OK, that sounds weird, so I’d better explain. I’ve been reading Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way, having seen her concept of Morning Pages recommended as a solution for… well, multiple things, but especially for writer’s block. I’m not suffering from writer’s block, indeed my problem is more related to having sufficient time (and focus) to write, but far be it from me not to try out an interesting idea nevertheless 😉
Before I go any further, let me say this post isn’t about Morning Pages, but about the Artist’s Date – another of the concepts which Julia Cameron suggests that we should make time for…. once a week, to indulge our artistic self. I’ve not read past that basic concept yet, but it struck an immediate chord. Even though I felt it was likely I’d not fulfil the brief every week, I liked the idea of striving to do so.
Art is my thing. In normal times, I go to galleries with selected friends (I can’t bear going to an exhibition with people who use the experience as a backdrop for their unconnected conversation), and I’ll always happily go on my own. I categorized Himself as a good gallery companion – except it turns out he’s been doing it just for me. He’s finally admitted he’d rather sit in the coffee shop and browse the internet while I enjoy the experience myself 🙂 Regardless of how he decides to spend the time, we still talk about it afterwards, for he asks good questions, he’s a good listener, and he’s a dab hand at looking things up to share new knowledge and information with me about my thing.
But the Artist’s Date doesn’t have to be specifically about art, rather it’s about making time for the creative in you, whatever form that takes.
I have a passion for people watching which I’ve not been able to indulge for ages. I’m as happy as a sand boy sitting somewhere with a cappuccino and a pastry…. just watching. I take a book to read in case there really isn’t anyone about, but my primary tools are a notebook and pen. I make notes about what I observe – how people look, how they’re dressed, the sound of their voices, what they talk about, their mannerisms, anything I find interesting or noteworthy. As a writer, I love to weave the small details I’ve observed from life into my story in order to make a character feel more real.
This people watching activity will be expanded once I decide what compact camera to buy, as I’ll then be able to also walk around, observing and capturing people going about their everyday lives. When we go to military shows, I often leave Himself to photograph the “battles” and take myself off to a quiet corner to grab shots of the interesting characters who abound at such events. A long lens and a big camera feels too much like stalking and, as I prefer to strike a balance between discrete and open with my picture taking, a compact camera will make me less intrusive but still able to capture what I’m after.
I used to be a regular visitor at Farmer’s Markets – seeing all that gorgeous fresh produce piled up on stands, smelling the freshly baked offerings, tasting homemade condiments, selecting what cheese I’ll be taking home – you get the picture I’m sure 🙂 London’s Borough Market is the absolute best, for it is simply huge, and it’s where I first tasted mulled apple juice (rather than wine), something which has now become a seasonal staple – but smaller local events are more easily visited. Our local market town has a big Italian population from the time when earlier generations were interned in prisoner of war camps during and post WWII, so the monthly Italian markets – once they start back up – are on my list for an indulgent wander. I anticipate they’ll provide plentiful opportunity for people watching and snapping.
I’m not going to lie, many a week these solo dates are simply a pot of tea, a cozy blanket, and a book – all enjoyed indoors on a rainy day, entirely without guilt about those undone chores and unticked off items on the lengthy to-do list.
I’m starting to think about other ways to spend my solo dates – so I’m really looking forward to hearing what other people might do to gain inspiration.
Would you go on a solo date? If so, what you would do? There doesn’t need to be anything artistic about it at all, although I know it will for LA! 😀
© Debra Carey, 2022