From Where I Sit – Artist Dates

Author Julia Cameron, in her book “The Artist’s Way” extols the virtues of creativity and tenderly nurtures the reader along the creative path. I believe each of us is creative in our own right even if we never pick up a paintbrush, write a best seller, dance on Broadway or compose a song. It takes creativity to raise a child, cook meal after meal after meal, transform a house into a home, problem-solve at work, and countless other “non-artistic” pursuits.

Cameron tells us no one can continue to dip into the well of creativity for long without replenishing it. Eventually it and you dry up. Her solution is what she calls the Artist Date — “opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.”

“An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.” Ideally it’s an excursion that’s free or low cost. It’s absolutely vital you go alone to allow time to (re)discover what it is that you like or think or believe. In group situations it’s so easy to be swept along, succumb to group-think, lose yourself in the process.

Because I’m very comfortable spending time by myself I relish this assignment. My dates have included exploring flea markets and junk shops, fingering fabrics and trims at Fanny’s and Fabricland, absorbing the scents and colors at greenhouses and nurseries, checking out art supply stores and galleries, looking at paint swatches and wood at lumberyards, reading snippets in bookstores.

My most recent solo foray was a Sunday antiques and collectibles auction sale in beautiful downtown Vegreville. I went not intending to do anything but watch and learn. The dollar catalogue made tracking items, prices (and buyers!) easier. Marge from Bonnyville who sat next to me tells me that antique dealers are big buyers at many of these sales and drive the prices up for ordinary folks just trying to complete a collection or have some fun.

As item after item hit the auction block I saw some objects of my youth. Didn’t every house have a floor ashtray stand, chalkware animal ornaments, Player cigarette box or a Blue Ribbon baking powder tin? It was great to see that many objects currently in my home have more than just sentimental value. Though I do wonder if my kids will ever want this stuff or if Roy and I should just part with it.

From cigarette papers to a $1500 oak Hoosier cabinet I was there for nearly all 300 lots. It appears anything and everything is collectible. The 1939 Edmonton Journal marking the Royal Visit fetched $20, a woodpecker toothpick holder brought $50, a John Deere binder manual got $100.

I’m starting to differentiate between Fire King, depression glass, carnival ware, lustreware, and flow blue. But what exactly is Occupied Japan tableware? So much to learn, so little time. “Artist dates” works, from where I sit.

*Reprinted with permission