Posts Tagged ‘books’


I have some other non-fiction books that I find very helpful and important to me in some ways but I will save those for another time. Today a quick list of 5 of my favorite books having to do with technical help or otherwise inspirational to the process of making art. Because I have worked primarily in the medium of soft pastels for many years, a majority of them have to do with that type of material.

It is also worthing observing that these are all books that I own. I CB068378have actually gone out and purchased them whereas with non-fiction, “pleasure reading material” I almost never buy but borrow from the library as previously mentioned. I will often get these kinds of non-fiction works from the library first if they are available. It’s a great way to audition something and see if I want to own it. In fact, that’s how I sometimes realize it is a volume I should purchase. When I find myself borrowing it out of the library twice or even 3 or 4 times, it’s clear that I need to have it in my permanent personal library.

So here’s a list of 5 that I have gone to time and again. There are others and I’ll probably make mention of them another time. So it is not a top ten kind of list, nor ranked in any way in order ofbooks02-619x6852 importance. But perhaps you’ll find something you like in one of these for your own artistic purposes – or in a future list to follow.

  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron http://theartistsway.com Many folks are familiar with this and the companion volumes such as “Walking in this World” . Being a writer herself, Cameron sometimes seems to speak a little more to the literary arts. And I have never gotten into writing the “morning pages” she swears by but then I have my own morning prayer routine that works for me. For her, naturally writing seems elemental but not for me. However another plus as I see it is if you are familiar with, and appreciate the original “12-step” program this is patterned after, you would find something good in it for helping your creative/spiritual connection. I have read just about all of her others. Some later works, in my humble opinion, are a bit redundant. Or I get a bit sick of hearing how many wonderful, miraculous things have turned out in her very lucky life. I think it can be taken too far and become kind of cultish to form an Artists Way group and all. But to each his own and the original book is a good one.
  • The Pastelist’s Year, painting the 4 seasons in pastel by Elizabeth Mowry http://elizabethmowry.com This is the one that first made me realize there were some books I had to own and used time and time again. She’s a terrific landscape artist and I enjoyed and own a couple of other books of hers. I especially recommend her for landscape painters, not just those who work in pastel.
  • Wolf Kahn’s Pastels and Wolf Kahn’s America http://www.wolfkahn.com Again, I am partial to pastelist and landscapes. These are big “coffee table” art books to enjoy and be inspired by rather than giving technical advice. And Kahn, who was Hans Hofmann’s student and studio assistant, is more abstract than Mowry above. But I find his unique use of color lovely and his work moving.
  • The Oil Painting Book and The Pastel Painting Book, Materials and Techniques for Today’s Artist both by Bill Creevy. These are both good, basic primers on the respective media. Though they are not the only ones, I find his books very thorough on tools, materials and techniques. I was actually well into my work with pastel before coming across him. But I began working seriously with oils only a couple of years back with no prior training from my college years. His book was a very good foundation and reference.
  • The Yin/Yang of Painting by Honqninan Zhang and Lois Woolley This is as much a philosophy book about your approach to painting as a technical reference. If you are partial to strong contrasts in your work in particular, you may really enjoy exploring the way of working outlined here. It is not media specific and I have seen it used effectively in pastel as well as acrylics and oils.

Where a specific website was possible for the artist/author I have supplied a link. And I would always encourage the patronage of small independent bookstores whenever possible. However in these tough times and when speed is of the essence, you should know that all of these volumes are immediately available and can be purchased through Amazon.com .



Read Full Post »


I love to read for pleasure. Nowadays, I think that alone makes me a bit of a freak in some circles (predominantly the middle school one I run in 5 days a week). And at the risk of sounding like the Luddite that I am not, I love to actually still hold an old-fashioned book or magazine in my hands. Much as I have cottoned to technology and New Media in many ways, I don’t curl up with my laptop under the covers. On the other hand, I even know my library card number by heart as I am a big fan of getting it all for free at the public library through the CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing)network on line.

CB068378Not surprisingly, I especially love to read novels that are about art, artists and the art world. Historical fiction is a biggie but contemporary works are great too. If the setting is Italy it’s my own personal triple threat of literary indulgence! (I also love novels set here on my beloved Cape Cod and have read as many as are available at Brooks Free Library through the aforementioned CLAMS . network. But most fiction written on,by and set on Cape Cod tends to be mysteries. This isn’t a bad thing but not an art thing. Two notable exceptions here:

1 Isabel’s Bed by Elinor Lipman set in Truro in the middle of winter and as quirky a read as you can find.

2. Bound and The Widow’s War both by Sally Gunning, a local author who writes compelling historical fiction about women’s lives set in the colonial period in the town of Brewster on Cape Cod.

I have a list culled from my personal reading history on my account at CLAMS. Now that I have gone through it, I can see it’s lengthy and eclectic, even within my parameters described above.

How about I give you a short list of 5 of my favorites from the past few years for now? In no particular order and with others to follow if there is anyone out there would like more, I’ll start with some contemporary settings:

1. Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him by Danielle Ganek
gallery, art scene in NYC, I found it intriguing.

2. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
he also wrote Empire Falls, this is one of my triple threats : artist, Italy and a great read.

3. Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly
an Irish author (if you know Marion Keyes you would probably find her writing enjoyable though not exactly the same style) This is kind of chicklit type of easy reading but I enjoyed her enough to go get and read all the rest of her novels, even though there weren’t any artist characters in the others.

4. The Handyman by Carolyn See
set in California, neat story about the talented artist who gives it all up….or tries to

5. Forest of the Heart by Charles de Lint
this is magical realism in the setting of an artist retreat. Slightly scary and a thrilling read.


If you enjoyed this winter reading list , leave a comment and let me know. I have quite a few more to share .

Read Full Post »