Art books

Here are some books I’ve read that have helped me on my creative journey. Some have taught me tricks that have saved me years of struggle. Some have made me see the world in new ways. If your local library does not have them, ask for them to get them for you from Inter-library Loan (ILL). Remember, the more money you save from not buying books means more money for art supplies.

When Wanderers Cease to Roam. Vivian Swift

Gardens of Awe and Folly. Vivian Swift

The Art of Expressive Collage. Crystal Neubauer

Graffiti World – Street art from five continents. Nicolas Ganz (

Art Before Breakfast: A zillion ways to be more creative no matter how busy you are. Danny Gregory

The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are. Danny Gregory

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers. Danny Gregory

The Trickster’s Hat – a mischievous apprenticeship in creativity. Nick Bantock

Urgent Second Class: Creating Curious Collage, Dubious Documents, and Other Art from Ephemera Nick Bantock

The Art of Cardboard: Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling, and Reuse. Lori Zimmer

Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art: sketching tips and tricks drawn from art. Helen Birch

The art of urban sketching: drawing on location around the world. Gabriel Campanario

Urban watercolor sketching: a guide to drawing, painting, and storytelling in color. Felix Scheinberger

Urban sketching: the complete guide to techniques. Thomas Thorspecken

The Art of Whimsical Lettering. Joanne Sharpe

Acrylic Solutions: Exploring Mixed Media Layer by Layer. Chris Cozen

Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination, and Travel. Jill K. Berry

Art Journal Kickstarter: Pages and Prompts to Energize Your Art Journals. Kristy Conlin

Wreck this Journal. Keri Smith

How to be an explorer of the world- portable life museum. Keri Smith

How to avoid making art. Julia Cameron

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Julia Cameron

Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun. Carla Sonheim

Watercolor Pencil Magic. Cathy Johnson

Collage Discovery Workshop: Make Your Own Collage Creations Using Vintage Photos, Found Objects and Ephemera. Claudine Hellmuth

The Creative Edge: Exercises to Celebrate Your Creative Self Mary Todd Beam

Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists of All Ages. Susan Schwake

Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own Travel Sketchbook. Richard Schilling

Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings. Kelly Rae Roberts

How to Make a Journal of Your Life. Dan Price

The Waterworks: Jennifer Hecker

Exhibition ends: Saturday, June 4, 2016
Turchin Center for the Visual Arts – 423 West King St. – Boone, NC 28608
If you get a chance, go to see this exhibit in Boone, NC. Hopefully it will be shown elsewhere, as there is not much time for this one left. The Turchin is free, but closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The exhibit features metal and glass made to look like water. Pictures do not do it justice.

From the exhibit information –
In “The Waterworks,” artist and educator Jennifer Hecker explores the metaphor of “sculpting” water with bronze and glass pieces that suggest the fragility and necessity of an element that is essential for life but increasingly scarce. NASA’s Mars Rover discovery of evidence suggesting that water once flowed on that planet makes it possible to speculate that there was once life on Mars. Hecker asks: Will our own planet, with increasing droughts, pollution, and climate change, one day be as bereft of water as Mars is today? Many experts agree that we are heading toward a worldwide water crisis in the 21st Century. Whoever has water will have power. But can a country or government or corporation or individual really “own” water? “It’s all crazy to think about,” Hecker says. “That is, however, exactly what I was thinking about while ‘sculpting’ water.”

Pictures I took there – (I was given permission)

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Umbrella
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Key for “locking up water”

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Dress with water bullets
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Drain
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My art inspiration list

A random collection of artists and other creators that inspire my writing and art.

Maira Kalman
Dave Pilkey
David Shannon
Chris Van Allsburg
Matisse
Nick Bantock
Vivian Swift.

Handwritten, illustrated journals

Daily reading. Affirmations.

Sara Miles
Barbara Brown Taylor
Anne Lamott

Graffiti
Day of the Dead

Alice in wonderland
“Grover and the everything in the whole wide world museum”
Madeline L’Engle
Jesus

The Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey

Music – —
Punk and funk
Red hot chili peppers
Old Stevie Wonder
Soul Coughing
Michael Hedges

E E Cummings.

Sutton Hoo helmet
Celtic. Woad.

Rob Gonsalves
Escher
Bev Doolittle
(Hidden in plain sight, different perspective)

Stamps (tiny art)

Why so many people feel dissatisfied with modern conceptual art.

I read a post on an artist group page recently that wondered what was wrong with modern conceptual art. The video that was used to spark discussion had a commentator that said that it was all crap, and showed recent examples to prove his point, some of which was in fact fecal matter. No, I’m not being euphemistic. It was actual fecal matter, used as “art” and hanging in a museum. There were other examples that were equally bizarre and unsettling.

What I found most interesting is that the people who commented in defense of the “art” said that at least it provoked a reaction. To them, simply making someone react was proof that the artist had done a good job.

The issue is, however, that the reaction isn’t a healthy one, or one that inspires. It is a reaction of confusion (what is the artist trying to say?), or anger (how did this random paint smear get into a museum/get bought for a million dollars?).

Perhaps the reason so many people like modern conceptual art is because it reminds them of their own feelings. It is “misery loves company”. People like things that remind them of who they are. Deep down they must be very lost and confused and broken. Therefore they like art that is also lost and confused and broken. This art is a reflection of a feeling of loss, of anger, of destruction, of violence, of hopelessness. This art tries to show us how meaningless our existence is, how random, how pointless.

Madeline L’Engle, the author of the “Wrinkle in Time” series, said that art should elevate and make us feel better. This does not mean that it should be used as a palliative agent to make us feel better when all hope is lost. Rather, art should point the way out of the bad situation. Art should remind us of our inner strength and point us towards hope.

Art that is purely used to express rage and destruction and violence and anger can be useful as a catharsis. It can be a way to get out those feelings rather than letting them bottle up inside. It can tell other people that it is safe to have and express those feelings. But the problem occurs when we get stuck there with that kind of art, when we are only shown the darkness of the world or ourselves.

At that point we are idolizing pain. We are making a fetish of our failure. We are saying that loss and destruction is our lot in life and where we must stay.

There must be another way. Art should be a rope ladder rather than a noose. Art should inspire and encourage and enlighten in the truest sense of the word. It should shed light on a dark situation and reach that small part of ourselves that wants healing, that knows how to heal.

Rather than being a passive thing where we expect others to save us or heal us or help us, art should remind us of our own inner healing nature. It should be a map to the center of our being that shows us how to get out of the hole we are in.

Art that is only about loss and violence and anger cheats us, because it speaks only to itself and does not point beyond.

Consider this – poetry that is purely descriptive, that details for us what is right now isn’t poetry. It is merely a news story written in verse form. True poetry elevates and points beyond itself and hints to other and greater things. True poetry guides us back to the best parts of ourselves. Likewise, art that only shows the ugly side of life is not art. It is a photograph that happens to use paint or collage.

True poetry, like true art, can speak about the horrors of life, but to make it poetry or art, it has to show us a way out of it. Art and poetry have to be doors that are open. They show us that while we are on one side of the door, there is a way out of it to another place.

Poem – What gets you up?

What gets you up?
You have to have a reason
for getting up in the morning
and for making it
through the day.

Children? Work? Art?

What brings you joy? Do that.
What does the world need? Do that.

Can you get paid for it? Even better.

But even if you can’t,
do it anyway,
because it will feed your soul
and that kind of nourishment
can’t be bought
in a store.

There is no nutritional supplement
for a soul deficiency,
like there is for scurvy.

Rumi says: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

Buechner says: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Books to inspire your artistic side.

Do you want start or become better at sketching? You can’t go wrong with these books –

The Art of Urban Sketching: drawing on location around the world by Gabriel Campanario

Urban Sketching: the complete guide to techniques by Thomas Thorspecken

The Creative License: giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are by Danny Gregory

An Illustrated Life: drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers by Danny Gregory

Watercolor Journeys: create your own travel sketchbook by Richard Schilling

For inspiration, look at:

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: a traveler’s journal of staying put by Vivian Swift

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

For mixed-media artistic experiments, try these –

Art Lab for Kids: 52 creative adventures in drawing, painting, printmaking, paper and mixed-media for budding artists of all ages by Susan Schwake

Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists – 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun by Carla Sonheim.

Also, look at anything by Keri Smith to get your head out of that rut. “Wreck this Journal” is a mandatory purchase.

Is art right for you?

11 x 14 canvas.

Acrylic paint, gold oil pastel pencil, under-words from a prescription insert for a nose spray, warning labels from prescription bottles, magazine clippings, label from a box of multi-vitamins stamps, silver and black Sharpies, decoupage glue, rubber stamps, ink, watercolor.

Please message me if you are interested in purchasing this one of a kind artwork.

About how art is better for you than prescriptions.

Full image –
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Details –

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