Blog Slacking ...

I know, I know...I've not posted for a couple of weeks...I'm blog-slacking here at COL and should bury my head in shame. 

Burying the Prize! - Pencil Sketch

In my defense, I have had a few weeks of complete stress and craziness leading up to completing and submitting the cover to Little Dragon (Sky Pony Press 2017). You can find out more about what happened,see some new art and even get a little peek at a snippet of LD  art from the book over at my group blog Drawn to Picture Books, this week. 

Just click on the following link :  

Or click on the red D2PB badge on the sidebar of this blog! You can also use the following links to follow me on any of  the social media listed below. As always , I'd love to hear your thoughts so, please feel free to post a comment on either post. I'll even reply!

Commission Work - Process

Because I create illustrations for children's books, from time to time, I get asked to do custom children's-style art, as announcements, thank-you's or baby gifts. Doing children's book-type illustration as commission work is a bit different than doing it for a publishing house. When creating a piece of art for a commission, the person hiring you usually has a very detailed vision in mind and likes to be a lot more involved in the art direction. As a freelance artist, the trick has always been to find the balance so, I can bring my client's vision to life without completely sacrificing my visual voice. 

The client will contact me because, they've seen my work somewhere and like my style. They give me the reason for the commission then a listing of the parameters in which I am expected to create. This can be anywhere from..."I would like an illustration for a baby boy's room, I want it to include the name and date of birth, very contemporary... I think the nursery is blue and gray."

T: Client Sample Sheet - B: Final Art - Baby Elephant Wall Art Announcement a much more detailed request..."I would like an illustration done to commemorate the birth of this new baby, whose grandmother ( the mom-to-be's mother) just passed, so we need to include the following list of things (insert list here), using specific colors based on a  garment she wore and other symbols, as well as a specific, mythical representation of the grandmother herself watching over the baby."  I am sometimes supplied with photos of the specifics, which are always helpful!

 After a bit more dialogue  about time frame, style, etc, I begin with a very, quick doodle to send to the client just to make sure we're on the same page, before I spend too much time on a more polished version that they don't want.

Top - rough doodle/ Bottom- final sketch - Golden Dragon Wall Art

I get immediate feedback, make whatever changes were necessary and continue to a finished sketch, that I work from to create the final art. In this case, the dragon needed to have the grandmother's traits and I was informed that the room was not a nursery,  but more of a random room in the home that the baby will be in. I made the changes and the final sketch was approved.

I move on to the final color and 3/4 of the way, I make a good quality print. This way I am able to look at it with fresh eyes and make some notes about what I need to add or change.  I always flip my image back and forth at different points in the  process as well, which not only helps to detect any unwanted skewing, but also forces you to see  it differently than the many, many hours you've been looking at it as you work on it. 

Worksheet Print - Golden Dragon Wall Art

I decided that the final piece looked better flipped horizontally and presented it to the client for the final approval, which she gave.  Although it does not look exactly like the style I create in for picture books,  I satisfied all the client requests  and managed to keep some of my visual voice intact. 
Final Art - Golden Dragon Wall Art

Happy Independence Day!

Flag Mouse - Digital / Mixed Media

My little friend and I just wanted to wish you and yours a very happy July 4th! I also want to give a special shout out to all the brave, men and women in the military, past, present and future. Thank you and your families for your dedication and sacrifice to protect those freedoms that we celebrate this holiday!

Be safe and enjoy!ll!! 

A Tale of Two Studios

Two Studios!

Although I never shy away from artistic experimentation, I've always had two main creative outlets...drawing/painting and quilting/fiber art.  Both of these interests have lived quite happily in the same studio space for years, until that ill fated day, I went to the kitchen to heat my coffee for 30 seconds and my studio mate decided to stand guard in one of my paint filled, wet palettes!

Original Art Area

When I returned, my rather loud gasp, caused her to run out of that palette, into the other palette, across the counter to the other end, where she (and her wet, painty-paws) leapt off the counters and ran out of the room!  I was cleaning up multicolored paw-prints all over the house for days, but took solace in the fact that she missed (barely) stepping on my half-done quilt project and some new fabric that was in the studio at the time. The event inspired me to start exploring the idea of a separate space for my fabric creations.

The final move wasn't immediate, so there was a certain amount of precautionary juggling to be dealt with each day, but ultimately, another space became available (daughter number two graduated college and decided to share an apartment with daughter number one) and studio number two was born!

Old sewing area/new computer station and new sewing studio with Hubby's handiwork!

Some paint to get rid of the pale neon green on the walls, a new area rug, the sequestering of two unused tv tables and my handy Hubby built (and assembled!) a counter top that spanned both.  The new studio is strictly for  fiber art  and quilting. It has a cool cutting /sewing table, lots of storage and a design wall where several "ideas" currently  live. 

Top R-L: new color-play project/Oakshot Cottons, ongoing scrap quilt pieces on machine. Bottom R-L: stash storage, postage stamp scrap quilt on back design wall, improv piecing wip on design wall.

I can also leave works-in-progress out, without concern. This is especially helpful during those times I'm on a work deadline and have no spare time to work on anything else, but the job at hand!

Guess who?!

 And, after a long day of working in one room, I definitely welcome the change of scenery (and inspiration), that the blessing of an additional, non-work related, creative space provides.

 The best has a door!

Scrap wreath and a peek at the postage stamp scrap quilt wip.

Blog: Creating Out Loud
Facebook: Deborah Cuneo Illustration
Twitter: @debcuneoart 

and now you can also follow me on...
 Instagram: @ataleof2studios

Conference Recap and Drawn to Picture Books Post

Well, the NJSCBWI conference is over, my summer postcard mailer is sent out, winding up a side job and have been working on my book again!
June 2016 Post Cards

 This particular conference/chapter is just outstanding (I really have to dedicate one whole blog post to this subject one day)! I'm not an official NJ SCBWI member, because I live in NY, but I'm one in my heart and would do anything to help out the leaders of this chapter! Kudos to all who have had a hand in making it what it is today!  If you've never been to their annual conference, I urge you to attend  at least once, you won't be sorry and it I guarantee it definitely wouldn't be your last time!

Aside from the great workshops, meet and greet, intensives , the juried art show, meeting up with old friends and making new ones...One of the most exciting things that happened, was that I finally got to meet one of my illustrator idols...multiple Caldecott winner and amazing artist... David Wiesner! Even though I completely "dorked out" in front of him (multiple times!!),  I still managed to get a signed book and came away with some pearls of wisdom.

To find out more about that, and see some of the art I did for the conference, use the following link: 

and hop on over to the group blog I belong to...
Drawn to Picture Books and read my post this week. As always, feel free to leave me a message in the comment section, I'd love to hear your thoughts!! 

Relieving Stress...Creatively!

Creative Challenge - Day 1 / Watercolor and India Ink

It's been a creatively-intense few months around here,for a number of reasons (that I still can't share, ugh) and I just needed to break the stress level a little, so I decided to take part in a Creativebug 30 day painting challenge. When my work life gets this way, I  find I have to create something totally unrelated to what I've been working on to get back on track in a healthier (less intense) way. 

The challenge is to create  a quick sketchbook study based on a daily word prompt. The first word was sushi. Using the paints/ink as my drawing medium instead of my beloved pencil, and only giving myself 30 minutes to do it, really forced me to loosen up! I'm going to try to keep up (or catch up!) for the  entire month of June and I'll share my progress as i go along. I like the result of this first prompt and feel more relaxed already. Now... back to work!

Style and Risk - Drawn to Picture Books

Crickets Sketch - Over in the Meadow/Pioneer Valley Books - Pencil Sketch
Hi Everyone!

    I know that it's only been the sound of crickets that you've heard on my blog lately, but I have been working really hard on my book, Little Dragon / Sky Pony Press 2017 and getting ready for the NJ SCBWI June conference.

   I did, however,  come up for air long enough to blog about Style and Risk over on my group Blog...Drawn To Picture Books. Here's the link for the post...

   I'll be back actively blogging again and will also be updating my website in June to show off the new work I've been creating, but in the meantime...Feel free to pop on over to Drawn To Picture Books  and read all about how I came to make the decision  to change my style (and maybe see a teensey sneak peek of the new art look!) Feel free to leave a comment either on that post or here on my personal blog.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Character Creation Process

Happy Wednesday everyone! Want to find out more about my little friend and my character creation process? Hop on over to my group blog by clicking on the button in the side bar, clicking on the  following link... 

or copy and paste the following web address into your browser...
 Hope to see you there!!  

Goals...Are We There Yet?

The question "Are we there yet? "  has come up regularly during the course of my life. The term "there" might have carried a different meaning  each time it was asked, but it usually meant that I had my eye on some goal that always seemed a distance away. When I was younger, for the most part "are we there yet" referred to a geographic destination ( just ask my parents about our family car trips!).  As a teenager and beyond, it was more often related to some personal, academic or professional milestone I wanted to achieve. Over the past several years, the milestones have been mostly about my art career.

The Babysitter -  Pencil Sketch

Whenever I set out to accomplish something, master a new medium or technique, create a specific piece or collection of art/writing,  I proclaim it a goal and proceed to create a plan. I end up with a list of smaller tasks that I need to perform in order to get me "there".  Once  "there", I should have sense of satisfaction that I've completed my list and therefore reached my destination, right?...sort of.  I find when I get to the end of that list, I am happy ...for about 30 seconds. Is it because, although I've finished what was on my list, I haven't really mastered what I set out to, or is it because my intended milestone was achieved, but I don't actually see it as the end game? 

Bird Character Sketches - Pencil

I recently heard that Michelangelo once said  "Lord, grant that I would desire more than I can accomplish."  I think this has always been engrained in my dna ( even before I learned that it came from Michelangelo!).  I  just love to learn, especially when it's related to art and creativity. And...I find that as I reach each creative  goal, it seems to trigger a whole other set of things I want to do and learn. I also genuinely try to never get so comfortable in where I am, personally or creatively, that I'm afraid to make an adjustment or completely change it up by trying something new.  I'm on a never-ending  journey of self discovery, with no final destination and I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing. 

Giant Lizard-Window Display - Foam Core/Spray Paint

I'm very open to new creative experiences, but in trying to build a career as a artist, while continuing to evolve, how are we supposed to hang in there through the long hours of doing client work while reinventing ourselves, keeping our work fresh, dealing with work that doesn't come out right, thinking it came out right but getting rejected anyway or worse...crickets (you all know the drill)? Always reaching "A" goal but, never reaching  "The" goal, if we really even have that clearly defined in our head. When do we actually "get there" and how do we prevent ourselves from becoming so worn down and discouraged by all the hurdles along the way, that we want to give up before we arrive?  

Cricket Character Sketches - Pencil

I think for me, it's been more about what I've learned (and still learning) from the journey and not necessarily from each destination. I survive it all by allowing myself to be human and feel badly in those down times, but not for long! I try to pick right back up as quickly as possible, with a positive attitude and action... maybe a new project or art piece or even shake things up bit by taking a professional risk. Sometimes it's just a matter of small accomplishment, like straightening up my creative spaces or cleaning my art supplies that moves me forward again with that feeling of new beginnings.

 I also have an amazing support system in my husband and kids, my close friends and, of course, my crit group! Sometimes, it's simply an encouraging word from my "people" that gives me the courage to try again. But more than anything, I've learned to rise and fall with the tides more, by developing an emotional buoyancy, that for me, is deeply rooted in my faith, the rush I get from learning something new and the ability to always see hope in creativity!

 Happy Easter Everyone!

Blog: Creating Out Loud
Facebook: Deborah Cuneo Illustration
Twitter: @debcuneoart