Friday, February 26, 2010


A parcel of new books arrived on my doorstep just in time for the weekend. I've been dipping into each book and am feeling rather inspired.

"You have your own innate artistic intuition to guide you, but it's up to you to supply the passion to make things and the hunger to try out myriad possibilities in your art in order for it to succeed". - Dean Nimmer

One of the 1000 drawings by Dean Nimmer

The idea for this book first came to Nimmer while he was working on a project to create 1,000 drawings in a year. He soon realized that, before he could accomplish this goal, he would have to change several bad habits that had become ingrained in his painting process.

"Over the course of completing the drawings, I discovered that all the ideas I held sacred were in fact holding me back from real discovery and new possibilities for my art. I came to understand that in order to avoid these pitfalls, it was much better to allow my instincts and intuition to show me the way, and to stop being so self-conscious."

In his book, Nimmer shares the insights he gained through working on the 1000 drawings. You can see some of these drawings , here . There is also an Art from Intuition blog, here, where you will find a few of the exercises from the book.

This book overflows with striking photographs. I love the tooled leather apron above and the Kuba man's skirt, below.

Lynne Perrella recommended this amazing book. There are over 20 intriguing alphabets featured.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Donna and Leslie have mentioned Bird by Bird so often that I thought it was about time I read it. I love the story that follows.

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." - Anne Lamott


  1. the books look great .... love the textures and colour palette of the alphabet example you showed ... and 'bird by bird' - wonderful advice ... nice start to your weekend ! >>> Gina

  2. oh Ms Robyn

    hope you are well.
    i will have to get that alphabet book now... and on Bird by Bird, it is good, but once i got to see Annie Lamott read. It was a small theater and she was so un assuming; so natural and the funniest woman; empowered by a lack of self consciousness; in wrink;led linen and dredknots of a sort. She'd be a great friend to sit with and laugh at the humor of living, cause we get so serious.

    thanda to u.

  3. Wow!! Beautiful books to spend your weekend with!! I hope that you've having a wonderful weekend!!

  4. I am having such fun with the African textile book, now you have more that will have to go on my wish for list, the alphabets looks great. We are having high winds but cooler, what about you? Still hot?

  5. Hi Penny, I thought we would have some respite from the heat this weekend but today its beginning to heat up again just in time for our meander into the Midlands for lunch. The good thing is in the evenings I can just detect a tiny hint of Autumn in the air.

    Manon, it's a good weekend! Blow a little cool air my way please.

    Mansuetude, now that would be fun .... the three of us chatting about art and life over a cuppa or glass of wine .... overlooking your river at dusk. Yes!

    Gina, I hope your weekend is good too.

  6. I'm really intriged by the Dean Nimmer book, 1000 pieces of art in a year, that's amazing. It took me more than two years to complete a small sketchbook of about 100 pages.

  7. "A parcel of new books arrived on my doorstep just in time for the weekend......."
    What a wonderful phrase, so full of anticipation,comfort and excitement!

  8. I just love looking at those alphabets. Thanks for the links to Dean's artwork - if I start looking closely there today, I won't get a thing done! So, I'll save it to come back to one evening after work is finished.

  9. always fun to get new books. I have "Intuition" and "Bird." the african letters and textiles....gorgeous. lots to take in and ponder.

  10. Robyn---was looking at the wonderful pictures out of the new books you have and that led me to this site Lyle thought you might enjoy.


  11. this is a grand collection...the photographs are a gift as are each of the quotes...I love Annie Lamott...have a wonderful time visiting with all of these new art friends!!

  12. Glad your Gillow has the Afrikan Alphabets (which I've had for a couple of years now). They are so inspirational - you'll firstly be whooping - then moaning because there aren't enough hours in a day!

    The others look interesting too...I'm off for a snoop...

  13. Thanks for those recommendations. Afrikan Alphabets is already in my shopping cart and I'm thinking about the African textiles book also.

  14. The alphabet book has be salivating. You always bring such interesting books to the table. I just eat your book post up.

  15. Robyn,
    I'm going to hold you responsible for my escalating book purchases this year! You always have such interesting suggestions. Thank you.

  16. I think you could quote just about anything of Lamotts and I would be in heaven! love the quote by Nimmer... his sacred ideas holding him back... thats true for many eh? love this fresh idea.. and again, always an inspiration to come to your place Robyn, thanks!

  17. These books are full of inspiration. I love the story at the end. I have never heard it before but I have had a similar "eureka" moment. Long ago when I first started birding I would get so confused and frustrated I told myself to relax and enjoy the bird at a time. I have since done this with many thing at at a time.

  18. Thanks Robyn, another inspiring post. Thank you for drawing my attention to the work of Dean Nimmer!


  19. I have the 'Intiution' book and have bookmarked the chapters where I want to play. The alphabet books made my heart beat faster...they are so wonderful in these photos...must be fabulous up close. Pour yourself a glass of wine and so enjoy Robyn!!

  20. Oh my...Just got some new books myself, and here are more...and I want to make some new journals, too...where to start?
    Such yummy images, Robyn. Hope you & family are well. I need to message you when I can get the To- Do List off my my back.

    (New pic of g'son on blog, when you get a moment. :-)

  21. Bird by bird... I love that. I'm going to remember this story to share with some of my trainees who seem to get so frustrated with not knowing everything from birth! I hope you had a lovely, cool weather, book-reading filled weekend... and thank you for sharing these lovely excepts with us.

    Also, I don't think I've ever said how much it means to me that you respond to virtually every comment. That's no mean feat considering how many comments you get. I always check back and it makes me smile to see your responses to people (and me). Thank you for that too!

  22. Ooh, now more books to add to my wishlist! I'm heading over to Dean's website right now - his book looks fascinating!

  23. Lots of inspiration here Robyn. More to add to my list of books I most want to receive. Thanks Robyn. I may take a look at Dean's book again. There is always more to be found! I hope you get some cooler weather soon.

  24. mmmm, treasure right at your door - they all look wonderful - I was given Bird by Bird years ago and still refer to it xxo

  25. So many beautiful, inspirational books...I love the alphabet one especially.

  26. This was just what I needed Robyn - I feel completely inspired. Art From Intuition looks like something that could help jump start my recent lack of inspiration! The images of those different alphabets are beautiful. Bird by Bird is an old favorite - I'm sure you're enjoying it!! thank you for sharing your recent finds :) xox K

  27. Those alphabets hold intriguing possiblities Robyn and I am blown away by the 1000 drawings in a year. What a task to set oneself.

    I feel sympathy for the boy in Bird by Bird. I used to leave my homework all through the 6 weeks summer holidays and then had to rush to do it the night before school restarted. It was such a silly thing to do because I spent the whole six weeks worrying about not having done it. If I had had the presence of mind to get it done early I could have enjoyed the holidays much more. I am such a procrastinator...haha.

  28. I love it when you share your new books here. That Nimmer book looks like a must have.

  29. Museum of Pablo, 1000 pieces in a year sounds quite daunting. I think the main thing is not to be self conscious or fussy but to just go for it. When I used to paint I worried too much about the painting being perfect.

    Avus, I was grinning from ear to ear when I opened up the parcel.

    Annie, make a note of it and go back to Dean's website to browse. Its well worth it.

    Suki, with all the talk about Bird during the Refresh program I just had to get the book.

    Toni, the site has many wonderful pieces. Thanks so much for the link.

    Merci33, a grand collection indeed!

    Chris, that is a problem .... not enough hours in the day. Happy snooping.

    Kim, oh yes I'm sure you will succumb. African textiles has wormed its way into many hearts.

    Stevie, I understand :-)

    Margaret, guilty as charged!

    Cat, that rang true for me too. Old ideas holding one back.

    Lisa at Greenbow, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    Carolyn, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Mary Ann, the photos in this post don't do the book justice.

    DJ, will hop over to see photos :-)

    Kenda, thanks for that. I never know whether to comment here or reply via email.

    Caroline, you will love the Intuition book.

    Leslie, A longer Autumn nip today but still pretty hot midday.

    Jeane, ordering on the internet is so easy but its also easy to buy more books than I usually would.

    Curio, a real treat!

    Karin, I think you would benefit from creating art in this way especially while you are feeling weak from chemo etc. It seems to be so loose and easy flowing. You leave your perfectionist outside the door. Have a look at the exercises on the Intuition blog link.

    Cathy, the thought of holiday projects being left til the last minute is giving me palpitations. There were last minute rushes at the end of every school holiday. I did it and then my daughters went through the same thing.

  30. The alphabets are great and I can see some similarity to the FUTHARK runes from Europe that I have used in the carvings. I want to pour over that book. I love the visual look of the whole page as much as the technicalities of the alphabet.

    regards Dave

  31. Oh, such glorious images here. Such colours. It is thanks to you ( in a previous post), that I found 'The way we live with the things we love' at the library. I couldn't put it down, so ordered it on line and it arrived last week. Some books you just have to have, don't you?

  32. of course those alphabets are so fascinating....magical and elusive.
    love the bird by bird quote. piece by piece. minute by minute....

  33. I loved your sharing of these books. I loved the quote of Anni's father. From all the reading I have done of hers he sounds like quite the character. Bolinas is a quirky little town. It was the next town down from Stinson Beach where I lived. Bolinas has given her quite a bit of material over the years. It is the town my partner lived in from high school until sometime in adulthood. It definitely rubbed off on him as he is quite the character.

  34. Bird by Bird - stole my heart years ago. Enjoy!

  35. thanks for the mention here..
    I do love BIRD BY BIRD -- I always recommend it to everyone who takes my workshops-- wise, funny and I think I am just as neurotic as Anne Lamott is-- in a good way!
    Love the African alphabet book too..
    isn't it wonderful to get new art books? YES!

  36. African Textiles by John Gillow is part of my collection of Textile books and I treasure it.
    its all pictures for the time being but i hope someday i'll actually get to touch and feel some of the textiles featured on the pages.

  37. Hi Robyn, amazing selection of work, truly inspiring. And thank you as well for the book reference on Afrikan alphabets.

  38. My son bought me the African Textile book one Xmas, an inspired present. I have Kuba cloth in my lounge and a mud cloth brought by the other son from Mali. Your work is fascinating. Thanks for your comment on Flickr. I'm off to follow some of your links.

  39. we love anne lamott. The first copy of Bird by Bird started getting underlining at particularily meaningful points. And then it turned out to be underlining on nearly every line. So we bought a new copy. If the whole book is a joy to read, you don't need to isolate anything specific - it's all food for your soul

  40. Robyn, All the inspiration I will ever need to lead a full creative life I find in your blogposts. All I need is to come here often. And if my need/want/curiosity to come to Africa is increasing by the day, you are to blame for that as well.