Character Design: 3W Races

Jonathan has been working on character design for Colorado-based 3W Races, a fabulous company that offers local racing events in partnership with local businesses that benefit local charities. Jonathan was brought on to do character design for 3W's "Peedy" mascot, also called "Prairie Dog." Jonathan loves working with this young company and as a runner himself, he's completely dialed in to what they are doing.

Here's a look at Peedy running through the four seasons:

An illustration by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
An illustration by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Jonathan's also character designed other race characters, including a one-legged chicken. Here's a cute story about Jonathan, a race through rain and mud, and our three girls.

Thanks for stopping by, ya'll! We appreciate your support so, so much.

Denver Video Scribe: Telespine

You may remember Jonathan illustrates video scribes (also called "whiteboard animation"). He's done a few recently in Denver/Boulder for Telespine, Asurion and Verizon. Here's the Telespine video scribe. Listen for the funny background words and noises. Love the post-production on this one---Room 214 does such a great job, as always. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHvRZOQIifw&w=560&h=315]

Designing Icons for Luv

Happy Friday! Dropping in here for a sec to show off casually display the beautiful logo and icons Jonathan created for my new blog, The Penzy. The subtitle of the blog is "Faith + Pretty Things." It's a blend of Christian inspiration plus indie home decor, jewelry, art, etc. I love faith-y blogs and I love indie craft/design, so voila! I decided to blog about both of them, together. Naturally, the next stop was to tell Jonathan I needed a logo. And icons.

And then I scrawled designs on a napkin. And scraps of paper. It was so sad panda. I can write, but I cannot draw what's in my head.

Patient husband he is, Jonathan sat down one evening and cranked these out. We tweaked and discussed and swapped colors and fonts until we were both happy. I love them, I really, really do! Go see them in action at The Penzy.

The logo for The Penzy, an online blog about faith and pretty things by Jennifer Manske Fenske
The logo for The Penzy, an online blog about faith and pretty things by Jennifer Manske Fenske
A heart icon on a blue background by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
A heart icon on a blue background by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
An icon of black glasses for The Penzy blog by Jonathan Fenske
An icon of black glasses for The Penzy blog by Jonathan Fenske
A frame icon by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske for the blog The Penzy
A frame icon by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske for the blog The Penzy

Do you need a logo or icon for your blog? Contact Jonathan for info and rates. He's reasonable and fun to work with...I promise!

Character Design: Under the Sea

I posted recently about a new children's book Jonathan was working on with some plucky sea creatures. The good news is that he's finished the coloring (the illustrations I posted were in black and white). Now, it's with his agent and we could not be more thrilled. Someone, somewhere will fall in love with this new story. We just know it (the dolphins told us). We're Denver-based illustrator and character designer Jonathan Fenske and Jennifer Manske Fenske. Check out Fat and Appy, our online store for modern art for kids featuring Jonathan's illustrations. 

Character-designer-Jonathan-Fenske
Character-designer-Jonathan-Fenske

this joy + ride: issue 70

We're most delightfully pleased that Jonathan is featured in this joy +ride issue 70 today. this joy + ride is an elegant compendium of art, designers, photographers, poets and other creative folk, published twice per month by shari and sheri. What's awesome about today's edition is that it features the illustrations from STUFF, a new picture book that Jonathan worked on all summer. I've been dying to show you illustrations of this project for months, but I kept it under wraps so this joy + ride could feature it first. So, here's one illustration to enjoy. Hop over to this joy + ride for the rest!

An illustration of the children's picture book STUFF by Jonathan Fenske
An illustration of the children's picture book STUFF by Jonathan Fenske

Follow this joy + ride on Twitter

Sea Life Illustrations

Jonathan has returned to illustrating and writing his own children's books this week, after taking a little detour to help me with a picture book that I implausibly wrote last month. He's also doing video scribes with Room 214 and whipping out character design for a Colorado startup. We'll share more on those projects when they are finished.

Here's a quick peek at some digital sketches of his new picture book. He hasn't colored them yet; he's thinking of using Prismacolor pencils and doing the coloring by hand. I think I like this idea very much...can't wait to see what he does.

An illustration of a barnacle by Jonathan Fenske
An illustration of a barnacle by Jonathan Fenske

And here's another one:

Sting ray illustration by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske
Sting ray illustration by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

Thanks for stopping by our blog! We're Jennifer and Jonathan, and we make modern art prints on canvas over at FatandAppy.com featuring Jonathan's designs. 

For Better, For Worse; In Art, In Writing

Jonathan is really, really supportive of my writing. He's given me time, space, encouragement and the occasional dry-your-eyes pep talk our entire marriage concerning my writing dreams. That's why my two novels are both dedicated to him. Without my husband, they would not exist. I mean that most sincerely.

We usually work on separate projects but over the past few years, we've melded our artistic brains together on occasion. Fat and Appy Modern Art for Children is probably the biggest effort. But we also joined forces for my middle grade manuscript, MAGICAL RAINTREE DAUGHTERS.

Our newest project is a picture book---my first one ever! I thought ideas for picture books only flowed to one Fenske in the house, but a story popped into my head this summer. I was kind of shocked. Then, I wrote it down. Pages and pages overflowing from my pen. I handed it to Jonathan, sure he would connect with the text and bow low before me. (Just kidding on that last part.)

Illustration by children's book illustrator Jonathan Fenske of a boy jumping on a couch.
Illustration by children's book illustrator Jonathan Fenske of a boy jumping on a couch.

He read it right away and then handed it back, saying kindly that I needed to get it down under 300 words. In other words, I needed to slash oodles and oodles of text. Words. Phrases. Helpful adjectives. You know, my stuff. 

Jonathan was completely correct. So I edited. Cut. Cut some more. Argued over word choice with Jonathan. Described some illustrations to him. Daydreamed about others that might come into shape once he started drawing.

It's still a work in progress, but Jonathan has given me a rough illustration style he's going for to match the sparse (now 199 words!!) text and the (I hope) evocative feeling of the story.

More details later. But I wanted to post this illustration because, to me, it represents love and dreams.

Purple Man, King of the Suburbs

Do you have sign spinners where you live? You know, those people who twirl signs at street corners advertising local businesses. Jonathan and I had never seen so many until we moved to Colorado. They are everywhere: signs flipping and spinning, earbuds shoved in ears, jug of drinking water on the ground nearby. The BEST sign spinner worked the street in front of the Thornton Fazolis a few years ago. Our eldest daughter dubbed him "Purple Man." He was majestic: animated sign style, flowing cape, masked face. This is no overstatement: Purple Man rocked the 'burbs.

One day, we pulled over. You might say we were compelled to. Who was this guy? Jonathan asked him if we could take a picture and we expressed our sincere admiration. THIS IS WHY THE WORLD IS AWESOME. Of course, Purple Man posed for us.

Later, Jonathan made this illustration. Purple Man, wherever you may roam, we salute you.

An illustration by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske of a sign spinning Purple Man
An illustration by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske of a sign spinning Purple Man

Thanks for visiting I Love Your Work, Jonathan Fenske. If you like Jonathan's illustrations, you can see more at www.jonathanfenske.com

Hatched to Run

Jonathan just finished an illustration for the Westgate Community School "Run Wild" 5K that will be held in September. The school has begun to work with chickens, starting with tiny chicks that lived inside until they were able to make it on their own in their brand-new chicken coop.

Look carefully: do you see the prosthetic leg on the chicken? That's a tribute to one of the Westgate chickens who apparently had a leg amputated. Brave chick.

An illustration of a chicken running by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
An illustration of a chicken running by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Giveaway Winner & When Things Break

Congratulations to @beingkeri for winning a copy of Jonathan's children's book Woodward and McTwee! Keri, just send your address to Jennifer (jennifer AT fatandappy DOT com) and I will send a hardcover copy to your attention. Thanks to those who shared, followed and tweeted! On a completely different topic...

Are you experiencing broken things? We feel you. We know your pain.

A few months ago, we unwittingly entered a season of broken things. And we're not talking about small items. In no particular order, this is what failed, broke or burned in the last few months:

> Car AC (our mechanic broke it when he repaired something else but we still had to take the car back to be fixed, gratis. This involved Jonathan biking forty miles back and forth from the repair place in Denver in one day since we car share.)

> House AC. Not even kidding. This is a BIG expense. Currently, we are saving to replace the unit. So, this summer, we enjoy the great outdoors, indoors. All of our windows look like this:

An open window in a suburban house

This also means we buy allergy medicine. Having a lot of open windows is actually kind of fun; it's not too hot here in Colorado and you can hear the kids playing outside. You can also hear your neighbors discussing trimming their hedges; yelling at their dogs; and jumping on trampolines. This part is a little weird.

As a southerner, not having air conditioning seems like not having a lung. Or a dinner table. It just feels like a major THING is missing. But once we realized that saving up for the replacement compressor unit was really the only option, well, I just kind of accepted it. And cranked open sixteen windows.

> Garage Door. The torsion springs were apparently put in by the neighborhood builder using the cheapest product available. So, along with all of our neighbors, our garage door broke down like an old donkey.

> Dryer. When we moved into this house almost seven years ago, we purchased a very pretty middle-of-the-line Whirlpool washer/dryer combo. At some point, the heating coils overheated, tripping every fail safe inside the dryer. Melting ensued. Jonathan YouTubed the heck out of that thing and then ordered $125 worth of parts online. After watching videos over and over, he was able to get the dryer back on its feet.

> Dishwasher. Again, another nice Whirlpool appliance. Something plugged and whatever...I stopped listening. A few dollars online, another YouTube video and Jonathan had the dishwasher up and running again.

I know these are all first-world problems. I know I am blessed to have a newish house filled with modern conveniences. I know all of this. And hopefully, things are about to stop breaking down around here. 

But when you are facing hundreds or thousands of dollars of repairs you weren't expecting, it can get a little panicky. So, if this is you, take heart. We're going through a Season of Broken Things. It's not fun and it's not cheap. I hope that your brokeness passes quickly. And I hope our story encourages someone, somewhere.

Also this: if you stop by for a visit, dress in layers.

Girl Nursery + Guest Room Budget Makeover

I redid this room a few months ago, but I could never get really good pictures, so I put off writing about it. I still don't have great snaps (sorry!), so I'm just going to throw it out there. Ya'll are crazy understanding and super supportive, so I think it will be okay. Let's dive in! Here is what we were dealing with: a combination guest room with queen bed and nursery space + crib for our third daughter. (Third kids don't get fancy nurseries....life IS unfair, I know.) We had the green wall color for about six years and I was over it. I had replaced the duvet cover with a Target sale duvet cover but it really wasn't the right choice. It was high time for a redo...something that our little girl could grow into when the crib was removed and she would sleep in the big bed.

Nursery_Guest-Makeover
Nursery_Guest-Makeover

I usually start with a color "feeling" and in this case, I wanted strong, intense colors like aqua, raspberry and perhaps yellow. But in recent years, I have been dialing back the saturated wall colors in favor of more neutral tones. (I did this with our family room makeover last summer. Gray was the word of the day.). So, I decided in this room, I would go for a neutral wall and then turn up the volume on the bed covering and the accessories.

Here is the "After":

DSC_0472
DSC_0472

I went with "Pink Cadillac" by Benjamin Moore color-matched to Valspar Ultra No VOC on the walls. This delicate paint is almost cream with a hint of pink. I love it and it gives the room a warmth that was unexpected. Jonathan painted the butterflies on the wall. I have seen a lot of 3D paper butterflies tacked onto girls' walls on Pinterest, but I have to admit that my girls are rough. They would tear down paper thingies in seconds. Plus, I figured I would be forever sticking butterflies back on the wall once the adhesive wore off. So, I asked Jonathan to paint some butterflies and he agreed. Love my man!

The art is from Michael Mabry and it's actually cover art from Land of Nod catalogs. Michael designed LoN catalogue cover art for about ten years, Google tells me. We found these beautiful, professionally framed prints in a thrift store for $10 each.

The curtains are pretty polka-dot cotton panels that we had in the linen closet from our last house. I love reusing things and it saves money!

A closeup of the modern bed with pink pillows and artwork
A closeup of the modern bed with pink pillows and artwork

The quilt coverlet (Overstock.com) really set the tone for me to jazz up the room with fun pillows and art. The monogrammed pillows are from my friend Laura's Etsy store, which she has since closed. The gray pillow is from HomeGoods and the flower and butterfly pillows are MudPuppy from Target.com.

Monogrammed by SimplySweet by Laura on Etsy
Monogrammed by SimplySweet by Laura on Etsy

I was able to add a pop of yellow color with the lampshade (Threshold from Target) which we simply affixed to an ancient Martha Stewart lamp base we have had forever. The art is from my middle daughter and is framed with a Target frame. Chair is vintage.

A picture of a nursery and guest room painted with Benjamin Moore Pink Cadillac paint color matched to Valspar No VOC
A picture of a nursery and guest room painted with Benjamin Moore Pink Cadillac paint color matched to Valspar No VOC
DSC_0490
DSC_0490

Jonathan painted the Fisher Price race car above the BabyMod crib. You can purchase a canvas print of the car on our Fat and Appy store. The rug is from Angela Adams--we have had two of them for a long time.

A picture of a Fisher Price race car by illustrator Jonathan Fenske
A picture of a Fisher Price race car by illustrator Jonathan Fenske

That's it! The room is bright, cheerful and has a young sophistication that will grow with our sweet babe. Plus, we can still host overnight guests (and the baby can bunk with us).

If you liked this post, you might enjoy the True Tale of the Millionaire's Chandelier, stuff you can decorate with for just $6 and our Family Room Makeover.

Middle Grade Novel Illustration

I've finished my middle grade novel, Magical Raintree Daughters. It's so good to be done! With Book 1, anyway. Now, I will be searching for a children's literary agent. Jonathan, meanwhile, has been looking for his own literary agent as well. Update: He has an agent! Carrie Hannigan of HSG Agency. Yippie! How do you spell fun? Q-u-e-r-y! As you may remember, Jonathan and I collaborated on the novel; he is doing the illustrations. Here's a sketch board of some of the characters. Wish us luck as we try to make this dream a real-live book (or three).

Illustrations by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
Illustrations by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Denver Illustrator Mad Skillz

We're feeling a little punchy tonight: it's the end of Spring Break and we enjoyed a staycation. Which is to say we searched desperately for free or low cost things to do each day with three kids of varying ages (8, 5 and 2). Anyhoo, tonight's meal was stir fry whipped up at home and supplemented with delicious potstickers from Thornton's own Heaven Dragon. Plus: gigantic slices of navel oranges. Bring on that weekend! Here's a cute illustration from Jonathan's latest picture book project called STUFF. He's been working on this character this week and he says he's finally there. Have a great weekend, ya'll! And thanks for stopping by.

A picture of a boy looking up by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
A picture of a boy looking up by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Lego Painting

Jonathan just finished a commission for a collector family in Atlanta. This is #2 of 4 paintings for their four boys. (The first painting in our blog header.) For each painting, the collectors' sons give Jonathan ideas of their favorite toys and then he creates a "dream scene" with the playthings. For this painting, Jonathan built a couple of the models himself from Lego parts we had lying around. The other objects were from existing model sets. He told me this was his way of being "creative on two levels." Really, I think he just likes to play with Legos.

Love this one! You can see a picture of the beginning of this painting, here.

 

A painting of Lego toys by Jonathan Fenske Denver Artist

 

 

Have Some Happy Thoughts

Here are a few illustrations from Jonathan's picture book HAPPY THOUGHTS. It's not sold yet, but we're working on it. Excited about tomorrow: WOODWARD AND MCTWEE'S publication date! Yahoo! You can buy it in any bookstore or online, of course. Look for the Penguin Young Readers series carousel in your favorite bookstore. Thanks for supporting Jonathan's work...we are so appreciative.

A little girl sleeping next to a cloud

 

An illustration of a sunset by Jonathan Fenske

 

An illustration from Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

Denver Corporate Client Mural

Jonathan finished up this week's mural project Tuesday night (or should I say Wednesday morning?) for The Regis Company in Golden, CO. He worked at night (by his request) so he could cruise along and not disturb the company's employees. (I have mentioned it before, but Jonathan started out as an artist back in the day painting murals in homes). This client (awesome, awesome people willing to take a chance on an animation-ish, whiteboard style mural) found Jonathan's whiteboard animation/video scribe work online and contacted him to see if they could work together.

A mural by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

The mural is 16'Wx8'H and is painted on MDO signboard. I have to brag on my man: he engineered this cool way to hang the panels on two strips running horizontally. The panels are fitted with 45-degree-angle pieces of whitewood that interlock for easy removal. Why not just screw the panels into the wall, right? Well, this way, the company, which is growing like gangbusters, can lift off the panels in a jiffy and take them to their new corporate space one day when it's needed.

You might notice the empty cartoon bubbles on the mural. Those are for removable vinyl art that can be applied for various client visits or other uses. Using these removable pieces of vinyl allows the mural to be updated with projects, awards or anything relevant that happens later.

Detail of a mural by the Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Detail of a Colorado mural by Jonathan Fenske

A mural for a corporate client by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske, detail

Thanks for stopping by our blog! Check out our Etsy shop for some original art from $49 or canvas Giclee prints from $99, all by Jonathan, of course. And don't forget, Woodward and McTwee debuts March 20, 2014 for the young reader in your life.