Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Week with Wombats and Monsters!

Welcome to another of my all-too-infrequent blog posts!

Children's Book Week was a few weeks ago and this year I was thrilled to be invited to speak at three Eastern Fleurieu R-6 campuses. I talked to 27 classes from reception to year six across 3 days.

Everything was beautifully organised by R-6 library co-ordinator, brilliant children's author and all-round unstoppable force, Jane Jolly, and things could not have run more smoothly.

The response to "No Room for a Wombat" (text by Lynn Ward, pictures by me, published by Scholastic) was absolutely wonderful. I took the kids through my process for creating the characters and illustrating the pages from scribbly roughs to finished artwork and talked to them about drawing from life (the zoo being a great place to start) and the importance of always carrying a small sketchbook around to jot ideas into. They loved seeing some of my own sketchbooks and were full of questions about the fuss-free wombat and his over-zealous buddies!

As great as that response was, I truly was not prepared for the overwhelming enthusiasm for the second half of my presentation - MONSTERS! Now, I know that kids love monsters. I certainly did when I was young and if anything, I think I love them even more now. So it was especially gratifying and actually quite emotional to see them respond so positively to my monster illustrations. For this part of the talk I focused on giving their imagination free reign (of course) but I also talked about composition in their drawings, experimenting with different media (sometimes using a few different media in one drawing) and telling a story with their artwork.

They were all bursting with ideas and after the first day of talks I returned the next morning to stacks of drawings the kids had made in their classrooms of all kinds of amazing creatures! More drawings came in each day, some of them with little stories (even some rhyming ones) attached. It made me so happy to see them so engaged and so proud of their work and proud to show it to me. I think one of my most special moments (among many) was being approached the following week in a local cafe by a mum who told me that her daughter was drawing every day since the school visit and that she had to keep going in to her daughter's bedroom to turn off her light at night because she was still drawing in bed! Definitely teared up for that one :)

So I want to say a huge thank you to EFS R-6 for inviting me, to Jane for being Jane, and especially to all the beautiful, enthusiastic, intelligent and talented students I had the absolute pleasure of meeting during Book Week. I LOVED seeing all of your amazing illustrations and answering your excellent questions and I hope you keep drawing and creating whatever you can imagine.

Check out the pics below for a small (by no means exhaustive) sample of the kids' fabulous work :)

Slide presentation and table of original illustration work.

Yours truly with an illustration from "No Room for a Wombat".

Magnificent  year 6 class display.

Amazing monsters drawn with graphite and a touch of colour by year 4 class.

I spread a selection of drawings that students gifted to me on my studio floor. Wow! These are all junior primary.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"No Room for a Wombat" is in bookstores!

My first children's picture book, "No Room for a Wombat" was published by Scholastic Books last month. It was exciting and slightly surreal to see it in bookshops and online stores!

To my delight, my favourite Adelaide bookshop, Imprints Booksellers, featured it in their window display which was a kind and supportive act that meant a great deal to me.

This book was a labour of love - a very steep learning curve that was often frustrating yet remained thoroughly enjoyable right to the end. I feel so grateful to have had the support and encouragement of my family (who are beyond awesome) and special friends Patricia, Dyan, Linda and Greg, who were always ready with excellent advice and excellent coffee :)

I already have a number of projects on the go for this year. I'm currently working on my second picture book for Scholastic Books, as well as teaching within the Visual Communication program at UniSA. There are some sculptural projects underway and I'm very excited to be teaching a 5 day sculpting/doll-making workshop at the Fibre Arts Australia Winter School in Ballarat in July.

So that's my long overdue update. I intend to make every effort to update this blog on a more regular basis...yes, I know I've said it before, but maybe this time it will stick :)

Till next time.

"No Room for a Wombat" 2017

Spread from the book

My book in the window of Imprints and my beautiful niece enjoying her copy

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Social Advocacy

As part of my post-graduate study during 2015, we were given the opportunity to create a social advocacy project of our own choosing. I chose to create images for an anti-fur campaign, as it's an issue that I have always had strong feelings about, and I've been dismayed to witness the return of real fur into the mainstream fashion market.

Here are the images as they currently stand...I'll be continuing to work on these in a few months, when I have some more time.

ps. the website is fictional.

Poster #1 image (copyright 2015 Lorell Lehman)

Poster #2 image (copyright 2015 Lorell Lehman)

Postcard front #1 image (copyright 2015 Lorell Lehman)

Postcard front #2 image (copyright 2015 Lorell Lehman)

Postcard back text 

Poster mockup image (copyright 2015 Lorell Lehman)

Newspaper mockup image (copyright 2015 Lorell Lehman)

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Year, New Studio

Another year has come and gone and I notice (with some embarrassment) that it has been well over 12 months since my last post. While I could hold this up as a testament to how busy I've been, the truth is that I'm just a lousy blogger and cannot dislodge the feeling that no one could possibly find anything about me or what I do the least bit least not interesting enough to actually read an entire post. Yet still, I'm compelled to share so here we are.

2015 has, in fact, been an extremely busy year for me. I have moved on to post-graduate study at UniSA and am working towards a Masters Degree in Visual Art and Creative Practice. At the same time, I've been completing the illustrations for my first children's picture book, which will be published by Scholastic later this year. I've also signed a contract for a second book (with the same publisher) and am working on preliminary character development and storyboards.

There have also been a number of small side projects and, while I can't share picture book images quite yet, I hope to post some of these self-initiated projects here in the coming months.

The post-graduate program that I'm currently undertaking provides dedicated, individual studio space to its students, but unfortunately at the end of 2015, the decision was made to re-purpose that space and so we were requested to pack up and move out. Although not the end of the world, the timing (a week before Christmas) plus the fact that I had moved all of my studio paraphernalia into this space, caused enormous upheaval at home and seriously compromised what is already a very tight work schedule. As always, my husband was my saviour, and with the help of my son we spent New Year's Eve transporting a trailer-load of furniture, artwork and materials from Adelaide back home to Strathalbyn.

I am so very fortunate to have a space that I can go back to and set up as my own. While I hadn't intended to work from home again, now that the dust has settled, I couldn't be happier. I certainly won't miss the almost 4 hours of travel every day (I don't drive, so take public transport which involves two buses from my town to the city) and as I still need to attend a lecture every now and then, I'll still get my city fix.

One of the positives in all of this is that I was forced to re-organise and weed out a lot of old, useless and pointless stuff. Those of you who know me well know that 'minimalism' is not a term I relate to in any way, but I do have to have things orderly, clean and tidy. A chaotic brain plus a chaotic space would drive me to gibbering incoherently under my desk, and although I've been close at times, I'm not ready to go there quite yet.

Anyway, here are some photos of the new old space. It's very tiny, but very practical and inspiring to me. I'm looking forward to sharing what comes out of here in 2016.

Desk, work & paper files, with Goblin presiding.
Looking up to the 'museum wall' leading to the first stair landing.
Books, files, sketchbooks and half-finished sculptures.
More of the same.
Work station housing materials and the ever essential i-pod.
The very top shelf is populated with wind up monsters...
I love them, but haven't been able to find any new ones in ages.
'The Nook' is the tiny room that is the entrance to our under-stairs storage area.
We took the door off and I use it to store more art files and also as the perfect
spot for my light table. It's lovely and dim.
Closer shot of the museum wall with bugs, bones, shells, seedpods
and other beautiful natural objects.
Looking down from the first stair landing.
Some of my work on the wall leading up to the second landing.
Looking down into my studio from the second stair landing.
The open area at the top of the stairs functions as a 'coffee lounge',
meeting and relaxing space and this small bookcase houses
some of my favourite children's books. That's Leif sitting on the couch...
he was made by 'Spooky Daddy', a very talented US artist.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HATCH Opening Night

Left to right from back: Brigette, Karl, Jordan, Jason, Lorell, Amanda, Leah and Ryan (photographer)

Our 'guerilla' exhibition HATCH, held at the SA Writer's Centre, officially opened on Friday night and was an unqualified success. The turn-out was greater than any of us expected and there was an incredibly positive and excited buzz in the gallery as visitors soaked up the amazing work on display.
I still can't quite believe how smoothly this exhibition came together - my fellow illustration students are just an exemplary bunch and I feel so lucky to share this final year with them. 
Of course, this exhibition is a prelude to the Visual Communication graduate show, which happens in late November. I'll post more about that as it gets closer to the time.

Outside the SA Writer's Centre

It was so exciting to have such a large space full of people

aylor (my daughter), myself and my friend, Eva

Sue Ninham opening the exhibition
You can check out all of the students' wonderful illustration work here

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Three Good Things

The recent warmer weather has made me realise just how close we are to summer and the end of another year. On a personal level, it's been a very strange year in many ways - sad and horrible times mixed with deliriously happy ones. Life's funny that way. So because nobody really wants to read about the tragedies of an illustrator, I'll just jump right to the good stuff. Three good things that have happened in the last two weeks.

1. I've been signed to Omnibus Publishing for my first children's book, which will be published next year. This is a dream come true for me, and has made all of my hard work and late nights and early mornings over the past two and a half years completely worth it.

2. I'll be participating in a wonderful exhibition later this month.

"The Adelaide Writer’s Centre has joined forces with University of South Australia (UNISA) Visual Communication Illustration students to present HATCH, an exhibition of this year’s finest graduates. This is the first time that a graduate exhibition of this kind has been seen in Adelaide. It is rare opportunity for the public to engage with a selection of cutting-edge work by some of South Australia’s most talented and energetic graduate image makers. 
HATCH is a celebration of this dynamic discipline and marks the entry of UNISA’s next generation of Illustration students into an industry that continues to inform our culture in new and inspiring ways. Sue Ninham, renowned Visual Artist and 2012 Fringe Poster winner, will open the exhibition starting at 6pm on the 19th of September. Located on Level 2 of the SA Writer’s Centre, 187 Rundle  Street, HATCH will be open from Monday to Friday, 19th September until 5th December."

3. I finally have a new site up and running. It's still a bit of a 'work in progress' and will no doubt undergo many changes, but I hope you will all stop by and check out the work I have uploaded.

So that's my three good least the ones I thought were worth blogging about. Would love to see those of you who are in Adelaide at the HATCH exhibition, it should be a great night.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Art Day..."Dark Heart" - Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art 2014

Saturday 1st of March was opening day for "Dark Heart", an exhibition I've been looking forward to for some months. I always attend exhibitions with high expectations. Sometimes I'm disappointed (Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, 2013), sometimes I'm ambivalent (Saatchi Gallery in Adelaide, 2011) and sometimes I'm giddy with happiness (Ron Mueck, Melbourne, 2011).
Wonderfully for me, "Dark Heart" fell into this last category.
First stop was the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, where Patricia Piccinini's "Skywhale" was  hovering for a few hours on that day only. As we made our way through the gardens, the giant hot-air balloon sculpture could be seen peeking through the trees, and when in full view it was an amazing sight. I was surprised at how "fleshy" it appeared, especially when I looked back at the photos I took.
From the gardens we moved to the Art Gallery of South Australia, where our first experience of "Dark Heart" was a house that appeared to have either fallen from the sky or emerged from under the earth - for me it was wonderfully disconcerting and the concept and blackness of the building had a Wizard of Oz feeling about it.
Happily, photography was permitted inside the exhibition, and the photos below are only a tiny sample of the artwork on show. These were two of my favourite works. The first is a piece by Alex Seton called "Someone died trying to have a life like mine". When I entered the room and saw the mass of empty life-jackets strewn across the gallery floor, there was an immediate emotional reaction...then I realised that each and every life-jacket was in fact a perfect replica carved from marble. It was extraordinary.
The last group of photos are of Julia deVille's installation, "Phantasmagoria", a menagerie of taxidermied animals presented as children's toys in a Victorian-style child's bedroom. I guess this is the kind of artwork that really divides opinion. The reactions to the work in the small amount of time that I was there ranged from wonder and fascination to horror and bewilderment. I really enjoy deVille's work, so my reaction was the former. I won't go on here, but you can check out Julia's website and I should point out that all of these animals died of natural causes and to my knowledge Julia is in fact a vegan.
Like I said, this is a very small part of the "Dark Heart" exhibition and it's well worth a visit (or two) if you're in or near Adelaide. I will definitely be going back at least once.
We concluded our "Art Day" with a visit to the Adelaide Convention Centre to see Emma Hack's exhibition of her incredible body painting. You can see more of her work here. A great day overall, this is definitely the time of year when Adelaide shines.

First glimpse of the enormous sculpture, "Skywhale".

Full view.

Underneath the back end (tail).

Those lips!

The giant, pendulous breasts really 'amped up' the overall fleshiness of the work.

Side view.

The 'dropped house' outside the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Alex Seton's marble life-jackets.

Julia deVille's "Phantasmagoria".

Julia deVille's "Phantasmagoria".

Julia deVille's "Phantasmagoria".

Julia deVille's "Phantasmagoria".

Julia deVille's "Phantasmagoria".

Julia deVille's "Phantasmagoria".

Emma Hack

Emma Hack