Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Farewell to my friend, my mentor, and always my teacher.

Absolute integrity. My wife said it so wonderfully tonight, "Such a grounded man. A breathtaking talent... But so unaffected and sincere."
Here is Tom in his studio.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I added the quote for a hint and replaced the name with "he" Guess who this is in the comments.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A very personal post.

More Than Mice with Clothes On.
It was very quiet in the studio when I finished the call. I had just agreed to illustrate Following Grandfather, a short novel by Rosemary Wells. The Rosemary Wells, whose work as an illustrator, and a writer, I hold in the highest regard. She had asked the publisher for me. Naturally, I said.....yes. But after the excitement, the reading, and the meeting, came the quiet--and with it, the self doubt......

Read the rest of this essay and posts by so many artists and writers that I admire at The Pippin Insider. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wowza, James Gurney is brilliant.

Heads up to all the color key and color script artists out there. Saw this courtesy of a tweet by Tony DiTerlizzi.

After you watch visit the link below for more information on gamut masking from this incredible artist.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A few weeks ago, I promised a few more images..

Back at Halloween I promised a few more images from an Egyptian underworld film pitch that I worked on. The film was never made but I think the these images look pretty cool. Pardon the rough bits. If you ever worked on a development team you know how quickly these paintings need to be made!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Two of my books receive nominations!

So proud to see "Following Grandfather" (Rosemary Wells) and "Tugg and Teeny: That's What Friends Are For" ( J. Patrick Lewis ) on the list of nominees for the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category of the 2012 Cybils Award! There are so many great books nominated this year. See the complete list here: http://www.cybils.com/2012-nominations-easy-readersearly-chapter-books.html

Just two years ago I was admiring the work of my friend Kelly Murphy (http://www.kelmurphy.com/books.html)  in this book category and wishing that I would have the opportunity to pursue some similar projects. The Universe responded with a wonderful Rosemary Wells manuscript and a three book series by Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis. Fantastic. Now, lets see...what would be nice for 2013?

Many thanks to our friend Jamie Michalak (http://jamiedmichalak.blogspot.com/) for letting us know!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

As an illustrator known for chubby mice and tea drinking kitties it can be tough to find something to post for Halloween. I did however remember this last minute addition to a delivery on a film project. The film was never made but some of the art looked pretty cool and I will post some of it in the coming weeks. This sketch was created in the minutes before the meeting, and as it goes with these things, they loved it. Hope you do as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Publishers Weekly reviews Following Grandfather!

Following Grandfather

Rosemary Wells, illus. by Christopher Denise. Candlewick, $14.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5069-8
In a brief, tender story with quiet charm, Wells (On the Blue Comet) celebrates the bond between a mouse and her grandfather, while exploring a child's ability to cope with loss. Wells depicts an enticing society of anthropomorphic mice who live and cavort in tucked-away parts of human habitats. Jenny explains how her grandfather stowed away on a ship sailing from Italy to Boston and opened a restaurant in the attic of an Italian eatery, "featuring daily specials from the kitchen downstairs." After he retires, the loving mouse devotes his time to his granddaughter and encourages her to hold her head high despite her humble status and to embrace life: "Grandfather said hello to the world. I learned to say hello, too, in that way that made the world smile back." Jenny's connection to Grandfather after his death—she repeatedly thinks she sees him, and perhaps finally does—is poignantly conveyed through her ingenuous voice and Denise's (If I Could) filmy halftone illustrations. Avoiding overt sentimentality, Wells's reflections on love and memories are more pensive than somber. Ages 6–9. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Elena Mechlin, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Expo!

I will be signing this weekend in Connecticut. Don't miss this chance to meet Rosemary Wells and have your copy of Following Grandfather signed by both author and illustrator!

Southwestern Connecticut Youth Book Expo
Saturday, October 20
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Huntington Branch Library
41 Church Street
Shelton, CT

The roster of authors and illustrators looks good!

More info at: http://swctyouthbookexpo.org/

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ezra Jack Keats

I did not go to this show, but if you live in area the show runs until the 14th.

The Snowy Day br /and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats: June 26 - October 14, 2012 The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats is the first major exhibition in this country to pay tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), whose beloved children’s books include Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, and The Snowy Day—the first modern full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. Published in 1962, at the height of the civil rights movement in America, the book went on to become an inspiration for generations of readers, transforming children’s literature forever. The exhibition, curated by Claudia J. Nahson of The Jewish Museum in New York City, features over 70 original works by the artist, from preliminary sketches and dummies or preparatory books, to final paintings and collages, including examples of Keats’s most introspective but less-known output inspired by Asian art and poetry. The Snowy Day and The Art of Ezra Jack Keats is organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, from the collection of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, The University of Southern Mississippi. The exhibition was funded at The Jewish Museum through a generous grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Joseph Alexander Foundation, the Alfred J. Grunebaum Fund, and the Winnick Family Foundation. thejewishmuseum.orgExhibition support at The Carle has been generously provided by Penguin Young Readers Group and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A note from Rosemary Wells

Books That Heal Kids: Book Review: Following Grandfather

Book Review: Following Grandfather

Author: Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Christopher Denise
Interest Level: Ages 8 and Up
Chapter Book with illustrations

From the Book Jacket: When Jenny was little, Grandfather taught her how to button her buttons and how to write for her name. When she was a little older, Grandfather took her to try on the expensive dresses at the stylish Mouse Boutique, hidden deep in the ductwork of the Jordan Marsh department store. And during long summer afternoons at Revere Beach, Grandfather taught Jenny the names of seashells. 

But one day Grandfather was gone. Every mouse in Boston, including Jenny, went to his funeral high in the belfry of the cathedral. So how can it be that Jenny begins to spot Grandfather about town - turning a corner, sitting on a park bench? Could it really be that Grandfather is still out there somewhere, roaming the city he loved? Jenny can't help but run after the familiar silver whiskers, hoping...

Why It's On My Bookshelf: What a special find. So many children who have lost a grandparent will benefit from reading this book. Sometimes in my own life I will see something or even smell something that reminds me of my grandma. It makes me smile and is a reminder of how much I miss her. I have to admit this book even got me a little teary. Remembering a grandparent can make a child sad but also brings up all the wonderful happy times. Be prepared for lots of share outs and discussion. What an honor to read such a touching and healing story to children. I have a feeling this will be a heavily checked out book from my shelf. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Following Grandfather Booksigning

Many thanks to all the folks at Barrington Books, our friends, family and readers who came to book signing on Saturday. If you missed us, we will be signing together again on Saturday October 20th at the Southwestern Connecticut You Book Expo.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Following Grandfather Sneak Peek #5

If you live in the area, I will be signing copies of Following Grandfather with the author, Rosemary Wells, on Sunday, September 23rd at Barrington Books from 1-3:30. More info at: http://www.barringtonbooks.com/event/following-grandfather-rosemary-wells-christopher-denise

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012


Starting up my twitter feed and should be able to post a few daily tidbits once I get the hang of it. My wife told me that a monkey could use twitter and I am considering adopting one.
Anyway, here is the address if you follow twitter-thanks!

Monday, July 30, 2012

I don't care what you say, I like the Backyardigans.

I love this kind of thing-it cracks me up. Development for this show would be hoot. Bill Murray from "The Life Aquatic" and Pablo and Tyrone from "Into the Deep"
Is the show still running-anyone out there know?

Friday, July 20, 2012

A very good thing indeed.

Tiny Showcase is a fantastic company to work with! Beautifully produced prints, very cool people, ...AND a percentage of every sale goes directly to a charity of the artists choice. 

You can view the listing by visiting Tiny Showcase

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Just back from a long and long overdue vacation. I was ready for it, I was fried. But now I am ready to see where the projects take me. Its always odd to come back and look at a bunch of work recently completed when you are only a little separated from it-not working on it but still somehow attached. Like the way that you remember a conversation that you had recently and suddenly see it in a whole new light. A preview from "Following Grandfather" to come soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

       I was chatting with my friend the incredibly talented Kelly Murphy recently about deadlines and the long hours we each spend in the studio. Long hours in which we are concentrating but also looking for material to occupy that part of your brian that is trying to get you to stop what you are doing. That same part of your brain is responsible for that annoying and monkey like specter of self doubt that you can find knocking about the corner of the studio after a good few hours if you are not careful. You need to give it something to keep busy so it does not notice that you are doing good work.
      Well if you find yourself on deadline or are facing a decent drive, Neil Gaiman's audio edition of the Graveyard Book is just the thing.
      It was hands down fantastic, touching, poignant and entertaining. You will notice the medal attached to the cover right over there so it should not be difficult to find eloquent and descriptive endorsements of this book.
      I  did miss the Dave McKean illustrations, as I am a huge fan of his work as well. But the reading was not to be missed. You will need to buy both.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Deadlines and the final stretch

 I wish that I could remember the quote concerning the end of long projects that came to mind late last night...or even exactly how the quote went......but as I mentioned...it was late.....and I am back at my desk today...early. In  any event, the quote was from someone at a well known animation studio talking about the final stages of a film and how it often feels as though they( the team) really get a good handle on a project when it is nearing completion. Nothing feels more true right now. While I will welcome the addition to sleep into my routine once again I will miss that feeling of flow that some books take on. Like a well suited travel companion. But I have a few more weeks on this the caffeine fueled trip. Anxious about the deadline? Sure. But I think if you look really closely at the guy on the clock you see a hint of a smile.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Friday, June 1, 5:30 - 7:30pm: Summer Reading Kick-off Event at The Providence Children's Museum.  Hear 10 children’s book authors read their stories aloud, followed by a book sale and signing. Come to the event and find out how the whole family can participate in Rhode Island's 2012 Summer Reading Program! http://www.childrenmuseum.org/calDetail.asp?date=6/1/2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sneak peak, my next book due out this Fall!

I just received a stack of bookmarks from Candlewick Press announcing my new book due out this Fall. The piece was really nicely printed and designed (thank you Candlewick!) and features the cover.
I have had the incredible opportunity to work with one of my heros in the picture book and Y/A world, Rosemary Wells.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ok, so my last post was about storytelling and so is this one...just a different medium.
I had the good fortune to see the incredible Jake Shimabukuro this evening at "The Narrows" in Fall River, Massachusetts this evening.
If you do not know his work, click on the link attached to his name above and be prepared to open Itunes and be amazed.
Jake played for about two and a half hours and told as as many and complex stories as any feature film while only speaking briefly in between songs. He does not sing but allows his original compositions and his arrangements other artists songs  to build his narrative structures with clarity and artistry that the audience of one hundred or so were absolutely silenced hanging on every note.
Before he played a new piece called "five dollars unleaded" he described, in brief, the sensation of driving along and loving it on a semi full tank of gas. And then the process of looking for a gas station, fueling up, and jetting off again. A cute little story but his music told the FULL story. Windows, open, sunlight, etc. Illustrated with music.
His arrangement of George Harrison's "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" is well known and tells the story as well the beloved original. Artful illustration and storytelling through choices made by an artist living in the joy of his work.
Still unconvinced? Sample his version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Its all there. He gets it.
Now if film and book makers could take note and allow us to tell stories without so much exposition and talking, believe in the intelligence of their audience, we might connect with each other.
In the meantime, we should all continue to tell our stories in one way or another. Tonight its storytelling through two feet of wood and some nylon strings. As Jake has said "If everyone in the world played ukulele the world would be a better place"



Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Fantastic projects have been keeping me up late at night and, of course, I can't share any of it. But I did remember that I was going to post some pics of a side personal project.
Two years ago I was swept up in the enthusiasm for my kids school play and volunteered to help produce the sets for the next show. The date of the show was approaching and I was essentially out of time but the good folks at Arts Alive had applied for and received some grant money and suddenly we had money for printing-large scale printing! Large scale as in 15 feet high and 30 feet long. I did a bunch of 8 foot square panels as well. Two nights of photoshop painting, a very accommodating large format printing company and ta dah! A show!
The amazing and fearless kids made the show a smash hit. But I look at the backdrops now, a year later, and I think they still look pretty good!