Friday, December 20, 2013

An inspiring workshop with Lisbeth Zwerger

the SCWBI flyer announcing the workshop - yay!
This September, I had the chance to take part in a fantastic SCBWI weekend workshop with Lisbeth Zwerger. Together with 9 other illustrators we spent the weekend at beautiful Lake Constance, working on illustrations while discussing books, ideas, process, watercolour techniques, mistakes and how to work with them. 2 days were so short,  but it was an amazing experience and my head was full of impressions and inspiration when I returned home.

Here are a few things that stayed with me especially:

1. The devil is in the detail.

Saturday we started off with looking at everybody’s favorite children’s books, discussing what we liked about them, where we saw problems. Lisbeth shared with us her great perception for detail, pointing out that small things like the shape of a window can complete the overall style of a house, or disturb it. On the other hand, sometimes details like the extreme curl of a foot to show discomfort can go a bit overboard.

discussing our favorite children's books

2. Does the way you are composing a scene suit/support the story you want to tell?

In the late morning we started taking out our sketches and prepared for painting. Lisbeth sat down with each of us individually and discussed our idea.

Lisbeth Zwerger discussing color palette choices with Maria Bogade...

...and composition with Sanne Dufft.

She liked my sketch, but suggested I take a step back and think about whether my approach with a very designed ornamental line really suited the scene I wanted to portray. This pushed me to go back to „start“, rethink my idea and plan for execution, and try something else that I felt really supported the mood and story of the scene I had chosen.

my original sketch

3. Be brave.

I know, that’s not a new one. But taking your painting and putting it under the shower? I think that’s a new kind of brave. Lisbeth’s approach to painting is very matter of fact, if it doesn’t work, try something new. Take the paint off, start over. She encouraged us to play, to find new ways to make the paint do what we want it to do. For example, Sanne Dufft ended up with a beautiful almost impressionistic painting of a water surface, something I never thought watercolour could do.

We all finished our paintings and sent them to Lisbeth after the weekend, and got great final feedback from her. Here is my piece after the weekend:

the final painting

Not only did I learn a lot from Lisbeth Zwerger this weekend, but it was so inspiring to work in one room with this amazing group of illustrators, see everybody’s work, discuss process, ideas, and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes.

working on our illustrations

Thank you Maria Bogade for organizing it, thank you SCBWI for making it possible, and thank you Lisbeth and to all the illustrators who were there, it was fantastic!

Happy holidays everybody!

the first snow...
(illustration for "Wie der Weihnachtsbaum in die Welt kam" by Astrid Fritz)


Andrea Offermann recently illustrated  Troon Harrison's "Der Eisdrache" and Kate Milford’s „The Broken Lands“. You can see her work at

1 comment:

  1. What an absolute dream experience, Andrea! Lisbeth is such an idol among illustrators, and I'm so happy you shared the experience and results of this amazing workshop. Awesome!