In celebration of International Women’s Day this month {March 8th}, and the reopening of my course that focuses on female artists – Artist Inspired II: The Women – I’ve gathered together some of my favourite books by and about women artists.

Many women artists have fought that label, and while I respect that – we are artists, first and foremost – language, however limiting, helps us reach common agreements. So, women artists. :)

And I read a lot of books! Some of which I love so much I want to tell someone. {They often end up in my Instagram stories.} So here’s a little selection for your edification and delight. :) Click on any of the images to read more about each book.

Tip: If your current budget doesn’t stretch to books, get your local library to order them! I do that frequently; it’s a brilliant way to get to read All The Books without spending All The Money.

*Please note, links are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase any of the books from this post I will receive a tiny amount of compensation, at no extra cost to you. Ideally though, you’ll be supporting your local bookshop. :)

 

Tania Kovats – Drawing Water

I discovered Tania Kovats, a contemporary British artist, last year, as I ‘dived into’ my explorations of water and art, if you’ll excuse the pun. Her work is quite conceptual, and she works in various media, including some intriguing sculptures. {I wrote a bit about her work here.}

This book explores drawing and water, and ties them together in a collection of writings and images covering history, folklore, maps, islands, Kovats’ own experiences, and the work of other artists in this area. Lovely to dip in and out of, but more than a coffee table book; I found much of it thought provoking, unexpected, and fascinating.

 

 

Daybook: The Journal of an Artist – Anne Truitt

I started this quite a while ago, got about half way through and then abandoned it. I found parts of it heavy and perhaps didn’t want to add weight when I was already dealing with some heaviness of my own. Then I picked it up again last month and devoured the second half in a matter of days. I’ve just started rereading it, and I almost never do that.

My copy is now a forest of sticky notes, and while some is unrelateable {although fascinating} to me – she writes poignantly and in depth about her thoughts on motherhood, and motherhood as an artist – I found her incredibly insightful into the nuances of process and of what it’s like to be a working artist.

She deals with harsh criticism of her work, the vagaries of the muse, getting older, learning how to live in an empty nest, and many more things not unique to women, but seen through a female lens in deeply introspective and thoughtful ways. This is one I’ll be keeping. She also wrote two further journals – Turn and Prospect – which are now on my list.

 

Drawing and Painting People: A Fresh Approach – Emily Ball

If you’ve hung out with me for a while you’ll have heard me mention this one, er, once or twice. ;) This is my all time favourite art book, written by one of my favourite artists.

The book is packed with exercises, work by other artists, and – which was what took it to another level for me – insights about process written with clarity and understanding that makes my process-loving heart beat a little faster.

 

 

A Big Important Art book: Now with Women – Danielle Krysa

How could I not include this one? I read it recently and loved the diversity of striking, thought provoking work and rich life stories it holds.

Danielle Krysa, of the website and {excellent} podcast The Jealous Curator {one of my faves}, first noticed at college that the history of art books held few or no women. This book is her contribution to rectifying that.

Each chapter contains several women artists, as well as the profile of a female artist from history, and suggested projects relating to that chapter’s topic. It’s rich with ideas and inspiration, and made me want to get straight into the studio every few lines.

 

Conscious Creativity – Philippa Stanton

While not strictly an art book, and more of a guide to reawakening or enriching your creativity and imagination, I’m including this one because a} I’m reading it right now and b} creativity underpins making art. Plus c} it’s a beautiful book – even if you didn’t read it the photos alone would inspire ideas. {You can see more on Philippa’s wildly popular Instagram account, @5ftinf.}

Philippa is an artist and photographer and also has synaesthesia, so she offers a fresh way of approaching creativity that’s well worth exploring.

While a lot of it feels quite ‘obvious’ to me, I think that’s because I’ve spent over a decade {and most of my life} immersed in and actively using my creative thinking and awareness. A couple of the exercises have sparked very exciting new ideas for me though, in particular the chapters on the senses, as that’s very much where my art is at right now. I recommend this one if you’re feeling a bit stuck or want to reconnect to your creative self and are not sure how.

 

Further reading

Below are some links to books I haven’t yet read but have now added to the ever growing list.

50 Women Artists You Should Know – Christiane Weidemann

Forgotten Women: The Artists – Zing Tsjeng

Women Artists: The National Museum of Women in the Arts – Susan Fisher Sterling

Oh, and I almost forgot – I wrote one too. :) It’s called Creative Spark, is aimed at those returning to their artist selves after a hiatus or anyone who considers themselves a beginner, and you can find out more about it here.

Do you have any favourite art books by or about women? Please share them with us in the comments!

 

If you fancy exploring women artists further in the context of developing your own work, Artist Inspired II might be just the thing!

I created this course after realising that its predecessor – Artist Inspired – had unintentionally included all male artists. In it, we take a look at the work of some well known and perhaps lesser known names, both contemporary and historical, and play with their ideas and approaches with a view to developing our own work.

This is not about copying – it’s about taking inspiration and finding ways to imbue it with our own unique energy as artists, to make it our own. Click the image to learn more.

 

 

 

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