Last week, I named my Top 11 Transformative Books of 2013. It turns out, the list was quite a hit! I want to keep the inspiration going strong for you into 2014, so here’s my list of 9 Beautiful Arts Books to Inspire You in 2014. All are hot linked for your review. Choose one or two that resonate with you.
My criteria to make the list?
- Pictures, lots of colorful beautiful pictures.
- Practical lessons and/or advice to make us better educators (and people).
- Encouragement to slow down and spend time creating.
- Whimsical, fantastical and eclectic in approach.
- Art Saves/Jenny Doh – If you are an arts educator, creative teacher or artist, you know how true this sentiment is. Art saves! You will hear and learn from artists like Sarah Hodson, who volunteers by teaching art to homeless youth and Susan Tuttle, who survived a devastating car accident. The book is filled with beautiful stories, prompts and creative techniques that will restore your faith in the awesome power of art to transform individuals and communities.
- The Confident Creative/Cat Bennett – A perfect fusion of philosophy and practicality, you’ll find mini-chapters like “Mind Chatter and Thoughts That Matter” and “Hot Desire and Cool Intention.” The book is compact, full of wonderful illustrations and meditative musings on the creative process that will stir your hands and heart to action.
- The Art of Silliness/Carla Sonheim – OK, so there are no color pictures but it’s whimsical, fantastical and most of all accessible. It’s almost like a workbook that teaches you to see differently, think differently and create differently while being silly. Even if you think “I can’t draw” this book will make silliness of that very notion.
- Drawing Lab/Carla Sonheim – Can you tell I am a fan of Ms. Sonheim’s work? You’ll find 52 creative exercises to making drawing fun with easy, accessible activities like “Collaborate with a Child: Words” and “Your Inner Dr. Seuss” that can be be reversed engineered into fabulous arts-integrated lessons.
- Cultivating Your Creative Life/Alena Hennessy – Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it is! As educators, we need (sometimes desperately) a source of creative renewal. You’ll learn how to reflect, contemplate and court inspiration. Get this book for a quiet day at home, get out a journal, some watercolors and your herbal tea.
- innerEXCAVATION/Liz Lamoreaux – What a fabulous title and a great book to continue the path to renewal for educators using photography, poetry and mixed media. The book is loaded with cool photos and short chapters like “Follow Your Mind’s Stream” and “Revealing The Poet Within.”
- The Practice of Contemplative Photography/Andy Karr and Michael Wood – In this age of instant gratification and digital everything, the authors exhort us to take our time, to observe and not to hold down the shoot button and take a zillion pictures. I couldn’t agree more. Richly illustrated with deceptively simple yet beautiful, elegant photos, you will learn to “Explore Texture” and become “The Human Camera.”
- The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas/Fiona Watt and Antonia Miller – You will never, ever, ever run out of cool art ideas again in this highly accessible, over-sized and delightful volume. As with many art idea books, the activities can be reversed engineered. For example, the domed building activity can be integrated with a unit on Renaissance architecture in social studies or on cylinders in math.
- Creative Awakenings/Sheri Gaynor – Each chapter (divided into months), you’ll meet creative artists who fuse their artistic techniques with life philosophy – a perfect blend of practice and theory. You will also experience the Transformation Deck (great idea for students to make their own personal decks!) with titles like “Leap into the Void” and “Dare to be Feisty.”
Rob Levit, an acclaimed musician and artist and 2013 Innovator of the Year from the Maryland Daily Record, has created award-winning innovative “Life-Skills Through The Arts” programs for adults with mental illness, the homeless, adults in drug and alcohol recovery, youth in domestic/sexual abuse counseling, foster children, hospital patients, veterans and many more. He is currently Executive Director of Creating Communities and was the first Artist-In-Residence at Hospice of the Chesapeake, where he created and infused healing activities for the well-being of staff, families and patients. Email Rob.