Aspire to Inspire

April 14, 2010

Copper Pot on Cloth, Ooil on Canvas 14" x 11"

In a recent class, a student asked for my opinion. The women was interested in purchasing a book on  art to help her learn more about watercolor and wanted to know which book, in my opinion, was the best one for her to purchase. I joked and said that I had not yet written a book.

As I prepared a serious answer to her question, I quickly did a mental inventory of books in my library. I realize that it is a tough question. I own a few of books on art. Actually, I own many, many books on art.

I own several instructional books on watercolor. Some books are by artists that have a style or create subject matter similar to my own work or a style or facet to which I aspire. Some books are by artists that create different subject matter or style than mine.  I have good instructional books on oils, acrylics, and pastels. I also own good books on pen & ink techniques, drawing exercises and books dealing with composition and design.

Some of the books in my library are not necessarily “how to” instructional. I have books that highlight the life and works of artists both alive and deceased. I also own books which are compilations of artists in specific mediums or subject matter.

I realize there is no one book that answers that question every time. I find it depends on the moment and the challenge. I read and review books in my library frequently.  I review my books to help research new ideas and lessons for teaching my students. I utilize my books to help when I get stuck on a painting or design or if I just want to try a fresh approach or a different technique. I refer to my books for general inspiration before I start painting.

My advice is to plan to build and utilize a library of art books. Find books that have subject matter or styles which you wish to emulate. Find books dealing with subject matter where you feel you need help. Keep an open mind to purchasing books that explore different subject matter. Purchase books that highlight the careers of artists (you will see and appreciate the progression of style and technique). If you are in this for the long haul, realize that no one book will satisfy your needs all of the time.

You can find good art books at book stores (really?), on-line (sites such as Amazon.com and NorthLightBooks.com), antique and estate shops, and garage sales. Local libraries often have sales of used or donated books.

Keep drawing and painting. Keep an eye open for books that can help to inspire and I will get to writing and illustrating the best instructional book yet on watercolor and oil painting. Hey, I can aspire to inspire.

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