Warhol, Flying Planes and Cloud Gate

Two commission paintings are leaving the studio. “The Things We Leave Behind” is a nod to the client’s love of Chicago, air travel and the Cloud Gate sculpture in the Windy City. Jonathan loves working with this client. This is their second collaboration, the first is here. If you look carefully, you can see Jonathan’s mark on the painting and then reflected in Cloud Gate. Fun!

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The second painting is also a repeat client and this time around, she wanted a portrait of Andy Warhol. It’s packed and off in the mail already. I like the bright splashes of color. I walked past this a dozen times and I said (probably a dozen times), “I never knew I liked Andy Warhol so much.” I just really gravitated to this painting.

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If you would like to commission a painting, just fill out the form below. Jonathan works with all sorts of budgets, so just ask. He’d be happy to work with you. If you want to see more of his paintings, check out his website. And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog at the bottom of the page, we thank you very much!

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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

“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

“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

“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.

More Visual Scribe Work: Verizon’s Busy Grandma

I love this scribe. Jonathan was able to really dream up the characters, especially Grandma (don’t you just love this gal?) for the client, Verizon, on behalf of Room 214. Working with this great social media agency in Boulder has been a blast for Jonathan. On production days, he’s always in a great mood (or is that because he gets to escape from kids-n-chaos?!). This scribe has a lot of little pieces thrown in that are so fun…like “Slice ‘O Heaven” and Grandma’s groovy car.

5 Tips for Writing the Best Love Letter Ever

Forget the perfume. Ditch the roses. For Valentine’s Day this year, all you need is a pen and a pretty piece of paper.

Your love letter doesn’t have to be penned to a romantic partner. Write what’s in your heart to your child, mother or father, best friend or simply someone special in your life.

If you need a little nudge, I’ve written 5 pointers below. Go ahead…write a letter this year! Your loved one will always cherish it. Four times per year, Jonathan and I pen letters to each other (birthdays, our anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s Day and Christmas.) I love that our girls will inherit boxes of letters from their parents. As our oldest says now when she sees us kiss (with gentle disgust): “Smoochie! Smoochie!”

Valentine’s Love Letter Tip #1: Tell Them Why You Are Writing

This is a secret tip to writing a good love letter. Open your note telling your loved one why you wanted to write this letter.

Dear Honey, I wanted to sit down and tell you a few things that are in my heart. 

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Valentine’s Love Letter Tip #2: Reference Your Current State of Affairs

Life is crazy right now. With the three girls, it seems like we’re always making a peanut butter sandwich or scraping one off the ceiling. 

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Valentine’s Love Letter Tip #3: Tell Your Loved One You’re Crazy about Them

But even with our long days of chasing our art dreams while chasing down the girls, my heart still jumps when I see your face. 

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Valentine’s Love Letter Tip #4: Praise Something Awesome 

Quite frankly, I’m in awe of your talent. I’m blown away by how you care for us. I am deeply, deeply thankful that you are the biggest part of my life. 

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Valentine’s Love Letter Tip #5: End with a Sentiment from the Heart

My home will always be with you.

I love you, 

Jennifer 

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This week’s contest winner is Jaymie from Snacks for Max! Thanks, Jaymie, for commenting! Please also check out Jaymie’s blog for a really sweet review she wrote of Jonathan’s easy reader Love Is in the Air. Last week, we also had a great post on Rochelle Melander’s Write Now Coach blog (Jonathan guest blogged about his fave children’s books). And Secrets and Sharing Soda did a beautiful review of Love Is in the Air.

Photographs Copyright 2013 Jennifer & Jonathan Fenske

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…..

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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.

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“Dog,” Acrylic on Board by Jonathan Fenske. Private collection.

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!