A Fairytale Illustrator's Retreat with Lisbeth Zwerger ...

Last weekend we had our very first SCBWI illustrator's retreat here in the Germany + Austria region. Many of you will know SCBWI, if not check it out!
Our region here is really small so we never had as big an event for illustrators solely as this retreat. It took place at Lake Constance, which was so lovely, although we did not see too much of the surroundings due to being just too busy painting :-).
On Friday I drove down to lake Constance and as soon as the other participants had all arrived we took our one and only real stroll at the lake together with Lisbeth. It was lovely to chat and get to know each other and I think it made everyone feel more at ease. I was so nervous as not being good enough and looking like a don't know how to paint right before the workshop. So meeting everyone and talking to all other attendees and Lisbeth helped getting over my initial fears.

After breakfast on Saturday Lisbeth started the workshop with a discussion about our favourite picture books. She had already send us a handout with questions on how to analyze the books in advance. You can see us here with Elisa Vavouri just talking about the book she had to analyze with her group.


After that we went to fetch our art supplies and get cracking. Lisbeth took time to talk to everyone and give feedback and tips on how to improve the sketch and painting and also technical tips on how to achieve certain effects. She discussed colour palettes and composition with us and warned us of things we might run into, but also encouraged us to simply try and not be afraid to have to start all over again. Believe it or not she confessed that this still happens to her too!

Before I started painting Lisbeth talked about my sketch and colour choices with me. This was kind of an eye opener to me. The fairy tale I chose to illustrate was "The Nightingale" and the scene I chose to go with for my illustration was the emperor's garden. Initially I planned to go for a blue sky and greens in the garden. Well, Lisbeth helped me to come up with something far more interesting that also resulted in a tighter palette and a very lovely mood in the final piece.


I was again so nervous to lay the first layer of paint. I did a quick test in my watercolour sketchbook and then just went with it. I had certain areas masked out to keep them white. I lay a first layer as an overall wash of sienna and light yellow ocher and mixed some olive green in on the bottom. After that first layer had dried I quickly watered the paper again, to not mess with the parts I was already happy with, and darkened the bottom slightly more with a mix of sienna and olive green. I kept the parts in the distance very soft and worked with lots of water. (process pics follow a bit further down the post ;-))



In the tiny breaks I had to take when waiting for the colours to dry I so much enjoyed seeing what all the other artists were up to. It was also nice to sit in on the feedback they received from Lisbeth and learn with them.



On Sunday morning Lisbeth took a look at our portfolios or any other art we had brought to share and discuss with her.




Unfortunately the weekend past by far too quickly and I did not finish my illustration in time. But with the last tips and feedback from Lisbeth in mind I finalized it at home. I did not take any process pictures during the workshop but happened to remember doing so at home :-). So here is a little recap in pictures on how this painting evolved and the final illustration. I really enjoyed working on this piece and trying out new things, materials and technique!



A huge thank you to Lisbeth, it was an amazing experience meeting and learning from you! And thank you to everyone who took part in this lovely retreat with Lisbeth Zwerger! It has been fantastic getting to know you and growing with you as artists!


8 comments:

  1. Wow, the paintings you've produced are soooo impressive!!! Love them!!

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  2. Oh that is so fantastic,your illustrations are looking wonderful. And I wish I could have been there too! Was the instruction in German language...? Or other?

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    1. Thanks so much! Yes, the instruction was mainly in German, as most of us were german-speaking, but Lisbeth is also fluent in English and switched languages according to needs ;-)

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  3. Beautiful outcome. Sublime palette. What a wonderful opportunity!

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  4. Your painting came out beautifully. Do you know if this will ever happen again with Lisbeth? Did the students have to be members of the regional SCBWI group? What a dream!

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    1. Thank you, Annie! I am not sure wether we will have another workshop with Lisbeth in the future, but the event was open to SCBWI members from around the globe as well as non-members. It was a dream come true indeed!

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