Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 11, 2015

Take A Look Sunday – Mike LaRiccia


LaRiccia jpeg Driveway Yeti 1

At first I thought this was cut paper – and I really like that aspect of this work. It’s very geometric; all about shape. Especially in this first piece. The snow is what the viewer sees first, which works, as that’s what the story is about! Then, the viewer’s eye is carried to the people – illustrating clearly how HUGE the snowbanks is. Mission accomplished!

The images came to us in this order, but I’d think they’d be more effective the other way around. I know the text says “We have to go out and finish the job”, so maybe we’re coming in in the middle of this story, but it would make more sense as a sequential pair if they were getting bundled prior to going out.

One thing that I noticed right away is the child’s face in the close-up of the father/child. It’s very simple; 4 lines, essentially, and although sweet, it almost seems like a place-holder – with the intention of adding more detail later. The father’s face is much more detailed with rosy cheeks, texture, a little smile (lips and teeth) and detail in the nose and eyes. Not too much, which I think is smart, but the child’s face seems very simplistic next to his – almost like they are coming from two different illustrations. Just a few slight details on the child’s face would not only make it more emotive, but also put him (or her!) on par with the father, style-wise.

All in all, I like these two pieces, and think they tell a nice mini story! I’m a fan of the geometric nature of both of these pieces, and the composition.

LaRiccia jpeg Driveway Yeti 2

There is something so appealing about the colors and feel of these pieces.  It is the subtle power of the white, blue and browns I’m sure, and the different textures and movements that pleases the eye I think.  And yet there is stillness about the two pieces and the characters adventure together as well.  I love the almost blank diagonal of the white pile of snow which leads the eye from the text to the shoveling characters.  I know to achieve this the artist used the grayed patch in front of the white, but my eye wants this to recede BEHIND the white and that’s incorrect.  Not sure of the solution, but something to think about.  Also the detail is missing in their coat fabrics which though small might be suggested.  Something a child might actually pick up on.

There are a couple of other questions visually I want to ask as well.  Why is the building seeming to lean when the characters don’t? and what is the big dark gray ‘factory door?’  Now, I realize the story might clarify this, but I’m wondering as the second image seems to be in a normal house.  The second image background keeps drawing my attention to the blue shape behind the father’s head too.  LOVE the color with the browns, but it’s become the focus!? and what IS it?  the door appears to be open, but the blue might have been just outside that then?  and the aqua color, though lovely, will draw the eye wherever it is I suspect.  Always study where your eye wants to travel naturally (or ask another observer who isn’t used to looking at the image.) The boys face also seems so much less developed than we might expect with the detail, though simple, of the rest of both images.


Michael LaRiccia is a graphic designer, illustrator, comic book artist, and writer living in Auburn Maine. He received a BFA and MFA in printmaking. In 2005 he was a recipient of the Xeric grant, an award for comic book self-publishers, and has self-published several books. His work has been featured in numerous indie comics anthologies. LaRiccia is currently finishing his first children’s book, “Driveway Yeti”, about his families first winter in Maine. He is also developing several other children’s stories. See more at:

I want to thank Chris  & Christy for taking the time to share their expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the CATugeau Agency website link:


For the next few months illustrators can submit two consecutive story illustrations for critique by CATugeau Agency.

If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what you should do or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two SEQUENTIAL illustrations – not just 2 pages of illustrations, but two with the SAME “story/characters‎” to:

Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Please put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself that I can use to introduce you to everyone.

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.

If everyone likes this, we will continue until the end of the year.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) Put ILLUSTRATION FOR BLOG in the subject area. Remember all illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Nice critique. I love the color palette and shapes in this piece! One thing though — “marshmellow” in the top spread is spelled incorrectly — kind of jumped out at me! It should be “marshmallow”. 😉


  2. Thank you for sharing your work, Michael. Your style is very nice. And thanks again to Catugeau for the insightful critique!


  3. Sorry, also some general punctuation errors — I won’t list all of them here — maybe have the text proofed for grammar…? Very important if you are self-publishing, and you don’t have an editor to do it for you!


  4. I love these critiques – they are very helpful to all of us illustrators!


  5. I’m not an illustrator but I really enjoy learning from these CATugeau critiques!


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