New Video Scribe: Soluto

Jonathan worked with Room 214 once again to create another video scribe. Love this one, baby! [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aX12Los4LI]

You can see more video scribes from Jonathan here and here. If you want to work with him, we recommend Room 214 wholeheartedly.

A few other things:

  • Jonathan's newly on Instagram @jonathanfenske
  • Here is Jonathan's page on his lovely literary agent's (Carrie Hannigan of HSG Agency) website.
  • And a fun mention of Woodward and McTwee on the fabulous book site, Growing Book by Book. By the way, they have the BEST Facebook page. Check it out!

That's all for now. Thanks SO much for stopping by!

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

 

 

A Fenske Commission: Straight to the Moon!

Another commission is leaving the studio. This (as yet untitled) painting is for a client who wanted a vintage Western + space story using Jonathan's collage-style painting method. They have a Cape Canaveral and NASA family background and were fun for Jonathan to work with over the past few months. I loved seeing this one take shape...it's really cool. A painting by Jonathan Fenske

If you're interested in a painting commission, drop Jennifer (that's me!) a line at jennifer AT fatandappy DOT com. If you like the collage-style painting method, but don't want to go the commission route, check out our online store of affordable Giclee canvas prints. Here's Yeehaw Colorado ($119) for a 16"x20" canvas print:

A painting of cowboy themes by Jonathan Fenske

Pro Tip: Don't forget! Sign up for our emails and save 15%! This discount will go away this weekend (we're dropping it to 10%) so make sure to save now! 

Art on a Budget: 6 Ways to Find Art That's Affordable

Jonathan and I love art, and we share our home with paintings and other special one-of-a-kind pieces that mean a lot to us. I know from talking with friends who come over that they often want original art---but don't know where to start. It's too expensive, right? Well, of course, it can be. But it doesn't always have to. With a little work, Googling and luck, you can have beautiful art, all for not much money. We're living proof!

Okay, if you're still with me, read on for a few tips on buying art on a budget. (Or finding art on a budget...but we're getting ahead of ourselves!)

Art on a Budget Tip #1: Find An Artist You Love and Then Figure Out How to Buy from Them

I'll let you in on a secret: artists like to sell their work. And they usually do it with a smile on their face. So, get out and meet artists. You'll be collecting on the cheap, so head to undergraduate art openings at a college or university near you. Stopping in at the local yogurt shop? Chances are, there's an artist on the walls that month. Even Barnes and Noble displays art on the hall leading to the bathroom. Look for artist "studio tours" in nice weather. Go on gallery crawls where there are pop-up exhibitions happening on nearby streets.

Use Twitter to find artists by following hashtags such as #illustrator and #artist. Strike up Twitter friendships with artists and visit their websites. Often, artists will set up online stores where they offer paintings, prints and even pillows of their work. Want something different but completely cool? DENY Designs based in Denver sells home decor goods printed with amazing art, including stretched canvas.

Become friends with your new favorite artist. Get on their email list. Comment on their blog. Be supportive and introduce them to other potential collectors. They'll be grateful and when you commission them to paint the perfect 24"x24" piece for your foyer, they'll gratefully move you to the top of the list.

Once you find something that's in your budget, ask yourself just one question: Do I like this piece? If you do, buy it. This is where you decide to part with cold cash: if you like it, it's yours.

When I was in high school, I was really into Georgia folk artists. I adored R.A. Miller and found out a cool gallery in my hometown of Greenville, S.C. carried a few of his pieces. I walked in the door (probably decked out in a vintage dress and humming an R.E.M. song) and trotted out a few minutes later with this tin cut (below) for $40. (The painting on the left was purchased in Nicaragua off the street for less than $20. It has a cardboard frame...isn't it the coolest?)

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Pro Tip: When buying art from a cafe or bookstore, it's a universal truth that the frames will be atrocious. Look past it---it's okay. Head over to Dick Blick and re-frame your sweet new piece of art.

Art on a Budget Tip #2: Trade Something

From time to time, Jonathan (who is an artist and children's book author/illustrator, if you are a new reader to this blog) will trade with another artist he admires. It's how we got this piece by David Nielson when we lived in Atlanta a few years before we moved out West.

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If you aren't an artist with another painting to trade, maybe you are a graphic designer and can trade a website design. Or maybe you're an attorney who can give some contract advice to an artist. Stay-at-home mom? What about babysitting for an artist who needs help watching kids so she can work? Trading works best if you have a relationship already established with the artist. So, I say ask--you never know what you might be able to arrange. Back in Atlanta, we once traded a painting for a Danish Modern dining room table and chairs. (If you want to see that painting, "Chivalry Is Dead," click here. It's peeking over the shoulder of our friend Brian.)

Art on a Budget Tip #3: Troll Etsy

There are some amazing artists on Etsy.  It's like an art fair on your laptop. You'll have to sift and sort but when you do, slap a heart on shops you love and come back again and again. We purchased this print from 12fifteen and then framed it with a Target matte/frame combo. I love prints and think they are a great way to collect someone you love...even if more than one person has the same one you do. Total cost: $47.50.

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Art on a Budget Tip #4: Ask an Artist to Paint Your Walls

This one takes a little more coordination, but you probably won't be turned down. As long as you are not asking the artist to paint a Disney character (blech), most early-career artists will happily come over and draw something special on your wall and then paint it. Jonathan got his start doing murals all over the Upstate of South Carolina. Send a friendly email...what do you have to lose?

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Art on a Budget Tip #5: Don't Forget Sculpture

An often less-expensive path to an art-filled home is to remember sculpture, vases, birdhouses, lamps...anything that you love and expresses who you are.

This TimeStone clock makes me happy every time I walk downstairs for a badly-needed cup of coffee in the morning. The bright yellow bird slides back and forth. We found this at a thrift store for less than $5.

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These blocks were a gift for the new baby. They are fresh, modern and so pretty. From tiny giraffe on Etsy.

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Art on a Budget Tip #6: Make Friends with Your Local Thrift Store

Every thrift store in America has a huge bin of mouldering frames, 1970's owl art and assorted motivational posters housed in gold-tone frames. You, dear reader, are going deeper. Remember to disregard the frames and the cleanliness of the art. Pounce on anything that is clearly original and well done. Jonathan rescued this awesome 1982 painting from a thrift store down the street. It's by Denver artist Bruce Clark and I can't imagine what happened so that it ended up where it did, but we couldn't be more thrilled to be the new owners.

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I should definitely add that many quality galleries offer paintings in the low hundreds. Some even may have very small works for less than $200 if the artist is just starting out. Or they may sell high-quality prints that cost around $100. But if those prices are too steep for your budget, then I hope some of my ideas may help. Good luck and happy hunting!
Do you have a fun art collecting story? Share it in the comments!  And don't forget to subscribe to more Fenske art news by scrolling to the bottom of the blog and entering your email. Keep up with Jen and Jonathan on Twitter, too: @jenmanskefenske

A Colorado Christmas

We're just back from the library. A chicken psole cooks in the crockpot, courtesy of my sister-in-law who is visiting from Santa Fe. The house is full with six kids, 10 and under. To say things are in an uproar would be an understatement. But it's a good kind of chaos, the kind where adults carefully plan an outing to Which Wich, Starbucks and then to Anythink. I love Colorado. I don't think I've ever written that here, but it's true. For several years, we longed for the South, our home. But now, six years in, we are Coloradans. We have found the right neighborhood, school, church and we are blessed with more friends than we can carefully tend to. And then there's the beauty that is Colorado. In about an hour, we can be in Rocky Mountain National Park, flash our annual pass, and be off into the wild.

Last month, before we were laid low with influenza, strep throat and pneumonia, we took visiting Fenskes to RMNP. Here are a few shots of the snow, the hike and the gorgeousness that is Colorado. Happy and blessed to be here.

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Art Party!

Our middle girl turned four Sunday, which of course is a terribly big deal. We hosted an art party and Jonathan took the kids through a lesson in painting their own "Pop-art"-sicles. It was an adult joke, but some of those kids were pretty smartypants and I think they got it. We were overwhelmed with the kids' creativity and powers of concentration. Cake, presents, art...color us happy! (and completely exhausted.) http://www.jonathanfenske.com

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Where Their Legs Will Take Them

It's been a quiet weekend so far. Jonathan has a commission due, so he's trying to get the paintings done (there are four) and out the door on Monday, shipped across the country to the collector. Our middle child came down with a fever, so we cancelled two different dates with friends, plus an outing to another friend's pool. Lots of Looney Tunes watching happening in the house. That, and pulling some very tenacious weeds in our suburban backyard.

We have friends who are an opera singer and art director, respectively. Their boy attends a magnet performing arts school, so my friend says he's always putting on shows in their living room. I guess it's what he sees at school and home (in the case of his opera singer mom). It's no different here. Our eldest girl fashioned an art gallery today:

The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree.

Jonathan and I sometimes joke that we want our girls to be anything---anything!---other than an artist, writer or illustrator. We know it's a hard road and sometimes dreams are pesky things to chase. Sometimes you chase them for a very long time.

But honestly, we would be proud to see them follow in our footsteps. I know we would. Already, they show a love for art and words that touch us. Their adults lives seem so far away but at the same time, I know it's fast approaching. Faster than we'll ever want it to be.

New from the Sketchbook: A Pig, A Fox and A Box

One thing I have learned being married to Jonathan for almost 15 years is that the guy never runs out of creativity. Never. My man can write, draw, sketch, compose and illustrate all day. And then get up and do it again. I'm very fond of something he says quite often: "I had another idea for a children's book..." Happily for him, Penguin USA picked up two of his books that will be published in Dec. 2012 and Spring 2013. They are Love Is in the Air and Guppy Up! You can learn more about them here.

Penguin is currently considering A Pig, A Fox and a Box. We hope they go for it---Jonathan has had an awesome relationship with his editor and the staff there.

Here's a sneak peek:

The Beautiful Place

Sometimes, shaking up the normal routine is what we need to do to see something beautiful. Jennifer's parents visited this week from South Carolina and we took them to Barr Lake State Park, east of Denver. We wanted to see the baby bald eagles that are nesting there, but the hike was not an option for our multi-generational group. So we stuck close to shore and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. Every step we took led us past the almost-ready-to-bud-and-bloom Colorado landscape. Winter was over and spring was arriving, glorious blue skies and warm winds trailing in her wake. http://www.jonathanfenske.com

We all get in the rut of normal life. It's easy to forget to lift our heads and take in something special, something beautiful. What are you discovering today?

http://www.jonathanfenske.com