Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 24, 2016

Take A Look Sunday – J. E. (Julie) Ryder



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.


There are few painting techniques and media that I admire as much as watercolor. My admiration comes from the complete and utter inability to work in watercolors myself.  All of my projects during college turned out to be Addams Family scenes – muddy, dark, creepy and clumsy.  I would cry tears of frustration at not being able to master the restraint and lightness of hand to bring the beautiful luminosity of a sunny fall day onto my paper.  Well done watercolor paintings can look so simple, but they are so deceiving – nothing is more difficult (well, at least to me!) than working backwards – thinking of what should be left alone, where the highlights will be, and then working into the shadows.  I wonder how many other type “A” personalities have trouble with watercolors!  It takes such patience, control, and planning, and it is not a forgiving medium.  Once an image is messed up, trying to correct your mistake often makes it worse.  So, ever since college, I’ve left watercolor painting to those brave souls with more persistence, fortitude, and serenity than me!

J.E. (Julie) Ryder must be one of those souls – her watercolor images submitted for this week’s Take A Look Sunday are finely done. She has taken care in her compositions, and has obviously planned her images, shooting reference photos and doing tight sketches beforehand.  Julie must be well practiced in watercolor – I don’t go to an artist’s website before my reviews, so I am basing this solely on the two images submitted.  Handling such a demanding medium takes many hours, much repetition, and a keen eye for what should be included, and what should be left out.

My review of Julie’s work takes all of this into consideration, an admiration for her proficiency as a watercolorist. Thus, I will not critique her work technically – she has that down.  I have only a few points to mention to help her tweak her images.

TKL JULIE RiderCharley and the Pumpkin Farm-confront-Final-3-logo

When illustrating realistically, anatomy and perspective are very important to get absolutely correct, or the viewer’s eyes will instantly go to the spots that are not quite right. Julie chose a very difficult perspective for her first image – a bird’s eye view of standing figures.  For the most part, she’s rendered their anatomy accurately – except for the faces and heads.  Every artist has parts of the body that they are uncomfortable with, even if they don’t know it – faces, hands, and feet are often the body parts that an artist hesitates on, consciously or unconsciously. In this image, it seems that the boy’s faces were the parts of the image that Julie was uncertain about.  Both boys are not really looking down at the pumpkin – maybe they’re talking to each other?  The head of the boy on the right is too elongated, his facial features would not actually be seen like that if you were looking down from above – too much of his face is shown.  The same for the boy on the left, though his head and features are more accurate.

Julie may also want to take out the feet of the other figures in this image – they are cut off little bits, that are more distracting than they are informative of what is going on. Having the other people’s shadows extend into the frame is enough to indicate that there are other people around.  The legs at the top especially – they are not very grounded, and look like they’re floating, sliding into the image from the top.  Your eye is sidetracked to this, when the focus should be on the main characters and their conflict over the pumpkin.

I don’t usually reference other illustrators in my reviews, but one watercolor artist who is a master of unusual figural perspectives is Denny Bond – I’m attaching one of his paintings that is a triple self-portrait, a la M.C. Escher – the anatomy is absolutely accurate, and thus, the image flows effortlessly.


Julie’s second image successfully conveys the effort that the boy is making trying to lift or move that big pumpkin. Again, she’s chosen a very challenging way to show this!  By illustrating a close-up of the boy and the pumpkin, all of the action needs to be shown with minimal visual ‘hints’ – she doesn’t have the whole body shown, so the effort of lifting that would be indicated in his body language needs to all be concentrated in his face and close-up pose.  And she certainly does that well!  I can feel the immobile weight of the pumpkin in this image!

There are only two things that I would comment on in this image: The eyes are too smushed – even with the great effort he is exerting, his eyes would still be seen a bit clearer.  The lower lids, or an indication of it, would help to keep him from looking blinded.  A bit more of an indication of eyebrows too, would define his eye area better.

TKLJulieChar and the pumpkin farm-1-final-brighter

The second is the overall palette of this image – it could be that the jpg I was sent was not color adjusted, or the scan of the original needs to be redone. The image looks dull, grayed-back, not having the bright infusion of color as the first image.  Brightening the digital file to match the first image will help and make sure that the artwork looks sequential.

Thank you, Julie, for your submission – it was a pleasure to view your artwork! I look forward to seeing your books in print!

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 Julie:

J.E. Ryder is an author/illustrator working on her first story to be published in 2016 by Mother’s House Publishing.  Although, she is recent to the field of authoring/illustrating she has been an artist for most of her life working in watercolor, photography, and website design.  Her love of children’s stories began with her career as a Children’s Librarian in the public school system and now many years later, and a few careers-in-between, she works full-time as an author/illustrator.  You can view her art at:


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 and put your name in the title on the title and number each .jpg to show the order they should be used. 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,


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