Wild Mascot Illustrations

Our girls' charter school's Spirit Week is right around the corner. Jonathan created some illustrations for the occasion. Kids will vote on their fave "wild thing." Fun times! I know our kiddos are excited about voting. I need to round up our spare change...every year, it's a mad dash in the morning to find the right coin for that particular day (Pennies on Monday, nickels on Tuesday, etc.) 

 

More Blog Posts Featuring Jonathan's Illustrations

Source: http://www.jonathanfenske.com

Baby's Leaving the Crib

Painting-by-Denver-artist-Jonathan-Fenske It's official: baby's flying the nest. Our third daughter, who is three, is the proud owner of a new twin bed (actually, it's the bed her older sister used before moving into her own room). The twin bed has a super comfy mattress which is much more luxe than her natural fiber organic crib mattress.

She's used the new bed a few nights and all in all, it's been a success. I think she likes the "bigness" of the experience. For us, it's not even bittersweet. I am happy that our family is growing up. I used to be sad when the kids outgrew their clothes and such, but now, with a 9, 6 and 3 year-old, I'm excited that we can drop naps and do things. We travel easier. We see movies. We don't have all the gear. 

Friends with younger children will ask me, "When do you know it's time for a big-kid bed?" Of course, every child is different but we generally evicted our first two girls from their cribs when a new sibling was almost on the scene.

With Girl #3, it just seemed like the right thing to do. She's getting bigger and the aforementioned organic mattress had a groove worn in it. Baby was also waking a lot at night. We think she probably just wasn't comfortable.

So far, so good with the new bed. She's sleeping great and seems to understand she should stay in the twin bed and not roam around the house at night.

Here's a link to a children's room interior design Pinterest board I made when we set up the room the first time with two twin beds. It doesn't look much different now. I think I've said it before, but the painting in the picture, above, is my favorite of Jonathan's.

Bonus: we're selling things on eBay to help fund our summer vacay. This is incredibly fulfilling because our basement just has too much stuff: outdoor equipment, books, kid stuff. So, that crib will get a new home and we'll be a little closer to the beach!

Crib: Baby Mod, "Modena"; Painting: "Poultry in Motion," by Jonathan Fenske; Pouf: Crate and Barrel; Rug: Angela Adams

Happy Caturday!

I found this little gem of a cat last month when Jonathan was arranging some files. I was all, "Where did THIS come from? I love it!" And he's so modest, he was all [SHRUG.] Needless to say, there's a story about a cat rattling around in his brain. I shall sniff it out soon. With no more further adieu, here is a fat cat for your Caturday. And it's lovingly dedicated to Aunt Laura who loves cats.

An illustration of a gray at sleeping by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske
An illustration of a gray at sleeping by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Character design illustration by Jonathan Fenske

Time for a Beer Run: Character Design by Jonathan Fenske

Happy Monday from the studio! I thought it would be fun to kick off the week with a few character designs Jonathan did last week for clients. First up is "Time for a Beer Run":

Illustrator-Jonathan-Fenske-Denver
Illustrator-Jonathan-Fenske-Denver

Next up is this pretty fox for a client in Fort Lupton, CO.

Jonathan-Fenske-illustrator
Jonathan-Fenske-illustrator

Finally, we have this wild guy for a client in Denver, CO.

Jonathan-Fenske-character-designer
Jonathan-Fenske-character-designer

Character design is Jonathan's first love. It's the thing that comes most effortlessly to him. And I love seeing these fun and zany characters roll off of the assembly line in his brain!

Jonathan Fenske and the Very Busy February

Today, Dear Reader, enjoy this roundup of February in the life of two writers/one artist/illustrator/video scribe who are keeping it together with duct tape and just a teensy bit of coffee. First up, and most excitedly, we have SECRET NEWS to share. There is a book. A picture book by Jonathan. To be published by a FANTASTIC new publishing house friend. A WONDERFUL editor. A great STORY and ILLUSTRATIONS. But until the contract is signed and the ink is dried, I can only be VAGUE and ANNOYING. Sorry 'bout that!

Jonathan-Fenske-childrens-book
Jonathan-Fenske-childrens-book

Two weeks ago, Jonathan traveled to Boston to video scribe for The Big Studio. He worked for almost a week, dodging huge snowdrifts, and scribing up a ton. Here's a snap of his work:

Jonathan-Fenske-video-scribe
Jonathan-Fenske-video-scribe

Traveling for a husband and father of three young, howling girls is like a vacation, Jonathan tells us. And I (Jennifer) can agree. At the end of last year, I traveled out to Burbank, CA for a few meetings with the fab startup where I am a content consultant. Beautiful hotel? Nice meals in cool restaurants that aren't Chick-Fil-A? No one saying,"Are you awake, Mom? It's 5:05 a.m." Yes, please!

Jonathan also continues to do drawing and painting commissions. He doesn't paint for galleries anymore, but he certainly always has one or more canvases in the wings. This is a drawing for a client of his daughter when she was young. There was another drawing (by a different artist) of the client's son. So, now they have a matching pair. The client was so pleased, he commissioned Jonathan to do a painting of the kids who are now older children/teens.

Jonathan-Fenske-Denver-artist
Jonathan-Fenske-Denver-artist

During February, Jonathan also finished up another children's book that his fabulous agent, Carrie Hannigan, has making the rounds. Hopefully good news to come, soon!

Jonathan-Fenske-illustrator-Denver
Jonathan-Fenske-illustrator-Denver

One of Jonathan's character design clients, 3W Races, makes the BEST race medals, tees and ribbons. Here's a recent project Jonathan did for 3W's Prairie Dog Half Marathon series. He designed the ribbon with PeeDee, the mascot (that he also created for 3W). If you were a runner, wouldn't you love this custom medal rather than the generic "foot and wing" medal? If you dig PeeDee, you can visit 3W's store, here, and suit up.

photo (6)
photo (6)

I think that's about it! We also took the show on the road last week, visiting family in New Mexico. Jennifer wrote each morning for her work and Jonathan watched the little darlings. Now that we're back home, it's crunch time to get some projects turned in. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.

We're Jennifer and Jonathan Fenske, creators of FatandAppy.com. Jonathan is the author/illustrator of Woodward and McTwee (Penguin USA), among other books. Jennifer blogs about faith and life at ThePenzy.com

Playskool + Fisher-Price Painting: Lakeside Fun

Jonathan just shipped out another commission to a favorite client (oops, can I say that?). She has commissioned two other paintings,  "The Things We Leave Behind" and "Working Well Together." The latest painting is definitely one of my favorites. "Life Is Built of Memories" suggests the client's beloved Minnesota summer cabin with Lincoln Logs, vintage Playskool figures and a Fisher-Price kayak.

Fisher-Price-painting-by-Denver-artist-Jonathan-Fenske

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like more information on painting commissions, please contact Jennifer AT fatandappy DOT com. We also sell beautiful Giclee prints on canvas of Jonathan's work at fatandappy.com. Prices start at $99. 

Because Sometimes, You Just Have to Have Cat Illustrations

We're still working away on our special projects, so again, please excuse the stillness here. I am *THISCLOSE* to finishing my middle grade novel, so close ICANTASTEIT. My heroine is making her journey home--for now, insert sinister laugh--and I'm tying up all of, well, everything. And this makes me nervous but also grateful. I am so very happy with this book. It has been a delight to write. And I can't say that about every book I have written (this is my 4.5th; two were published; one wasn't; and one was halfway completed before I realized it wasn't a book I could write.) And now, since you dropped by: here's a cat illustration Jonathan did today for a local client. It's a Kat Karnival!

An illustration of a cat juggling mice by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske
An illustration of a cat juggling mice by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

Art for Sale: Original Fenske Drawings

It's time to move art! (You know we love doing this...) Jonathan and I are making room for some new pieces on our walls, and we have a few drawings we're going to sell. As a side note: it's sometimes hard to part with favorite art. But as we tell the girls all of the time (when they want to hoard things like paper wrappers from straws): "We can't save everything."

If you are interested, please shoot me a note (jennifer AT fatandappy DOT com). Shipping is additional to the prices below.

The Little Woman,  graphite on illustration board. Image is 11"x14"; total board size is 16"x20"; 2008. $99.

Fisher Price cowboys

A drawing of a Barbie by Jonathan Fenske

An image of a vintage bear

The drawings will need a frame with glass. (We like frames at Dick Blick.) If you would like Jonathan to paint something just for you, please contact me as well for commission information. And we feature a fun line of Giclee prints of Jonathan's work (on well-made, gallery-quality canvas) at www.fatandappy.com. Prices for prints start at $99.

We also just uncrated four paintings from storage. Fun to see these beauties from a few years ago.

A painting of a red tricycle
Ride Free, 30"x24", acrylic on board, 2008.
A painting of a spring horse from a playground
Spring Chicken, acrylic on board, 18"x24, 2008.
A spring horse from a playground
Buck-A-Duck, 24x18, acrylic on board, 2008.
A painting of Legos by Jonathan Fenske
Building An Empire, 16x20, acrylic on board, 2008.

Buzzy Buzzy Creative Hive

Things are a little quiet on the blog lately. That's because Jonathan and I have both entered a season of writing and illustration projects. We're cranking to meet completely self-imposed deadlines for our literary pursuits. I am back at work, six days per week, on Magical Raintree Daughters, a middle grade (ages 8-12) fantasy adventure novel. I'm about halfway through with it. I'll be finished at the end of the month. I posted the first two chapters on the blog a while back. They have been revised a good bit but you can see where I am going. Here's a little hook I am working on: Cassiopeia Raintree can cheat death with her hands and feet. The middle child of three magical sisters, Cassie is a climber. But she’s always had to hide that gift until the night a smoak kidnaps and drags her to the land of the evil Aramynes. That’s when Cassie finds out the Aramynes were turned to monsters years ago…and it’s all the magical children’s fault.

Chapter_One_Dragoblin-novel-by-Jennifer-Fenske
Chapter_One_Dragoblin-novel-by-Jennifer-Fenske

I love writing again in novel form. As much as I enjoyed writing my first two novels (and publishing them..that's really fun!), writing for a middle grade audience is completely a blast. Each day, when my eldest daughter comes home from school, she reads the latest bit and tells me her thoughts and offers suggestions.

Some people have asked if I am going to post more of the book. I plan to sell it (hopefully) so at this point, I'll probably bring it back inside the studio and not post more of it for now.

Jonathan is working on a new children's picture book. He's not ready to release the title yet, so I'll just include one illustration here. I love this book and can't wait to share more with you. That hyena illustration really cracks me up. He is also excited to finish the illustrations for Poor Peter Burke (the manuscript is complete).

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

Fat and Appy Is Open on Etsy!

We opened Fat and Appy Modern Art at FatandAppy.com a few months ago, using the Shopify platform (which we love). But a lot of people we respect (and have successful Etsy shops themselves) nudged us to "get on Etsy." I've been shopping on Etsy forever, so it wasn't a hard sell. I just knew it would take a lot of work to load in the store, set up tags, photos and pull it all together in the "About" section. And then last week, we finally decided to take the plunge. Jonathan and I both worked hours rewriting copy, enlarging jpegs and brainstorming tags. We also launched a new design, called "Identity Crisis." It's available in four sizes, starting at $99.

Rody bouncing horse by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Our new Etsy store can be found at FatandAppyModernArt. I think it's so exciting to be in the company of thousands of creatives who are making things. I hope we can debut new products on the Etsy store or maybe even original drawings to get feedback. I've even been cooking up a 3D printer project. I have endless ideas...but I just try to take them one at a time and decide what to pursue. My notebook is full of ideas; Jonathan has a similar notebook and his is crammed with project ideas, too.

And now we can check off Etsy. Hurray!

Tomato painting by Jonathan Fenske

A fox print by illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Yeehaw Colorado painting by Jonathan Fenske

A fried egg print by Fat and Appy, designed by Jonathan Fenske

Buy Brick: A Jonathan Fenske Illustration

Jonathan has always been fascinated with fairy tales. Here's a recent illustration of the Three Little Pigs, with both the industrious Pig #3 and the Big Bad Wolf thinking that bricks come in pretty handy. An illustration of the Three Little Pigs by Jonathan Fenske

Jonathan is a Penguin USA children's book author and illustrator available for commissioned work. He's collaborated with some fabulous agencies and creative firms. For more information: jonathan (AT) jonathanfenske (DOT) com. 

Jonathan Fenske Illustration: Chicken Legs

Jonathan is doing editorial/commercial illustrations for Mercury Payment Systems and New York Life this week. I'll show some of that work later, but for now, here's a quick illustration from Chicken Legs, an as yet unpublished children's book Jonathan has written and illustrated. You can see more of Jonathan's children's book characters and books in this blog post. Chicken Legs is about a young chicken who gets teased by his friend Pig and Goat because of his "chicken legs" His father lovingly steps in to help comfort his son by sketching some drawings...with some funny results.

Chicken Legs image, a children's book by Jonathan Fenske

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! 

Some Recent Fenske Illustrations

Jonathan has been doing a little bit of everything this summer: editorial illustration, video scribing, painting commissions and logo designs. Here's a quick look at two projects. This illustration is part of a series for a large quick-service restaurant chain. I love the pattern Jonathan did on her bathrobe! This illustration is making me want to design fabric again! (A long-standing dream of mine.) A woman in a bathrobe with coffee illustration

Here are several logo treatments for the Los Lunaticos cycling team in Santa Fe, NM. What's your favorite?

Various logos for a cycling team in Santa Fe NM

We hope your summer is filled with creativity and fun! Today, I'm hoping to take pictures of our newly improved family room. I keep trying, but with three kids running about, the room is always a disaster. I think I'll have Jonathan take the girls out for ice cream or a bike ride so I can finally get some snaps of the room. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by our blog. We're Jennifer and Jonathan, makers of high-quality modern art for kids, among other things. Visit FatandAppy.com , and sign up for our emails to save on your next purchase. 

Back to the Drawing Board: Guppy Up!

Back to the Drawing Board: Guppy Up!

When you are writing a book, some scenes don't make it in for various reasons. For my second novel, my editor wisely cut about 20 pages that were truly terrible involving a cult-like artists' colony (bless her).

Here's a fun illustration that didn't make the cut for Jonathan's children's book, Guppy Up! (Penguin USA). He ended up writing some other rhyme, which left this scene with no place to go. Enjoy!

New Work: A Pig, A Fox and A Box

   

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan has written a new children's book, A Pig, A Fox and A Box. I have to say, this might be our collective favorite. We both laugh reading it---he laughs because I am laughing, I like it so much.

The book has three chapters and features the spry and impish fox. Pig is a kindly, slower-moving creature. The two play together one fine day until things go awry. It reminds me a little of the Looney Tunes cartoons we used to watch as kids (and have purchased for our girls). Think rocks and casts and some good-old-fashioned slapstick.

We'll let you know where this one ends up! Fingers crossed, on a bookshelf near you.

An illustration of pig and fox by Jonathan Fenske.

 

Keep up with Jonathan and Jennifer (that's me!) by scrolling to the bottom of the page and subscribing to our blog. Or you can always check out what's happening on Fat and Appy, our online store for canvas prints of Jonathan's work. 

What's Your Favorite Children's Book? + Book News

If you have kids in your home, you read a lot of children's books. Books are everywhere around here. And beware the tidy mother who attempts to curate the collection. There were howls of protest when I started to "thin" out the bookshelves earlier this week. But we had to...shelves were stuffed and books were piled and the baby would drag them around, chewing and mewing for someone to read to her. (Kidding! She's in that stage where a book is simply not that interesting. We still read to her, of course, but she wanders off to see how her older sisters are clobbering each other. True story.) In any event, we filled a box-o-books to take to Goodwill.

Box of children's books

This book curating made me think of a guest post Jonathan did in February over at The Write Now Coach, Rochelle Melander. I've known Rochelle for many years and she's a true tour-de-force of a writing coach, author, editor...the list goes on. She kindly had Jonathan on her blog and he guest posted about his 5 favorite children's books. Here's an excerpt:

"When we had our first daughter seven years ago, I delighted in buying old picture books at thrift stores and discovering new titles at our local bookstore. When I wrote Love Is in the Air (indeed, whenever I write) all of my favorite books were (and are) swirling in my head, a beautiful, highly respected and influential mass of collective imagination."

In book news, we're pleased as punch to tell you that Penguin USA made an offer for Woodward and McTwee. It's one of several stories about a sweet, innocent hippo and a super snarky bird. The book will be published in 2014. We love Penguin, including Jonathan's editor, Bonnie Bader. Go book people!

Here's a homemade mock-up of the cover:

Cover of Woodward and McTwee children's book by Jonathan Fenske That's it from here! We invite you to head over to the new home of Fat and Appy, and our new collection of canvas prints for children featuring Jonathan's designs. Save 15% by signing up for our newsletter. Thank you for visiting. We adore you so much.

Tell us in the comments: what is your favorite children's book? 

How to Be Creative When You Are Exhausted: 3 Things You Need to Know

When people find out you have written a book, they often will share that they, too, have a book idea. It's in their head, this book, and one day, they will write it down. I get it, I really do.

Colorado artist Jonathan Fenske

Most of us--all of us, really--have something creative inside that's yearning to get out. We have been blessed with a gem of creativity and before long...it starts to rattle and roll around our heads and hearts until we just know that it must come out. Maybe it's a new recipe, maybe it's starting a blog or a book, maybe it's taking a photography class to finally master that new DSLR.

Whatever it is, this creative nugget can wither in the face of life. In the face of reality. The just getting up and getting on can smother even the most elegant and eye-popping ideas.

I know tiredness. I know messy houses with clean laundry piled high waiting for the folding fairies to show up. I know the exhaustion that comes from starting the day early with small children, commuting to an office, doing good, hard work, and then returning to love those children with dinner, baths, books and prayers.

After that, what's left? A scrap of an hour? But what of bills, organizing, phone calls with sisters, or a quiet chat with your spouse? How does anything creative get done in a home like this? 

I'm only an expert in my own life (and Jonathan would say his, as well, ha!) but here are three things that have helped us. I hope they can be of use to you, too.

1. Communicate to the people who live in your house what you will be doing. 

I have a persistent child who loves to draw out bedtime so it's about two hours long. If I give in to her nightly demands, I would never write another word in my life. So, I say to the older girls: "Mommy is putting you to bed at 7:45. You can read for a while, but I am going downstairs and writing." They hardly ever argue when I set up the evening like this.

You have to draw the line in the sand for your time to be creative. Protect that space. Maybe your time is your lunch hour when you walk to a coffee shop and bang out some words on your tablet at a dented coffee table (I've done this). Or perhaps you trade babysitting with another mom so you can attend a Craftsy class while the house is quiet.

I know some of you are thinking: "But I am tired and you're telling me to work more!" Yep, I sure am. Trust me on this one: when you step into that magic hour, you will work hard. But you'll come out jazzed, energized, more alive. And the best part? You won't be resentful or snippy because you are doing what you are supposed to do: fulfilling your calling.

2. Accept that you cannot do everything. And then do just one thing. 

We are launching an online store to sell stretched canvas prints of some of Jonathan's designs. My to-do list is a mile long as we get ready to roll out the store to bloggers, designers and our art supporters. My head could spin, but I learned long ago that today only has a few things on the list. Maybe five, sometimes just one. You'll get better at figuring out what goes on the list, but here's a hint: When it's on the list, it gets done. That's because you've given it a sacred place on the list, and you have focused your heart and mind on it.

It does no good to make lists that you cannot do. If you cannot devote an hour to writing a blog post, then don't add it to the list. Instead, your list should include the things you can do. Maybe it's Return Liz's email and Send invoice to client.

3. Never, ever compare yourself with anyone else's success. 

You've finally stepped into that magic hour. The work is happening and you take a moment to read a favorite blogger. She's just announced her new book contract, her development deal with a cable network and she tops it off by sharing glamorous photos from a recent trip to New York (sponsored by Glade!)

This is what you must know: you will drain away your last resources if you waste a moment of jealousy on someone else's success. 

You don't want her troubles, and she doesn't want yours.

Let it go, wish the wonderful writer/artist/actor/mom well and go back to your journey. Your gift is something the world needs and even though you are exhausted, it's up to you to make it happen. Being resentful or spiteful or envious only hurts your creative offering because we might not get to see it. Discouragement is an ugly step-sister to jealousy.

Guard your time well. Be grateful for your opportunities, even when they happen quietly, out of the public eye. Give thanks for each spark of genius you have. And may you have many more.

What about you? How are you creative even when exhausted? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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