Sunday, December 4, 2011

Books Range II: "Dipnetting in the River of Knowledge"

Last year, right after moving from Fairbanks, I was tapped at the last-minute to do a cover for Greg Hill's second volume of his collected newspaper columns, which one can also read at the Open Writing website. Back in 2008 he commissioned me to do a series of spot illustrations for "Books Range," which was a fund-raising effort on behalf of the Library Foundation in support of the Noel Wien Public Library. I've written here before about what an important resource this jewel of a library is to our community, not to mention the phenomenal number of comics they have shelved in the collection.
(more after the jump)

(illustrations from Volume One)

For me, I always look at Greg's column as a sort of literary version of L.M. Boyd. Nothing beats talking to (or in this case reading the writings of) a reference librarian for a mind-expanding conversation. More often than not it's like interacting with a real live Google avatar - albeit one that will manually point you to some physical links which you can check out and take home. Note that I have a personal bias as to the staggering wealth of knowledge these folks have shelved in their mental archives since my own mother just so happened to be one.  From the Good Reads review of the first volume: "Greg Hill has been the Fairbanks North Star Borough (Alaska) Director of Library Services for 18 years, and has written weekly library-related newspaper columns for a quarter-century without missing a deadline. Throughout that run "library-related" has been construed pretty loosely, because, rather than the usual "what's new at the library," Greg's intent is to lure readers by sharing some of the weird and wonderful information that constantly crops up at his busy public library. He's not above working in a bit of library lore, however, for he agrees with Jorge Luis Borges, who said "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." 

From a review in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner by local freelance writer David James:
"Hill is a relentless reader, and one of the first things that will impress anyone who picks up this collection is the sheer volume of books he mentions in his columns. This, coupled with his strong grasp of history and an ability to draw connections across the span of centuries, allows Hill to reveal how human knowledge builds upon (and sometimes rejects) itself. In the process, some fascinating nuggets from the past emerge." - Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Librarian’s columns come to life in ‘Books Range 2’

As I'm fond of frequently reminding students, you are the best model -  cheap and on-hand at any given time - to to use for reference shots. Seems I'm always stumbling over tricky poses, especially with regards to details like proper hand placement (on that note, see here for an excellent example of a fail).  Of course, this is where having a lot of experience in figure drawing can really help out, and is another reason to recommend if not enrolling in a formal studio class than at the least joining up with a local sketch group that offers open model sessions to stay in practice. That said, nothing beats dipnetting imaginary salmon in the living room (except, according to the cats, cleaning them). And please consider helping out the Library Foundation by picking up a copy of the book, or, check one out at the library!

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