Art Books to Change Your Life, Inspire Your Work, and Move You to Create
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
Art books changed my life. My favorites have beautiful pictures, inspiring quotes, and generally give you permission and support to be your weird, wonderful, self and let it show in your art. This year I closed my art therapy practice to focus on Mindful Art Studio. As I spend more of my time dedicated to my art practice, I find that reading about art and artists is not just fun, it’s necessary. So here’s a list of what I think are some of the best art books to change your life, inspire your work, and move you to create.
Art Books I Loved This Year:
Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art & History, in That Order, Bridget Quinn and Lisa Congdon
Bridget Quinn is a brassy and passionate writer and art historian. Her love for these women artists is contagious, and the work is enriched by Lisa Congdon’s delicate illustrations.
A Glorious Freedom, Lisa Congdon
There’s a theme this year with Lisa Congdon’s books! Lisa champions powerful women over 50 doing amazing things.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Roxana Robinson
I was amazed at how much I learned about O’Keeffe’s relationships to her art practice and the people she loved. Reading about her absolute dedication to her art practice inspired me to dive deeper into my own.
Drawn from Life, Helen Birch
This beautiful little book details various drawing styles from a variety of artists. You’ll be inspired to draw as soon as you pick it up!
Art Books that Inspire My Work:
New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver’s connection to nature is so clear and pure, I find the more I steep myself in her poetry, the more I am energized to create nature based work.
The Mandala Book, Lori Bailey Cunningham
Lori’s beautiful book traces mandalas throughout history and various cultures, and in nature, from the smallest cells to the cosmos.
The Curious Nature Guide, Clare Walker Leslie
This lovely book is full of Clare’s illustrations and prompts for tuning into the splendor of the natural world, even in your own neighborhood.
Nests: 50 Bird Nests and the Birds Who Built Them, Sharon Beals
Eggs and nests have appeared in my intuitive art for a long time. They inspire my work in pen, acrylic, and paper cutting.
Art Books That Changed My Life:
The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron
This book has helped so many self-doubting creatives. With practical exercises, and an inspiring vision, Cameron shows us how to convert creative dreams into reality.
Inspiration Sandwich, SARK
SARK is a master permission-giver and inspiration officer in chief. With incredible stories and exercises, she will inspire you to live your fullest creative life like she does.
The Art Therapy Sourcebook, Cathy Malchiodi
This is a great introduction to the concepts of art therapy and art for personal transformation. I did several of the exercises and found they opened up new avenues in my art. It helped me decide to pursue art therapy.
Art is a Way of Knowing, Pat Allan
Pat Allan validated my view of art making as a spiritual process, and gave structure and exercises to help me dive deeper.
Art Books that Will Move You to Create:
Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon
Art & Fear, David Bayles and Ted Orland
The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
The Blank Canvas, Anna Held Audette
My Art Book Wishlist:
Be bold! Send this post to someone who might need holiday gift ideas for you. This is a great way to ask for support of your art practice.
The Collaborative Habit, Twyla Tharp
Keep Going, Austin Kleon
The Joy of Swimming, Lisa Congdon
Creative Pep Talk, Andy J. Miller
Art Before Breakfast, Danny Gregory
Picture This: How Pictures Work, Molly Bang
Daily Rituals, How Artists Work, Mason Currey
What art books move you? Which are on your wish list for this holiday? Tell us about it and share this list with loved ones so they can gift you with some art inspiration!
*The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, if you choose to click the link and buy something, you will support the work of Mindful Art Studio to empower the artist in everyone. Thank you!