Select Page

Gravel gradients



My son and I have been hanging out a lot in the gravel driveway and playing with bits of flint. When I’m not stopping him from eating it all, I’m looking for Stone Age axe heads. I haven’t found any (yet), but just rummaging around in these bits of colour is so calming.

I started to collect pieces that were interesting. Ranging from the darkest grey-brown to translucent creams and white, there was so much to look carefully at. I thought about making a colour spectrum of flint. Typologies are lovely, but in this instance I was drawn to how the colours blended from one to another in each single piece of flint as light played across their surfaces.

I took a few photos and as I’d done lots of times before when working on an illustration job, zoomed in really close on my computer until the images became pixellated, before ‘grabbing’ colours to create my own flinty colour palette. These things are always useful. It’s a technique I use to find subtle real-world colours to try to avoid things looking too obvious or digital.

Looking closely at colours blending together one square at a time reminded me of something – my weekly planners. It’s a bit of a jump, but bear with me…

When I was scheduling work before the baby arrived it felt like life was always made up of chunks of time. 2 hours on this project, 3 hours on that, a half-day here and a gap for a meeting. These chunks always made my days enjoyably varied (this is why I love freelancing) but it was only when I were to ‘zoom out’ after projects were done that I’d see the overall progression, of skills I’d learnt.

We’ve been trying to get our little boy into his own routine lately with naps, and some days it’s straightforward, some days less so. Though there are variations between the days themselves (and frustrations that go with that), by making a conscious effort to ‘zoom out’ I can see the progression more clearly.

I suppose this is what’s important about giving yourself time to take a long view of both work and life, you get to see patterns that you just can’t appreciate when you’re nose to the ground and actually getting the job done. It’s sometimes easier said than done of course! But there you are, gradients and pixels of colour – a reminder of the changes time brings. Beautiful in their own right, and a handy way to create colour schemes for design work.

Who knew a gravel driveway would be so thought-provoking?