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Recommended Books that Offer Inspiration to Make Art

Celebrate Your Creative Self: Over 25 Exercises to Unleash the Artist Within, by Mary Todd Beam - one of the best-known workshop instructors in the realm of artistic creativity. She has been giving workshops all over the country for a number of years and is an award-winning artist. She divides her time between Cambridge, Ohio and Cosby, Tennessee.

Artists and creatives of all kinds who are looking for new ways to liberate their artistic imagination will love this book. Readers are invited to playfully explore various aspects of visual art, such as light, color, texture and design through a series of imaginative art projects. Artists will experiment hands-on with dozens of techniques and mediums in new and unconventional ways including: * Capturing whites with crayon and wax resist * Glazing and floating colors * Portraying the patterns of nature with sedimentation and precipitation * Loosening up with gesso painting and printing with plastic * Constructing a new piece of art from old work * Experimenting with three-dimensional assemblage * Creating a street map In addition, artists are prompted to challenge their imaginations by building new painting surfaces, creating their own personal symbols and more. Further inspiration can be found in a gallery of work by more than 30 contributing artists. Celebrate Your Creative Self is a fun, no-fail guide every artist should have.

Reader review: 4.5 star

'Portraits' : talking with artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere' by Michael Kimmelman, Random house

Reader review: 'One can only speak properly about paintings in front of paintings,' Paul Cézanne once said. it is usually, though, critics who speak in front of paintings, not artists. With an eye toward rectifying that situation, michael kimmelman, chief art critic of the new york times, constructed portraits. he invited individual artists to meet him at museums, then tagged along on their peregrinations through various galleries--sometimes the most unlikely ones. at new york's metropolitan museum, the late roy lichtenstein, papa of pop, stopped to praise some frou-frou fragonards. who knew? "clearly there's something wrong with me," lichtenstein said.

Kimmelman's knowledge of art is astonishingly broad, and he has a way with questions that ignite each artist's memories, reflections, and opinions. otherwise, he inserts himself only to offer enough biographical data or physical description to bring a reader up-to-date and up close. for the most part, he simply listens. closely. the result is a series of interviews so cozy readers may feel they're eavesdropping. few readers will ever make another foray through the metropolitan or the museum of modern art or london's national gallery completely alone. after devouring these "portraits"--most of which appeared originally as articles in the times's art pages--they will be accompanied forevermore by the lively, eccentric, thoughtful, unguarded voices of jacob lawrence, kiki smith, wayne thibaud, francis bacon, lucian freud, elizabeth murray, cindy sherman, richard serra, leon golub and nancy spero, brice marden, hans haacke, and chuck close. '


'ways of seeing' by john berger, viking pr, January 1995.
customer review: 'An eye opener to the real meaning of renaissance art. I knew next to nothing about art when I picked this book up. I probably still don't, but at least I can now appreciate the value that "art" held for the patrons of the arts (specifically oils) during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. One learns to appreciate the value these paintings held not only for the patrons who commissioned the paintings but for their peers and the other social classes of the time. Mr. Berger's theory to a degree is that these oils functioned as a sort of touchtone of wealth and status and, in a socially fashionable, acceptable and clever way, showcased one's earthly possessions and station in life. The patron via the painting told the world: I am socially, spritually and, on occasion, sexually superior. This commissioned "art" was a tasteful one-upmanship show. The patron called the shots where the iconography in the painting was concerned and the artist, inevitably a man of talent but with expenses, complied. This is not to say that the masters were hacks.But to coin a phrase they knew on which side their canvas was oiled. Nothing much seems to have changed today, accordiing to Mr. Berger. And here his theory of the function of visual art comes into clear focus. '

'Art on the Edge and Over : Searching for Art's Meaning in Contemporary Society 1970s-1990s' by Linda Weintraub, et al, Art Insights, Inc , January 1997. Price: $18.00, You Save: $4.50 (20%)
Linda Weintraub recognizes that art at the end of the 20th century changes too quickly and is too multifaceted to be quickly and easily understood. Here she explains the intractably avant-garde art of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s by searching for art's meaning within the context of popular culture and the common trends that have led to new forms of artistic expression.

This book requires no art history background or knowledge of special jargon. It was published for anyone interested in understanding what's going on today in avant-garde art, as well as for people who want to better understand modern culture and adapt more easily to the stresses and changes in their daily lives.

Artists today are affected by society just as you are--by artificial, non-natural environments; synthetic products; computers; shopping malls; mass media; gender roles and discrimination; pollution; conditioning about the importance of fame, acquiring money and appearance; racial and other prejudices; compulsions; too many, overwhelming choices; and countless other experiences relevant to all of us.

The book features 35 concise chapters, each focusing on--and quoting--a particular artist. These artists do not aim to create beautiful artworks via painting or sculpture. They have powerful messages to convey in response to society's pressures, so they must resort to such unexpected mediums as pollen, smell, old clothes, flowers, blood, discarded dolls, toxic earth, objects from shopping trips, urine. Their social goals are illustrated through 158 images of their creations, including 29 in color.

The work discussed and shown is incredibly provoking and will change your view of society and how to live in it. It will definitely explain, help you translate and give you insights into avant-garde art. Then this art can have meaning for you and add immeasurably to your cultural life.

'The Art Spirit : Notes, Articles, Fragments of Letters and Talks to Students, Bearing on the Concept and Technique of Picture Making, the Study of Art' by Robert Henri, Margery A. Ryerson (Editor), Icon (Harpe), April 1984.

Reader review: The most important book in Amercan art education. Robert Henri was the most influential art educator in american history. This book describes the psyche and impetus common to american artists more succinctly than any other writing of the 20th century. In a time where art education has become stagnant and bankrupt, The Art Spirit is still as applicable now as during Henri's lifetime.

Art & Fear : Observations on the Perils (And Rewards) of Artmaking' by David Bayles(Introduction), Ted Orland, Capra Pr.
This book is written by working artists, for working artists. Art & Fear is a book about the way art gets made, the reasons it often does not get made, and about the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. The authors (David Bayles & Ted Orland) are both working artists, grappling daily with the problems of making art in the real world. The observations we make are drawn from personal experience, and relate more to the needs of fellow artists than to the interests of viewers. Do not mistake Art & Fear for a pop psychology self-help book -- we are not interested in freeing your inner child! This is a book about what it feels like to sit down at your wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do.

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