Newsletter No: 1 – May 2014

I’ve been busy doing some online marketing via e-mail yesterday and today – sending out newsletters to all of the people who expressed an interest in my work at the North East Baby and Toddler Show at Gateshead International Stadium on 27 April. I’ve sent out my first official Quinlyn Nixon Art newsletter and have the honour of being able to post it here on my blog, as well… I hope it’s of interest to you too. Thanks, MichaelImage

Thanks to everyone who has visited my new Facebook page too…  I am now up to 88 ‘likes’ – now that has got to be lucky :0)

Poirot and Me…

You may ask yourself (quite rightly) what this post’s about.  What have I, an illustrator and graphic designer in the North East of England, got in common with the renowned fictional Belgian detective?


It’s NOT that I have got to have a tisane at 11 o’clock every morning, It’s not that I live in Whitehaven Mansions.  I don’t have a black cane topped with a beautiful silver swan (sadly) and it’s not that I have a remarkably efficient secretary called Miss Lemon.

But I DO…have the same fetish, as Poirot does, for same-digit numbers.  I was watching the episode (last night) – ‘The Lost Mine’ when Poirot visits the bank to sort out a problem.  Finding that he is overdrawn, he states to the cashier that it is a point of principle that he always keeps his balance at four hundred and forty-four pounds, four shillings and four pence. A point of principle!  I was amazed and astounded the first time that I heard this, as I have a similar fetish for symmetry and in Poirot’s words “order and method”; particularly when it comes to numbers.  My favourite numbers all contain the same digit, such as 11, 22, 33 etc and my personal favourite 88.

Whatever Hercule has got stirring around in those ‘little grey cells’ concerning same-digit numbers, I am under the same persuasion too. Perhaps I should have turned my hand to crime detection.  I might have been the next Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes (I am almost tempted to include Miss Marple too!).

Perhaps my unseen affinity with Monsieur Poirot allowed me to be the delighted winner of the signed David Suchet book ‘Poirot and Me’ competition that I entered last year (with little hope of winning).

So, I still query this number fascination and leave you with the query as Mr Poirot himself would utter, “c’est quoi mon ami?“.

Phoebe – Girl’s Birth Picture

Hello.  I’ve been asked on many occasions if I create my birth illustrations with the use of images and computer graphics.  I always state that my illustrations are done-by-hand (the old fashioned way with paper and pencils!).  I thought it might be useful to illustrate (pardon the pun) the process that goes into creating the illustrations that I produce.

This is the concept/ideas stage.  Once I know what theme the parents prefer (such as kittens, jungle animals, spacemen etc), my brain goes into overdrive and I try the different characters (in this case – kittens) in different positions around the letters of the child’s name.  Once I have played around with the characters, in my mind’s eye, I scribble a very quick ‘scamp’ down on paper – showing different aspects of what I hope to include in the final illustration.

Image  (Stage 1)

Following on from the ‘scamp’ stage, the idea is sketched out around the proposed lettering.  I nearly always sketch in blue pencil (I must have some royalty in my family tree!) and refine the ideas and the characters as I go.  Once Stage 3 is completed, the scamp and sketch can both be discarded.  Please note that I try different expressions and ideas out around the edge of the paper.  I also give an indication of colours.


The final line-drawing is produced for the illustration.  If there are any parts that I wasn’t totally happy with at the sketch stage, these can now be re-drawn.  These will nearly always be minor adjustments, such as, the kitten’s expression has changed on the letter ‘b’ and the budgerigar has moved position on the second letter ‘e’.Image

This is the enjoyable part (usually) after the ideas and sketching has been done.  I normally indicate (on the scamp and sketch) certain colours that I want to see in the final illustration.  The mother of Phoebe, suggested she would like a gingham design to the lettering and that the budgerigar should be of the green-and-yellow variety.Image

I hand-draw the lettering that personalises each illustration.  The colours of the lettering can often ‘mirror’ the colour scheme of the child’s nursery/bedroom, or, more often, I just select certain colours from the main body of the illustration, whichever is preferred.Image



Once the final illustration is complete, it’s  just a case of mounting and framing the illustration ready for hanging.  This breakdown has taken me much longer to do than I expected, but thankfully it’s raining ‘cats-and-dogs’ here today in Great Britain, so there was no chance of me getting into the garden anyway :0(.  Thank you for taking the time to read this (I hope it makes sense…).  Michael

Thoughts On – Inspiration

A client, who purchased one of my child’s birth pictures, recently asked me “Where does your inspiration come from?”.  I am not usually stumped for an answer, but I found myself looking rather blank.  Later, when I got home, I walked into the living-room and I could see exactly where my inspiration comes from.  Looking around the rooms in the house, there are loads of little ‘characters’ peeking out from behind books and cushions and popping out from behind lampshades.  It would seem that I have unconsciously created inspiration around me.  This has been done with the help of friends, who have presented me with ladybirds, mice, owls and ducks.  Just to prove my point, I have taken a few photographs of some of the inspirational items in my home…


So, really it’s a big ‘thank you’ to my family and friends for providing me with all of that inspiration…

Toby – Border Collie Pet Portrait

This is an example of one of the many dog portraits I have done over the years.
I have lost track of the many different breeds that I have illustrated on my drawing board, but I think the breed that must win for numbers alone (above all others) are spaniels. I think I have done more spaniels than any other breed of dog. Sometimes I seem to do the same breed in clumps and have three Border Collies in a row, followed by a Jack Russell or a Yorkshire Terrier…


I took my own reference material (photographs mainly) for this illustration, as it is much easier to draw a dog – or any pet – once you have met him/her. Taking photographs from different angles (to choose the most suitable image later), is a good way of capturing the personality of the dog and knowing that the images you have taken will be suitable for the finished illustration.

Toby’s owner wrote to me to say that he was delighted with the portrait and that the picture has been viewed by his many friends around the world. Toby is a young Border Collie, re-homed with the diligence and care of Dogs Trust,, who made sure that the new home Toby was going to was both safe and suitable. I hope that the finished illustration shows both the intelligent and affectionate nature of Toby’s character.

Looking For A Unique Gift?

A range of my illustration services are featured in my new leaflet ‘Looking for a Unique Gift?’.


If you would like a copy sent to you by e-mail or post, please send me a message on:
or visit my Facebook page on

I couldn’t resist creating something a little bit retro’ on this leaflet, with the toucan (as a nod to the genius of John Gilroy, 1898-1985 – famous for his Guinness advertisements). I thought twice about the toucan’s suitability once I had drawn it (a dozen different times in a dozen different ways!) and wondered if it was the best way forward. Just then, I heard my letterbox and went to see a small piece of pink card lying on the welcome mat with the heading ‘Have You Got Big Bills?’. I thought ‘big bills’ that’s a sign that the toucan has to appear on the leaflet. Perhaps it was fate telling me that I was going in the right direction… Who knows, but I am sure that time will tell…

Quinlyn Nixon Art

As from 23 April (St. George’s Day – very patriotic), I have launched my new venture ‘Quinlyn Nixon Art’, which is a marvellous opportunity to give vent to the different aspects of my illustration and graphic work.

Quinlyn Nixon Art logo(rgb)08.04.14

A lot of my recent work has been in the creation of illustrations to celebrate a child’s birth.  I have been told by the parents, that purchase these illustrations, that they will be treasured for many years to come.  I love creating something totally unique (often including some of the parents’ interests, i.e. football or the family pet) to make it that little bit extra-special.

Each illustration is produced in a scamp format, then a drawing is produced from which the final piece of artwork will be created.  Creating hand-drawn illustrations from scamps is quite a time-consuming task, but at the end of the day it’s very rewarding – personally and professionally.

Welcome to my new blog…from Michael Quinlyn-Nixon

Hello Reader and welcome to my blog.  This blog wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for the help of my very good friend Cherry.  It’s hard to sum up the last twelve-years and all of the hard work and effort that went into creating the twelve Bear-a-thought calendars.  I didn’t realise at the time of producing the first teddy bear calendar, in 2002, that it was the centenary of the teddy bear, since its creation in 1902.  Now I reflect on it, it is a lovely and happy coincidence (if I believed in coincidences!).


I started my first teddy bear illustration ‘A Well Earned Rest’, during a short visit from Cherry to my home in 1999.  I wasn’t aware at the time that it was going to be the start of a twelve-year occupation, that was going to take the lion’s share of my spare time, weekends and holidays.  I had no other plans than to create a couple of teddy illustrations for my nieces, but later a former school friend of mine, Diane, suggested that I also used the illustrations to produce a limited-edition and unique calendar of my drawings.  I dedicated my first illustration to my grandparents, Georgina and Henry Lake, as it included a gardening theme and they were keen gardeners.  My Grandfather Lake, a wonderful and kind man, was the inspiration for including the ladybird in the illustrations, as I recall fond memories of collecting ladybirds (from a nearby marshy area of Tanfield Lea) which he would utilise to keep his beloved roses aphid-free.  Ladybirds have from that time evoked memories of my special grandfather.  Spotting the ladybird (pardon the pun) in each illustration has – I have been told – occupied the mind of many an infant child (their parents have praised me for it!).  The ladybirds have also become my ‘signature tune’, resulting in many people from many different countries sending ladybird items and souvenirs from the far-flung corners of the world.  Because of this an image of a ladybird has become the main feature of my new logo and artistic venture.  Being a symbol of good luck, I really couldn’t have chosen anything more appropriate…