Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 17, 2018

ASK CAT – Summer Ideas

On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Cat Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.



It’s ‘SUMMAH TIME and the living is easy!’  Well, it at least can be a bit different!

That is a relief and a challenge, as any parent can tell you!  As artists we can often find ourselves limited by our roles and choices and current jobs and/or styles.  We can get stuck!

Summer break might be the perfect time to take a real ‘break’ from our normal selves and try something very different and brave and PLAYFUL!

I’ve written about this before, but the time might be right now, today to repeat it again.  Take a sketch book where ever you go this summer…. phone camera too, but SKETCH BOOK and PEN.  No erasing.  Try doing very fast sketches and often of movement: the current of the ocean, creek and grasses,  kids moving at the beach or park….scenes flying by in the car…. expressions changing fast at events….Farmers Market activity.  Don’t limit yourself to the style or perspectives you might normally use.  Experiment!  Don’t look down at paper at all…just use  that pen to ‘fast draw.’ Try not picking the pen up from the paper while you look at the scene but not the paper.  EYE OPENING and wonderful.  Try subjects you normally tend to stay away from. because they challenge you…. challenge yourself!  NO expectation.  No deadline. No revisions necessary. This is summer break….PLAY!

If you are lucky enough to find the time while at the beach, on the boat, camping or sitting in cool backyard, try painting on the spot from life and let it inspire you.  Do short 15 min or so ‘sketches’ of a scene. Several of them.  If water color, try wet in wet and let it create itself somewhat. Let go of the control.  Try colors you avoid usually and make them thicker or thinner than you tend.  Work on a very large painting, then a very small one (using ONLY a very large brush with a point) .  Draw in ‘negative space’ only…. creating the forms from the air around the objects.  Think and draw edges and their energy or lack there of.  So many new ways to change your ‘normal’ perspective.  It’ll shake you up and something new and great could come out of it.

The question may rise…HOW does this help me as an artist?  I think I’ve given some examples of how a new perspective can actually change our view of life, and in some cases, our place in it totally!  But just the act of trying something new and different can not help but expand your ability to SEE.  This can help you draw and paint your illustrations with no unnecessary line, color and details.  Simplicity and clarity is so important in children’s art….even in the most detailed complex scenes!  The eye needs rest in complexity….you will be reminded of how that is accomplished as you try to ‘capture it all’ in 15 min sketches.  The eye needs focus and direction in a composition.  Quick studies will remind you how to better capture that grounding composition for a statement more quickly.  A story needs peaks and flows, and new perspectives to lead the page turns.  After playing a bit and ‘relaxing’ during your ‘summer break,’  you will just intuitively better feel the motion of the visual story before you or in your head. Play informs and teaches.

So go step outside and take in a deep breath of summer heat and humidity, the cooling breezes, and maybe the salt or mountain air!  Check out which direction the sun light is coming from (shadows!) and find any number of subjects unknowingly there for YOU.  It’s a time of discovery before we settle back into our daily routines.  Go ahead…..PLAY!

A thought for next month, perhaps, send me/Kathy an illustration you have a question about and I’ll try to answer your question in a way that helps ALL artists and you. No guarantee we’ll use yours, and you have to be comfortable with the image being seen by everyone who follows Kathy, but I’ve done this before and it’s great fun. Let’s give it a try something new for summah! Send your question and image to kathy.temean(at)! Include your bio and picture.

Christina Tugeau
The CAT Agency Inc.

Thank you Chris for another great article. I am getting out my sketch pad to do some blind contour drawings. 

Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.


Hope this illustration by Priscilla Burris (http://priscillaburris.comwill inspire everyone to look for an illustration and send in a question to Chris and Christy. 

Send them to kathy(dot) and put ASK CAT in the Subject Area.

Talk tomorrow,


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