Books, Books, Books!

Stack of some of my favorite books

Stack of some of my favorite books

Books, books, books!!  I love books and I wanted to share some of the books that I absolutely love and have helped influence my art and creativity.  I’m one of those people that will sit in front of my bookshelf and get sucked right into a book I love and before I know it an hour (or several) has passed.  There are books that I reach for time and time again and they continually inspire me, so that’s what I wanted to share today, and I will make sure that I list these books over on my Pinterest page so you can always find them! 

If you’re an artist or creative, I’ll bet you have at least one of these yourself - and if don’t, you should check them out!  All of the books below are non-fiction, if I started yammering about fiction novels, we’d be here all day. I hope you enjoy this brief little run down of books and as always if you have a question or comment, please send them my way! 

Also, something to note, not all of the books below are inexpensive, some are out of print or a little harder to find, so if you visit used bookstores at all, just keep an eye out.  

Books on Creativity

The Artist’s Way - Julia Cameron

artists way.jpg

I purchased this book years ago at the suggestion of my mother.  Julia Cameron is a writer but the same principles for all creatives apply across the board.  What I like so much about this book are the tools that she provides that help you tap into and maintain your own creativity.  Morning pages are a big one, and I used to journal in the mornings, but have gotten away from it lately. It’s such a good practice and is a great way to purge the chatter in your head before starting your day.  She also talks a lot about filling your own creative well and being able to draw on that for inspiration. It’s a wonderful book for anyone looking to dig into their own creativity.

Big Magic -  Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m not sure that I can say anything about this book that hasn’t already been said.  I listened to the audio book for this one and it makes you feel like she’s sitting right there with you.  Just about every line is quotable and there is such a wealth of insightful information on everything from not letting fear drive the car, to the magical-ness of ideas.  I love this book because it’s uplifting and you’ll take a different message away each time you read/listen to it.

The Creative Fire - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I wanted to list all of her books here, but I won’t overwhelm you!  If you are considering her books I would suggest listening to them as audiobooks over reading them, simply because she is a La Cantadora, a storyteller, she even performed at Carnegie Hall with Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison in a spoken word performance.  I can’t stress enough what a pleasure she is to listen to. She is also a Jungian psychologist and trauma specialist that writes about the archetypes and the soul journey. She has many books and among my favorites are this one, Women Who Run with the Wolves, and the Dangerous Old Woman.  

Technical Art Books

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards


This is the book that really started it all for me, I remember sitting at the dining room table drawing an upside down image and being surprised by how well it turned out!  She explains a lot about the brain, how we perceive subjects and how to actually “see” what we’re trying to draw. Great book - a definite must have!

Creative Watercolor - Ana Victoria Calderon


What can I say about this lady, she really is a wonderful artist and a fantastic teacher.  I started following her on Skillshare and taking her classes, and then I ended up in Tulum, Mexico!  She runs a creative retreat called the Magic Jungle which I attended in 2018, check it out, it’s one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had.  She just recently came out with this book and has another on the way (Dec 2019). Her books are clear and concise and best of all, they are fun and out of the box!!  

Geninne’s Art:  Birds in Watercolor, Collage, and Ink - Geninne D. Zlatkis


This is another wonderful book with an out of the box type of approach, it’s very illustrative and creative.  I love her interpretations of birds and the mark making that she incorporates. She also has some collage exercises and even provides some really nice collage paper in the back of the book.

The Yin/Yang of Painting - Hongnian Zhang & Lois Woolley


I bought this book years ago and re-visit it time after time.  His paintings are truly magical and if you’re interested in creating a fantastical atmosphere and learning how to compose a painting using the Chinese philosophies of harmony and balance, this one's for you.  

Foundations of Calligraphy - Sheila Waters


This is exactly what the title says!  This book was a requirement for my calligraphy class and it truly is chock full of information, history and the works of Sheila Waters, whose calligraphic skills are extraordinary.

Drawing People - Barbara Bradley


Here is another required class book that I had to have, and if you’re interested in drawing people and clothing this book is wonderful.  I think it’s very simplified and very approachable. I’ve opened art books that were so technical it scared me away! This one is easy to follow and includes some wonderful sketches as well.

Nature Inspired Books

The Illustrated Herbiary - Maia Toll


This is a beautiful book and I know she has more in this series coming out soon.  There are metallic accents on the illustrations (done by Kate O’Hara, who is so talented) and a 36 card oracle deck in the back.  This book is about the wisdom and magic plants can teach us if we listen.

Herbal Rituals - Judith Berger


One of my all time favorites.  I return to this book often throughout the year.  The book is broken down by month and she talks about the cycles of nature, which plants are blooming at the time and how each can be used.  The writing is poetic and I never get tired of reading this book.

Garden Witchery; Magic from the Ground Up - Ellen Dugan


This is a fun book that I bought ages ago, and can reference at any time.  If you’re interested in creating enchanting speciality gardens, learning about flower folklore, faery magick or moon gardening, you’ll really want a copy of this.

Foraging & Feasting A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook - Dina Falconi/Illustrated by Wendy Hollender


As a kid growing up in Alaska, picking berries or mushrooms was as common to me as going to the grocery store.  I love wildcrafting and knowing which plants offer medicine and food. When I moved to NY state, I was so unfamiliar with the plants, it became my mission to learn!  The information is top notch, a really great reference guide to wild edibles and the illustrations are beautiful. Wendy Hollender and Dina Falconi also live in upstate NY and I had the pleasure of taking a watercolor class and enjoying a farm to table lunch at Wendy’s farm a few summers ago, she’s a super talented lady and this book is a real gem.

Just for Fun

Happy Hour Art Journal Whimsical Girls - Jane Davenport


I love Jane Davenport and the fun she brings to creating!  After attending art school part-time for years I had become super serious about art.  I discovered her through her first book “Beautiful Faces” (another must have) and then I began taking some of her online courses, joining her Facebook group and buying tons of her art supplies. Yes, I have become a Davenpeep (a term that she coined for the students of her workshops).  She is creative, fun, enthusiastic and super upbeat. Art as play should be something everyone tries and a great way to start is with this book! It’s an adult activity book and has stickers in the back and coloring pages that she has printed on different paper. There is a regular coloring paper, brown kraft paper, watercolor paper and even collage paper you can use.  She has even given you a chart at the beginning of the book to log your creative time, we all need it!! This book is so much fun!

Fairie-Ality - The House of Ellwand


I bought this book years ago and still love to thumb through it.  It’s like being teleported into another realm! The book is a journey through a fairy wedding, with all of the outfits created from actual plants and then photographed.  The flap of the book describes it as fairy couture! This book is chock full of inspiration and enchantment.

50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful Ordinary Life -  Irene Smit (Author), van der Hulst, Astrid (Author), Illustrators from Flow (Illustrator)


Get your pencils out for this one!  This is a great way to practice your drawing skills, while keeping it fun and engaging.  It’s a huge book with a ton of exercises in it so you’ll never get bored. 

I have this one on audio book and she narrates beautifully.  Another poet disguised as a botanist who talks about the magical world of plants that we live in.   Reading this book will cause you to shift your perspective, no matter where you live or which plants you’re familiar with.

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into the books on my bookshelf, there are so many more but I didn’t want this post to become a book itself!  If you have any non-fiction, arty type books that you want to share in the comments, I would really love to see what you’re reading and referencing!!  

I’ll have a list of these books on my Pinterest page with the links to purchase them if you’re interested.