The Artist Date is a concept named by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, and she describes it as:
“a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.”
What’s not to like about that?
However, for some reason, actually enjoying ourselves seems to be a very difficult thing to do. The answer, it seems, is to do a bit of planning ahead. When I interviewed the wonderful (and wonderfully playful) writer, Angela Readman, for an article on playing and writing in Mslexia magazine, this is what she said:
‘I did my playtimes initially like a dentists appointment. Every Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. I’d turn up to play, to be bad at something and forgive myself for doing so.’
Angela’s playtimes include: rag rugging; oil painting; embroidering her favourite swear word onto a bookmark; using a scalpel for graffiti art; and making felt monsters. ‘I’m in no way an artist and don’t have many craft skills,’ she says. ‘But all this was huge fun and playful because I didn’t aim for perfection.’
I think that’s the clue – fun and not aiming for perfection!
The perfect any kind of date, in fact. We’re looking to enjoy ourselves with our ‘artist’ rather than have a worthy and improving time, working to deadlines, wordcounts etc etc. Let’s never forget how to flirt!
So here is my suggested list of 52 Artist Dates – one for every week of 2016. I’m going to aim to do one a week, and put up a post about how it goes. Wish me happy playtimes, and if you’d like to join me too, add a link to how it goes for you!
Or feel free to suggest your favourite ‘Artist Dates’ too. I do realise that ‘storage solutions’ may not make everyone else’s hearts flutter as much as they do mine!
- Get a book on knots from the library. Practice two. (Thanks Ellen!)
- Walk round your house at night wearing a head torch (or with a candle). Obviously turn off all the lights first!
- Write words on plant pots and arrange into a poem in the garden.
- Take a selfie dressed as a fictional character.
- Go on a wabi-sabi walk – take photographs of the imperfect, incomplete and impermanent nature of all things.
- Make a poem from street names.
- Go to a matinee on your own. Treat yourself to something good to eat during it.
- Buy a piece of beautiful china from a charity shop. Use it, even if it’s not what it was originally intended for.
- Take a different photograph today for each of three friends. Send it to each of them with a note.
- Find a classical concert on the radio. Do nothing else while listening.
- Write a rap song.
- Buy a glass from a charity shop. Drink from it.
- Make a CD ‘mixed tape’ to walk to. Play it on shuffle.
- Choose five poems and read them out loud. With drama.
- Buy some flowers and arrange them properly. Not just plonk in a vase.
- Learn six new ways to tie a scarf.
- Take a long candlelit bath.
- Declutter ten things from your house that give you a negative feeling.
- Write a list entitled ‘I am not the kind of person who…’ Then do one thing on that list.
- Go to a museum with a sketchbook. And use it.
- Go to a market or fruit and veg shop – choose interesting looking items, make a still life. Photograph it. Then eat it.
- Put your timer on, and spend an hour exactly looking for inspiring websites and blogs. Allow yourself to follow a trail.
- Drink a cocktail or a glass of champagne alone in a hotel bar. Don’t read a book or look at your phone once.
- Make a corner of your bookshelf for favourite/comfort books and DVDs. Secrete a bar of chocolate there.
- Clear a kitchen cupboard, and fill it with new storage jars.
- Swim in a river.
- Plant a herb garden.
- Get a book on foraging from library. Then take it out ‘hunting’.
- Learn a new card game. Invite friends to play.
- Go to a tarot reader.
- Write a letter to a national newspaper/radio station about something in the news that grieves you.
- Take photographs of five corners of your house, and make a collage of them.
- Go to a children’s museum, or to the toy section of a museum.
- Make a list of local outdoor swimming pools. Visit one, with a picnic to eat on grass after.
- Paint a picture with proper paints.
- Have a massage.
- Sit on a bench with an interesting memorial plaque. Write a letter to the person who is remembered.
- Write and send a letter about the town you live in to someone who has never visited.
- Find a free lecture, and attend.
- Sit in a café and write a list of 100 ways to change your life. Large and small.
- Take a tree identification book out of the library, and identify three trees you pass regularly.
- Go to a charity shop with £5. Make a little parcel for something with your purchases.
- Go to a PYO farm.
- Visit a local graveyard, and make notes of names.
- Write five anonymous love letters and leave them for others to find.
- Sit in the public section of a law court for a day.
- Take note of, and research, the statues you walk past every day.
- Go on an alphabet walk. Look for something beginning with A, then B, then C… and so on.
- Write five fan letters to writers/artists/musicians who have made you think recently. Send them, but without expectation of a reply.
- Book and join a guided walk.
- Write a list of 100 things you loved to do as a child. Do one!
- Research and make a list of different libraries – including universities, galleries, professional organisations, museums. Visit one.