Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

Each year I compile a list of books that have been important to me and my creative life during the year. I hope you find a few that speak to you, and that you comment at the bottom to add your favorites to the list.

Drawing and Painting:

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Watercolor for the Soul: Simple Painting Projects for Beginners to Calm, Soothe and Inspire – Sharone Stevens

This is one of my top favorite recommendations this year. I picked it because I know how technically good Sharone is, and because I know that her project-based way of teaching skills will appeal to many of my students. This book is full of great watercolor instruction via simple, fun projects.

Picture This: How Pictures Work – Molly Bang

I found this book by accident, and what a happy accident it was! Using a simple, well known story, Molly uses cut out shapes to explain what makes pictures work, what gives them their emotional punch, and how to take advantage of the elements of style. Her approach is hands-on and easy to understand and then apply to your art. You may find this in your local library, but you may also want to buy it so you can refer to it again and again.

Draw Yourself Calm: Draw Slow, Stress Less – Amy Maricle

It’s a little cheeky to include my own book here, but a year after publication, and after being translated into 3 other languages, I’m still getting daily comments about how much this book has helped to transform your art practice. If you haven’t already, I hope you check it out.

Book Making:

Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction – Aldren A. Watson

This is an oldie and a goodie, but it’s new to me. I haven’t yet made any of the projects, but I loved the step by step illustrations. It might be worth a check out from your local library to see if you want to learn these fully bound book techniques from a book, or if you prefer some other format.

Little Book of Book Making: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Beautiful Handmade Books – Charlotte Rivers

This adorable book is full of fun book binding ideas and inspiration from artists around the globe. There’s also a shorter instructional section on techniques like making paste paper, natural plant dyeing, and a few stitch techniques. Everyone is a different type of learner, but I would recommend this one more for the inspiration section than the instructional section.


Felicity – Mary Oliver

If you know me, you know that poetry is synonymous with Mary Oliver for me, so this is the latest beautiful volume I’ve read. Nature and contemplation – that’s all we need!

Nature Books:

Rooted –  Lyanda Lynn Haupt

As someone who has loved the outdoors since childhood, walking amongst the streams and mossy rocks and finding myself out in nature, I felt seen by Lyanda Lynn Haupt and her stories of childhood “frog church” and the things in nature that capture her wonder now as an adult.

Mozart’s Starling – Lyanda Lynn Haupt

I picked this up from the library knowing nothing about it and was just tickled. Haupt decides to keep a starling as a pet while researching Mozart, who kept a starling of his own. I had no idea starlings were so beautiful, smart, and had incredible songs. I hope you love this one as much as I did.

What have been your favorite books on art, creativity and nature this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Creatively Yours,