Great Gift Books an Artist Would Love to Receive
(Especially Artists Who Love to Eat, Cook, Garden or Take Photos)
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Looking for a wonderful, inspiring gift for a friend or loved one who is an artist?
Or maybe you need a comforting book to cozy up to yourself this season that will inspire you to make something marvelous in the new year?
The following seven, fascinating, beautifully illustrated books about great artists could be the perfect present to enchant, inform or motivate you or a friend this holiday.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
These cozy reads about Kahlo, Dali, Matisse, Monet, and many others may help you or your artist friend take a much-needed vacation from worry and avoid creative burnout.
Yet, at the same time, these books may help you or the lucky person who gets these books as a gift, get inspired and remember the wonderful reason why they wanted to jump up and join the dance of art or writing in the first place.
(If you are looking for the best books on writing to give your favorite writer this holiday check out: The Five Best Books To Give a Writer This Holiday.)
Ready? let’s find a wonderful present your artist friend will love you for.
7 Gift Books About Great Artists Your Artist Friend Will Thank You For
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 1.
Text by Sebastian Perez and Die Cut Illustrations by Benjamin Lacombe.
Absolutely glorious 40-page book for color lovers.
Even the endpapers in this book are so inspired that you may long to wallpaper your studio with them.
“Through a series of consecutive die-cut illustrations [with openings the reader can glimpse part of the image on the page beneath], one is drawn in passing through aspects of Frida’s life, art, and creative process.
It does this while exploring the themes that inspired Kahlo the most, such as love, death, and maternity.
Excerpts from Frida Kahlo’s personal diaries alternate with Sébastien Perez’s poetic musings to give fresh insight and emotional depth.
Benjamin Lacombe’s stunning artwork masterfully conveys the symbolism and surrealism of her art.
Frida is a must for any fan or bibliophile.”—Goodreads
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 2.
by Catherine Ingram and illustrations by Andrew Rae
This affordable 80 page illustrated book tells the little-known story of Dalí’s childhood. And it tells it in a manner as imaginative as Dalí himself.
This is Dali has gorgeous line drawings.
“Goes beyond his fine art practice and discusses his venture into the commercial world from his extravagant jewelry to his cheeky design for the Chupa Chups lollipops.
Surrealism is revealed as a way of life; illustrations bring to life the extraordinary Dream Ball at the Coq Rouge, his fabulous home at Port Lligat, and his underwater fantasy at the World Fair’s Surrealist pavilion.
Fun, provoking, and endlessly frustrating, Dalí is brought under the spotlight.”
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 3
Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide
by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña
This is a notable graphic novel about a sublime photographer many Americans have never heard of.
One of the most impactful parts of this book for me was Iturbide’s telling of the story of why she no longer takes a photo of anyone without asking their permission.
“Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico City in 1942, the oldest of 13 children.
When tragedy struck Iturbide as a young mother, she turned to photography for solace and understanding.
From then on Iturbide embarked on a photographic journey that has taken her throughout her native Mexico, from the Sonora Desert to Juchitán to Frida Kahlo’s bathroom, to the United States, India, and beyond.
Photographic is a symbolic, poetic, and deeply personal graphic biography of this iconic photographer.” — Getty Publications
Iturbide’s journey in Photographic will excite older children and adults. It would also be an inspiring and welcome gift for any budding photographers you know.
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 4
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life
The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell
If you love English gardens, Potter or all things British — squirrel this book into your satchel immediately.
“Beatrix Potter was a writer, painter, and gardener who lived an admirable life and left a legacy worth emulating. McDowell respected Potter’s uniqueness, quirks and gathered together stories, photos, and watercolors that leave us understanding more about her than ever before.” —Reader’s Review
Peek inside Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life.
(Check out The Charmed Studio’s video post on Beatrix Potter’s research process.
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 5
Matisse: A Way of Life in the South of France
by Jean-Bernard Nadine and Gilles Plazy. Recipes by Coco Jobard
I’m a cook, a lover of the food writings of MFK Fisher and collect books on the cultural history of food. So my list of comforting books had to include some with delectable recipes!
Got the quarantine blues?
You could stay home, snuggle up with this book and just pretend you’re strolling in Nice with Matisse.
“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
Can’t stop without mentioning 2 other comforting books that involve food and great artists.
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 6
by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera (daughter of Frida’s husband, the artist Diego Rivera)
I’m a Kahlo scholar and ironically this is probably the most dog-eared Frida book I own.
And you’ll dog-ear it and have sauce stains in it too to if you love food, art and Mexico.
It will immerse you in a romantic round of food-centered celebrations. These are the kind of fiestas once passionately enjoyed by the Kahlo/Rivera family.
This comforting book is smartly structured to lead you through a Mexican calendar of public national celebrations and intimate private parties. All of which were once held inside the walls of Kahlo’s magical blue house, Casa Azul.
Frida’s Fiestas is a delicious cultural education with rare photos of Frida’s cheery yellow tiled kitchen.
If you are a Frida fan and an artist you’ll enjoy our post on Meaningful Tips From Kahlo’s Life For Creatives.
Great Gift Book About a Great Artist – Pick No 7
Van Gogh’s Table at the Auberge Ravoux
Recipes From the Artist’s Last Home and Paintings of Cafe Life by Alexandra Leaf and Fred Freedman
“Vincent, Wine, Food, France — What More Can One Ask?
This is one beautiful book.
I received it recently and tonight made one of the meals from the cookbook section — it was absolutely delicious and simple to make.
This book is– beautiful to look at, full of depth and mood. It’s gorgeously photographed. Full of prints of Vincent’s work and stories of Vincent’s life in Auvers.
The printing is beautiful, the paper is heavy and rich, the mood is just right.
I would recommend Van Gogh’s Table to anyone who is a fan of Vincent Van Gogh and/or a fan of French food.”– Online Reviewer.
(If you love van Gogh Read the Charmed Studio’s post on the new research that Vincent Van Gogh probably did not take his own life.)
Aside from Comfort: Great Gift Books About Great Artists Benefit Creatives
My best ideas for the articles I write for magazines don’t occur to me at my desk.
They often come when I have the good fortune to be in an armchair.
Because it is then I let myself read about what famous artists love to do when they’re not working.
So know that when you or a friend you’ve gifted the above books with are leafing through guilty pleasure books like the ones above-you all are still being productive.
Because as we read books like this our brains are quietly being seeded with creative ideas for brilliant future realizations and wonderful future work.
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” — Anna Quindlin
Got any comforting or inspiring books about artists to suggest? Please share in comments below.Free Resources
This post has a few affiliate links to books on Amazon.com. If you buy through them here you’ll pay no extra and The Charmed Studio gets a small financial hug from you, thanks
Remedios Varo: The Beautiful, Crazy Sh*T Creatives Do (If We’re Smart)
Alison Saar: Disrupting Classical Literature To Create Epic Modern Art
Art Marketing for Introverts
Why You Need a Feel Good File: The Emotional Rescue Tool No Creative Should Be Without
How Did Van Gogh Really Die? Why Most People Still Think It Was Suicide and How The Real Story Affirms Artists
Diane Arbus: 4 Surprising Things Arbus Knew That Can Help You Take Your Art from Okay – to Incredible
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Oh my, every time I come here I feel like I’ve been on vacation. Your choice of books sounds delicious. Sure to quench the hunger of any artist. Shawn Marie Hardy’s collage is quite wonderful, a lovely choice.
The Charmed Studio says
Mickey, what a lovely thing to say! May I use your kind words on my testimonial page? Thanks for taking the time to write and tell me you enjoyed the post. I think Shawn’s work is stellar too! Fun, inviting but deep too.
I look forward to sharing a whole blog post full of YOUR wonderful art when I do the piece on greeting cards. 🙂 Oh I wanted to ask you…
You are a hard working artist, do you take a regular vacation?
Actually, my last vacation was in June of 2016. I’ve been pondering options but I have a few luscious things on my plate to wrap-up first.
Yes, you’re welcome to use my comment on your testimonial page. My pleasure.
Shawn Marie Hardy says
I want to read ALL of these books! They all look incredible. As far as a travel bag I always carry a couple books, my iPod, some little scissors and a couple magazines for cutting up, a digital camera, a mini sketch pad, and some colored pencils. Not that I actually use all those things but you never know.
Charmed Studio says
Thanks Shawn. I agree, “you never know.” 🙂 You could get snowed in and then where would you be without a well stocked art bag?!
Kathy Vilim says
Great article, Thea. Funny and informative at once. I must read Beatrice Potter’s Garden book! There’s a summer book here for every type of artist!
Charmed Studio says
Thanks Kathy for leaving this comment. You made my day! I think you will enjoy that Potter book. Who is your favorite gardener of all time? If you could have lunch with any gardener from any period of time in history, in the garden they created, who would you pick??
Any gardener from any period. Thats hard. James Crocket brought gardening to the masses. He did the victory garden series from Great Britain. I think it was on PBS. But there were so many gardeners. Queens and royalty that had the advantage to get any plants they wanted. “The Orchid Thief” comes to mind. the history of Orchids and how crazy things got for that one elusive orchid throughout history. So fascinating. 🙂
I. Missed fra n and lily. I’m going back in. Enjoy your trip.
Gale Nienhuis says
These are heavenly selections! I love MFK Fisher too. They sound soft and soothing. I, like you haul so much art “stuff” on vacations. Once I forced a boyfriend to put my toaster oven in the back of the truck so I could bake clay for my jewelry! lol I think feeding the mind with these selections would in the long run produce much more art then dragging everything pillar to post. Maybe just a quick notebook to jot ideas and some books and beautiful scenery to dream with. 🙂 thank you for your great ideas.
Charmed Studio says
Okay I spit my water out laughing when I read about the toaster oven. LOVE YOU! I’m not alone! MFK Fisher forever right! What are you reading lately? You always have fascinating books around. Let me know.
Gale Nienhuis says
This is awesome!!!!! More soon. I love the collage art also! YAY!
Charmed Studio says
Thanks for letting me know. I love the collage too! Shawn Marie Hardy is amazing isn’t she? And I love that the collage is an homage to her friend’s cat Biscuit and that she gave Biscuit a pair of Luna Moth wings to fly about the heavens with! I hope you saw I put Lilly and Franklin in the dedication at the very bottom, to all of our pets who’ve flown over. 🙂
Shawn Marie Hardy says
This was actually a cat that belonged to some dear friends of ours in the UK. We met Biscuit in 2001 when we stayed in the UK for three months. She was just a young kitty then. She passed away last year.