Top art teaching books

I’ve never met an art teacher without an amazing library of Art books – I love have a browse through other people’s collections and I treasure my own. It’s also great when I get a recommendation, or find something that quickly becomes a ‘go-to’ for students in my art room.

Here are some of my current favourites…


Ndebele: The Art of an African Tribe by Margaret Courtney-Clarke
The photographs in this book are a stunning documentation of the mural paintings of the Ndebele people in the southern part of Africa. The style of the artwork produced in these villages is arresting and joyous. This book cannot fail to inspire students with ideas and approaches that are easily applied in the classroom.


Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing
Although it was published back in 2005 (so, maybe not so ‘new’ perspectives now…) this book is a brilliant compendium of so many approaches to drawing. Particularly useful for A level and some GCSE students, the book looks and feels lovely – the aesthetic is pared back in a way that can be a useful exemplar for students at this stage. Each artist featured has an accompanying text which is useful to contextualise their work. We ended up buying two of these for our art department.


Rachel Whiteread by Catherine Wood
Any book on Rachel Whiteread would probably do, but I love the way that this one gives a view into her process. I find Whiteread’s approach to drawing, making and thinking is moving but also accessible. The use of materials in her work is also a great springboard for art students to take their ideas in multiple directions.


Islamic Design: A Genius for Geometry by Daud Sutton
This little gem is full of useful information and background and beautiful patterns. A comparatively cheap book (RRP £5.99), this is well worth it’s cost with plenty to look at and get you thinking. Mine has been borrowed by countless students who want to get to grips with this art form.


Art Forms in Nature: Prints of Ernst Haekel
Another perennial favourite, this book can be used for source material to work from as well as artist inspiration on so many projects; natural forms, microscopic detail, pattern, texture, abstraction…


I Should be in Charge by Bob and Roberta Smith
I have found many students who have responded really well to the slogans, ideas and aesthetics of Bob and Roberta Smith’s work. Imbued through all the work, is the idea that what you have to say matters, no matter who you are, and that is a powerful message to get across to young people.

It’s a bit like Desert Island Discs, choosing your top art books… a bit of a trip down memory lane and lots more you’d like to include. I think I’m going to have to return and add to this list, and I’d love to know what your best art room books are if you feel like sharing!