I am given a prompt every week as part of the group – The Daily Creative Practice.  This weeks prompt basically is “how has reading informed your art form(s)?  (see the end of the blog for the entire prompt).

Now, I admittedly am a book junkie. The only time I do not have a book to read is when I finish a book and have yet to start another. Reading is such an integral part of my life, I know the books I read influence all parts of my life, including my art. So – I thought I’d put together a list of books about art.  I divided them into three categories, Reference, History, Fun reading.  (note – these are not book reviews)


The Collins BIg Book of Art – this is a quick reference of art from cave art to pop art with over 1000 works of art represented.

Color, A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finley – Eleven chapters, each devoted to a color. The book is packed with information!

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work: by Mason Curry – 161 artists rituals are profiled, from novelists, to musicians, painters, comedians, sculptors, and scientists. From Benjamin Franklin to Toni Morrison.

Inside the Painters Studio by Joe Figg – I love to take a peek at artist’s lives – but you might get some serious studio envy!

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – the grand-daddy of all books about creativity.

The Quotable Artist by Peggy Hadden – I keep this book close by!

The Creative Process, Use It Or Lose It by Twyla Tharpe – a book I’ve returned to over and over.


The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris by David McCullough – if you are familiar with David McCullough, you know his attention to detail. Covering 1930 – 1900, it deals with artists, writers, scientists and more that  fell in love with Paris.

Secret Lives of Great Artists, What Your Teachers Never Told You About Master Painters and Sculptors by Elizabeth Lunday – this is just a fun look at the art world.

Originals: American Women Artists by Eleanor Munro – the book goes from Cassatt to Kiki Smith – a great reference book as women have been so often overlooked in the history of art!

The Man With the Blue Scarf, On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucien Freud by Martin Gayford – great book about the creative process.

Bad Boy, My Life On and Off The Canvas by Eric Fischl – more than just an autobiography, you get a glimpse into his view of the art world.


The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber – a wild ride of a book, it includes time travel, forgery, drugs and more. This was the book that got me reading book after book after book about both art forgery and art theft.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – winner of the Pulitzer Prize – it is a work of fiction that revolved around an actual painting (that I actually saw the year prior to reading this).

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro – okay – I admit, I have a fascination with art forgery!

Books to Read

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson -described as Wes Anderson meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe – it got my attention!

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro – A floating world refers to changing cultures in post war Japan. This is the first book by the author of The Remains of The Day

This is a fluid list, it changes as I read more and more books.  In fact, 75% of these books were read this year! Yes, I left many books out.  If you have some to recommend – share it with me!

Here is the entire prompt:

“How has reading informed your art form(s)?

Looking at reading as visualization, perhaps a source for learning visualization. Have particular writers inspired you to visual expression? Ever had inspiration from reading to do something visual, in writing, or other art expression, music, movement? Self-help books, facebook, online, biographies, poetry, spiritual, fiction, children’s books, magazines? How does one transfer an idea or insight gathered from one art form into another art form? I don’t mean these particular questions to be answered, but an attempt to point to examples. Or does reading have no part at all in your art expression? Or sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.”

9 thoughts on “BOOKS FOR ARTISTS

  1. Nancy Jambor

    Thanks for the list, I’ll have to check some of these out. Maybe Julia Cameron’s book could be called the grandmother of all books on creativity:)

  2. Vickie Martin

    Nancy – that is a good point – i can’t believe I didn’t catch that! and SKJAM – thanks for the recommendation – this is an area I don’t know ALOT about – so it will be good to learn something new – I do like graphic novels!!!

  3. Harmony Harrison

    I always learn from your book recommendations, and sometimes I return to your lists again and again. Thanks for compiling this list. I love a few of those on this list — Julia Cameron’s and Twyla Tharp’s.

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