Book Club // How Art Can Make You Happy by Bridget Watson Payne

This is the fourth installment of Book Club, bringing you books of all kinds to feed a creative & beautiful life. This segment runs the first or second Friday of every month to stimulate creative energy & passion for your weekend & throughout the month ahead. Please feel free to discuss the book (or give book recommendations) in the comments, & enjoy this month's pick: How Art Can Make You Happy by Bridget Watson Payne.


Have you ever come across a book that literally seems to be made just for you? That's this book for me. I mean, just look at it. It's yellow & coppery rose gold. My two favorite colors! And the inner pages are also basically entirely yellow. It's a vision.

I saw this book at the Barnes & Noble back home in Cedar Rapids, IA during one of my favorite traditions with my mom: late night B&N shopping. I don't know if it can actually be called a tradition, but it's one of my favorite things to do when I'm home. After dinner, my mom & I (& my sister if she's home) will head off to Barnes & Noble & peruse the shelves for at least an hour, trading book ideas, finding little treasures, & leaving with a mini library to delve into for the foreseeable future.

This particular B&N adventure was quite the success, as I got Clara Parkes' A Stash of One's Own, Mary Berry's baking book (any Great British Baking Show fans out there?!), a hand lettering workbook, & - of course - this little gem.

art is magical.jpg

How Art Can Make You Happy is a quick read, providing a few simple arguments on why art is important, how it can positively influence you, & how to go about experiencing more art in your daily life. And best of all, it's funny. I feel like Bridget is my friend, chatting with me about how much she loves art & trying to show me that I can love it too. (Of course, I already love art, but this little book made me love it even more)

Her little lessons are only a few pages long, & include relevant quotes from famous artists/general smart people (& some other hilarious sources - such as the Department of Homeland Security's ever present airport mantra "If you see something, say something" as a reminder to straight up pay attention when you're looking at art) as well as practical advice on how to follow through with your art-seeing adventures.

Should you read this book? Well, here's a quick Q&A:

Do you like art? Then yes.

Do you want to like art? Then yes.

Are you unsure about art? Absolutely.

Do you like yellow? Get the book now!

Watson Payne is has an impressive list of careers (hobbies? interests? I'm not sure what to call them, but they're awesome). On her website, she is listed as "a writer, art book editor, blogger, speaker, maker of pictures, and art lover". To me, she seems like a really cool human who likes making things & appreciating people who also make things. And that's my favorite kind of person!

She has a few other books out, which you can find here. I'm particularly interested in checking out New York Jackie: Pictures from Her Life in the City because Jackie Kennedy is a fascinating woman who I don't think we'll ever fully understand. But pictures are worth a thousand words, right? I also highly recommend checking out her blog because it's both insightful & hilarious, which is just the best.

Favorite quote

"But here's the thing: Only you can know when a work of art is working for you. Only you know what you like. Only you know what gives you pleasure. Only you know what makes you think and feel and see. Someone else can only make your taste if you let them. And they can never make it as well as you can yourself. So why let them?" (page 40)

Point: you like what you like. And in art (and life), that's important. You don't need to spend time on what you're "supposed" to like - you have all the power to find & cultivate the things (people, hobbies, careers...) that give you the most joy.

Important takeaway

If seeing art is important to you, you will make it happen. Watson Payne has an excellent, very simple Q&A in the section "Why You Have Time to Go" that proves that we all "make time to do the things we consider worth doing" (page 55). For example - we all feel too busy, yet we still find time to watch TV & help our partner do whatever they need help doing & eat food & etc.

We have time for art, we just need to make sure we prioritize it.