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

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.

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!

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.

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

Crazy Like A Fox

We're in full swing here at Fenske & Fenske, working on our most recent projects. So, we hope you don't mind this second look at A Pig, A Fox and A Box. We hope to announce good news soon that this pranking duo have found a home. Soon, soon! The cover of the children's book A Pig A Fox and A Box by Jonathan Fenske

An illustration from a children's book by Jonathan Fenske

An illustration of Fox and Pig from Jonathan Fenske's children's book A Pig A Fox and A Box

Thanks for stopping by our blog, especially while we're working on new stuff. It's really encouraging and we think you are LOVELY. Keep up with Jonathan and Jennifer (that's me!) by subscribing to our blog at left. Or you can always check out what's happening on Fat and Appy, our online store for canvas prints of Jonathan's work. 

Love Is in the Air Review + A Cybils Nomination!

We were delighted to see that Laura Purdie Salas posted a review of Love Is in the Air yesterday on her blog. Thank you, Laura! She is the author of BookSpeak! Poems About Books and Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School, both with Clarion, and a rhyming nonfiction picture book from Millbrook Press called A Leaf Can Be. Image of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske

Here's an excerpt of the review (we love her writing!):

"Drama! There aren’t many easy readers where I think, “Oh, no, how is this going to work out!” But I did with this one. When Kite floats to Earth and Balloon is going up, up, up, it’s very foreboding. And it seems hopeless..."

Read the rest of the review, here.

Also, we have learned that Love Is in the Air was nominated for a Cybil, the children's and young adult bloggers' literary awards. This is terribly exciting to be honored by bloggers in this way because literary bloggers were the first people to embrace Love Is in the Air. We have such a place in our heart for the bloggers who reviewed Jonathan's first book. Thank you to Katie Fitzgerald at Secrets and Sharing Soda for the nomination. We're also thrilled to see Jodie Rodriguez from Growing Book by Book on the judging panel, as well as Katie. She reviewed Love Is earlier this year. All three of these bloggers have been such an encouragement!

When Life Punches Your Pumpkins

Someone out there needs to read this, right now: your creative dream is worth it. We believe in you, even though it seems no one else does.  A picture of some rotting pumpkins in Colorado

What you paint or draw or write matters. It's creation, it's beauty, it's art.

The world needs what you make. Otherwise, the cesspool that is currently passing for our entertainment culture will continue to devolve. You need to fight the good fight.

So, hear these words, friend: Lift up your head and keep going. Write another page. Sketch another character. Write another verse. All of us in the creative community, we're rooting for you.

Jonathan and I know creative disappointment. People ignore our emails; editors take months to respond to proposals; often the answer to our labors of love is "no." We get it. But we keep going, and you need to, too. Even when you are exhausted and discouraged.

Take a deep breath. We recommend a good walk (Jen) or a thrashing run (Jonathan) and then get back at it----the screenplay, the novel, the poem, the picture. Your dream is so valuable to this world.

Don't hide it; keep going, dear dreamer. We're with you, all the way.

Love,

Jennifer & Jonathan

We're Jennifer and Jonathan Fenske and we write children's books and novels, and once, we made an app for iPad. We also make baby girls, with some regularity. Visit our online store for modern art for kids, FatandAppy.com. 

Housework: I Am Not the Maid

We have this thing in our home where little pink and polka-dotted socks roll inside-out and then beach themselves all over the house, apparently in a last-ditch effort to enjoy life before succumbing to a long, slow journey to the laundry. I find these socks, these mournful little piles of cotton, in all rooms. It's heart-breaking. Who will take a stand and care for their lost plight?

A picture of a sock on a floor

Sometimes, pedestrians walk past without a second glance. Cold, unfeeling monsters. In cute pajamas.

photo 2-4

Oftentimes, the socks stick together against all odds, defying the inevitable, and link hands, for one last fling.

A picture of brown socks on a couch

This is life from here. Lots of little girl socks. All over the house. And a lone woman crying, "I am not the maid!" This falls on deaf ears. And naked feet.

A sample illustration from Guppy Up! by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

In Sketching Our Children I Find a Fleeting Freedom

It seems a fruitless task, the sketching of our children, for how can I in anyway capture adequately the beauty of the child that sits or sleeps in front of me? A sketch of a sleeping child by Jonathan Fenske

So interesting, and against my perfectionist nature, to know that my attempts will be subpar at best. But in this realization there is a release of sorts: the usual pressure to perform subsides, for these sketches will not be masterpieces, but moments thrown down to revisit at a later date, tangible proof of a special point in time after so many other points are lost to life’s too-quick passing.

A drawing of Jonathan Fenske's middle daughter

This need to capture these moments is my challenge and motivation. There are the technical aspects of course. Twenty minutes, tops, is not really much time before the daughter in front of you asks once too often “Daddy, how much longer do I have to sit still?” and you realize creation is crossing into torture for both sitter and artist.

A drawing of a child by Jonathan Fenske

The sleep sketches are even freer of predictability: five, perhaps ten minutes, the knowledge of a coming change pushing my pencil rapidly along. And then, the change made manifest with a snuffle and a roll, and deep sleep recovered in a different pose.

An infant sleeping by Jonathan Fenske

But for these small swatches of time I get to look unabashedly at my children’s faces, studying, remembering, tucking away the geometry of their features. Features I now recall when they are at school, or I am on the road. Features I hope to still recall when they leave their mother and me and stretch toward the horizon of adulthood.

Sleeping child drawing by Jonathan Fenske

As you who are parents well know, at the end of a hard day, full of sassiness and scuffles, whining and tantrums, there is a voice of despair that tells us we are underappreciated, that our failures outweigh the successes of our parenthood. Sketching my daughters is one of my releases from this voice, for as I study the peacefulness that attends their slack mouths and soft faces, I find in their letting go I am able to let go myself. Today’s slate is wiped clean. Tomorrow’s is as smooth and unlined as the calm brows of my lovely children.

Wet headed daughter sketch by Jonathan Fenske

 

A quick sketch of a sleeping baby by Jonathan Fenske

A sketch of a surprised baby 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

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. 

Oh Windy Day!

Today is a windy day. I did not know wind until I moved out West. The wind here can blow and blow and somehow, you are supposed to function like normal. And our neighbor Wyoming to the north has it way worse. I took the middle girl to the new amazing Margaret Carpenter Park and Open Space today. I put on a brave face, but the wind was fierce and cold. My daughter asked if we could go after 45 minutes.

photo-11

Back in the house, I found Jonathan sketching a fun cartoon fox for the upcoming Westgate Community School 5K. He did the design for the inaugural run last year, too. I personally love foxes. I had an encounter with one years ago during an early morning hike in Yellowstone. The image of the silent, running fox has stayed with me.

RUN_WILD

Jonathan was also working on Fat and Appy, our online shop for modern children's art. We've been adding the canvases in 3D, so you can see how the art will look. He just uploaded this cute Fisher Price car print.

Fisher Price Car Painting by Jonathan Fenske

As always, thanks for stopping by! Come back tomorrow for the true tale of the Millionaire's Silver Chandelier. Intrigued? I hope so!

We're Jennifer and Jonathan, and we make modern art for kids, in addition to some other projects. Subscribe to our blog at left, or sign up for our emails and receive 15% off of your next Fat and Appy purchase.