Art books to read | fine art

By Jeff Dillon | August 12, 2022 | All Posts

Art books can be a great way to learn about different artists and life and their work. They can also be a great source of inspiration for your own art projects. Here are some art books that I find interesting and you may too:

1. “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St Clair

The Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history.

In this book, Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh’s chrome yellow sunflowers or punk’s fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of colour tell the vivid story of our culture.

2. “Van Gogh: The Life” by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

This is an in-depth, definitive biography of Vincent Van Gogh that was over a decade in the making. It’s considered one of the best biographies of Van Gogh, and it will give you a greater understanding of the artist and his work.

3. “The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson: A Data-Driven History” by David Silcox and Harold Town

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the Group of Seven, Canada’s renowned artists who were influenced by Van Gogh. This book uses data and analysis to tell the story of the group and their collective body of work.

4. “Monet. The Triumph of Impressionism” By Daniel Wildenstein

No other artist, apart from J. M. W. Turner, tried as hard as Claude Monet (1840–1926) to capture light itself on canvas. Of all the Impressionists, it was the man Cézanne called “only an eye, but my God what an eye!” who stayed true to the principle of absolute fidelity to the visual sensation, painting directly from the object.
It could be said that Monet reinvented the possibilities of color. Whether it was through his early interest in Japanese prints, his time as a conscript in the dazzling light of Algeria, or his personal acquaintance with the major painters of the late 19th century, the work Monet produced throughout his long life would change forever the way we perceive both the natural world and its attendant phenomena. The high point of his explorations was the late series of water lilies, painted in his own garden at Giverny, which, in their approach towards almost total formlessness, are really the origin of abstract art.
This biography does full justice to this most remarkable and profoundly influential artist, and offers numerous reproductions and archive photos alongside a detailed and insightful commentary.

5. “The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles” by Martin Gayford

This book tells the story of the famous “Yellow House” in Arles, France, where Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived and worked together for a short but intense period of time. It’s a fascinating look at their relationship and the artwork that resulted from it.

6. “Sunflowers: The Story of Vincent Van Gogh’s Masterpiece” by Sherry Marker

This book tells the story of one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, “Sunflowers.” Marker traces the history of the painting, from its creation to its place in the world today. This is a must-read for any Van Gogh fan.

7. “The Art of Emily Carr” by Doris Shadbolt.

This book is a comprehensive look at the life and work of one of Canada’s most important artists, Emily Carr. It covers her early years, her time spent in the Canadian wilderness, and her later years when she became a prominent figure in the Canadian art scene.

8. “The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris” by Gregory Ballantyne.

This book is a collection of the paintings of Lawren Harris, one of the founders of the Group of Seven. The paintings in this book depict the Canadian north, and its beauty and mystery. Ballantyne’s introduction discusses Harris’s life and work, and how his paintings reflect his own spiritual journey. The book also includes an afterword by Canadian art historian Charles C. Hill.


I am excited to share my first book with you all! This mini book (5.5” x 4.25″) is a selection of 67 paintings from the first 100 paintings I created from 2011 to 2016. I hope you enjoy viewing these paintings as much as I enjoyed creating them. this book is almost sold out (492 copies sold to date). Stay tuned for my next book, which should be released in 2023! Thank you for your support.

These are just a few of the books that inspire me when it comes to art. I hope you find as much enjoyment in flipping through their pages as I do. I’m always on the lookout for new, inspiring books on art. What are some of your favourites?

Thank you for taking the time to read this article!

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