Skip to content

Creative design books by Ernst Rottger

October 29, 2014

Fishinkblog 8250 Ernst Rottger 9

For those of you who love mid-century craft books, I came across this fab series published by B.T. Batsford Ltd (now called Batsford Books) in the early 1960’s. Written by Ernst Röttger it contains images of students work from a variety of ages and covers areas such as Clay, Paper, Fabric, Wood, Metal, Different Surfaces and Creative Drawing. Fishinkblog 8245 Ernst Rottger 1

Here’s a few images from different books in the series. I wonder if the creator of the kids series Fingerbobs had read these books !

Fishinkblog 8246 Ernst Rottger 2

Looking at sculpting in clay and wood.

Fishinkblog 8247 Ernst Rottger 3

Mark-making, exploring shapes, textures and line.

Fishinkblog 8248 Ernst Rottger 4 Fishinkblog 8249 Ernst Rottger 5

Designers like Jurianne Matter have explored and modernised these lantern ideas (below) that we used to make as children.

Fishinkblog 8250 Ernst Rottger 6 Fishinkblog 8250 Ernst Rottger 7

I expect, due to the popularity of this series which was reprinted about 9 times, publishers Batsford Books extended the series, they included more books, this time by Rolf Hartung and covering areas like textiles, colour and corrugated paper craft.

Fishinkblog 8250 Ernst Rottger 8

If you like this era of craft books then check out some more suggestions on the Hippli Books Site. Don’t forget to enter Monday’s competition for a chance to win a copy of Benji Davies’s new paperback picture book for children, On Sudden Hill, see here for more details.

Competition !!! Win a copy of ‘On Sudden Hill’ and Lovely Blog News.

October 27, 2014

Happy Monday one and all and I thought it was about time for another competition. This time, the prize was very generously donated by non other than the very talented Mr Benji Davies himself ! and it’a a paperback copy of his latest book ‘On Sudden Hill’ written by Linda Sarah. Which I’m delighted to say has just been nominated for the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal ! 

Fishink blog On Sudden Hill

It’s beautifully illustrated and aimed at 3 to 7 year olds but many adults will love it too !

To win this fabulous book I’d really appreciate it if you could ….

1. Tell me why you read Fishink Blog and what you like and perhaps dislike about it, you can leave me a comment below. (All feedback most welcome)

2. Tell three friends about this blog who you think would like it and may not know about it already and ask them to show me that you have guided them here.

3. Explain who your favourite illustrator is and why you like them.


I’ll be picking the best reply I receive on next Monday’s blog, and it’s open to anyone all around the world. So don’t delay, get busy today !!!



On an equally happy note, the fabulous travel writer Lizzie over at Dream Discover Italia has nominated Fishink Blog for a ‘Lovely Blog Award’……  how great is that !

The award states that I must share 7 things about myself that you may not already know, so here goes : -

1. I’m a Textile Designer / Illustrator currently living in Manchester, UK.

2. I’m also a Reiki Master and have trained in this for the last 12 years.

3. Next Christmas time I will be fifty years old, (although, curiously, I still feel about 25 ! ). I have no fears at all about reaching this age, especially as my friends keep telling me I’m        wearing well, perhaps that’s why they’re my friends lol

4. My favourite colours are blue and orange.

5. No surprises for guessing that my favourite design era is around the mid-century.

6. For relaxation in the evenings, I like to escape by watching quality Sci-fi dramas (Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Game of Thrones) or sometimes by reading teenage fiction. I find they help stimulate my creative side and give my practical, multi-tasking-brain some time off too.

7. I feel very lucky to still have two wonderful parents, many great friends (some dating back to my school days), a fab partner and beautiful dog to help me appreciate my life. Long may that continue : )


For 9 of my own nominations (in no particular order) for this award, from the myriad of great blogs that I follow : -

Lizzie over at Dream Discover Italia for her tourist’s eye cast over the life of Venice as a city.

Michelle at Pattern Observer for her wonderful selections and featured artists work.

Bowie Style over at Print & Pattern, a blog I’ve loved, admired and followed for the longest of time now.

Hazel Terry at The Art Room Plant for introducing me to so many fabulous artists I’d never have discovered if not for her.

Jil Casey at The Art Of Children’s Picture Books for showing me so many great illustrators of children’s books.

The peeps over at Quad Royal for sharing their love of vintage posters and artists.

Laura Ottina at The Animalarium for her amazing collections of different animals and fascinating articles.

Irene Hoofs over on Bloesem for her impeccable interior taste and styling.

Katie Treggiden at Confessions of a Design Geek, whom it appears shares very similar likes to myself as her blog never fails to please.

And for everyone of you that continue to follow and comment on my blog too.. Many thanks !

Useful information – The Rules

The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer or up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and to also help the new blogger reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow-blogger who chose them. This award acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with their viewers and followers.

In order to accept the award nominees should –

  • Thank and link back to the person who nominated you for the award.
  • List the Rules and Display the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
  • Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.
  • Nominate up to 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award
  • Follow the blogger who nominated you (if not already!)

Modern Publicity 1950 – 51. Illustrated Mid century Art, Advertising and Graphics Part 3

October 24, 2014

Hey everyone, it finally friday !! Here, it’s a wet end to a rather lovely, mild, October week of weather. I thought you might like something retro for the weekend : ) The Modern Publicity Annual for 1950-51 must have been a good year for quirky vintage graphics, as we’ve made it to part 3 packed with more fab illustrations !

Fishinkblog 7902 Modern Publicity 1950 51 15

These lovely black and white company symbols show bold strength in their visual messages.

Fishinkblog 7903 Modern Publicity 1950 51 16 Fishinkblog 7904 Modern Publicity 1950 51 17

I’m always absorbed by the great textures and shapes used at this time.

Fishinkblog 7905 Modern Publicity 1950 51 18

Lovely movement in these graphics and onto some fab packaging too.

Fishinkblog 7906 Modern Publicity 1950 51 19

Great polar bear and the Summit cigarettes look almost 3-D.

Fishinkblog 7907 Modern Publicity 1950 51 20

Can you believe some of these designs are nearly 65 years old !

Fishinkblog 7908 Modern Publicity 1950 51 21

Keep an eye out on my blog next week as I’ll be posting a competition for you to win a copy of the latest picture book by Benji Davies and Linda Sarah On Sudden Hill !! Wow, it’s a beautiful book too.

You can find more posts and illustrations in this series by typing the words ‘ Modern Publicity ‘ into the search function on the right of this post. Don’t forget to share this and tell your friends about Fishink Blog. Thank you and have a great weekend.

John Elwyn Painted Welsh Landscapes

October 22, 2014

Fishinkblog 8288 John Elwyn 5

John Elwyn was born (John Elwyn Davies) in 1916 in Newcastle Emlyn in rural south Cardiganshire where his father ran a woollen mill, one of many that once flourished on the banks of the Teifi. After spending two years at the Carmarthen School of Art, he went on to the West of England College of Art in Bristol, where he was awarded an Exhibition tenable at the Royal College of Art in London. In his first year there he studied architectural drawing, still-life painting and life- drawing, and enrolled in an evening class at the London College of Printing in order to learn engraving.

His facility for figure drawing attracted the attention of Gilbert Spencer, the Professor of Painting, who described the young Welshman as one of the best students he had ever had the good fortune to teach. One of the influences on Elwyn at this time was the Euston Road School of painters; he was also deeply impressed by the Cezanne centenary exhibition of 1939.

Fishinkblog 8289 John Elwyn 6

John studied at Carmarthen Art School in 1933-37, Bristol College of Art in 1937-38 and Royal College of Art in 1938-39 and 1946-47.

I like the carefree, colourful feel to these paintings from the early sixties.

Fishinkblog 8290 John Elwyn 7 Fishinkblog 8291 John Elwyn 8

I would guess, what he learnt from painting these early floaty, globular landscapes, somehow helped to both stimulate and create a visual subject matter for his later work.

Fishinkblog 8296 John Elwyn 13

His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of war later that year when the Royal College moved to the Lake District. Having already registered as a conscientious objector, he was directed to work in forestry above Pont-rhyd-y-fen in the Afan Valley, where he remained for four years, painting a scarred industrial district dominated by the steelworks of Port Talbot in a Neo- Romantic style which owed a good deal to English artists such as Michael Ayrton and Graham Sutherland. It was not until 1947 that he was able to resume his studies at the Royal College.

From 1948 to 1953 Elwyn taught at the College of Art in Portsmouth, and began exhibiting his work from 1948 regularly at the Royal Academy, New English Arts Club and in exhibitions arranged by the Welsh Arts Council and the Royal National Eisteddfod. His first London exhibition was held at the Paul Alexander Gallery in 1949 and it was at about this time that he began making engravings for Radio Times. Encouraged by Winifred Coombe-Tennant, a wealthy landowner and generous patron of young Welsh artists, to paint what he knew most about, he now returned in his imagination to his halcyon childhood in Cardiganshire, finding in it the subject-matter which he was to spend the rest of his career exploring.

Fishinkblog 8297 John Elwyn 14

Fishinkblog 8284 John Elwyn 1

Some of my favourite paintings are featured below, which detail everyday life in the village community.

Fishinkblog 8285 John Elwyn 2

He was a keen observer of life … in the villages, the colourful seasons and changing landscapes, he recorded and painted them all.

Fishinkblog 8294 John Elwyn 11

The visual drama of the Welsh industrialised landscape soon replaced the tranquillity of the chapel paintings as John Elwyn focused his attention on the miners and their landscape near Pont-Rhyd-y-Fen where he had lived when working on the land during the war. Across open wasteland, scarred by industry, he witnessed miners descend steep roads in pouring rain from a sky into which distant chimneys at Port Talbot belch their sulphurous waste. Such picturesque urban romanticism was a rare departure from the concerns of mainstream British painting; few artists were recording the industrial landscape in 1951.

Fishinkblog 8295 John Elwyn 12 Fishinkblog 8287 John Elwyn 4

In September 1953 John Elwyn moved to Winchester, there his paintings followed a new line of enquiry, this time drawing upon his wide experience of the working life of the countryside. Paintings of the cattle pastures, farm yards and barns of the Teifi and Ceri valleys and upland rural areas of Cardiganshire record activities in the countryside at different times of the day and as they vary from season to season. They present a panegyric of country life, labour is seen as pure and dignified. Figurative subjects, however, increasingly gave way to pure landscape – the patterned meadows, organised and divided into fields with hedgerows and stone walls dappled with sunlight display a strong sense of genius loci. The debate between the advocates of abstraction and those of more representational modes of painting, created a dilemma for the traditional painters. John Elwyn began to use nature more selectively, his compositions gradually became more economical and the formal passages more predominant. Liberated from pure representation, he used colour more symbolically.

He won the Gold Medal for Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod in 1956, held one-man exhibitions at the Leicester Galleries in London and was commissioned to make lithographs by the Curwen Press and to illustrate some of the Shell Guides to the Countryside. In 1962 he started a series of large abstract compositions which eventually formed solo exhibitions at the Leicester Galleries in 1965 and 1969, both were a financial and widespread critical success.

Fishinkblog 8286 John Elwyn 3 Fishinkblog 8292 John Elwyn 9

Beautiful colours, perspectives and shapes here.

Fishinkblog 8293 John Elwyn 10

A man of peaceful temperament, John Elwyn remained modest and unassuming about his own work and always ready to praise that of others. His retrospective exhibition at the National Library of Wales in 1996 was the final accolade for a Welsh painter who had practised his art with unswerving devotion and great distinction.

Many thanks to The Independent  and Aberystwyth University for the information that made this post possible.

More Lisa Larson Ceramics

October 20, 2014

Fishinkblog 8150 Lisa Larson 5

It was way back in 2010 that I first featured the work of Lisa Larson on my site. Since then, I keep being reminded of how much I like her ceramics, when coming across images of her work online.  So I decided to group some more of her fab animals together for an update, starting with her famous Cats. I love they way these skulk about on their little legs.

Fishinkblog 8146 Lisa Larson 1

There appears to be many versions of the same animal with different glazes or colourations. Again this probably helps to keep them highly collectable.

Fishinkblog 8147 Lisa Larson 2

A few animals from the hedgerows.

Fishinkblog 8148 Lisa Larson 3

From the fields to the prairies, the plains to the mountains too, she’s covered them all.

Fishinkblog 8149 Lisa Larson 4

Even those from the zoo !

Fishinkblog 8151 Lisa Larson 6 Fishinkblog 8152 Lisa Larson 7

We all know that dogs come in many different shapes and sizes. Her ‘pom-pom’ poodles and gruff bulldogs both made me smile.

Fishinkblog 8153 Lisa Larson 8 Fishinkblog 8154 Lisa Larson 9

A few of her pots and vessels.

Fishinkblog 8155 Lisa Larson 10 Fishinkblog 8156 Lisa Larson 11

In the last few years, Tokyo has been so inspired by her work that not only is Lisa having exhibitions there, but a company called Powershovel has started producing towels, toys and books for a new generation to appreciate.

Fishinkblog 8159 Lisa Larson 14

The T-shirts are sold through Uniqlo.

Fishinkblog 8160 Lisa Larson 15

Also a collection of keyrings, presently retailing for about £25 ! Keen prices for a keen market.

Fishinkblog 8158 Lisa Larson 13

Such a great feel to this mid century work, you can find out more on Lisa’s website on Facebook, (where the lovely pic below was taken from)….or from the japanese site here.

Such a talented lady.

Fishinkblog 8157 Lisa Larson 12

If you enjoyed this post you may also like the work of Jonathan Adler.

Peter Donnelly Illustrator and Art Director

October 17, 2014

Fishinkblog 8260 Peter Donnelly 10

Peter Donnelly is an Irish illustrator and art director. His work displays a love for folk art and vintage print design. He works in a variety of media including screenprinting, drawing and digital. His background is in animation where he originally trained under 1950s UPA studio artist, Harry Hess, then he ran an art department for Don Bluth in 20th Century Fox and continued on for spells in Dreamworks, Hahn Film and various other companies in Europe.  Since returning to Dublin in 2000, Peter has gradually stepped away from film and thrown himself more into illustration. What a great landscape to behold below.

Fishinkblog 8251 Peter Donnelly 1

Peter tells Yeller website  “I always try to introduce a narrative into my work and then leave the door open a little for the viewer. Sometimes it comes natural, while other times I have to work hard to find that right combination. I’ve always found illustrations that go beyond just an appealing looking image much more interesting. If my work can hold someone’s attention for more than a minute, then I feel I’ve achieved something in that piece “

Fishinkblog 8255 Peter Donnelly 5 Fishinkblog 8252 Peter Donnelly 2

Peter’s distinct style attracts creative agencies and clients from Ireland and the UK through Europe and the United States. He has been awarded by The Creative Quarterly Journal of Art and Design, American Illustration, and the 3×3 Professional Illustration and Children’s Book showcases. You can buy a print from his Society 6 Site.

Fishinkblog 8253 Peter Donnelly 3

Whether it’s food….

Fishinkblog 8254 Peter Donnelly 4

or Music … (the food of love according to Shakespeare) … you can find it here.

Fishinkblog 8256 Peter Donnelly 6

Here’s a little advertising work.

Fishinkblog 8257 Peter Donnelly 7

I love the fact that Peter shows his doodles and sketchbook work on his blog. He says on Yeller ” I made a conscious decision about two years ago to introduce more hand craft into my illustration. There is a lot of good work out there but much of it looks the same to me and unfortunately it becomes boring. I experiment with linocut and study old printing techniques. I try to bring that into my work to give it an identity. Fifty percent of what I do is in the pencil work, it’s my favourite part of the job, it’s where the ideas get fleshed out and I find the solutions to my briefs. The other half is working digitally “

Fishinkblog 8261 Peter Donnelly 11 Fishinkblog 8263 Peter Donnelly 13

On receiving a new brief he initially cleans up his desk, re-reads the brief a few times and then writes down a list of words that come to mind from the brief. He says ” If there’s time, I’ll give it some space then come back to it with a pencil and begin sketching ideas down. I still get a rush when I read a brief, partly fear, partly excitement ” (Yeller)Fishinkblog 8259 Peter Donnelly 9

Here’s he is working hard surrounded by his many sketchbooks of ideas.

Fishinkblog 8258 Peter Donnelly 8 Fishinkblog 8262 Peter Donnelly 12

Peter has illustrated over thirty books for clients including, Little Red Riding Hood, Fras na nGaeilge, Leabhar Breac, Mentor Books and the Educational company of Ireland. You can see more of his individual projects over on his Pinterest site under the title of donoart.

Illustrator Peter Donnelly Image

Here’s a commission for a children’s room.

Fishinkblog 8264 Peter Donnelly 14

He has some great advice for new illustrators hoping to get into the industry. ” First of all you’ve got to LOVE it. If you do, it will show in your work. If you go in half way your work will look half baked. Work hard, its like every other thing in life in that you’ve got to nurture it. Have patience, it takes time to develop a style and a body of work. When you look at someones work that you admire, try and figure out what makes it successful and why it works. Adapt that information rather than copying the work straight off…otherwise you will only be a second rate them. Finally and most importantly don’t work for nothing, even if its only a small reward, you’ve got a duty to educate people that what you do is your job. People need to learn to respect that ” ( Yeller )

Superb work Peter, it certainly keeps me smiling anyway. Many thanks.

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2014 Part 2

October 15, 2014

Welcome back to part two of my visit to this years Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair last week.

One of my ‘favourite stand awards’ goes to my first entrant, Ceramist Penny Withers. Her beautiful studio ceramics are first thrown on the wheel, leaving the ridges as a feature and later reformed to a different shape when a new base is also added. They are then fired and glazed and finally re-fired to reach their finished forms. Lovely crackle glazes and subtle colours made these firm winners in my mind. Penny was lovely to chat to and also runs pottery courses in Sheffield too.

Fishinkblog 8273 2014 GNCCF 9

Fishinkblog 8274 2014 GNCCF 10

How well these chinese lanterns compliment the shape and colours in this piece. Wow !

Elizabeth Terzza has taken the seeds of nature as the inspiration for her delicate silver jewellery. Her tiny cones and sycamore seed necklace, are stunning pieces.

Fishinkblog 8276 2014 GNCCF 12

Detailed and friendly animals on Julia Smith’s Ceramics.

Fishinkblog 8277 2014 GNCCF 13

I discovered two familiar faces from the stands of Fiona McIntosh of Tessuti Printed Textiles and James Donald of Pick One, both of whom I know from selling my work through their boutique gift shop in Edinburgh called Concrete Wardrobe. I loved these new scottie dogs in fiona’s fabric, they work very well. A fab and colourful stand full of soft woolen weaves from James too, hope you both had a good show.

Fishinkblog 8278 2014 GNCCF 14

Manchester based Willow weaver Cherry Chung has made some lovely baskets and bowls that combined her stoneware bases and the dyed or natural willow surround. She has been commissioned to make huge storytelling tree or magic tree puppet theatre like the one below. Cherry also runs local courses (info on her site), if anyone fancies trying this out for themselves.

Fishinkblog 8279 2014 GNCCF 15

Lovely to see how Tone Von Krogh‘s new work is getting larger and larger. Look at these stunning vases, what a centrepiece they would make.

Fishinkblog 8280 2014 GNCCF 16

Lastly I spotted the felt work of fibre artist Valerie Wartelle. Her textile landscapes with their dyed and embroidered surfaces were like textural snapshots of the countryside. Sadly I didn’t get to speak to Valerie in person as she was busy with a potential customer but I wanted to include her beautiful work in my post.

Fishinkblog 8281 2014 GNCCF 17

A fab and busy show, congratulations to the organisers and to everyone who took part and made the exhibition the event it was.

Fishinkblog 8283 2014 GNCCF 19

Thanks again to everyone who generously gave of their time and let me take photographs to show you all. Here’s to the next one !


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 462 other followers