Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sketchbook Giveaway

Hi everyone! I have something exciting brewing over here!

Recently, I put together a sketchbook filled to the brim with my favorite sketches from 2013. My plan is to sell these homemade books through my website, but I thought it might be fun to do a little giveaway before I put them up for sale!

To be eligible, please just visit my Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram page and give a like! I will choose two follower winners from each site (no double-winsies though, sorry!). When I choose winners, I will ask you for an address, and ship you a sketchbook! Easy peasy!

*If you already follow're entered! Thank you so much for your support through the years!*

Here is a little preview of the book, and to see more of my sketches, please visit my website!

*Please note: I'll be picking names on May 9, 2014!* 

Cheers and happy spring!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Process Post: Keep Calm! My Stress-Busting Tips

In my last post, I declared that one of my New Years Resolutions was to be more observant. Another resolution of mine is to document more projects and the process involved. Luckily, I had this in mind early on in 2013 when I began work on Cloverleaf Books for Millbrook Press

My first book in the Healthy Habits series is Keep Calm! My Stress Busting Tips, written by Gina Bellisario (who happens to be in my kidlit family at Andrea Brown Literary Agency)! I also had the privilege of working with Laura Waxman (Editor) and Emily Harris (Designer) from Lerner Publishing. At the time I had signed on for three books and didn't know that I would continue on to work with Emily on FIVE books throughout the year. It was truly a blessing.

The beginnings of bookmaking are usually for my eyes only. I spend an afternoon ordering pages, making doodles, and sketching characters that most likely nobody else but me can understand. It looks like this:

From there, I keep sketching, but I go bigger and more detailed. These will be sketches the client will see. The next round of sketches will usually go through one more pass before I start coloring, but I will show some of them here side by side.

The first thing I do is decide on a main character. This is Anna. I read through the manuscript and develop her personality based on the text. She has a little "Stress Monster" that follows her around. I decided to keep him cute.

She is really stressed out! So much to do: homework, chores, and soccer practice! 

Her parents are a little stressed, too. Their mornings are just a little bit hectic. This is what my mornings look like when I wake up late. Please click on the images to make them larger!

I often overdo it when I'm sketching, it helps me to figure out the world the characters live in. I delete a lot of the details that get in the way and make room for text. You can see this in the soccer game spread top left. 

I always add details that I'm familiar with. At the time, I had just organized my colored pencils into canning jars, which made it into Anna's room, and I was thinking of my high school when I added he cougar paws to the bulletin board. Go cougars. (Haha!)

This is just a sweet little moment that I am fond of, but in the final art they have opposite emotions because Anna is starting to learn how to manage her stress. 

This book and the others in the series will be available in April 2014 on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and other retailers! Look for a process post video demo soon over on my other blog, Simply Messing About!


Friday, January 03, 2014

I Know You're in There!

My cat, Timmy, likes to sleep next to me when I draw or write. He doesn't know it, but his purring kind of puts me at ease and I'll study him while he lays there. Sometimes I just watch, sometimes I draw him, and sometimes (probably too often) those drawings make it onto a piece of paper. 

In this case, he fit right in to an ink and colored pencil commission from my Etsy store:

And in this case, some sketches for a sample I did earlier this year: 

And in this case, I discovered the technique I developed for fur...also works with pine trees!

One of my New Years Resolutions is to make sure I keep my eyes open for everything the way I do for Timmy. Those great ideas and character sketches are in there somewhere and they may be right in front of my eyes and I don't even know it yet.

2014 is getting off to a very slow start, but I am hopeful! So, I will try to be conscious, maintain a positive attitude in this difficult business....and keep pursuing.

I wish each and every one of you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!


Friday, November 22, 2013

A Little Trumpet Dance

A Little Trumpet Dance from Renee Kurilla on Vimeo.

Just a few seconds of fun for your day! I've been experimenting with the puppet tool in After Effects and thought it would be nice to bring back my bird characters for a quick dance! If you haven't seen the other two animations, please visit my Vimeo Page!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Blog (Hip Hip) Hop!

A few weeks ago, I was tagged by the amazingly talented Courtney Pippen-Mathur in a really fun, quick author/illustrator blog hop! Say that five times fast! Courtney asked me a few questions:

What are you working on now? 

I'm currently working on illustrating a book called Tree Dancers, written by the super sweet Newbury Honor Medal winner Margarita Engle

The book is a series of beautifully written tanka poems about an orangutan family in the Borneo Rainforest. I'm honored to be working with Margarita, Noa Wheeler, and April Ward at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Here are a few sneak peeks:

How does this differ from other works in this genre? 

I haven't seen quite so many children's books written in the Tanka style of poetry. It's quite unique, flowy, and allows for a bit more freedom in verse. The book is going to be very interactive, too. I can see kids really getting absorbed with the adorable orangutans and making up their own orangutan dances! (Or at least I really hope they do!)

I'll sure be dancing! 

Why do you write what you write? 

I'm mostly illustrating right now, but I'm also participating in #PiBoIdMo, a yearly challenge where you come up with a new story idea every day. It's fun. 

Though I've been focusing on art, for the past year I've also been working on a story/dummy that I've rewritten/redrawn three times. 

I want to make a story that tugs at kids and parents heart strings for years. I want to write a book that people will remember a long time from now. No words can express how much the books I have from my childhood mean to me, I want to make books that kids still love when they're adults. 

So I keep going back to the drawing board:

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Condensing your story. Most picture books are 700 words or less and you'd be surprised how quickly 700 words comes out! I do like revising though. You have to be ok with cutting your favorite parts if they don't help the story along. 


Thanks for thinking of me for the blog hop, Courtney! I'm going to do my part and tag three illustrator friends ... my Simply Messing About counterparts:

Laura Zarrin

Christina Forshay

Tracy Bishop

Tag, you're it! All of these ladies work so hard, you'll love seeing what they've been up to!