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…

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Annabelle – Girl’s Birth Picture

Whilst my role as a teacher allows me to meet some great learners, it also gives me the opportunity to meet some really nice people who support the learners to achieve the best results they can.  I have worked with many support workers, but the ones that I have worked with over the last two terms have been some of the best.  These have included (in alphabetical order): Amanda, Danielle, Jess, Nathan, Neil, Ronnie and Tom.  Annabelle by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon for blogWorking closely with learners and their support workers in the classroom give you a real insight into the kindness and patience people have for those that they care for and in time you get to know these people and find out about their families and their interests.

One of the above named support workers, Nathan, was telling me about his family on one occasion: about his wife Tracey, their four-year-old daughter named Annabelle and their young son, named Max.  Annabelle is a fan of My Little Pony and also likes unicorns (but then who doesn’t?).  He requested me to do an illustration for Annabelle, which he and Tracey would present to her on her fifth birthday this month. 

Inline with his daughter’s interests, Nathan requested ponies, flying horses, unicorns – things of a fairytale theme, with the main colours of pink and blue, which are Annabelle’s favourite colours.  I made a suggestion of trying to include Annabelle in the illustration and bearing in mind the size of the illustration this was easier said than done, as I was illustrating a face that was so small on paper!  I had to use my finest pencils and a magnifying glass to see what I was doing.  I took a deep breath and whilst biting my tongue did the drawing, trying not to overdo it.  It was white-knuckle time!

I got a message from Nathan to say that the illustration is fantastic and his colleagues have also given me such great feedback about the drawing.  I hope the illustration was a highlight of Annabelle’s birthday and that when she is older it will bring back the most special memories of a wonderful birthday and a personalised gift from her loving father and mother.

The art of saying ‘thank you’…

I have a small number of very close and special friends, who send me Christmas presents.  I am a very lucky man in that respect.  I am told ‘friendship works both ways’ – basically you reap what you sow.  I have always put a good deal of effort into my friendships and I am very blessed to know some truly terrific people.  This 25th December I received another beautifully wrapped bundle of gifts, which included a purple jumper, a carved giraffe figurine, giraffe stationery (I am fond of giraffes) and some beautifully scented candles, amongst other things.

Thank you cards 2 by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon
On Christmas Day (I like to be on the ball) I had my delicious luncheon made by my mother, Carole, and immediately after doing the washing-up, I started making the thank you cards to send to my friends and family.  I had some coloured card and started sketching out a few ideas that would not be too time consuming.  I only had about 2-hours to complete and write out fifteen cards!  I also tried to make sure that the cards could easily be personalised.  I did a few different designs, to keep me interested and also changed colours for a bit of variety.

Thank you cards 0 by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon   Thank you cards 1 by Michael Quinlyn-Nixon
As soon as the Post Office was open, I darted down to buy some stamps and post my thank you cards…hoping that they would not get too caught-up in the late Christmas post.  I have already received some nice text messages saying thank you for the personalised cards.  This could start a contagious ‘wave of gratitude’ and don’t you think that would be simply wonderful? 

I will conclude this blog post by saying “thank you to you” for taking the time to read my posts this year…it is most appreciated…

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.

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 🙂

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…