Christmas Card 2018

Whilst sitting on a bus in the summer, I got an idea for a Christmas card.  I am not sure why such an unseasonal image would ‘pop’ into my mind on one of the hottest days of the year, but I wonder if it’s because I was secretly wishing for cooler weather.  I am definitely not a hot-house orchid, I am much more akin to a polar bear.

I imagined doing a Christmas card on the theme of the number 18, which I could personalise and send out to my closest friends (unless they are called Peter Masscharis, who actually got a polar bear card 😉 )18 names and cards
18 Christmas cards
18 scampI scribbled a quick scamp into a little drawing pad that my good friend, Cherry Balme, had lovingly made me in 2013 and pondered on the idea until an opportunity came to create it on the computer.  I managed to do a good few of these cards (maybe about a dozen), before I realised that it wasn’t possible to do many more, being busy at work and planning on returning to teaching in the autumn.  There’s only so much a graphic designer/illustrator/teacher can do…

I received some lovely comments on the Christmas card and I think people are expecting me now to do it every year…  Well, I am not so sure about that…but who knows…watch this space.

I would like to wish all my readers all over the world and here at home (in Great Britain) a very Merry Christmas and every best wish for 2019 x

Advertisements

Tia – Dog Portrait

I went to visit my friend, Mary Redshaw, this month and catch up with her over a few pots of tea and a fish and chip lunch. I always enjoy this social time with this lady, who proudly displays all of the commission work that I have done for her (all beautifully framed and presented in her living-room). I always enjoy seeing her two ‘new’ dogs: one a Greyhound named Rio and the other a whippet named Tina.

One of my favourite dog portraits I illustrated for Mary was the picture of her brown Doberman Pinscher – Tia, who was such a character. She certainly was a dog that knew her own mind and no amount of persuasion or commands could change her mind if she thought contrary to the request.TiabyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog(col)
I remember doing a mono illustration of Tia, as well as the colour…because I wasn’t sure which one I liked best… Which one would you choose?

It’s my last posting of the year next month; I am so grateful that there are so many people reading this blog now.  I am told by WordPress that my stats are booming, so thank you to all of the people who are reading my posts regularly…

Witch Hazel – Bear-a-thought Illustration

I’ve done many teddy bear illustrations over the years, but some of them I do forget, but this isn’t one of them.  Although I am not a great fan of Hallowe’en, I do love the colour and imagery that I had to capture in this drawing.
Witch Hazel by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blog
I was asked by a big company in America, to illustrate one of their many beautiful teddies and after looking through their glossy catalogue several times, I was ‘taken’ to this little witch bear, with her sequinned cape and starry hat.  I liked drawing this teddy bear ‘as she was’, which included her rather sad looking face.  A number of my customers used to say, “Can you draw that teddy bear smiling?” and I replied, “I draw the bears as they present themselves”.  Teddy bears have individual characters: some happy some sad – just like human beings.

I remember my youngest niece, Cora, was just a baby when I started this illustration and the small wizard or witch that was coming out of the jack-o-lantern resembled her a little bit (she will be cross with me for putting this on here!), so I had to include him/her in the illustration.  Many of my teddy bear illustrations have a soft pastel theme, but with this one I could use the strong colours of green, orange and purple without hesitation.  I loved doing the confectionery: lollipops, cupcakes and biscuits with the ghosts and black cat cake toppings.  It was a great deal of fun (I think I ate them ALL afterwards!).

Whatever you have done or are doing for Hallowe’en, I do hope that you get a lot more treats than tricks!  Enjoy yourself and be safe…

Gary and Joanne’s ‘big day’…

Earlier this year, I was asked if I would do a watercolour or pencil illustration of a church in Spain that was to be the theme for some wedding stationery.  Joanne Rogan, the client and bride-to-be was brilliant in providing me with a range of church illustrations that she had seen and liked, so that I could get ‘the feel’ of what she was looking for.  A better start and brief could not be had, as most clients know what they want, but are not very good at explaining it, leaving the artist or designer ‘in the dark’.
Wedding stationery 1Wedding stationery 3Wedding stationery 2Wedding stationery 4The happy couple at sunset
Joanne also provided me with some photographs of El Salvador’s Church in Nerja, Spain where she was marrying her fiancé, Gary Cooper.  The photographs were beautiful, showing a white stately church against an azure sky.  There was a tree in the photographs that I had to ‘remove’ but that didn’t prove to be a problem.

It took me a couple of days (in the bleakness of early February) to produce the coloured pencil illustration of the church bedecked in sunshine, which was then sent for Joanne and Gary’s approval.  Thankfully, they loved it and it was then sent to the printers to be incorporated into their wedding stationery.  As you can see below, Joanne and Gary did a great job of it and the stationery looks unique and amazing!  Having said that, so do the happy couple in the photographs, as you can see.  I would like to offer my congratulations to Joanne and Gary for their marriage day and also for doing such sterling work on their wedding stationery! 

Every best wish to you both for many happy years to come…

Joanne and Gary were married on the 21st September 2018.
The photographs feature on this blog post with their approval and permission.  Thank you.

Milly and Harper – Pet Portraits

I am always delighted when a customer returns to me for another commission.  It is an endorsement and validation that they appreciate the style and quality of my work and are happy to commission you to do another piece of artwork for themselves or a loved one.

MillyandHarper by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon(forblog)
Last year, Mrs Angela Rose had commissioned me to create a birth illustration for a young relative, with a collection of dinosaurs.  On this more recent occasion, she requested me to create a portrait illustration of her daughter’s two West Highland Terriers: Milly and Harper.  I prefer to take photographs of pets myself, whenever possible, so I went around to do a photoshoot of the two canine characters.  Both of these two dogs were in a rather soporific mood on a hot July day that they needed to look their best for the camera.  They were both very well groomed, but their sleepy moments were interspersed with bouts of running, racing and jumping, as Mrs Rose’s daughter, Amy, and myself strived to keep them awake whilst I took numerous photographs. 

I have to say that both Milly and Harper were adorable in different ways, but I have a ‘soft-spot’ for Harper who gently raised her nose to touch mine whilst introductions were being made. 

The illustration took a number of days to complete and required a background of fawn and soft browns to make Milly and Harper stand out.  Whenever I am drawing ‘white’ dogs I am amazed to discover all of the different colours that go to make up the fur.  These colours can include a range of browns, creams and fawns to name a few.

I handed over the finished commission to Mrs Rose and her husband, Ian, and they commented that the illustration was “spot on” and that Amy would be delighted with her personal and unique commissioned illustration. 

I later heard that Amy was delighted and the commission will soon be displayed on her living-room wall.  Thank you to the Roses and my other clients who return to me time-and-time-again for illustrations – it is very much appreciated.

A nostalgic ‘trip’ to Penrith…

When I first started working with Cumbrian Newspapers in November 1990, I was a young graphic designer and illustrator with only 3-years ‘real life’ experience.  Nothing prepared me for the cut-and-thrust world of the news industry, where items and articles were turned around like the speed of light, so as not to miss ‘the press’.  On my first morning I recall some advertising representative thrusting a full sized doll’s house in my direction and stating, “I need this drawn for an advertisement that is going to print early this afternoon”.  No pressure there then!
Devonshire Arcade, Penrith by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon
Devonshire Arcade, Penrith

As well as being called upon to draw a range of miscellaneous objects and items, including a bag of sausages and a caricature of Mystic Meg, part of my duties was to go to visit different places in Cumbria and do a ‘quick sketch’ (or at least that what was said on the brief).  I remember visiting nice places, such as Wigton and Maryport, which became a favourite place of mine.  One trip was to Penrith, where I had to draw the quaintly named Angel Square and then a very new shopping centre, Devonshire Arcade.  I only had time to do a quick pen and ink sketch of both venues, before being collected on the news van!  The pen and ink sketch I did of Angel Square has been drawn rather loosely and with no hint of a ruler, to give it that traditional look, whilst the super-smart Devonshire Arcade got a much more architectural look ‘feel’ given to it.Angel Square, Penrith by Michael Quinlyn-NixonAngel Square, Penrith

I really enjoyed scribbling the Angel Square illustration, but the perspective did allude me for a wee while.  Looking at the sketch now, I am drawn to the back of the man on the right-hand side of the picture, as he reminded me of Mr Arkwright, a fictional character from the comedy ‘Open All Hours’, who was performed by the wonderful Ronnie Barker.  I was reminded of him at the time of doing the actual drawing and even went so far as to remark on this similarity to the real life man, as it were.  The elderly gentleman, being very broad in the Cumbrian accent voiced some unintelligible reply, but I DO know enough about facial expressions and body language to know that I really should have kept my lips sealed!  “Go’an fetch some sticky-tape, Granville!”

Cabbage whites and Orange-tips…

I like to think of myself as a keen gardener, but onlookers of my garden might be deceived in thinking that it’s been several years since a hoe or a pruning fork was taken to it.  Always being busy at work is one of the main reasons that I don’t get a lot of time to spend in horticultural pursuits.  One of the lesser reasons is that all of the flowers I grow seem to attract ALL of the most virulent pests.  A favourite flower/plant of mine is apricot and lemon nasturtiums, which I have grown year-on-year from seeds.  As soon as they start to grow (before even a flower has had time to form even!) a cascade of butterflies (all of them wanting to lay eggs on my plants) appear from the heavens in force.  I have to admit to really having a fondness for the Cabbage white butterfly, although it certainly is no ally of mine in the need to keep my garden and yard tidy and colourful.

Orange tip by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blogOne of the more welcome butterfly visitors in the garden is the Orange-tip Butterfly, which is small and attractive.  But even this lesser seen butterfly is after some of my favourite plants, namely the ‘Sweet rocket’ or ‘Dame’s violet’ (Hesperis matronalis).  I spent some time sketching some of these beautiful butterflies; they have rounded wings that look like they have been dipped in orange cadmium paint.  With only a couple of hours spare that week, I decided to do a quick watercolour of this butterfly, using some really nice snapshots of Orange-tip butterflies, that a friend had taken for me, whilst on a walk.  The two combined reference materials enabled me to do this super quick illustration in just under two hours.
On reflection, I might have been better spending my time with the hoe and the pruning fork…