Monday, July 20, 2015

STUDIO SPACE: Lynne Wirthlin

Lynne Wirthlin is a home based, freelance illustrator and writer, living in the countryside east of Cincinnati. She earned her college degree in design while raising two sons and their ‘pets’ brought in from the woods. Over the course of her career, Lynne has partnered with art directors, editors, and clients of all sorts. The years she spent designing in a corporate setting aided in her professional development. The best of these aids she learned through a few hard knocks. Her illustrations have been published in several children’s magazines as well.

Cincinnati area
On the Drawing Table:
preparing for SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference, meeting with art director Laura Roodes of Simon & Schuster
Coming out soon: a
children’s book I’ve written and presently illustrating for hopeful publication

How did you get your start as a professional artist?
I started out as a humble go-fer in a graphics department. Not to be discouraged, I snuck in a few nonprofit gigs and added these to my portfolio. As my portfolio grew so did my corporate positions: senior designer, art educator four years at Antonelli College, product development, to name a few. As I gained confidence and experience, I found more opportunity in the art industry then I ever thought possible. My long-term goal was always to freelance from home. Stepping towards this dream and with the hope of making extra money, I sent in a few samples to different children’s publishers. Soon after, a letter came from Herald Press containing my first paid illustration contract. And what a great day that was.

Describe your work.
In a word: color. Whether its vibrant, bright, happy colors or smoky, somber, mindful colors, doesn’t matter, I’m passionate about using color in my work. I get all choked up when I see the colors of an approaching thunderstorm swirling together in the sky. I image that sky being my canvas and those deep blues and grays blending on it. Don’t even get me started with the yellows and browns of autumn. What excites me most in the creative process is the moment I get to finally add color. Color to me is like a magical love potion, keeping me forever bound. The application of it hopefully creates a similar effect on my audience, bonding us together forever. 

Tell about your workspace.
At the front, there are two Southern facing windows. I love the natural light these allow in all day. My drawing table and easel both take advantage of this. When we designed the house, I got an added bonus of cleanup corner w/deep sink. It’s great now that I’m no longer making trips to the kitchen for my water source. I use tables from around the house for my computer area. A butcher-block island serves as my cutting board. Then hubby hung shelving overhead to hold my library. It goes all the way around the room and frees up floor space. Pretty much everything I love is in there. 

What are your favorite materials digital and traditional?
Big fan of traditional, however I incorporate both digital and traditional into my work. Still, no matter how computerized and electric we become, I will always use the hand-crank-kind-of-pencil-sharpener for the sharpest point on the planet. Traditional media I use: watercolors, colored pencils, makers, ink, and acrylics.

What’s your typical workday/work session like?
In the early morning I sit with my two German Shepherd dogs while sipping a cup of coffee. We talk about our plans for the day. They’re hoping a Frisbee is included somewhere. Routine chores are a must, and then off to the studio I go… shutting the door behind me. I start each project with a fairly clean workspace. A fresh beginning, so to speak. But once I’m into it and focused, I hardly leave my chair. My studio turns into a disaster area. I put yellow tape on the entranceway. No one is admitted without a hardhat.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated as you work?
When working on a project I surround myself with visuals. I hang, tape, prop basically anything I love to look at or have recently collected, along with visuals that relate to task at hand. When I go to Lynnie Land, there’s really no coming back, and as long as I have something to look at, I could literally stay there for hours without blinking. Below is a pic I’ve carried around since the 90’s. Great reminder to always have fun and stay free.

What is your dream job?
I’m living it. Only wish there was a delete button for the non-essentials. Keep dreaming, Lynnie.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Don’t usually carry one around with me, but I’ve always kept a journal to write and sketch in (it’s kind of private). Here’s a snippet, ‘though an ocean of love is poured over someone, they must be able to receive it. A bucket turned upside down, even in a cloudburst, will not be filled.’

What do you listen to while you work?
Back in the day when playlists first came out, I created one called ‘Art’. This is filled with every song – old and new - I ever loved in my whole life, and that I continue to add to. My favorites include music from the Woodstock generation. It’s like reliving good memories and keeps me in a positive frame of mind.

Who are your artistic influences?
Top three:
1.    The late Eloise Wilken, a famous children’s illustrator during the 50’s and 60’s. Because of her book illustrations, I learned to love art at a young age. I fell in love with one particular image of a happy little girl in a meadow with a lamb sitting beside her. It has inspired me more than any other picture in my whole life. I can truly say her artwork is one of the reasons I am an artist. This book sits on my drawing table.
2.    Old Disney animation films (pre-computer). I love studying their color theory. However, I have all of both old and new in my video library. And watch them often.
3.    Norman Rockwell. He perfected the science of making an emotional connection with his audience. I marvel at his range of talent. It was/is off the charts.

What do you do that is not art related that inspires you?
Organic vegetable gardening, creating beauty from the earth. I put a seed in the ground, and voila, it grows into a life sustaining, food giving plant. Amazing. It’s peaceful there and gives me pause for reflection. 

What was the best advice you got in your career so far?
Not so much in the way of advice, but the support given by my family and friends, even when I do stupid stuff, has been priceless.

How can we get best follow your art online/on social media?
You can find me on Facebook, of course my website, and at these other online portfolios:


  1. These are fun. That is one serious garden!

  2. Beautiful painter, teacher , artist with so much God given talent. Very gifted!