Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fairbanks Sketchers V: Gulliver's Books

"The One That Got Away"

Our little group of local sketchers (see previous posts here, here and here) migrated over to one of my favorite community camping spots, where I'm often a fixture with my sketchbook in the cafe. Gulliver's Books has such a unique architectural presence, one you never really stop to notice unless you happen to be actively studying it's distinctive shape. Even details like how each individual bookshelf is ever-so-slightly canted back so the books sit an angle - nice touches like that which ordinarily would escape attention would it not for the focused observation involved in actively looking at a subject. Kinda like active listening, it's a matter of training not just the eye, but of stilling the mind enough to truly take note - it fosters a connection, engages you.

I was reminded of this phenomenon on account of recent marketing efforts with a new event, "Slow Art Day." Not to mention how many tourists we see here in Alaska (and elsewhere) that are so thoroughly immersed in their cameras, faithfully recording their visit to the degree that they're arguably not even really present, and hence must attempt in vain to relive the experience that they've paradoxically missed out on by being so obsessed with documenting it while it happens.

It was only around zero degrees outside but a stiff little breeze made for a chilly half-hour sketching up the exterior shot (had to bail out for several warm-ups back inside). Again, I'm technically not adhering to the strict manifesto of the official Urban Sketchers - since I prudently leave the pen + ink materials at home out of respect for the host business, I just complete the pencilwork on-site. In the spirit of the event though I try and complete the piece(s) within the same allotted timeframe, usually about an hour or so. However I am strictly working off observation - no reference photos of any kind, which in my opinion results in a much more spontaneous and raw impression than striving for realistic depiction. More and more these days I find myself being aesthetically critical of lifeless studies drawn from photographs. It's also nice to not have to worry about impressing anybody, students, clients or peers, and just sketch for the hell of it.

Here's a link to our Facebook page which will host any posts about upcoming venues + samples of work. There's also our Flickr page, and I've set up a my own personal Flickr page for my own work, in tangent with the usual Google+ webfolio for the sketches done while on our outings.

Urban Sketchers blog

Inked up the day’s sketches, an interior + exterior of the urban setting of the month… as usual, scored a couple books, one used (the Gaiman/Zulli title) and one new: after hunting down the Haida Manga one (“Red” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas) - by first trying the ISBN, then by author, and eventually finding out the distributor carried it and finally ordering a copy - another employee found that they actually had a copy sitting right there on their shelves. One of the many reasons I love that store and folks who work there.

Bonus: Staffperson gave me a copy of the "Secret Harbor" minicomic from my Maine residency back in 2011 (made so as to have something non-Alaskan at my table for the MeCAF comic convention + a precursor to the “Bad Clams” collection)… someone tried to exchange it for credit , but unfortunately it hasn’t appreciated in value above & beyond the $1. Maybe if it was signed... buck-fifty?

The next meetup is Wednesday, April 27th from 5-7 at Arctic Lanes bowling alley: never having been there I'm looking forward to enjoying some beverages - here's hoping they serve Caucasians.

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