I first heard about artist dates when I read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. Artist dates are something I've been doing for years, I just never had a name for them. I've always been a fan of going for long walks, hunting for art in a neighboring town, or teaching myself something new just for the heck of it. And each time I engaged in activities like this, I would get a creative boost. Needless to say, I was excited to read Cameron say:
The Artist Date is 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.
"Finally!" I thought. "It's not just me!"
One of the biggest creative breakthroughs I've ever experienced came about thanks to an artist date. In February 2016, I went on a hike for the first time in years, and within a few hours of returning home, I had bought canvases, brushes, and paint. I had never been a painter, but I just knew I needed to paint. I started painting so much, I soon had more paintings than I knew what to do with. As a writer, it felt strange to be pulled to this medium, but painting has allowed me to express myself in a way words can't.
What's most incredible to me is 1) I haven't stopped painting since I came back from that hike and 2) This creative discovery never would have happened if I hadn't gone on the hike in the first place.
I don't go hiking every time I need a creative boost, but I do engage in artist dates on a regular basis. Some of my most common artist dates include:
- Taking pictures of art in Palm Desert
- Crocheting for an hour or two
- Spending time with my bullet journal
- Dance parties in my p.j.s :)
- Reading a book I would usually never chose for myself
- Writing poetry or short stories in a genre I usually don't write in.
Purpose of Artist Dates
- To get in touch with your creative side.
- To let that inner artist, which Cameron personifies as a child, play.
- To experiment.
- To ask questions.
- To get yourself in a place where you're willing to take risks.
Usually, you participate in artist dates alone. It's less about isolating yourself and more about getting in touch with that inner artist. This can be difficult to do with someone else watching. However, as long as your artist partner is someone you can trust with your inner artist, bring them along.
Next, plan your dates. Yup. Get out your calendar and write in "Artist date." If you want to make artist dates a priority, you have to make time for them. Treat these dates like any other appointment. Show up on time and participate.
Try to challenge yourself to go outside your comfort zone. It doesn't have to be far out of the zone, but push yourself just a bit. You'll be surprised how creative you can fill when you take on an unfamiliar challenge.
And to get you started on artist dates, I have a list of artist dates for each season of the year. Play around. Close your eyes and pick one. Or ask someone who knows you well to pick one for you. Or you can even challenge yourself to try them all.
Good luck hunting for creative moments!