Guest Artist: Illustrator & Teacher Denise M. Cassano

Welcome to Results Day!

This week we have been celebrating Denise and her range of work on FB and Twitter. From pet portraits to art tips to writing prompts for teachers, she has covered it all!

I met Denise last summer at the same Highlights Workshop I met previous guests, Sabina Hahn & Steve Light. We have been online critique friends since then. It has been a privilege to see Denise's work up close and share my own with her. I always know she'll provide constructive feedback! Let's reveal her results from this week's batch of blobs.

A quick look back at the activity sheet...

Now the transformation...

Pretty fun, right!? Can you find the original shapes?


Great job Denise!

How did you get started in your career as an artist?

I was very interested in graphic design and advertising in high school. Once in college, I was exposed to a wider variety of art: painting, illustration and ceramics in particular. It was at Hofstra University when I decided I wanted to go into teaching while making my own art. I spent a summer abroad painting in Venice through NYU which was life changing (you can actually see that influence many years later in the picture book I'm working on right now!). While teaching, I worked as a muralist-painting scenes in people's homes and businesses. As time went on, my work evolved more into storytelling. That really was an outgrowth of my students being able to see art in a fresh way, a way that adults can't. I realized that I can create detailed images that evoke a response and tell a whole story. That intrigued me.

Who was your favorite book character as a child and why?

I specifically remember LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE by Bernard Waber. It was a rollicking fun story, sad at times, and even though it was completely implausible, it made you believe the character was real. They acted like it was totally normal to have a crocodile bathing in the bathtub. I think that's why that book has such staying power. You believed the character was real and you want to see what else he will do.

Which character has been the most fun bringing to life in your previous/current work and why?

The story I'm working on now has been fun - the two main characters, a girl and a dog, are in Venice in search of a special treat, but things keep getting in their way and they can't find it. It's fun to play with one concept in the text, but contradict it in the image. Kids get that interplay and I think it's fun. In each scene she is reacting to her changing environment - it keeps the story fast paced.

Where do you find the most inspiration for your characters?

Little things that happen. They're all around if you just pay attention. For example, my next story is based on the behavior of my dogs - no matter where I am or what is going on, they want to be on me. Physically on me (one is a 30lb terrier and the other a 60lb Pittie mix). They want to snuggle at any cost. I thought - hum, there is a story in here somewhere. This time it will be funny. I look forward to getting started on it this month.

Which Blob inspired you the most and why?

I liked the bulbous round one on the bottom right. It looked like a peach, a duckling and a pumpkin at the same time. All the blobs are good though - the ones you don't see immediately are the ones that push you out of your comfort zone.

Thank you for giving Blobs a try Denise and letting us get to know you better!