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.

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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