My Top 12 Titles for Creatives – Thought Provoking work on Creativity
I find myself sharing many of the gems of wisdom found within these books with students, and thought that having a reading list resource for creatives would be a good addition to my blog. I hope you enjoy! The links are affiliate links: If you order, I receive a tiny credit from Amazon. I have listed them in no particular order….
But first: new work from my week at Menucha:
Some of my Favorite Reads:
First: A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech – This is a look at some of the psychological processes that happen during creativity. If I had to pick just one of these books for students to read, this might be the one!
A Kick in the Seat of the Pants by Roger von Oech – More wisdom and creativity exercises from the author of A Whack on the Side of the Head.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – This is a quick read, and a very motivational look at what holds us back from creating. I would probably rate this book as the 2nd most important on the list!
The Art Spirit by Robert Henri – a true classic.
Robert Genn Letters Vol. 1 & 2 – Short essays on creativity, painting, art, galleries and life. Genn attracted a cult following by writing ‘letters’ to his blog followers each week.
Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott – This book is about writing, but everything LaMott describes about creative writing also applies to painting and other creative pursuits. I love her sense of humor and self-deprecating wit. I can honestly say, this book helped me solidify my identity as an artist.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Gilbert somehow gets the nitty gritty of the mystical parts of the creative process. A very enjoyable read, and a new way to think about the ego.
Strictly for inspiration
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver – Mary Oliver always inspires. She is a true creative genius.
Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland – a great read about the psychology of creativity.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp – Though Tharp describes her creative process as a choreographer and dancer, there are pearls of wisdom for all creatives in this fascinating peek into her world.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – A quick read with lots of food for thought.
For the Practical Minded:
I’d Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson B. Stanfield – This is a classic manual for how to create a business from your art. Artists don’t always think of themselves as business people. Alyson helps turn that thinking around with practical guidance to take you from hobbyist to professional.
Finally, The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett – I’ll admit, I haven’t read this one yet, but it will be next on my list. Gannett, founder and CEO of the marketing analytics firm TrackMaven examines the science behind whether ideas sink or swim in this fast-paced environment.
Do you have any favorite books on creativity or art? If I’ve missed your favorite, please share in the comments below!
Thank you so much for the list! I feel good that I have actually read some of the books mentioned. I like books that get at art making (or that inspire) in a kind of peripheral way. So, in the spirit of that idea I would recommend Stephen King’s On Writing. Writing is a creative pursuit, just like art making, and I feel that much of what he talks about translates easily to what we do as painters, etc. I have referenced some of the things that I have learned in his book many times while working.
Your painting is beautiful! I love night scenes/ideas. I read along with you but am not a big commentor. So, thank you for the list!
Thanks for leaving a comment, Libby! The blog and newsletter take a big chunk of time, so it is nice to know people are reading 🙂 I also appreciate the Stephe King recommendation. I’ll put that one on my list! Cheers,
You’re spot on with your list, Ruth. I’ve devoured all but the last which is a new one to me. There are such rich ideas in these books which never fail to set my brain churning with the desire to create. I LOVE Moss and Mist. Such lovely color
Thank you Jo – just writing this post made me want to get in the studio 😉
Thanks for the list Ruth. I too, have read several of them. I remember discovering Anne LaMott from your Bird by Bird recommendation many years ago. I also enjoy her wisdom and wit. I will definitely check out some of the other titles.
I’m glad you enjoyed Bird by Bird. It’s one of my favorites. I think you’ll like some of the others 🙂
Thank you Ruth! Not only did I order several books on your list of 12 from Amazon, I always appreciate what you share here on your blog. The new painting form Menucha touches my heart.
Thank you Zola! Glad you enjoyed the post – and I hope the books make you want to paint! Cheers – R
“A Night on the Island”, what a great poam and painting, I really like this one.
I started “Big Magic”, It’s the encouragement I need to be more creative.
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Burt! I hope you enjoy Big Magic 🙂 Your recent work has been beautiful!
I bought your # 1pick and love it. Ken and I are getting our own copies. Have read some of the others. Great list. Thanks for all you do to feed our creative souls.
Thanks Susan! Glad you are enjoying A Whack on the Side of the Head 🙂 Happy Creating….
Just got to this blog post and now can’t wait to get to the list and start reading! Thank you for sharing your inspirations. The Neruda poem has always been one of my favorites. Now, on to whacking.
Enjoy all the whacks! Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂 It makes writing the blog worthwhile.
I do enjoy getting the twice weekly letters from Robert Genn, and now, in his place, Sara Genn. Thanks for the reminder that they were published.