this joy + ride: issue 70

We’re most delightfully pleased that Jonathan is featured in this joy +ride issue 70 today. this joy + ride is an elegant compendium of art, designers, photographers, poets and other creative folk, published twice per month by shari and sheri. What’s awesome about today’s edition is that it features the illustrations from STUFF, a new picture book that Jonathan worked on all summer. I’ve been dying to show you illustrations of this project for months, but I kept it under wraps so this joy + ride could feature it first.

So, here’s one illustration to enjoy. Hop over to this joy + ride for the rest!

An illustration of the children's picture book STUFF by Jonathan Fenske

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Sea Life Illustrations

Jonathan has returned to illustrating and writing his own children’s books this week, after taking a little detour to help me with a picture book that I implausibly wrote last month.

He’s also doing video scribes with Room 214 and whipping out character design for a Colorado startup. We’ll share more on those projects when they are finished.

Here’s a quick peek at some digital sketches of his new picture book. He hasn’t colored them yet; he’s thinking of using Prismacolor pencils and doing the coloring by hand. I think I like this idea very much…can’t wait to see what he does.

An illustration of a barnacle by Jonathan Fenske

And here’s another one:

Sting ray illustration by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

Thanks for stopping by our blog! We’re Jennifer and Jonathan, and we make modern art prints on canvas over at FatandAppy.com featuring Jonathan’s designs. 

For Better, For Worse; In Art, In Writing

Jonathan is really, really supportive of my writing. He’s given me time, space, encouragement and the occasional dry-your-eyes pep talk our entire marriage concerning my writing dreams.

That’s why my two novels are both dedicated to him. Without my husband, they would not exist. I mean that most sincerely.

We usually work on separate projects but over the past few years, we’ve melded our artistic brains together on occasion. Fat and Appy Modern Art for Children is probably the biggest effort. But we also joined forces for my middle grade manuscript, MAGICAL RAINTREE DAUGHTERS.

Our newest project is a picture book—my first one ever! I thought ideas for picture books only flowed to one Fenske in the house, but a story popped into my head this summer. I was kind of shocked. Then, I wrote it down. Pages and pages overflowing from my pen. I handed it to Jonathan, sure he would connect with the text and bow low before me. (Just kidding on that last part.)

 

Illustration by children's book illustrator Jonathan Fenske of a boy jumping on a couch.

“Before lunch, a boy rode past with his dog. The boy jumped high. He jumped hard.” Illustration by Jonathan Fenske

He read it right away and then handed it back, saying kindly that I needed to get it down under 300 words. In other words, I needed to slash oodles and oodles of text. Words. Phrases. Helpful adjectives. You know, my stuff. 

Jonathan was completely correct. So I edited. Cut. Cut some more. Argued over word choice with Jonathan. Described some illustrations to him. Daydreamed about others that might come into shape once he started drawing.

It’s still a work in progress, but Jonathan has given me a rough illustration style he’s going for to match the sparse (now 199 words!!) text and the (I hope) evocative feeling of the story.

More details later. But I wanted to post this illustration because, to me, it represents love and dreams.

Purple Man, King of the Suburbs

Do you have sign spinners where you live? You know, those people who twirl signs at street corners advertising local businesses. Jonathan and I had never seen so many until we moved to Colorado. They are everywhere: signs flipping and spinning, earbuds shoved in ears, jug of drinking water on the ground nearby.

The BEST sign spinner worked the street in front of the Thornton Fazolis a few years ago. Our eldest daughter dubbed him “Purple Man.” He was majestic: animated sign style, flowing cape, masked face. This is no overstatement: Purple Man rocked the ‘burbs.

One day, we pulled over. You might say we were compelled to. Who was this guy? Jonathan asked him if we could take a picture and we expressed our sincere admiration. THIS IS WHY THE WORLD IS AWESOME. Of course, Purple Man posed for us.

Later, Jonathan made this illustration. Purple Man, wherever you may roam, we salute you.

An illustration by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske of a sign spinning Purple Man

The Purple Man worked the Thornton streets. We chatted with him near the Fazolis. He was awesome. 

Thanks for visiting I Love Your Work, Jonathan Fenske. If you like Jonathan’s illustrations, you can see more at www.jonathanfenske.com

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

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.

Cover Art and a Giveaway of Woodward and McTwee

Jonathan is gearing up for edits on A Pig, A Fox and A Box, his fourth easy reader that will be published by Penguin USA next summer. Part of this work involves mocking up a cover. We can’t say if this will be the final piece of cover art or not, but it’s one idea. I am digging the colors, especially the light blue, a favorite of mine.

An image of the cover of A Pig, A Fox and A Box by Jonathan Fenske

 

 

An illustration by Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

An interior set of illustrations from A Pig, A Fox and A Box by Jonathan Fenske (Publishing Summer 2015)

A Pig, A Fox and A Box is a completely fun romp between two friends, the snarky Fox and the gentle Pig. We think if you like Woodward and McTwee, Jonathan’s most recent young reader (and one that features a devious bird and sweet rhino,)  you’ll love the new book. Come on, Summer ’15!

To celebrate summer, reading and pranking good friends, we are giving away a hardcover copy of Woodward and McTwee. To be entered to win, just share this post on Facebook or Twitter. Then, come back here and tell us you shared it by posting a quick comment below. We’ll draw one winner on Monday, June 15, 2014. We can ship to USA addresses only, please. 

The cover from Penguin Young Reader Woodward and McTwee by Jonathan Fenske

Thanks for reading and make sure to share this post! Good luck!