One of my advisers in University while I was working toward obtaining my Bachelor of Fine Art degree, said she thought it was essential that artists read and that it influences your art. This was one of the best lessons I've learned going to University and has certainly been my experience throughout my life. The decisions I made in choosing my creative path, the vocations I have had and the subject matter of most of my artwork, is a result of books I have read.. When I think of some of the books that have influenced me, my head is often full of ideas that swim and swirl around in my brain. It can be a little overwhelming. I am not what you call a really well read person and I am not an intellect, and wasn't a very good reader during school. I had some difficulties concentrating and focusing due to a combination of factors. Regardless I have a thirst for knowledge and life long learning and am a much better reader now. There have been several books that have been life changing and have been integrated into my personality, the way I make my art and what I create.
Last Summer I read On Writing by Stephen King, a kind on memoir and ' how to ' book about the process of writing. I am not exactly a reader of most of Stephen Kings books, as I don't really care for fictional thrillers. I do certainly appreciate his talent and his extremely salt of the earth personality. I am very drawn to those kinds of writers.
I also identify with him and his personal demons and difficulties he has struggled with in his life.
Of course I am interested in the process of writing, being a blogger, who writes everyday, long hand in journals. I have kept journals for many years and have found them to be useful tools that enable my creative process as an artist. It is a great therapeutic tool, particularly when going through the highs and lows of life.
I concur with what many writers say time and time again that in order to improve your writing you need to read. I have made a conscious decision to do this, more so lately, now I have the time to read what ever I like. I also have come to believe, that in order to improve your art making or creativity in general, reading is an essential and powerful tool that will foster, nurture, inspire and transform.
Currently I am reading I think one of my favourite writers, Anne Lamott's new book STITCHES. Next I will tackle Mavis Gallant's, In Transit, a collection of her short stories.
I just finished Walker Evans and James Agee's book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men which was a rather depressing and hard to get through read. The reason being the subject matter was pretty depressing and the way it was written left me a little frustrated. The photography of course was riveting, and I am so happy and grateful I actually got to see many of these Walker Evans photos when I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art. The experience of seeing these black and white photographs took my breath away.
Here's a great list I found today to feed your hungry book brain http://yougottareadthis.tumblr.com/
I will never be an e-book reader because I love how a book can engage all of my senses. So what are you reading?