Studio Friday: The perfect art book

"As I was talking about books so much lately... if there was the ideal book for you as an artist on studios and life as an artist what would be the absolute most important thing in your eyes for it to have in it? What kinds of topics, elements, images would you love to have in it? A few words from your favourite artist as well? What would inspire you, what would support you, give you courage? Would you like it to be a big book with tons of pages or a small book?"

Reading over the question again this morning, I think I missed the part about the book being about studios and life as an artist. I got stuck at the title. So I didn't really answer the question properly. But I'm already late and I'm sticking to my original plan :)

An art book should have beautiful photographs or drawings, of course. We expect to see the art itself. But what really interests me is seeing into the artists world and reading about their process. How does their personal environment inspire their work? How do they get from here (thought) to there (finished piece)? It should feel personal and conversational, like blog posts often do.

I have a couple of books like this that I return to again and again. One is called The Undercliff: A Naturalist's Sketchbook of the Devon to Dorset Coast by Elaine Franks and it's designed to look like pages from a sketchbook. Interspersed among the drawings are little hand-lettered paragraphs with stories and observations about the subjects she's drawn. It feels like a diary—very personal and as if you're peeking over her shoulder. I could spend hours admiring the detail she captures in each drawing.

Common Blue Butterfly, © Elaine Franks

Another book I love is Patchwork Folk Art by Janet Bolton, who creates fabric collages that are beautiful in their simplicity. In it she talks about how she begins with simple sketches (beautiful, too), then moves on to choosing shapes, fabrics and details, and finally to how she presents the final piece.

The Small Bird
The Small Bird,© Janet Bolton

I buy a lot of art and craft books (probably too many) and I'm often disappointed. They have nice pictures but nothing that makes me want to return to them again and again. So, the perfect art book, to me, should have substance and depth along with pretty pictures. That's not a bad thing in people either :)

Read more Studio Friday posts here.


stephanie said...

I think you read this just right, that's how I took it....books that inspire and what it is about them that inspires. I love both you examples very much!

calamitykim said...

I want to thank you for posting about this book- I am trying to research Janet Bolton and her work. I just bought Kaffe Fassett's quilt road and some of her work is in it and I am smitten, completely with the simple folk art loveliness of it. I am bookmarking your blog and adding it to my sidebar- if it is alright with you I would also like to share it with my readers who would definitely like your extensive embroidery stitch library!

janet said...

You can see more of Janet Bolton's work at http://www.janetbolton.com. She also has a book called "In a Patchwork Garden: Garden Designs in Applique" that appears to be out of print but can be purchased used at Amazon. And she has a new book called "Janet Bolton's Textile Pictures" which is kind of expensive at $60 but might be worth it if you really love her work.

magpie meg said...

oh my!! i know this is an old blog entry...but i just have to say, i too LOVE janet bolton!!! fabulous... :)