Sunday, March 6, 2011

My 365 Project: The What and the Why

My friend Heidi (of the Puppet-a-Day blog) introduced me to the 365 project through the gift of the book. I've tried doing sketch-a-day projects before, and never seen it through more than a month, but the more eclectic nature of the projects in the book appeals to me, and my partner is also going to make a go at this with the theme of fairy tales, in her new blog Once Upon.

Dad's summer reading club certificate
For a while I struggled with a basic theme to work around, because I feel like I need a little structure, and I kept coming up with ideas out of fiction. While I didn't want to get too close to the fairytale theme, I realized that books, especially fiction, have been the foundation for most of my creativity throughout life. When I was growing up, my father was a librarian (he's now network admin/technical guru for the same library system), and I was always surrounded by books. Not only did my parents have a lot of books, and were always reading, but I also had unlimited access through my dad's work. We frequently visited my dad on bookmobile runs, or at the main office for the county library system, and I checked out stacks of books every time. At home, I was allowed to read everything and anything we had on the shelves. I read everything we had by Rudyard Kipling, and was exploring Shakespeare by age twelve. My mother and I ended up competing for first rights to read the latest Xanth and Pern books.  Nothing was considered 'too hard' for me to read, and if I didn't understand a word my parents were always happy to explain, or there was the dictionary and an encyclopedia set where I could learn more.
Yup. That's my dad.
Because they were on the shelf, and nothing was off-limits, I also read things like 'A Brief History of Time' and pored over our encyclopedias, but I've always preferred fiction. When I moved across the country, away from my parents, I managed to convince them to let me take a large selection of favorites from the living-room bookshelf, but I've also kept a lot of my childhood favorites. One of the most exciting holidays I looked forward to every year as a child was when my parents would go down to Seattle for the book-buying fair. It was a work trip, for my father, but they would both go, overnight. For me it meant a sleepover at a friend's house, and the next day my parents always returned with at least a few lavishly illustrated new books they'd bought just for me. To this day I can point out many of my old favorites that came to me that way. I don't know when exactly I fell in love with books, but I despair whenever I hear that they're falling by the wayside to new technology and digital readers.

Books are sacred objects. For my 365 project I will be illustrating my favorite books, their scenes, their themes, but I'd also like to share with people how much each volume of paper and ink has meant to me, and why you should love them too.

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