There have been a few books that have made a huge difference to me in this creative life, and though they were not necessarily about painting in particular, they resonated with me.
Taking a Leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist by Cay Lang
I read this book before home computers, digital technology and the internet which meant I had to create artist's packages that included slides, resume, statement and all with a stamped return envelope if I wanted the slides returned. And let me tell you, slides were not inexpensive or that easy to get, so I definitely wanted them back. It was invaluable to guide me on researching galleries (which meant visiting them) and how to submit professionally. It's now been re-written to include our digital era and I'm guessing it's even better. I lent my copy out a number of years ago and haven't seen it since but it was invaluable to my initial introduction to exhibiting my work.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
I'm sure most creative people have read this book and for good reason. Probably the best habit I developed because of this is to write daily, whether that is on my blog or in my journal. This leads to painting or drawing every day, too. Creativity begets creativity.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
This is actually a writer's workshop in a book. Because I spend so much time in solitude as a painter, I found that this book applied to the process of painting as much as it does to the process of writing. Plus it also helped build my confidence in writing.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp is a dance choreographer and this book is absolutely wonderful. It's written as exercises and is absolutely enlightening. It's wonderful to read about how she is inspired, how she gets out of ruts, and creating a body of work, some of my favorite things about any creative soul.
Steal Like an Artist & Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
After many years and many books, these little gems encapsulate everything I've learned as an artist. He really teaches that we just need to show up as ourselves. Brilliant!
How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist by Caroll Michels
Much like 'Taking a Leap', this book breaks down the business of art including the legal aspect. I'm currently enjoying it.
Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland
This is my latest creative acquisition and I love the simplicity of it...on how and why we approach our art (or avoid it) and why it can be so very difficult. Many years ago I became a painter just because I can't not. Doing the work is the easiest part for me, even if I feel it may not be good enough, I enjoy the process (believe me, there is a lot of work I have created that hasn't been shared publicly). But there are those times I feel immobilized by fear...whether that is in the creation of or sharing my work. It's not a good place to be and I find that I just need to push past that feeling and all is good.
The Art Spirit by Robert Henri
This is one of two art books I have kept from college...my copy is falling apart so I've ordered a new one. It's filled with wonderful notes on both art and life. It is an easy to read guide that you can pick up and open to any part for creative inspiration and education.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
This is another book that I've had since college, though I did have to purchase another edition as mine fell apart. It is a step-by-step guide to improving drawing skills and is basically how I was taught in high school. Another fabulous book.