Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 22, 2018

Illustrator Sunday – Andrea Miller’s review of Carolyn Le Illustrations

Carolyn draws on the sunny California days, the antics of her nieces and nephews and her love of storytelling to create her watercolor paintings. She has twice received a first-place Illustration Award for her portfolio from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a Merit Award from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and has had her work shown in galleries in Los Angeles and London. She is the illustrator for the picture book Which Animal is Fastest? (Arbordale Publishing, Fall 2018). In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling and writing and illustrating her own picture books. To see more of her work, please visit her website at


Hey there, Carolyn! First of all, congratulations on your scholarship to join us in the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books course- I’m looking forward to working with you more then and seeing more of your amazing art! For now, let’s jump right on into your artwork.

This first piece is highly effective, in terms of composition. The cut-away shows us what would be hidden to the naked eye, and I love seeing the difference in scale between the bunny and the enormous carrot! When we can use illustration to give the reader more information than a photograph might, I think it’s best to do so! As artists, we can manipulate exactly what we want to show to help push the story along. And with that power, comes the task of also knowing when withholding information helps to build suspense! Definitely think about what the text calls for in this story and consider if you can use more or less information to make the narrative more dramatic! For example- showing the bunny from behind at a low angle, looking up at the looming carrot could be a great solution if you think that there needs to be a pause before you reveal more about the carrot and its roots and so forth.

Your use of soft watercolor washes in the background provide some beautiful atmospheric perspective in addition to the perfect place for a designer to set type! I would recommend taking a closer look, however, at your colors. Your style feels classic and timeless- any child would likely lean in close to soak up the details- but I think it could use a little more saturation. The neutral tones are calming and match the rural setting, but do leave the piece feeling a bit dusty. If you’re working completely in traditional watercolors, you can do one of two things- I’d consider adding some brighter colors into your mixture for your palette, or take your paintings and adjust them in photoshop! Just a few minutes of work can really boost the image. You’ll see in the edit I did below, that the whole scene feels RICHER and more engaging. I achieved this by adjusting the mid-tones in Levels and by using the Selective Color tool to bring out more of the magenta and yellow in the red and yellow areas, while pushing the blue back a little.


Speaking of color, I think I might apply the same advice to your second piece as well. The bunny is going on a fantastic and otherwise completely impossible adventure! I think it would be beneficial to see that excitement and action reflected in the colors of the piece. I edited the piece in the same way as before, using levels and selective color. While this adds some more life into the piece’s colors, you may also consider playing with perspective here as well to better focus on the MOVEMENT. In both pieces we see all of the bunny and all of the carrot, but approaching the scene like a photographer or filmmaker allows you to consider where the “camera” might be. Showing the speed of the flight might be better shown by focusing on the bunny’s face and the wind in it and the cape, or instead by emphasizing the angle of the flight- the pull of the wind might straighten out the carrot and the cape too as they go faster and faster!

So, overall my notes to you would be to brighten colors where you can and consider adding more variety to the framing and composition as is necessary and called for by the text. That said, I must congratulate you on the skill and beauty in your watercolor work and in your thoughtfulness for how type might fit around  your art on the page! Well done, and I look forward to seeing even more in the future!

Thank you Andrea for sharing your time and expertise with Carolyn and us. Can’t wait to hear about your online workshop with Mira and the illustrator/writers when it is done.

Andrea Miller has designed and/or art-directed many successful children’s books for both Sterling Publishing and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt including, “Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast” by Josh Funk, “Mira Forecasts the Future” by Kell Andrews, “Accident!” by Andrea Tsurumi and “Winter Dance” by Marion Diane Baur. Most recently, she co-art directed and designed the #1 national best-selling children’s book, John Oliver’s “A Day int he Life of Marlon Bundo”. Andrea is also a published illustrator, and is co-creating a series of comics with her wife. She is excited and honored to jump in with the Children’s Book Academy for a rewarding experience as part of their esteemed faculty while looking for fresh talent in this course.


CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Art Director Andrea Miller at HMH or Dr. Mira Reisberg at Clearfork/Spork could critique your submission on Illustrator Sunday. It starts on July 8th for seven Sundays in a row. This is a limited opportunity to get your work seen by an art director. Illustrators should send in 2 or 3 consecutive illustrations that could be used in a picture book to kathy.temean(at) Please put July/Aug Illustrator Sunday in the subject line, put illustrations in the body of the email and include a picture of yourself and your bio. All .jpgs need to at least be 500 pixels wide.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you, Andrea. I am excited and looking forward to working with and being challenged by you and Mira in the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s book course. I really appreciate the examples you provided to show the difference. The brighter colors made the images feel more exciting and more approachable. I am already reevaluating my other paintings with an eye towards adding more saturated colors to my palette and playing with the Selective Color tool, which I never considered before. Thanks again! And thank you, Kathy, for providing Kidlit artists opportunities to learn and grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you for sharing your pretty work, Carolyn!


  3. This is so awesome. I love the color suggestions. I write concept books. I’m looking for ideas on creative ways to illustrate a book.


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