Lemon's Tree Art

Art & Whimsy by Nancy Lemon Carney

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Noah proceeds with the plan from God


(Click the image to ENLARGE view)

The saga continues…

A note on character design: designing God was a challenge.  I didn’t want to create a bearded man in the sky.  There is a part of the Old Testament where God is described as a column of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day.  I like the clouds idea, and the giant arms in the sky make me smile.


Noah’s doubters and God’s plan


(Click on the image to enlarge the picture.)

A note on the type: in these dummies, I believe that it’s good to not get fancy or cute with your choice of type.  So I have chosen to use Century Schoolbook.  It’s a personal preference.  Some people tend towards Comic Sans, but that’s against my religion as a Designistrator. ;)  I am thinking I may have to redraw the left hand page, as my Noahs look a little different from the first page to the second.  One of the most important thing about illustrating a book is that the character design remains consistent from page to page.

I realize that I said I would post on Tuesday/Thursday, but life happens–perhaps it’s safer to say I will post twice a week!

As usual, feel free to leave questions, comments or words of insight in the comments section below.  Have a great weekend!


How to create a dummy book for children’s publishing

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Hello, dear viewers.  It has been a while since I’ve posted, and for that, I do apologize.  I’ve had a new idea for a series of posts, which I hope you will enjoy.  A couple of (gulp) years ago, my dear friend Jess presented me with a children’s story she had written and asked me if I would illustrate it.  Now, people ask this of me once they find out I am an illustrator, and usually I tell them it is easier to get published by simply sending a manuscript out with a great cover letter to publishers.  (i.e. Illustrations are not necessary to the children’s story submissions process, unless of course, you are an author/illustrator.)

The reason I tell them this is that usually publishers like to pair their illustrators and writers.  If you send a manuscript with a sheaf of drawings, you will most likely be chucked into the dreaded “slush pile.”  However, if you take the time and effort to create a dummy book, you may luck out and get your book picked up by a publisher. I love my friend Jess, and because her story is really great, I said “yes” to creating a dummy with her.  She sweetly said for me to take my time and design it how I wanted.  

Oh Jess, you may have wanted to set up deadlines with me—unlimited time means I take a looong time.  Anyway, she has agreed that I can share the process here on the blog if it helps me finish the dummy book.  Today I have a picture of some storyboards I created in the beginning to get the flow of the story just right, along with an actual book I created to craft how the pictures would fit with the type.

For reference on how to create a dummy book I highly recommend Uri Shulevitz’s Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books.  Published in 1985, it is still the greatest resource I have found on creating a book for submission from start to finish.

I love questions and comments!  Fell free to leave feedback or queries in the comments section of this post, if you feel so inclined.


Mildred and Lucille


Although I like the idea, the execution of this piece is not my favorite. I’ve been playing with line and experimenting with different mediums, in the search for improving my style.  As always, there are peaks and gutters.  It’s hard, when there are so many great artists and styles out there, to stay true to your own way, and not “acclimate” someone else’s artistic vision.  For instance, I love the simplicity and line style of Serge Bloch, and I love the dreamy world of Isabelle Arsenault.

So the search for my own truthiness of style continues.  I’m not totally happy with this one, but a teacher once told me that if you are struggling with your art, that means a breakthrough is nigh.  (The sheep in fishnets is pretty hilarious, if I do say so myself.)

I always love to hear your thoughts and comments on my art or thoughts here.  Is style something you struggle with in your own art?



William the Horse


William is such a trend-setter; or maybe he’s just trendy…in this one I used more of the paint to create than ink and pencil.  I found a great dry-brush technique to play around with on this piece.

This original painting is available (9″x12″ watercolor & gouache on paper, unframed)

Or, find prints here.


Matthew the Tiger



Matthew the Tiger is the latest in the line of animals and fashion.  Nothing says, “cool” quite like a tiger in a sweater vest.  (Or maybe I just need more sleep.)

The original is 9″x12″ (pencil, ink, watercolor and gouache on paper) and is available for purchase.

Or, prints and other items are available.


Edward the Rabbity Argyle Enthusiast


Edward is so very right; argyle is the way to go if you must wear socks.  Thus continues the thread of animals and clothes…or, fashionable animals.

The original is available (9″x12″ gouache, pen and ink on watercolor paper).

Prints can be found here, along with shirts and things.


Jerry the Deer, and a late Happy New Year



Here is the continuation of the “animals and fashion” thread.  I hope poor Jerry made it…deer season is over, for now.

Watercolor, pen and ink on watercolor paper 9″x12″

The original painting is now available in the Lemon’s Tree Art store, and prints are available at Society 6, as well as t-shirts.  At Society6, use this link to get FREE Worldwide Shipping through midnight, January 11th.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!


Her udder bag matches her shoes…



Well who doesn’t feel stylish in new boots? I for some reason Googled “goats and fashion” and came up with some very inspiring photographs.  An artist colleague suggested that I create “collections” of images, so my first collection of the impending new year will be animals and clothes.  Although I could probably do a whole collection of just goats and fashion.  I don’t know what it is about these silly ruminants that I find so endearing…perhaps it is because my grandfather always liked to keep them around, at least while they were kids.  They are usually pretty jovial creatures, especially when they are little: http://youtu.be/S49-jh8JkgA

The original is 7″x7″ and is available in my Lemon’s Tree Art Shop or grab a print here!

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Holiday Greeting



It is so fun when I get to use illustration in my day job.  Maybe one day this will be my job.  At the moment, I am grateful that I have a little time to do this, and a workplace that appreciates creativity.

I scanned a drawing in and used some new gouache brushes from Kyle T. Webster.  His brushes are the best for digital painting.

Happy Holidays to all!

Odd cat call

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I have been hard at work on a custom painting project, and have not been able to post as much as I’d like.  Once the paintings are finished (and approved) I will post them here.

This sketch was done late night, under the influence of a lot of coffee and looking at Sir John Tenniel pen & ink illustrations.

I don’t know why the lady cat looks like a saucy nude model, and I don’t know why she’s calling a goat guy.  Pan?

When I have more time for drawing, I believe I will explore this pen & ink vein a little more.

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Fun and Fancy-ish Cats


The inspiration for this fine feline trio was from a bit of the invitation I created for my daughter’s first birthday party in October.  I wanted to make a little print just so I could upload a fun design for iPhone cases and mugs and such at Society6.  They are running specials everyday this month it seems…today is free shipping worldwide.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Pegasus Has Landed Illustration

pegasusHasLandedWP  I have been working (very slowly) on a project about unicorns, and in my character designs I sketched this little guy.  His story may be that his wings are still growing, or that he is much like the unfortunate emu; the wings are all show, no function.  I like using a limited palette.  I am attempting to simplify my “style” where I can.  This piece is a bit of a Photoshop sketch, scanned directly from the sketchbook.


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I usually don’t believe in Christmas before Thanksgiving…


…but they got me to make a flyer at work.  Yay, kids’ illustration at the day job–I love it when that happens!

I had to remove some of the information in order to use it on my blog, but the image still looks pretty nice.  Drawn by hand in pencil, scanned and spruced up in Photoshop.  The holidays are looming…hold on to your mistletoe.

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Sketchety sketch sketch

I’ve been battling a cold and have finally made the turn…thought I’d share a crazy sketchbook spread here.  Maybe the influence of all the cold medicine made this, or I associated the cat with fish.  Also, I am headed to the aquarium this evening for an event, so perhaps I will sketch more fish…and people drinking wine.  But mostly fish.


Click image to enlarge picture.


Who needs a hug?



Click the Picture to Enlarge the view.

Nothing like snuggling with an enormous house cat to get a good 16 hour nap!  This was scanned right out of my little 5″x5″ hand book sketchbook and made me feel a little bit better as I fight a horrible cold.  Happy warm fuzzies to you this November.  Now I want to go curl up with my two big dogs on the couch…or hug a giant teddy bear.


Published online and some more goats…


Guess what I did this weekend?  That’s right…I made a painting.  Here are Queen Esmerelda and King Steve of Capricorn.  They are available as a print or stretched canvas in the store.

Also, I am published in Alexandria Quarterly,  (front page!) a new online magazine.  Publish or perish, right?  Also, I have a little secret project going on, and will unveil to all soon…

Be well and happy!


Caprine King and Queen


Here is a color study for a finished piece I am working on.  Today I am thankful for great friends who send me lots of pictures of goats.  (I’m lookin’ at you, Bec M.)  This was drawn into my little 5-1/2″ square sketchbook while gazing at these fine specimens in my iPhone.  Thank goodness for friends who visit zoos!

ALSO, click the orange link to get FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING and $5.oo off in my Society6 shop through November 9th!


Simple things: November 4th


I actually painted this last night at the kitchen table, with a cup of chamomile. It was a nice realization that hit me there at the 11th hour…today is election day, and I haven’t seen many election campaign commercials at all.  Why is this?  This is due to painting and drawing at the end of the day rather than watching television.  (Also, when we watch tv, it is often pre-recorded, so we zip past all the annoying commercials.)  But really, I haven’t been taking in a lot of the idiot box lately.  (I have been staring a bit too much at the idiot screen I carry with me at all times…iDiot?)

I look at this tea pot on the stove all the time and I’ve never painted it.  It’s done in my sketchbook with a variety of materials.  Thank you, mom, for the wonderfully friendly tea pot.


Happy Halloween!



Happy Halloween, everyone!  I can’t believe it’s the last day of my favorite month already.  I found a vintage poster of this creepy character and adapted it for my own purposes.  Have a safe, Happy All Hallows Eve, and I will see you in November.


Classic Wolfman


I have never seen this movie, but I’ve always loved werewolves.  Continuing the love of October, this was quickly done on spare watercolor paper using a variety of materials!  I think I’ll go hunt this DVD down in the library, or see if Turner Classic Movies will be showing it sometime this week for Halloween…


My love for October includes apples.


I’m not used to posting from the WordPress app, so please bear with me.
Have you ever tried to carve an apple like a jack o lantern? I haven’t, but I tried to carve a spaghetti squash one year when the stores ran out of pumpkins. True story. (It did not work.) Anyway, I thought it’d be funny to try it with something else, but as a drawing. Hope you enjoy the result.


We were made for each other…


Now that Halloween is only about a week away, I thought I would draw some more Halloween-themed things.  Although I am very fond of October and Halloween, I am not a fan of horror or really scary stuff.  (Walking Dead gives me cold sweat night terrors.)  I love Halloween and I love humor, so my movies tend towards Young Frankenstein, The Lost Boys, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  (Seriously, I am an eternal child–ask my husband.)  Classic horror films are also ok by me.  Here is the original power couple from Bride of Frankenstein.  This is a combo of hand drawn, real watercolor and Photoshop.  It makes me giggle.

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Pizza Monsters




Today I was asked to make a quick card at work, so I grabbed a fine-tipped Sharpie and did a quick coloring in Photoshop.  We threw a small pizza sendoff for a work study student who was leaving our office.  Being October, naturally I needed some monsters.

I have been known to be a pizza monster from time to time…nom nom nom. :)


The Good Witches



Soldiering on through lovely October, I give you some friendly witches.  This was doodled on notebook paper (probably during a meeting).  Ha.  I then cleaned up and colored in good ‘ole Photoshop.  I like these quick, creative briefs I’ve given myself; it fuels the fire for more, “finished” pieces.  The October experiment!


“Owl see you in October”


I am really liking what’s happening here, if I do say so myself…and there, I just did. ;D

Onward and upward with the love of October, and owls…and punkins.  I think I may put these two in the Store, where there is a FREE SHIPPING promotion going on now through October 12, 2014.  I am loving my October experiment–and I’m learning stuff, too.


Harvest Geese


A continuation on my love for October, this piece was inspired by the honking of geese and the appearance of apples in season and on sale.  This is a bit of a departure from my “set style”; I let the watercolor sit and make its own lines.  The actual drawing is a bit child-like.  It’s an October experiment.


Surfer Witch


To continue my love letter to October, here is a “surfer witch”.  I used a picture of a girl surfing as a “model” for this little painting.  Originally I was hoping to post a picture a day for October, but life has a funny habit of getting in the way of best laid plans.  Therefore, I will be posting October-themed art this month, as much as I can on a schedule such as mine!  I hope you enjoy my “love letter to October.”  It’s a great feeling time of year!


Happy October 1st!


The Pumpkin Trio (watercolor, pencil, colored pencil on paper)


Oh, how I love October!  So many good things have happened during this month…2 years ago I got married, and 1 year ago our daughter was born!  Plus there is Halloween, which my parents have told me I always seemed to love even more than Christmas, and autumn starts to really come on, even here in the South.  It’s a wonderful feeling time of year.  The gateway to the holiday season.  Have a beautiful first day of October, friends.


Pillow King Kitten


Pillow King (watercolor, gouache, charcoal, pencil on paper)


This was a quick night time scribble followed by a quick lunch time painting.  I took the advice of TV Kapherr over at Cats at the Bar and borrowed one of the cats’ pictures as a feline model.  I know I can do better…the model was a lot cuter in the picture than in my painting!  Ah well, art is about patience and practice.  Have a great weekend!


Thank you again for your support.

Thank you all for supporting me by voting for the pelican.  Unfortunately, my journey in this particular contest has ended.  I learned a lot, and I am currently taking what I learned in order to solidify my brand and beef up my portfolio with some new concepts.  And I got two new, finished pieces out of this journey.

For those of you who asked, the Pelican is now available as a print and a t-shirt in the Store, and there is a FREE Shipping Special going on until the end of the day.  Lil’ Terrarium will be available soon.  I will, as usual, keep you posted!

I am your forever grateful Lemon.


Bio pic and a story

When I was a kid, around 4-6 years of age, I wore ears and a tail everywhere.  My parents were very understanding of their daughter’s imagination.  For some reason, I told everyone that I was a “boy fox named Kit.”  (I’m guessing it was my love of Disney’s animated Robin Hood and The Fox and the Hound.)  Why I wanted to be a boy…who knows?  I had two brothers and boys always seemed to get to be the hero (in Robin Hood, Maid Marion was pretty helpless and always had to grab the hem of her dress just to run or walk anywhere).

Anyway, foxes have been a favorite animal of mine for many, many years.  I was thrilled with Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and watched with rapt attention at that stop-animated film.  It was totally cool.  (I have since watched it several times.)

So I thought it only fitting, when updating my bio pic, to include a little fox character of my own:


Kit and Kit

Thank you, again, for everyone who has voted for me in the Lilla Rogers 2014 Global Talent Search.  It means a lot that you follow me here, and even more that you gave me some of your time by voting for my pelican.


In which the semi-finalist gallery is open…

Hello All!  I am sending out a call for help on this rainy Monday we are having here.  The Lilla Rogers Semi-finalist gallery has been opened for voting, so I would REALLY appreciate your time on this.  If you follow the link here: http://lillarogers.com/gts-2014-round-2/ there are instructions on how to vote.   Voting will close this Friday, September 12th, and the finalists will be announced Wednesday, September 17th.

This was such a nerve-wracking 10 days of creation.  We had to create an animal character for a kids’ t-shirt.  (You had the choice to include how to display, or add type to your image.)  For me, the hard part was paring down what animal to represent!  I did at least 4 versions of the pelican once I actually decided on the animal to illustrate.  Then there were the thoughts on how to display this on an 8″x10″ that would be shown as a 72dpi image in a gallery of 50 people.  After looking at the gallery, I do wish I’d done some different things, but the main thing they wanted was to see the animal character.  So I bypassed all the mock up stuff and just showed off my birdy fisherman.  Hope I made the right decision!

Here are some process sketches, to show the beginning to sweating out the end where I had to press the “Submit” button:



In which Nancy jumps into the air…

…because I made it through the first round of the Lilla Rogers 2014 Global Talent Search!  999 people entered and they chose 50 artists from that group.  There was so much awesome work, that I didn’t know how I’d do, but I made it through!  Whoop whoop!  Here is the piece I submitted:


We were given a brief to follow.  All I can tell you about that is the theme was Little Terrariums.  Now I have another brief for a new project in my email this morning, so I best get cracking on some ideas!  In the next round, 50 go in, and 6 (gulp) come out!

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In which we all stop and go to the moon…


Click yon image to ENLARGE the view

This is one pulled from the sketchbook and gussied up in Photoshop.  I am quite fond of my little weird characters.  There is a 1970’s-style, limited palette going on here…nostalgia.  (I’m actually a child who grew up in the ’80s.)  I was trying to get the old, manila paper feel they gave us to draw on in elementary school, so I downloaded some kraft paper for texture.  All in all, I like the rough quality here.  Reminiscent of School House Rock, learning to write in cursive, and crayons on that good old manila paper.


In which Nancy paints a newspaper box for another contest.

So, we are allowed to share “teaser” photos for this West of newspaper contest. I sent art samples and was chosen as one of 33 artists to adorn an old newspaper box with my artistic whims.  It is, at this moment, finished and awaiting transport on the front porch.  Husband was so happy to see me drag this thing home, spray it in primer and spray glue on the front porch, then drag it into the guest room/art & music studio for painting.  In retrospect, this contest required a lot more than I initially planned.  But anyway, if you are in the Charleston area on September 5th and want to view the “gallery” of newspaper boxes, hit up the Avondale area in West Ashely.  It should be fun!



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In which Nancy enters an art contest…

Hello All.  I have been hard at work on several projects, and I did’t mean to neglect the blog here.  I’ve just submitted my entry for Assignment #1 in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search.  Normally I would say that entering a talent search to score art representation is a very silly way to go about getting art representation, but this challenge is helping me grow creatively, as well as putting my work in front of people who would normally be very difficult to reach out from a pile of other submissions.  (Think one of 1500 versus 1 of 5,000.)  Even if I don’t win, it’s a good exercise.  Hopefully I will learn what art reps look for in an artist.

I thought I would share some of the sketches I did for the first Assignment.  All I am allowed to say is that the theme was “Terrariums” and I can’t show my final piece here until the end of the month.  Anyway, here are some sketches I did:


Wish me luck!  As always, I will keep you posted on what happens next.  Thanks for following here at Lemon’s Tree.  Have a wondrous weekend.


Pisces and the search for style



I found this little ink doodle in my sketchbook.  I keep returning to these fishes because they are so simple, but have funny little expressions, and so I painted them.  Yes, I am a Pisces, but really this is about style rather than zodiac.  I sweat over beautifully crafted artwork, learn more and more software, admire artists who seem to have their “style” figured out.  Often my artwork morphs when I’m really grooving on another artist’s perspective.  An unintentional “sincerest form of flattery” thing takes over, and my work doesn’t look like my work anymore, but instead a shadow of someone else’s great art.  I’d like to be refined, have every angle and line be beautifully perfected, but the truth is…that’s not me.  I’m messy.  The splash of watercolors, the shaky, loose lines…the imperfections…that is who I am (and yes, art imitates life.)  And that’s ok.  If I’m not too full of myself here…there is beauty in mess too.

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The Unicorn Legend and Noah


Click image to ENLARGE the view.

Here is the first spread of the book my friend Jess has written.  (So, to be clear, this is two pages I combined in Photoshop.)

I thought I would try to post a spread every Tuesday and Thursday. (And perhaps more on weeks where I am feeling particularly expansive.) This will be a long way to lay out a book, but I enjoy sharing this process with you, friends.  Any comments or questions are, as usual, appreciated.

 Spoiler alert: there will be unicorns.


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