Tools of the Trade: Books I

Today I wanted to share some of my favourite books that I draw inspiration from, or use as references and guides.  I've accumulated these over the last little while, and have them up on the shelf right over my desk so that I can reach them easily.  

First up is the Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory.  It's literally a little book, full of letters from many different artists in the lettering world.  There's so many different styles that people all over the world have managed to come up with, and it's such an inspiration to see how people create their unique letters.
Up next is Calligraphy Studio: The Ultimate Introduction to the Art of Hand Lettering by Christopher Calderhead.  I'm so glad that I purchased this book.  It's taught me so much about lettering, and the formation of letters.  The first day I dug into this book, I spent the whole morning in the hammock pouring through the pages of this book.  I learned so much more than just how to do calligraphy, but I now understand the different weights of the lines of letters, the similarity between different 'families' of letters, as well as pen holding techniques and paper placement under your hand.
This is The Calligrapher's Bible: 100 Complete Alphabets and How to Draw Them by David Harris.  It's a book filled with all sorts of different styles of calligraphy alphabets.  To be honest, I haven't used this book as much as the one above, mostly because I make up my own alphabets, but I still find it very helpful to see the different shapes that letters can take.
1000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspiration by Dawn DeVries Sokol is a book I picked up a couple years ago while I was in Anthopologie for the first time.  I never knew that they sold books there!  Man, I wanted to take so many of them home.  Unfortunately, I'm not made of money, so I settles on just one.  At the time, I was seriously into art journals (and still am a little bit, just not as hardcore as before), and I loved looking at the different pages that other people created.  There's lots of blogs that feature art journals online, but there's something about having a page in front of you to touch.  I wish that the pages weren't just photographs, and that I could feel all the textures.  I guess that's why I'll just have to make my own!
Water Paper Paint: Exploring Creativity with Watercolour and Mixed Media by Heather Smith Jones makes watercolour look like magic.  Not only does this book have awesome examples by different artists, but it's full of different techniques that you can do with watercolour.  I think that watercolour is often an unappreciated medium, since it's usually the first kind of painting we do as kids (remember these palettes, or these books??)  But it's technically pretty challenging.  You can't really hide your mistakes as easily, like with oil or acrylic.  Plus you don't usually paint anything white, you just leave the paper to show through.  I've been doing it for a while, and still have so much to learn.
Dreaming from the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art by Melanie Testa is another book full of different mixed media techniques to fill my journal with.  The page below shows one of my favourite things, carving your own stamps from linoleum.  I love making stamps, and using them.  We used them lots for our wedding, and I even made a little set for my niece for her birthday a couple months ago.  I remember the first time I carved linoleum.  I was in grade 5, and it was really hard lino.  We didn't use a hot plate (like I did in high school with the hard lino), and I'm surprised that none of us kids stabbed ourselves with the carving knives.  I still have mine kicking around somehwere.  Anyway, back to the book.  When I bought this, I actually thought that it was going to have something to do with dreams, but it doesn't.  I'm still happy with the book, but I was hoping that it was about re-creating dreams you've had onto the pages of my journal.  I guess I'll just make up my own rules.  That's what art really is anyway, isn't it?

Finally, it's Drawing for the Human Body: An Anatomical Guide by Ginovanni Civardi, which I bought not only to have as a reference, but also just because the drawings inside are done so beautifully.  It holds nothing to a real life model, but it helps me a little bit in understanding the body.  I really miss my life-drawing classes, and long to find one near this town.  When I use this book, or any other image as a life drawing reference, my bodies end up all wonky, but when I use a real human as a reference, I somehow manage to push out way better work.  This book is super handy though, because it covers so many different movements and positions that the body can contort into, and helps me understand the relationships between the different body parts.  Wow, my description of this book is starting to sound really sexual.  This book is not that, even if there are boobies in it.
Where do you art inspirations come from?  Do you prefer to take classes, learn from books, or watch tutorials online?  Are you a shy art learner, never showing you mistakes, only the polished final projects?  Or do you let people look at your sketchbook?  For the longest time I would always keep my sketchbook closed to other's eyes, but now I don't care.  It's all part of the art process, and rough sketches are so beautiful.