Sam and Jack – Dog Portraits

It is always a pleasure and an honour to have appreciative customers return to get another illustration done or in this case two portraits. I was delighted (despite being a bit under pressure in the run-up to Christmas) when a former colleague, Keith, messaged me to ask if I could do two dog illustrations for him. One was for his daughter, Sarah and another was for his sister-in-law, Maureen.
sam-by-michael-quinlyn-nixon-for-blog jack-by-michael-quinlyn-nixon-for-blog
As I was always do I went and took the photographs of the dogs, Jack (Yellow Labrador) and Sam (Border Collie) at Keith’s home, when his family were out (as the portraits were to be a surprise). Jack was a ‘breeze’ to photograph, but Sam was altogether more boisterous and playful. Both of the dogs are beautiful animals; the Labrador has the most gorgeous chocolate-coloured eyes and the Border Collie has the most bushy squirrel-like tail, which impressed me a great deal.

Both illustrations were well received by the recipients and Keith said that his sister-in-law, Maureen, (who received it on her birthday) was ‘over the moon’. It’s nice to know that the illustrations I create touch the hearts of those that receive them.   I hope you enjoy them too…

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Festive Foods (In a Jar)…

As part of my current weekly teaching role I have to find ideas and inspiration for session plans, which often come from friends and colleagues. One of my former colleagues suggested doing ‘reindeer noses in a jar’ and this set my creative mind aflame. The ‘reindeer noses in a jar’ I had seen in the past were just made up of a strip of brown felt around the outside of an empty jam jar, onto which were stuck goggle-eyes and a red furry nose.

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The reindeer heads take shape and are temporarily stored on a lampshade.

Probably setting it as a challenge too far, I considered the possibility of creating a reindeer-shaped head out of felt and then attaching that to the jar (with a piece of ribbon) and then decorating it with facial features. So, getting out my recycled pieces of cardboard I started drawing reindeer heads onto pieces of brown and fawn coloured felt and getting busy with the scissors…

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The jars are washed and decorated in various festive ribbons.

After cutting some heads out of felt (and attaching them to a lampshade so I didn’t lose them), I got busy cleaning jars and choosing ribbon (tartan was a nice choice, and another that looked like chocolate balls) to attach to the outside of the jars.

The rest, I am sure, is self-explanatory: adding in the facial features etc, but some of the ones in the class were given red fuzzy noses, which also gave them an extra 3D feel. You can see the results, below, which only took me a few hours. Hope they are popular with the buyers at the Christmas Fair… Watch this space…

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Finally, the jars are finished and filled with confectionery, with one chocolate ball covered in red foil, to represent Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Thank you to those who have followed my blog in the last year (or earlier), I hope you will continue to view my posts in 2017.  Happy New Year to you all 🙂

Hugo – Cocker Spaniel Portrait

I have had an influx of dog portrait enquiries over the last month and because of my other commitments I have had to turn most of them down or put them on the ‘back-burner’ until next year.  There may be just enough time to illustrate a Labrador and a Border Collie before Christmas however…

My latest dog illustration was a commission from a friend and former colleague, Andrea, who I worked with many years ago.  Andrea has the most beautiful golden Cocker Spaniel, called Hugo, and she had been wanting an illustration of him for quite some time.  So, in August, we took him to a local beauty spot called The Derwent Walk where we took some photographs of him enjoying a run in the summer grass.  From the selection of photographs one was selected to create the illustration from…which you can see below…

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I met Andrea and handed over the illustration and I am pleased to say that she and her husband, Tony, are both delighted with it and that ‘Hugo’ has now gone to the picture framers.  It’s very special to think that I have created an illustration of a beloved pet that will be enjoyed for many years to come.  I also hope that Hugo thinks I have done him justice – especially those gorgeous golden curly ears of his 🙂 

Christmas Craft Creations

Since starting to teach again last September, I have been busy.  Along with my 12-year-old niece we have been busy trying out craft creations, such as greeting cards and pen tidy pots and things like that, that can be used for practical exercises in the class…

I sketched some pictures on to a sheet of A3 paper (robin, snowman, reindeer etc) to create some templates to make greeting cards and then pasted them on to cardboard to cut them out, so we could draw around them on coloured paper and create the cards.  We had a great time and many hours passed before we stopped.  I don’t always get the time to ‘test’ things out before my students have a go, but on this occasion it was most beneficial, as it gave me the opportunity to work out what degree of difficulty was involved in making each card.  Believe it or not, the Santa Claus was the most difficult.  The reindeer was very popular, but my personal favourite was the penguin, but that’s because I love penguins.

We also had a lovely time creating a series of pen tidy pots, that were covered in felt and decorated with felt and cardboard pieces to create reindeers, penguins and snowmen.  Most of these were sold at my students’ Christmas craft fair, so that was a good enterprise scheme.  We had used coffee cylinders and crisp tubes, so apart from the felt and some glue and a few hours spent doing craft, it was rather a cost effective and enjoyable exercise…

Penguin handmade Christmas card Robin handmade card

Penguin pen tidys Reindeer card and reindeer pen tidy

To all of you that read my blog (and there are some that do it…frequently), I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and every best wish for the forthcoming year.  I hope 2016 is a good one for us all! x

Thoughts On – Purple Baubles

I never realised just how many memories could be brought about whilst decorating a Christmas tree.  If someone had told me this time last year, that decorating the tree this year would take me on a rollercoaster of memories I wouldn’t have believed it.  But it’s true…  Purple baubles
My maternal Grandmother loved Christmas and was always so proud to have her tree trimmed and shining to the best of her ability every year.  When I first moved into my new home in 1998 my grandmother purchased some purple Christmas baubles for me.  For as long as I recall, she had had similar baubles on her tree and knew that I had always been drawn to them from being a child.  Purple has always been my favourite colour and my eye is always drawn to anything of that colour, no matter what I happen to be doing.

So, my Grandmother’s perfect gifts to me, in 1998, have been hung on my Christmas tree ever since.  Having lost my grandmother this summer, the feelings of missing her are still very prominent.  So on Tuesday, I went to decorate the very small and compact Christmas tree and pulled all of the baubles out of their protective bubblewrap.  The first baubles to be unwrapped were the purple baubles my grandmother had bought me all those years ago!

Seeing them was like seeing them for the first time, as their significance and value were so heightened because of her recent loss.  Every consequent bauble I put on the tree after those, brought back so many memories, the Friendship and Peter Pan bauble from my friend Michelle…the purple Liberty bauble that I purchased with my first pay cheque…the hand-painted, wooden angel I bought at Cologne Market…the metal silver baubles given to me by work colleagues when I left work last December…so many memories were evoked…

Decorating the tree this year has brought back so many memories of loved ones past and present.  This time of year brings many memories to mind – happy and sad -but I will never forget the feelings and emotions I experienced this year whilst trimming the tree with those very special purple baubles…