Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 27, 2017

Illustrator Sunday – Abi Cushman

Sharismar Rodriguez is an Associate Art Director for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers and their imprint Clarion Books, where she designs and art directs children’s books for all ages, from Picture Books to Middle Grade and YA novels and Non-Fiction volumes. She started her career in children’s publishing right after obtaining her BFA in Visual Communications from Parsons School of Design.

Some of her work includes award winning and note worthy titles such as New York Times bestseller Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrated by Jaime Zollars; Society of Illustrators Los Angeles Illustration 50 West winner 10 Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits, illustrated by Micheal Allen Austin; Maybe Something Beautiful, an ALA Notable Children’s Book recipient, by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez; among other books.

When she’s not busy collaborating with amazing illustrators, writers and editors, she’s a secret art crafter, a compulsive Pinterest “pinner”, and a notebook-under-the-mattress writer.

Sharismar enjoys a wide-range of illustration styles to match the wide range of stories that she publishes.

Illustrator Samples: Abi Cushman

Many thanks, Abi, for sharing your illustrations with us! Right off the bat I want to say that this was a great selection of pieces, I can envision a variety of scenarios for this adventurous bunny. This combination has a few themes that are timeless and precious: having dreams, parent-child relationship, it has some fantasy elements, overall really cohesive.

On the first piece, the bunny on the white and red plane, I love that you went with this bird’s eye view perspective, I think it makes the piece very interesting, it gives it a beautiful depth and dimension; especially when you bleed-off the clouds on the foreground and on the left side trim, it adds a nice sense of continuity.

Although we don’t see the bunny’s face here, its body language, the way the ears are pointed back but all the body seems to be leaning forward tells the reader about the determination of this character, he looks really brave! I like the simple, but very effective, treatment of the propellers, it is like they are actually spinning on the paper/screen.

It is great that the color palette is clean and bright; I find myself wishing to see just a bit more variation/contrast, perhaps in some of the green areas, to make the scene look even more richer (color wise), but it could just be me nit picking.

The second piece is ADORABLE! Such a tender moment but also a beautiful conclusion, I think the readers would be very pleased with this surprise. The way you render the little bunny to make it look like it’s “flying” (again, the body language, the movement of the scarf) it’s great! The composition is working well and I think it was a good call to make this a spot and zoom into this intimate moment, inviting the reader to be part of it as well.

On this piece, too, I wish I could see a bit more color variation, and it could be done in very subtle ways: maybe some of the grass leaves could be a more yellowish or maybe their fur could have some touches of warmer browns. I’d also double check mama/papa bunny’ ears, to me they look a bit short for a more mature bunny, nonetheless, I do like how they are pointing towards the smaller bunny, great way to guide your readers’ eyes into the art.

Abi, these pieces are filled with magic and I’ll encourage you to continue developing this story, if you haven’t done so yet.


Abi Cushman is an author/illustrator from the Connecticut shoreline. She is the recipient of the Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award and the Tassy Walden New Voices in Children’s Literature Award for her as yet unpublished picture book, Snow Day for Goat and Badger. She also received a Tassy Walden Honorable Mention for her picture book, Aardvark & Zebra Star in Yet Another Alphabet Book (also unpublished). She is represented by Ilse Craane from BookStop Literary Agency. 

When she’s not making stories, Abi works as a web/graphic designer and contributes to her website, Animal Fact Guide, which was named a “Great Website for Kids” by the American Library Association. In her spare time, Abi enjoys running, playing tennis, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and house rabbit.

See more illustrations at, or connect on social media (Twitter: @abicushman or Instagram: @abi.cushman).

Sharismar, thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I enjoyed Abi’s artwork and hearing your thoughts.

Opportunity: Sharismar will be working with illustrators during the industry’s leading online children’s book illustration course – Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books Course – starting September 25th. Click Here for Details. $100.00 discount goes to September 5th.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you, Sharismar, for your insight and tips, and to Kathy for coordinating this wonderful opportunity on your blog!


  2. Abi, your work is wonderful! And great critique from Sharismar.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: