Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 3, 2016

TAKE A LOOK SUNDAY – Rosemarie Gillen



Wilkinson Studios, Inc. is an international agency representing artists from around the world. We specialize in illustration for Publishing, Advertising, Editorial, and Corporate industries, creating artwork for Children’s and Adult Trade Books, Mass Market and Board Books, Graphic Novels, Educational Programs, Magazines, Print Ads, Packaging, Websites, and Apps. We also do Games, Puzzles, Toys, and Character Development, and have hundreds of images available for Licensing. Wilkinson Studios also represents their illustrator’s own authored works to the Publishing industry, and will be launching Wilkinson Studios Press through Ingram, a POD publishing venue designed to market and distribute their illustrator’s books both nationally and internationally.

Christine Wilkinson has been representing artists since 1985, and founded Wilkinson Studios, Inc. in 1998. Her business partner, Lisa O’Hara, has been with the company since the beginning, and is an integral part of their success. Both Chris and Lisa have graphic design and illustration backgrounds, bringing a broad understanding of the needs specific to publishers, editors, design, and art professionals. Wilkinson Studios also provides art management services, with a skilled staff of project management specialists involved in the important details of procurement, creation, quality control, and delivery of art for clients in almost every country.

Here is Chris:

TAKE A LOOK SUNDAY – REVIEW:  Rosemarie Gillen

Rosemarie’s two illustrations submitted for this Take a Look Sunday review are fun and lively, giving the impression of children playing in their neighborhood outside on a sunny day. My first glimpse of the illustrations made me smile – the goofiness of the animal’s actions is appealing, and drew me into the art to take a closer look.  So let’s do that – let’s take a closer look!

The art style of black line with flat colors and very minimal shading contributes to the overall feeling of art for the children’s market. This art style is often used in educational ancillary products like workbooks, to keep the images simple and recognizable.  It is difficult to use this art style for scenes that require perspective, with foreground, mid-ground, and backgrounds, since the flatness of the art tends to make everything look like it is on the same plane.  When a scene is shown that has multiple elements, with objects in the foreground and a background that should be in the distance, the overlapping of the flat-colored, black-outlined elements can be very confusing to the eye.  The lack of perspective and shading tends to bring everything together in one dimension.

This is true for Rosemarie’s art too. Though we logically know that the fence and the houses are in the background, behind the girl and the animals, everything has the same intensity of color, and there is no dimension given to any of the elements.   As a stylistic approach, an individual art style that the artist has chosen as “her style”, it can be cute and whimsical – a child-like style for a children’s book.  And Rosemarie uses this style effectively in some ways, and in some ways it hinders her images rather than enhancing and being a cohesive part of an overall whole.

TKS Rosemarie Gillen1

Let me be a bit more specific…. In the first image, the focus is on the girl and her two animal friends. They are presented straight on from the side, the lines of the sidewalk, garden, fence, and house are all very horizontal. Everything is flat, but the figures are not cut-out doll stiff – there is action and movement and life. This is good! We want to join in on the fun!

Now compare this with the second image, where the sidewalk is curved to try and give some perspective, and the figures are overlapping each other and the background. It is much more difficult to discern what is going on in the second image – with all of the elements in the image overlapping, but flat, and of the same visual intensity, you can’t easily see the action. The foreground and the background become a jumble of intersecting lines and colors.  The easiest thing to see is the banana, and why is that? Because it is on a plain background without anything else intersecting it.  I don’t think this is what Rosemarie wanted us to focus on in this image.

So how can Rosemarie improve her images, without sacrificing her style? By really concentrating on making the simplicity of the art style work together with the scenes, by simplifying her scenes and being very aware of and critical about how each element intersects, overlaps, and interacts with every line and color in the image overall.

In the first image, the three main characters work well together. But if a shadow is used under the characters or other elements, the shadow needs to be correct, or it will make it seem like the characters are floating.  So correct the shadows, or don’t use them at all.  The touch of complexity in the bushes behind the characters helps to push the bushes into the background, as does the slightly darker color.  The fence, however, is a complicating element that blocks us from seeing the pig clearly, and creates distracting intersections with the girl’s head, along with the tree, house, and window all in that one spot.  Move these elements around, Rosemarie – size them up and down, take them out or put them in different places – play with them in the space of your scene until the visual focus of your scene is established to your satisfaction.  Digital art gives you the freedom to experiment without having to redraw everything – use this freedom to rework your images, much like an author rewrites and edits their manuscript.  Don’t be satisfied with your first draft!

The boy in the first image is also a problem – a disembodied head on a popsicle stick. If you remove or reduce the size of the fence, then the boy can be given some action that compliments the other figures – having him react with body expression will tie him into the story better.

TKS Raosemarie Gillen

The second image needs to be reworked from a composition standpoint. The curving sidewalk complicates the image unnecessarily, and the busyness of the houses in the background distracts from what is going on in the scene.  Also, if these are sequential images, check your consistency – the grass would not be a different color and the houses, bushes, and trees wouldn’t be completely different if the characters have only moved a few feet away from where they were in the previous image.  And where is the bear in the first image, if these are sequential?

Changing the point of view of this second scene will also allow you to handle the characters in a simpler way. The face-on view of the pig gives him a red clown nose, and makes him look like a baby with ears, hanging on sticks.  The fox’s position could be separated from the girl’s pose too, and his ‘flip’ can be more clearly shown.

I’m not saying that all of the images in your book need to be shown from a side-on viewpoint – that might make for a very boring book. But I am saying that if your art style is going to be so simple, that the composition of each scene is critical in order to allow your artwork to tell your story with impact and clarity.

Thank you Chris for taking the time to share your expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the Wilkinson Studios website link:

Here is a little bit about Rosemarie:

ROSEMARIE GILLEN is an professional children’s book illustrator who lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her family and her collie, Riley. As a child she loved to draw and paint. Her love of Art Museums lead her to painting reproductions of Great Masters. The walls of her house are filled with her reproductions. She has produced a total of 50 children’s books. She was an  Art Director at Stories for Children Magazine.  


If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what is working or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three 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 illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great observations. I’m really going to look at my illustrations with these points in mind.


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