Artist and professor Joshua Brunet stared at the 11 by 17 sheet of paper and concentrated on the words he just read. It was always exciting to imagine their faces and features. After a few moments he picked up the pencil and began sketching, slowly the Big Blue Frog in his mind formed on the paper.
"The trick with a children's book is you can't just design one nice picture and then go to the next one," Joshua said. "You have to think about how they all will relate and the movement from page to page and just the way the story grows..."
Since he was a child himself, Joshua said he's loved to draw and paint.
"You hear that a lot and I think I kind of followed that same story line. My parents encouraged me and I just really loved drawing and loved making water colors," Joshua said.
All through school the artist said his parents and teachers believed in him which gave him the confidence he needed to become what he is today: a children's illustrator and an art teacher at Oklahoma Baptist University.
"I think a big part of it is just that early encouragement. I've met a lot of artists...who did not have that same kind of encouragement from their family and parents and so I think that was very beneficial for me that it was a legitimate career to pursue," he said.
The 41-year-old explained right out of high school he attended Indiana Wesleyan University and after getting his undergraduate degree he freelanced for magazines before getting his Masters in Illustration at Hartford University in 2009.
It was here he learned more about creating a children's book and developed a passion for teaching art as well.
"We had some wonderful professors who were children's book illustrators there as well and they really helped me develop a better understanding for how to lay out a book and designing characters and good flow for the literature," Joshua said.
After working at various universities, Joshua said he and his wife Julie wanted to move closer to their hometown of Detroit, which led him to the position at OBU.
The educator teaches drawing, Photoshop, painting and other art forms. For Joshua, the best aspect of teaching is seeing his students thrive.
"It's really neat to see that light bulb moment when they're like 'oh I didn't understand that...but now I understand the reason that makes sense' and all of those things and bringing that to light and helping them to make better choices," he said.
Joshua has four different books he's illustrated including "I'm in Love with the Big Blue Frog," "When Butterflies Cross the Sky," "When Pigs Fly" and "Cat in the Night."
He explained his characters are different depending on what the client wants and what he imagines.
"So I have a style that's a little more animated. I like anthropomorphic animals (which are) animals that have human like qualities...but I also do more traditional realistic works as well so it just depends on what a client needs," Joshua said.
For the children's book illustrator, the best aspect of being an artist is the act of creating.
"Obviously there's stresses and pressures with professional projects, but to sit down at my art desk in the evening and pull out bright colored pencils and paints and a brand new fresh piece of paper and create something and then be paid to do it is amazing," Joshua said.
Joshua is inspired by a myriad of things including Disney cartoons, American history, other children's books from his collection and new text from authors.
Time can be a challenging factor but the educator also said for the most part teaching and his own work actually intertwine.
"The things that I'm teaching in class I'll go home and it's at the forefront of my mind and it makes me better and then on the flip side when I'm working on things at home for publishers it keeps that fresh in my mind...and so that brings those lessons back to the classroom...and I think that's eye opening as well so the students will see I'm not just making this stuff up. I really practice what I preach," he said.
At the moment, the father of four is working on a book dummy about a toy his son used to play with named Duck Duck and his stuffed animal Goose.
"It's a book that I've both written and illustrated so I'm just kind of hoping that will take off," he said. "I've always wanted to illustrate and author my own books so maybe this will be an opportunity for that."
Joshua also said he hopes to stay at OBU for a while and keep working with other authors.