Art book gift picks

If you have some artistic friends or relatives on your holiday gift list, there are many art-related books that would make fun and fascinating presents.

Most new and used book stores have art sections, making it easy to find the perfect book.

Here's just a sampling of art-inspired books available at places such as Bloomsbury Books in downtown Ashland:

"Pring's Photographer's Miscellany: Stories, Techniques, Tips and Trivia," $12.99. This delightful little book has a dark cover with an image of a (now-vintage) 1980s-era camera, plus a green ribbon to mark the reader's place.

It promises to deliver fascinating tips and stories, such as how to eradicate a scratch off a negative using your nose, or tales of how ravenous soldiers jeopardized a pigeon-cam program in World War I.

  • "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis," by Timothy Egan, $28. Another pick for photography buffs, this book chronicles the adventures and fascinating history of Curtis, who spent three decades in the early 1900s taking photographs of American Indians as their traditional ways were disappearing. He not only took photos, but documented rituals and stories.
  • "What Are You Looking At? The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art," by Will Gompertz, $28.95. This tome would be great for art majors, people who want to brush up on their art history or novices baffled by all the "isms" in art. Gompertz takes readers on an anecdote-filled journey through pre-impressionism, impressionism, Dadaism, pop art, post-modernism and other movements. He ends with a section on current art trends.
  • "Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Naturalistic Color," by Wendy Hollender, $24.99. For the fan of realism and nature on your gift list, Hollender's book presents exercises that can be done with colored pencils — the ultimate in economical, tidy and portable art media. If your budget allows, it would be great to pair this book with a sketchbook and good quality artist colored pencils. Hollender covers shading, shadows, perspective, color theory and other handy principles.

Projects include drawing a daisy and a bunch of crab apples, or dismantling a flower to create a lovely scientific drawing of its parts.

"Global Model Village: The International Street Art of Slinkachu," $17.95. London-based Slinkachu, who goes by one name, stages and photographs intriguing scenes with teeny tiny human figurines and other props. The thought-provoking images are shot all around the world and usually offer subtle commentary on cultures, conflicts and urban life.

In the photo "Antique Land," a miniature bedouin with a camel makes a campfire out of matchsticks on a pile of sand. Skyscrapers under construction loom in the background.

Some of the images are just fun, like "Damn Kids," which depicts a tiny man bemoaning the destruction of his convertible, which was crushed by a falling lollipop.

"Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative," by Austin Kleon, $10.95. Kleon gives immensely practical advice for creative types in this breezy book.

He writes that no one is born with a signature style, so it's fine to copy and learn from your favorite artists while you search for your own path.

Kleon also advises creatives to be boring. Keep your day job, don't fall into debt and take care of yourself, since it's best to assume that you'll be alive for a while, he says.

"That whole romantic image of the creative genius doing drugs and running around and sleeping with everyone is played out," Kleon writes, noting that it's best to save your energy for your creative endeavors.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or

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