Nurture and Spark Your Artist Within
In 1992 Julia Cameron introduced many of us to The Artist’s Way. That year I joined a group of ten women facilitated by a dear friend. We met weekly until we completed the book and the exercises. Our group of eleven bonded so deeply that we continued to meet monthly for over ten years. We would share deliciously nourishing food and talk of the happenings in our lives. Here is a partial list of the many things we learned from Julia.
• Morning pages – Before your feet hit the floor in the morning write three pages, long hand. You can and should write anything that is in your head, anything – no one will see them. The first few weeks I found I wrote nothing but complaints. Within that time I could feel shifts happening and shortly there after I was writing about all the things in my life that I loved. It just happened.
• Artist Date – This one still isn’t easy but when I do it it is like going on a mini vacation.
• Creativity Contract – A contract with “you” committing to the work in the course.
• Tasks to do in each chapter – They are many and varied. They will stir your soul and occasionally anger you but you get through it and you grow.
• Choose carefully – Those whom you spend time with influence your work and your values. Can you afford to spend time with those who bring you down?
Without reservations I believe that when the student is ready the teacher will arrive. Julia Cameron arrived at a fortuitous time for each of us and made a significant impact on all our lives.
In a recent guest article for The Word Shark blog I wrote that I believed everyone is innately creative. My intent with this newsletter and my blog is to inspire you to create simply for the joy of creating and to nurture that artist that lives within you. Here is one of the comments from this article.
“Mickey, I shared your essay with my art club and they loved it. Thank you for some excellent advice.” Audrey
When I paint I feel a pure, gentle love and happiness for this gift that I share. Being an artist is not about how many paintings, recipes or pieces of pottery you turn out. It is all about the process. It doesn’t matter if your piece didn’t turn out and it won’t matter if you agreed to surrender it to someone else. You move on remembering the lessons you’ve learned and the enjoyment of creating. Wherever those strokes come from I know they are meant for someone else. It is as though each painting/mural is a gift I give with a joyful heart.
A few years later Julia Cameron wrote another book, The Vein of Gold. In my next post I will share some insights and lessons I learned from that workshop as well. As much as I learned from The Artist Way, in many ways, The Vein of Gold workshop sometimes felt as though I was being tortured. Yet it was life-changing and I am grateful to have persevered. Few people get through this life without struggles. For those who don’t give up you develop grit. Grit is the strength of character it takes to move on.
Hi Mickey, from reading your website it sounds and looks like you have been painting a while. Your work is eclectic and beautiful, I love it. Do you teach? What do you consider your most significant compliment?
Thank you for stopping by my website. When I was twenty-four I opened my first studio and taught freehand design on ceramics and porcelain. Now I do private lessons/semi private on occasion. My first love is painting and I find when I teach I don’t have as much time or energy for painting and right now painting is my first love.
Wow, your second question got me to reflecting. Although being hired to paint in resorts and beautiful homes is a very high compliment there is another that stands out as my “most significant.”
When I was teaching in my mid-twenties a woman strolled into my studio. I asked how I might help her and she said she had heard about me but she just wanted to look, so I let her browse. After waiting about ten minutes I asked if I could help her with anything but she said “no, thank you” and continued to look. After twenty minutes I asked if I could answer any questions and she said, “I know I could never paint like you but I would like to learn from you.” I asked a few questions and we scheduled her weekly sessions.
Jean lived about 15 miles from my studio and came promptly at 7 PM every Thursday. I can’t tell you how many times we had this conversation while she was looking at a new piece I had painted as a sample . . .
Jean said with a sad tone: “I would love to paint that.”
Mickey: “Do you really want to paint it, Jean?”
Jean said meekly: “Yes”
Mickey: “There is only one sacrifice.”
Jean: “What do mean, one sacrifice?”
Mickey: “I mean, all you have to do is practice.”
Jean Morrison said she would practice and practice she did. Her pieces didn’t look exactly like mine – nor should they have – but they were great. After two years Jean moved forty miles from my studio. For another two years she and now her sister continued to come to class on Thursday evenings.
Freddie was a bit more secure with her painting abilities and made some very nice pieces. Then one Thursday evening they came to class and after getting settled in Jean said, “I have something to tell you.” I asked what and she proceeded to tell me that she and her sister would no longer be coming to class.
With a smile I said, “Well, what in the world will you be doing on Thursday nights?”
Jean said, “I’m going to open my own studio and teach.” That brought tears to my eyes. After all this is the woman who didn’t think she could paint and put herself down on a regular basis when she began painting. I gave her a big hug and answered many questions about business that evening and many phone calls after that.
It is interesting how life works. Shortly after that night my husband took a job in Colorado and we moved. Jean still crosses my mind but we have lost contact over the years. So Jill, that story about Jean I consider my highest compliment. Thanks for asking.
Hi Everybody! It me, Bella. I have a new friend. His name is Boo Galloway , heh, is that not a cool name?!? Met him on my walk last week. He was real friendly and for as long as that guys body was, he was pretty low to the ground so we could look into each others eyes. He was a cool dude.
Oh yeh, I met someone else, too. This little critter with the fluffy tail came up to peek into mom’s office window and I sure surprised him! What the heck was Mr. Nosey doing climbing up to the second level. He didn’t stick around after he found out I was on guard duty.
You know it has been a pretty long winter here and I try all kinds of things to entertain myself, especially when something is out of place on the home front. Mom saw me eyeing her shoes and she asked what I thought I was doing. “Uh, nuthin’ mom, why?”, I said with my most innocent face. Then she turned her back . . .
Life is an adventure,
Ta ta for now, Bella