Some of you might remember when I purchased this pretty oak hutch to act as storage in my studio…
I filled it with my decorating and design books with just a small handful of art books mixed in and I remember sharing that I was hoping to build my art resource book library about the time this photo was taken.
Well, I made short work of that goal! I’ve collected dozens of books on the masters, oil painting, impressionism, watercolors, sketching, portraits, figurative work, landscapes, clouds, plein air, still lifes, and books filled with reference images. The collection has grown to fill most of the first two shelves of the large bookcase in my studio.
I pick them up here and there. Some are new from bookstores (even a few from Shakespeare & Co and the Musee D’Orsay in Paris), many are bought used off of Amazon, and a few were picked up at antique stores. Anytime I feel stuck or I have hit a plateau in a specific skill, I turn to these books for inspiration, instruction, and even just for enjoyment. These books, along with some video courses, are my collective art education. I am an apprentice of Monet, Seago, Morisot, Pissaro, Manet, Sargent, and generous present-day instructors like Carol Marine and Juliette Aristides.
All of this “education” was getting to be a bit untidy, though. Every new acquisition needed a new home and some of the “color sections” were getting cramped. I know it drives some people crazy, but I like to arrange my books by size and color. This isn’t what I would suggest for a public library, but for my personal collection, it works. It especially works for me because I’m a visual person. When I want to find a book, I often remember how it looks before I remember the title. And, I only have art books here. My decorating & design books, creative business books, literature and poetry, are housed in my office or elsewhere in the house.
I still want to play with the top shelf on the left side of the cabinet, but it’s fine for now.
Stacking these two pieces, bought a couple of years and over 1,000 miles apart, felt a little risky, but I’m glad I did it. It’s been such an incredible storage unit and it makes me smile every time I see it. Furniture pieces should do that. They should work for us, they should be practical, but they should almost make us smile. It’s not the variety of joy or depth of happiness that comes from loving others. It’s just a thing, but it should at least evoke a positive emotion. And this piece, in its patina and imperfection, filled with art supplies and resource books, definitely does for me.
Something like rearranging the books, taking care of what you have and potentially making room for more, can create momentum. This sorting is what got me excited about tackling the closet and then the bookshelf in my office and that snowballed into a list of ideas and potential to-dos.
It also got me excited to paint more!
If you are interested in building your own art resource library, you can find some of my favorite books HERE.