrance events. I absolutely love George Michael and Wham! Sadly, I never saw them live, but I would have loved to. I think George would have approved of the sculpture trail, the joy it brings to the region and the money it raises for the hospice. I would like to think that he would approve of my flamboyant design too. What do you think?

For me, the best part of painting this sculpture was that it gave me some time away from working digitally, which was liberating. Also, being around other artists in the painting space was such a joy! So many incredibly talented people were involved in this trial, and the St Oswald's team were, of course, phenomenal.

Images of me painting my Shaun the Sheep

The final stage of this trail is that the sculptures go up for auction. I attended, and the successful bidders sat behind me. It was so exciting as there was a bidding war over my sculpture, and it was finally purchased successfully by Caroline Pattinson from Keith Pattinson Estate Agents.


Corinne Lewis-Ward and Carolien Pattinson at Keith Pattinson HQ with Shaun the sheep - Club Tropicana sculpture

 Not only was it a joy to paint my sculpture, but it raised a huge £5,100 for St Oswalds Hospice, which was a dream come true. In total, they raised a whopping £310,000 with their combined fundraising efforts during the trail. To play a small part in that total is a great honour and a privilege.

I had such a wonderful time working in colour (can you tell?!) that I started considering incorporating it into my work for Powder Butterfly. I let my imagination and creativity take over and began to think about what products I could create that would be fun, practical, high quality and financially viable for my customer base. 

I started to consider how to combine my landmarks with colour imagery. Some of you may remember my 2022 calendar did just that, depicting digital skies and landscapes for the landmarks to sit alongside. This time, though, I wanted to create something to incorporate my love of flowers and leaves. So below, you will see a little teaser of the artwork to be included in my 2025 calendar, which will be released later this year.

I plan to release an image each month this year that you can buy as an individual framed print, and I'd love to have your input; if you would like me to create other products from these colour images, such as tote bags, phone cases, beach towels, cushions, temporary tattoos, coasters, placemats, glass chopping boards, T-shirts or hoodies, then let me know, I'm all ears!  

Selected Powder Butterfly 2025 Calendar Images


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