Friday, June 26, 2015

The beginnings of Firefly Hollow. A fortunate delay, a change of venue, the kindness of neighbors, and finally...taking my own advice


The fortunate delay.


It was one of those rare times in publishing where there was a lull in the constant demand of my production schedule.
I was waiting for feedback from a publisher on a final round of sketches for a picture book.
In the past, I would have begun feverishly scratching away at the waiting heap of work for the next book. But there was no heap of work. I had been turning down projects-waiting for and wanting something that I felt a particular type connection with. This could have been a bit nerve-wracking for any self employed artist.  Fortunately, I had other things that were demanding my attention.


A change of venue.


At the time, my studio space was located in a revolutionary era merchant building. While it was charming, the roof had begun to leak and late nights of driving from Providence back to our little bay-side town were getting tiresome. Given my usual level of exhaustion, it was actually getting dangerous.
It was time to go.


The kindness of neighbors. 


Anika (see posts relating to Anika Denise) and I decided that it was time to to renovate our dilapidated garage.
But that process would take several months to complete so where was I to work?

This is the magical part, the part where the greatest gifts come out of the ether unannounced and without fanfare.

I asked for help.

I asked my friend and next door neighbor Doc Pete (he is really a doctor) to help me move some of the larger items out of the way so I could begin evaluating the task of rebuilding the garage.
Two minutes later I was looking at my new temporary studio, Pete's shed.
Doc Pete's shed was an eight foot by ten foot structure. It had a door, two windows, and electricity. Rent free. We cleared it out, opened the windows, and I could hear and smell the waves on the bay.
I was in heaven.


Taking my own advice...finally.


I taught at Rhode Island School of design for a few years.
Part of the job was handing out lots of unsolicited advice.
One of my favorite tidbits for aspiring illustrators was to use any "down time" they might have to create personal projects.
I had given that advice enough and now it was time to follow it. I quickly realized that this was quite a bit harder than I imagined.

But I had been given the gift of time, the gift of change, and a quiet place to accept those gifts.

I began to sketch and wrote this above my drawing.."Cricket and Vole"
This is what they looked like.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Just a quick note on perseverance in life and children's book publishing.



Most of us know the story of Hans August and Margret Rey, but in case you do not, here is the cliff note version from Wikipedia. It does not include many of the hardships that I am sure these folks endured. I thought of them because I have been reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.(yes, you must read it)
Hans Augusto Reyersbach was born in Hamburg, Germany, as was his wife Margret. Hans and Margret's fathers were German Jews; Margret's mother was not. The couple first met in Hamburg at Margret's sister's 16th birthday party. They met again in Brazil, where Hans was working as a salesman of bathtubs and Margret had gone to escape the rise of Nazism Germany. They married in 1935 and moved to Paris in August of that year.
While in Paris, Hans's animal drawings came to the attention of a French publisher, who commissioned him to write a children's book. The result, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, is little remembered, but one of its characters, an adorably impish monkey named Curious George, was such a success that the couple considered writing a book just about him. The outbreak of World War II interrupted their work. As Jews, the Reys decided to flee Paris before the Nazis seized the city. Hans assembled two bicycles, and they fled Paris just a few hours before it fell. Among the meager possessions they brought with them was the illustrated manuscript of Curious George.
The Reys' odyssey brought them to Bayonne, France where they were issued life-saving visas signed by Vice-Consul Manuel Vieira Braga (following instructions from Aristides de Sousa Mendes) on June 20, 1940. They crossed the Spanish border, where they bought train tickets to Lisbon. From there they returned to Brazil, where they had met five years earlier, but this time they continued to New York. The Reys escaped Europe carrying the manuscript to the first Curious George book, which they then published in New York by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. Hans and Margret originally planned to use watercolor illustrations, but since they were responsible for the color separation, he changed these to the cartoon-like images that continue to be featured in each of the books.
Wow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Firefly Hollow detail-revisited


Back on November on November 18th, I posted a sketch from the work on my desk that day. I just remembered that I planned to share a glimpse of the same part of the finished piece. 
Both are details of a larger painting from my forthcoming book Firefly Hollow written by Alison McGhee. 
Cheers.
Chris


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Firefly Hollow-WIP

A sneak peak of the current project! See my post from December 2nd to see a screen shot of this piece in an earlier stage. Blogger still seems to be automatically auto correcting the color. If you are interested, the color looks more accurate on my professional Facebook page-Christopher Denise Illustrator.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Firefly Hollow work.


Different approach with this book. Working up the drawings in charcoal (digital) and layering in color. The designer and I were looking for a jewel tone range of soft colors. Takes a fair amount of restraint not to just rush in and try to paint over things but seems to be working!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Perhaps little updates are better?

I have been updating my professional facebook page, Christopher Denise Illustrator, but keep putting off updating my blog so I may try a new approach.
I had been posting some sketches and there seems to be some interest in process. I had been thinking about a longer post on the delights of drawing in my digital charcoal space but it may be some time before I get around to it. I think Ill just let out little bits here and there and go back later (summer 2015 probably) and sum up some thoughts.
In any event, I have found myself drawn back into a world of miniatures. It takes a certain mindset to stay in the right place and I have been helped along by the music of Jonsi and Alex-specifically Riceboy Sleeps. The duo are best known for their amazing work as Sigor Ros. 
So today I put on the headphones again and begin working up this aerial nighttime drawing. It be painted up in the next day or two. Here is a little detail.  I can't share full pieces just yet. If you guys like it...maybe I can try to check in once a week and show little glimpses and let you know what I am listening to.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Autumns final day at Redwall Abbey

Autumn at Redwall Abbey

A little autumn for The Redwall fans.
When I began work on A Redwall Winters Tale, I created a series of very small thumbnail sketches immediately after my first read through. This image came directly from one of those sketches. 
I have included a jpeg of the image as it appears in the book with Brian's wonderful poem. I remember that he read that poem to me over the phone and I knew what he wanted-how he wanted the piece to feel. I think it came from a shared appreciation of this particular time of day and season.
The Thistledown troupe and stray travelers of Mossflower are making their inside the gates of Redwall Abbey where the lanterns are lit and the fires are already burning. The warmth and smell of cooking welcomes the weary travelers inside as the light slips up the mighty walls and great bell tower. 
This original art is currently available, though probably not for long, at my Etsy shop.