Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Artists Way

Are you guys familiar with The Artist's Way?  Written about twenty years ago by Julia Cameron, it is a great book for artists of any kind.  The front cover bills it as "a course in discovering and recovering your creative self".  I bought the book many years ago, put it on my shelf and promptly forgot about it.  I've since learned that this is a very common occurrence.  Last January, after spending way too much time reading design blogs and even more time on Pinterest I decided that I needed to style my bookshelves.

While this restyling was going on, I happened across my Artist's Way book.  I had forgotten that I even owned it and was actually thinking about buying one.  On a whim I decided to google around and see if there were any courses happening in my area and as luck would have it, a six week course was just about to start.  The book itself is a twelve week course, but I signed up for the six weeks to get started.

I was very lucky.  My class was taught by one of Julia Cameron's teaching partners, James Nave.  I went to my class every week for six weeks and worked along with the book.  Unfortunately, I did not continue on to the remaining six chapters,  so I have decided to do the book again on my own.  Once a week for the next twelve weeks I will write about everything that I'm doing with the course.

First up, the Basic Tools.  Julia states that there are two basic tools needed for creative recovery.  The first of them is the morning pages.

The morning pages.  Oy vey.  These would be much easier for me if they were the afternoon pages.  I am as far from a morning person as you can get, but they are a very important part of the course.  Basically it is three pages of long hand writing of what ever pops into your head.  You don't stop writing until your three pages are finished.  You are not suppose to think about it, just do it.  Julia says that in order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it.  I'm luckier than many people doing the course.  I have not lost my creativity, but I discovered through doing the morning pages that I often let "the excruciating minutia", to quote Elaine Benes, of every day get in the way of my creativity. I was doing everything I needed to do and then making time to paint.  The painting time has to come first and if the house isn't perfect or the paperwork needs to be done it just has to wait.

The second tool is the artist date.  The artist date is a block of time set aside once a week to do something fun and nurturing to your inner artist.  I have to admit, when I did the course the first time I did not do the artist date.  I made the excuse that I did not have time for it, but the truth is, I didn't make the time.  The artist date can be anything.  A trip to the museum, a car ride, a long walk.  This past Friday I was in between appointments and I realized I had an hour and a half of free time.  I started thinking of all the tasks  I could accomplish in that time, but instead decided to take myself on my first artist date.  I happened to be on the Upper East Side, so I decided to window shop along Madison Avenue.  The store windows were beautifully decorated and seeing them was very inspirational.

Julia says that your artist needs to be taken out, pampered and listened to. I rarely do that to myself, much less my inner artist.  She also states that there are many ways to avoid this commitment and she is so right.  I have to do it again this week and am struggling to make time for it, but I will let you know where I go and what I do.

There is so much more to The Artist's Way than what I've written here.  If you would like to check out the book for yourself, it is available here.

Are you doing The Artist's Way? Leave me a comment.  I would love to read about your experience with this amazing book.


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