My Halloween “Artist Date”

Happy belated Halloween!

What a wonderful day! Coincidentally, today was the perfect day for an artist date. If you’ve ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, then you know what I’m talking about. An artist’s date is when you go out, by yourself, and engage in some activity that stimulates your creativity.

Today I found a branch of one of the few remaining bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and spent the morning looking around. Of course, I found myself in the art section. What surprised me, though, was how excited I was becoming. As I said last week, I intend to go in a new artistic direction, using abstract and mixed-media.

by Pichi & Avo, Spanish artists

by Pichi & Avo, Spanish artists

While browsing, I found a wonderful book, called Graffiti School: A Student Guide and Teacher Manual,  which really put me in a creative mood. (Yes, I realize that buying a book on graffiti is a tad nerdy, even for me. However, I do not plan on becoming a graffiti artist – just making cool stuff like one!).

by a Toronto graffiti artist

I also saw another book that had me bursting at the seams: Alternative Art Surfaces. This book has several instructions on how to use various media and surfaces for mixed media techniques. It wasn’t so much the projects themselves that inspired me (Though they looked awesome, I’m not sure if I will actually try all of them). But, the book got my own wheels turning – which is the whole point of an artist’s date.

by Noe Two, a Parisian artist

by Noe Two, a Parisian artist

A third source of information was Acrylic Artist, a magazine I had never heard of before. I bought it on the spot and can’t wait to dive in!

So, if you’re an artist who has yet to implement artist’s dates – or if you’re like me and you haven’t done one in a while – dive back in! It really makes a difference.

Here’s to a happy, productive, and creative week!


Transitions and New Beginnings

Well, the first two weeks of the school year are under my belt and I’ve been at my job for almost a month.  My life, lately, is all about outgrowing old paradigms and moving tentatively into new ones.  Fittingly, I have been using my last full-time semester to explore new mediums and artistic expressions.

For the first time in a long time I am pursuing a latent passion for writing.  I used to always think of stories in my head but never pursued any of them.  Now, in the safety and structure of  a classroom setting, I am being urged along in this new/old endeavor.  While I am very used to writing non-fiction and business correspondence, creative writing is unfamiliar territory.  I am taking three writing classes: creative writing, screenwriting, and play-writing.  It is hard to say which one I like the best, but I would say that I like my screenwriting professor’s approach the best.  Rather than focusing on the rules, she is encouraging us to allow our screenplay to emerge from our subconscious, organically.  It is very reminiscent of The Artist’s Way, which helped me tremendously as a new art student.

My other two classes also have a lot to offer.  My play-writing class is online, so much of it is reading examples of great plays and doing the assignments.  For our first writing assignment, we had to write a one-person dialogue: a lonely, single character speaking on someone’s answering machine – someone who they had just met at a club, went home, and called.  In the course of 5 messages, the person is supposed to express joy at meeting the person and then “break up” with the person all in the span of these 5 back-to-back messages, with the answering machine cutting them off each time.  If you have seen the movie, Swingers, it’s kind of like that pathetic scene with the main character.

Anyway, here’s mine…

Message 1: Hey, Dennis, it’s me!  …I was going to wait until tomorrow to call you but –what the hell!  It was awesome meeting you tonight! I thought we had a real connection.  I’m assuming you thought so too, which is why you gave me your number. …Anyways… like I said, it was great meeting you, handsome, so call me, O.K.?  Whenever you get the message… I’m usually up pretty late.  Well, what am I saying?  It’s already late!  Anyways, c- [BEEP! Machine cuts off]


Message 2: Hey, Dennis, let me try this again! I realized I just said “It’s me”, like we’re old friends or something.  Ha, ha!  You might not even remember my name.  (It’s Tania, by the way-ha!).  Maybe you do this all the time, though – give out your number to strange women at discos.  Not that I’m a strange woman.   I’m just saying.  Although, my mother might disagree with that…  But anyways, that’s not why I called back.  I told you to call me but I totally forgot to give you my number.  It’s [BEEP!].


Message 3: Um, hey!  It’s me.  Tania.  Surprise!  What’s with your machine?  I think it’s trying to shut me up!  My mother’s always doing that.  “Shut your pie-hole”, she says!  Anyways, I forgot to give you my number, so here it is: 310-647-8296.  I guess I just assumed you had it before, but you didn’t… Nope, I had to call you… My mom is like that.  It’s always ME making the effort to accommodate her, making sure she’s happy.  She’s really selfish, I think.  Selfish and kind of mean.  In fact, my going to that disco tonight was all HER idea.  She [BEEP!]


Message 4: Look, Dennis.  I don’t know what kind of games you’re used to playing.  But I don’t deserve this.  It’s always ME making the effort.  Calling and calling and you didn’t even ask for my number.  No, you gave me yours.  You thought you could sit back and make me do all the work.  I’ll bet that’s the kind of husband you’d be anyways. It would be you – out all night with your friends, stumbling in late – expecting me to have dinner ready.  Well, I don’t think so.  You got me all wrong if you think that’s what I’m looking for.  What kind of man are you anyw—[BEEP!]


Message 5: Alright, Dennis.  That was your last chance.  Obviously this relationship is toxic.  Obviously you’re not willing to make an effort here.  You think the world owes you something because you’re some pretty boy.  You don’t care about me.  All you care about is yourself.  You don’t even appreciate what we had.  You’re walking around with blinders on.  Stuck-up, pretty-boy-blinders!!  Well, let me tell you something, pretty boy, you’re NOT all that!  In fact, you’re probably the ugliest, most selfish son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.  So, never call me again, you hear?  It’s over.  You understand?  O-V-E- [BEEP!]

So, I am also exploring the new media of watercolor painting and printmaking.  I am definitely a fish out of water, but I’m doing fairly well considering my lack of experience.  The watercolor paintings aren’t paintings at all yet, just exercises to get us familiar with the medium.  My oil painting series on the Wiccan wheel of the year is coming along slowly due to time constraints and such, but I will definitely get it done!.

The rest of my time is spent dealing with my painful living situation and trying to figure a way out.  My goal is to move to Northern California by the end of the year.  (I am including some inspirational shots of the Bay area in my photos this week).  What I am learning with every day that goes by is to be more and more emotionally self-reliant and maintain a certain level of calmness at my core, no matter what happens.  We can never use other people or circumstances as an excuse to not accomplish what we were put on this earth to do.  The roadblocks only make the journey more interesting – and give us an unlimited supply of material for our art!!!

Have a great and peaceful week and…follow your bliss….

Maintaining Creativity – Post Art School

When I first began art school two years ago, I had so many trepidations.  I didn’t know if, as an older learner, I would  have trouble learning something so totally different from what I had done before.  I didn’t know if I would measure up to my classmates, especially those who had done art their whole lives.  And I had no idea what to expect.

Now that it’s over, I am navigating post art-school life as a civilian. I feel that I’m in the intermediate stage as an artist.  I am no longer a beginner but I am not yet advanced.  My sketch-book work lately is a lot more focused on shoring up my weaknesses.  I’ve been focusing on portraits – various head angles, ears, noses, etc.  And I start a new job on Monday, an office (day) job to support my art, which was an important first step for my post-art-school-life.

So, life after art school is looking pretty much like I expected it to look.  I’m interning in a gallery, practicing and improving my art, and working a day job.  But I had been starting to feel as if I was going through the motions. I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by anything and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted my next body of work to focus on.  I was feeling blocked.  Then I remembered Julia Cameron.

Julia Cameron is the author of The Artist’s Way, and many other books on the subject of “recovering” as an artist, rediscovering one’s latent creativity.  This book was absolutely indispensable to me when I first started art school.  Julia helped me weather critiques and develop art that came from my soul, rather than art that was designed to please professors or impress classmates.  I consider her my first art teacher, and I will always read and re-read that book for the rest of my life.

Julia’s two main recommendations are to write “morning pages” and to take yourself out on “artist’s dates”.  Morning pages are 3 pages that are written in the morning, kind of like a journal, to download your thoughts and clear your mind.  You can write about anything and everything, whatever comes to mind.  You don’t worry about what it sounds like, grammar, etc. and it is unnecessary to even read them over.  The artist’s dates are solo trips designed to inspire.  These dates are important and should be scheduled once a week.  You can do anything you think might spark your sense of play, and stoke the creative fire within.  I have done things like go to the toy store, buy stickers and markers and scribble like a child, go to a museum, etc.

This afternoon my artist date was a trip to the craft store.  Fine artists sometimes turn their little noses up at “crafts”, but this is silly.  When we were children, everything was a potential art project – coloring books, walls, empty boxes; everything was a potential canvas.  Children are fearless, innovative, and bold.  They don’t get creative blocks.  If no one is around, they create tea parties with their stuffed animals, build towering forts out of newspapers, and slay dragons that only they can see.  These are the true artists.

As adults, we have to make an effort to maintain that spirit.  It is very possible, but it requires us to silence our inner critic and embrace our inner child.  Our creativity is like a secret hidden lake that only we know about.  If we don’t take care of this secret lake, it’ll get grown over and disappear.  But if we take care of it and use it regularly, we get to play in it for the rest of our lives.

So my advice to all artists is to never grow up.  Yes, pay your bills.  Yes, be responsible.  Yes, be an adult – but don’t ever grow up.  Don’t try to makes sense of everything that happens.  Don’t try to do everything perfectly.  Don’t plan so extensively that you never actually do anything.  And, most importantly…

Follow your bliss!  Always.

If you haven’t done so yet, please join me on Facebook.  Below is my latest work in progress – in the very beginning stages.  It will eventually be an abstract sculpture made out of random materials around the house.  I hope to finish it within a week or two…