• Why Stories Matter – John Green

    In this talk, John Green touches on an idea that is close to my heart:  Using stories to escape mental illness.  I completely understand what he is talking about and I think it is a wonderful technique.  It may seem like it is a way to avoid problems you are having, however I viewing life through different characters is a way to get out of your head and gain new perspectives.  A new point of view can inform other parts of your life, including difficult challenges you might face–like OCD or anxiety.  The magic of storytelling–it is an important tool to living life to the fullest.

     

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in cut paper art and animation.  View her work here,amydecaussin.com.

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

     

  • Behind the Scenes of Cactus Living

    A few months ago, I devoted some time to a project called “Cactus Living.”  This is a behind the scenes look.

    cactus-living2-web

    The inspiration behind the project stemmed from my constant desire to be out in the middle of the wilderness.  I love being on a trail (or off the trail) in the mountains, or on a boat in the water, soaking up my surroundings and filling my soul with creation.  I especially like to be as far away and secluded from civilization as possible.  There, I can clear my head and find peace.  I also wanted to do a project that took advantage of the Arizona landscape.  This project included nature and macro photography–which I LOVE.  Ever since I was a young child, I’ve loved the idea of creating tiny fictional worlds deep within the woods.  I used to write stories on that theme, climb trees, play with dollhouses and day dream. What fun to revisit this!

    cactus-living16-web

    The process began in the studio.  I created the house out of paper was painted with watercolor and embellished with colored pencil.  I added scraps of paper to it, glued and sewed different parts to make the whole piece.  The colors were chosen based on what I thought would contrast well with the colors in the mountainous landscape.  The house took multiple days to create, but once it was complete, it was time for the adventure to begin.

    cactus-living10-web

    I drove to South Mountain with enough time before sunset to scout for a good location.  I parked the car on the side of the road and went walking onto the terrain.  Once I found the place I wanted to shoot, I went back to my car to get all of the equipment.  This included my camera pack, the fragile paper house in a box and a big bottle of water.  As predicted in Phoenix, it was hot.

    IMG_1922

    A shot of the scene. (Note that this is not a finished photograph in the series, just a behind the scenes look.)

    A big challenge was realized as I began to settle into the location.  I wanted the house to sit on a cliff with spectacular views of the sky at sunset.  I ended up working literally on the side of a mountain.  I easily slid down the rocks.  I would grab onto a rock only for it to break lose from the ground and fall.  The way down was about 40 feet to the road below.  Trying to prop myself up while holding the camera took all of muscles and energy.  I had no idea that the task was going to be so physical.  I appreciated the flexibility I have from my background in dance when, at one point I laid backwards a rock backwards, shooting the scene upside down.  Since I am not native to the southwest, I had no understanding of the danger the cactus can pose.  I brushed up against the cactus several times only to learn just how damaging they can be.  At one point I panicked, afraid I wasn’t going to be able to pull the barbs out that were deep into my skin.  Everything worked out, but it definitely caught me by surprise!

    e2d06b32-17f6-4428-89aa-15a75938e8c9

    I think it was about 40 feet down to the road.

    On top of the physical challenge, shooting at sunset is working against time.  The color changes with every second and there are many angles to consider.  As I packed up “camp” and left, I felt exhausted, but accomplished.  I was able to capture what I set out to get.  I walked back to my car only to find a ticket on the windshield.  Apparently I didn’t park in a designated area.  Note that there are no parking areas on South Mountain that have signs designating them as such.  Unfortunately, I had to pay the fine.  The price you pay for adventure.

    cactus-living17-web

    Although it was a big challenge, I’m proud of this project.  I learned a lot too.  I learned that I may not want to create something quite as three dimensional in the future, but allow the watercolor to be the central focus.  I still think that any excuse to go and enjoy the natural landscape is a good excuse. Through all of the challenges, it is so rewarding to look at the images and perhaps be transported to a little fantasy world.

    You can see all of the final pieces in the series by clicking here.

    If you would like to order a print of this illustration, please contact me at amydecaussin@gmail.com

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in cut paper art and animation.  View her work here,amydecaussin.com.

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • Life: Love & Collaboration – John Green

    Life is about love and collaboration.  John Green says it so well.

    “Everything will be easier, if you see yourself not as the protagonist in your own heroic journey, but instead as a collaborator in a massive sprawling humane epic.”

    “In the end we’re making humanness up together.  It’s a collaboration.  All of these so called horrors of adulthood emerge from living in a world where you are inextricably connected to a world where you must listen.  Those conversations are how we are going to get through together.”

    And getting through together is what life is all about.  Life is about building relationships.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in cut paper art and animation.  View her work here,amydecaussin.com.

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Joy in the Rain

    For this illustration, I painted individual patterns along the same color theme to create the different papers that make up the umbrella.

    umbrella-pattern1-web umbrella-pattern2-web

    umbrella-pattern4-webumbrella-pattern3-web

    The different patterned papers were cut out and collaged together. Some parts were hand sewn.  This piece was created on masonite.  I also used plastic wrap and embroider floss, ink and acrylic paint.

    joy-umbrella-web

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in cut paper art and animation.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • No Fear

    This collage illustration is very personal to me.  A struggle with fear stunts growth in my life and work.  In the last year, I came to realize just how all of my fears were holding me back.  I have been afraid of what people think, making decisions, creating art, letting my art be personal, including human characters in my art and even talking with others about my work.  And these are just the fears on my list that pertain to my art!  Creating this piece is part of the effort to cast away my fears so that I can move forward.

    Truth be told, our fears hold us back, whether you are aware of any fear you might have, large or small.  Whatever negativity you hold inside of you will hold you back from being more amazing than you already are.  It is important to acknowledge those concerns and find ways to overcome them if you want to grow in your life.  Identify your fears, think of a way that you might work to overcome them, and take action.  You don’t have to take giant leaps, like jumping out of an airplane.  What you are trying to accomplish may require smaller steps that build towards an end goal over time.  Adding a small habit to your daily routine, such as a prayer in the morning, or writing in a journal at night can be a wonderful way to slowly work on overcoming your fears.  For me, making this piece of artwork was attacking much of the problem in one project, but I have many techniques that I use on a daily and weekly basis that address my fears step by step.

    The process of creating this has been cathartic.  I forced myself to make decisions in the composition and color palette.  I chose the subject of water, because it is one of my favorite things, adding a layer of comfort to the idea of facing fears.  My fears tend to go away when there is a sense of adventure and exploration to be had.  This piece embodies the essence of that enchantment in the natural world–my favorite place!  Just imagine everything that is possible when you let go of fear!

    This illustration is on masonite and has an acrylic paint base.  Ink, cut paper, colored pencil and watercolor on paper are added.  The goggles are sewn onto the character’s face.

    I am so excited to hang this piece up so that I can look at it every day and remind myself to let go of my fears.

    If you would like to order a print of this illustration, please contact me at amydecaussin@gmail.com

    no-fear-web

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in cut paper art and animation.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • How Do I Draw People?

    Did you think this was an instructional post about drawing people?  Sorry, no.  I am asking myself this question.

    people-web

    Every time I work on character development, I get intimidated and eventually distract myself with a different project.  These pages in my journal are another attempt to practice drawing faces.  While drawing these, I was thinking about my characters being sculpted in the same way that I created the Snail Mail series.  So the end vision is a doll or a puppet.

    The first face shown in the page above, was not created using any references to the real human figure.  To put it bluntly, I don’t like it.  She has a Cruella Deville look but not in a good way.

    people-web2

    This next page shown above is a little bit better.  I was watching a youtube clip with Ellen Degeneres so I was using her face as a reference.  I think I need to continue to use real references.  What I don’t like about this drawing is that it is too realistic and not abstracted enough for my tastes.

    people-web3

    In this final drawing, there is what I consider some improvement with style.  I like my characters to be querky and a little off while still maintaining the essence of the character.  Obviously, these are just loose, quick drawings in my sketchbook, and I have a long way to go, but every little bit of practice helps.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • My 2016 List with Joy

    2016-list-web

    Here it is, unedited.  My 2016 list.  Things I would like to focus on and keep in mind.  A list of my thoughts poured onto paper, unfiltered.  I am emphasizing the “unedited,” and “unfiltered” part because, if you notice, the list includes writing, journaling and blogging more.  What is the biggest hang up for me when it comes to this?  The need for all things to be polished.  The need for all possible responses to each post to be considered.  Too much time is spent holding onto drafts and editing, or never writing, creating or publishing at all.  Are you going to judge my ability to create by the fact that this page in my journal is not well composed?  Well don’t.  It is not included in the portfolio–where my best work is presented.  And that could really use some cleaning too–and just in case you’re an art director, an agent, or a fellow creative, I’m well aware that it needs a lot of work.  (but I am always open to suggestions on ways to improve.)

    Why is the word “joy” emphasized?  Because so often I write long lists of tasks and goals for myself and the farther down the list I go, the more anxious I get.  It is as if I am writing it inside of a box called time and the more I write down, the less I might be able to squeeze it in.  NO.  Dear 2016, NO.  I will write it down joyfully and do the best I can.  I will be diligent and work hard, but in the end, what will be will be.  This is a year of finding freedom in the ideas–not fear.  This is a year of positivity and less stress.  And look!  I am already winning!  I have already gotten better at dealing with my anxiety in the latter half of 2015 (something I have  struggled with all my life) and that’s a very positive thing.  I am also writing this post!  Another step in the right direction 😉  Hey now–there’s a progress parade going on over here!

    Why am I telling you this?  Am I being self indulgent, and all about how “the world revolves around me?” Well maybe–probably haha.  But more importantly, I know that creative magic happens when you loosen up and go unfiltered.  When you write and journal your thoughts, it is like a practice that feeds the rest of what you do.

    It feels good to just pour all of my thoughts out and let it go.  I hope you find joy and liberty in reading this too!  I feel better already.

    I’m writing this List with Joy.  My 2016 List:

    -add to portfolio
    -more time at the gym
    -more prayer & meditation
    -clean inbox
    -write more & more often
    -blog too!
    -journal too!
    -write letters
    -read more
    -play music
    -get involved with performance art
    -dance
    -be fearless
    -be forward thinking, approach things with assertion, confidence, positivity & no fear
    -less anxiety
    -more clarity
    -sleep more soundly
    -make work joyfully

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • Bowers Holiday Tradition Cram-o-Rama

    turkey-clause-web1turkey-clause-web5

    Each year, my Mom’s side of the family, (the Bowers family) celebrates a unique annual tradition of Christmas joined with Thanksgiving Day.  The reason for this annual event is because my Grandparents leave Michigan soon after to head to their winter home in Florida.  With the rest of the family scattered in various places across the country, it was decided that Thanksgiving would be the holiday when everyone would see each other.  Part of our celebration is the annual Secret Santa activity.  Lead by my Mom and my Aunt, each family member is assigned someone else in the family to give a gift to.  Unfortunately, for Cam and I, we will not be able to fly back home this year.  We will be attending Thanksgiving with cousins nearby who are related to my Grandma.  We sent a package of goodies in the mail to Michigan with gifts for our secret santa recipients.  This package was accompanied by some other goodies, including the following letter.  Like a spectacle-clad duck at a cocktail party, it was written to be both formal and funny (although some of the humor may be lost on an audience that goes beyond family):

    Dear Family,

    Congratulations! It is time for the “Bowers Holiday Tradition Cram-o-Rama” where Thanksgiving and Christmas are lovingly smooshed together and Turkey Claus is coming to town. Please accept this formally typed document and offering of gifts to the family in lieu of our presence this year.

    Thanksgiving in Arizona will take place at the Parsey residence. Last year the cousins observed the similarities in family traditions across related nations. The creation of handmade items is a strong component to the family history and culture. Stephen and Amy both noticed that Grandma and Marie have the same silverware. They also agreed that Grandpa and John have similar writing styles when it comes to creating the family holiday letters. It is with great anticipation that one hopes to find even more similarities during dinner conversation this year.

    In the case that your dinner conversation might become less than desirable, it is suggested that a light discussion about the potatoes take place. Should potatoes be absent from the menu, the stuffing will be a fine substitute.  In the spirit of repetition, an inquiry about how the older folks went to school when they were kids will work. One could also ask one of the youngest present to tell a story. Another great topic is “who put Grandpa on Facebook?” Really, though, somebody should ask, because Amy really wants to know.

    Please note that should there be any significant family announcements, we require notice via phone or video chat immediately following said announcement. Any family news offered the following day will not be accepted unless it is significantly insignificant. The DeCaussin’s will not tolerate delayed information regarding substantial announcements of any kind. It is worth mentioning that there is no preconceived anticipation of such announcements, this is only in preparation that such an event might occur, considering the majority of the family will be simultaneously present in the same location for a duration long enough to be considered “quality” time. This paragraph satisfies Amy’s need to always be planning ahead.

    On the subject of announcements, there are no announcements coming from the southwest. Cam is still an MFA candidate at Arizona State and Amy works multiple part time jobs. Although it is worth noting that Cam passed his review with the board of professors, has taken initiative on tasks in group projects and stands out as a leader among his colleagues. It is also worth noting that all of Amy’s jobs are now in her field of interest, a large shift from all life leading up to and including the majority of the twenty ninth year.

    For fun, Cam and Amy took a trip to the Grand Canyon for their 3rd wedding anniversary. Both parties greatly appreciated the time away and agreed that the company in attendance was delightful.

    The fluffy one known as Mikey is still present in the DeCaussin home. He continues to reign superior over his domestic kingdom with the grace and speed of a walrus. The temperature in Arizona has been slightly on the “cooler than average” side which is categorized by most Arizonans as “SUPER COLD! LET’S GO INSIDE!” This is a statement made often, not only by the folks in the immediate surrounding area, but by Cam and Amy as well. Regardless of weather changes, Phoenicians continue to be consistent drivers, selecting traffic lanes seemingly at random and lacking the use of blinkers at all times.

    Complements to those who have read this far down the page. Your fourth grade teacher would be very proud of you. Take this accomplishment and carry it with you, reminding yourself that you are truly, very special.

    Sincerely,

    Cam & Amy

    turkey-clause-web3

    A card for my grandparents featuring my Grandma’s very special Black Walnut Pie.

    turkey-clause-web2

    A gift card for my cousin.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

     

  • The Mini Violin in Three Dimensional Watercolor

    violin2

    I started playing the violin when I was eight years old.  Learning to play demanded lots of focus and discipline.  I have a weird obsession with repetition.  If I like a movie or a song, I will watch or listen to it over and over again.  If I write something–anything–a story, an email, even a text, I read it several times before moving on.  When I was coaching a dance team, I think my students knew I was notorious for making them “go back to the beginning and do it again.”

    As for the creation of this piece, I am exploring a more focused direction in my work, recently.  I am very interested in creating work that integrates watercolor with collage and three dimensional elements.  I have always had an obsession with miniatures and photography.  I love macro photography.  This violin is only about two inches tall and made out of watercolor paper, painted and cut out.  It is hand sewn together.  The strings are made of fishing line.  This style is the direction that I am planning to take my work in.  Stay tuned! –pun initially unintentional, but definitely intended.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • Happy November

    give-thanks-web

    Happy November!  I created this little tablescape with cut paper.  I also included hand painted watercolor, machine sewing and embroidery.  This piece was photographed to create an illustration diorama.  I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving!

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here, amydecaussin.com.

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy: amydecaussin@gmail.com.

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.