It’s ironic that so many artists struggle with the concept of what to create. We have so many options that the possibilities can be daunting. This is why setting parameters can actually make it easier to come up with an idea. I can’t count the times that I’ve sat down in a writing class, for example, feeling uninspired, until the teacher shared a prompt. These prompts are gifts, and our muses are simply standing by, waiting to hand deliver them to us for our own interpretation and creation.
The value of prompts is why Creating Abstract Art is such a great resource to have on hand. Even if you prefer a more realistic style, you’ll find ideas that can help inform and develop your artistic practice. While reading it, I was nearly slapped with inspiration when I saw the title of the painting you see below, What You Missed When You Blinked. It moved me to write a poem on the spot. I certainly wasn’t expecting that!
Dean Nimmer, the author of Creating Abstract Art, offers 40 exercises in this book, including some fun challenges for making collage art. Keep reading to learn more, and discover Dean’s seven prompts at the end of this post. ~Cherie
Random Collage: Why Not Be Out of Control? by Dean Nimmer
Those of us who are obsessed with the art of collage are, to say the least, a little bit nutty–albeit in a good way. I’ve been a flea market addict since I was a kid, and I’ve always been intrigued by the prospect of finding something there that I didn’t even know I was looking for.
Collage and three-dimensional assemblage works offer an endless variety of possible abstract pictures that use the funky stuff you find on your treasure hunts. Collages are easy to make, inexpensive and, most importantly, offer a thoroughly enjoyable process!
This is not a traditional collage technique, but one that adds risk-taking as an active component to the process. This project was inspired by art games made up by Dada/Surrealist groups that sought to take away artistic control of the process so the resulting composition was purely accidental and unpredictable.
Removing your ability to control the outcome of your composition can be unnerving and liberating at the same time. This unorthodox process is similar to exercises like painting blindfolded or doing line contour studies when you’re not looking at your paper. When you can’t see what you’re making, you can’t expect the resulting image to match your expectations, and you always get something surprising.
There are many ways to go about making a random collage, which range from having the result be completely up to chance to having at least one stage of a composition be determined by a roll of the dice. You can use the following list of potential rules as a guide for deciding how much control you want to have in the collage you make. ~Dean
7 Collage Prompts Inspired by Art Games
- Materials you use must be found on the street by chance.
- Materials you use must come from other people’s trash.
- Materials you use must come from a flea market or thrift shop.
- Materials you use must come from rubbings made from random surfaces.
- Materials you use must come from parts of your own work (e.g., scraps you’ve kept in a To Be Continued portfolio).
- Some or all materials must come from trading your scraps with someone else.
- Materials you use must come from random stuff put in a bag by someone else. You have to pick things out without looking inside the bag.