Friday, December 20, 2013

Will a child remember being read to?

It's been a busy last few weeks. It began with a wonderful book launch at Secret Garden Books which, Nina Laden the author of Renata's book Once Upon a Memory, talks about in her latest blog post.

When Renata illustrates a book she often never gets the chance to talk to the author, except perhaps trading a few emails. But for her latest book she raced ahead of a huge blizzard to get to Seattle for the official launch of Once Upon a Memory. And from all the stories and pictures, Renata had an amazing time with Nina and her husband Booth - and they had a super turnout for the book launch which Renata was so happy about!

We had our own book launch last weekend in Calgary at Monkey Shines Children's Books in Marda Loop. As Nina alludes to in her blog post, every single person that shows for a book launch is cherished. Renata had a half dozen children to read to and we are so thankful for their parents for bringing them out. Thanks to Sue from Monkey Shines for supporting local artists, I know we are all very appreciative! Here is a video from a couple of days ago of Sue talking about christmas books and such on Breakfast Television - including Once Upon A Memory!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thank you Card

This quirky drawing was a thank you card for Nina, Renata always likes to do quirky stuff like this for thank you cards. Maybe for a detective noir version of the book?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lovely Review

Here is a lovely review on Kirkus written by Julie from 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

And the Books are in! This Saturday at 3 pm I will be at the bookshop Monkey Shines in Marda Loop, Calgary reading (if children come) from my new and lovely book Once Upon A Memory written by Nina Laden. Come and say hallo.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Calgary Book Reading Moved To Dec 14

We had to postpone todays book reading at Monkey Shine Children's Book store until next Saturday Dec 14 at 3pm. The books are stuck on a truck somewhere (plus it's crazy cold today).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book of the Month

Some good news to report,  Once Upon a Memory is an Amazon Book of the Month for December!

It's also on the winter Indie Next List!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Calgary Book Launch

 Renata is in Seattle for the book launch of Once Upon a Memory tonight at 7pm, but she will be back this Saturday for the Calgary Book Launch.

Does a feather remember it once was a bird?

Does a book remember it once was a word?

Will you remember hearing Renata read
from her book?

Join us Saturday at Monkey Shine Children's
Books in Marda Loop for the Calgary launch
of Renata’s new book, Once Upon a Memory.

Illustrated by Renata and written by Nina Laden

Saturday Dec 7 at 2 pm, 2215 - 33rd Ave SW
Monkey Shine Children's Books

Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Launch in Seattle on Dec 3 and Renata will be there!

Once Upon a Memory is officially released this Tuesday and Renata will officially be in Seattle with the author Nina Laden at Secret Garden Books! She is super happy to be with Nina in person to celebrate this wonderful book's launch.

Join Renata and Nina at 7pm
Secret Garden Books
2214 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107

Monday, November 18, 2013

Once upon a Sketchbook #2

Here is another drawing for Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata for publication by Little Brown this December. Some may recognize it as the the steps to the New York Public Library. Renata was inspired to include it from a visit a year or so ago. She just returned from another visit to NYC about a week ago. While there we visited a super exhibit titled The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter. This free exhibit is worth the visit if you are in the city, it features original art from a great many historically important children's books.

Some highlight for Renata include original pencil drawings for Alice in Wonderland, an original fur wrapped book by Margaret Wise Brown (poor bunnies!), and a do-it yourself kit by Eric Carle. Renata is excited to be illustrating a different story by Margaret Wise Brown for a compilation book which will be out next year.

The exhibit is on until March 2014 and more info can be found HERE.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Renata is on Twitter

Renata has grown quite a shine for twitter and is currently sketching at local coffee shops in the Brooklyn area and twittering away her time there. She quite likes twitter so if you want to hear from her direct (phonetic spelling errors and all!) follower her here:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Once Upon a Sketchbook #1

As we near the December release of Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden, I thought I would gift a little peak of one of the drawings from the book (I will post more drawings as we near the release date). Renata has received a couple of gifts herself in the last few weeks. Her editor sent her the printed book which was pretty exciting. The other gift was a starred review from Kirkus for Once Upon a Memory! Connie included a Pantone card which was a bit of fun, Renata had wanted to be very careful with the colors so she got the Pantone swatch guide and specified the background colors - although I think they used white in the end.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

SCBWI WWA Annual Conference for Writing and Illustrating for Children / April 13, 2014

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for the Kids Lit talk at ACAD, it seemed like the audience had a fun time I know the speakers did! The talk got Renata thinking about what she will present when she will be a keynote speaker at the SCBWI WWA Annual Conference for Writing and Illustrating for Children. The event happens on April 13, 2014 and will be in Seattle, which is the home of Nina Laden who wrote Renata's next book - Once Upon A Memory. It is not for a while but that will give her time to put together something extra special for the event.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Quiet Book Padded Board Book

I don't think we mentioned previously that The Quiet Book has been recently released as a padded board book. It's a cutely appropriate format I would say.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How Kids Book Are Made

Renata will be a part of a children's book illustration panel open to the public at the Alberta College of Art along with fellow alumni including Kim Smith, Jacqui Lee, Jacqueline Hudon Verrelli, Jessica Philips, Lincoln Agnew, and Joy Ang. Janine Vangool will also be on the panel talking about the children's book issue of UPPERCASE magazine.

How Kids Books Are Made
Thursday Oct 17 from 3-5 pm
at ACAD 1407 14 Ave NW, Calgary

Renata doodled this idea for the poster and I computerized it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Colorful World

As Renata rushes to upload the final artwork for her book due this week, I thought it would be fun to take a leisurely stroll through one of her favorite books to read as a child - Colorful World or in Polish Kolorowy Świat.

This book came up last week during a discussion on reading books as a child. The truth is Renata (and myself as well) mostly looked at the pictures - and we still do! But for Renata this book was an exception. She can remember hauling out the book daily to read, and it was a really big book for a child to carry. She would sit on the floor of her bedroom with this big book on her little lap and escape into the colorful world of it's words.

Each chapter relates to a season and begins with a lovely illustration of a tree for that season. As we looked over the book, being careful not to further damage it's tattered binding, Renata has a memory and story for each image. Sometimes the images frightened her, others delighted, and some she couldn't figure out until now.

Kolorowy Świat was published in 1968 and features short stories from multiple authors. It was illustrated by Hanna Krajnik, Danuta Imielska-Gebethner, Zdislaw Witwicki, and Hanna Czajkowska.

This is Renata's favorite story from the book. It's titled Psie Smutki or Dog Blues written by Jan Brzechwa. It's a very short story about a sad little puppy sitting by a river.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coming to (North) America

Is it too early to start talking about Renata's next book "Once Upon a Memory" written by Nina Laden. Maybe, it's not out until December 3rd after all ... but what the heck. This was one of Renata's favorite drawings for the book, however,  it's not in the finished picture book! 

Sometimes a drawing that makes perfect sense in your mind, isn't so clear for others. This drawing didn't quite work in the context of the story. Unfortunately this can happen more often than an artist would like. We try to bounce the ideas off each other but even then we are sometimes too close to those drawings and can't get the proper perspective - I guess that's what editors are for right?

As with all of Renata's drawings this image is more than a reflection of the text she is illustrating, it is also a reflection of her own experiences. Like many an old tale of immigrants coming to America, Renata came to North America with a few sentences in english, her life savings (exchanged for a couple of hundred Canadian dollars), and her hopes and dreams of course!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Begin?

How about we start with the beginning, or a beginning.

In the old days illustrators would do marker comps for ad agencies to pitch an idea to their client - you might have seen this on TV shows like Mad Men. In art college they used to teach us how to do these comps.

During our spring cleaning we found these old marker comp exercises done by Renata in her 2nd year in art college at ACAD.

These would have been created using markers and chalk. The trick was that they had to be done quickly, but photographic - the final ad would likely have used photography. The individual elements would often be drawn separately, cut out, and collaged together.

You can see that Renata is already exploring picture book themes such as mice. (a mouse is the star of the next book Renata will be illustrating)

This is an example of what the final presentation would look like. I think Renata did a pretty good job, of course she might have gotten docked a bit for not having an additional tracing paper flap!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Under New Management & Under Construction

As you may have noticed, Renata hasn't posted much lately. There is a good reason, she's been super busy this summer finishing up a book which is due next week! 

There's also good reason to believe that this will continue - she has a whole lot more books to do. But she also has lots of interesting things to blog about, including Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden which is coming this December.  

So the executive committee (Renata and myself) have given me the opportunity to fill the role as official blogger about all things Renata. It should be fun, as Renata's #1 fan I am excited to share the inside scoop - and Renata will stop by from time to time too. (note: the site may be a bit funky as I give it a tune up)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Looking for Higher Ground

Now that the flood waters have receded and the power has been restored, we are finally back at our studio today (we were happy to see that the studio remained dry!).

We have been working at home for the week the power was down. In the ten years or so that we have been living at our house, we have maybe seen two or three spiders. But in the days before the flood came, we had quite a few spider sighting at our house. Now, after the flood is over, there are again no spiders to be found.

Did they know something we didn't, and were they looking for higher ground? They are most definitely closer to the Earth than we are.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Maurice Sendak

Where The Wild Things Are was the first book I bought when I came to North America many years ago. And I think it was the book that got me really interested in drawing, before that I was mostly painting. My favorite book of his is A Hole Is To Dig. 

The Society of Illustrators in NYC is holding an exhibition from June 11, 2013 - August 17, 2013 and the opening reception is June 14th. Find out more HERE

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Petit Panda softcover

Little Panda and the Flying Tiger as it is titled overseas has been re-released today in France 
as a cute little, or should I say, petite softcover book.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Once Upon a Memory

This is still a ways off, but it's starting to show up on the internet and I wanted to be one of the first to post about it. This is my next book! Published by Little Brown, it is a lovely poem/story written by Nina Laden and as soon as I read it a few years back I knew right away that I wanted to illustrate it.

Here is the blurb for Once Upon a Memory which will be released this December 2013,

 Does a feather remember it once was a bird?

 Does a book remember it once was a word?

 When a feather drifts through a child's window, a magical journey begins. As the boy follows the feather, he is swept away to a world filled with adorable animals, where fantasy and reality come together in surprising and playful ways. From the cake that once was grain to the ocean that once was rain, whimsical "before" and "after" scenes offer readers a peek at the world as seen through the eyes of a curious child, ultimately asking the question, "What will you remember?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Door view

We are in between shows at our studio so Mike has put up some prints from some of my books in our front window.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Red Wagon Board Book

Red Wagon is being released as a board book this month.  This is my very first board book and I think it suits Red Wagon very well. This is a drawing from when I first started doing sketches for the book.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Plants and Animals

I was looking at my bookshelf trying to figure out what books I look at the most,
and realized that I am constantly using these two the most - for reference and inspiration.

I need to work on drawing a tree for the book I am making right now.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to by Adam Rex

This is a good how to illustrate a children's book blog post,, and it even has a panda!
I have a couple of his books in my collection that I would recommend - Chloe and the Lion written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex, and Tree Ring Circus written and illustrated by Adam Rex.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

That Is Not A Good Idea!

That Is Not A Good Idea! by Mo Willems is a (super) good book! I had the opportunity to read it when visiting the publisher in February and it had me laughing out loud. It's being released in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Happy and Lovely Easter!

To all of you from all of us.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Break down with yellow stickies

This week I am doing the story break down for one of my future books. I thought it would be good to lay it out all in one so I can see how the story flows. And use yellow sticky sketches to swap in and out.

The sketches are pretty rough!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Part-time Princess

Deborah has a new picture book, I'm looking forward to reading it! 
Part-time Princess written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Cambria Evans

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tour of Little Brown

I have just returned from a trip to Brooklyn and New York accompanying 3rd year students from the Alberta College of Art and Design. During the trip my Editor Connie Hsu and Art Director Patti Ann Harris gave the students a lovely tour of Little Brown and a great talk on how books are made. Thank you so much Connie and Patti!

My editor and art director at Viking had also generously offered to show the students Penguins offices too, but by that time the students were pretty exhausted exploring NYC for the first time - it's a big city! But Mike and I met up with them to talk about the new book I am starting with them, Boom, Snot, Twitty. More on that soon!

We are on twitter!

We are newly on twitter, not sure what we will talk about but you can follow us if your interested here:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Banjo and Harmonica Duo

Woody Guthrie was playing in the coffee shop when I drew this. Good music to listen to while drawing and would be good to illustrate, his songs are stories.