The best books on art and creativity

Who am I?

I’ve been an artist all my life. In childhood, I was always drawing and after graduating from university I became an illustrator doing hundreds of drawings for major newspapers and publishers in the United States for over 25 years. It was my mission, no matter what was going on in the world, to find some humor and lightness to share through my drawings. About 15 years ago, I also began to teach drawing to adults and was amazed to discover that everyone can draw. When I saw how people seemed to become happier and bolder making art I became passionate about sharing how we can grow our creativity by developing an art practice. It makes for a beautiful life and quite possibly a more beautiful world.

I wrote...

The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind

By Cat Bennett,

Book cover of The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind

What is my book about?

The simple act of drawing can connect us with our true creative selves and this book shows how. Everyone can draw and use drawing as both a means to make art and a way to explore creative ideas. The book shows how to deepen our focus in a yogic way by immersing ourselves in the moment and letting everything else fall away. In this place we find inspiration. The book encourages us to take chances, observe the world and our work with clear eyes, stay open and respond to inspiration when it comes. And just be who we are as artists. It also looks at how by going to the edge of our abilities and mindset we grow our ideas and creative confidence. The book also offers practical drawing exercises for the reader to try and is illustrated with full-color examples from a variety of artists.

The Confident Creative was a 2011 gold medal winner in the Nautilus Book Awards.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Spring Cannot Be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy

Why did I love this book?

I adore David Hockney. He draws so beautifully, and in so many different ways, and is always inventive in his art-making. He makes me see more through his art and was a major inspiration for me when I was starting out as an editorial illustrator years ago. This book is a 2020 pandemic conversation between Hockney, now living in Normandy, and his good friend, the art critic Martin Gayford in the UK. It really speaks to the devotion that artists have to observing life and creating something beautiful from it. I love the joy Hockney brings to his work and see that as a powerful energy to create from.

By David Hockney, Martin Gayford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spring Cannot Be Cancelled as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'We have lost touch with nature, rather foolishly as we are a part of it, not outside it. This will in time be over and then what? What have we learned?... The only real things in life are food and love, in that order, just like [for] our little dog Ruby... and the source of art is love. I love life.'


Praise for Spring Cannot be Cancelled:

'This book is not so much a celebration of spring as a springboard for ideas about art, space, time and light. It is scholarly, thoughtful and provoking'…

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

By David Hockney (illustrator), Sarah Howgate,

Book cover of David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Why did I love this book?

This is a purely visual book of portraits by David Hockney from the beginning of his career until he is nearly 80. It’s full of different styles of drawing and painting and, for that reason, is the kind of book that stimulates visual ideas and makes me want to go straight to the drawing board. In other words, it really gets us thinking in some new ways about how we interpret the world around us in drawing and painting. It’s a good reminder of the pleasures of looking and making.

By David Hockney (illustrator), Sarah Howgate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked David Hockney as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, which accompanies the first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney's drawings inover 20 years,will explore Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to now, with a focus on himself, his family and friends. From Ingres to the iPad -this book demonstrates the artist's ingenuity in portrait drawing with reference to both tradition and technology.

David Hockney is recognised as one of the master draughtsmen of our times and a champion of the medium. This book will feature Hockney's work from the 1950s to now and focus on his depictions of himself and a smaller group of sitters close…

Book cover of Feck Perfuction: Dangerous Ideas on the Business of Life

Why did I love this book?

Artist, designer, writer James Victore urges us to be ourselves without hesitation. Artists don’t fit in, we can’t. We’re observers and makers and require a certain distance from the mainstream to refine our vision and do our work. But we can be afraid to express ourselves fully and stand out from the crowd. This book dishes out confidence like candy. It’s a great place to replenish flagging spirits when they descend as they will from time to time. It’s energizing and makes you want to open your eyes and do what you can to further the unfolding of your truth and spirit. Written in short pithy chapters, you can dip in and out of it whenever you need a boost.

By James Victore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Feck Perfuction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"James Victore is a dangerous man. His ideas on optimizing your creativity, doing wow work and building a life that inspires will devastate your limits. And show you how to win. Read this book fast."
-Robin Sharma, #1 bestselling author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Begin before you're ready.

Renowned designer and professional hell-raiser James Victore wants to drag you off your couch and throw you headfirst into a life of bold creativity. He'll guide you through all the twists, trials, and triumphs of starting your creative career, from finding your voice to picking the right moment to…

Sonia Delaunay

By Anne Montfort,

Book cover of Sonia Delaunay

Why did I love this book?

Sonia Delaunay’s work with color and abstraction in the first part of the 20th century was groundbreaking as was her ability to also bring her art into the world of the applied arts of fashion, set design, mosaics, tapestries, and lithographs. The book has excellent essays about creative life in Paris at the time and over 250 illustrations. For women, it’s especially inspiring to learn how Delaunay managed to be a wife and mother as well as a respected and prolific artist. It’s also inspiring to see how she made a huge creative leap from representational art to her distinctive abstract art. From the perspective of creativity, I love how she was inventive in her art and then brought it into the world in inventive ways too.

By Anne Montfort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sonia Delaunay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sonia Delaunay (1885 - 1979) is one of the most important female artists of the early twentieth century, whose contribution to the European avant-garde was fundamental. Russian-born, she moved to Paris in 1906 where she studied at the Academie de la Palette. Her early work was infl uenced by the bold Fauvist paintings of Matisse, Gauguin and Van Gogh among others. Shifting her interest to abstraction, she celebrated the modern world and urban life, exploring ideas of colour theory together with her husband Robert Delaunay. She also collaborated with artists and poets such as Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars with…

Book cover of Stranger Than Kindness

Why did I love this book?

While Nick Cave is primarily a musician/songwriter, this book is a visual record of Cave’s creative journey filled with his early sketchbooks, photos, drawings, and typewritten song lyrics annotated by hand. Many of us artists work in sketchbooks where we can feel free to be messy and exploratory and pour our hearts onto the page. Some of us need words as well as images to explore the world around us, decipher our feelings and uncover our work. I love musing over Nick’s here—so messy and wild to begin and a little more ordered as he ages as one might expect. The book is filled with photos of different parts of his life, drawings and doodles, tight handwritten scripts and taped over typewritten lyrics gone yellow with age. It’s a compendium of a wonderful artist’s creative process. A real joy to sit down with and muse over.

By Nick Cave,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stranger Than Kindness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Stranger Than Kindness is a journey in images and words into the creative world of musician, storyteller and cultural icon Nick Cave.

This highly collectable book invites the reader into the innermost core of the creative process and paves the way for an entirely new and intimate meeting with the artist, presenting Cave's life, work and inspiration and exploring his many real and imagined universes. It features full colour reproductions of original artwork, handwritten lyrics, photographs and collected personal artefacts along with commentary and meditations from Nick Cave, Janine Barrand and Darcey Steinke.

Stranger Than Kindness…

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