Quills and Spills…

I have been working on some scamps and rough sketches which feature quills this month.  It reminded me of the work that I did years ago for the Cumbria Life magazine (based in Cumbria and the Lake District).  My good friend, Cherry, was working for the magazine at the time and commissioned me to do a series of illustrations for some key regular features in the magazine, such as: antiques, cookery, books and literature etc.  I didn’t have a great deal of time to do the illustrations, as I was working full time in a college then, but I still managed to meet the deadlines and produce a series of illustrations.
Books and literature illustration by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blog

The magazine was (and still is) a lovely and glossy publication – filled with gorgeous and sumptuous photographs and features, so I chose to do something that would look noticeably different on each page, but tied in with the heritage and roots of many of the readers.  I chose a woodcut or linocut design, which I actually drew by hand (not having the time to create linocuts) to give the effect of the illustration being printed by such a technique. 

Quills are beautiful to draw with and the illustrations were all drawn with quills, most of them modern ones, rather than the traditional goose feather variety.  My love of red squirrels was abounding at the time, so I featured a bookend in the form of a red squirrel.  This is an actual bookend that my father, Robert W. Nixon created for me and I incorporated into the illustration.  I then added in the quill, books and ink pot with a quirky ragged border to group the components together.

I’ve mentioned the quills, but not the spills!  That is the unfortunate part of the story; no sooner had I finished this illustration than I spilled the bottle of Quink ink all over the drawing board and the illustration.  After clearing up the mess and it being nearly midnight, I started to do the illustration again to meet the deadline…

The illustrations were used in a number of Cumbria Life magazines, but I have long since lost the actual copies.  However, the memories remain ever-present and strong and the red squirrel bookends still sit on my bookcase – nibbling their nuts and keeping a watchful eye on my most-treasured volumes…

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Creating a Fimo Nemo

I had heard from the children of my friends about this new Disney movie called ‘Finding Dory’. I listened to them and said, “Is it not called ‘Finding Nemo’”?  This seemed to silence them momentarily, until one of the children, piped up with ‘No, it isn’t, they’ve already found him!”. That shows you how much I know about movie trends.
Fimo Nemo by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blog
Seemingly the film ‘Finding Dory’ was released in America on June 8, 2016 and has subsequently been viewed in the United Kingdom too. I must admit I haven’t seen it, but I did enjoy the first film ‘Finding Nemo’ and with this in mind, I created some small Fimo characters based on the ocean, with one of them being a Fimo Nemo. These Fimo creations were created for a class I was teaching, with the students and the members of staff all taking part. I must admit that the work that they produced was second-to-none and I now have a fantastic purple and green turtle, made by Lucie, in my bathroom 🙂

I hadn’t used Fimo since I was a student (quite a few years ago now), so using this coloured clay-like material was rather like starting anew. I didn’t have a great deal of time to spend on these creations, but tried to do my best in what little time I had. I had very little Fimo too, so the finished objects are rather small and a trifle delicate. I even managed to produce a crab with a picture clip, which wasn’t difficult but was fun to do.
 Fimo ocean creations by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blog
I hope you like my Fimo Nemo (which is a good rhyming name) or clowfish, if you prefer, and the other creations.  Hopefully if I have time this month (what with teaching, gardening and general home improvements), I might just see if I can go ‘Finding Dory’ too.