Happy Halloween from Poor Peter Burke

First off, I would like to wish a happy, happy birthday to my dear sister, Katie. I hope it's a great one. In Katie's honor, and since it's Halloween, I wanted to share with you a snippet of Poor Peter Burke, a new children's book I am working on currently. Peter Burke has some rather eccentric tastes, much to the confusion of his parents. Here's an excerpt from the manuscript and a sample illustration, below:

POOR PETER BURKE by Jonathan E. Fenske Poor Peter Burke, peculiar lad,

Began to worry Mom and Dad

When he developed little quirks

That most perturbed the elder Burkes…

 

He loved to read and loathed to gab,

And leaned a bit to the macabre

At bedtime snubbing Mother Goose

To sample Poe’s dark omnibus…

 

He had a pet, a raven that

He rescued from the neighbor’s cat

And promptly named Sir Edgar Allan

(Alas, the cat retained a talon)…

A picture of young Peter Burke and his pet raven by Colorado illustrator Jonathan Fenske

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!

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

Vintage Bear Illustration

Jonathan looooves old vintage squeaky toys. We have more than a few. Here's a bear he drew back in 2010 called "Bear Capture" that sold in Atlanta's Matre Gallery. Pro tip: Love an artist's work but can't afford a painting? Look for their pencil on paper sketches or ask if they can do a pencil commission. The difference in price can be significant and you still get a piece of work you love! Be sure to budget in a nice frame to protect the drawing. We like frames from Dick Blick and Target's RE collection. Like this drawing? Be sure to check out our line of affordable Giclee prints on canvas at Fat and Appy Modern Art for Children

An illustration of a vintage bear by Denver illustrator 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. 

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. 

I Love My Anythink

I love my Anythink. I say this statement at least once per week, and all of my friends know I can't stop yapping about how great our quirky library is. Anythink is seven libraries in Adams County, Colorado, a suburban community north of Denver. Anythink is a true Cinderella story: Rangeview, our local library district, was the least-funded in the state with dilapidated buildings and dusty, dispirited collections. We moved to Thornton in 2007 and visited our closest branch once. We never went back. But behind the scenes, things were changing.

Back in 2004, the Rangeview Library district became an independent entity from Adams County. In 2006, voters approved a mill levy increase to fund improvements. Flush with this cash, and led by library director Pam Sandlian Smith, Rangeview was reborn as Anythink: A Revolution of Rangeview Libraries. From worst to first, as they say, and the world noticed. Awards started flying and the Anythink staff now advises library communities around the world.

So, how do I describe Anythink? First of all, the flagship branch, Wright Farms, is two blocks away from our house, so it's bikeable, walkable, it's just close. I love that.

But for everyone else, it's stunning, modern architecture with an outdoor landscape rich in hands-on experiences. It's no late fees and self-checkout. It's the cafe. It's The Studio. It's the soaring ceilings, gorgeous furniture, friendly staff. It's great programming, like a week and a half ago when I took my two youngest to hear author and illustrator David Shannon read Duck On a Bike, our One Book 4 Colorado selection. We also recently attended the opening of The Studio and interacted with cool technology (all five of us, no easy feat, but the staff made it easy).

Thanks, Anythink. Our lives are better because you're here.

David Shannon reads Duck on a Bike

 

Children's Modern Art Canvases + Free Autographed Book

It's crazy exciting to announce our first promotion for Fat and Appy: Modern Art Canvases: A Free Autographed Copy of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske with purchase. No coupon code needed: We'll throw an autographed softcover copy of Love Is in the Air* into each order through April 24, 2013. Shop on, art lover! If you have been following our blog, you know we have been moving toward focusing Fat and Appy on art, rather than apps. We still love apps (hello, Apple!) but our first love has always been art. So, Fat and Appy is officially relaunching as Fat and Appy Modern Art Canvases for Children. 

A happy fat tomato with green background

There are several reasons for our new direction. A lot of parents want to have affordable art for their children's rooms and play spaces. Too often, they are stuck with tacky prints at big-box stores. Simple, short-run prints have a place, too, and you can find them on Etsy, for instance, but then you have to frame them and we've found not everyone wants to do that.

Need tips for finding affordable art? Check out our post, "Art on a Budget: 6 Ways to Find Art That’s Affordable"

Another reason is that we discovered an amazing partner to create our canvases. They are handmade in North America, guaranteed not to fade or crack for 99 years and we offer a 30-Day Happiness Guarantee. The quality is so good, I practically swooned when I saw the first sample.

An orange popsicle on a blue background by Jonathan Fenske

We've added 18 designs to the store, starting with the artwork from Healthy Creatures (that's our app for iPad!) plus some fun Popsicle illustrations. Jonathan is hard at work on more illustrations, so if you have some ideas, leave a comment below.

Two peas with faces with pink background

More details, if you are in to that type of thing:

-High-quality canvas stretched over 1.5" wooden frame

-Printed with gallery-quality Giclee method

-Available in four sizes

-Designed by Jonathan Fenske

-Canvas wraps around sides providing a white finished decorative edge

-Durable piano wire mounted on back for easy hanging

Thanks for reading, and for supporting us!

--Jen and Jonathan

Who are Jennifer and Jonathan? Read about us, here.

Image of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske

* While supplies last. Softcover copy of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske has a retail value of $3.99. Sorry, we cannot personalize the autograph. No cash value. Offer ends April 24, 2013. 

This Tilt-A-Whirl Life: Big Changes Ahead

It’s been a little while since we blogged. I blame it on the whirl of life: meals, laundry, out-of-town work trips, freelance writing, laughing, crafting, mopping up spills of all sorts. We are a carnival ride spinning in a blur of multi-colored lights. We’re trying to catch our breath, but the reality is: someone is going to throw up.

Denver artist, video scribe, Denver illustrator

This year is bestowing blessing after blessing on us: Jonathan is video scribing like a crazy person. He also published two children’s books and has a third coming out next year. Painting commissions also take up his time, as well as other freelance illustration work.

And if that wasn’t enough, we are launching a line of stretched canvas prints of Jonathan’s work. (We’re starting with the original art Jonathan created for our app, Healthy Creatures. You can see the beta store here…pardon the mess. Update: We moved to our new home! www.fatandappy.com We have more art to add and things to build out. We’ll also be moving the URL to www.fatandappy.com.)

So, something had to give. Jennifer (that’s me!), who has always had the steady-eddy corporate job, will be coming home to manage Fat and Appy and Guppy Up!, our two art businesses. Resigning a great job was a tough decision but with so much work coming Jonathan’s way, and so many opportunities at hand, we knew it was the right time.

I am excited and just a little apprehensive to transition in such a big way. Jonathan feels the same. But it’s our time to jump off the carnival ride…and whirl away as a family, together, toward whatever is ahead.

Art We Love: Michelle Kondrich

Art We Love is a new series we are starting on the blog. Jonathan and I feel strongly that we should help support other artists. And one way we can do so is to help share with our friends and followers talented people working in art and illustration today. So, with a drumroll, let us introduce Michelle Kondrich to you. She's a Denver-based illustrator who has worked with some really cool brands and agencies. Learn more about her here. Michelle also does visual scribing (also called whiteboard animation), like Jonathan, so they have that in common. It's like a secret scribing society!

Michelle graciously answered five of our nosy questions. Keep reading for her answers, learn about her amazing desk...and admire her great illustrations! And don't forget to follow her on Twitter: @missillustrator

"Submerged" by Michelle Kondrich

1. What is a favorite illustration of yours right now and why?

My favorite illustration right now is called "Secret Recipe" and it was created for Light Grey Art Lab's Message in a Bottle show. It is one of my favorites not only because I just like the way it looks but because it is representative of the direction my art is taking and of my growth as an illustrator and painter over the last year or so.

"Secret Recipe" by Michelle Kondrich

2. Where do you work? 

I work primarily from my studio at home. And by studio I really mean my desk against the wall in our living room. We have a very small apartment but I have managed to carve out a comfortable space. One thing I absolutely adore about my studio is my desk. I had a custom standing desk built by a carpenter from my home town and it is exactly what I needed. It is about 5 feet wide and half of the desk tilts at an adjustable angle like most drawing tables. The other half is stationary and is where I keep my computer. It also has a huge drawer underneath that is good for keeping things clutter-free and for some flat storage. Not to mention, having a standing desk equals no back or shoulder pain from working!

3. When faced with a new project, what's your creative process like? 

I don't know that I have a process that I consciously execute with new projects, but they always start with a lot of thinking. I often have pages of loose leaf paper with idea maps and brainstorming lists to try to get my mind to think about the problem from all angles. If the project allows it, I will take a day or two to let the subject matter float around in my head before I do much sketching. Then I just start drawing out ideas until I find a few that feel right and I'll do many sketches of those ideas to find just the right composition.

4. Did you draw a lot as a child?

All the time! I remember getting a lot of attention as a young child for being able to draw so well. I distinctly remember drawing things upside down so that the people across the table could see what I was drawing. I don't know where that came from, but it's not a skill I have now. At one point I had a little drawing table, much like the Wacom's now, that I could plug into the television and create these big drawings that everyone in the room could see.

"iBaby" by Michelle Kondrich

5. Who is your favorite illustrator that you admire? 

Wow, picking favorites has never been a skill of mine. One illustrator I really admire at the moment is Oliver Jeffers. His work is gorgeous and his stories are unique. 
I'm also a huge fan of Victo Ngai at the moment. Her work is remarkably imaginative and beautiful. No matter the subject, I would hang her illustration on my wall. She inspires me to work harder at making the work I do an object of beauty even if the subject is not.

Free Book Friday Winner and Er, Another Free Book Friday Contest!

Hi everyone! Thanks to those who entered last week's Free Book Friday contest. We had nine entries, so I used Random.org to pick the winner. Drum roll, please..... Screen shot 2013-02-01 at 10.29.41 PM

The winner (#3 on my Random.org entry) was Comment #3 by Gina who writes a pretty awesome parenting/DIY blog. Congrats, Gina! She wins a signed hardcover copy of Love Is in the Air.

That brings me to this week's contest. There is more than one hour left on Friday, so I still feel okay in my soul about this being a Free Book Friday post. Eastern time zone people are asleep, but here in the Mountain West, we're just getting started.

dog_Fenske

I've decided to give away two Love Is in the Air books this week since I think it might get monotonous to do this for five weeks straight as planned. So....for this week's contest, please simply share this blog. You can do so with the share buttons at the bottom of the post. (If you are reading this from the front page of the blog, you won't see buttons. You have to click the actual post and then scroll down.)

It's the honor system around here, so once you tweet, Facebook or whatnot, simply just post in the comments below where you shared it. The contest will be open until Wed., Feb. 6 and there will be two winners. Good luck!

Fun Art Today: Illustrator Alex Mathers

wiredmountainillo_mysite Twitter is the best place to discover illustrators. I keep a Twitter list just for illustrators that I follow. I love scrolling the list to see what some pretty talented people are up to. Alex Mathers is one such illustrator. He's a globe-hopping freelance illustrator who works with the Google+ design team, among others. Alex is actually to blame for making Jonathan and I dream a crazy dream: going overseas with our gaggle of girls and working for a time at our projects. Why is Alex to blame for this scheme? It's because he wrote this absolutely wonderful post about his nine months freelancing in Tokyo. He makes freelancing abroad seem so...so...I don't know, something like possible. He's a dangerous man.

Another thing about Alex Mathers: He's an encourager. You know I love this. Alex runs this cool contemporary art site called Ape on the Moon along with the very talented Phillip Dennis who tweeted with me once so we're like practically best friends. Alex and Phillip post about other creative art makers who are doing very cool things.

Secret Pro Tip: Alex also runs the Red Lemon Club, a site dedicated to helping creatives find more clients, network and promote their work effectively in a very classy way (read: not email-blasting hundreds of creative directors.)

Last day to enter the Free Book Friday contest! We're giving away a hardcover copy of Love Is in the Air, Jonathan's new children's book from Penguin USA. Click here, comment and you are entered to (maybe) win!

 

Free Book Friday: Win a Copy of Love Is in the Air

Hi friends! Jonathan and I are super happy to launch a new Friday freebie: we're giving away a hardcover copy of Love Is in the Air each Friday for five weeks. That's five chances to win! For today, please leave a comment telling us the answer to this question: Who will you read Love Is in the Air with?

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, we'll choose a number from Random.org and that number entry will be our winner. Easy! (Contest is open to U.S. addresses only, please.)

Screen shot 2013-01-24 at 9.45.47 PM

Want to know more about Love Is in the Air? Read this wonderful review by the children's book blog Sweet on Books. It's posted on their blog and also the NYC local ABC affiliate, WABC's website. I think the WABC link will only work for one week, so click today to see it!

Melissa from Sweet on Books writes: "Love Is in the Air is a cheerful, heart-warming story; this is a subject not often found in "Learn to Read" books. This particular kind of children's book is deceptively hard to write, and write well. I don’t think that many authors even attempt it. So much of what is out there is just meh. But Jonathan Fenske has changed that."

Thanks very much to Melissa and the folks at Sweet on Books. Stop in there for quality children's book recommendations, plus a gorgeously designed site that makes you want to stay around for a long time. They have an awesome rating system, plus you can sort recommendations by reader level which is very helpful.

Good luck and get those entries in!

Criminal Reshelving and Other Seedy Book Details

The first few weeks since Love Is in the Air published have been super fun, super exciting. We receive great pictures texted to us from friends and family around the country who have so kindly ventured out to bookstores to pick up a copy. Here's one from our dear friends, the C----- family who may or may have not engaged in a little "criminal reshelving." That's the practice of artfully promoting your loved one's books to the front row. Ahem, totally not condoning the practice but....thanks ya'll! http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

IMG_3494

 

IMG_3493

 

 

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

Other Fenske news: Jonathan heads into the studio tomorrow with Room 214 for some visual scribe work. That's where he sits and draws and they take like a million pictures of him and then editors stitch it all together into something really cool. He's also doing painting commissions, per usual. He's currently working on a commission of an Andy Warhol portrait and the other day, Jonathan had a slip of the tongue and called it an "Einstein portrait." We both giggled because there's kind of a big difference.

Jennifer (that's me!) is scheduling children's book blogger visits for Jonathan. Jodie from the awesome young readers blog Growing Book by Book has graciously agreed to post about Love Is in the Air; writing coach and all-around awesome author Rochelle Melander will also have Jonathan do some guest posts in February and then again in May.

I also work on Fat and Appy each day. Still find it crazy that we have an iPad app for sale on the App Store. Wild! People ask me what our next app will be and I think definitely ebooks. We both love children's books so much and it would be a cinch to take Jonathan's orphaned books and turn them into digital wonders. First, though, we have to get through promotion for Guppy Up! which comes out next month.

 

 

Space Bug Eats Cheery Astronaut

As you may know if you read our blog, Jonathan loves vintage toys. He often sets them up in funny or poignant situations and then photographs them to see how the scene works. He takes the scene that he likes best and then paints with acrylics onto board. Voila! Sometimes, I see him processing an image from one of these photo shoots that makes me laugh out loud. This is one such image. It's called Final Transmission.

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

Love Is in the Air: Jonathan's New Children's Book Is Published!

This week was a fun one in the Fenske household. Jonathan's first children's book that he wrote and illustrated published Dec. 27. Love Is in the Air (Penguin USA) is the story of a lonely balloon and a lively kite and their special day in the park together. Jonathan is pretty excited and I am over the moon. It's not every day you get to walk into Barnes and Noble and see your sweetie's new book on the shelf. Proud of you, baby!  

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

Love Is in the Air is available in soft cover, hardcover and (soon!) it will be an enhanced ebook, produced by Penguin's awesome ebook partner.

 

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

What's next for Jonathan? Penguin will release Guppy Up! Feb. 7, 2013. Plus, he always has new children's books in progress, and Penguin is interested in some new titles for 2014. So, stay tuned!

This Is My Husband's Arm

Jonathan has been doing some visual scribe work for Boulder social media agency Room 214 lately. He was tapped to tell the Room 214 story...which is a really fun tale of two college roommates (James Clarke and Jason Cormier) starting a successful business together, with race cars and rabbits thrown in for good measure. Visual scribing is new to Jonathan, but he's excited to learn a new outlet for illustration. Check out his work (and Room 214's of course!) below. You can also see this today on the Denver Egotist, which is pretty cool, since that's how Room 214 found Jonathan---through his illustrator profile on the Egotist. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6uO2e3U-DM&w=560&h=315]

Fenske Art Roundup

It's been a while since I blogged, so we apologize for the tumbleweeds. Here's a roundup from the Fenske studio. Enjoy! Love Is In the Air eBooks Jonathan's first children's book with Penguin USA, Love Is In the Air, is publishing Dec. 27, 2012. We just found out that Penguin will be making ebooks for Love Is In the Air and for Guppy Up! which publishes Feb. 7, 2013. Hurray! Since we have just completed making an app, it was a joy to hear about the ebooks. Someone else will be in charge of every single detail. Someone else can test, test and test some more. Making an app or ebook is hard work. Even so, I think that Fat and Appy's next project will be an ebook of a fun children's book that Jonathan wrote last year called Happy Thoughts. It hasn't found a home yet, so we're thinking it's a perfect way to dip our toe in the book app market. (Wait---didn't I just complain that making an app is hard work? Well, it is, but we just can't stay away....)

www.jonathanfenske.com

Healthy Creatures Launches on the App Store Our first children's app for iPad launched one month ago! Healthy Creatures is a creative app for children ages 3-8 that allows kids to make creatures out of fruits and vegetables. It's .99 on the App Store and we're thrilled to have ten reviews of 4 and 5 stars! We've also been featured on awesome blogs such as 5DollarDinners.com, TodayIAteaRainbow.com and MileHighMamas.com. We've even been mentioned on the App Nanny's podcast! Along the way, we're learning the ropes of app promotion, app marketing and the general app-ecosystem. Want to see Healthy Creatures in action? Watch the app trailer.

Westgate Community School 5K Westgate is a wonderful charter school in our neck of the woods that just moved into their forever home (the first three years of the school's existence was spent in a rented old middle school). Jonathan designed Westgate's first ever 5K logo which celebrated the new building.

www.jonathanfenske.com

The Kitchen Sink Jonathan has been working with Room 214, a social media agency in Boulder, doing some visual scribe work. Jennifer is researching tee shirt companies to produce a line of toddler and kid's tees. We made two one-offs with Fat and Appy's logo for the Denver Startup Bash a few weeks ago. Jonathan is also working on a handful of painting commissions from clients around the country.

www.jonathanfenske.com That's it for now! As always, we'd love it if you followed us on Twitter (@fatandappyfun or @jenmanskefenske), Facebook or YouTube.