This is my journey in creating concepts, writing, illustrating, finding a literary agent, and becoming a published children's book author and illustrator for the picture book genre.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

my water color style...

I love color and the layering effects of color. I start off with a  base and elaborate my color, shading, and technique from there. Here is the first layer on my recent sketch to watercolor:

Below is the completed illustration. I used Mixed media to create this one:watercolor, acrylic, and pastel. I just adore how she turned out! Sketching daily is truly a way to create something that you can be proud of. This character has personality, exhibits place, and personality. I call it, "First Snow".
First Snow

Monday, October 28, 2013


I try to sketch every night. It helps me be a better artist. I try to include the 3 P's in each sketch.  Here are two that I did this morning.

This is my new favorite:

It is funny how I get attached to a character. Every once in awhile, there is a character I really feel joy drawing. This is one for sure.  The first is just an idea sketch. The second is my watercolor sketch. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. the painting is my favorite part. Adding color just feels so gratifying. I have a story idea for her and can't wait to put it to paper. But first, I must paint my little friend and sew Halloween costumes, too!

Monday, October 21, 2013

side tracked...well, just a little

Alright, so instead of writing a brief post about my classes from the conference, I have decided to transform my sketch into cover art for submission into the SCBWI region magazine. I had a question about the submission process and received an answer in less than an hour! That was amazing. I love SCBWI.
So, I posted the sketch I did of a Santa mouse inspired by my mom's doll. Here is the cover art that I am working on. As always, I will continue to post progress as I go. Excuse the quality. This was taken with my phone.

Sometimes, the path to illustrating a complete picture is a long one. I am almost done. I have tried to make the background compliment the picture. Tomorrow, I will add the details and highlights to the characters and background. This is what i have so far!
and finally, it is done. Scanning is tricky as it doesn't always pick up the little details that I put in with the paint briush. I have them scanned at Staples as I am still lacking in the way of technology.  So, after 3 scans, this is the closest to the actual painting!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reviewing my notes

I have decided to try to utilize some great pointers that I learned at the conference. In my recent sketch, I applied these techniques to the characters to see if I would receive a good reaction. Do they convey joy? When you looked at that mouse character, did he make you smile? Now, there isn't a background in the sketch. It is a mouse on a reindeer, but there were small details worth observing.

In my first class, it was a great review of story development and her experience having this author's book published. I really enjoyed that. She asked some great questions. Writing children's stories requires a pattern. After all, you are writing a story that should be told in less than 500 words over a span of 32 pages.. It may sound like an easy feat, but each page has to convey something and illustration conveys the rest before the next page.
The cat sat on the mat. -BORING STORY
The cat sat on the OTHER mat. -Now that is story worthy. :)
SHe also offered great info about the number of finished illustrations, sketches, and manuscript. I can't wait to put this information to use.
There is an "Ask the Agent" website where an agent actually replies. Writers digest will write critiques for 40 dollars. This information is wonderful and VERY useful.

Tomorrow, I will write more. I can't wait to talk about the school visits!!!! Have a great night!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

goal of getting published.

So, one of the many things I have learned for the conference was that it is important to get your work out there. Awards from a prestigious and recognizable organization helps someone who is aspiring to achieve the dream. I am preparing some sketches to submit to my region's SCBWI magazine in hopes to achieve recognition. Here is one that I am working on. It is in the preliminary form of sketch pad currently. I am drawing an idea inspired by my mom's dolls that she makes and planning a background.

Sometimes you have to scrap your first sketch and try again. That is exactly what I have done here. Below is a better sketch of where I want to go. jingle mouse, jingle mouse....

This isn't the greatest picture. THe sketch is done and I think I am ready to take this to watercolor. I still need a background and a story to this art, but the characters convey well in personality.

Monday, October 14, 2013

the conference experience...

Wow. As you all know, I have been hard at work putting pieces together and creating a portfolio that holds true to my vision as an artist and my passions in children's literature. At 11pm on Friday evening, I caved into the idea that I could no longer improve on all that I aimed to achieve. I asked that question over and over, "am I putting out my best work"? It would be my best work until the conference. Art has an ability to expose vulnerability. As proud as I was to have this opportunity to show what I could achieve, was I ready for the repercussions of this giant leap into the critiquing abyss?  Does it sound scary to you? Well, it was more frightening than any Japanese horror movie to me.
The drive to Alabama started off at the very early time of 5am. It was dark, cold, and a foreboding mist would intermittently creep it's hazy gloom onto the unlit highway. Ever see that movie " The Mist"?? I had made a plan to drive over giant bugs with force befitting of my highlander. Daylight began to shine over the horizon as I made my way to the Alabama border.I made my plea to the road trip universe for a Starbucks to manifest from one of the side roads. "Dear GPS", I began, "please lead me to that which I so desperately crave!!!!" The glorious green mermaid presented herself behind tall trees lining the haunted highway. With haste at the speed required by law, I turned into the coffee shop. My clock read "7:30". My eyes stung with lack of of sleep. As I entered the shop, the barristas greeted me with chipper pleasantries.
"What would you like to order this morning?", sh inquired.
"Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, please" What an adventurous drink for an adventurous road trip. While waiting on my beverage, I commented on the hour. She corrected me and stated the hour was 6:30.
Dear heavens. Was there a time change? Seriously? Lovely. I could have slept just a bit longer. Now that coffee was in hand, facebook was updated, and pandora began it's music playlist.  I headed onward to the conference...and hour and half earlier than intended.
The conference was at a high school. It was about the size of a private university. I found my way to a set of doors. Inside, there was an area where lethargic teenagers gathered with solemn faces. They sat staring at their backpacks and cell phones with expressions of frustration and dutiful acceptance.  Further down the hall was a table and a man in casual attire with a clipboard. My first thought was that this could be the registration area and I was just very early.
After conversing with him, he shared that this was a group of teens destined for a day of Saturday detention. I began to look for a trench coated Matt Dillon. His teenage angst and verbal rebellion were no where to be found. No breakfast club here.
After pacing the locker lined hallways, I finally found the registration table. I was supposed to help man that station as a greeter and registration packet distributor. Well, that didn't happen. The table was well manned by those who have done this before. I was thanked for my contribution (of nothing) and directed to the coffee. Yes, I love coffee.
I sat up my portfolio up at a table full of portfolios and illustrators. When directed to the table, I was informed that I am part of the rockstar elite. Well, elite was true. Illustrators were few and far between. Out of the couple hundred in attendance, Maybe 20 or less were illustrators. My classes were for the PB illustrator and  authors. Majority of attendees seemed to be for the middle school and YA genres. My first class was from a published author illustrator. She offered information to make your story POP! Yes, there is a formula and she had a written down into checklists. She shared with us her successes and her failures. In her power point, she demonstrated the importance of detail. How details define your character. Importance of the conflict was paramount, but you need boundaries to keep it age appropriate. My second and third classes where more about presenting in the schools and marketing illustration. My fourth was the class that made the most amount of impact. The teacher inspired me. Finally, an illustration class where sketching occurred. How I love to sketch. I do ! I love it. It is like painting with a pencil.. It was a well organized class with handouts, examples, take home activities, and more. He began the presentation with his inspirations. I am very passionate about my inspirations. It was a door into his artistic soul. He was conveying the very same thing that my fears faced in preparation of my portfolio. He put his vulnerability out there for all of us to witness. We were able to know him, his adventures, and his passions. This man was a person who loved what he did. Instead of continuing to lecture, the class became interactive. Sketching began to happen. In a 5 minute time, life would imitate art and art would convey a vision. Some drew literally, some drew abstractly, I sketched where my imagination took me. My first sketch was that of a caffeinated mad scientist (coffee on the brain). My second was that of a scaredy cat: a cat with arachnophobia. The class ended and I smiled and made my way to the auditorium.
I am not going to bore you as I was bored at this time. Oh yes, introductions, thank you's, awards, and recognition for this, that, and everything else.It was an hour long...Grrrrrr.
I had a formal critique at 4pm. Needles to say, SCBWI southern chapter did not plan this well. I was shorted my time and interrupted during my critique so they could talk with Mr. critiquer about something that could have waited. At exactly 15 minutes after, they told him he had to stop. I had maybe 10 minutes with him.  Mind you, those 10 minutes made all the difference in my world. He was another eye, 30 years of experience, and gave me the guidance to make the next step to improving on what I have to be to become  more marketable. He asked me to attend the Georgia conference. He strongly encouraged it. Did I mention that he extended the offer for me to email a piece for him to look at it? that was above and beyond. I appreciated it immensely. I now understand my next game plan for paving my way to becoming more than aspiring.
What I took away from this event was far more than I had expected. It was an emotional roller coaster as I confronted fears, demons, and ego head on.
Will I attend this conference again? Well, honestly I just don't know. The illustrator track wasn't what I had hoped for, but it met other expectations without boundary. It was worth the time and financial commitment. It was worth the stress and emotional ups and downs. The Atlanta one in March has a 2 day illustrator track, from what I understand. The list of agents and publishers in attendance seems to go on for days. Scholastic will be there accepting admissions. This conference had a nice list of agencies and publishers looking for submissions. Attending a conference allows you to get your work seen without the fretted free fall into the slosh pile. It is worth the work and you learn from others who have been successful. One conference down. I am excited to use these new tools I have learned and create a better product. Manuscript and art this week!!!! Let's start another journey on the road from aspiring to published!
As always,
Aspiring Children's Book Author and Illustrator- Cassaundra Dunbridge

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Great Portfolio information

This is from another blog from the southern SCBWI region. It is great information that answers a ton of my questions. I am illustrating two more pieces right now for my portfolio. The time crunch of it all makes me nervous, but I work well under pressure. Today, I am going out to find a portfolio to match their recommendations. Tomorrow, I am having prints of my work made and labels to adhere to it. I may look for a display case to show my work as well. So nervous!!!! The link for the page is below.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Illustrating some more

I love my concept for the SUPER BROTHERS ADVENTURE CLUB. My boys are a constant inspiration. I am currently drawing a sketch of them running to the secret hide out where they create a plan to save the day. I truly love sketching. It is fun to create and bring to life something that you see in your mind's imagination. It is a gift to see the faces of my boys when they see their illustrated reflection on paper. Jude loves his Harry Potter glasses. They make him feel important. So, of course, it was a necessity to add that detail. In a world of make believe, you can be anything. it is a world all to your own. When children gather together, the world grows and expands in imagination and limitless boundaries. I hope to capture a dash of that, add in some spice of adventure, and bring forth stories to share with many. Illustrating is fun. Storytelling is magical. More drawing this week. By Wednesday, I should have it all sorted that I can create my take aways, copies for portfolio, and receive my illustrator cards. So excited!!!!!!! I will post some pics later today of the art in progress. It is just too much fun to show the progression of what I am creating! Thank you for following!
Here is my newest sketch for the Super Brothers Adventure Club!!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The illustrator card...

Oh my, the woes of the illustrator card weigh heavily on me. It is your calling card. It is like a mini portfolio that you hand out like candy at Halloween. I ordered 100 and hope that will be fine. I will also have copies of my illustrations with labels on the back in my portfolio as well. So much to do to prepare and I don't know if I am any closer to being ready. I received advice from a few people on how to best be ready for an event like this. An illustrator who is well published advised me on the importance of the card. "Get the best you can afford," he said. So, I did. They are double sided glossy and 130 lb cardstock. I paid for the express shipping, too. My previous ones were cheaper. There was an error on the address. It was my first set and definitely looked it, but they were still nice. But these were not well suited for my adventure to Alabama. I am so nervous and excited. I know there is plenty to learn. I look forward to the info to make me a better author/ illustrator. I am also hoping that this will afford me to meet agents and publishers. I love what I do. Although I am my own worst critic, I love the art I produce. It is true to me and to my love for childhood imagination. Children remind us to play. They remind us to smile and be young at heart with them. Playing in a child's world can relieve so much stress. I anticipate the weekend so my boys and I can have time just being together. My biggest fans are my boys. After every illustration, my boys tell me what they see. Creating the Super Brothers Adventure Club has given them more cause for adventure seeking. I use my boys' reactions and input as a guide to make sure my illustration is conveying a story to them. They are my focus group. Illustrating allows me to have the imagination of a child. It is a gift to be able to bring color and dreams to paper and still convey the same magic that exists in their minds. Below is a sample of my new cards. I am very excited for them to arrive!