Mindful Art Studio Best Books 2023

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. This is a favorite topic of conversation in my membership, The Gathering – what is everyone reading that encourages them to be creative people and take creative action?

Drawing and Painting:

best art books 2023 best, best books for creatives

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.

Get my free class and tons of inspiration to create:

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,



  1. Holly Waldrop

    Thank you for your list. I always look forward to it! You have omitted one of the best books I’ve seen in a while – The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year by Margaret Renkl, illustrated by Billy Renkl (the author’s brother.) Ms. Renkl is a local (Nashville) author who also writes columns for the New York Times. I love her nature observations, and I think you will, too. Her books are treasures.

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Holly: I love that you look forward to this list. How encouraging to know that! And I love your recommendation. I’m reading a book about ravens at the moment and this sounds lovely. xo

  2. Linda Jackson

    I have enjoyed reading this book “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” by Haemin Sunim. He also wrote Love for Imperfect Things.

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Linda: Wow this sounds like a book I should absolutely check out. Having read the summary I’m intruiged! xo

  3. Roberta Dexter

    Recommended books by author & illustrator Julia Rothman

    Nature Anatomy
    Farm Anatomy

    I brought your book with me on a cruise and shared with 2 art teachers. I think I made you 2 more sales!!

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Roberta:

      Oh I love Julia Rothman. She is so wonderful so I’m very pleased that you added some of her titles here. Cheers on Draw Yourself Calm! xo

  4. Jaime

    Thank you for you book list I am going to try a couple of them.
    I am not sure if you have read this book, but if you love lyrical writing and nature I would highly recommend “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It is so beautifully written. Another book I have found wonderful this year is “Feel Something, Make Something, a guide to collaborating with your emotions” by Caitlin Metz.

    • Kelsey Swearingen

      Thank you for sharing, Jaime! I love all the great recommendations I am getting here.

    • Nafisa

      Amy ,thank you so much for this list. Can’t wait to get my hands on them.
      Thanks for all that you do so selflessly.

  5. Nic

    Beautiful suggestions and your book is fantastic. I’d like to add 2 book for art journal lovers and beginners that I often recommend to my clients.

    1. Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton

    2. Journal Sparks by Emily K. Neuburger

    • Kelsey Swearingen

      Thank you for sharing, Nic! I am captivated by art journaling but at the very beginning stages – I will have to check out your recommendations.

  6. Marita

    Painting Calm by Inga Buividavice is a watercolor book for beginners. It is great, beautiful and contains so many good tips. Very inspiring. I also have your book Amy, which I love. Your book and Inga’s book complement each other so well. Inga also have a course on Domestika.

    • Kelsey Swearingen

      Thank you for sharing, Marita! I also love Amy’s book. The moment I got my hands on it I felt inspired – it is just beautiful. I will have to look at your recommendation of Painting Calm, it sounds like a perfect addition!


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