Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 27, 2015

Take A Look Sunday – Lena Shiffman

I want to thank Chris Tugeau and Christy Tugeau Ewers for being the first Artist Reps. to do “Take a Look Sunday.” If you followed on Sundays and read their critiques since they kicked off TALS on September 13th, you know they did a terrific job. Both Chris and Christy love what they do and truly care about helping children’s illustrators succeed. I hope they will volunteer their time again down the road.

I’m happy to announce that Ronnie Herman of the Herman Agency will kick off TALS in 2016. See how to participate at the bottom of post. Now Lena Shiffman brings 2015 to a close.


CHRISTY: There are many things I like about these illustrations! The expression of the doorman, for one. HIs facial and body expression are very clear, without being too much – which is not always easy! Immediately, the viewer gets the sense of caution here, and you can almost hear him saying “I wouldn’t go in there, if I were you” or “you’d better scram!” to the mouse. Very cute. And the expressions on the dog’s faces (bulldog, especially) are nice. The blue/yellow color palette is pleasing, and I like the detail in the doorman’s coat. The shadows add a nice element, but I do find that I’m a little confused about who is inside and who is outside. I assume the dogs are out?

Also, what is the doorman doing with his left hand? Is it on his hip? If so, something seems ‘off’ here. That was one of the first things I noticed (unfortunately!), as it appears to be a little deformed – but I don’t think that’s intentional. It’s the hand that needs to be re-worked, I think. But you definitely don’t want that to be the focal point, in any case!

The second illustration is very sweet – they’re all friends! Both of the dogs’ front legs look a little disproportionate to their bodies, however. They appear to be too small and short. Perhaps one could have bent front legs? I’m currently sitting next to my dog, who is in a ball, with her front legs curled up to her chest. I think the dog on the right would definitely be doing that! The mouse, too, seems to be placed on top of them, as opposed to nestled into them. It would be much more effective to have him more naturally nuzzled in there, as opposed to lying so flat against them. It’s a sweet scene, though! And a nice follow up to the first one, in which the dogs were more menacing. It seems like a happy ending! Great job with sweet “characters” in a soft, more realistic style that would appeal to little readers.

CHRIS: This being our last crit session with you all, and will be posted during the midst of the holiday week, I tend to see a warm and loving holiday kindness story in these images! It’s projection, but that is how we ‘read’ and ‘see.’ You can actually ‘hit’ a buyer at a very good (or very bad) moment and get a story or image bought (or not!) Another truth of any biz I think! The door man here is stopping the mouse from getting hurt perhaps. Though the dogs seem very kind faced and eager (not always good for small rodents) the dog leash and bones in pocket indicate that he’s about to maybe walk one of these dogs ….certainly NOT the mouse! Fun image anyway! I am concerned about the short legs and BIG hands on this kind man. The hands would be fine I think if the bottom half of his body was in the same proportion. That is something artists do have to be very careful of always…proportion. It’s come up several times over our 3+ months of weekly crits. But Art Buyers WILL see this instantly and not ‘trust’ your work to be always correct, so they will not hire you. They don’t have time to be worried about this sort of basic drawing ability. Always be sure your drawing is perfect before you start to paint.

Watercolor can get overworked very easily especially in faces! This door man’s works very well generally, but I did see some evidence of overworking, or struggling, in the dog bed image with the dog on the left a bit…slight but something to watch also. The fore legs of both dogs look very odd somehow here too… there is a ‘lip’ to the dog bed but their legs don’t seem to acknowledge it? and they seem short? I love the sleeping gray mouse on their backs!! ….see, it IS a holiday message of love and acceptance!


Lena Shiffman. I am a published illustrator, but have been out of the illustrator loop for a while working as an art teacher. This summer I was hired to work on this book about a mouse who wants to live on Park Avenue in NYC, but is not welcome there by the management. 



Ronnie Herman at Herman Agency will kick off TAKE A LOOK SUNDAY for the first three months of 2016.

Illustrators who do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what is working and what could be tweaked to help you sell your work, may submit two consecutive story illustrations for critique. If interested 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.

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 illustrations need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Beautiful images! Thank you for all the insight you’ve given us this past few months, Chris and Christy! Your feedback has been helpful in many ways: seeing what your first impressions are, learning what an agent might look for, what not to do with your art, and much more.


  2. THANK you Kathy! Christy and I have loved doing these months of crits and reaching so many artists through these brave, generous few! Happy New Year full of creative bliss to all! Thank YOU Kathy for your every day posts and all you do for this industry and ‘your’ artists and writers. And Ronnie…enjoy these talents! hugs to all…. The CAT Agency Team !


    • Thank you Chris and Christy for sharing your time and expert eyes. Loved your helpful critiques and was so happy to be picked for one of them!

      Kathy thank you for having a great blog and all the wonderful help you give to your fellow artists and writers!
      Happy New Year to you all!


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