Prevent Burnout, Read Something Fun Immediately.
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Tuck One of These 5 Accessible Art Reads in Your Satchel This Summer
I’m about to go away to a quiet place in the woods for just two tiny days.
If I was the sleek and sensible type I’d only bring a small weekend bag for clothes alongside say… a palm sized Moleskin notebook, two new pens and a wafer-thin Kindle.
But, apparently ease is against my “religion.”
Instead I will insist on bringing the “art bag.” It varies trip to trip but at a minimum the art bag contains a very large art journal or two, good scissors, magazines for collage, a ton of sparkly pens, a box of oil crayons (I never use) and unfortunately… at least one brand new, huge, extremely serious biography of some important sounding artist, in softcover.
You know the kind of book you could use as a doorstop? Or even effectively topple an intruder with?
And I won’t crack a virgin page of that respectable biography.
I may not open the giant art journal either.
But there is one thing I will be so happy I brought (as an afterthought.)
I will devour the slim, heavily illustrated, jewel of hard cover book that I usually have just bought at some museum store and managed to wedge into the overstuffed art bag— between the anvil biography and the gratuitous tin of watercolors.
It will be a book like the 5 below.
A short book to dream with. A book with lots of gorgeous pictures.
A book written not to impress art critics but to invoke wonder in imaginative people like us.
A book you could easily read in an hour or two on vacation or enjoy on your little home patio with an icy drink in your hand and a smile on your face.
The kind of book that helps us remember why we wanted to become an artist or writer in the first place.
5 Short & Wondrous Books You’ll Have To Restrain Yourself To Save For Vacation
1. Frida: Text by Sebastian Perez and Die Cut Illustrations by Benjamin Lacombe.
Published by Gingko Press, Berkley CA.
Absolutely glorious 40 page book for color lovers. Truly different. Even the end papers in this book are so inspired that you may long to wallpaper your studio with them.
“Through a series of consecutive die-cut illustrations [illustrations with openings through which a 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 while exploring the themes that inspired her 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, while Benjamin Lacombe’s stunning artwork masterfully conveys the symbolism and surrealism of her art.
A must for any fan or bibliophile.”—Goodreads
Check out Frida on Amazon here.
2. This is Dalí by Catherine Ingram and illustrations by Andrew Rae
Published in London by Laurence King.
This affordable 80 page illustrated book tells the little-known story of Dalí’s childhood in a manner as imaginative as Dalí himself. Gorgeous line drawings and thought provoking text.
“It also 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.”—L.King
Look at This is Dali on Amazon here.
3. Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña
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.
Iturbide’s journey will excite readers of all ages as well as budding photographers, who will be inspired by her resolve, talent, and curiosity.”—Getty Publications.
Find Photographic on Amazon here.
4. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell
Published by Timber Press, Portland/London
A factually meticulous yet utterly inviting book for gardeners, garden design enthusiasts and lovers of all things British.
“Beautifully captured story of a quiet, creative genius that through a medium of gardening and wildlife and botany study found her calling. 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 leaves us understanding more about her than ever before. I am sure that others have written accounts of Potter that should be read; however, I am so glad that I came across this particular biography by this particular author and I am sure that Beatrix Potter would have approved of how her life was approached.” —Reader’s Review
Look inside Beatrix Potter’s Garden on Amazon here.
5. Matisse: A Way of Life in the South of France by Jean Bernard Nadine and Gilles Plazy. Recipes by Coco Jobard
Published by Rizzoli, New York
I’m a cook, a lover of the food writings of MFK Fisher and collect books on the cultural history of food, so I had to include vacation reads with recipes!
Short on time or money this summer? No problem, stay home and just pretend you’re strolling in Nice with Matisse.
Sadly Matisse is out of print but you can pick up this well researched bit of fig and pear filled eye candy for only two dollars here on BarnesandNoble.com.
Can’t stop without mentioning 2 others…
Frida’s Fiesta’s by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera (daughter of Frida’s husband, the artist Diego Rivera)
This is probably the most dog-eared Frida book I own. It will immerse you in a romantic round of food-centered celebrations once passionately enjoyed by the Kahlo/Rivera family. It’s smartly structured to lead you through a Mexican calendar of public national celebrations and intimate private parties once held inside the walls of Kahlo’s magical blue house, Casa Azul. A delicious cultural education with rare photos of the home’s heart, Frida’s cheery yellow tiled kitchen.
Eyeball Frida’s Fiestas on Amazon here.
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, 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 this book to anyone who is a fan of Vincent Van Gogh and/or a fan of French food.”–Reviewer on Amazon.
Get Van Gogh’s Table here.
How Guilty Pleasure Books Benefit Artists and Writers
My best ideas for articles I write for magazines, emerge not while I’m moored to my desk, but when I let myself to loll about a bit and read about what famous artists love to do when they’re not working.
When you are leafing through guilty pleasure books know your brain is quietly being seeded with creative ideas for future work.
Do you have a version of the notorious “art bag”?? Or am I the only one lugging that thing around? What do you consider necessary supplies for your car or plane trips? Please share in comments below.