Polish painter and illustrator Weronika Marianna has pushed her art in a new direction by bringing it to life via animation. Full of vibrancy, colour and life, her enchanting handmade animations still retain the looseness and energy that made her previous work so appealing.
"Always experimenting and moving." That's how Weronika describes herself, but it seems the same is true of her latest creations. Featuring women shape-shifting into mountains, emerging from rivers and diving into lakes, her new animations are an entrancing delight that it's easy to watch for minutes on end.
Weronika's decision to pivot into animation came from her frustrations with the world of illustration. "I was missing something and felt a bit stuck, uninspired," she tells Creative Boom. "When I first animated some illustrations, everything fell into place. Movement and transformation were what I had been missing.
"It turned out that in animating, I can find good use of my temper – I like working quickly, without perfectionism, maybe a bit messy. Animating allows me to embrace all of these qualities."
Originally Weronika started out by making her animations using Procreate on iPad. And while this was a perfect introduction to the medium, she says it wasn't long until she started exploring analogue techniques like drawing on paper with a lightbox. "Currently, I love painting frames with acrylics; the unpredictability and vibration of movement are hypnotising."
As a self-taught animator, Weronika points out she's still learning how it's done. The process has involved a lot of trial and error, but thanks to animation with software like Procreate, it has proven to be very easy and self-explanatory. "All you need is an idea and some patience," she explains." My hand-drawn animations also follow a simple process: drawing, scanning, and putting everything together in Photoshop.
"What is amazing about experimental animation is that it feels very inclusive. There is an atmosphere of sharing skills and techniques. There are many great tutorials where wonderful artists teach their personal practices. It feels like a community."
These days Weronika is based in Amsterdam, but she reveals that her Polish roots have played a big part in her animation. The country has a big tradition of handmade animation, and in particular, she has long been fascinated by the "manic world" of Julian Antonisz and his non-camera films. "He was almost fully self-sufficient, building all the equipment himself, composing his own music," she explains. "His films have an eerie, frantic feeling and are deep and full of dark humour.
"Also, from the contemporary animation world, I'm a big fan of the work of Jamie Wolfe, Amy Lockhart, Sam Gurry, and Amanda Bonaiuto, to name a few. Seeing what they do with movement and storytelling is an amazing inspiration."
Currently, Weronika is working on her first animation short, a process which is making her both anxious and excited. "Technical and practical aspects of a longer project always overwhelm me a bit," she says. "Since I'm self-taught, I find myself reinventing the wheel quite often. I get stuck in some technical and software issues and waste a lot of time trying to solve them. It's a learning process, so I embrace it. Sometimes errors and small failures are the best way to invent something new."
Weronika perfectly summarises this erratic creative process by claiming that animation is "somewhere between dance, poetry and magic." According to her, it's a mesmerising process where movements appear suddenly in a way that's always surprising, and every time they offer something slightly different to what she expects.
"I love that animation can lead me in the process; it can be a beautiful, intuitive and emotional journey. Animation made me look at and appreciate the world more. Nature is always moving and transforming, and so are we. There is something very compelling and potent about that idea."
This drive to keep changing and evolving is evident in Weronika's animations. Each one looks singular and distinct, representing her desire to keep trying new techniques and mediums. "Playing around, learning, and working through the initial discomfort are the definitions of creativity for me," she adds. "I embrace the movement, both in my work and the process itself."
As for what she wants to explore next, it sounds like her animations could be a springboard to yet another medium. "Learning and watching experimental animation led me into the magic world of experimental analogue film," she concludes. "This is a fascinating rabbit hole and new ideas always pop into my head. So I'm slowly looking into buying a camera and opening yet another chapter."