Sunday, 8 May 2016

Artist's Intensive Course: Book List

"The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron 

Please don't let the atrocious cover turn you away. This book is great. It can get cheesy, and very new-age-y/spiritual at times. As someone who has only spent time in a church for art history reasons, and to use the Sunday school room to rehearse with a theatre troop, I usually get queasy when a book refers to God a lot. I'm just too much of an non-believer for that. However, Julia Cameron addresses any discomfort an atheists might have right off the bat in the introduction, asking you instead to think of the Creator as "someone who creates" or the power of creativity itself. So, thank you Julia for thinking of us heathens over here.

"The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A course in enhancing creativity and artistic confidence" by Betty Edwards

This book is really cool. If the before and after pictures are anything to go by, you can really strengthen your drawing abilities by re-training how you look at the world. Betty Edwards shows that anyone can draw. I like that she balances chapters of drawing exercises with chapters of reasoning: one chapter she goes into how the brain works, in another she talks about when in a child's development does inner artist block get developed and what you can do about it. It is a book for an utter beginner (read: someone who stopped drawing as a child - because everyone was an artist at one point in their young lives) and also for someone who is interested in how drawing works, how the brain works when drawing. I'm hoping it is also good for someone like me, who has some drawing skills but would like to improve them!

"Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger" edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns

This book is going to be a slog. It's full of primary philosophic readings from Plato to Heidegger. This was a textbook for an Aesthetics course I took and I had a hard time keeping up with the readings week to week. This will definitely be the most challenging of the texts I've picked.

A similar textbook can be found here. It might actually be easier to read, since it's more of an essay than primary sources... I may switch to it later if Philosophies of Art and Beauty is too much to take.

"Ways of Seeing" by John Berger

I think this book is best summed up by the information on its back cover:

"John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: 'This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings ... he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.’ By now he has."
"'The influence of the series and the book ... was enormous ... It opened up for general attention areas of cultural study that are now commonplace’ Geoff Dyer in Ways of Telling"

A free PDF of the book can be found here:

The only thing I don't like about this book is that it's entirely written using a bold sans serif font for some reason... an important lesson in graphic design for every reader!

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