The Creative Artist:
A Fine Artistís Guide to Expanding Your Creativity

Written by Nita Leland
Published by North Light Books

Wonderfully inspirational, The Creative Artist begins with an encouraging introduction that is an invocation to the creative life of an artist. We all know how hard it is to make room for art in a world that does not so much encourage us as attempt to stifle us. People yet to get started on their artistic life will find a lot of motivation here. Chapter One looks at how to recover the natural imaginative powers of childhood and how to branch out into new subjects for our art. Chapter Two discusses drawing as the basis for all visual arts, especially with regard to individuality. Chapter Three covers design and discusses how pervasive design decisions are. Chapter Four looks at realism, while Chapter Five covers abstract works. Chapter Six encourages readers to experiment and try new things, from different media to new subjects and themes. Finally, Chapter Seven discusses the importance of a good attitude to successful artwork, as well as the necessity of trusting your inner voice. A comprehensive bibliography, a listing of the activities contained within the book, and two extremely helpful indices, by artist and by subject, complete the book.

Throughout the book, there are Activities as sidebars, meant to illustrated the ideas expressed by the author in the main prose and intended to give readers hands-on experience in implementing what they have just learned. Examples of these activities include a sketcherís scavenger hunt, starting a sketchbook/journal, magnetic monotypes, and using cliches. These Activities are a wonderful way to begin to live the wisdom Leland imparts in the text. Many of these Activities seem simplistic upon first glance, but they are necessary parts of the creative process that are all too often rushed or even overlooked by artists. New or self-taught artists might need to hear these issues, such as the importance of line, for the first time, and the book therefore provides a valuable grounding in the basics.

The text is copiously illustrated with wonderful examples of visual art that not only show what Leland is talking about in the text, but truly enrich the reading experience in general. The thoughtful addition of the index by artist at the back of the book helps readers find works by artists they already admire, as well as learn to appreciate new, contemporary artists. It seems that almost every genre is represented, from A. Brian Zampierís pen and ink drawings to Bill Hurdís chalked silkscreens. There are pastels, collages, acrylics, and so on. The authorís own works also appear of course, showing that she truly knows what it is to be a working artist--a particularly lovely example of Lelandís work is ďRushing WingsĒ found on page 98. Her works seem to be primarily watercolor.

In short, Lelandís The Creative Artist is a wonderful choice for any visual artist, even if they do not currently struggle with blocks, inspiration, or finding their own voice. It is wonderful to have indices by artist and by subject, as well; these are a nice touch and a sign of concern and understanding on the part of the author and publisher.

Grade: A

Review submitted by Dindrane

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