February's Books: My Current Inspiration
I admit I’m a book-a-holic with a tendency to read many books at one time, but this works pretty well for me, depending on the books. I thought I’d share some of my current trove with you and a few tantalizing bits of wisdom from each one.
My Current Inspiration
This book is well-worn (notice the cat scratched cover). I have been looking at some of the chapters recently, especially this one on the idea of failure. As I learn how to use different art materials, I treat everything as an experiment. Failure in art is subjective, and I find it so important to be self-compassionate with yourself and know that some days are going to be days when it is hard to create anything at all.
One of my new favorite watercolor artists is Fabrice Moireau. He is elusive on the internet. I have been searching for any tutorials he might have on mixing his delicious mixes of colors for rooves, buildings and skies in this book on Paris written with historian Mary A. Kelly. I am learning so much from the way he composes each picture and his linework. He manages to create a mood in each illustration by subtle washes of light in the shadows and in the skies.
Palette of colors used in his rooftops of Paris Sketchbook
This timeless gem is one I pull out throughout the year.
I have been searching for a system of organizing my thoughts, tasks, ideas, calendar all in one place, and this method seems to be exactly what I’ve been looking for. What I love about it is that it is all based on a handwritten book which has an index you create as you go, and it not only provides all the practical needs of a calendar, to do list, gratitude journal, idea list, brain dump, it is also a way to reflect on your day, your week, how you spend your time and what is important to you.
I am devoting the winter to learning how to draw with graphite, charcoal and on toned paper. Part of the homework for the class I am taking is to copy drawings of the old masters as a way to learn hows to shade and create light and the right proportions for the human figure. This book is a terrific new resource.
Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way, has become a classic for anyone searching for a way to enhance the creative muse and find community in art. She has compiled useful exercises, inspiring quotes in all the margins and reminders to do your morning pages, take your weekly Artist Date with yourself, take a weekly walk to work out things that come up.
In reading this little book, I am reminded of the freedom that comes from few extraneous possessions - fewer choices, less time managing things, more money for experiences and peace of mind. I am also struck by the conflict inherent in producing physical artworks that often stick around the studio, need to be stored and protected from dampness, sunlight, mice, etc. Making art means producing a thing which is probably not practically useful and is not necessarily aiming to be wabi-sabi. Yet it is appreciating the wabi-sabi which is this conflict that adds to a sense of value in deciding how to change a color here or there, provide balance between negative shapes or add more texture to a painting I am working on. I also have a fascination with other artist studios and how they organize materials, artwork and pieces of inspiration. That leads me to the next book in my February pile.
An extension in some ways of the wabi-sabi ideals, this book is mainly eye candy and idea surfing for me as I think about ways to display artwork and creative ways to pair textures and textiles. I am lucky to own my own apartment and to have the ability to make changes to it, but sometimes I think being an armchair designer is the best because it is free! Many of the interiors in this book are a bit too micromanaged and austere for my taste, but it’s fun to peruse anyways, and today I discovered in one photo that a designer has the same tea set I have of dragons which was a consignment impulse buy last year.
Stay tuned for March’s book pile!