What's An Artist Date?

But first, coffee...

But first, coffee...

One hope I have for my blogs is to share helpful parts of the process of discovery that enabled me to go from doing absolutely no art since the 4th grade to now, where I explore all kinds of different creative options and cherish having a regular art practice in my life.

A foundational element that helped me begin this journey is a fabulous book by Julia Cameron called: The Artist's Way. Many friends had recommended this book to me over the years but I had never gotten around to reading it. Julia's deep belief is that creativity is the natural way of life.

The book is organized into twelve chapters and Julia recommends you dive into a chapter each week. Chapters have specific areas of focus and contain essays and homework, or "tasks" as she likes to call them. Once you complete the tasks, or at least some of them, you move on to the next chapter.

Two pivotal tools she teaches are "morning pages" and "the artist's date". 

Morning pages are three pages of long hand writing that are intended to capture your stream of consciousness. You brain dump on paper anything that comes to mind: random thoughts, your to do list, worries, inspirations, whatever. The idea is to develop the practice of writing and trust the process. As Julia says: "There is no wrong way to do the morning pages and they are not meant to be art. Simply move your hand across the page...".

As a funny side note, I have a pretty big collection of notebooks and journals. For whatever reason, I'm drawn to them and love having a bunch on hand. I now make my own with my pattern designs on them so I have even more. Julia's morning pages routine is an especially sweet way for me to use many of them!

The artist's date is a block of time for quiet reflection and inspiration. Once a week, block out a few hours and go somewhere by yourself to nurture your creativity. Visit a museum, a garden in bloom, a new coffee shop or restaurant, or perhaps a different neighborhood or music venue.

The solitude is self-nurturing and helps you cultivate your creativity without pressure so you can "fill back up".

I love the artist date and try to take myself on one as often as I can. The San Francisco Bay Area is full of wonderful museums, art galleries, gardens and much more. There are endless possibilities!

Museum visits are definitely a favorite. I had the great good fortune to live abroad in Brussels and Paris when I was growing up. We went to a lot of museums and my mom had a great strategy.

With me, my two older sisters and my younger brother in tow, she took us everywhere - undaunted. Her strategy was to encourage us to walk through the art galleries at our own pace and only stop when something captured our attention. Then she recommended that we hang out there and enjoy spending time with that particular piece of art. I still use this approach today and love it.

What connects my artist's dates with my current creative practice is another art school exercise called: a master copy. Find a favorite piece by an artist you admire and essentially try to copy it as best you can. This exposes you to their techniques for color mixing, line quality, use of negative space and much more.

Carla Sonheim, an artist and teacher who I have mentioned in prior blogs, assigned this very exercise in one of her online classes. We found a painting in Picasso's blue period and made a master copy of it. I've included a few photos of my master copies. I enjoyed the process so much I did another of a Joni Mitchell album cover.

I hope this encourages you to read or listen to Julia's book or to try your own master copy. 

Remember: It's Never Too Late To Create



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