Sunday, January 29, 2017

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer

Do you ever sit down to make art and find yourself freezing up instead? Break the ice with acclaimed abstract artist Dean Nimmer! Dean’s new video on includes 9 fun and easy ideas for unlocking your spontaneity and creativity. Keep reading for two ways to find abstract inspiration with shadows!

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

Abstract painting by Dean Nimmer

Dean says: “One of the problems that plagues all artists, no matter how much experience you have, is blocks. Is it going to be good? Is it art that I have the talent for? That I have the techniques for? A lot of that is just stuff that gets in the way. It’s not really important. The most important thing is to take the opportunity to create. I think that’s one of the most important things we can do on the planet, frankly. These exercises are designed to get you past blocks like that. Keep this in mind: the only thing you can do wrong in art is not make art.”

Blind Contour Drawing

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

Shadow on wall with Dean’s art in the background

Dean says: “[This] exercise is a typical art school project that gets you to have better eye/hand coordination. It’s called blind contour drawing. It’s also an exercise that’s bound to drive you completely crazy, because…all sense of proportion and correctness go completely out the window. This is a perfect exercise where you’re not in control of the outcome. You have to keep in mind that that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

Drawing the shadow blind

Dean says: “I’m going to be looking at this shadow composition here, and I’m just going to pick a point to start…and I’m just going to follow the lines that I see. Another issue with this is that you can lose your place and be tempted to look back at the paper to see how it’s going. I don’t care about that, and I don’t want you to care about it either. We’re looking for opportunities and not for correctness. Isn’t it fun to be an abstract painter? You don’t have to be correct!”

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

The final blind contour drawing

Dean says: “So what you get from doing this is a potential beginning to a composition. Any of the things you do can be a way of starting something. This is basically a starting place. It can be an idea [for] a more elaborate composition or something you wind up keeping. Don’t have in mind that art is about eventually putting something in a frame. What you’re doing is an experience of the process, enjoying the process. We don’t care about restrictions, limitations, or being blocked.”

Negative Space Shape Making

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

Pointing out the negative spaces

Dean says: “I’m going to use the same shadow, because it has a good selection of negative spaces. When we were doing the blind contour, we were looking mostly at the outside edges of solid shapes. You can think about negative space as being the air in between. We’re going to take advantage of observing negative space mainly to get shapes that we can use in a very different way.”

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

Negative space drawing

Dean says: “Getting exactly the correct shape…we don’t care about [that]. It’s seeing that form, and then you have potentially interesting shapes. In effect, you’re creating a solid from the negative area. Interesting that sometimes that takes on its own form. I’m not concerned with the positions of the negative space [on the wall]. I’m interested in collecting shapes. I can use different materials and different observations to create forms without being self-conscious.”

Abstract Inspiration with Dean Nimmer |

Abstract painting by Dean Nimmer

Dean says: “One of the myths about abstract art is that there’s no subject there, or the artist was not looking at anything when they did that. I would say, basically, that’s ridiculous. Observation is a very important element, and it’s a way of collecting your visual thoughts.”

Preview Creating Abstract Art: 9 Unexpected Inspirations below, and find the entire demonstration on!

About the Artist

Dean Nimmer, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, has exhibited his work in more than 200 solo and group exhibitions across the United States, Europe, China, Japan, and Australia; his art can also be found in several public and private collections. A regular workshop instructor, Dean’s goal in teaching is to inspire artists to find and access possibilities for creating original artworks with an enthusiasm for the process of making art. Get more abstract inspiration in his book, Creating Abstract Art (from North Light Books), or visit for more information.

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