10 books like Concerning the Spiritual in Art

By Wassily Kandinsky,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

While I loved this author’s book Eat, Pray, Love, I have to choose her title Big Magic as my favorite of all time. It’s sort of a self-help book exploring the mysterious world of inspiration, but it reads like a memoir. She has a beautiful writing style that I admire. This is a blueprint to finding your own path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of. I like the title too!

Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…

The War of Art

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

For me, as an artist, there is no greater feeling than bringing a vision into reality and welcoming the formless into form. Having to wrestle with the angels of creativity and the demons of resistance is exhausting, soul-enlivening work. Steven Pressfield brilliantly describes and guides readers through this process in his seminal work The War of Art. Steven invites us to square our shoulders towards all that we’ve been resisting, as a means of facing the life we know we’re capable of and called to live. The book is divided into three parts, or books within the book: Book One is called, simply “Resistance: Defining The Enemy.” Book Two is titled “Combating Resistance: Turning Pro” and outlines the differences between an amateur and a professional, and Book Three is my personal favorite: “Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm” where he waxes poetic about our connection to the Muses and the…

The War of Art

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…


The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

By Leonard Shlain,

Book cover of The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image

In this book, Shlain reveals his unusual take on the power of images throughout history. His discussion using contemporary ideas about our creative right-brain side brings interesting connections between the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Shlain's earlier book, Art & Physics was very popular expressing his breakthrough theory, ad revealing an astonishing parallel with these two seemingly different topics. I find that books like this, not dedicated to learning specific painting techniques, end up being more helpful towards how I think as an artist. A good writer, it is easy to read and very inspiring.

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

By Leonard Shlain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Alphabet Versus the Goddess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in…

Resilience from the Heart

By Gregg Braden,

Book cover of Resilience from the Heart: The Power to Thrive in Life's Extremes

While this book is not written for artists or even about art, I found it very helpful for me as a painter. To achieve the best for my paintings, I realize I need to trust my intuition over intellect. If I get too intellectual about any of my ideas for a painting, the end result is not as fulfilling if instead, I follow my intuition or inner voice. Braden goes into depth in this book about having two sources of intelligence – the brain and the heart. I like his take on this which can also be thought of as right and left brain or intellect vs intuition. By thinking about Braden's ideas on our powerful heart-brain connection, I am able to tap into deeper modalities on what it is that I am painting about. Very interesting read that sticks with you for a long time and easily becomes a…

Resilience from the Heart

By Gregg Braden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Resilience from the Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We solve our problems based upon the way we think of ourselves and the world. From peak energy and peak debt to failing economies and the realities of climate change, everyday life is showing us where we've outgrown the thinking of the past. It's also showing us where big changes in the world mean big changes in our lives. Through dramatic shifts in our jobs, our relationship to money, our health, and even our homes, it's clear that our lives are changing in ways we've never seen, to a degree that we're not prepared for, and at speeds that we've…

The Spiritual in Art

By Maurice Tuchman (editor),

Book cover of The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985

This is the grand exhibition catalogue that burst through the professional art world’s wall of denial that modern, especially abstract, art would have any spiritual content. The extensive exhibition this book accompanied opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1986 and then travelled to The Hague, where it influenced young European art historians (though was largely ignored in the United States). This catalogue contains excellent articles by 17 noted “rebellious” art historians, including an overview by the head curator of the exhibition, Maurice Tuchman. The many color plates are stunning. This book is indispensable for anyone seeking to learn about the subject.

The Spiritual in Art

By Maurice Tuchman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spiritual in Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Glow

By Megan E. Bryant,

Book cover of Glow

When I decided I wanted to read more and write about the Radium Girls, this was the only novel I could find featuring them. It is an accessible, young adult novel with a dual timeline. A contemporary young woman discovers a painting at a thrift shop that reveals glow-in-the-dark elements. The story of a fictional early dial painter is told alongside the struggle of the main protagonist in today’s world.

Glow

By Megan E. Bryant,

Why should I read it?

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


Blood Water Paint

By Joy McCullough,

Book cover of Blood Water Paint

Joy McCullough’s Blood Water Paint is historical fiction that tells the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a Renaissance painter who survived a sexual assault and persevered to see her assailant convicted in an Italian court. If the true aspects of the story weren’t compelling enough, McCullough contrasts her fictional character with the biblical heroines Judith and Susanna, using prose and verse strategically to weave the stories with their counter-narratives. McCullough’s experience as a playwright shines through here and her poetic devices are downright Shakespearean, revealing clues to her characters’ emotional truths through the deceptively simple arrangement of words on the page. This book is astonishingly good and a must-read for anyone intrigued by novels in verse.

Blood Water Paint

By Joy McCullough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Blood Water Paint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the…

The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing

By Solomon J. Solomon,

Book cover of The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing

This book offers the technical breakdown of painting in grisaille. I only know of a few books that cover it and this one was written by an amazing painter! This was the common practice of Bouguereau and Gerome and is thoroughly explained in this particular volume as well and the rendering of planar “facets.” The practice of grisaille is an important phase in painting. The separation of color and form is partly why so many of the “masters” had such control over form and value.

The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing

By Solomon J. Solomon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Fundamentals of Composition

By Vladimir Mogilevtsev,

Book cover of Fundamentals of Composition

The book covers basic principles, such as variety, shape, silhouette, edges, unity, rhythm, color, and texture. But his coverage of these familiar ideas is fresh and original, and he provides lots of examples. He avoids laying down rules or laws, because one generation of artists breaks the rules of the previous generation. All of the basic principles are universal enough to have remained in place despite the changing styles throughout history.

Fundamentals of Composition

By Vladimir Mogilevtsev,

Why should I read it?

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


If Picasso Painted a Snowman

By Amy Newbold, Greg Newbold (illustrator),

Book cover of If Picasso Painted a Snowman

Local to me, I’ve been familiar with the gorgeous poster and mural art of Greg Newbold. More recently he has teamed up with his wife Amy to create a series of picture books showcasing the styles of renowned artists. This first book takes snowmen and imagines what they would look like if painted by artists such as Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, O’Keefe, and others. An excellent introduction to the painting styles of famous artists, with informative text to reinforce the idea that “not all artists paint the same.” 

If Picasso Painted a Snowman

By Amy Newbold, Greg Newbold (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If Picasso Painted a Snowman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From that simple premise flows this delightful, whimsical, educational picture book that shows how the artist's imagination can summon magic from a prosaic subject. Greg Newbold's chameleon-like artistry shows us Roy Lichtenstein's snow hero saving the day, Georgia O'Keefe's snowman blooming in the desert, Claude Monet's snowmen among haystacks, Grant Wood's American Gothic snowman, Jackson Pollock's snowman in ten thousand splats, Salvador Dali's snowmen dripping like melty cheese, and snowmen as they might have been rendered by J. M. W. Turner, Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Georges Seurat, Pablita Velarde, Piet Mondrian, Sonia Delaunay, Jacob Lawrence, and Vincent van…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in painting, aesthetics, and modern art?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about painting, aesthetics, and modern art.

Painting Explore 41 books about painting
Aesthetics Explore 39 books about aesthetics
Modern Art Explore 21 books about modern art