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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Craft Coalition and Crafty Llamas

Oh my where to begin! It's been awhile so maybe I'll start at the end. These are some drawings Renata is doing for New Craft Coalition coming this May 22 and 23, it's a carefully curated collection of craft, art, and design. We are a big fans of the coalition and excited to be chosen to be included, It's going to be a lot of fun!

But it's not all fun and games, we're also doing New Craft Coalition to do research for a new book series for Bloomsbury called Crafty Llama. Renata is illustrating a story I've written for her about a Llama who knits, of course, and decides to show her work at a craft fair. So it only made sense that we do a craft fair ourselves to get inspiration. Just over a week ago we also did Market Collective and Renata got some great character and story ideas from the wonderful people we met there.

Doing the drawings just for the fun of it has really reenergized Renata which is good because she has a lot of exciting work ahead of her before she can even start Crafty Llama.

As we are currently waiting patiently for Summer, Renata is trying to think about winter as she works on a lovely story called Waiting for Snow written by Marsha Diane Arnold. It's a return for Renata working again with The Quiet Book editor Kate O'Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

At the same time she is also working on a super story written by Mac Barnett called Places To Be. This one has been a long time coming, but the wait has been worth it and the book is going to be a wonderfully inspiring place to be!

I thought I would update a story Renata just completed a few months ago called Dormouse Dreams written by Karma Wilson. I'm biased, of course, but each time I see the artwork on Renata's computer screen (see above) I'm blown away by the beauty of it, it's a winner.

And last but not least I want to mention This Way That Way written by Doreen Cronin which is coming out next month. Renata had a lot of fun with this book and it shows.

That's all for now, I'll be back soon with more on This Way, That Way.
Visit Renata on Twitter @RenataLiwska for more up to date happenings.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finalist for the 2014 Governor General's Awards

This year Renata was nominated for Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award for Literature for her illustrations in Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden.

This is her third time as a finalist for the award, The Quiet Book and Red Wagon have been nominated previously, but it is no less exciting and humbling to be selected amongst all the amazing picture books made by Canadians. Such as the other wonderful finalist including Marie-Louise Gay for Any Questions? written by Marie-Louise Gay and published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, Qin Leng for Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki and published by Kids Can Press, Julie Morstad for Julia, Child, written by Kyo Maclear and published by Tundra Books, and Jillian Tamaki for This One Summer, written by Mariko Tamaki and published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.

Interestingly three of the finalists, Renata, Jillian Tamaki, and Julie Morstad are graduates of the same alma mater, The Alberta College of Art and Design. The winner will be announced in a few days!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer Dreams

Wow, it's been way too quiet around here! It's well past time I post about what Renata has been up to this summer. I will start at the beginning, in early May she completed perhaps her most whimsical work - Dormouse Dreams written by Karma Wilson. As the name suggests it is a very dreamy book which allowed Renata to let her imagination fly free and includes fun stuff like wing walking stunt birds, foxes cross-country skiing, and a dizzying pack of wolf pups. It will be out next year sometime.

After that we were excited to be able to attend ICON 8 - The Illustration Conference. And we were even more excited to do a short presentation. It was perhaps a little too short for Renata, she's super great at longer talks - she needs to take her time to express herself. Nonetheless it was a exciting visit as Renata got to meet many of her favourite artists (such as Calef Brown). She was particularly pleased to purchase a miniature painting by Susie Ghahremani - a cute bear with green jeans.

The rest of the summer she completed the second Boom, Snot, Twitty book - This Way, That Way written by Doreen Cronin. I think I have mentioned before that although illustrating picture books can seem a pleasant way to pass the time, it's not always that way for Renata - each book is a near insurmountable task. Until she uploads the final image, she's never sure she will be able to complete a book. But so far she always does! She just uploaded the final image last week.

With the summer winding down, Renata is winding up for her next adventure. She's been looking forward to working on her next book since the day signed up for it, more than a year and a half ago. It's written by the amazing Mac Barnett, and I have to say it's a super story and perfect for Renata. She loves to work with manuscripts that allow her to add her own story through her pictures.  We had a chance to have lunch with Mac in Berkley after the illustration conference and he mentioned that when he writes picture books he is mindful of leaving something for the illustrator's pictures to tell. I was going to post a snippet of one of the drawings, but I remembered that Renata wouldn't want to jinx it before the editor has seen the drawings!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sandwich Break

Whew, it's been a busy last few weeks. Time to take a sandwich break!

Sketch and finished book illustration from Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crystal Kite, Communication Arts, Librarians, etc

I would like to share some recent good news. First off we had a wonderful time at the Alberta Librarian Association Conference in Jasper, Renata was so pleased by the feedback she received from the librarians who attended her talk - she's convinced that librarians are the most friendly people ever!  We also had some time to enjoy the beautiful mountain park and make some wildlife pictures.

Some exciting news is that Nina Laden's and Renata's book, Once Upon a Memory, has been selected as the western region Crystal Kite Award winner for 2014! Visit Nina's blog HERE to hear more. Once Upon a Memory has also been recently chosen for A Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Best Book of 2014 Selection.

Also just on the new stands is Communications Arts 2014 Illustration Annual which as you can see below includes Once Upon a Memory. Yeah!