Thoughts On – Eighty-Eight

The number eight, for as long as I can remember, has always been my favourite number.  I am not sure why it was, but if I were to think about it…it would probably be to do with the fact that it’s pleasing to the eye.  It’s really two circles placed on top of one another.  Eight has no hard edges and is a friendly, warm shape.  A friend of mine, who was involved in analysing handwriting for large companies and police bureaux, told me that people who favoured the number 8 were generally very kind and approachable people; the kind of people you would want to hug.
88ducklingsbyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog
Eighty-eight in Gill Sans font

I have always loved handwriting, but many of my friends have noticed that when I write a number 8, I don’t do it it as one continuous movement.  I have always drawn one circle and then the other below (rather like the duckling diagram).  I have only ever met one other person who has done this and she was a graphic designer, called Kylie.  Another friend, Jennifer, told me that this form of writing out the number 8 is often used by technicians or draughtsmen, so perhaps I am in the wrong job!
88bunniesbyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog
Eighty-eight in Times font

Now, if you’ve read my earlier posts, you will know that I also love same-digit double-numbers, so it’s no surprise that the number 88 should find favour with me.  You may also be aware that today is the 88th day of the year!  So, today I printed out some 88s and had a little play with them, doodling and colouring them.  Today my friend, Marie, has just given me some rather nice Easter gifts and this probably led to the fact that two of the doodles are ducklings and rabbits.  The third doodle is of girls with rather 1950’s looking beehive hairdos and make-up.

88ladiesbyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog
Eighty-eight in Giddy-Up font

Everyone will no doubt know that in bingo-calling terms that the number 88 is often referred to as ‘two-fat-ladies’, but here are eight rather interesting facts about the number 8 that you may be interested to read and may not have known…

  • 8 is a composite number and it is also the first number which is neither prime or semi-prime.
  • 8 is the base of the octal number system, which is mostly used with computers and digital media.
  • The ‘figure-of-eight’ is often used in sporting terms, such as skating, but can also relate to the way that bees fly and communicate messages.
  • 8 is symbolic of new life, the final Resurrection and the anticipated resurrection that comes from baptism.  The number 8 in the Bible represents a new beginning, meaning a new order or creation, and man’s true ‘born again’ event when he is resurrected from the dead into eternal life.
  • There is also a visual resemblance between two digits, “88”, and 囍, the “shuang xi”  (“double joy”), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 (“xĭ” meaning “joy” or “happiness”).
  • Infinity is shown as a figure 8 on it’s side and symbolises a never ending cycle, as there is no start or end to the shape.
  • 8 is an auspicious number in many Asian and Chinese countries and is the number associated with wealth and abundance.
  • The summer olympics in Bejing commenced at 8-seconds and 8-minutes past 8pm on 8 August 2008 (08.08.08).

Perhaps I should issue this blog post on the eighty-eighth day of the year, at 08:08pm and watch the money and abundance come rolling in!  Watch this space…

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Thoughts On – Easter Time

Easter is one of my very favourite times of the year. Not only is spring my favourite season, but I love the lighter days and the new bird song that it brings, along with the colourful bulbs and new growth in the garden. There’s something that makes me feel so alive and excited at this time of year, as Mother Nature prepares to share her bounty of greenery and floral wonders.Easter basket for blog
Every year, I prepare an Easter basket, filled chock-full of chocolate eggs, which are enjoyed by my family and friends when they visit. The selection varies, but the bountiful amount of confectionery doesn’t. I must admit that I am tempted to eat one or two (sometimes three!) of them myself, as there is nothing quite like breaking a family-sized Easter egg and cracking off pieces to enjoy…bit by bit. It’s the one treat of the year that I always allow myself and this year I am not breaking the tradition.
Weeping Fig with Easter egg decorationsDucklings under the weeping fig tree
Not only does the Easter basket get a yearly airing, but the weeping fig (Ficus Benjamina), that sits near the basket also gets a seasonal makeover and is covered in Easter chicks and eggs. There’s no reason why we should just decorate trees at Christmas, now is there? It could be that I’m a trendsetter…

There’s an old saying that when something fresh, bright and cheerful is on its way…that it’s like ‘April on the wing’…and that’s how I feel now that spring has arrived.

NB. The knitted chicks were made by my friend, Jennifer, and were sold to raise funds for cancer research. They each contain a Cadburys egg – so they are not just good on the outside :0)

Pisces – Bear-a-thought Illustration

I illustrated my Bear-a-thought teddy bear calendars for twelve-years and was due to start work on my thirteenth calendar, before I realised that I had neither the time or energy to complete another twelve illustrations.  Due to the amount of other projects and my commitments to a full-time job I was left with a dilemma of whether to carry on with the illustrations or concentrate on other types of illustration…
Pisces forblog(thisone)
I decided not to go ahead with the calendar; there would have been an enormous amount of pressure to have done so.  I informed my customers, scattered all around the world, of my decision and was amazed to receive many letters and e-mails saying how disappointed they were to hear the news.  They understood the reasons, of course, but it was nice for me to know that my calendars had been looked forward to with so much delight and that they had made a difference in people’s lives.  I have kept the letters and they are a lovely reminder of how people appreciated the work that I had done over a dozen years.

The last Bear-a-thought illustration that I produced was to be for my thirteenth calendar and was planned to feature bears on a theme of the 12-months of the zodiac.  I chose Pisces, (the birth sign for those born, on average, between February 19 and March 20) as my first piece of artwork, as I had a pet goldfish, called Monica, that I adored.  She had been a companion for many years and was the most affectionate goldfish that I had known (I have known a lot).  When the other fish in the tank were ill she would take food from the top of the water and take it down for them and encourage them to eat.  She was a very intelligent fish and was like a nurse with fins :0)  I would dangle my fingers in the water and she would come and swim around them and receive a delicate stroke.  Some of her scales shone with the most beautiful gold – yes gold, not orange – sheen.  All good things must come to pass, and my friend with fins died in August 2007.  The illustration was created after Monica’s passing, as I wanted to include her in one of my illustrations.

I also included two of my most popular teddy bears, Augustus and Scruff.  I love Augustus’s sleepy eyes and the disheveled look that Scruff had about him.  I still have these two bears, as I became very attached to them (and they to me, of course) and they reside in a big Victorian perambulator that my grandmother left me (she said it is an antique, but that has yet to be proved).  They look quite keen to pose for me again, if the need ever arises.

So, my 132nd Bear-a-thought illustration looks like it is to be the last, but I did promise my customers to never say never to launching the calendars again in the future…

PS. I love double numbers, so it was rather fitting to finish the illustration on 11 November 2011 (11.11.11).