What Santa Left Under the Tree (aka the Joys of Books at Christmas)

The joy of printed books, with paper pages to feel, hold, turn. The quality of the printing, the weight of the paper, the style of the binding. The typography, page layout. Joys before reading starts.

Fiction books filled with imagination. Non-fiction books filled with things to be learned and discovered. Art books opening with a creak to release that new-book-ink smell. Books to read from cover to cover, others to dip in randomly. Joys of deciding which book next.

For me, Christmas is synonymous with books, a pile of treasure. Some I’ve mentioned to the in-house-art-critic, others are a surprise. They’re bought across the year and saved in the Christmas box. This is what I’ll be reading into next year:

Christmas Art Books 2017 Stack

Top to bottom:

  • Artemis — science fiction set on the Moon, by the author of a book I’ve read multiple times, The Martian, which was made into a film I’ve watched several times. I stayed up reading it, and will read it again to enjoy the writing more slowly now I know the plot.
  • Barbara Hepworth: Writings and Conversations — a long-time favourite artist of the in-house art critic and an artist whose geometric abstracts have increasingly grown on me. We visited her studio in St Ives once.? No doubt it’ll be a source of some Monday Motivators.
  • Perennial Seller : The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts by Ryan Holiday — a book for the business side of life.
  • Paintings by Peder Balke — a relatively unknown Norwegian artist.
  • Australia’s Impressionists — catalogue from an exhibition at the National Gallery in London.
  • What Color is the Wind? — an inspiring illustrated children’s book; not only the answer to the question, but the tactile elements on the pages.
  • Turner’s Sketchbooks — guess the in-house-art critic has been listening when I’ve enthused about looking at Turner’s sketchbooks in Tate Britain. Becoming more Turner-esque in my painting of skies is on my current artistic wishlist.
  • The Artist’s Model — a book figurative painter Alan McGowan showed us during the life-painting workshop I went on in October.
  • Mondrian and his Studios: Colour in Space — explores how Mondrian developed his iconic geometric abstracts.
  • A River of Words — illustrated children’s book on William Carlos Williams, a poet I’ve loved since I first encountered the poem “This Is Just To Say“.
  • Donald Teskey — exhibition catalogue of a contemporary Irish landscape painter.
  • Paul Klee: Painting Music — “One day I must be able to improvise freely on the keyboard of colours: the row of watercolours in my paintbox”.
  • The Anatomy of Colour: The Story of Heritage Paints and Pigments — for heavy-duty colour enthusiasts, a look at the use of colour and paint in interior decoration history (or the answer to “would my painting have matched the walls” through the ages).
  • Drawing and Painting by Kate Wilson, who as an evening-class art tutor at City Lit in London taught me so much, not least about the art of constructive critique.
  • Monet The Collector — a book on the artwork that Monet collected rather than his own paintings.
  • Norman Ackroyd: A Shetland Notebook –?watercolours from a journey to Shetland islands by an artist known primarily as a printmaker.
  • Missing from photo: The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century — a tome for bedtime reading. First random opening I was at a piece about the impact of artists fleeing war-torn Nazi Europe and arriving in New York.

For studio cats, it’s a simpler joy:

Christmas Art Books 2017 Cat
Studio Cat Graphite testing the theory that you can absorb what’s in a book by putting it under your pillow and sleeping on it.


4 Replies to “What Santa Left Under the Tree (aka the Joys of Books at Christmas)”

  1. AWESOME!! Books are the best friends to spend time with. Happy Happy New Year 2018, Marion. Looking forward to another year of wonder, joy and curiosity and exploration! Lynn 🙂

  2. Hello Marion, I too received an nice Christmas gift in the form of an art book called “The Art Spirit”, a collection of letters and lectures given by Robert Henri. The book doesn’t so much go into the techniques of painting but the artist approach to painting. It is very interesting and I believe could be used for inspiration by artist today although the letters and lectures were given at the turn of the last century. Thanks so much for all you do. Sincerely, Gail

    1. Hi Gail
      I’ve a copy of it too — full of inspiring stuff, and proof of how timeless creative issues artists face can be!

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