Timeout for Art: Reading


Reading, you might say, has very little to do with art. Art is “making.” Art is “creating.” Art is “showing up and doing it.” Yes, true. But for me, reading is a huge contributor to my art. Books offer reference, reminders, instruction and inspiration. They serve as a gateway into the studio when I’ve been away from it too long. They introduce me to new techniques, or remind me of others that I haven’t used in a while. Books offer fresh viewpoints and expand my vision beyond the walls of my own small studio. I find them invaluable.

Some of my favorites:

For a push to get going:

  • Making Room for Making Art by Sally Warner
  • The classic The Artist’s Way, of course, but any books by Julia Cameron outline and reinforce her solid principles
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • Any of the several books on creativity and “flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

For inspiration:

  • Lucy Lippard has several good books detailing various art movements. I find them accessible and always eye-opening. Overlay, Mixed Blessings, Eva Hesse, and From the Center are ones that I refer to again and again
  • No More Secondhand Art by Peter London
  • Deep Play by Diane Ackerman
  • The Reenchantment of Art by Suzi Gablik
  • This Way Day Break Comes: Women’s Values and the Future By Anne Cheatham and Mary Clare Powell
  • Clear Seeing Place by Brian Rutenberg is currently providing me with a new desire to get things going in the studio. He also has several wonderful short videos on YouTube

Books on process and technique can serve as inspiration as well. I have many, but most often turn to these:

  • If I’m planning an art class, I first turn to Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent and Jan Steward
  • For papermaking, or to explain papermaking, I go to the book that I first learned the process from: The Complete Book of Handcrafted Paper by Marna Elyea Kern
  • For drawing, I turn to Drawing: A Contemporary Approach by Claudia Betti and Teel Sale
  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards is also helpful
  • Finding One’s Way With Clay by Paulus Berensohn has influenced my thoughts on how I approach clay, and all other media

Beyond these standard go-to books, I have others dealing with specific artists, art movements and art history, as well as instructional books for specific painting and printmaking techniques. For me, reading makes an important contribution to my art-making.


About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

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