Friday, 9 April 2010

Lateral reading

The title of this post is an allusion to the expression “lateral thinking”, the terms coined by Edward de Bono (See his book Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity); and the concept is not far from it.

Old book by Anna Cervova

I am curious by nature and enjoy practicing what I called “lateral reading”, which is a way to expand your horizon and harvest new ideas. I read both for pleasure and to learn. Any book brings some new snippets of information or sends me on new tracks to explore.

Another phenomenon I noticed is that when you have a centre of interest, your mind somehow builds some bridges from unrelated topics back to your main interest and brings unexpected insights into your art practice.

With art as my main interest, I read the following types of books to further my education:

  • Painting instruction books

  • Art history books

  • Journals and correspondence by artists

  • Artists’ biographies

  • Artists’ monographies

This is just the inner circle, the core. Other disciplines can bring interesting information and inspiration:

  • Sculpture

  • Textile art

  • Design (form, composition)

  • Photography (Choice of subjects, composition, lighting…)

But you can learn from other topics that are further away. For instance, garden design books contain valuable information on composition and colour combinations.

This only addresses the artistic side of the practice, and I am also interested in the business side of it, so I read books and articles on business, marketing and technologies…

Finally, I like to read fiction and poetry not only because they are generally a pleasure to read, but also to feed my imagination.

One last experience I would recommend: go to a lending library, in a section you never visited before, and pick a book that catches your attention (the title, the cover…), then bring it home and read it. Who knows what you can learn?

By all means, read art books, but also read laterally… Have you read great books you want to recommend? Please leave a comment below.

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catambra said...
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Rebecca Snow said...

I recommend reading books about John James Audobon and his life as an artist.
At each point in his artist life he had to believe his art was worth making time to do. He had to put other things aside and go out in the wilderness, kill birds, arrange them and draw and paint their likeness in an appealing fashion.
Now, that just gets my imagination going. And the moral of this would be:
Sometimes a bucket of bullets may be your best art supply.

(well maybe you can think of a better moral)
hee hee