My husband and I grew up in artistic households. His mom is an incredible oil painter, and my dad was a master with watercolors. We both have the artistic bug inside of us, so naturally, we wanted to cultivate that in our kids. It's been great to have fun art resources to help us along the way.
Art Books We Love
There are three different kinds of art resources we love to learn from: instructional art books, imaginative art books, and inspirational art books.
Best Drawing Books for Beginners
Draw Write Now Book 1: On the Farm, Kids and Critters, Storybook Characters was one of our first drawing books, and it is such a sweet introduction to drawing. I love the simple steps to follow. There is a whole series like this, and we own them all. The sweet drawings gave confidence to my young artists while also requiring them to practice their handwriting.
How to Draw: Step-by-Step Drawings! is a super simple and basic drawing book by Dover. They always provide great resources, and it's such a great price! This resource provides drawing instruction for over 30 simple pictures with a blank page next to it to practice and color. I always appreciate when drawing instruction books don't try to teach too much at once. Anyone can make these basic shapes and build confidence in the process.
How to Draw Cute Stuff: Draw Anything and Everything in the Cutest Style Ever! Drawing cute things inspired my young artist to keep practicing. This book is filled with simple doodles to inspire young ones to keep at it. This is another series of books of crazy cute things to draw. How could you not want to just keep drawing and doodling when your pictures come out this cute?
Draw and Write Through History (Creation through Jonah, Volume 1) is the first in a series of more advanced drawing instruction books that include historical images with writing prompts. While these are more challenging tutorials, the pictures you draw from them are very cool. They really make you feel accomplished as a budding artist! It's also fun to have a variety of animals and structures to draw. There are some really unique learning opportunities here.
Art Books that Inspire the Imagination
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling introduced us to the joy of drawing in nature. The illustrations are gorgeous and so inspiring while still being practical. We loved getting outside for nature studies and seeing the beauty around us. Eventually, this practice led to my daughter starting to paint en Plein air (or in nature). There is really something magical that happens when you get to make art outside.
Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World is a family favorite. What we love about this series is the way that Julia Rothman takes the nature journaling that we loved and reimagines it in such a playful and imaginative way. The illustrations are excellent, but also something that my budding artist could imitate. She wanted her bullet journals to be filled with illustrations from the world around her just like she saw in this book.
Artistry: Pen & Ink: A creative exploration of a time-treasured drawing technique offered inspiration to get my young artist to the next level. These pen and ink drawings are so mesmerizing! When you feel like you're ready to move on from step-by-step drawing instructions, finding books like this that inspire you with beautiful art can really take you to the next level.
Books that Inspire Mastery of Art
The Art Book is a fantastic sourcebook for being inspired by how art both expresses the ideas of society and shapes society's thinking. The works included in this book demonstrate masters that have spent hours honing their craft and really inspire those who love art to continue to practice making art.
Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired is similar to the last book but just formatted a bit differently. I'm always looking for great art reference books like this for my daughter to use as master studies. It is so helpful to see how other artists approached a subject or took extra care in the communication of their ideas. There is lots of inspiration here!
The Annotated Mona Lisa, Third Edition: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to the Present is a text book that my husband used in one of his seminary classes on art and faith, and used to be a resource for Challenge 2 in Classical Conversations. I appreciate this consise history of art where it gives the reader a good overview of the ideas of the different art periods without being too weary or wordy! It's another resource I love having on my shelf.
Taking Your Art to the Next Level
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. While it's not directly art instruction, this book is awesome for helping artists gain a vision for where they're going. So often young artists struggle with how much is too much imitation. As you're working to discover your style, it's best to learn from others. I feel like this book is a must-read for any artist.
Just Draw It!: The Dynamic Drawing Course for Anyone with a Pencil & Paper My daughter used this book in her first college drawing class. It offers inspiration for how to grow as an artist with great practice ideas.
The Drawing Bible is another book my daughter used in her first college drawing class. It introduces different media to use and how to grow as an artist.
Watercolor With Me in the Forest I've loved this book for getting started with watercoloring. The paper is thick enough that you can paint right along in the book!
Art Resources on YouTube that We Love
Art for Kids Hub
If you're looking for tons of simple drawing tutorials, Art For Kids Hub has you covered! They have so many fun drawings demonstrated by a dad and his kids. They're super cute!
Alyssa has followed this artist for a long time and has been so inspired by her drawing tutorials. Faces can be super intimidating, but Pypah makes them seem doable!
Paintcrush with Kristy Rice
I'm kinda obsessed with Paintcrush with Kristy Rice. She's such an encourager to artists. She makes you feel like you could make beautiful watercolor art, and even better than that, she demonstrates the skills so brilliantly that you actually make beautiful watercolor art with her! I love her videos!
Lyssa Grace Art
You know I couldn't leave this section of art resources without recommending my daughter's YouTube channel. I have learned so much about the artistic process by watching Alyssa paint. Not only that, but the way that she views art and making art as an act of worship is just so inspiring. She's not afraid to be herself, and that makes me want to join her in making art!
Online Art Classes
You Are An Artist
One of the first art programs I reviewed as a blogger was these sweet instructional videos using chalk pastels hosted by Nana! Who doesn't love a Nana?! My kids really enjoyed them all of those years ago. Nana is still making videos, and there are so many great tutorials available on the You Are an Artist shop. Here's a free lesson from their YouTube channel:
Another art class that my kids absolutely adored was the mixed media course from the Masterpiece Society. All of the projects were so fun, and they turned out better than we expected. I still have a paperwhites painting from 2015 hanging on my wall by Alyssa. It definitely inspired her to continue making art!
Delightful Art Co.
My daughters took the Paint Your Way Through Art History course in 2021 and LOVED it. Not only did they get an in-depth art history course, but their technique improved as they studied the masters. Here's a glimpse of the final product from the course.
What are some of your favorite art resources?
These are just a sampling of some of the ways my kids developed a love of creative endeavors. What are some of your family favorites? Please share in the comments!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.