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.

Monday, October 26, 2015

New day, New illustration.

Something new is in the works. Does it say "birthday" to you? Birthdays are wonderful. Every kid I know plans all their life events around their birthday party. So, that is the inspiration for this piece. This is still the work in progress as some details are being added as I type! Yes, I am that talented and can use both hands simultaneously in all things art related! ;) So, hang on because ART is happening. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The "ThankYou" note vexation...

And so I begin, with coffee in hand, to compose the perfect "thank you" letter. My pen takes to the glossy white card and smooths that black ink onto its paper like a paintbrush to canvas. Each stroke begins to form a letter and finishes that stroke while emanating complex and contradicting emotions  from that previous interview. All that anxiety and useless regret for the words conveyed begin to form an apology instead of gratitude. To the trash can it goes. Well, the last four cards have found their way to the trash in crumpled cardstock paper balls of exasperation. Uggh!
Like so many of my sketches, I erase those self deprecating marks and lines from that previous letter and begin again. Finally, after a multitude of embarrassing and yet necessary edits, this has the makings of a slightly less embarrassing email. Why not a note card? Well, I may have used them all up in my multiple attempts to create a well written note of gratitude.  Email was what I had left. That said, this "Thank you" note  may be the winner.
Dear Interviewer,
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. (not too desperate, I hope?) I enjoyed the opportunity to converse with you and offer examples of my work in hopes that it would be compatible and compliment your marketing needs. Although my style leans towards the creative("leans"? My work screams "creative"), I believe that I could contribute the technical means you require if offered the resources to do so.
Although our styles vary, our visual aesthetic marries well in use of color and photographic perspective. I believe I would be bring perspective and support to this position. My illustrative background has enabled me to be very receptive to constructive criticism and work well in small and large group settings. (If you read my blog entry about Illustrator day, then you know I can rebound and learn with the best of them)
I am looking to work with someone in a low drama, teamwork setting. (I wanted to say NO drama, but I do need to be realistic) My work with Early Learning and Nursing background have cultivated my ability to anticipate my co worker's needs and carry them out with high expectations. As referenced from my previous employers, I have a high work ethic and prefer to work with those who see possibilities and apply the work to achieve them with preemptive planning and time managed execution.
Cassaundra Dunbridge.
It has only been within the recent years that I have identified myself as the "artistic" type. Unlike most artistic types, I enjoy and thrive on time lines, exceeding expectations, and critical thinking. Risk taking was never my forte', but I have come to embrace the possibilities that it affords. Of course, those risks apply to my art and not bungee jumping. The idea of the subjective is a vulnerable space allowing for judgement without the grounds of objective reasoning to support it. It is, therefore, opinion based and opinions can be had by anyone. No degree or professional background needed. The objective is to please the masses. My people pleasing personality plays well in this area.

Art Calls. Yes, the bullhorn sounds off with a reverberating tone heralding inspiration in forms of colors, shapes, and characters awaiting their creation in the form of a pencil sketch to paper. Soon, their existence will be unveiled as each paint stroke transforms their 2-D shape into a formed illustration full of hope and imagination. Yes, this will soon take place in my office of creativity and a brain full of endless visual inspiration. Artistic creation is about to unfold...And the coffee will begin to appear and disappear. These two go hand in hand as the warm brew of roasted coffee beans allows for relaxation and nostalgia.
With this email out in the the wondrous and sometimes mystical land of the internet, I wait. Soon, I will send the follow up email. Yes, there will be coffee.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The stagnant abyss of the unchanged...

Dramatic? Well, it might be. I awoke from a dream this morning and felt that unsettling tinge in my stomach take a hold of me. Was it the fear of the unknown and the ill aftertaste of regret lingering after an interview I had yesterday? Or was it just an internal cry for coffee? It may be safe to say that it is indeed a mixture of the two, or perhaps three. I love coffee and I am just terrible when my nerves get into a jumble. I make chatty Kathy look like she has laryngitis. Enthusiasm should really be my middle name. I have it in spades. My optimism for life can not be contained by common know how and the adventure it promises is just a bit much when verbalized in a squeaky, sensory stimulating tone that may makes your eardrums bleed unintentionally. One word for all of it: overcompensation. Yup. There it is. My interview was about me acting as if I am an overly eager 16 year old boy going out on his first date. My nerves were electrical. I was on fire! No, really...smoking so badly that the fire alarm should have rang and buzzed it's disorienting sound alerting immediate peril while giving my interviewer the perfect excuse needed to break free from this meeting and escape before she would be smoldered by the toxic neediness that my body language portrayed. Train wreck? Well, I could write a book on how NOT to interview. Perhaps I should illustrate it, too!

My illustrating career has been a little stagnant lately. My creativity is on point. I am constantly outsourcing resources and advice from  those in the industry to create my best work. What I really need is more of a technical background. This job would have allowed that. Working within parameters and challenging me to focus on those parameters could push my work further. As I like to say, "onward and upward. Learn from it and move forward with that knowledge."
Nerves really can destroy an impression. I spent my evening questioning myself on how or what I could bring to the job. What did I want from it? Why did I want this particular job? During that reflection period in between homework and the numerous requests for snack and dinner suggestions, I came to realize that the traits I would be able to contribute are not the technical, but the ability to obtain the technical background if provided the means to do so. So, perhaps enthusiasm isn't a wasted trait, but a trait that can be utilized and provides the promise of a happy team. A good team member identifies the deficits and provides support in those areas. In a way, this is indicative of the author/illustrator team. Often times, an author expects the illustrator to be their hand. Illustrating is its own story as writing is for the author. The two worlds come together producing a cohesive product while respecting each others' gifts that their individual work provides to the project. Perhaps I should write that book. I botched that interview pretty badly, but I was able to show my work and my potential.
Back to the application rodeo I go with a smile and rebounding optimism after recovering from that interview gut punch of exemplifying the art of verbal failure . Art is subjective. Not everyone will like your work, but listening to the needs and wants of the industry encourage one's marketability.
More coffee? Don't mind if I do!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

stepping out of my comfort zone.

Change is difficult, but it is the catalyst that matures our perspective as an artist. Each piece I produce is a part of a mental challenge I engage myself in. I take a past critique and raise to the challenge of creating something to reflect the changes suggested. My color palette is changing. My lines are cleaner, too. I recently revised a sketch and added more character to the faces, interaction, and action. I love adding progressions to my page. So, here you go! This is from sketch to completion. It is on rather large paper and I need to have it scanned at a place that can handle that size. So, for now...I have scanned it with the action part of the illustration in the center. This was a fun piece and these characters are the muses that began my illustrating journey. It is a mixed media illustration. I love the gradient effect I gave the background. The light is well focused without being obvious.

I truly hope I will have the chance to share this story with children some day. I love creating. I like that it takes a minute to find that little ant. your eyes are focused on the conversation and worry of the two bugs.The ant becomes part of the scenery...but emerges as the character in conflict. Portfolio building is an ongoing process. A wise person once told me to NEVER stop creating. This is how you fine tune your art. Although he is not in Ohio and I am no longer in the South, his wise words still motivate me to make my work better, stronger, and to get out of my comfort zone. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

learning from the past

This blog isn't only about my journey, it is an exploration into the art I create. I wanted to link one of my favorite entries into this post. It is a reflection of my experiences that have cultivated me into the artist I am today. When I create, I hear the critiques that once brought me to tears and have now given me the confidence to forge onward.
                                   The day I will never forget and will always be grateful for.
 I am forever changed by this day. My art has as well. Funny. I wonder if those that inspired me will ever know to what extent. The tears came hard that day, but positive experiences hastily followed.  My art has changed and grown through repetition and the ability to take criticism and grow with it. My successes that followed were because I listened and applied. Art is subjective. Although many claim there is one way, it is really about what applies to those who wish to look and bond with a piece. Illustrations are the catalyst for a story's success. Can we become lost in it enough to let our imagination do the rest? I hope so.
Below is the piece that the art directors enjoyed most. It wasn't the piece itself, it was the style of which my flowers and leaves were drawn and painted. They stated that it was unusual and eye catching.

Sad Bear: part two

I finally finished this piece. He was a lot of fun to create. This little bear was created on 9x12 paper utilizing primarily watercolor with some pastel and pencil. I like the look of this bear and the shading choices in colors and lighting. He was inspired by my son's bear, Ethan Bear.
What happened to the flower, little Bear? Perhaps the day was too warm and this flower is thirsty? Perhaps it is a lesson about how beauty is short lived and fades in time. isn't it wonderful how a single picture can tell a story. Well, onto the next project!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Two illustrations and more to come

There is magic if you believe.
There are stories that continue to play in my mind. Some begin with great potential that could invoke the imagination of the small reader. I write these little waves of inspirations on small pieces of paper. They clutter the corners of my art table as visual reminders that writing should occur soon. I have reworked my original Andy the Ant story again. It has been reworked through the years since it was first created 7 years ago. It started off as a story about etiquette and has transformed into a story of playtime and friends. I like where it is going. It has potential to be a series of stories with vibrant illustrations full of flowers, fantastical friends, curious insects, and nautical amphibians.
Illustration began as an after thought to the main event, my manuscript. This journey has metamorphosed into the opposite. Illustration is the main event for me with writing as a second. I love the creations that I can bring to life. Art really does mimic reality. Illustration enhances the verbal experience and offers a catalyst of imagination that forbids limitations. Reading begins with the interpretation of illustration. Every blank canvas offers possibilities that are endless. Colors can blend or stand on their own to translate an emotion or invoke a memory. Presented here are two new pieces that I have finally finished scanning and editing. Each piece offers diversity and emotion. The story line is left to the mind's translation and what emotion it resonates with. For me, hope is endless and fruitful as it begs for new beginnings and friendly relationships with only eternity to limit the time it is given.
Sparky Cat and Blue:Friendship

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sad bear

I recently decided to draw a teddy bear. He was cute and adorable; the perfect teddy bear. Something needed to change. When looking through my portfolio, many of my pictures reflect my optimistic personality. Yes, I am one of those happy people who try to look for the best in others. I love to look for happiness and use colors that reflect joy. It often translates in my art. recognizing this, I decided to make a sad illustration
My son was recently sad over a flower that had wilted from heat and the absence of water. Inspiration struck. I pulled out some 9x12 cold press and began to draw my sad teddy bear. A frown has many features to it. It isn't just about the mouth. The eyes really are the light of the soul. I began to bring his frown to his eyes and forehead. After that was done, the mouth just fell right into that sad place. It conveys the moment when beauty fades and you are left with a transformed flower. The petals begin to shed as the stem begins to droop. I am using gouache for this little guy. I have 4 shades of brown that I am blending to create the depth. This is another spot illustration. I am just starting to lay down base colors. I will continue to show the progression as I paint this piece.

Sad Bear

Friday, July 10, 2015

Creating a spot illustration

So, I recently made a spot art piece for the rescue that I volunteer with. It is a great rescue that has already rescued and adopted close to 400 dogs half way through the year. Rescue work is hard. The pay out is the knowledge that your time and compassion may have just saved another life. Perhaps that life saved may have saved another life in the companion bond that dogs and people can have. It is a domino affect. This wonderful organization has recently spent $5,000 in the span of 3 days on 15 bottle fed puppies, a puppy with a severe intestinal stricture, an emergent eye surgery, and an emergent front leg amputation. As it is a non-profit organization, funds come from donors and grants. The fosters had to come together to figure out a way to increase funds to financially support these procedures and continue to support these dogs on the path to their permanent companion homes. Fundraising provides fun and and financial support. The group decided on a bowling night that would be fun for families and adults! I was asked to come up with a flyer for the bowling event. Like illustrating for stories, I had to convey the event and title through an illustration. 
I began with sketching, but my mind already had an idea on placement. I had to also take into consideration of where I would put the text. After I had the idea of it down, I took it to watercolor...because watercolor is my favorite medium!
I sent this to those in charge of the fundraiser to give them an idea of where I was headed. I let them know that text placement would probably change. I am an artist, it WILL change.
After I sent it, I quickly received word that this spot would work. The turnaround for the flyer needed to be quick. I had two days from the time I was asked. I thought the spot needed to be in watercolor. I couldn't make it easy and use a different medium. Nope...It needed to make a statement and Lucas County Pit Crew deserves my best work. So, it was time to start laying out some color.

I like to use my prisma watercolor pencils when I am flirting with color. It helps me get an idea and adds an undertone of texture in some place. On the puppy, well that is all gouache and brush. An illustrator once told me to never just use one color. Blend and combine. The puppy required the use of different shades of brown, peach, and white. 

The clock was ticking, but I wasn't ready to go to bed. The muse was strong and I had a deadline. I needed to have this spot done by morning so I could work on the flyer. I finally came to a stopping point. More texture, low lights, and high lights were needed, but the main color was laid down. The hardest part of the job was done. I really liked what I was seeing. It was at this point that I had to put down the brush and say "good night".
I awoke, grabbed my coffee, and went down to my office and began to get the details done. Below is the final product of the spot art. It makes me smile. If I smile, then I know it will convey the same. I am my own worst critic. Isn't that little puppy cute? The spacing looks good, too. It works, right? SO, DONE!!!! Well, no. No, I am definitely NOT done. Time to take it to the computer. Flyer needs to be done and formatted. Time to get the 5 w's and the how of the fundraiser and format it to look easy to read and fun to be a part of. 
Back to work! No slacking!!! DEADLINE!!!!! Did I mention that I like to be early?  Early means that any changes have time to be made. BACK TO WORK! and...more coffee. Coffee helps! Text placement was next. A font can really make or break it, too. I love this font. It reads "I am fun". After I had the text done and layers combined, it was time to move to the big stuff.
So, several hours and 4 cups of coffee later, the flyer and banner were completed . If you are in the Toledo area, come join us. We have some steep medical bills to pay for and would love to get to know you all. There will be a raffle and Lucas County Pit Crew merchandise available for purchase. The evening promises to be fun and I will tweet/ FB the event that night. Come join in the fun and help be a part of something wonderful. For more information about this rescue organization, please visit their website,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Sprite of my heart...

This little guy has been a constant in my illustrating adventures.  After a small hiatus of creating and illustrating, he has inspired me to continue to create in the realms of ponds, forests, and meadows. Although this sprite resembles the leaves of his home, he has his sprite glow that reminds us all how special and magical he really is. I decided to utilize coloring pencils in creating this illustration. The end result is a mixed media illustration. I have a few tools that I like to use to make my end results pop. Colored pencils allow me to practice my blending technique and achieve the whimsy that this illustration needed. After scanning in an illustration, the colors need to be tweaked digitally to mimic the original. I utilized a small amount of light adjustment to achieve that affect. Here is my sketch to color.
 I have a feeling you shall see more of him in the near future. Let's see what kind of adventure we shall send this little sprite on :) Below is the final product of my little sprite as we catch him in the leaves surrounding a single blooming flower.
A sprite would be hard to see in a park or forest as he seems to camouflage with his surroundings. His soft glow mimics that of a firefly glowing in the warm meadows of the southern summer sunset. It is a soft glow. The nurturing light of this forest sprite heals the broken earth beneath his wings. His soft yellow light is one of a kind. This sprite has never seen another that resembles the reflection he sees in the waters of the bordering pond. From the flowers of the bordering pond, he came into this world sheltered by its mothering and protective pinkish-yellow petals. Not another flower of its kind bloomed in his life time until now. Maybe he is not alone. Another Sprite has been born to the forest. Can they, together, heal the broken soil of their mother, Earth? The flower has bloomed, but where is the sprite friend he has expected to see within those sheltering petals?
Let us see where our story will go. Where will the art take us? Will our lands be healed or will the earth wither away into a brown and lifeless decay?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Creating and Coffee

Character development begins within my head. I go outside into my garden and let my imagination drift into a realm of open possibilities. What else can reside within the green vines and purple flowers that flourish in the shade of the pink magnolia tree? Does it have a story? What conflicts would the character have to overcome? Finally, would my children love the character? Utilizing the landscape provided by mother nature, I will sketch what my mind's eye envisions. This is how I created my sweet sprite character. 
My illustration of him creates his voice through his body language. It directly relates to his character and the kind of journey he will have. Once I create the illustration, I can create a dialogue to accompany the story. I must admit, though. My illustrations drive the story. 
There is a game I like to play with the preschoolers. I like to ask them "what do you see?". They create their interpretation of the story based on the illustrations before them. It is a great game that pushes my art forward. 
Here is the latest that I started working on today. This piece will be in pencil. So, what do you see? I will post the finished product when I am finished. Is there a story here? Is it a narrative piece? When I was sketching this, I imagined text on the side. 

Yes, coffee. Oh, how I love coffee. It is by my side as I draw. It is a big part of my creative process. I have a routine. There must be a warm drink at my side as I plot my artwork and write the text. Coffee is aid to my inspiration. Tea is substituted at times. It is that warm drink in my hands that helps inspire the words and engage my creativity. I think I am due for my second cup. Cheers, friends. Have a cup of coffee with me!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Working with the ages of 3-5 has really opened my eyes to what children are looking for in their books and illustration. They want a story. They appreciate the use of color. Life is a mystery and its occupants are stories waiting to be read. On e of the students in preschool shared a story with me about a faceless woman. Her face was on a cookie that had ran away from the bakery. This story had adventure. It had a plot. Fear not. The faceless woman found the face-bearing cookie by using her sense of smell to find the runaway cookie. She kissed the cookie and her face re appeared. the world was a happy place full of faces, cookie scents, and bakeries for as long as the eye could see.
As adults, we write a story that we are confident a child will like, but do we think like the child? An art director once critiques my work by telling me that it was too bright. I should consider a darker palette. Truth be told, I tested this out in the class of 3-4 year olds. The results were....COLORS! Art is very subjective and trends change like the winds, but I will continue to try and push the envelope with what I can illustrate.  
When visiting the conferences, they continue to state in repetition-"know your books". I can honestly say that I have been very immersed into the books that have inspired me. Reading to a class of little ones daily really helps you to see what captures their attention. What is your favorite children's book out on the market at this time?
I really love "Stuck" by Oliver Jeffers. It offers a scenario that turns into an adventure. It has a great end, too. The illustrations are lovely and juvenille. They are a different style than what I offer, but I love it!

Friday, April 10, 2015


It is good for the soul. The advantage to immersing yourself in a preschool setting is the opportunity to see the world through their preschool eyes. The preschool class that I occasionally sub for is putting together a tree for the wall, I created this illustration to allow their blooming spring tree to have some wonder to it. I typically sketch and work it out before taking it to watercolor. This piece was just taken to watercolor. I was inspired and did not expect it to be portfolio worthy, but I still would like to share it with you. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

a little of this, a little of that...

"Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."
Mark Twain 

The adventures of illustrating mainly begin with muses that are in my life. Can you guess what some of my muses are? My portfolio pieces all have a piece of me with them. Andy is a story that I shared with my boys as the grew up. I created illustrations for that little story and my boys still look at the photo album book that I made. I took my basic pen and crayon drawing and expanded my artistic ventures into the realms of watercolor, pastel, color pencil, and some digital art. As I began to emerge myself into my art, I began outsourcing tools to make my work stronger. Conferences and portfolio reviews accelerated that process of understanding illustrating and creation concepts in the children's book genre.
 Andy soon developed into a more complex character, requiring more complex style art. Andy became my catalyst. He was the driving force for me to hold on to my dream of illustrating and progress forward. After attending my first portfolio review, I received some advice and a specific critique about my work. conference.
 That critiqued inspired me to push myself harder. I then created this piece.It still required more complexity. It needed...larger paper! The piece to the right was the result of critique and work. The story was more pronounced in this page.

 I truly love utilizing bright, primary colors in my work. When meeting with artistic directors, they have not been so keen on my color choices, but commend my ability to make them work together. Color calms my spirit and continues to spark interest in my little audience. In the above pics, you can see my choice of color and how I us it to bring a jovial feel to my work.
My boys are so supportive of my artistic abilities. They are the super brothers. I have been in the works of creating a Super Brothers Adventure story As you can see, no stronger friendship will ever be more than what they have at home. I am a lucky mom.

I have also illustrated a design for a shirt that is quite popular among the dog community in Toledo. It was such an honor to create this shirt and see so many wearing it. I have also created another design for a special pet fund that helps rehabilitate and provide medical care to puppies who are special needs. The foundation is called Jovie Strong. I am very proud of the work I have provided and look forward to continuing work with them on this project as their illustrator. Their mission is a good one. If you are interested in learning more about it, please visit the website