5 Art Books that Make Amazing Gifts

December 8, 2021  /  by Megan Biffert

Open sketchbook showing a watercolor sketch of mountains

Are you still hunting for a Christmas gift for that artistic person in your life?

Look no further! Here are 5 art books that will inspire your creative friends and family. Whether they are beginning to dive into watercolor or are already an experienced sketcher, these books will spark their creativity and give hours of delightful browsing.

Some of these books were published this year and some of them are a few years old. All of them are books I love recommending because of their excellent content, plentiful and gorgeous illustrations (of course we want those!), and the insight and encouragement given by the author.

The magic of art books is that they are a source of both learning and fresh inspiration. Though these books cover different topics, each one makes you want to pick up your pen, pull out your sketchbook, and start creating.

Scroll down to see the 5 suggestions!*

1. For the Nature Person

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“Watercolor In Nature” by Rosalie Haizlett

Do you know someone who loves wildlife, being outdoors, and stopping to look at every little mushroom or wildflower you pass on a hike? Then this is the book for them! It came out last month, just in time to be wrapped up and tucked under the tree.

In “Watercolor in Nature” Rosalie Haizlett shares with you all of her enthusiasm and skill for creating beautiful ink and watercolor paintings of insects, plants, mushrooms, and wildlife. Her book contains 20 individual, wonderfully documented projects for beginners. She does an excellent job showing each step of each project, so that by the end you will be full of excitement and confidence in heading outdoors to create your own nature-themed sketches!

You can see a full book review and flip-through of this book here.

2. For the Gardener

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“Watercolor Workbook: 30-Minute Beginner Botanical Projects” by Sarah Simon

Sarah Simon has created a book that will delight anyone who loves flowers, art, and spending an afternoon in their garden.

In her new “Watercolor Workbook” Sarah shares with you her watercolor paint “recipes”, foundational watercolor techniques, and her joy of capturing the beauty of plants and flowers on paper. The book has multiple projects of line art sketches printed onto watercolor paper inside the book, so that you can paint directly on the page! She includes directions and step-by-step instructions so that you can create beautiful and elegant botanical artworks while learning watercolor skills. If you know someone who would love learning how to paint florals and plants, then this book is perfect for them!

3. For the Journaler

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“Draw Your World” & “Draw Your Day” by Samantha Dion Baker

Samantha Dion Baker is an author, artist, and illustrator who has spent years journaling and illustrating her daily life. She captures ordinary daily moments in beautiful illustrations that she shares with the world. Reading her books is like listening to an encouraging friend who gives you confidence that you can learn to draw while also offering to show you how.

Her first book “Draw Your Day” gives an introduction to materials and methods for sketch-journaling daily life, guidance on how to make it a regular practice, and a lot ideas for sketch subjects, hand-lettering, and page compositions. This year she released her book “Draw Your World”, which dives deeper into the how-to of combining art and journaling. It includes guidance on art concepts like perspective, color, and shading, as well as lessons and challenges to help you learn. Both books are filled with beautiful examples of her work and leave you inspired to begin chronicling your life through drawing! If you know someone who enjoys journaling and is interested in art, they will absolutely love these books.

4. For the Architecture Fan

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“The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture & Cityscapes” by Gabriel Campanario

You know that friend or family member who loves buildings and architecture, and who would happily sit down on a street corner to try and sketch an interesting arch or street view? This is their book.

Gabriel Campanario is an accomplished illustrator and the founder of the non-profit Urban Sketchers. In his book “The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture & Cityscapes,” he shares tips and prompts from his years of experience on how to sketch buildings, city streets, and architecture while on-site. The book covers subjects like composition, sketching in various weather conditions, simplifying details, and includes sketch examples from artists around the world. He also adds blank pages for sketching at the beginning of each chapter and practice assignments to apply some of the techniques he shares. The book itself is compact and the size of a sketchbook, so you could easily take it along with you for reference while sketching!

If you want a closer look at the book and it’s features you can look at my book review video flip through!

5. For the Traveler

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“Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own Travel Sketchbook” by Richard Schilling

This book isn’t new (it was published in 2003) but is one of my favorites. If you know someone who loves to travel and experience other cultures then they will be delighted with Richard Schilling’s book!

In “Watercolor Journeys” Richard shares his passion and skill for documenting your travels and experiencing the world around you by keeping a sketchbook. In addition to being an accomplished artist, he worked as a dentist on a cruise ship and volunteered to do dental work in other countries. Through this career he visited many different places and made friends around the world, always with his sketchbook in hand. His inspiring ink, watercolor, and pencil sketches fill this book, as well as wisdom and tips on how to keep a travel sketchbook. As you flip through you’ll see quick 20-minute ink sketches captured before a boat left, as well as beautiful watercolor illustrations created while sitting in a city plaza. He gives guidance and ideas for how to actually sketch while traveling, and touches on topics like supplies to pack, framing your sketch, picking a viewpoint, and creating depth. Below are some looks inside the book!

About Megan

Megan Biffert is the owner and creator behind Hey There Chickadee. Ink and watercolor art her go-to art mediums. She not only sketches and paints on a regular basis, but also offers classes and inspiration to those who want to create their own art. Her greatest delight in operating Hey There Chickadee is seeing others discover joy, creativity, and community through drawing and painting!

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