Christopher Denise

Christopher Denise
Christopher Denise is a visual development artist who has worked with companies like Fox/Blue Sky Studios and Treanor Brothers Animation. He is also a children’s book illustrator whose clients include Candlewick Press, Penguin, Harcourt Brace McMillan and McGraw Hill.

His website portfolio includes sections for character design, props design, environments and more. The work on display here owes much to his children’s book illustration style, which has a classic fairy tale and animal character feel, with delicate linework, a subdued color palette and nice attention to texture.

He also maintains a blog in which he discusses ongoing projects both in visual development and book illustration. You will also find occasional posts about plein air painting and other topics.

Denise works in both traditional and digital media, though he doesn’t always indicate which pieces are created in a particular medium.

The books section of his website portfolio doesn’t include information about the books themselves, you can find links to many of them in the right hand column of his blog.

Unfinished classic Disney pencil test

Disney's unfinished Mickey Mouse cartoon Plight of the Bumble Bee
A “pencil test”, as I mentioned in my recent post about Pencil Test Depot, is a hand-drawn animation sequence (or entire cartoon) in pencil, prior to the steps to final inking and painting.

A rare Disney animated short that was never finished, a classic style 7 minute Mickey Mouse cartoon called Plight of the Bumble Bee, directed by Jack Kinney in 1951, has surfaced on YouTube., giving us a rare glimpse of the classic animation process.

In much the same way that hand drawn animation has a visual charm distinct from any kind of computer animation, the even more raw and immediate look of animated pencil drawings has a wonderful look all its own.

The cartoon has a full soundtrack, and can be enjoyed as a if it were a finished work, but with the x-ray view of penciled-in characters against more fully (and wonderfully) drawn backgrounds.

Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News has posted the cartoon to his site along with a plea to John Lassiter to consider applying the contemporary Disney (Pixar) studio crew to finishing the unfinished work, and distributing it as an opener for a new Disney theatrical release (which was the role of the original classic cartoons in the early to mid 20th Century).

Great Idea.

[Suggestion courtesy of Gregory Frost]

[Addendum 9/2/10: This has been removed from YouTube by the Disney Copyright Hawks, but as of this writing is still viewable on Ain’t It Cool News.]

More Peder Mørk Mønsted

 Peder Mork Monsted
Since I wrote about Danish landscape painter Peder Mørk Mønsted (sometimes written as Peder Mørk Mønstead) two years ago, the wonderful World Wide Web has continued to do what it does best — grow at an astonishing rate, bringing with it the joy of even more resources on Mønsted’s work.

Notably, Wikimedia Commons now has a section for Monsted, including some high resolution images (look for file sizes in MB instead of KB), Hans Bacher has added a nice article on Mønstead, with lots of images, to his always terrific One1more2time3’s Weblog (see my post on One1more2time3’s Weblog), The Athenaeum now has a nice selection, and All Paintings Art Portal has added an extensive section on Mønstead’s work (click “View Larger Image” text links).

I’ve listed some more new resources below, and added to them the listings from my previous post about Mønstead.

Active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mønstead was one of those painters who applied an Impressionist influenced feeling for light, atmosphere and color to a foundation of the kind traditional academic draftsmanship that Monet and many of the other Impressionists rejected, with beautiful results.

Mønstead’s sometimes dark forest glades, intimate views of creeks, ponds and reflective pools were often as much about shadow as the Impressionist’s works were about light.

RSA Animate (Cognitive Media)

RSA Animate (Cognitive Media)
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, sometimes shortened to Royal Society of Arts, or RSA, is a British institution founded in 1754 to “embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufactures and extend our commerce”.

Among their many endeavors is a series of talks in which leading thinkers examine social challenges and seek to shed light on issues both contemporary and timeless.

Some of those talks have been incorporated into animated presentations, in which the speaker’s words are accompanied by time lapse animation of a cartoon illustrator drawing and writing a clever whiteboard presentation of the topic.

These are created by a studio called Cognitive Media, though I couldn’t find individual artist credits. The stop motion is occasionally accompanied by added animated elements, but the end result seems seamless and is often clever in the way already drawn elements are repurposed as the talk and animated presentation continue.

The result is a visually entertaining presentation that holds your interest and adds clarity to concepts that might otherwise be a bit off-putting an effective combination of words and pictures.

[Via BoingBoing]

James C. Christensen

James C. Christensen
James Christensen’s paintings range from straightforward portraits to fantasy tinged depictions of angels and Renaissance ladies to phantasmic tableaux of fantasy subjects that look as though the books in a children’s library had been run through a fan and reassembled by a cross-eyed surrealist.

Christensen seems to swim in a rich sea of influences, from medieval, Renaissance and baroque art to Golden Age illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kay Neilsen, John Bauer, and Gustaf Tenggren. You can even see suggestions of the obsessively detailed fairy paintings of Richard Dadd.

At his most expansive, Christensen’s wonderfully detailed and brightly garbed fantasy world denizens parade across lavishly textured landscapes, awash in saturated colors, sprinkled with luminescent details, carrying with them a trove of references to literature and folklore.

Christensen was born in California and studied at Brigham Young University and UCLA. His work has been featured in a number of publications and books, including Voyage of the Basset, A Shakespeare Sketchbook, Rhymes & Reasons, A Journey of the Imagination: The Art of James Christensen and James Christensen: The Greenwich Workshop’s New Century Artists Series.

I don’t know if the artist has an “official” site; is associated with the Jerry W. Horn Gallery, and offers original art as well as reproductions. Unfortunately the images are small and the site is poorly organized, but it shows a broad range of Christensen’s work and styles.

Larger images can be found at the Greenwich Workshop’s online gallery, B&R Gallery and Swoyer’s Fine Art.

One of the best pages for a quick overview of his fantasy themed work is this unofficial page on I’ve listed other resources below.

[Via Monster Brains]

The Haggin Museum Leyendecker Collection

The Haggin Museum J.C. Leyendecker Collection
The Haggin Museum in Stockton, California has the largest collection of works by the great American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker held by any museum.

The collection had been on tour for some time and returned to the museum in May. Since then work has been completed on a newly remodeled gallery in which the collection will be on display until December 31, 2010 (just long enough for the next installment of my traditional Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year post).

Unfortunately, the museum has not matched the renovated gallery display with a much needed revision of their online image gallery, which still suffers from images with camera lens distortion and color aberration (I’ve straightened out a few of the above images with the Lens Correction filter in Photoshop).

The images are also frustratingly small, but you can get an idea of the breadth and depth of the collection, which contains some superb examples of Leyendecker’s work, as well as unique early pieces.

The museum’s website does include an article about the exhibit and a Leyendecker biography, which includes a history of the collection and of Earl Rowland, the museum’s former director who assembled the museum’s holdings of Leyerdecker and other noted illustrators.

As far as I know, there is not a printed catalog of the museum’s Leyendecker collection, but a new, long awaited book on Leyendecker was released in 2008, J.C. Leyendecker, by Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler.

J.C. Leyendecker, for those who are unfamiliar with his work, was one of the finest illustrators in the history of the art form. His relative obscurity continues to amaze me; he should at least share the spotlight usually focused on Norman Rockwell, if not eclipsing him to some degree.

For a quick selection of large images, see these two articles on Golden Age Comic Book Stories. For more on Leyendecker, including additional links to large images and other resources, see some of my previous posts listed below.

[Addendum: Since publication of this article, the Haggin Museum has updated their online gallery with some higher quality images of 8 of the works.]