Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 18, 2011

Illustrator Saturday – Kelly Light

I want to show off Kelly Light. She was one of our winners in the Illustrators’ Showcase at the conference. I think you will find how she works very interesting. Here’s Kelly:

Not really Kelly!

That’s me, Kelly Light, in my attic Studio in Long Island, N.Y.. The state of my studio perfectly represents my brain. I am surrounded by my favorite colors, animated characters, art supplies, antique toys, books and radios. It’s organized chaos up here and up there, if you know what I mean. I was born in 1970 off exit 149 on the Garden State Parkway. I grew up down the shore surrounded by giant cement dinosaurs, cotton candy colors, and skee ball sounds. I was schooled on Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday FunnyPages. Around 4 years old I picked up a pencil and started drawing and have never stopped.

I knew by the age of five, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I would devour comic books and comic strips. Before school I was up extra early so I wouldn’t miss Woody Woodpecker and Rocky and Bullwinkle. I had books and books by Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry. The things that happened on Mulberry Street and in Busy Town were drawn with fun and quirky cartoon characters. The day my Grandmother took me to see Walt Disney’s Cinderella I realized the whole movie was made up of drawings! Hundreds and thousands of….. drawings. That was it, my fate was sealed, my identity cast, I was a cartoonist. I would do it all. I wouldn’t choose TV, movies, or books – I’d be an all around cartoonist. Every window became a lightbox and every scrap of paper, napkin to notebook paper was a panel. I drew through elementary school on the sides of every test and all of my book reports were heavily illustrated. All through high school I was determined to let my pencil draw the fastest line out of Suburban N.J. straight to Hollywood, where I could work in animation. I went to Syracuse University and majored in  Illustration while working at a local Animation Studio in Syracuse , N.Y.. The day after college graduation I drove across the U.S. out to La La Land.

I’ve worked in animation and also in cartoon merchandising as a character artist. You name the cartoon character and I have drawn it for t shirts, sheets, towels, mugs, posters, table clothes, pajamas and even underwear. I opted out of that career to stay at home with my daughter for five years, when she went into to kindergarten, I said, time to illustrate. I joined SCBWI in 2007 and I have worked on my first published books the last two years. I usually draw on paper, carrying a sketchbook wherever I go. I scan the drawings in and paint them in Photoshop.

I also watch out for falling anvils and boxes marked ACME.

Here’s the illustration from the Art Showcase : Step by Step from a story I’m working on : Of course the idea came first, this one was sparked by watching every old Humphrey Bogart Movie ever made one summer. I call it “Hippo For Hire”

I tried to think like a movie camera and set up a long shot. Taking in the whole scene at the “Blue Lagoon”. The band is playing and we are peeking over there shoulders from somewhere on stage.  I want the viewer to almost “hear” the scene. The music, the laughter- the clinking of glasses… your eye should go from table to table…back to the bar… where things look a bit less friendly. Eyeing the Hippo who has just walked in… are three questionable characters at the bar.  (This is a “Watering” hole… they drink water  here )

Next –  I paint into the background. I wanted texture and pattern to convey the stucco walls and the Moroccan Floor.

I start to think what darks are going where – It’s tricky as a black and white to watch the values – not to let important elements get lost.

The fun part is adding the characters – adding the personality.

About here- I think things need to be sharpened up.

I play with the lighting a little and add line back into the art to define the characters. I think I’ve set the mood for a little intrigue at the Blue Lagoon…

Here’s another sketch and finish – I love the sketches more usually…

Kelly is always giving glimpses into her process over at her blog:  Pretty Good For a Girl

Also – her love for Sketches is shared with sketchy pals over at The Sketchables!

Kelly is about to give her website a makeover so you can see the before at

Talk tomorrow,



  1. REALLY looking forward to it, Kathy and Kelly 🙂 I”m keeping my email as “new” to remind me! 🙂


  2. OK, I’m just EATing up Kelly’s blogs! I just had to pop in again and rave!

    It’s amazing how you can spot when an illustrator is also an animator. I remember when I first spotted the work of Tony Fucile (I know Ame’s been familiar with his work for 20 years, but not I!) when his first picture book—Let’s Do Nothing!—was released. I turned the first couple of pages and KNEW he must’ve been an illustrator. Lo and behold, he WAS—for Pixar, etc.!

    The characters are SO full of life and every picture is filled with action—even the simplest of drawings—and they tell their own stories. It’s what I see in Kelly’s work. It’s BRILLIANT! 🙂 Can’t wait to see the rest!


  3. Wow, now that the missing pics are up, I’m amazed at how you develop it, Kelly. And how you can continue to follow the original sketch lines ’cause they were gradually disappearing lol Great stuff! Thanks for sharing it all with us 🙂


  4. Thank you Kathy, for taking the time to fix the post. Thanks for all of your hard work and planning for the conference and for this moment in the spotlight here on your blog.-:)Kelly


    • Kelly,

      It was my pleasure. I’m sure everyone loves your artwork as much as I do. Keep me updated on your succeesses.



  5. Impressive.

    Jane Yolen


    • Jane,

      Thanks for leaving Kelly a comment. I am sure Kelly will be thrilled to see that Jane Yolen left a comment.

      If you ever want to do something with the New Jersey SCBWI just let me know, I will try to set something up around your schedule. Our big conference is always in June and that when you leave fr the summer, but maybe we could work on doing something else.



    • Thanks for the compliment,Jane. It’s one of those Wayne;s World..”I am not worthy”- moments.-;) Boy, I miss my short hair from those pics!! -Kelly


    • OK…impressive to SEE Jane Yolen here 🙂 Jane, you’ve got good taste if you follow Kathy’s blog 🙂 hehehe Glad to see you and I’m SURE Kelly is!


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