Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 20, 2015

Take A Look Sunday – Marla Jones



CHRIS: OH MY they are in trouble!!!  I’m not sure what “they” are however…animal wise?  Not mice…gerbils?  I’d love to see more rendering on them I think….more expression too as they could be very cute and make the viewer more worried about them! One is humanized by the little hat, but I think more facial development would be helpful.  Still simple and clean. The CAT, after all, is very scary!  His eyes look almost passive however.   Cats can be that way, but kids ‘get’ the visual messages and emotions often from the eyes.  Might be very important to the story. 

I know this is cut paper (or digitally done to look like it)  but it can be manipulated just a bit more to push the character development.  I like the first image with the two pointing up (what’s the gray one looking at?) and the very black tale hanging down…most powerful!  I did note a difference in sizes for this first page and then the gerbils (?) in the second one that seem smaller in the hind quarters.  We’ve mentioned several times the great importance of consistency in ALL visual stories, and this is another example of where that needs attention.  I very much like the color used in these, and patterns….good value differentiation and eye interest but not overwhelming.  MY those claws (there would be more of them actually on a cat) are a definite threat!  Hope it ends well!

tks marla jones2

CHRISTY: My first thought is that I think these little mice are very endearing. They have very simple and sweet faces – and the viewer is automatically rooting for them! BUT – are they mice?? Or hamsters? They have hamster tails…not mouse tails. So that’s something to clarify!

I like the composition in both of these pieces and I personally find the pattern of the tablecloth (is it?) appealing and fun – giving these a nice “design-y” element. At first, I though that these pieces were created with cut paper and/or collage, but upon closer look, I believe it’s digitally painted? I have noted a few inconsistencies in style here that are throwing me off. The mice/hamsters have a little more dimension than the rest of the elements in these illustrations (including the cat). The other elements are flat and one-dimensional, whereas the mice/hamsters are not. This difference of style, paired with the flat, blockiness of the tablecloth is confusing my eye, and leading me to believe that these two do not belong in the environment in which they have been placed.

As far as storyline goes, I’m not 100% sure what’s going on here. It seems as though they see the cat tail, and are considering it, and the next thing we know, the contents under the table are revealed, and the cat looks as though he’s about to pounce. Did they pull his tail? Are they knitting scarves and socks under the table? Lots of questions!

While I think their expressions and body language in the first image are clear, I do not think so in the second image. Are they scared?? Surprised? Trying to sneak around undetected? Facial expression is SO important in moving a story forward in a clear way – even if it’s subtle. There’s no indication of feeling in the second image, so we don’t know what’s going on! That cat is very ominous, but we can’t root for them if we can’t tell what they’re thinking!

Marla Jones lives in Yukon, OK with her husband and their dog, Trixie. She has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and taught first grade for twelve years in the Yukon Public School system. Marla has written four picture books and just illustrated her fourth. She mixes colorful papers, fabrics and found objects to create her unique illustrations. Layering and loads of detail lend texture and dimension to her folk art style.

Marla is an active member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the co-founder of Next Generation Writers. To view Marla’s books and artwork, visit her website, .

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:

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. Thank you Chris, Christy, and Marla!


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