In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, she introduces several concepts she feels are vital to the life of an artist, whether the art be visual, writing, screenwriting, or any other kind of creative endeavor. The weekly “artist date” is among these.
The artist date serves the purpose of feeding the artist soul so that creative energy can either be restored or kept in reserve. Cameron suggests everything from taking a new route home to visiting a museum or enjoying a book and cup of coffee. It can be as simple as walking through a garden midday or as elaborate as attending the opera.
Recently, two artist friends — one a visual artist, another, a writer — who have been reading this book together came up with an idea to organize what I have since dubbed the “Extreme Artist Date.” Fortunately for me (a fellow fan of Cameron’s classic), they thought I’d make a fun addition to their outing and were willing to leave their homes in Minnesota and four children each to meet up with me here in Fargo.
Mary reserved a room at the HoDo (Hotel Donaldson) Downtown Fargo, JeMA packed up some of her stunning tactile art, I set aside a spot for us at Stella’s Italian restaurant, and the stage was set for our 24 hours of concentrated girl time.
It was an evening of surprises, starting with the moment the elevator door taking us up to our room both closed (front entrance) and opened (“secret” back entrance) at the same time, introducing us to a tall, dark, sweaty stranger in a chef’s hat who looked to be on his way to or from the kitchen (a wedding party had descended upon the hotel so excitement was in the air). That moment was a defining one for us, being “awoken” unexpectedly by the unannounced elevator guest appearing out of nowhere. It set us giggling, and thinking along the lines of, “Expect the unexpected, apparently!”
At Stella’s, Mary brought up the parallels of our evening to the book, Eat, Pray, Love. It does seem we accomplished a little of each during our time together, including savoring (and sharing — always sharing) delicious food, prayer in the form of the kind of conversation that can only happen when soul sisters get together, and love through listening intently to and laughing heartily with one another.
Aside from our evening meal, we also visited Nichole’s Fine Pastry shop for coffee and dessert, watched the romance film, Letters to Juliet, and zipped up to the roof of the HoDo to enjoy the view of Fargo by night.
While in the lounge there, we invited a cute waitress with dreadlocks into our circle of creativity, and she smoothly entered our imaginative world, which included the spontaneous fabrication of an invisible mosaic table (since we’d arrived too late to get a real one) and other tall tales.
“Expect the unexpected” returned as we entered our room, #6, where someone had come before us to fluff and reposition our pillows, replenish our ice-cube supply, turn on dim tracking lights and lay out chocolate truffles by our nightstand — all definitely unexpected! A c.d. even had been placed in the player so we would have some music to enjoy before retiring for the night.
We awoke the next day to a newspaper and complimentary room service that included fresh banana bread, blueberry muffins, scones, and coffee made to order. A Greek lunch, peek at an art gallery, walk through the Plains Art Museum exhibits and a final “processing” coffee chat, where I was introduced to Jennifer’s art for the first time in person (and it is the kind of art you need to see in person to fully appreciate due in part to its textural quality), completed our time together.
Of course, a few of the details of our Extreme Artist Date will remain unspoken, unwritten. Some moments are just too sacred, or too unbelievable (truly) for words. But I wanted to at least share glimpses here to testify that it was worth the time it took for us to pin down a weekend and a few of the details (much of our evening was unplanned until that day).
Whether you are just beginning, or recommitting yourselves to, scheduling a weekly artist date, and whether it’s with just yourself (which is what Cameron recommends) or with friends as we did this time (and hope to again), taking time to specifically feed your creative soul is something you are not likely to regret.
Q4U: When was the last time you fed your creative soul?