Character Design: Under the Sea

I posted recently about a new children’s book Jonathan was working on with some plucky sea creatures. The good news is that he’s finished the coloring (the illustrations I posted were in black and white). Now, it’s with his agent and we could not be more thrilled. Someone, somewhere will fall in love with this new story. We just know it (the dolphins told us).

We’re Denver-based illustrator and character designer Jonathan Fenske and Jennifer Manske Fenske. Check out Fat and Appy, our online store for modern art for kids featuring Jonathan’s illustrations. 

 

Character-designer-Jonathan-Fenske

 

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.