Erin and James – Birth Pictures

I was delighted to hear the news that my friends, Keith and Anne, were to become proud grandparents, as their daughter, Sarah and son-in-law, Mark, were expecting twins in the early months of 2017.

Having done a number of illustrations for Keith and Anne in the past (of a canine nature) it was nice to be asked to do some birth illustrations for their two grandchildren. The grandchildren are beautiful and the parents have named them Erin and James.  Congratulations to all the family.

Erin was very traditional in being ‘ladies first’, with her ‘little’ brother arriving only a minute behind her. The proud grandparents wanted some animal illustrations to feature on the birth pictures, but each of them were to have a different theme, so I suggested African/Safari animals for James and British wildlife for Erin. I was inspired by all of the Beatrix Potter merchandise last year, so it’s not surprising that Erin has a red squirrel, rabbit and a hedgehog in her illustration. This illustration is also the first to feature a mole, an animal that I can’t remember ever drawing before. James, on the other hand, features animals that boy’s tend to like – particularly crocodiles, lions, monkeys and elephants. It also has my favourite animal, a giraffe in it too.

I heard from Keith that the new parents, Sarah and Mark, are delighted with their children’s birth illustrations, which makes it all the more enjoyable for me, as I truly enjoyed drawing them. I hope that when they are older Erin and James will enjoy them and that they will be a wonderful memory for them in later years.

I must make an apology for the quality of the images on this blog post.  I took a picture of these commissions with my mobile phone and not my camera (which wasn’t working at the time 😦 )

Michael – Boy’s Birth Picture, by Cora

I have been very lucky to receive some marvellous feedback about my work over the years and it’s lovely to feel that my illustrations have brought so much joy to the lives of others. I have kept a lot of the letters that I have received and they are like a little treasure trove of memories for me to reflect upon…

One of the younger people who appreciates my work, a very young lady called Cora, gave me this picture, which she drew especially for me.Michael cleaned up (forblog)
Cora mentioned that I am always drawing pictures of other people’s names, so she decided she would do me a birth illustration. Carefully researching what some of my favourite things are (from my leaflet and my blog), Cora drew me a giraffe, an owl, a ladybird, a butterfly and a nice little swarm of bees – a great combination of my favourite things. To add to this, my name is in purple, which is, of course, my very favourite colour. The M is for ‘monkey’ and ‘Michael’ and Cora has replicated some of my illustrations, which I thought was a very nice and flattering and thing to do.

Feeling very proud that I have inspired this young lady to do a drawing for me (which despite being very small and detailed only took her two-hours), I would like to publicly thank Cora for her kind gift. Thank you, Cora, it is much appreciated x

Grace – Girl’s Birth Picture

I’ve done a good number of birth names over the last two years, since I left full-time employment as a graphic designer. One of the nicest things about doing these birth illustrations is knowing that they will be enjoyed for many years to come. Another nice aspect of the work is that many of my customers come back to me over and over again to have some more work done.

Grace completeforblog
One friend and customer, Angela, has now purchased several of my birth illustrations for newly-born members of her family – as birth presents or christening gifts. I am always delighted to do these illustrations, as each and every one I do is unique and tailored to the client’s tastes and specifications.

A little while ago, I received a message on my blog, from a lady who said that I should do a birth illustration for a ‘Grace’, so I promised to post something this month. The illustration above was done for a little girl who loves ballet and all-things-pink. The client also asked to include a picture of a dancing marmalade-coloured cat, which was one of my favourite parts to do.

Many people think that my illustrations are created on the computer, and are surprised to find out that each one is sketched on paper, with all of the details marked on the ‘rough’ copy.  I later draw these out by-hand and then hand-colour the whole illustration.  The only time that a computer is involved in the whole process is when I scan in the final illustration, so it can be included on my blog.  It takes approximately two-days to complete each illustration, with the required amount of detail that my clients expect from my work.

I later heard that Grace, loved her picture, as did her younger sister who also received one – as a special gift. It was nice to have two satisfied ‘customers’, as well as my client 🙂

Elliot – Boy’s Birth Picture

I am still loving every one of the birth illustrations that I am being asked to do. I have done numerous themes, ranging from dragons, mermaids and jungle animals. Although, I really like all of the themes, I must admit that I do like the animal themes, especially the new ones, that incorporate an animal suitable to each letter of the child’s name i.e. AMELIA: A for anelope, M for monkey, E for elephant…
Elliot name(complete)forblogMy latest illustration, for a little boy called Elliot, was one that I have enjoyed doing. The first letter E was given an elephant, as I find that this is one of the animals most requested by parents (giraffes and hippopotamuses are popular too) and was consequently followed by a menagerie of creatures, including a leopard, llama, insects, owls (I love owls!), and a tiger. I also added a toucan in the picture, as it has become an image that I have used frequently in my illustrations and on my corporate and promotional literature.

I have found that matching the colours of the illustration to the theme of the nursery, is also a nice touch and parents like the fact that you are taking a genuine interest in where the final commission is going to ‘live’ or ‘hang’.

Here’s to many more birth illustrations that I will enjoy doing, what will it be next, walruses, pelicans, turtles or flamingos?

Huey – Boy’s Birth Picture

I have had quite a few commissions for children’s nurseries over the last two months, but I have particularly enjoyed working on the illustrations that contain the jungle animals theme. One such illustration was for a little boy called Huey, whose Grandmother, Linda, had commissioned me to produce. Huey is an adorable little boy and is already (despite his young age) keen on a game of football, so jungle animals playing football was the theme of the illustration. Hueyillustrationinprogressforblog(smaller)
I chose a range of animals that Huey would know and recognise, a bear, lion, hippopotamus, monkey etc and dressed them in football kits. I sketched the illustration out in half a morning and worked out what colours I was going to use. One of the stipulations of the illustration was to keep the colour green to a minimum, so that had to be held in mind when choosing the animal characters.

During the final colouring stage, I was just colouring in the baby hippopotamus, when my good friend, Mary, rang me to see how I was doing.

“What are you doing today, darling?”, she asked.

“Well, at this very moment in time, I happen to be painting a hippopotamus’s bottom” I replied.

“Oooh” said Mary, “that sounds like a big job!”

Fortunately, my drawings are not life size or on this occasion she would have been right.

It’s nice getting the occasional phone call from family, friends and colleagues…whilst I am working, as they can add an extra bit of information to my picture, or in the case of my latest birth illustration add in some of the elements, such as a panda, a kookaburra(!), a rabbit and a tiger…
Huey illustration(complete)lighterforblog
Linda was delighted with the Huey illustration, which was presented to Huey’s proud parents on Christmas Day. I do hope that these illustrations will prove to be family heirlooms in years to come, a happy memory of family love and affection…

Painted Lady – Nature Illustration

Butterflies are, to me, flying works of art. The beautiful colours and patterns of their wings are an amazing example of nature’s beauty. Their amazing metamorphosis is also a complex example of change.

Painted Lady butterfly for blog(feathered)

The image of a butterfly has often represented freedom and they were drawn on the walls of where prisoners of war were confined during the war. The image of a butterfly has also been thought by many civilisations to represent the soul, and butterflies in the home are thought by some to be the souls of dear-departed relatives, letting them know that they are still with us.

I painted the above illustration of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui, one of the Cynthia group of colourful butterflies) for a friend’s wedding present. It was produced using watercolour paints, inks and other paint mediums that I had to hand. I particularly enjoyed doing the quick wash background and painting the centre of the Echinacea flower. The name Echinacea is a derivative of the Greek word for ‘sea urchin’ and looking at the picture it’s quite clear to see why. My friend’s very young daughter commented that the centre of the flower looks like a sleeping baby hedgehog nestled amongst the petals. The whole creative process took a couple of hours from sketch to final painting. I had the final artwork mounted and gift-wrapped to present to Lynne and Ronnie on their ‘big day’.

I wasn’t entirely sure after writing this text if this was going to be the last post for this month. Then, minutes later, my friend, Judith, in Carlisle, sent me a text to say that she had had a red butterfly in her house. Knowing nothing about my intended blog post, she just thought that I would be interested. She saw it as a good omen and a sign that a loved-one had called upon her. I went to my study to e-mail her and say “that was a coincidence”, as I had just written the above blog post only hours earlier. Imagine then my surprise – when I went to my study to find that a reddish-orange butterfly was fluttering around the computer screen… It brought to mind a quote from Albert Einstein, stating ‘Coincidence is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous’. It does make you think…

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.

STAGE 1 – CONCEPT AND SCAMP
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)

STAGE 2 – SKETCH
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.

Image

STAGE 3 – DRAW ILLUSTRATION
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

STAGE 4 – COLOUR THE ILLUSTRATION
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

STAGE 5 – PERSONALISE THE ILLUSTRATION
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

DETAIL OF THE ILLUSTRATION:

ImageImage

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