The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I mentioned in my January 4th blog post about The Book of Joy that I would paint copies of the book covers from some of my favorite reads in 2017.  Some of my paintings are adaptations rather than true copies.  Here are the covers from the best books from among those I read in January:

Tyler Norgren's new book about the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse

Tyler Nordgren’s new book about the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse

Sun, Moon, Earth:  The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren.  I wrote about this book in my January 5th blog post and how it heightened my anticipation for the total solar eclipse on August 21st of this year.

Coast Range:A Collection from the Pacific Edge by Nick Neely

Coast Range: A Collection from the Pacific Edge by Nick Neely

Coast Range: A Collection from the Pacific Edge by Nick Neely.  I liked this book of essays and Neely’s musings about collecting and collections.  He says, “. . . I had the collection bug: the impulse to hold, and possibly hoard, the world.”  His objects are familiar to my landscape — salmon, madrone trees, beaches, rivers draining into the Pacific Ocean.

Mink River by Brian Doyle

Mink River by Brian Doyle

Mink River by Brian Doyle.  I liked this novel so much that I am reading more of his works.

Tasha Tudor's Garden by Tovah Martin and Richard Brown

Tasha Tudor’s Garden by Tovah Martin and Richard Brown

Tasha Tudor’s Garden by Tovah Martin and Richard Brown.  The photos of Tasha Tudor in her garden are luscious.  I love the little watercolor vignettes, too.  This book takes us through the four seasons of the year.

One Vacant Chair by Joe Toomer

One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer

One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer.  I love this book because one of the protagonists is 62-year-old Aunt Edna who for the past twenty years was the live-in caregiver for her ill mother and an elementary lunch lady AND an artist.  She painted only one subject over and over — chairs.  “She was still painting chairs and only chairs . . .”  She painted for herself:  “Painting isn’t for bill paying.  Painting is for painting.”

The story takes place after the death of Edna’s mother.  The clan gathers and her niece Sarah — who is experiencing a life crisis of her own — decides to stay on with Edna while she closes up her mother’s estate.  Sarah is a successful commercial artist of Christmas ornaments, but she regrets not following her dream to become a fine artist.  Edna’s advice to Sarah is, “It’s the only important thing, the work itself.  I want you to stop worrying about what your pictures look like for now.  You should just enjoy holding the brush or pencil in your hand, the time spent. . . . you have to like the moment of working or your work will become valueless.”

I love how art-related musings and philosophy intermingle with the story.  And how the subject of a painting, like a chair, can evoke metaphors about life. The characters are quirky and flawed, family dynamics are stressed, and yet this is a warm-hearted novel.