Stan & Ollie – Bear-a-thought Illustration

I am excited about going to see the ‘Stan and Ollie’ film released in the United Kingdom today, which is based on the lives of the actors and comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  It stars actors Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly in the respective roles.  It reminded me of a teddy bear illustration that I did of the famous black-and-white comedy duo many years ago…
stan & ollie by michael quinlyn-nixon for blogb
Whilst working on one of my teddy bear calendar themes, in 2003, I came up with the idea of famous bears and made a list of the many characters that I like, that are very recognisable by their costume or attire.  The list was very long, but some suggestions had to be scrapped and a smaller list compiled.  One of the suggestions on the list that appealed to me was Laurel and Hardy.  I had a discussion with Jennifer A. Stephenson, my friend who kindly made the outfits and other paraphernalia for the teddy bears, and she was also drawn to the idea of Laurel and Hardy too.  

In deference to the comedy duo’s fine slapstick humour, we decided to dress them in dungarees (rather than their formal black suit and ties), but, of course, we had to include the bowler hats and their distinctive neckties.  To go along with the dungarees, we created a decorating scenario with ladders, wallpaper and paint (my father, Robert, kindly made the ladders and toolbox).  Luckily one of Jennifer’s friends, the late Pat Holmes (nee Boustead – a well-known singer in the County Durham area) was decorating her home at this time, so this proved to be the ideal place in which to create our ‘Hollywood film set’. 

As it happened, shortly after the photographs were taken and the sketches were drawn, we disassembled the scene and I slipped and spilled the whole pot of banana custard coloured paint all over the floorboards.  Pat wasn’t too annoyed, as she was planning on a carpet anyway, but she could have easily used Oliver Hardy’s famous quote and stated, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into”.

I remember watching Laurel and Hardy when I was young and they always made me laugh with their funny and inoffensive humour.  Stan Laurel (b: 1890 – d:1965) was my favourite, as I loved the way he scratched his head when perplexed, but Oliver Hardy (b: 1892 – d:1957) had the most amazing face, which was full of disbelief one minute and wreathed in wonderful smiles the next.

When I was a little boy, I remember my Grandfather Lake telling me that Stan Laurel had lived in County Durham for a while, but that he had been born in Cumbria.  Both of these English counties have tributes to these two wonderful men who brought so much joy to so many people’s lives.

The illustration ‘Stan & Ollie’ was started on 18 April and completed on the 5 May 2003.

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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