Artistic Adventures!

Are you feeling creatively inspired by the happy frenzy of colorful books on the outside of the library building? Do you want to acquire new art skills in drawing, painting, craft making, or photography? If so, you can find your inner artist by exploring the 700s in nonfiction! If you aren’t sure what you would like to pursue artistically, browsing through the entire section can lead to encounters with new and interesting art possibilities.  There are collections of art from various museums (709 Smithsonian), specific types of art (759.979 Tanner), as well as art from a particular time and place (709.45 Toman). These can give you an idea of what kinds of art you may want to learn more about.  

For “how to” books that develop technical skills for drawing and painting, a good place to start is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards (741.2 Edwards). This book contains exercises that will help train your brain to be able to draw what you see from life. A delightfully whimsical book that can help you to develop both skills and whimsy is The Pencil Playbook : 44 Exercises for Mesmerizing, Marking, and Making Magical Art with Your Pencil by Ana Montiel (741.24 Montiel).

There are several books about pencil drawing that teach how to sketch buildings, people, wildlife, objects, and developing skills such as shading and perspective.  The books in 741 go into detail about drawing in both pencil and colored pencil, and how to make your art come alive as realism, fantasy, or illustration. Because drawing is a foundational skill for all two-dimensional art, these books can also help develop technical and compositional skills that are also used for oil pastels, painting, and photography.

Learning how to paint can feel overwhelming at first, but there are many books that break down the process into specific skills and techniques that build upon each other.  A quick look through the 750s will give you books about color, composition, texture, and some of the finer points about the differences between acrylic, oil, watercolor, or tempura paint. If you are unsure about the different types of art supplies, books about painting can help to explain the different effects and uses of each type of paint, as well as specific considerations. There are many photos of the art in progress that will show what the canvas looks like during various stages, which can help you to visualize each step. One word of caution, however: although art books show completed steps, they don’t always show the mistakes that often happen as part of the learning process (and can sometimes lead to new discoveries!). In addition to painting on canvas, you can also read about painting murals (751.73 Grund), objects (745.723 Edwards), and henna (391.6 Roome). If you want to do art while simultaneously playing with your iPad, there is even a book that will teach you how to do that (776 Jardine).

If you love paper, ephemeral documents, and preserving memories, scrapbooking is a great way to combine all of those.  To learn more, look in 745.593 for lots of tips and techniques that will turn your pretty paper and photographs into beautiful memories. More paper fun can be found with collage, including Collage with Color: Create Unique, Expressive Collages in Vibrant Color (702 Davies) and Collage Lab: Experiments, Investigations, and Exploratory Projects (702.81 Shay). 

Finally, if you want a truly self-referential experience, you can make books into art with Alter This! Radical Ideas for Transforming Books into Art (745.593 Hennessy)! While you should never alter library books in any way, old books can be given a new life as artwork and can be a great way to display both creativity and a love of reading.

1 Comment

  1. Joy on September 9, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    This is a great article! It makes me want to get artsy! Sounds like you have a really good 700s section. Thanks for writing.