Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This is my Christmas Card.
Mike also did an animated card,
you can see it here

Monday, December 8, 2008

Illustration show opening this Sunday Dec 14

I am pleased to be included in a group show at B42 gallery in Oakville, Ontario alongside these great illustrators:
Aaron Leighton, Michael Byers, Rick Sealock, Charlene Chua, Matthew Daley, Jody Hewgill, Mike Kerr, and Darcy Muenchrath

Opening Reception Sunday Dec 14 from 3-9 pm.

B42 Gallery
461 North Service Rd. West
Unit B42
Oakville, Ontario
L6M 2V5

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter is Back!

It's a winter wonderland today! (except if you have to drive I guess)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

News and such - Society of Illustrators

This image from Old School (published by Uppercase) and an image from Little Panda have been chosen in the book category of this years Society of Illustrators competition. Thank you Society of Illustrators judges! Also, Little Panda will be traveling to schools throughout the United States as one of 40 books chosen from the Society's Original Art exhibition last month.
Little Panda received wonderful reviews from Booklist and a STARRED review from the Horn Book! (I will post them when they are published)
And lastly Avenue Magazine kindly included mention of Little Panda in the current December issue.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Old and New

The first four photos are a mix of childhood ornaments from Denmark and new ones from Rubiyat, a store in Calgary, every year I get one new decoration.
The last photo shows a bear I made last year and a bear that I got from Santa when I was little.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Putting up decorations and listening to christmas songs on streaming radio this evening.

Monday, November 24, 2008

wild life drawing

This drawing makes me laugh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's a Party!

I finished my work today, a book dummy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reading at Monkeyshines

Thank you to everyone who stopped by! It was a fun time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Books at Uppercase

A fresh shipment of books have arrived and been signed by me at Uppercase (

Name Day Card

Love Mike and Bao Bao.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intermission - Deer riding scooter

A funny thing about doing a kid's books is that the book is created about a year and half or more before it is published. This year I have been working on two books, neither of which have pandas. This is a recent sketch drawn while developing some of the characters. It's not directly from the book, just trying to bring the character to life by putting it in fun poses.

Reading and Book Launch this Saturday Nov 15

I will be doing a book reading and talking about pandas and such this Saturday Nov. 15, 1 pm at Monkeyshines Children's Books in the Mardaloop area. 113, 2215 - 33rd Ave SW. Stop by if you can!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Opening at Uppercase

Thanks to all those who dropped by to the Little Panda Opening at Uppercase, I had a wonderful time! Sorry about running out of books, Janine expects to have a new shipment next week. Books will be available and I will be doing a reading at Monkeyshines Children's Books in Mardaloop at 1 pm Saturday November 15. Books are also available at Pages in Kensington, as well as Chapters and Indigo stores.

Little Panda in Swerve and

Little Panda is mentioned in today's issue of the Calgary Herald's Swerve Magazine (Friday Nov 7) - Thanks to Shelley Youngblut!

Also thanks to Mike Landry who interviewed me about Little Panda for issue #12 of his art blogzine -
It's fun to have Little Panda included with the contemporary art featured.

Toronto Public Library Top 10

I was very excited to read that Little Panda was listed in The Toronto Public Library's Top 10 list for preschoolers!
Here is a brief article from The Toronto Star:
And a mention of it on Quill and Quire magazine's blog:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Little Panda At Uppercase

Please join us this Thursday, Nov 6 from 5 to 9 pm
to celebrate the opening of Little Panda, an exhibition
of selected artwork from the newly released book.

Uppercase Gallery in Art Central will be hosting the
exhibition from November 6 to November 30.

UPPERCASE is located on the upper level of Art Central,
at the corner of 7th Avenue SW and Centre Street.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting ready for Little Panda show

Getting ready for the show at Uppercase which opens this Thursday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Little Panda is in bookstores!

Little Panda has finally been released!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cover Sketches

One of the most difficult parts of doing Little Panda was the cover. The process was much more involved than any other single drawing in the book. But for good reason, it's the most important image and needs to stand out on the book shelf. These are some of the thumbnail sketches I did for the cover. Mostly focused on basics such as composition and story telling. If you click on the images for a closer look you will see them at about the size they are done in my sketchbook.

Also, here is another review for the book. It's fun to read what others say about your work, especially when they are positive!

SPOILER ALERT: This review gives away the ending and most of the plot.
November 2008

LIWSKA, Renata. Little Panda. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Houghton. 2008. Tr $12.95. ISBN 978-0-618-96627-1. LC 2007047735.
PreS-Gr 1–Grandfather Panda informs his grandson, “I’m going to tell you a story of a little panda and the tiger that flew.” Though the youngster thinks the idea is laughable, Grandfather introduces Bao Bao, a panda who lived with his mother and spent his time climbing trees, playing chase, and falling down. However, “Playing was not just for fun. It was also the way Lin Lin taught Bao Bao important panda lessons.” While his mother traveled off to search for food (the illustration amusingly shows Lin Lin riding through a river setting in a passenger boat poled by a human), Bao Bao often napped in his favorite tree. One day, a hungry tiger climbed up Bao Bao’s branch, and the panda escaped by falling down, causing the branch to snap up and send the predator flying. He doesn’t understand why his returning mother saw an airborne tiger: “That’s silly. Tigers can’t fly!” After Grandfather finishes, his grandson admits that maybe the story could be true. There are many playful elements to this tale of family storytelling, and Liwska’s mélange of the fanciful and the real is well crafted in the smooth telling and artwork. Deftly drawn and softly colored, the animals are both comic and endearing. Grandfather, who wears a small pointed cap, is the only creature with human trappings. An inviting choice for read-aloud sharing.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


This is for a show at Uppercase Gallery titled 'Nightmares'.
It goes from Oct. 18 - Nov. 2

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Who says you shouldn't play with your food.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dance and Play

Going through my old sketchbooks, thought this was cute.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mike has designed a website for Little Panda!
you can find it here:


Here are a couple other links to explore-

Fun website with a huge amount of information on kid's books!

And there is a very nice blog post about Little Panda:

This is a great website for all things pandas. They had a post about Little Panda a few weeks ago and I have been following the blog ever since:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Little Panda Reviews!!!

Here are the first reviews for Little Panda. They are wonderful, what a happy feeling! I am so glad that the reviewers liked what I like about the book. They have described Little Panda so much better than I could.


Grandfather Panda shares an outlandish tale of flying tigers with his grandson in this slyly amusing tale. The story of Bao Bao and his mother Lin Lin flows in all serenity and peacefulness as Grandfather describes the idyllic days of the young panda. Through play, Bao Bao’s mother imparts crucial survival tips: Running, wrestling and climbing to safety are all incorporated into Bao Bao’s frolics. However, when Lin Lin must travel to search for bamboo, she cautions Bao Bao about the slender tree he has picked for a napping spot, to no avail. When a large tiger creeps up the fragile tree for a meal, Bao Bao uses cleverness and a bit of luck to escape. Liwska’s tale is generously imbued with a gentle humor that is echoed in her digitally colored pencil drawings. Keeping the roly-poly black-and-white principals just this side of saccharine is no mean feat, but both text and illustrations are up to the challenge as they unfold with wily deliberation. Much like this whimsical tale, the elegant illustrations hold small surprises for perceptive readers to enjoy. (Picture Book. 3-6)

Publishers Weekly, September 22, 2008:

Little Panda Renata Liwska. Houghton Mifflin, $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-96627-1
Grandfather Panda has a treat for his little grandson: a “once upon a time” story about another little panda and “the tiger that flew.” “That's silly,” says the grandson, but, as promised, the fictional tiger, who had a panda dinner on his mind, really does fly, thanks to some quick panda thinking and the laws of physics. In her authorial debut, Liwska (illustrator of Nikolai, the Only Bear) delivers a prime example of unadulterated storytelling—her tale unspools not with any Big Life Lesson in mind, but just for the old-fashioned pleasure of one generation connecting to another. In every word, readers can hear the wise, wry voice of a narrator who knows how to hold a child's attention. The illustrations, a combination of pencil and soft digital color, evoke the simplicity of traditional Chinese art and underscore the intimacy of the book's small format. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old Sketch

I was looking through some old sketchbooks and this one caught my attention.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nice Light From Yesterday

Our little wall of art, nicely lit.

Besides our own, most are from shows at Uppercase Gallery.
The cropped eye is Doug Fraser. The little paintings, "Edwina" and "Edwin" are Ryan Heshka. The dog in the center is Camilla Engman. Notorious is Jody Hewgill. The little orange critter is Mia Hanson.

Mike has posted some photos of the rest of our Art Wall on his blog HERE.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Mike and I are working to put together a 'Little Panda' website due to be finished in a few weeks. It will talk about the making of the book as well as pandas in general. I am going to post some of the content here as we finish it.

This is a early draft about the inspiration for the book and a picture.

Inspiration for the Book "Little Panda"

Renata’s interest in Panda’s began not in a mysterious bamboo forest in China, but while staying in a much, much less exotic ‘budget’ hotel (small and kind of scary) in Bonn, Germany. While briefly flicking through the meager late night television offerings she chanced upon a news story featuring video of some men trying to coax a panda from a tree. This scene was followed by a heart warming clip of a mother panda holding her newborn panda cub. The commentary was in German so the story behind the pictures was a mystery.

But the images stuck with her and when she got back home to Canada she searched "panda" on the internet and so it began. The inspiration for this book grew from viewing pandas on the internet. Watching the adventures and misadventures of panda cubs. It was the result of many hours spent studying the behaviors, activities, and daily routines of pandas. Their first step, first taste of bamboo, first tree they climbed, and the first tree they fell from. With this book Renata hopes to give the reader a little taste of the joy she has felt from observing these wonderful animals.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


This is a sketch based on an old 19th century drawing. Having fun drawing them.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Panda Baby

What good timing! Saturday evening I went to the Atlanta Zoo site and Lun Lun gave birth while I was watching!!
Way to go Panda!!! Now how am I going to get any work done? For the pandacam at the Atlanta Zoo click HERE.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Making Jewellery

Raccoons are fun!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Old School Opening

Photos from the show. It was fantastic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Old School

Mike and I will be in the Old School show at Uppercase Gallery which is opening Saturday, September 23rd.
The image that inspired me is my old school photo,
I am front row and sixth from the right.
The close-up is the artwork on the wall. We painted war scenes!?!