A Pig, A Fox, and A Box Finds a Home

Yeah! We're tap dancing here. Jonathan has sold A Pig, A Fox, and A Box to Penguin USA. We heart this, most completely. It will be a part of the Young Readers series and is set for Summer 2015. We love our people at Penguin/Grosset & Dunlap/PSS. And Jonathan is so very happy to work with his editor, Ms. Bonnie Bader.

Just a reminder: Woodward and McTwee comes out next month--March 20, 2014--also from Penguin USA. Thanks for the love you've given Jonathan's other two books. We think you'll like Woodward and McTwee, too.

Also, in other news: Jonathan has finished two new picture book dummies and is shopping those around. I have also completed the writing for the first book in The Magical Raintree Daughters three-book series for middle grade readers. I am editing and hope to have it all polished up soon. Then, I have to sell it. THAT'S NOT HARD, IS IT? Hahaha, I'm laughing over here, just all by myself.

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

#MSWL #MGLIt #MGlitchat

Fisher Price Supa Dupa: Original Art from $49

Hi all. Jonathan looooves to sketch and draw. This week, in between children's book stuff and painting commissions, he sat down and sketched some of his favorite vintage Fisher-Price toys and other playthings. I asked if we could put them on our Etsy store, and he was cool with that. So....drumroll...here are four new drawings that are perfect for the beginning art collector (priced at $49-$59, unframed). An original sketch by Jonathan Fenske of a bear from Goldilocks Fisher Price playset

Denver artist Jonathan Fenske's drawing of a bear from the Fisher Price Goldilocks playset

Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske's sketch of the black Fisher Price dog

A drawing of the Fisher Price knight by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Jonathan Fenske's sketch of a 1950's deer figurine

A graphite drawing of the knight from the Fisher Price Castle playset by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

A detail of a Little People Fisher Price drawing by Jonathan Fenske

You can find these one-of-a-kind drawings at our new Fat and Appy Etsy store. We're planning on using the Etsy shop as a place to experiment with new products, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, leave them in the comments! Thanks for stopping by, as always. We love ya'll.

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.

Under Construction: Unicorns and Body Parts

Thanks for your blogging patience as Jonathan and I continue to crank out some special projects. I have discovered that I can't blog and work on my middle grade novel, Magical Raintree Daughters. I can do one or the other, but not both. Jonathan has finished his latest picture book and I'll give you a hint: it concerns the lowly chin. That's right, folks, we're all about the chin up in here. And what's this with unicorns, you say? Well, I have noticed that when Magical Raintree Daughters starts to bog down, I think of my eldest girl and I know she would be chomping at the bit to see more action. So, I think to myself, "Throw in a unicorn!" And then the story gets moving again. I haven't actually added a unicorn, yet, of course. But I have been writing in the equivalent.

I should be done with the novel in about 5-7,000 words. It's challenging to pull it all together, but I am excited to end this particular story. Then, I'll take a break and start on Book Two, which will be about the oldest magical Raintree daughter, Penhally.

Until then, here's a picture of our middle girl, reading away. We love books around here, we sure do.

A little girl reads a children's book
A little girl reads a children's book

A Life at 3:42 p.m.

This afternoon, my writing was done and the house slept quietly. I even had a dinner plan that would be pretty simple (pasta, parmesan, crumbled bacon with broiled asparagus). Feeling a little creative, I decided to take some shots with my Nikon that captured the suburban experience. No posing, no cleaning, no editing. Just fast shooting in about six minutes. (And Phoenix followed me upstairs, downstairs and outside, of course.) It's been about seven months since I quit my corporate social media job and I have happily and sometimes clumsily adjusted to the rhythms of my new role that puts me at the center of the home, where I long wanted to be: wife/mother/homekeeper/small business owner/creative writer. I've learned to embrace clutter (as long as I know it can be cleaned up!); uncertainty;  the joy of creekwalking in the middle of the day; multiple kid school and babysitter pick ups; and the unbridled excitement I have to be working on a novel again.

Here is our house at 3:42 p.m. How grateful I am to God for these small moments of a simple life. (Caveat: Sometimes, it's not so simple, but today, it is.)

A silver dish of oranges

A picture of a girl's cardigan

An Australian shepherd and sleeping child

I Love Your Work Jonathan Fenske

A child's illustration

A picture of an Australian Shepherd

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. 

Let the Goats Eat Your Shirt

When my girls get older, I'll say to them, "I hope you dance let goats eat your shirt." When life presents opportunities, I hope they grab them.

When dreams are fresh and newly minted, I hope they reach down deep and go for it.

And when life is just so hard they can't imagine going on one minute more, I pray they'll cling to God.

Plus the goats, always the goats. Let them eat your shirt. It's better this way.

A picture of a goat nibbling a girl's shirt

Confidential to my dear, sweet P: You love wide and deep and your mama is crazy about you. 

Suburban Slaughter

Does this dog look like a menace to society ? A picture of Jonathan Fenske's Aussie

We don't think so either! This is Phoenix Orion, our sweet new Australian Shepherd pup who has been with us almost two months. But I present the evidence for your perusal, kind reader. Here is what he has done:

A picture of stuffed animals with their eyes removed by a puppy

Take a close look: Phoenix has systematically removed an eye from each stuffed animal. Diabolical! Our eldest girl carefully patched up her friends and then brought them to me for a group portrait. The shame, the shame.

Phoenix has no comment.

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

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!

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

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

Banksy's College Scholarship #banksyny

By now you may have heard that superstar British graffiti artist Banksy set up a stall in Central Park yesterday and sold original, signed work for $60 each. (His work can fetch in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.) It took four hours to make the first sale, and at the end of the day, the nice older gentleman running the stall had made $420. I had to laugh when I heard about this and immediately watched the video on Banksy's website about his month-long NY "residency." I loved it all, the pop-up stall, the people strolling by, oblivious to the stunt, and the naturally effortless way Banksy stirs things up.

And then it hit me: College scholarship! If I had been one of those lucky people who bought a Banksy for $60 (or less...one woman bargained and got two for $60. Shrewd!) I would be on the phone with an auction house, selling the canvas for college money for the girls.

Sigh. How did we get here? I can practically hear my younger, more "pure" artistic self mocking me. Disappointed in me, a little. "But it would be cool to have a Banksy hanging in the living room," my younger self shrieks. "How did you get so OLD?!!

All I can tell my younger, hipster-loving art connoisseur self is to go to the Vanguard website, type in that your youngest child will be in college in ELEVEN years and then hit "Return." Watch the numbers dance. And then cry yourself to sleep in a corner.

And that, younger version of me, is why I would sell my pop-up Banksy in a split second. And I have a feeling that Banksy would probably say: you gotta do what you gotta do. But he would say it in a British accent and then go spray paint something. And we definitely wouldn't see his face. But you get the idea.

Have a great time in New York, Banksy! It's fun to watch what you're doing from here. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX54DIpacNE&w=420&h=315]

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