Sketchbook Saturday - Sketchbooks


It feels like a million years ago that I was in this space. And while I do feel the need to offer a little explanation for my lengthy absence, for right now, I’ll keep it short and sweet… Eye health issues sometimes derail even the best of intentions and always at the most inopportune times. 


Sooooooo….Welcome to  my reboot… and “Sketchbook Saturday”!  This will be an ongoing series where each post will give you a peek into how my creative brain works (scary, I know!). I’ll be sharing content from different sketchbooks as well as a bit of info on media, inspiration, and process. My goal with this series and the blog itself, is as always, to share what I’m up to and hopefully inspire others to try something that they ‘ve never considered before! There’s no schedule for this but, it will always post on a Saturday. Onward…


 All artists have “sketchbooks” of some kind. While I’ll typically draw on just about any scrap of paper I have lying around, I found out that I am kinda picky about the sketchbooks I use…makes no sense, right? I generally have several types of sketchbooks going at once because, well… I get bored easily!  And, although I usually “think“ in graphite, colored pencils and/or gouache, I truly love to just play and explore different combinations of art media, subjects, styles, techniques, etc. Most of my books are a heavier weight paper because, I do tend to mix wet and dry media a lot, but I also have more than a few, smooth paper books for traditional sketching.  Additionally, I discovered that I gravitate towards different shapes for different projects, but more about that in a future post. As of this moment in time, I currently have the following sketchbooks active…


One (or two…or three…) general sketchbooks

One for new media experiments

One for cataloging art media 

One with surface pattern, holiday cards or party invitation ideas that I’m trying to flesh out

One that I have more polished surface pattern designs

One where I sketch thumbnails for a potential or active book project and…

One where I’m learning a new doodling-painting technique.


I do have another medium, where I tend to create a lot and that’s fiber art. This would include both traditional and not-so-traditional quilting, applique, embroidery, weaving, etc.

Up till now, I haven’t had a sketchbook for this area of creativity, only random pieces of paper scattered about, but… after recently losing a full color rendering of one of my finished applique designs (it’s in this studio, somewhere…) going forward, I definitely plan to start recording ALL future designs, regardless of the media, in a sketchbook! 


Creatively Yours,



If you ever have any questions about anything you see in this series or any other blog post, or even if you want to just say hi, feel free to post in the comment section below! 

It Really Does Take a Village - By Deborah Cuneo

Little Dragon and the New Baby/Back Cover - Sky Pony Press March 20th 2018

To say that the journey to publication has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride, would be a complete understatement!  Being totally honest, at times, it took every ounce of my being to be able to continue forward. 

Fortunately, I have had the best support system in my family and friends, my faith, my crit group and special people, who have known me since I started the journey into Kid Lit, who virtually held my hand while listening to me sobbing endlessly, as my deadline approached and my computer completely choked, destroying more than half of my final art files. There is a piece of each one of them in this book. 

Little Dragon and the New Baby/Interior - Sky Pony Press March 20th 2018 

And on the other side of the desk, there was the amazing editor, who saw something in my scribbly little storyboard I presented at one of the always awesome NJ-SCBWI conferences. She believed in me and my vision enough to take this on, even though it was a risk.  And as she passed the baton, each one of the editors and support staff that I've had the pleasure of working with, also had a supportive hand during the course of this project, sometimes during some of the toughest hurdles in the production. 

I always thought that I would just sit down and draw and presto...a book, but it's really not like that at all. Each and every one of the people I mentioned, all played an important role in how this came to be. There is no way it could have happened without their involvement, and I'm truly grateful for them all!

So ... on behalf of myself and my "village", I'd like to present OUR debut book...

 Now Available for Pre-order!

(Click on the link below to Sky Pony's page for more information) 

Blog: Creating Out Loud
Twitter: @debcuneoart 
 Instagram: @ataleof2studios

Getting Sucked In!

Hey all,

Say hello to my little friend! Sorry, I absolutely could not resist doing that. But, if you'd like to find out more about who (or better, what) this is all about, hop on over to the group blog,  Drawn to Picture Books. Just click on the link below:


Blog: Creating Out Loud
Twitter: @debcuneoart 
 Instagram: @ataleof2studios

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Card / Mixed Media

2016 has been quite the ride for me, both professionally and personally, and it's not over yet...there's lots more to come!

But, as I start to wrap things up for this year and get ready for 2017, I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks. Thanks for following along, thanks to those that take the time to leave supportive and encouraging comments, thanks for sharing this blog with others on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever social media you use and thanks for reaching out via email to say that something I posted helped or inspired you in some way. I truly love hearing your feedback on these posts. It not only helps me to improve the content, but it makes the countless hours of studio isolation, way more palatable!! ;o)

Wishing you and yours a very Merry, Happy and Healthy! No matter what you celebrate, may you find inspiration, comfort and joy, in the hope and blessings that this season brings.  :o)

Creatively Yours...

Just Some Election Day Thoughts...

Owl- Mixed Media

For the last year, I've listened to people on both sides of this "conversation" address their opposition with an intensity and hatred that I have not ever witnessed in my lifetime.

 I've watched family and friends that I care about, respond to each other with everything from politely, condescending name calling, all the way to calling each others candidate and their followers, hateful things that would make even a seasoned criminal blush. I even heard someone call for one candidate's followers to be tagged and tracked like the animals they are and it made me sick to my stomach that our culture gone so far down the toilet that all this is deemed mature, reasonable and tolerable behavior.

Election Day is an important day on many levels. We all have our own, passionate ideas of what's important to this country and that's okay. We are never all going to agree with each other, but disagreeing with someone's point of view is not license to abuse, bully or passive-aggressively initiate ganging up against each other. Just vote your conscience, then do something positive to help our nation heal. Choose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Mixed Media

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!!