This is the third post in a series of gift books for artists in your life (or your own art library). [The first two posts can be seen here and here.] This list of five books is a little more esoteric – and not specific to art-instruction, or watercolor, but they are great additions & references for an artists’ library just the same. 🙂 If you have art books in your library that inspire you, or creative authors that left a lasting impression in your studio, please share the titles and authors in the comments.
Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists
The forty essays collected in Sharon Louden’s Living and Sustaining a Creative Life are written in the artists’ own voices, and each entry is gathered in the form of narratives, statements, or interviews. Each artist’s story is different and unique, but the common thread is an ongoing commitment to creativity, inside and outside the studio.
Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist
Lisa Congdon packs a lot of great information for any artist new to the prospect of selling art work. This isn’t a how-to-make-art book, but if you know someone who already makes a lot of art, but has no idea how to sell it, this is the book to get that process rolling. Lisa covers everything from building an online presence to making prints (reproductions) in the studio with a good printer, managing bookkeeping and diversifying art-income.
The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History
This little treat of a book is for the artist who loves history: it features 65 artists illustrating portraits of little-known sidekicks of some of the most famous cultural icons of history. Muses and neighbors, friends and relatives, accomplices and benefactors — such as Michael and Joy Brown, who gifted Harper Lee a year’s worth of wages to help her write To Kill a Mockingbird. Or John Ordway, the colleague who walked with Lewis and Clark along every step of their expedition to cross the Western United States in 1804. In this book, I think the prospect of one human being championing the creative pursuits of another human is the stuff that balances the day’s dose of bad news.
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
Ed Catmull is one of the founders of Pixar, the animation studio that created Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. He’s written a book about how he runs a business successfully with a staff of wildly varied, impulsively creative people. The book is a recipe for building and managing a creative culture with a broad spectrum of specialists on your team, but it’s also about staying true to your passion. If you know an artist interested in animation, managing other creatives, keeping creativity aligned with business goals, this might be a good candidate as a gift. Read the reviews on this one.
Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life
If an artist you know is a fan of Andrew Wyeth, or any of the Wyeth family of artists, I bet they’ll love this book as much as I did. The author, Richard Meryman, has known the Wyeth family for 40 years, and he was close friends with Andrew. He had unprecedented access to private family archives, photos, interviews and history. His writing brings Andrew and each family member close enough to be your next door neighbor; you’ll feel like you know them, vividly and emotionally, and the family’s history unfolds in such a palpable way, you’ll never forget some of the scenes depicted from their homes, studios and yards. I’ve never read a more comprehensively researched depiction of a great artist’s relationship with his world. I loved the book so much, I searched for and found the author’s address to write to him directly, and thank him for writing such an amazing documentation of one of America’s great family of artists. I’m waiting for the book to be re-released as an audio title on Audible so I can listen to it, and enjoy it all over again.
For centuries, would-be artists have struggled to find the secrets that accounted for the compelling perfection found in the work of the old masters – their unique visual insights and the longevity of the work. However, in spite of the monumental effort expended to find the holy grail of the masters, the biggest secret of all is practice. To unlock the secrets of the old masters, one must apply and re-apply and continually refine the primary principles of art until they become second nature.