The book that has most influenced my life is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.
I first read this book twelve years ago, when my eldest child had just turned six. This book awakened a childhood dream to be an artist, despite the fact that I hadn’t drawn anything since six grade or ever had the courage to take an art class. In fact, I had pretty much blocked any kind of art out of my life.
While I was reading the Artist’s Way, I had signed my 6-year-old up for an art class. Bravely and tentatively, I asked the teacher if I could join her group of budding artists. We met weekly for over a year and had periodic art shows. At the time, it was impossible to distinguish my 40-year-old art from the creations of my 6 to 11-year-old colleagues. But I loved the classes enough to endure the weekly stabs to my ego! When my son decided that the art world was not for him, I moved on to adult art classes and — a decade later — to quilting!
Julia Cameron has written more than 30 books (and I have them all). Her message is that our creativity grows when we nurture and honor it. One of her tools is a weekly artist date — a solitary adventure to renew your creative spirit. Anything nourishing qualifies — a trip to the bookstore, attending a poetry reading, visiting a quilt show or art exhibit, taking photographs at the zoo. Trips to the laundromat or Costco, getting the car washed, or watching your daughter’s soccer game do not qualify. You get the idea.
Over the years, I’ve fought the solitary nature of an artist’s date. But now I see the wisdom in going alone. This is about me — the artist — and not having to please my companion. If I choose to stare at a leaf for an hour, I can. If I want to leave a gallery after three minutes, I can do that too.
This brings me to my 15-hour artist date yesterday. It was long overdue, as I’ve been trudging through accounting records and feeling resentful and stressed to not be quilting. Tomorrow I will describe my adventures and what I gained from a day nurturing my creativity.