Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 1, 2015

Take A Look Sunday – Valerie Coulman




OH I want to know more about Jeremy Duck and his challenging adventures! This realistic style sort of helps the story here as it seems rather real and then NOT real at the same time. The funny thoughts of his being ‘unhappy’ or ‘worried’ and ‘bothered’ with the daily happenings, all the while perhaps missing the fun details of his day, really appeal to me. (hmmmm?) The first image with the severe cut between the above water line and the below line is wonderful… love the view from both. Well done! and the ant canoe just ON that line makes it all the stronger…with the lily pad giving it even more of a focus point. The colors are all working as well I feel as is the minimal shading…just the right touch. In the second (picnic) I felt at first that I wished there was a like line of some sort, but then it works as is! It could all be green grass behind and then the sitting of the basket ON the edge of page (image surface anyway) really is such fun visually…emphasized by the ants walking on that same line. All of which Jeremy misses as he worries. Love the sight line of his eye ‘into’ the basket of goodies too….but then he seems to miss all that!

I could be said that the style and drawing and colors are all a bit ‘old fashioned,’ but somehow it looks very contemporary instead, and just delightful for young eyes and ears today as always! Just charming….I really can’t find a helpful thing to say based on these two images! WHAT???



Tee-hee! These are really cute. I love how Jeremy seems to be the “serious” one in this group of jokers. He looks very realistic while the others are more clear as characters – which I think is great! I absolutely adore the crawfish! However, this secondary character expression is only the case in the first illustration – in the second, the ants are faceless. That goes along with the regimented, military way that ants operate (especially when they are engineering pulleys to steal food!) but if Jeremy is planning to ask them about sunscreen, should there be at least one who is approachable? Just a thought!

I am digging the flatness of the artwork, too; the big blocks of color and the limited background in the first illustration and no background in the second. At first, my eye was looking for a horizon for Jeremy to be walking on in the second piece, but the more I looked at the scene as a whole, I actually prefer that there isn’t one! There’s nice detail and texture where there needs to be (like in the picnic basket, for example) but simple, clean lines elsewhere (the cake, the watermelon, the reed) which is definitely appealing to children.

One thought that isn’t a big deal, but jumped out at me, is the lack of sunlight in the second illustration. He mentions the sunscreen and the fact that he gets freckles when he’s in the sun for too long – BUT – there’s no indication of sunlight. I’m not suggesting having a huge blazing sun in the scene, but maybe just a little lightening of his beak or the top of his head – or a shadow! – would indicate that he’s outside still, and in the sun.

I think these are adorable. Beautifully illustrated and funny, too!


Valerie Coulman is an award-winning picture book author, artist, and freelance editor.  Valerie first began developing her visual voice after a move to the US prompted an immigration-related work hiatus. Her words never failed her and as soon as she was able Valerie returned to writing, and has published both word and picture through a variety of markets and means. Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, Valerie now writes, and draws, from her home in southern Oregon where she also serves as Creative Arts Director for a local non-profit, overseeing drama, visual arts, writing, set and stage design, and photography. Learn more at

Thank you 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. I like the illustrations – Very nice.


  2. I love the thought of a duck worrying about sun protection. Precious! Enjoyed the critique, too. Thank all of you for sharing.


  3. Thank you, Chris and Christy, for the critique and kind words! I appreciate the tips on possible improvements, and the things that caught your eye – it’s always the details that make the difference. Your critiques are always a chance to learn! Best regards – Valerie


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