I'm giving a talk at Dixon is this Wednesday (April 26) from 12-1 as part of their Munch and Learn program. You're welcome to bring a lunch to eat or just hang out. I know it's not built for working folks, but I'll be happy to see anyone who can make it. I'll be talking about formative artists for me and what I've learned along the way about making an art centered life.
I love a handout (from my student nerd-dom days), so I decided to put together a bibliography of my own creative life. These are the main creative books that have stuck with me over years, whispered to me, called me back to read them again. I won't get around to talking about them in the lecture by the time I've talked about all my favorite artists, so I put in a small synopsis of each one. I'll have them all with me on Wednesday for anyone to look at and see if they look right to order, but I thought it would be fun to go ahead and send out the list for all of you. (see below)
It was a great thought experiment to come up with this list. It might be fun to make your own, or at least think in passing about what might go on it. Send along any books you think I'd love, and it would be cool to hear if any of you share some of mine. Add a comment here if you'd like to recommend or respond to my list.
Creative Life Bibliography:
Without Reservations Alice Steinbach – the middle-aged Eat Pray Love written ten years before Liz Gilbert's hit book, by and about a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun rediscovering herself through travel. It was hugely helpful in learning to listen to my own voice and curiosity after a hard early marriage. It also reminded me of the enormous benefits of travel. Alice is a great companion for a journey.
Memoirs of John Constable C.R. Leslie – written by a friend of his and heavy on quotes from Constable's own letters.
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage Ann Patchett – my number one inspirational book for ideas about the creative process and writing life, scattered in amongst other fantastic essays. The Getaway Car essay is most formative for me.
House: A Memoir Michael Ruhlman – one writer buying and renovating an old home in Cleveland. A meditation on a rooted sense of place and the way the spaces around us shape our lives and creativity. I reread this pretty regularly.
The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece Richard Sheppard – the journal in both text and watercolors of Richard's trip to Greece with his dad. His sketches made me want to figure out watercolors and the book was a big influence on the travel journals I keep for myself.
Edvard Munch: The Master Prints from the Epstein Family Collection – the catalog from the Dixon Munch show in 1991 that was hugely influential on my work. One of the first art books I bought for myself.
Direct Watercolor Marc Taro Holmes – a beautiful step by step guide to one approach to watercolor that has helped me greatly in learning the medium.
Mending Life: A Handbook for Repairing Clothes and Hearts Nina and Sonya Montenegro – a hand drawn book about mending instead of throwing away. It helped me mend one small corner of a large, crazy, out-of-control world mid-pandemic and is both philosophically beautiful and practically helpful. The most recent book here, but a turning point for me.
#AmWriting podcast – a wonderful, warm conversation between friends about writing – the inspiration, the practicalities, how to balance a small creative business with the rest of your life, and how to set goals and achieve the things you want to. Massively inspirational, and it has also helped me organize the details of my own small business so much better. Start with the earlier ones that appeal to you from the list.
Linocut Friends – group on facebook full of printmakers who are supportive and helpful
Urban Sketchers – FB group, IG hashtag, blog – sketchers around the world drawing and showing the world “one sketch at a time”. I also find my favorites and follow them individually. Hugely inspirational and great information on drawing materials to try.
Please order books from Burke's, Novel, or other local stores. Buying art supplies from The Art Center, staffed by helpful artists, is also a key credo and source of life happiness for me.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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