• A Letter to the Sisters and Clarissa



    I wrote a letter to the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, regarding my best friend, and their new member, Clarissa.  Clarissa and I were college roommates for 4 years.  Since Clarissa will be potentially living in the Catholic convent for the rest of her life, I thought I could share with them some wisdom about living with her.  I found creating this letter to be extremely cathartic.  It was a way for me to celebrate all of the time I was so blessed to spend with Clarissa and also to work through all of my feelings during this time of change.


    Clarissa and I only communicate through handwritten mail.  You can read my last post to Clarissa here.  You can also view more of my “snail mail” collection here.

    I wrapped up the letter to the sisters and wrote a separate private note to Clarissa.


    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.

  • Clarissa’s Flight


    After a long time of discernment, my best friend and former college roommate of four years, Clarissa has decided to become a Catholic Nun.  This weekend she joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal in Brooklyn, New York.  There, she will live in community with other Catholic Sisters and devote her life to serving the poor.  You can read more about Clarissa’s journey here.  Clarissa spent a lot of time over the last years trying to decide if this is what she really wanted to do, however I never realized that it would have such a large impact on my own life.  Clarissa and I will never be allowed to catch up on the phone, video chat or email again.  The sisters are a “low tech” group.  Although, there will be opportunities to visit Clarissa, for the most part, our only form of communication will be through hand written letters.  Although this is a large adjustment for me, I look forward to writing some really nice letters, and receiving some as well.

    Clarissa and I went to art school together.  We walked across the stage with our degrees in art & design, illustration together, and we had our senior thesis gallery show together too.  It’s an interesting end to the story of college, since we went in blind with a group of other girls, and in the beginning we did not even have the same major.  I could go on and on about Clarissa and all of our fun times.  Maybe they will come out in my blog periodically.

    I am looking forward to writing and drawing notes to Clarissa to send in the mail.  I can’t wait to see what she sends back–as she is a very talented illustrator.  These letters will be posted in my “snail mail” category, and are already beginning to serve as a great way for me to challenge myself.

    This first piece was sent to Clarissa to open on her flight to her new life in New York City.  It is signed at the bottom by my husband Cam and I.

    Below is the outside of the envelope I sent the note in.


    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.

  • My Paints and Palette

    My husband Cam and I were discussing pigment colors and paint over the dinner table.  You know, typical married couple chit chat.  Cam is an oil painter currently attending Arizona State for his MFA.  We must have talked about it for at least half an hour–about the different colors we have tried and how we mix them.  We talked about our palettes.  I said to Cam, “You know, I work with my palette just about every day, but I never talk about it.”  I realized that I have a love affair with my color palette, working closely with it to create my illustrations.  I thought I would share some details about what I work with to create my watercolor paintings.



    I am brand loyal with my paints, and I mostly use a combination of Winsor Newton and Michael Smith depending on the color.  My favorite color is Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Scarlet.  It is very bright.  Currently I am using Daniel Smith’s Quinacridone Rose for fuscia and Hansa Yellow Deep as my main yellow, but I’m not too particular about using a consistent hue or brand for them.  In fact they can vary quite a bit but that keeps things exciting.  I use Daniel Smith Cobalt Blue.  You have to be careful not to over mix the blue or it will get muddy very quickly.  By itself or mixed lightly with one other color, it is magical.  I used to mix Windsor Newton’s Brown Madder with Antwerp Blue to make all my darks.  These days I use Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with the Antwerp because it creates a much richer darks.  I also use Winsor Newton Professional Green Gold, Winsor Newton Winsor Green (Blue Shade).  I use both Winsor Newton Bismuth Yellow and Winsor Newton Professional Winsor Red sparingly.  Red is a very flat color, so a lot of other colors get mixed with it to create dimension.  I also use M. Graham & Co. Cobalt Teal.  I don’t own a tube of black or white.  Straight black is very flat and to lighten color, I just add water.



    The palette I use is the one I got in Intro to Watercolor in college.  It folds up nicely for storage or travel.  I am starting to wonder if I should get a larger palette, since I don’t have room for all of my pigments in the little slots anymore.  I was thinking recently that I should clean my palette.  This is something I probably do no more than once a year.  I always have a spot of mixed paint in the center where I make my dark pigments.  In one of the slots there is a random blue that varies from random tubes.  I never remember what paint is actually in that slot and I don’t use it very often.  I don’t have a whole lot of explanation beyond that for it.



    I am not a brush snob.  I like to go to different craft stores when there is a sale and get a cheap pack of multitple sized brushes.  I only use round brushes and I don’t like them to be too absorbent or it won’t release the water and paint onto the paper.  I also stock up on nicer quality fine tips when one of the local art shops is having a sale.  I keep my brushes in a rotating wire container that was meant for cutlery.


    Other Supplies

    I use a mason jar for water and I keep my paints in one of those plastic pencil boxes that kids use in grade school.  I also use facial tissue.  When people watch me paint, they often think that I must have made a mistake when I grab a tissue.  This could not be further from the truth.  Using tissue is all part of the process of creating watercolor…at least it is for me.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here,

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

  • Body Tired – Brain Not Tired

    body-tired-journal-entry-web copy

    I’m just getting around to posting this journal entry.  I painted this after a long week full of events and when I finally got a chance to sit down, I was inspired, but my body was exhausted.  I guess I was too tired to work on some serious illustration projects, but not too tired to do completely nothing.

    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.