• 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.


    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!


    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.


    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.


    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!


    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.


    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

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

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

    ©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


    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.


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

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

    ©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


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

    For animation, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • The Mini Violin in Three Dimensional Watercolor


    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,

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

    ©Amy DeCaussin All Rights Reserved.

  • Snail Mail – My Grandpa’s 90th Birthday

    I am starting a new series in my blog called “Snail Mail.”  I will be posting about different handmade cards and stationary projects that I will be sending to people who are very special to me.  This series serves several purposes.  It allows me to express love towards people who I care about deeply.  It also serves as a wonderful place of inspiration for illustration.  This project definitely embodied that and I had a lot of fun doing it.

    Today is my Grandpa’s 90th birthday!  We currently live far away from my grandparents, so I am unable to celebrate with him.  I wanted to send him a special card.


    The base of the card is made completely from upcycled materials.  I took some junk mail and cut it to size.


    On the inside of the card, I covered up miscellaneous words with the interior design of an envelope and an excerpt from the church bulletin taken from this past Easter Vigil service.  The dismissal music seemed fitting to my Grandpa’s personality as he can be a bit rebellious.


    On the inside, I wrote a personal note to my Grandpa from my husband Cam and I.


    And I wrote a little note on the back too…


    Since the card was made entirely from scratch, I did not have an envelope to match, so I made the envelope out of another page from the church bulletin.


    The front of the card design was first sketched out in my sketchbook.  There, I played around with the color composition using colored pencils.  For the final piece, I painted different layers of watercolor paper and collaged them together.


    From the different patterns, I also created a bolt fabric design sample to put in my portfolio.


    This was a really fun project and I can’t wait to create more “Snail Mail!” I hope that my Grandpa enjoys his card and that he has the happiest of 90th birthdays.  Check out the invitation I designed for my Grandparent’s 65th Wedding Anniversary Party.

    Background floral pattern featured in these photos is designed by Silvia Dekker published in Flow Magazine’s “Book for Paper Lovers,” given to me by Illustrator Rebecca Green.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here,

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

  • Pistachio Peak


    My husband Cam and I took a weekend off and drove from our home in Phoenix, Arizona down to visit some relatives in Tucson.  It is about a two hour drive and, being new to Arizona, we had never been there.  On our drive down there was a very large peak that began to grow larger and larger in our view as we approached it along the highway.  I looked at the map.  “That mountain up ahead is ‘Pistachio Peak.'”  I told Cam.  I studied the peak and thought it over in my head.  It made perfect sense somehow.  I imagined a large pistachio nestled into the crescent wedge shape at the top.  As we got closer, Cam pointed to a sign, “Did you mean ‘Picacho Peak?'” he chuckled.  I had completely misread what the map said and never thought twice about it.  Something that we continued to laugh about for a long time after.

    There is a state park that the mountain sits in and there are trails to hike.  We did not stop to explore the landscape there, but now it is on our to-do list.  I have been really enjoying exploring Arizona.  I have been hiking a lot and enjoying the mountains, which are very accessible, even in the 6th largest city in the country (Phoenix).  I am extremely passionate about nature.  If you feel the same way, like if you are super geeky about it like I am, I recommend checking out a documentary series called “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”  It is a PBS series, but I found it on Netflix.  This series has greatly effected me.  It has awakened the previously existing deep passion inside of me for all of God’s creation.


    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here,

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

  • Creative Cleanse

    I spent the better part of today on the phone with the insurance company trying to resolve some issues.  Eventually I did reach a real human on the other end that could be of some assistance.  By the time things were resolved, I had binged on all the brownies that we brought home from our weekend trip to Tucson.

    My solution to this very frustrating day is a variation of what healthy people often do.  Healthy people say “I’m going on a cleanse.”  Yes folks, I am going on a cleanse, however not your typical cleanse like drinking juice for meals.  I wipe the rest of my day of phone calls with “representatives” and policy talk.  I am done for the day with bill paying and the feeling of defeat.  I am going on a creative cleanse.  For the rest of the day I will be sitting in my studio gingerly painting while binge watching movies like “Little Women.”  I will be stopping only to maybe do the dishes, take my dog for a walk and possibly binge on more dessert food with my husband.


  • The Painted Desert with Rebecca Green


    Last week I had the privilege of working with illustrator Rebecca Green on her mural project “The Painted Desert.”  She flew in from Denver, Colorado to sunny Phoenix, Arizona for the occasion.  Painting a mural is a large project to tackle and takes several days to finish so Becca had a team of creative folks helping her along the way.


    On the first night Becca took her final sketch and projected it onto the side of the building, The Lodge Studio, where Becca used to work when she lived in Phoenix.  There was a little bit of chaos moving the bulky projector around to get it placed just right.  It sort of ended up in the street.  Studio mates Abbey Messmer and Rafael Navarro were there to assist as well.  Once in place, we used thin brushes to apply the outlines of the sketch to the wall.



    As I said before, the process took several days.  I was not able to be there to help Becca the whole time, but when I was it was really fun.


    I learned a lot about color.  Becca used a limited color palette.  The first layer was monochromatic and she added bright colors over it to accent the whole piece.  Choosing the colors was an experiment.  The time of day effected how the colors looked with the direction of the sun.  The colors needed to be mixed just right so that they all married well together in the composition.


    Becca said that she was afraid of using bright colors and I laughed because I have always struggled using muted colors.  I am learning that muted colors are very important to composition.  They help balance the color composition.  I am learning that they are not as boring as I used to think because they make brighter colors look their best.  Together they can create magic.


    We went out for a drive in the warm sun and chatting it up and losing ourselves in great conversation as we made pit stops for paint and supplies.  When it was time to paint, I really enjoyed standing on the scaffolding barefoot painting in the afternoon sun.  We talked about art and life and everything in between.  Although Becca and I are only about a month apart in age, and we both grew up in Michigan, we have had very different experiences in our lives that have brought us to where we are today.


    There is a local vegan restaurant across the street from The Lodge called Bragg’s.  They generously offered us a piece of pie 🙂  We both had a slice of blueberry almond.  It was delicious!


    The mural is now complete and it looks beautiful.  It has been a pleasure to assist Becca with this.  I will smile every time I drive by “The Painted Desert” mural at The Lodge studio.

  • Snail Mail

    Snail at homeSnail decided to make some lovely cards for his pals for Valentine’s Day.  He got himself into some sticky situations, but he had a fun little adventure delivering his notes to them.

    Snail MailOtter Gets Mail

    Snail Mail Frog

    Snail Goes Home

    Who doesn’t love getting thoughtful cards in the mail?  This series of illustrations highlights the joy of receiving handmade paper gifts in the mail as a way to love those around you.  I decided to breath life into my watercolor by bringing it into a new dimension.  This was an exploration into a new world of imagination.  I really enjoyed moving my work in this direction.

  • The Welcoming Committee; Birth Announcement

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