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Thinking & creating.

Looking for new sources of inspiration? These fantastic art books are great for thinking creatively.

Jul 26, 2022


Words: Andrea Kinsmith

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Curiosity and creativity are the reasons we love a diverse range of books.

Over the past few years, as we have watched our son’s artwork blossom, we have found ourselves adding art books to our personal library again. Some of these books are so good and useful that we thought we must share them with you.

...[these books are] a great addition to any personal library and are fantastic aids to thinking creatively. They have certainly been inspirational and instructional to us.

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We’ve been tuning in to the appropriately called 3 Point Perspective podcast for a while now. 3 Point is run by the founders of the Society of Visual Storytelling: Lee White, Jake Parker and Will Terry. As professional illustrators, they share real-world experiences, offer practical advice and answer questions.

Much to our excitement, Will recently published a book called What They Don't Teach in Art School.

What we love about this book (apart from his beautiful illustrations) is the same as the podcast: the real-world stories and advice. As Will points out in his foreword, art schools usually focus on technical skills, but they don’t teach what to do after art school. Like, how exactly do you get paid for doing the thing you now have skills for? To address this, Will’s book includes things like entrepreneurial techniques, strategies, discipline, looking for opportunities, creating or finding new markets and how to be seen by the right people.

It is a self-published book and is available from his website willterry.com.

For the Society of Visual Storytelling and their podcast, visit svslearn.com.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards is a must-have book for anyone interested in learning how to draw to the best of their ability.

Betty believed that many people predominantly use one side of their brain when drawing, leading them to mostly draw what they know. It’s like drawing a list: a mouth, eyes, ears and nose, rather than seeing the edges, shapes, light, shadow and the relationships between them that make up a face.

Betty discovered how to have a more holistic approach. By developing methods to help people access more of their right brain, she assists people in learning to see clearly first, and then draw. This ability is invaluable, even if drawing from imagination.

Doing the brainwork before you draw, or at least in the drawing’s initial stages, is a theme that pops up in a few of our books. The
Etherington brothers’ series of books How to Think When You Draw are only available once a year through Kickstarter
. But you can also access all of their content for free on their website or Instagram.

All four (soon to be five) volumes are great inspiration, have loads of tutorials and really help you to understand what needs to be thought about when creating a drawing, for example, surface texture, the effect
of weight or light on an object, the effect of movement, design elements, perspective and much more. There are pages full of different concepts for one subject, such as houses, cars, plants, etc., and pages with methods for idea development. The books are well laid out and packed with inspiration. Visit theetheringtonbrothers.blogspot.com.

Another book that champions thinking before you create is Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts. We became aware of Ian Roberts through his YouTube channel and were quickly impressed with his clarity of instruction and demonstration. We were super excited to learn he has a book too.

Ian believes that the real artistic thinking occurs in the first three stages of a painting, as this is where you arrange the composition to make the picture effective. He suggests beginning with setting up the dynamic of the picture, that is its size, orientation and edges. Step two is designing how the eye will flow around the picture. Step three is blocking in the shapes and tones: the shapes of shadows or areas of light, the sky, trees or whatever makes up the broad shapes and tones of the painting.

This book is thoughtful, thought-provoking and thorough. He goes through many types of compositions with examples of each, and helpful advice on turning your artwork into a composition that works.

The above books make a great addition to any personal library and are fantastic aids to thinking creatively. They have certainly been inspirational and instructional to us.

If you are curious to see what our son has been drawing over the past year, twelve of his drawings have been turned into greeting cards and are available both in-store and online at readersemporium.com.au/c/jaks-cards.

Our dear friends at the Reader’s Emporium (readersemporium.com.au) have been supporting Gippslandia since #1. Why don’t you show them some love? Head to Shop 12 Seymour Arcade, Traralgon from 10am.

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