The Ultimate Artist's Date
Anyone who has ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way knows that she is a strong proponent of certain tools to nurture the artist’s spirit. I’d love to write about her first tool, Morning Pages, but will wait for another time because I’ve just returned from the Ultimate Artist’s Date, a two-week trip to Italy. An Artist’s Date is an excursion, preferably solo, to a destination intended to expand your creative resources. They are intentional and sometimes self-indulgent, but never to be suffered with guilt. You might meander through a yarn shop, even if you have never picked up a knitting needle in your life, just to ingest the colors and textures around you. Or you could visit an old church you’ve always been curious about and sit in the quiet letting the atmosphere surround you, perhaps bringing you to a different time.Playing with finger paints was one of my first artist dates. I was able to return to my childhood and recall the feel of the cool paint on my fingers traveling across the smooth paper. A stationery store near me is the perfect spot for an occasional artist’s date. I can pick up journals of all sizes and styles, feeling the difference in the paper, contemplating whether it is better to write on lines or without them.My trip to Italy was one artist date after another. Certainly, seeing Michelangelo’s David in Florence made for a spectacular one. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pompeii, the Sistine Chapel, and the Coliseum all were occasions where I was not only enchanted by art and history, but also able to fill my artist’s well (another Julia term). Yet, it wasn’t just the extraordinary sites that filled my creative pores. I found the chanting in Assisi soulfully quieting, making me think of how many centuries human ears have been soothed by those same sounds.In Venice, I found myself looking up into open windows where curtains fluttered in the breeze over canals wondering who exactly lived there and what was their story. On the rides from one location to another, I would observe the laundry hung out on clotheslines and try to figure out how the people whose clothes I was watching lived. I was surrounded by scents and smells from garlic cooking to sophisticated cologne to rosemary the size of hedges to exhaust from too many cars in Rome. So many stories rose within me during my two-week Artist Date. My senses were continuously pampered and spoiled. I was reminded that good writing comes from indulging the senses and filling the soul with images, sounds, and tastes. It may be a while before I am able to experience another Ultimate Artist’s Date, but I will not forget that once a week, even a scaled down one fills the artist’s well and soothes the writer’s sorry soul. Have you been on an Artist’s Date lately, dear reader?