Do all artists have a penchant for art books? You know, those over-sized tomes with great big, full-color, perfectly clear photographs of art?
Some might call them coffee table books, but I know a lot of artists (myself included) who refer to them for painting inspiration , study guides, or just plain old sustenance. If you’ve never painted from the old masters, or just spent an afternoon leafing through hundreds of beautiful paintings, you should definitely give it a try.
Living in a rural environment is probably what makes me love these kinds of books so much—maybe I wouldn’t feel the same way if I lived four blocks from the Art Institute instead of four hundred miles, but those of us out in the wildwoods need our great paintings fix too. . . and we turn to books for that.
If you’re like me and carefully ration your "book dollars," here’s my suggestion for a good used book supplier online—Abebooks.com. There are many others of course, like Amazon and Half.com (or just type "used books" into that old Google search line) but I’ve fallen in love with Abebooks.
Many of their books seemed to be former library books, and at first I was quite skeptical of what condition the books would actually be in. . . but their library must handle books more gently than mine, because so far my purchases are of a very acceptable quality.
And here’s another tip for anyone purchasing used art books online—if you can’t find enough information online about what you’re getting (like the number of color plates included, or the size of plates, etc.) you don’t have to just jump in blindly.
I always visit the library at Buena Vista University—a college about forty miles from my home—which houses a huge collection of art books. There’s probably a community college or university library in near you, too, where you can look through and even check out the books that you’re thinking about buying (although you might find the two week limit to be a bit short).
So whether you’re looking for two week diversion, or something that will inspire, sustain and further educate you in your artistic endeavors—try out Abebooks and your local college library. Inspiration could be just around the bookshelf.