The thrill of illustration

A scene from Was Schwimmt Denn Da by Henning Lohlein

An illustration from Was Schwimmt Denn Da by Henning Lohlein

Hippos, pigs, seals and fish, not to mention the occasional elephant in swimming trunks, cavort through the pages of Henning Löhlein’s picture books. Designed to amuse and enthrall, they wriggle with life.

“I always liked drawing,” Henning recalls. “Having grown up in Germany, I spent two years taking foundation art studies in Toulon France, but I was torn between graphic design and fine art.”

A scene from Was Schwimmt Denn Da by Henning Lohlein2

A scene from Was Schwimmt Denn Da by Henning Lohlein

Henning travelled to Bristol on an Erasmus exchange programme, and here discovered illustration, “which formed the right mixture between working to a brief and having the freedom to express one’s own ideas. I finished my studies with an MA in editorial design and narrative illustration at Brighton University. Since then I have taught on the illustration course as a visiting lecturer.”

Illustration for the Financial Times by Henning Lohlein

Illustration for the Financial Times by Henning Lohlein

Henning’s editorial work includes illustrations for the Guardian, the Financial Times and Country Life, as well as magazine covers. “I like to find the freedom in the constraints of illustration, be it for editorial jobs, or in children’s books,” he says.

A scene from Das Leben Ist Bunt illustrated by Henning Lohlein

A scene from Das Leben Ist Bunt illustrated by Henning Lohlein

His love of children’s books began when, after 15 years of working as an editorial illustrator, he realised he wanted “to have a longer ‘shelf life’ for my illustrations. I had started drawing more and more animals in my magazine illustrations, so the step to children’s book illustration was not very far.”

A scene from Ich Ware So Gerne illustrated by Henning Lohlein

A scene from Ich Ware So Gerne illustrated by Henning Lohlein

Henning was fortunate enough to have been chosen to exhibit at the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, “and that opened up the world of publishing to me.”

Henning has since published more than 40 books, translated into 12 languages, and counting.

A scene from Ich Ware So Gerne illustrated by Henning Lohlein

A scene from Ich Ware So Gerne illustrated by Henning Lohlein

Initially, Henning sought out commissions by attending two of the most prestigious book fairs, Bologna in the spring and Frankfurt in the autumn, seeing as many publisher, editors and art directors as possible.

A scene from Das Leben ist Bunt, illustrated by Henning Lohlein

A scene from Das Leben ist Bunt, illustrated by Henning Lohlein

“I’m now in the position where I can develop projects before hand, which I then try and sell to a publisher at the fair,” he says. “Having been in the industry for a while, authors come to me with projects, or publishers match my illustration up with a suitable text.”

But how closely does he work with a writer in this scenario?

“Normally I just get the text, and illustrate it, having no contact with the writer, just working with the text, and interpreting it in my way,” he says.

Ludwig the Spacedog by Henning Lohlein

Ludwig the Spacedog by Henning Lohlein

Henning is excited about writing and illustrating his own stories. “Ludwig the Space Dog, published last autumn by Templar, is my first written and illustrated book,” he says.

Ludwig the Spacedog cover by Henning Lohlein “I started from the idea about a dog living in a two-dimensional world, dreaming about another dimension, which he discovers, and the reader can discover as well with using 3D glasses. It’s about the power of dreams and thinking outside the box. I also liked the idea of doing a 3D book. The pictures are obviously two-dimensional, as they are in a book, so the magic happens in the reader’s head.”

Henning describes being an illustrator as “the best job I can imagine. On a Monday morning I look forward to going to the studio, and to drawing,  painting or inventing a new story. Doing what one loves doing and getting paid for it is a privilege. I can express my ideas, and with a bit of luck, a book will come out of it.”

A scene from Was Schwimmt Denn Da by Henning Lohlein1

An illustration from Was Schwimmt Denn Da by Henning Lohlein

Find more of Henning’s work online at www.Lohlein.com.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Writing prompt – recipe

Grapes photo by Judy DarleyFlavour and scent are inextricably linked to nostalgia, making them the perfect means of ramping up the visceral-qualities of any tale. With this in mind, use a recipe as your starting point, whether it’s for something as sweet as a plate of heart-shaped cookies, or the particular mix of a dirty martini.

Your character may be a cordon bleu chef or a kitchen klutz – either way you have plenty of scope for hyping up tension through the drive for perfection. One final thing to ask them, and yourself, why is it so important to them to get this specific recipe right?

Today’s #writingprompt was inspired by this recipe for pickled grapes. *mouth waters*

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Book review – A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland

A Book of Silence coverIn A Book of Silence Sara Maitland takes us on a journey not just into her own quest but those of countless others, as she searches for the pure joy she equates with the experience of true silence.

According to Sara, silence is not a vacuum or an absence of something, but rather an element in its own right, and one we are losing a sense of in our increasingly fraught and noisy lives.

On the surface this is an almost political attempt to overthrow a deluge of lies and misconceptions about the concept of silence: “We say that silence ‘needs’ – and therefore is waiting – to be broken: like a horse that must be ‘broken in.’”

Continue reading

Enter a comic poetry contest

Possible wergleflomp spied at Art in Action

While I’m a fan of sensitive, thought-provoking poetry, there’s definitely something to be said for an intelligent comical poem. Just writing one can lift your spirits – especially necessary through these wet winter storms.

The Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, sponsored by Winning Writers, seeks to celebrate the art of writing poems that make others smile. The creature at the top of is, I believe, a possible Wergle Flomp, spied in the wilds of Art in Action last year.

There’s no fee to enter the writing competition, so what have you got to lose?

Your poem may be of any length. Have a read of last year’s winners, to get some inspiration, then let your imagination run riot, and unleash your talent for comic verse.

Make sure you upload your masterpiece to winningwriters.com/wergle before the submission deadline of April 1st 2017 (April Fools’ Day – how apt is that?)

Jendi Reiter and Lauren Singer are the judges. Top prize is $1,000 and there will be ten Honorable Mentions of $100 each.

All winners will be published on the Winning Writers website.

Submit your art to the RWA’s Drawn exhibition

Sea Mark silver, Tania Kovats, 2015, image courtesy of Sidney Cooper Gallery and RWAThe Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing for their Biannual drawing exhibition Drawn. The show aims to “explore the boundaries of drawing and celebrate it as both an autonomous discipline and an interdisciplinary tool.”

The image above is from the 2015 exhibition, and shows Sea Mark (silver), by Tania Kovats, and is provided courtesy of Sidney Cooper Gallery and the RWA.

Entries are invited from artists who draw or explore the concept of drawing in their work. Submissions are open until 5pm on 15th March 2017, so if you still have a chance of being part of it.

As well as the opportunity to have your work showcased in the exhibition, prizes for Drawn include the following:

  • The Theresa Knowles Travel Bursary which offers a bursary of £1,500 to go to Italy to make new work.
  • The Student Prize – a month long exhibition at Hidden
  • Work on Paper Prize – £400 of printing and framing courtesy of Niche Frames.

Tempted?

All applicants must apply online, submitting images using the Online Exhibition Submission System.

Find full details here: www.rwa.org.uk/artists/open-exhibitions/drawn-artist-information. Good luck!

Writing prompt – animals

Animal Wall Lioness photo by Judy Darley

Animal Wall Lioness photo by Judy Darley

On a recent visit to Cardiff’s Castle Quarter, I strolled along The Animal Wall, an impressive series of sculptures depicting fauna from across the world. These include an anteater, a seal and a hyena. My favourite is the stately lioness, pictured above with the Castle Clock Tower.

Designed by William Burges, the first nine were sculpted by Thomas Nicholls in 1890, with six more added by Alexander Carrick in 1931.

I love the idea of making one or more of these statues the site of a clandestine rendezvous – “meet me beneath the pelican at 9.15…” Or could the animals themselves have a secret other life?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.