Our Favorite Inspirational Art Books

By JoAnn Frekot

A few of us in the studio compared notes on books that have inspired us on our artistic journeys.  Here are some of our favorites.

Claire Stokes

It's hard to pick one (I have created my own considerable reference collection) but Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne stands out for me.  I lean towards abstraction when I do landscapes but I still want to present a strong composition.  I have referred to this book many times in pursuit of that goal.  First published in 1941, it is full of thumbnail sketches of landscapes showing compositional types as well as things to avoid in composing.  

Far from a book about rules to follow, here are two sentences from the first chapter that illustrate the scope of what Payne is teaching: 

"To be original one needs to learn the ideas of other painters in order to be different from them."

"A painter needs to study, meditate, experiment and practice interminably."

Katharine Gotham

Ninth Street Women,
by Mary Gabriel

A great read about abstract painters.  One review summed it up as "The most devastatingly accurate portrayal of five women who had the temerity to call themselves artists in the male-dominated twentieth century."

New Oil Painting,
by Kimberly Brooks

Tons of useful information on materials and safe studio practices in a compact little book.

Sorolla the Masterworks,
by Blanca Pons-Sorolla

Gorgeous coffee table book loaded with many color images or Sorolla's paintings and charming photographs of him painting on location - usually in a suit and tie!

JoAnn Frekot

Modern Spirit:  The Art of George Morrison
, by W. Jackson Rushing III and Kristin Makholm

After visiting the George Morrison exhibit at the Minnesota History Museum some years ago, I purchased this book so I could keep images of his work close by.  I find George Morrison's use of color and pattern continually invites me to study, appreciate and celebrate the manner in which he connects art and nature.

Artist's Way:  A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron.

Around 13 years ago, I was fortunate to take a 12-week class based on The Artist's Way, offered by Minneapolis artist Deborah Foutch  www.deborahfoutch.com.  Each week, we focused on a chapter with the aim of "discovering and remembering" our creative selves, working on a variety of projects using different artistic media.  

I continue to work on applying the lessons I've learned since then...influencing how I take artistic risks, manage self-criticism and listen to my inner voice when making artistic decisions. 

One of my many favorite quotes is:

"Remember that art is process.  The process is supposed to be fun.  For our purposes, "the journey is always the only arrival" may be interpreted to mean that our creative work is actually our creativity itself at play in the field of time.  At the heart of this place is the mystery of joy."  


Popular Posts