We're making a difference!

(This post is from an update sent to backers of the CRAVES Kickstarter)

Exciting news! I have been working with Baraga County's "Communities that Care" program to get copies of CRAVES to as many of their students as possible. Baraga CTC is an awesome organization that focuses on creating healthy, vibrant communities by empowering, supporting, and connecting their youth, families, and schools. The folks I've been in contact with are incredibly passionate about their mission, and it's an honor to be able to support them in any way I can.

Yesterday I did a marathon signing session and rocked-out 1360 signed copies of CRAVES, all boxed-up and heading to Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula this weekend.

 The Sharpie gave out before my hand did :)

The Sharpie gave out before my hand did :)

I'll be doing a 5-day whirlwind trip to the UP and back in early November, visiting schools in Marquette, Baraga, and Ontonagon counties. I'm so excited to share the book with students and spread our message of making healthy choices. 

More updates to follow, but I just wanted to share this awesome little bit of news with you all, because without your support this never would have been possible. So again, because I can never say it enough: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU  :)   

-Robb

 

Lucy and Milo

A good friend in Grand Rapids commissioned a couple paintings of her kitties last December.

 Lucy and Milo!

Lucy and Milo!

I was very excited for this project after hearing her vision for the pieces:

Hello,

There is no rush, within the next couple months perhaps?

I was thinking one separate picture for each cat in a 10 by 8. Each cat having antlers! With a Mythical feel. Think..a cat that a wood elf may have haha. Or not, lol just where ever your artistic soul takes you!

Let me know if there are any more details you need to know :)

Take it easy,

Melanie

I had one piece to finish before Christmas, and I didn't do any work until the new year. After doing some rough sketches, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do to give these cats an elvish sort of flair.     

 Miloshroom

Miloshroom

 Mossy Lucy

Mossy Lucy

I'm still taking orders for commissioned pieces for the winter, so please get in touch if you're interested! 

Spores

Autumn in Michigan is an incredible time of year, not least of all for the variety of fungi that start popping up as the temperatures cool and the rains fall. As an avid forager and mycophile, spore printing is an invaluable identification tool. As an artist, the designs they make inspire me to create.

  Agaricus arvensis  or "horse mushroom"

Agaricus arvensis or "horse mushroom"

This year was an especially good one for me. Mushrooms of all sorts were in abundance, and I was even fortunate to discover a new favorite (pictured above). The horse mushroom is an edible species. It has a strong, sweet smell reminiscent of almond extract and dark brown spores that make incredible prints. All you need to do is remove the stalk, and place the cap with gills facing down on light colored paper (for a species with light-colored spores use dark paper). Leave the mushroom undisturbed for a couple hours before gently lifting it off the paper to reveal the spore print beneath. I am very excited to further experiment using the spores in my black walnut paintings.

It's winter now and the mycellium are dreaming softly under a thick blanket of snow. But I am looking forward to next season when I can grab my basket and my knife and start printing again.   

Kirkus Review for CRAVES

Rolled those pricey dice again and threw myself at the mercy of Kirkus Reviews. For those of you just joining us, they are the industry standard for book reviews, offering fair and (sometimes brutally) honest critiques. Here's what they had to say about CRAVES:   

Readers who have felt that the things they want in life are like a pet—or monster—trailing them will see that concept depicted in this moral tale.
A young boy introduces a creature that looks like a dog saying, “This is my CRAVE.” The boy narrates, showing how all individuals have a CRAVE. CRAVES follow closely behind their humans in each image, looking like pets to all the schoolchildren. The boy explains that sometimes he feeds his CRAVE, but only a little, because after eating, it grows stronger and bigger. The joyful expressions on the well-fed CRAVES are delightful, but also sinister for adults, who should see where this story is going: the more people feed their desires and bad habits, the greater their presence in their lives. Johnston (Lelani and the Plastic Kingdom, 2014, etc.) illuminates this idea by depicting older kids whose CRAVES are no longer pet-sized but as tall as they are. He shows a range of adults: some have small CRAVES; some have bigger ones; some have CRAVES that follow farther behind; and others have CRAVES right on their heels. When a humongous CRAVE appears, the boy explains: “But some people have been feeding their CRAVES too much, for too long…and they are the biggest and strongest of all.” Those powerful CRAVES don’t follow but lead, with their humans lagging behind. The author’s beautiful, detailed black-and-white pictures with the cute, puppylike CRAVES are sure to have plenty of kid appeal, but adults will likely get the most out of this cautionary tale. Older elementary schoolers may be able to use this story in a critical reading discussion, considering what CRAVES really are and whether or not it’s healthy to feed them. The images offer a fairly diverse cast in terms of skin tone and a large assortment of ages and sizes for the humans (as well as their desires). The layered, hand-drawn, and painted illustrations suit the tone of the book perfectly.
This inventive story about the dangers of feeding desires should spark dynamic discussions with youngsters. —KIRKUS REVIEWS

So, yeah! Pretty happy that they understood what I was aiming for with this book, and they seem to think I hit my mark. You know what the industry gurus have to say, now grab a copy and find out for yourself HERE.

Tattoo design...and it became an actual tattoo!

My aunt Amy commissioned a tattoo design last summer. Over the course of a dinner, she described her vision: sun with a face, mandala patterns, not overly complex, and about 2" diameter. I tinkered with it on and off during the summer and fall:

and sent her this design in December: 

She responded with: "Oh Robb!!! This is IT! <3 Yaay!!!" It's pretty awesome when you can take someone's idea and transform it into something they can actually see. She went to the tattoo shop recently and walked out with this:

Pretty cool! She combined some of the facial features of the earlier design with the simplicity of the second. I really like the addition of stippling (a specialty of the tattoo artist); I think it's awesome how our two styles combined so effectively to create this wonderful piece.