A Behind-the-Scenes Look at My Bookshelf

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

I love books. Fiction, non-fiction, recipe books, coloring books....you name it, I love it. One of my favorite parts of my studio is my library, where I've collected some amazing reference and instructional books that I can reference when I have questions or need some inspiration. Here's a peek at some of my favorite books...if you're looking to start your own calligraphy library, these books are a great place to start!

1. Foundations of Calligraphy by Sheila Waters

I think almost every calligrapher will tell you how amazing this book is. This staple text has been on my shelf for years, and I reference it all the time. Sheila is an amazing calligrapher and teacher who wrote a series of essays for the Letter Arts Review magazine between 1995-2000. These essays were collected afterwards and printed as a book.

Sheila discusses everything from materials, to proper practice techniques, and goes through multiple broad edge scripts. Her writing style is relaxed and easy to follow, and I pick out something new every time I open this book.

2. Calligraphy: Expert Answers to Questions Every Calligrapher Asks by Maryanne Grebenstein

This is probably the most-referenced book on my shelves! This little book holds some fantastic information, such as how to paint background washes, and instructions on how to make an accordion-style book. The information in this book is concise and demands a bit of previous knowledge, but if you're looking to bone up on your calligraphy skills, it's a goldmine for new ideas and tips.

3. The Art of Illumination by Patricia Carter

If you like eye candy, then this book is for you! Each page is decorated with beautiful examples of illuminated letters, borders, and painting ideas to keep you busy for years trying them all out. Whenever I'm stuck on how to design a decoration, a quick flip through this baby will always spark some creativity.

4. Painting for Calligraphers by Marie Angel

Not all calligraphers are formally-trained artists (raises hand here). Sometimes that can feel like a huge disadvantage, especially when it comes to adding additional elements to our pieces. Luckily for us, Marie Angel wrote this book specifically for we who have no formal training in painting! She goes step-by-step through materials, drawing, and painting, in incredible detail that's easy to follow and try yourself. It may not make you an instantly-amazing painter, but it gives you a solid foundation and good methods to practice and improve your skills.

5. Wilderness Essays by John Muir

I know, I know...this book isn't about calligraphy! You're absolutely right. But it's in my studio library all the same, because I use it frequently in my studies. We all need practice, and John Muir's essays are long, beautifully shimmery essays that are perfect for practicing scripts. Being a huge national parks advocate, I love reading his musings on Yosemite, Glacier Bay, and (my personal fave) Yellowstone. Connecting with what we letter is such an important part of our work as calligraphers, and practice should be no different. If it's not this book, get another book with long passages that you can connect with and be excited to letter in your practice time.

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