From the Vault: Picture Perfect Books for Artists and Art Aficionados

Picture Perfect: Beautiful Books for Art Lovers

It’s about this time of year that I start to wonder where all the colour went. The weather is grey and dreary, dark colours dominate our fashion choices, and even the festive holiday décor has been packed and stored.

In the face of such an uninspiring colour palette, how are we supposed to find creative inspiration? How can we remain optimistic and adventurous? Short of hopping on a plane bound for warmer climes, what’s a porcupette to do?

One of the ways we can add a little spice to the winter months is to immerse ourselves into the vibrant world of visual art. Here are a few books that will add a little colour and imagination to these cold winter months, with art ranging from photographs to cartoons to paintings to wood engravings.

The Art of P. K. Irwin
By Michèle Rackham Hall

The Art of P. K. Irwin unfolds the artistic evolution of beloved writer and artist P. K. Page, known in art circles by her married name, P. K. Irwin. The artwork in this volume is truly breathtaking, particularly those pieces reproduced in full colour. I especially love Small Suns and The Dance as well as the very intricate World Within World.

Learn more about The Art of P. K. Irwin here »

Portraits of Canadian Writers
By Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer has met, interviewed and photographed an unbelievable number of iconic Canadian authors. The images and anecdotes in this book are certainly enough to brighten a dull day. My favourite portraits include those depicting Milton Acorn, Gwendolyn MacEwen, and Adele Wiseman, as they act like windows into the writers’ true selves.

Learn more about Portraits of Canadian Writers here »

Palookaville: Seth and the Art of Graphic Autobiography
By Tom Smart

The thing about this book is that it is positively beautiful. Brimming with images from Canadian comic artist Seth’s Palookaville graphic novels, you can’t help but smile at the tidy and nostalgic drawings. But of course, while you do, you’ll be treated to a heaping dose of philosophical musings on life, art and the passage of time.

Learn more about Palookaville: Seth and the Art of Graphic Autobiography here »

By Jim Westergard

This is a book to cheer you up on a boring day. Populated by history’s most unbelievable and wacky characters, every page of this book will surprise and delight. Illustrated by outstanding and intricate wood engravings, Westergard puts a face to rogues, rascals and eccentrics, from Rasputin to Pope Joan. My print of George Adamski sits proudly beside my desk and keeps me chuckling.

Learn more about Oddballs here »

Lotería Huasteca
By Alec Dempster

Alec Dempster’s Lotería Huasteca is a beautiful tribute to the art, music, food and dance of the Huasteca region of Eastern Mexico. The images may be black and white, but the vibrant culture they depict is anything but! My favourites include El Cotorro and La Ofrenda, but there are so many others to choose from, those choices definitely change depending on my mood.

Learn more about Lotería Huasteca here »

Well! There’s no excuse for the winter blues when you have all of this beautiful artwork at your fingertips! I hope you find these reads as inspiring as I do during the cold winter season.


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.