Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Printmaker's Bookshelf: Preface

The art and nature corner of my library

Let's talk about book addiction, shall we?

Even as a kid I was a book junkie. Where's Sherrie? Reading. On the bed. In the tree. On the roof. In the car. Who had the tallest stack of purchases when the Scholastic book orders arrived at school? Sherrie. Who maxed out her checkout limit at the library? Sherrie. Who had the most stars on her summer reading program card? Who spent her junior high years volunteering and her college summers working at libraries? Sherrie.

My personal library grew slowly until I started haunting used book stores. And then? The internet happened. The Natural History Book Service. Abe Books. Freakin' eBay.

For a while the (legitimate) excuse was work. As an illustrator I needed reference material, so I accumulated field guides and old coffee table books about birds and bugs and mushrooms. But just like mushrooms after rain my library kept growing. Art and natural history were the main themes, but there were plenty of other random topics, like cooking and languages and knitting. My circle of friends grew to include some great authors and my fiction shelves started bulging. I was a happy, happy book junkie.

And then came the horrible day when I was obliged to downsize, moving to an apartment barely 1/3 the size of my house. I'd arrived in the big house with almost 50 boxes of books, and my forced purge whittled it to just over 30. Bit-by-bit I sent 16 boxes-worth to our local library. Some books went to friends, a few I sold. Several bookcases went to new homes, too.

After the dust settled and I made the move I discovered I had precisely enough shelf space for my remaining library (with a couple of shelves reserved for treasures). I declared a moratorium on book buying and redoubled my efforts to boost the circulation numbers at the library.

Zero accumulation lasted about a year, but friends and colleagues kept producing new books, and my work appeared in a few more, and... well... you can see that things are going a bit cattywampus again.

Some of my printmaking books. A little bit of everything, including
a few recent linocut titles.

It's my guess that I'm not the only printmaker with bookish tendencies, being generally obsessed with ink and paper as we all are. So hey! Let's talk books once in a while, okay? I'll share some of my favorites for both information and inspiration and you can contribute to my literary delinquency by sharing some of yours.

While I'm putting together my thoughts for my first book offering ("review" seems so...cold), I'd like to introduce you to some friends with an even bigger book obsession than mine: Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin and their vision of the Rocky Mountain Land Library.

It's been my great fortune and pleasure to know and work with Ann and Jeff for almost 15 years. Long before we met they'd amassed a collection of books that dwarfs any of my aspirations: More than 30,000 volumes at last count.

Jeff and Ann (and those of us who know them) are getting closer to seeing their dream of a permanent home and residential library for this collection, but of course the limiting factor is always money! They have the location, Buffalo Peaks Ranch in the Colorado Rockies, but the historic buildings are in need of much restoration and repair.

They have a Kickstarter campaign underway for funds to complete restoration work on the Cook's House, and are about 1/4 of the way to their goal with less than a month until their campaign deadline. I encourage you to check out the Rocky Mountain Land Library's Kickstarter page, pledge if you can and share the information far and wide with all your book junkie friends. There are some great spaces for studios on the ranch, too, and part of the dream includes the day we'll all be able to gather over prints and books at this literary home on the range.


  1. Today's "Heart & Brain" comic over at the Awkward Yeti seems apt :)

    There are so many books to choose from! One that's stayed in my top 20 favorite image references is "Japanese design motifs"

    1. Oooh! Thanks, Sleep late! Way to give me the link, too, so it's easy, easy, easy to hit the "order" button. ;-) Thank goodness one can pile books up in a virtual cart and compile wish lists in places they won't be lost.

  2. 30,000 volumes!! *faints*

    I was like that as a kid too, my money went towards new books or new music, but mostly books lol

    I can never have too many books, but if i want anymore physical books, the general rule is I have to get rid of one due to space, so I have a lot of ebooks instead because that means I don't have to get rid of any lol

  3. Even better: I just saw that the collection is now closer to 35,000 volumes! Drool!

    Zero accumulation is hard. If I could get back all the books I had to part with, I would! But hopefully someone else somewhere else is enjoying them now. :-)

  4. 'cattywampus' - I collect words aswell as books.....How have I not heard of this one before! It makes such a lovely sound.

    Below a link to a post of a top ten favourite art books written a while ago but most of them would still make the list today. ISBNs provided for happy hunting - I am sure there will be a couple to tempt you if you don't have them already ;o)

    1. OOOOOh! Thanks, Lisa! Nothing like a good book list to get my week off to a good start!

    2. it is a great list :) going to see if the uni library has any of them to read :)