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 😦 )

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Thoughts On – Eighty-Eight

The number eight, for as long as I can remember, has always been my favourite number.  I am not sure why it was, but if I were to think about it…it would probably be to do with the fact that it’s pleasing to the eye.  It’s really two circles placed on top of one another.  Eight has no hard edges and is a friendly, warm shape.  A friend of mine, who was involved in analysing handwriting for large companies and police bureaux, told me that people who favoured the number 8 were generally very kind and approachable people; the kind of people you would want to hug.
88ducklingsbyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog
Eighty-eight in Gill Sans font

I have always loved handwriting, but many of my friends have noticed that when I write a number 8, I don’t do it it as one continuous movement.  I have always drawn one circle and then the other below (rather like the duckling diagram).  I have only ever met one other person who has done this and she was a graphic designer, called Kylie.  Another friend, Jennifer, told me that this form of writing out the number 8 is often used by technicians or draughtsmen, so perhaps I am in the wrong job!
88bunniesbyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog
Eighty-eight in Times font

Now, if you’ve read my earlier posts, you will know that I also love same-digit double-numbers, so it’s no surprise that the number 88 should find favour with me.  You may also be aware that today is the 88th day of the year!  So, today I printed out some 88s and had a little play with them, doodling and colouring them.  Today my friend, Marie, has just given me some rather nice Easter gifts and this probably led to the fact that two of the doodles are ducklings and rabbits.  The third doodle is of girls with rather 1950’s looking beehive hairdos and make-up.

88ladiesbyMichaelQuinlyn-Nixonforblog
Eighty-eight in Giddy-Up font

Everyone will no doubt know that in bingo-calling terms that the number 88 is often referred to as ‘two-fat-ladies’, but here are eight rather interesting facts about the number 8 that you may be interested to read and may not have known…

  • 8 is a composite number and it is also the first number which is neither prime or semi-prime.
  • 8 is the base of the octal number system, which is mostly used with computers and digital media.
  • The ‘figure-of-eight’ is often used in sporting terms, such as skating, but can also relate to the way that bees fly and communicate messages.
  • 8 is symbolic of new life, the final Resurrection and the anticipated resurrection that comes from baptism.  The number 8 in the Bible represents a new beginning, meaning a new order or creation, and man’s true ‘born again’ event when he is resurrected from the dead into eternal life.
  • There is also a visual resemblance between two digits, “88”, and 囍, the “shuang xi”  (“double joy”), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 (“xĭ” meaning “joy” or “happiness”).
  • Infinity is shown as a figure 8 on it’s side and symbolises a never ending cycle, as there is no start or end to the shape.
  • 8 is an auspicious number in many Asian and Chinese countries and is the number associated with wealth and abundance.
  • The summer olympics in Bejing commenced at 8-seconds and 8-minutes past 8pm on 8 August 2008 (08.08.08).

Perhaps I should issue this blog post on the eighty-eighth day of the year, at 08:08pm and watch the money and abundance come rolling in!  Watch this space…

Thoughts On – Easter Time

Easter is one of my very favourite times of the year. Not only is spring my favourite season, but I love the lighter days and the new bird song that it brings, along with the colourful bulbs and new growth in the garden. There’s something that makes me feel so alive and excited at this time of year, as Mother Nature prepares to share her bounty of greenery and floral wonders.Easter basket for blog
Every year, I prepare an Easter basket, filled chock-full of chocolate eggs, which are enjoyed by my family and friends when they visit. The selection varies, but the bountiful amount of confectionery doesn’t. I must admit that I am tempted to eat one or two (sometimes three!) of them myself, as there is nothing quite like breaking a family-sized Easter egg and cracking off pieces to enjoy…bit by bit. It’s the one treat of the year that I always allow myself and this year I am not breaking the tradition.
Weeping Fig with Easter egg decorationsDucklings under the weeping fig tree
Not only does the Easter basket get a yearly airing, but the weeping fig (Ficus Benjamina), that sits near the basket also gets a seasonal makeover and is covered in Easter chicks and eggs. There’s no reason why we should just decorate trees at Christmas, now is there? It could be that I’m a trendsetter…

There’s an old saying that when something fresh, bright and cheerful is on its way…that it’s like ‘April on the wing’…and that’s how I feel now that spring has arrived.

NB. The knitted chicks were made by my friend, Jennifer, and were sold to raise funds for cancer research. They each contain a Cadburys egg – so they are not just good on the outside :0)

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…

Felicity & Matilda – Birth Pictures

I was approached from Judith, a former work colleague and friend, to do three illustrations for her adorable grandchildren: Eleanor, Felicity and Matilda. Felicity and Matilda are twins, so I tried to use similar colours for their birth names, but gave them totally different themes.Felicity(complete) forblog

Matilda(complete)forblog
Judith thoughtfully and wisely provided me with a list of ‘favourite things’ that the girls liked and enjoyed doing. With Felicity and Matilda she also provided me with the first two words that the girls could utter. Felicity’s was the rather advanced word ‘teapot’ and Matilda’s word was rather cute – ‘goggly’. I decided to use these two key words to provide the basis and theme of the illustrations. Felicity is making her friends a cup of tea, from the aforementioned teapot, whilst Matilda is hanging out her washing (another one of her favourite things) with a t-shirt with rather goggly eyes.

I was delighted to do this trio of illustrations (I will post a picture of Eleanor’s illustration at a later date), and was equally delighted that the illustrations received full approval from Judith, whose comment is shown below. I do hope that the girls will treasure these illustrations as they go through life and that they will always give them some delightful childhood memories, as well as remind them of a special love, given to them by a grandmother, that commissioned these illustrations especially for them…

Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures!  Lots of love from Judith xxx  We will cherish them!

To see the process of how I create these bespoke, hand-drawn illustrations, please take a look at the posts in May (Phoebe) and June (Joshua).