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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Teddy Bears’ Picnic – Bear-a-thought Illustration

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…

I think the majority of us will be familiar enough to sing along to the tune of this light classical tune, composed in 1907 by American composer, John W. Bratton.

Over the last fourteen-years, I have produced over a hundred teddy bear illustrations, which have been seen by customers all around the world in the form of greeting cards and calendars. Some of these illustrations bring back lovely memories.
Teddy Bears' Picnic for blog
My illustration of ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ – probably the archetypal picture of bears together – reminds me of a former next-door-neighbour, who was always peering out of the window when I was in the garden setting up teddy bear scenes to sketch and photograph. She never knew it was, at that time, my part-time career to draw teddy bears, so I can only guess at what she thought I was up to. I can imagine the conversations she would have with friends, about her ‘eccentric neighbour’.

Whilst setting up this picnic scene, she plucked up courage to venture into the garden and peer over the fence and say, in a querulous voice, “Oh, they are having a picnic today are they?” I replied in the affirmative and making small talk, about how they liked cakes more than sandwiches, got on with the task at hand, watched unashamedly by my neighbour…

In the illustration, the bears are enjoying Victoria Sponge (it wouldn’t be a proper picnic without it), Battenberg cake (which my friend, Sara, knows I dislike very much), muffins and Jammie Dodger biscuits – always a favourite! These sumptuous treats will be enjoyed with a hot pot of tea.

The background shows the flower – the Rose of Sharon, which blooms in my garden at this time of year and the bushes are currently covered in flowers.   The bear wearing the purple, gold and green coat belongs to my friend Mildred and is, I believe, quite collectable. A number of my friends and customers are keen arctophiles have some marvellous collections of teddy bears. One of these collectors is Peter Masscharis, who has a marvellous collection of teddy bears, which is affectionately known as a ‘hug’.

It’s little wonder that teddy bears have remained so popular – they are wonderful to cuddle, never complain and always listen to your cares and worries. Perhaps, their ‘Picnic Day’ is the only day’s holiday they get and that’s why it’s probably best to leave the woods well alone and let them have some much needed peace and quiet!

Note:
The song by John W. Bratton was composed in 1907 and released in March 1908. The ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ lyrics were written by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. Many well-known artists, including Rosemary Clooney and lesser-known recordings, such as that by the comedian John Inman, have been released over the years.