Open Line Friday–Favorite Inspirational Books

Art & Fear, Bayles, OrlandWelcome to The Inbox Jaunt …and Open Line Friday…Everyone Asks, Everyone Answers…As you know, it’s my favorite post of the week.  I love to hear YOUR ideas, favorites, what works for you, what doesn’t…

Just to get things rolling…I’ll start…


I love books about quilting, art, and the creative process…whichever one I’m currently reading is my  favorite.

However, if I had to chose ONE FAVORITE–the book that is the most encouraging and inspirational, I would have to pick Art & Fear, Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.

Described as “An Artist’s Survival Guide” by authors David Bayles and Ted Orland:  Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way”.

This is the Introduction:

This is a book about making art.  Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like:  all art not made by Mozart.  After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people–essentially (statistically speaking) there aren’t any people like that.  But while geniuses may get made once-a-century or so, good art gets made all the time.  Making art is a common and intimately human activity, filled with all the perils (and rewards) that accompany any worthwhile effort.  The difficulties art makers face are not remote and heroic, but universal and familiar.

Here’s a description from the author’s website:

Do not mistake Art & Fear for a pop psychology self-help book — we’re not interested in freeing your inner child! This is a book about what it feels like to sit down at your potter’s wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do. What we’ve tried to do is illuminate the obstacles you face, and offer some artistic strategies for getting past them.

If you have any doubt about quilt making as ART and your struggles as a “quilt-artist” than this book is for you!

What about YOU?

Do you have a favorite book -one that is encouraging, inspirational, thought-provoking?

We’d love to hear!


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17 thoughts on “Open Line Friday–Favorite Inspirational Books

  1. My favourite quilts books are anything by Jinny Beyer. Learnt everything I needed to know from her books about hand work. I then added Judy Martin for accurate machine piecing. Haven’t stopped buying books by many others, but those are the mainstay of my quilt reference library.

    Inspiration for design comes from illustrations for adults, including those who are yet to grow up. Anything to do with plants, especially botanical art, fantasy … whatever catches my eye.

  2. Thanks Lori. I will definitely need to seek out a copy of “Art and Fear” as it sounds like something I would enjoy. As far as my favourite book, I look at my bookcase across the room and they are like children – there is room in my heart for all of them; from the first one bought just to get me going, “Essential Quilting” through to my extensive research on William Morris and the influence of the arts and crafts movement, and now on to exploring the concepts that are evolving into the modern quilting movement. My current book, by Thomas Knauer, “Modern Quilt Perspectives” offers not only his inspiring designs, but his thoughtful insights. So, for today, it is my favourite.

  3. Thanks for the heads-up about Art & Fear — sounds like a must read. I have two favorite quilting books — Setting Solutions by Sharyn Craig and Color From the Heart by Gai Perry because they have been terrific textbooks to help my quilting students conquer their fears and become more confident. Both are available as used books or e-books at this point — I’ve let go of lots of my quilting books, but never those two!!

  4. I hope it doesn’t have to a favorite book because I have a new favorite website. It’s called COLOURlovers and you can find color palettes that other people have created or you can create your own. I’ve been creating some of my own with photos from one of my Pinterest boards. I’m addicted and I just discovered it yesterday. You can upload your own photos from a website or Flickr then you click on different parts of the picture with the tool and it captures the colors. Name it and save. Voila! Your own palette for designing a new quilt or painting a room or whatever you want to use it for. It’s very simple and a lot of fun! Here’s a link:

    You do have to sign up, but it’s free and simple, just a username and password.
    And, I’m going to have to find a copy of that book, Art & Fear. It sounds really good. 🙂

  5. I just read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. A lot about procrastination keeping you from your art, etc. As I write this I’m avoiding working on my sketching!

  6. I have to agree with Irene. Our home has bookcases in almost every room and when I set up my sewing room three years ago (I’m a late bloomer) it never occurred to me that I would need a bookcase in there – Well, I did and I do! Ha ha! Currently, I am reading Sweet Celebrations from Moda Bake Shop Chefs and Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam & Nicky Lintott ( I read quilt pattern books like reading material – educating myself).

  7. Good morning Lori, I have many books & can’t part with any, even my beginner books I keep for my grands or new customers asking for a class. Right now, I have no favorite book but I can tell you what I am looking for. I am looking for a book that will help me design the pattern for the quilt top. I already have many books on simple quilting – Pam Clark to Judi Madsen. I want to quilt like those winning all the ribbons at the Quilt Shows. I’m currently using stencils & looking for interesting background fillers. Straight lines are “in” so I need some creative juice.. Thanks Pat

    • I found a most helpful and inspiring blog on FMQ: this one! I love how Lori implements drawing lines to help make patterns. I also recommend Leah Day’s book, which I talk about below.

    • Pat, I have a book that I have found useful for quilting designs — “A Fine Line: Techniques and Inspirations for Creating the Quilting Design”by Melody Crust and Heather Waldron Tewell. It’s one of my favorite books on the subject. It is very well written and has also beautiful pictures. Melody Crust also has a new book out called “Stitching Through the Layers: The Art and Elegance of Straight Line Stitching.” I have not seen that book yet, but I plan to purchase it based on the quality of the other books of Melody’s that I own (she also has written several on quilt embellishments). Your library might have copies of these books if you are uncomfortable purchasing before seeing them. I have also taken a quilting design class from Melody Crust, and I recommend doing that if you have the opportunity.

      • Lin, Thank you for the info.. I have written down the names & will check them out.. I have seen Leah Day on my computer and watched her a few times but not ready to take online classes.. I do better with books, CD or in person.. Thanks so much for the info.. Pat S

  8. Goodness! When I saw your title I thought about my favorite inspirational book not quilting inspiration! Here is one of my favorite inspirational books and it is written by Gordon B. Hinkley. He was the former prophet of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The first is Way To Be. The front cover describes the book as “A book of virtues for teenagers and their parents. Some of the “Be-s are Be Grateful, Be Smart, Be Involved, Be Positive… Wonderful books!

    Right now, as I try to learn FMQ, my inspirational book is 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs. It shows different designs to quilt, and then you can follow it up with a tutorial on quilting that motif on YouTube. It takes you from the realm of meandering or stippling, which is said to be the most difficult FMQ, to different fillers. Love this book!

    • Oops! The book is written by Leah Day. Her website is She also teaches a class (or two?) on Craftsy.

  9. I too like to read books and articles by artists working in other mediums and usually find that their observations dovetail with the issues we struggle with in quilting. I have read and enjoyed “Art & Fear” and also thank you for introducing me to Walt Kania’s “Freelancery” blog through your posts.

    I’ve also found Shaun McNiff’s “Trust the Process”, Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”, Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit” and in the quilt book world Andrea Balosky’s “Transitions: Unlocking the Creative Quilter Within” to also offer core inspirational principals and guidance for staying in step with your muses.

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