Away in a Manger

As we enter the Christmas week of a second strange year in a row, I wanted to share with you my official Christmas card for 2021. The art itself was created with watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil – a little handmade touch in this digital world of ours.

Away in a Manger is one of the most popular Christmas hymns ever written. Strangely enough, its origin is one of dubious distinction, for it is unclear as to who are the authors.

The first publication of the poem was in 1882 by an anonymous author, and only included the first two stanzas. Confusion reined as to authorship, because the lyrics were titled Luther’s Cradle Song, saying that the poem was written by Martin Luther for his children in the 1500s. Perhaps this was just a fanciful claim by “Anonymous” to lend importance to the words, because there has never been found any version written in Luther’s native German predating this American publication. People read it, believed it, and perpetuated the false Luther authorship idea in continued publications for many years. In 1892, the third and final stanza was published with attribution once again falsely going to Luther. Others later laid claim to writing the third stanza, so the authorship continued to be muddy.

Musically, this song has been performed in dozens of settings, however, just two continue to remain popular to this day. The version that starts on a high note and is sung by many in the United States was published in 1887 by James R. Murray who falsely claimed Martin Luther also wrote the tune. By 1914, the melody was attributed to someone named Carl Meuller, a man who is otherwise unknown to history. So, even with this, we really don’t know who the composer is!

The other popular melody we know today that starts on a deeper note was written by William J. Kirkpatrick and first published in 1895. It is his version that carried this Christmas song beyond America’s borders to become beloved around the world.

Kirkpatrick was born in Ireland, and later moved to America where he settled in the Philadelphia area, eventually becoming involved in being a church organist and composer for the Methodist Episcopal denomination. Whether written on his own or with writing partner John R. Sweney, Kirkpatrick published many hymns that richly live on to this day such as ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Blessed Be Thy Name, Will Your Anchor Hold, A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord, Redeemed, O To Be Like Thee, Lead Me to Calvary, We Have an Anchor, and My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.

William J. Kirkpatrick passed away in 1921 while working on a new hymn at his desk. This past August, I visited his grave at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery near Philadelphia.

If only we all could leave behind such a legacy.


Adoration of the vermin.

Merry Christmas 2020

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas in what has been, to say the least, a very strange year.

My Christmas card this year takes on the coronavirus issue of today, but applied to that first Christmas long ago. The art was inspired by medieval tapestries in case you were wondering.


Click on image to enlarge.


I’ve been making my own Christmas cards for over 25 years now, but for the first time ever, the art is completely digital this year. While I love having a physical painting when it’s all done, it just seemed for the time I had to work on this, and for wanting to paint without outlines, Photoshop was the way to go. Here’s a close-up of the wise guys…


Click on image to enlarge.


Merry Christmas to one and all. Hopefully we’ll all breathe more easily in the new year.

Easter 2020

Christ the Lord is risen today!


Just last night, I got to thinking about how Norman Rockwell depicted Easter morning back in 1959, and then kind of wondered what Easter morning 2020 was going to be like during the coronavirus scare with most churches around the U.S. live-streaming their services through the computer to their congregations’ homes. Church together in jammies! Thus the explanation for my sketch down beneath Mr. Rockwell’s.


Merry Christmas 2019

As we enter into Christmas week, I wanted to wish all of you a merry Christmas, with the hope that you will appreciate the season from a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ having come as a baby all those years ago to sacrifice himself for you on the cross. He was born to die. Very sobering, and humbling.



And yes, while I made a little joke about the title of the Christmas carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, few recall that the lyrics were from a poem by American author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Christmas Bells that dealt with his personal conflicted feelings about the tragedy that was the American Civil War. Look it up, it’s a fascinating tale!

Merry Christmas!

Adopt a T-shirt

My sister Tori and her husband Frank are interested in adopting a little girl from India to add to their family of three sons. It is a long and expensive process, so I helped out by designing a T-shirt for them with what they wanted on it that they could sell as a fundraiser.


Click on the shirt to open the page to order shirts!


At $25 each, they are a little pricey for a T-shirt, but the purpose is to serve as a FUNDRAISER. 🙂 So, think of it as you are donating $25, a portion of which helps them with the thousands and thousands of dollars needed for adoption, and in return you get a T-shirt designed by yours truly.

Plus, you’d be helping my folks to gain their first granddaughter after having nine grandsons. So, there’s that, too.

Thanks for the consideration!

O Come All Ye Faithful

Here we are a week away from Christmas. I usually make my own Christmas card every year, but the past three months have had my head spinning, which resulted in a lack of a new card for this year. If you saw my last post, you know what has been occupying my drawing time. So, I thought I’d reach into the ol’ archives to share with you one that I like that was created for 2010.

This is a special one. It’s not often that I illustrate tons of people into a piece, but I was able to include a special couple that mean a lot to me. Kind of in the middle top area, you’ll see a portrayal of Evelyn and Carl Boone. They are not related to me by blood, but have been surrogate grandparents to me since I was born. They are Grandma & Grandpa Boone to me. Grandma passed away a few years ago now, and Grandpa is still a blessing to those who know him at the age of 92. He has always been a wonderful purveyor of biblical advice when one needs it most – a man who has put Christ first through many days both joyful and difficult. While I’m sure he had his days, I never once heard him complain over many years of looking after Grandma. He is the very definition of one who has been faithful both to his Lord, and to his wife and family. There are many generations of Boones and Fryes who love and appreciate him.

So, this piece of art has a bit of a personal story to it. Oh, and yes, that’s a self-portrait in the upper right side, too. 🙂

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas, and I pray that if you have not made Christ the focus of your life (John 3:16), that you will do so and join those who can be truly counted as the faithful.


O Come All Ye FaithfulO Come All Ye Faithful lyrics


And just in case you were wondering, it is drawn with colored pencil, watercolored with a non-permanent ink, and color tinted in Photoshop.

Clubhouse Magazine – Noah Girl

Today is the final of three illustrations that appear in the July 2017 issue of Clubhouse Magazine for kids published by Focus on the Family. (If you missed the other two, just look at the previous two posts here on the ol’ blog.) All three images belong to a fun quiz that kids can take to help prevent summer boredom!

This image is of a little girl who, out of desperation of being stuck inside for a three-day rainstorm, has decided that her bed is the ark, her toys are the animals, and yes, that she is Noah in search of dry land with the rubber ducky she is about to release.

As in the previous posts, here is the rough drawing with a rough color job all worked out in Photoshop in preparation for the final traditionally created illustration.


This girl takes her playtime very seriously.


To help dry up “Noah’s” water problem, water was used with watercolor paint and colored pencil on textured paper to create a scene that is epic in this little girl’s own mind.


I’m sure to a child, three days of rain can seem like forty.


I sure enjoyed this assignment. Hope you enjoyed seeing all three illustrations created for it!

If you are interested in owning this original published art measuring roughly 14×12″, it is available for $700. Shipping is included within the USA. Additional charges will apply for international shipping. Feel free to contact me at if interested in purchasing this or any other art in my FOR SALE category here on the ol’ blog.

Do You Instagram?

Earlier this year a friend talked me into joining Instagram. I was apprehensive at first because it was going to be yet another thing to update constantly, but when I took a look and saw all the amazing creativity there, it felt like I should have joined that party long ago. So, I got on my computer and joined it, not realizing that the only way to post was to do so from a mobile device. As a non-mobile phone user, this complicated things.

Well, I got it worked out, and have been posting lots of art there. While some drawings only make it to Instagram, some also get posted here on the ol’ blog. So, I invite you to check it out if you also are an Instagram user, and follow me there. My handle is ChadFrye_IllustrationGuy (naturally), and you can get to it by CLICKING HERE!

You can also be whisked away to Instagramland by clicking on the image below that features some Instagram posts.


Some of the many pieces posted on my Instagram. Click on the image to check them out!
Some of the many pieces posted on my Instagram. Click on the image to check them out!