Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Self Portraits

A couple of self portraits I've put together for some promotional material.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Snow, Dreams, and Places

The next year is turning out to be pretty exciting for us! Renata has three brand new books to be released starting this November. We are opening a collaborative art studio in November. And we are working on a book together which I am writing and Renata is illustrating. To better serve these activities I am combining our blogs with the goal that we will be posting interesting stuff on a regular basis. There will be some changes to this blog but it will still be the place to see what Renata is up too.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Foreign Editions

I might have missed a few but by my count Renata has had 25 foreign editions of her books which have been translated into these languages: Catalonian, Complex Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Taiwanese, and Australian (It's 26 foreign editions if you count Australian as a foreign language;-)

Here are the covers:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Waiting for Snow Book Cover

I thought the first post of the year should be celebrating something new –
how about a new book for a new year!

Waiting for Snow is a lovely story written by Marsha Diane Arnold. It's from the same publishing team that brought about The Quiet Book series. As with those stories Renata had super fun creating pictures that add another layer to the storytelling. She also had a lot of fun drawing some new characters including Badger and Possum, she can't wait for readers to meet them. But she'll have to wait a wee bit, the book comes out this November 2016.

"Badger cannot wait one more minute for it to snow. When his friend Hedgehog explains that everything comes in its time, Badger is unconvinced and impatient as ever. But Badger’s friends have a few tricks up their sleeves to try and get the snow’s attention and distract their pal in the meantime. Though in the end Badger sees there’s no trick—only waiting—until at last, it’s time."

Waiting for Snow written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Renata Liwska

Thursday, December 31, 2015

RENATKA - a web comic episode #1

Happy New Year! We had a quiet (and lovely) holidays at home this year. It gave us time to talk and reminisce. Renata's good at telling stories of her childhood – so good I decided to draw this web comic about her memories of the christmas holidays. It was fun and I am planning to do more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Waiting for Snow

We don't have to wait for snow here, it snowed last week, and we won't have to wait too long for Renata's next book Waiting For Snow written by Marsha Diane Arnold because she finished it last week too! I have to say I've never seen Renata work quite so hard on a book, she was putting some long (but fun) hours to finish it on time. It's coming out next fall/winter 2016.

Here's a spot from the book featuring one of here new adorable characters.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New Craft Coalition

Renata will be at the New Craft Coalition this weekend featuring her books, drawings, and prints. And hopefully getting more inspiration for our book Crafty Llama.


Oct 16 - 17 at Festival Hall in Inglewood 1215 10 Ave SE

Monday, September 7, 2015

Eat Sleep PAINT

Renata is part of a group show opening this Thursday Sept 10 at Midtowne Gallery here in Calgary. We named the show Eat Sleep PAINT after one of the artists mentioned the phrase in a twitter post. The name stuck despite the fact that Renata will be showing drawings(!) but Eat Sleep DRAW doesn't sound as good as Eat Sleep PAINT when you shorten it (E.S.D. versus E.S.P.)

This bittersweet drawing is one of the original drawings she will be exhibiting. Thanks to our friend Derek Dennett for curating and including us in this show with the other super illustrators.

Eat Sleep PAINT / Art by Illustrators
Opening Thursday Sept 10 from 5-8 pm
show runs until Oct 3

9250 Macleod Trial SE
located within
from 5 to 8 pm

Monday, June 29, 2015

This Way, That Way is out tomorrow

This Way, That Way written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Renata Liwska is officially released tomorrow (June 30, 2015) Yeah!

From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Boom the bear cub, Twitty the robin; and Snot the snail are back for another adventure as they decide on the perfect spot to spend the day. Boom thinks the perfect spot is "this way" to the beach, where he can jump and splash, while Twitty wants to go "that way" to the mountains to hike and look. Snot brought the snack but keeps quiet as the friends disagree over which way to go. They soon discover that Snot is gone, and a trail of blueberries leads Boom and Twitty to a place they can all enjoy. Liwska's fine pencil illustrations in a subdued color palette are soft, charming, and expressive. VERDICT Readers will enjoy this journey to find the perfect spot.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH

Here is a little bit more sketch process for the book. I thought this was interesting in how the composition was subtly rearranged as it progressed.

Renata's first sketch is very simple, for a reason, she wants to keep her options open so as the drawing progresses she can have lots of room for spontaneous inspiration. The main purpose of the initial sketch is to communicate to her editor what she wants to draw. And another reason the drawing is kept simple is that the editors don't always agree with what the artist wants to draw, so it's not a good idea to get too emotionally invested in a sketch. (Renata does anyway!)

Every artist is different in how they approach finished artwork. Some do a lot of preliminary sketches to clearly establish the composition, tracing and retracing until everything is worked out. Renata will have none of that, she puts her pencil down in one spot and starts drawing! She's at her best when she is the least prepared, it's a type of intuitive drawing that she excels at. (and not something I recommend for more mortal folk like myself!)

Her ability to create as she goes doesn't mean that everything that she puts on paper is magically perfect, well mostly it is, but occasionally parts of the drawing don't work out or she comes up with a better idea. And that's where the computer comes in.

As you can see above Renata decided to redraw Boom so that that he interacts more with the other characters, and thereby he becomes the center of focus, expresses more personality and character, and ultimately provides more nuanced storytelling. Instead of redrawing the entire drawing, Renata draws a new version of Boom swimming and photoshops it into the original drawing.

When Renata first started illustrating she did oil painting for finished art. But one of her art directors was so enamored with her pencil drawing that he asked her if she could just color the drawing digitally. Renata wasn't that digital at the time so I showed her a comic book style of coloring using multiply in photoshop. Since then she's become such a digital master I can't even understand how she does it anymore – the best descriptor I can think of is that she does a mushy photoshopy style of coloring. But the one insider tip I can offer is that she doesn't paint the characters, she draws them with color. This is a misconception I see with a lot of beginner digital artists. They will spend years learning to draw with a pencil but when it comes to colouring they will try to paint, throwing out all that experience with drawing.

One final note, you might have noticed that she reversed the final art in the end. Ever try that with one of your drawings? Not me, everything looks wonky when I reverse my drawings! But not Renata's...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Process for This Way, That Way

Renata has a new book out at the end of this month, it's called This Way, That Way. It's super sweet with plenty of 'ahhhh' moments! It's written by Doreen Cronin and is the companion book to Boom, Snot, Twitty

I thought you would enjoy some of the process that goes into creating the lovely pictures that Renata made for This Way, That Way. For a change the original sketches were done right on the computer. Renata has an older Wacom Cintiq 21UX which allows her to draw directly on the screen. Once the rough sketches are approved she does a graphite drawing in her sketchbook. She scans that and then colors the drawings in photoshop. The pencil drawing is on the top layer and the white is made transparent using multiply, The colors are applied underneath using photoshop brushes. Some of Renata's trademark fuzzy drawings are applied as colors over top the drawing as well - such as the water current. The process below is pretty subtle.

This one was a pretty straight forward process, I've photographed another with a bit more twists and turns that I will post next week.