My favourite art books to inspire and motivate

Like a lot of artists and makers, I love art books as a great place to find inspiration and get motivated. I have books about materials and techniques, building a creative life and books that just fill my soul with beautiful images and ideas. Most I have had for a while. These are the books that have continued to inspire and have survived home moves and a several bookshelf clear outs!

Here’s my current favourites on the shelf beside my favourite seat.

Favourite art books

Current favourite art books

A book for art techniques

Abstract painting by Jane Davies

Sometimes I just need to try something new or I have an idea and want refresh my knowledge. I have a lot of books about materials and techniques but this one is my favourite. It’s split into clear sections, has bold colour examples of Jane’s gorgeous style and is easy to follow. Her chapters on pattern and colour are explained really well.

Abstract Painting by Jane Davies page

Finding art inspiration

Sketchbook explorations by Shelley Rhodes

Inspirations for my art change overtime but this book by Shelley Rhodes is still in my book pile. There’s lots of unusual materials, textiles and textures used in here, perfect for mixed media artists looking for something beyond paint. Her sketchbooks are varied and so beautiful and the book is full of ideas to spark my own creations. She shares so many great tips on paper, sketchbooks and materials as well as what to put in the sketchbook! Use this book to get inspired with textiles and materials or start a sketchbook of your own.

Book art Sketchbook Explorations by Shelley Rhodes

Books for getting back to making art

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

I get stuck sometimes and lose my way. These books get me back on track with exercises to do such as the famous Morning Pages and Artist Dates from Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. The Creative Habit is great for reflecting on my art practice and what I want to create. They include writing exercises and are great if you like to write journals or would like to start. My copy of The Artist’s Way is from 1995 and is still a useful addition to my art book collection. Both of these books help me to get back to my roots and why I make art in the first place.

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Favourite art books Book art The Creative Habit cover

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Page from The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

Books to motivate me

Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Every creative person needs a nudge to get started sometimes. There are lots of reasons why we get stuck or procrastinate but these books offer great advice for getting started, shifting gears and most importantly, facing all that messy self doubt. Steal like an Artist is a blast of great advice, it’s short, easy to digest and packed full of wisdom for artists and makers at all stages. Art and Fear is a thoughtful, gentle read and leaves you feeling less alone in all the uncomfortable parts of being creative.

Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

Favourite art Books - Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Page from Art and Fear

When I need to fill my art soul

Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton

This book is an absolute joy. It’s full of glorious colour photos and exercises to get you connected with your creative inspiration. Philippa looks at colour, texture and creativity in a way that is really inspiring. You’ll be seeing your environment in a whole new way and noticing things you’ve not seen before after just a glimpse through this book. I recommend following her Instagram account too!

Favourite art books - Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton

A good read

Playing to the gallery by Grayson Perry

For when you want to think art thoughts without the need to create, a good read and a cuppa is the way to go. Grayson Perry is fabulous and he makes art so accessible. Read this book for a funny and bright look at the art world and how we can all experience the positive aspects of art.

Book Grayson Perry Cover

Have you got a pile of favourite art and creativity books that you go back to? There’s some comfort in those pages when we struggle to make our own art or find our own creativity is taking a rest. I hope you have seen something here that’s new or you go back to like an art comfort blanket.

If you’d like to keep up with my creative life, follow me on Instagram where I post work in progress, my inspirations and creative experiments.

*I haven’t included links to these books on my favourite online bookstore but if you’re interested in any of them, take a look in the Book Depository. I’m not associated with them in any way, I just like the way they do things.

Every month I write a blog post reflecting on the month’s art practice. You can read the notes from my art table here.