It was Julia Cameron who came up with the idea of making an official artist date in her book, The Artist’s Way. She calls it, ‘a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.’
I made a list last year (it’s at the bottom of this post) of more than 50 possible artist’s dates that I could do. I’m a big one for lists like this because I find the more I write possible activities down, the more ideas I have, whereas if I suddenly say, ‘it’s Tuesday, it’s been a week and I need to go on a date’, then I just freeze and can’t think of anything to do. And of course the key words in that quote above are ‘something that interests you.’ Not something I should be doing, or other people think I should be doing.
So how did it go? And what did I learn? Well, I didn’t get a tattoo. Not yet. But I did make a pinterest board of what I might be like when I’m 80, I went on a guided walk, sat in on a jury trial, planted seeds, learnt a poem by heart, enjoyed a (more than one) excellent breakfast, and many more things. I’ve picked out those above because I don’t think I would have consciously done them if it hadn’t been for my list.
Did it make me a better artist? Not sure, but here are five of the things I think it did give me. All of which are important, not just for an artist, or a writer, but being alive!
- It made me try something new and that was good for me.
- I was aware more while I was doing it – I didn’t just go to a cafe for example, but chose the cafe carefully, chose what I was eating. I was generally more mindful.
- I travelled out of my comfort zone – which allowed me to realise I could do that and not actually die. Always a plus.
- Writing the list in advance and choosing what to do gave me have an element of control over what I did want to do, and what just felt like a nice idea.
- I could do these things on my own, and that gave an element of spontaneity which I liked.
Most of all though, it got me making things – wonky, odd, not perfect things (like my plates below) just for the joy of making. I must admit I was surprised to realise I hadn’t been letting myself do this for some time.
So dive in… the water’s lovely.
You can write your own list or copy mine, and I’ll be cheering you on.
(These wonderful girls above are supporting their team at the Women’s Hockey – something that wasn’t on my list and I’d never have gone to if it hadn’t been for this idea! I’ve kept this video and imagine it’s me they’re shouting for whenever I’m starting something new! Let me know how you get on.)
Sarah’s list of Artist’s Dates for 2018…
- Write a list of 100 things that would terrify me to do (eg do a stand up comedy act)
- Have a fancy cocktail in a bar on my own
- Pick a letter – any letter – and go for a walk to take photographs of things beginning with that letter.
- Bake bread
- Swim in a river
- Swim in a lido
- Make a herb garden
- Take my yoga mat to a park and practise under a tree
- Buy five books from a charity shop, write a note in each and leave them for others to find
- Go to a new café and enjoy an excellent breakfast
- Pack a yummy picnic and a good book to go to a new park, roll out a rug and enjoy
- Visit the RFL poetry library and choose five books at random to read
- Make a list of London libraries – go to one I’ve never visited
- Join in on a life-drawing class
- Make the kind of dressing up box I wanted as a child
- Take a selfie dressed as the main character of a book I’m reading
- Make biscuits and give to friends
- Go to a public lecture about a subject I know nothing about (not hard!)
- Visit a cemetery I haven’t been to before and make notes
- Write a fan letter. Send
- Enjoy an afternoon watching TED talks
- Go to a concert of a completely new music to me
- Take a boat trip
- Paint or draw a self portrait
- Write a letter to someone I haven’t seen for ten years
- Make a playlist of music I haven’t listened to for ten years
- Plan a road trip round childhood haunts
- Make a list of 100 things that make me happy
- Make a miniature garden
- Go to a candlelit concert at St Martins
- Learn a poem by heart
- Record myself reading poetry
- Go on a guided walk
- Go to a café and plot out a novel I’ll never write
- Go foraging
- Make a list of at least five strangers I speak to today
- Plant seeds
- Buy seeds (or visit a seed swap) and make beautiful seed packets to send to friends
- Got to a chocolate shop and spend a long time choosing just five chocolates to buy
- Have my own indoor fireworks show
- Make a photo book of the photographs that make me happy
- Get a tattoo
- Go to a matinee
- Create a vision board on Pinterest for me when I’m 80
- Create a playlist to give to a friend
- Buy a second hand book and create a Blackout poem
- Go to 5 Rhythms dance
- Go to a park and identify five trees – make a zine
- Try on an outfit I’d never be able to afford
- Sit in on a jury trial
- Go to the opera – research fully beforehand
- Go to a lunchtime talk at the National Gallery
- Go to the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities
- Find the perfect red lipstick
- Go to Strawberry Hill
- Take note of, and research, the statues I walk past every day
- Go to a market – choose interesting looking items, make a still life. Photograph it.