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Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Join the bestselling author of Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones as she explores a new realm of creativity--the world of color--and offers us an intimate view of how everyday life is transformed into art.

In twelve high-spirited chapters, Natalie introduces us to her family, her artist friends, her New Mexico home, her painting trips to Europe--always focusing on the que
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 2nd 1997 by Bantam
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Nancy Canyon
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific book. I attended Natalie Goldberg's workshop based on this book in Taos, New Mexico in 1997. We did some drawings in class as well as fast writing. Natalie's work is based on following the first thought "from the bottom of the mind." So even with our drawings, we were to look and see and draw continuous line drawings without thinking. Like the walking meditation we did to get to the fence-line or building we drew, just put the pencil or pen on paper and go. It was mind opening ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Goldberg was my first introduction into the simplicity of writing every day. Now she is my first intro into painting every day.

She takes away our fear and fills us with courage and inspiration.

Let’s go. Let’s go paint.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting prompts for drawing and painting. Reminded me to be less dependent on depicting natural color and actual objects. I can go off the reservation with abandon according to Goldberg.
Brian Verendus
Books on art and painting are out of my usual literary comfort zone. I do not paint, my stick figures usually come out looking horrifically deformed, and I couldn't tell you the difference between an impressionist and a surrealist. It is for that reason I was excited to receive this book (which, I am legally obligated to report I won on Goodreads First Reads).

I expected the book to inspire creativity in my writing, while coaxing me out of my niche and into the world of painting. Even though the
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
one of my favorite authors and Buddhist friends writes about her life and illustrates it 'in living color'. It's subtitled A Writer Paints Her World.

here is a tiny excerpt to give the flavor "I noticed that the blue of my paints wasn't blue enough to get the intensity of that New Mexico sky. I painted the sky red instead."

Tender stories of family and friends ... the paint of her father is extraordinary
Carole Calladine
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Of all of Natalie Goldberg's books, this is my favorite. In it, she explores the creative process and living the creative life. She gives women, in particular, permission to take up space to do their art. They don't have to sit in the laundry room, under the staircase, or even at the dining room table to write, draw, imagine. The idea of studio becomes alive. The vibrant drawings that accompany the twelve chapters jump off the page as does the writing. ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Debated between 3-4 stars. I love her voice and enjoy reading her work. I find myself laughing and relating - and highlighting passages where she describes things so eloquently.

That said, I am not a fan of autobiographies in general...
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I picked up this book, the work I was trying to create was stuck. The direction came to me after three hours of reading and I was inspired to pick up needle and thread again. Thank you Natalie.
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great chance to see Natalie's paintings and to get her larger thoughts on art outside of the focus of writing. ...more
Cari Polena
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: non-artists who like to paint
A color explosion with crooked lines and nice stories.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Making the experiences of life into a visual journey.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, non-fiction
I randomly grabbed this off the shelf at the library, my new browsing style with a two year old in tow. I started reading it the same evening but almost immediately quit because the beginning was so happy and gushy - the one thing I can't abide in books on creativity! After a few days I picked it back up and found I missed the intro/forward and that was pleasant enough that I decided to try the rest of it but I skipped past the unpleasant part I'd already encountered. The rest of the book was mu ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I can consider this as having been "read" because I mainly skimmed the chapters and looked at the paintings. Nonetheless, it was interesting learning about Ms. Goldberg's process and how she got started painting when she was more interested in making it as a writer. Glad she managed to do both. The world is a more colorful place with her artwork being a part of it. I enjoyed reading the stories about the origins of her paintings. If you're a writer or an artist, it's worth a look. Y ...more
Sandra Scott
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing her art work and her own life experiences with painting. Even though I was not interesting in doing the exercises, I read them and considered the in other areas of my life. For an artist I would think they would be fun to work with. As with all of her books, I recommend them highly.
Christine Laferriere
as always a terrific read
Catherine Theriault
Effectively twines writing, painting, and drawing together.
Jan Morrison
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and inspiring! Had it on retreat and it provided much encouragement for the art I was creating.
3.5 stars. What it says on the tin. This took me a while to get into, but I ended up quite liking it.
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
A few interesting thoughts about how this author approached her colorful paintings. Overall a self indulgence, new age book I purchased years ago and can finally mark as read.
Kelly D.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a painter, and I still loved this book. Slowly making my way through Natalie Goldberg's work and falling more in love with her with each one. ...more
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Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Thank you goodreads for giving me a chance to read this book. It's very inspiring especially to me because I'm starting to take the artistry path,thanks to my father for letting me follow my dreams. At a very young age I was already painting but of course I wasn't that good enough though it didn't stop me. Back then I don't mind how straight a line is and how round a circle is but now I notice everything, constant erasing of the wrong strokes, tearing and throwing wasted paper. This book made me ...more
Keziah Shepherd
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring book about drawing and painting being similar methods of recording 'being' in the world as is the act of writing. Natalie Goldberg, also a writer, includes wonderful stories about her drawing and painting experiences and she generously shares information: such as how drawings, paintings and writings can pass information to the subconscious. She reminds us always to shut our 'monkey' mind up and our 'inner critic' and just let creativity take over. Logic and control can get in the wa ...more
Sharon Robinson
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-general
Love, love, love this book. I think it is the second best book I have ever read about painting. And I'm not even a painter. It was completely engrossing to read because it is so rare to find an individual who is both so talented at painting and at writing about it.
It's hard to describe what it's about, and it rambles and wanders around from her early childhood to her life in New Mexico, to trips to Europe, to her study of meditation.... but what weaves all this together is her passion for writin
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very inspiring book for anyone who fancies picking up a brush. She captures her passion and transition from quirky Matisse style painting to abstraction. I like her links and comparisons between art and writing. I enjoyed Goldberg's painting style, especially the way she captures the spirit of a place or object. The lessons are great suggestions for any novice or artist wanting to break out of their own style. The connection between abstraction and death was intriguing. I would recomme ...more
Andrea Baron
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is a wonderful book by a beloved author. On the other hand, its a reprint of a book I already have with the same title but a different subtitle. Nowhere on the jacket does it say that, so I paid full price ($25) for a book I already own. Granted, the new version has updated artwork and lesson suggestions at the end of every chapter, but I wouldn't pay full price for this. How disappointing that the new publisher didn't note it was a reprint. I feel du ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
As I first started this book, I thought, wow, I really like this author! As it progressed, I lost interest because so much of it centered on her trips to France and other locales that are hard for me to relate to. It became like a travelogue of her vacations. There were good parts tho. I especially enjoyed her family memories and the lessons. Also it was fun to see her artwork throughout the book and her thought process as to how she came to draw certain things. I like her childlike use of color ...more
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have the first version of this book, and it's always been one of my favorite Natalie books. This newer, longer book has a lot more of her paintings, and a few extra chapters of writings, including painting prompts similar to the writing prompts she gives in her writing books. I haven't decided yet whether I'll buy this one, but I very much enjoyed reading it again, and with the expanded chapters. ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This is the original book written by ms Goldberg describing her ventures into painting and how she was influenced by several modern painters. Another of her books, Writing Down the Bones, has been a classic and practical writing guide for many. Practical also describes this compact set of ideas on painting.
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a new update of the 1997 edition, including all the text and paintings but expands more ideas on writing and musing about her art and the reader's art/writing. Worth reading, a quick read loaded with content. ...more
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Natalie Goldberg lived in Brooklyn until she was six, when her family moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, where her father owned the bar the Aero Tavern. From a young age, Goldberg was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe , which she read in ninth grade. She thinks that single book led her eventually to put pen to paper when she was twe ...more

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