At Mr X Stitch we love to review textile art and embroidery books for you. There are so many great books to discover, packed with needlework inspiration and textile techniques, so we dive into each book to find out what’s good, what’s bad and let you know why you should pick it up.
Check out our BookShop affiliate link at the end of this post – buy from BookShop and support independent bookshops!
How Art Heals: Exploring Your Deep Feelings Using Collage is written by Andra F Stanton and published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
As both a self help book and an art textiles publication, this book is set to hold the interest of a wider audience than those simply looking for a step-by-step art technique guide. Will this book appeal to you? Lets find out…
About the author
Stanton is a retired psychotherapist and an artist whose main medium is textiles. She is the author of several books, including Dimensional Cloth: Sculpture by Contemporary Textile Artists (Schiffer). This dual set of experience, both within the mental health sector and the artistic, sets her up to speak with conviction through this publication. She herself has experienced comfort from art and craft, delving into quilting and many stitch techniques herself within her own artistic practice. This makes her qualified to talk about both the psychological subjects and the art ones.
Tien Chiu writes the foreword for this book, detailing her own personal experience in connection with the emotion this book is based on. She is an award-winning fibre artist and a professional project manager specializing in new product development. She uses both artisanal and industrial methods for creating original work.
Who is the book aimed at?
Those who are serious about their work and those who may be studying subjects like Art Therapy themselves. It will also strike a chord with anyone who has been through something in their lives which has hurt, as grief and loss is covered as well as methods to celebrate life. There is a mix of work throughout, so those who are interested in fine art, mixed media or textiles will relate to this one. Have you had anxiety? Or maybe you are anxious right now…this book may help!
Within the opening notes, the author tells us that she wrote this book as she knew that many would ‘want to explore’ ‘deep feelings’. She feels that: ‘For everyone, in one way or another, making art not only afforded relief, but also a boost in self-confidence – and hope’. So if you feel in the need for some therapy and you time…this may be a perfect guide.
Personally, I do connect with this book and I won’t be alone in this view. Since COVID-19 began, many have found it harder to cope and have begun to search for new methods of therapy and simply keeping going. I know many who have turned to alternative sources for help and art can be one of those coping sources.
Let’s explore further…..
I am simply going to bring a few highlights to your attention in this rapid quick fire review.
First up the contents page… We get a usual layout, with five large chapters. There is also an ‘additional artists’ page, so that is a bit unusual, along with an invitation to all….to what? You may ask….read the book to find out!
There is a long introduction section with a lot written and not a lot visual. It is a good introduction to the subject matter and why it is of importance. Then the five chapters…chapter one is very text based, detailing the materials we may want to use to make our own work. Chapter two is very visual, with all the inspiration side of things sorted. Chapter three is surprising, with a lot of text set out as exercises for us to follow – even questions for us to answer. Chapter four gets even deeper, this chapter is very much the meditation style section. Then finally chapter five, this is the longest section, with lots of real life experiences from other artists, along with examples of their work.
We will reveal the invitation we hinted at above…..so here we go, once we are finished reading this book, we are not left in the lurch. We also have a way of being in contact with others who are like minded. This may appeal to those who feel isolated, wither physically or mentally. Connection with others:
As to the layout of the book, its not a how-to on an instruction manual. This is more of an inspirational guide with therapy at its heart. However the imagery provided as well as all of the artist profile information is inspirational for any textile artist.
A lovely quilted piece, as we say lots of visual inspiration is dotted through this book.
Chapter two is really set as an image gallery, visual fuel for us to be inspired by.
Within this section and throughout the publication, most imagery is clear, some photographs have stronger impact than others. All the imagery harks back to the main theme of healing and the variety of ways that can be portrayed. There are some unique interpretations which makes for a lively read.
Another visual which came out strong to our eye was this one, it’s brutal in a way, it has an honest quality, yet it makes us stop and question what it is about. I liked how detailed the information is next to each image, so that we learn about the technique its made with.
This one is so random and well portrays the A-Z mish mash of styles plotted right through this publication.
There is a lot of mixed media within this book, not just textiles, which adds to the appeal, as often `I find as an artist I don’t get inspired simply by one art genre. So its really nice to go through a book which showcases a wide range of ideas.
What makes the book special?
The marriage of the mental heal side of things with the art side works well. We have not come across many within this genre so the author has certainly hit a gap within the market.
At the beginning of this book, we come across a few interesting areas; for example on page 12 onwards we look at ‘Art History’. We read interesting facts, things we may not be aware of, such as how art is good for the immune system and can reduce stress. It can also soothe our emotions! What’s not to love?!
Looking at the feedback this book has already attracted, this is set to be a successful publication. It inspires us by example, with all the artist profiles and imagery provided. It also takes in many real life experiences, detailing how certain making methods helped them to process a difficult time emotionally.
As said, this is not a how-to book, rather it focuses on the emotional x artistic process, combining the two to equal a source of healing for the individual.
Suitable for all skill levels, no one will feel out of place.
In the meantime, why not read other similar content on our site, for example our review of the book Resilient Stitch which delves into other methods of healing through embroidery. Or check out Rima Day’s work which reveals the darker side of textile art.