New Art and Appearances

Poster for Gorse Mill Holiday Open Studios, Dec. 2-3, 11-5, 31 Thorpe Road, Needham, MA.

Hi everyone, I’ll be participating in an Open Studio the first weekend in December, showing and selling my artwork. If you’re local, stop by and say hello!

It will be at Gorse Mill Studios, 41 Thorpe Road, Needham, MA, from 11-5 on Saturday and Sunday Dec. 2 & 3. There will be several other artists there, including a great pottery studio with lots of ceramics for sale. This will be my only public event for December.

Ink and watercolor drawing of a girl standing on a hill looking out towards and island across the sea.

In other news, I’ve been posting new art on Instagram lately. I participated in an art challenge called Folktale Week, and created a new story to go along with the seven prompts. It was a great challenge to work fast (I didn’t have time to start in advance) and develop my ink and watercolor style. I kept the palette simple to evoke a particular mood. I’ll post the story on this website soon, but for now you can see my art over on Instagram.

Photo of John Lechner performing a puppet show outdoors with colorful insect puppets

Finally, I’m gearing up to relaunch my insect puppet show next year! This is a puppet show designed to entertain young children while teaching them about insects and their environment. If you are connected with a school, museum, or nature center, I would love to come inspire audiences with my new puppet show, which was performed several times this past summer to enthusiastic audiences. Send me a note for details!

Hope you all survived a tumultuous 2023, here’s hoping for a brighter 2024!

Outdoor Exhibit and Puppet Show in June!

Come see me this month at Gorse Mill Studios in Needham, Massachusetts!

I’m having an outdoor art exhibit at Gorse Mill Studios throughout the month of June, with a free puppet show — now rescheduled to Saturday June 24th at 3:00 PM. The exhibit entitled “Insects in the Garden” features giant cartoon insects around the lawn and garden at Gorse Mill Studios, 31 Thorpe Road, Needham, MA.

The insects in the exhibit, cut from plywood and painted with bright colors, are labeled with fun facts about each one. I’m hoping this exhibit will help people appreciate insects in a whole new way. Insects are usually overlooked because they’re so small, that’s why I wanted to make them really big and approachable. They’re really amazing creatures, and so important to our environment. They’re the unsung heroes of the natural world.

Here is an interview with me on the Needham Channel:

In conjunction with the exhibit, I’m performing a free puppet show. “Insect Tales: Phinni and the Wild Patch” tells the story of four insect friends who search for a new home after their meadow is destroyed by a storm. Visitors may bring their own chairs or blankets.

The exhibit will be on display throughout the month of June. Visitors can stop by anytime to see the giant insects and take photos with them.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Needham Council for Arts and Culture, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

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Come see my new exhibit at the Gorse Mill Gallery, “A Bug’s Eye View”

From June 6-26th, I’ll have a solo art exhibit at Gorse Mill Studios, 31 Thorpe Road, Needham, MA. This exhibit will be entirely devoted to insects, the unsung heroes of the natural world! I will be transforming the gallery with epic-sized drawings to let you step into the world of these tiny creatures. I will also display some of my insect comics and other fun things.

There will also be a reception on Saturday June 18th at 3:00 PM, where I’ll be doing an outdoor puppet show featuring a cast of colorful insect characters, which you may recognize from my recent comics. This is a brand new puppet show, never before performed! I’ll update this post with photos when I have them.

Hope to see you there! If you can’t make it on the 18th and would like to visit the gallery while I’m there, contact me and I can meet you there to show you around.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Needham Council for Arts and Culture, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

A new story about a ladybug

A ladybug sits at the edge of a leaf, looking out over a landscape and mountains.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite a backlog of stories in my notebooks, most of them too short for a real book. So I’m going to share some of them online, so at least people can read them. Today I’m pleased to present a tiny tale called The Ladybug Who Wasn’t Ready (Yet). This is a story I wrote a few years ago, and it’s been itching to get out into the world, much like the protagonist. It’s a story for late bloomers and quiet thinkers everywhere, about persevering and following your own path.

I tried out some new tools for the illustrations, using a a pen that I carved from a hollow stick, dipped in ink. In the past I’ve used a brush, but sometimes that can be constraining, because it requires such slow and careful drawing. The stick has its limitations, it’s difficult to vary line thickness, but it also has its strengths, you can draw in any direction and get some interesting textures. I’ll continue experimenting with this tool to see where it leads.

You can read the entire story here. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope to share more stories in the coming months!

Two ladybugs talking

Springtime Events

Just a quick update here, to let you know about some events I’ll be participating in this spring.

John Lechner comics festival table

On Saturday April 27th, I’ll be participating in the Boston Kids Comics Festival, in Newton, MA. I’ll have a table with my books and other fun stuff, and I’ll be leading a workshop for kids in drawing animal comics at 3:30 PM. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi! Details at www.bostonkidscomicsfest.org.

On May 4th and 5th, I’ll be participating in the Needham Open Studios, a town-wide event featuring artists in a variety of mediums. I’ll be at Gorse Mill Studios, 31 Thorpe Road. I’ll have a lot of my new papercuttings, and other fun stuff. Gorse Mill has lots of other artists you can visit while you’re there.

That’s all for now. Hope you’re all having a great spring!

Looking forward and looking back

The end of the year is always a good time to look back and reflect on recent projects. I don’t post on this blog nearly as often as I used to, because it’s faster and easier to share on social media. The drawback to social media is that it’s always focused on the moment, and once that moment has passed, we move on. Ideas get lost, and it’s hard to take the long view, to put things in context, to see the larger picture. This blog has become a catalog of highlights, to help me look back and see where I’ve come, and where I might be going.

So, here are some of the things I’ve been working on over the last half of this year.

I did more experiments in cut paper art. Here is my latest, cut from black paper with an x-acto knife, placed over a watercolor background. It measures 12 x 18 inches. I’m still developing my style and technique with this medium, but so far I love it.

Paper Art ©2018 by John Lechner

Paper Art ©2018 by John Lechner

I also did a series of nature drawings for #inktober. My personal challenge was to draw from life, using only ink and a brush (no pencil allowed.) This was very different for me, because I always do lots of sketching and erasing before I put ink to paper. I wanted to develop a more confident ink line, and explore ink as its own medium.

Art ©2018 by John Lechner

Art ©2018 by John Lechner

As usual this year, I took a lot of nature photos during my wanderings outdoors. I often try to capture the world from the vantage point of another animal or insect. Since I have a waterproof camera, I can venture outside on wet and snowy days without fear. You can see more nature photos at my Instagram page.

Photo ©2018 by John Lechner

Photo ©2018 by John Lechner

Photo ©2018 by John Lechner

This year I also built a suitcase puppet theater. This particular suitcase belonged to my great-grandmother, and I rigged up a vertical crankie inside the lid. It all comes apart and fits inside the suitcase, so I can carry it around. The photo below is still a work in progress. I often bring puppets to my school visits, and hopefully this will soon be added to my repertoire of storytelling.

Puppet Theater ©2018 by John Lechner

I’ve also been doing a lot of writing this year, revising old stories and starting new ones. Query letters have been sent out, some have even had replies, and hopefully this will all lead to good things in the coming year. It’s just a myth that once you’ve been published, all your subsequent books will be published as well. Even if you have the best idea in the world. In fact, I’m realizing that a great idea, or even a great manuscript, isn’t the most important factor in getting published. There are dozens of other forces at work, most of them beyond your control. This can lead to discouragement, but also a magical optimism, because you never know when circumstances will line up in your favor, and your great idea will make it through and find an audience.

Looking forward to the new year, I will be having a solo art exhibit at the Needham Public Library during the month of February, featuring all of my recent papercuttings and some book illustrations as well. There won’t be an opening reception (they have no room) but you can see the exhibit anytime during the month.

I’ve been posting less and less on this blog, but you can follow my creative journey on Twitter and Instagram. Hope everyone has a healthy and creative 2019!