Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 29, 2016

Take A Look Sunday – Nicole Monahan



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.

TAKE A LOOK SUNDAY – REVIEW:  Nicole Stremlow Monahan

Hello Everyone, and Goodbye for the moment! This is my last review for Take a Look Sunday (at least until Kathy calls me again!) – time to allow another agent to give you their viewpoints.  Have fun, Lorraine and The Organisation!!  It has been a pleasure to critique such amazingly varied and talented artists, and I know you will enjoy reviewing the new illustrators that Kathy sends your way.  I look forward to reading your TaLS over the next weeks!

As you all know, if you read my review of JE Ryder’s work previously   I have a love-hate relationship with watercolor art – I love the incredible paintings and images of a skilled watercolor artist, and I hate that I can’t work in this medium myself!  A mind-boggling number of factors affect the outcome of watercolor paintings, not the least of which are the choice of paper and pigment.  Hot press, cold press (also known as NOT hot press) and rough papers each offer different surfaces for the paints to either sit on top of or be absorbed by.  The paints themselves have options such as pan (yes, I remember this from grade school! I was awful at it even then), tube, and liquid, with every manufacturer having it’s own proprietary blend of pigments, binders and additives.  The quality of the paint has everything to do with the quality of the end result.  And all of this is before getting into the pros and cons of brushes, stretching, opaque vs transparent, painting technique, etc. etc. …YIKES!

tklNicole Monahan 1

Our artist today, Nicole Stremlow Monahan, has tackled the art of watercolor painting to give voice to her own vision of a story about a young boy in an African village. Like all of the other reviews, I only get to see two or three images of an artist’s work, and am left to guess what the story is, and interpret the artist’s medium and techniques through relatively low-resolution jpg’s seen on my screen, which may not be calibrated to how the artist’s screen was when they scanned their art.  Kind of like the story of the blind men and the elephant – they’re only experiencing a small part each, and cannot agree on what it is:  “It is a rope” says the man who was touching the tail, “No! It is a pillar” said the one who was touching the leg, “It is a huge wall” says the man touching the belly.  They are all right, and they are all wrong too, and I am most likely both wrong and right in my interpretations of an artist’s work and stories for these reviews.

So, here is my “blind man’s” review of Nicole’s images (with much help and knowledgeable insight from Lisa O’Hara)…

Nicole’s images have a dream-like atmosphere, brought about by the washy, blended use of the paints, and the limited, non-realistic colors of the settings and backgrounds. Was this done intentionally? Or does Nicole not understand her medium?

tklNicole Monahan 2

It’s difficult to know what is going on because so many parts of the images are undefined – What is that brown blob that the boy seems to be thinking about in the first image? Where are the woman and the boy in the second image, and who are the people in the background? Why is an ethnic grim reaper taking the obviously unhappy boy somewhere?  Everything is vague, and uses only a few colors – brown, yellow, purple, and a bit of red.  There are no real highlights or shadows, just a mid-range of tones making the images flat and without real depth or differentiation of foreground and background.

Many of the figure’s body proportions are off, and very much out of size relationship to what they would be in real life, however there are areas which show that Nicole does know how to draw.  The boy’s features in #1 are crisp and well-done, though the left side of his face is not correct.  The woman’s hair and necklace in #2 are carefully rendered, pulling the eye there, as they are the only things in the image that are clearly drawn – all else is ambiguously mushy.  The boy’s anatomy is wrong, and his lumpy shirt seems a hurriedly applied blob of paint rather than something intentionally drawn.  The body proportions in #3 are wrong, if this is the same boy – he is tiny compared to the other person.  Interesting that their feet are nicely depicted – many artists have difficulties with feet.

tklNicole Monahan 3

Maybe some of the issues with Nicole’s images are because of the wrong paints on the wrong paper – they’re not absorbing well, or the paper is too wet, or the pigments are not dissolving – or, that they’re done by an unsteady hand, by an artist with limited watercolor experience. Practice, preparation, practice, materials, practice, technique, practice, study, and more practice – all of this will help.  As well as:  Bring highlights and low areas into your images, create some depth with color and tone;  If you want something in your images to be understood, make it visually defined;  Bring more variety into your palette – look closely at the world around you, see the details and colors, reflect this in your work;  Vary your point of view – not all the people have to be shown in ¾ views facing right;  Spend time on the whole painting, not just parts – if the facial features are rendered with care, then why is the background rushed through? if the hair is painted in detail, then why are the clothes hurried blotches? if the feet are nicely done, then why does the setting look like you just wanted to get done and get outta there?

You have talent, Nicole, that much can be seen in these 3 images. Nurture your talent with curiosity, experimentation, knowledge – and patience.

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

Here is a little bit about Nicole Monahan:
Nicole was lucky enough to grow up with parents who supported her love of creating, whether it was painting a mural on the walls of her bedroom or building in her father’s workshop. After graduating from University of Illinois, working as an Architect, and then as an Art Director in a Seattle Gallery, she finally returned to her long love of books. Today, Nicole works full time in her creekside studio Illustrating and teaching art. In her personal time, she enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest with the company of her husband,  3 sweet kids and the wide variety of pets they love, from dogs to lizards and goats. Every one of them provide a lot of inspiration and models for Illustrations!

The Organisation has agreed to host Take A Look Sunday for June through August!




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 with your name in the .jpg title. 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 featured.

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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