PUBLISHED: While Mrs Cuskelly has been drawing for years, this was her first time illustrating a book.
PUBLISHED: While Mrs Cuskelly has been drawing for years, this was her first time illustrating a book. Contributed

Juggling bedtime with art and a book deal

IN JUST four years, Jo Cuskelly went from

being a stay-at-home mum, to card maker to a published artist.

The illustrator of Roses Are not Red lived in Wheatvale for three years with husband Peter, before moving to Charleville and taking her "doodling" to the next level.

"It started with making cards," she said.

"We were a little bit tight with money, so I started making my own Christmas cards.

"People started saying they liked them, and asking if I could make some for them.

"I ended up selling cards at the Warwick Art Gallery and library."

It was not until she moved with Peter and sons Jack and Harry to Charleville in October 2014, that the illustrating deal came about.

"The author Scott (Rheuben) is a friend of my husband's," she said.

"He followed my Facebook page, which was really just a hobby page, and he picked me to do his book.

"I'd never really thought about doing something like a book; I'm just a doodler."

Mrs Cuskelly said she was a little daunted by the process, with the illustrating project taking one year.

"There were moments I questioned myself, and felt like going to Scott and telling him to get someone who had done it before," she said.

"It was a big project, and he was a friend and I didn't want to disappoint him.

"I had to balance it with my sons, drawing during nap and bed times.

"There was a time Harry got hold of some of the pages.

"From then on, I kept them in high places."

However, three weeks ago, Roses Are Not Red was finally published, much to the delight of illustrator and author alike.

"I couldn't picture what it would look like at the beginning," Mrs Cuskelly said.

"But when I felt it for the first time, it sounds a bit silly, but I thought 'Oh, this is a real book'."

The illustrator said members of the Warwick community, those who bought her cards or simply complimented her work, provided the momentum behind her art.

"A lot of people in Warwick know Peter and bought my cards," she said.

"I want to thank everyone in Warwick who supported me.

"That was what gave me the confidence to keep drawing."

The book is a playful story that at its heart, "emphasises that things are not always what we've been led to believe".

It can be purchased online with $1 from every book sale given to Heartkids Australia.



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