The Artist's Way - Burnt Orange
I’ve recently got my hands on a copy of The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self by Julia Cameron, and I’ve been working through the words and the exercises for week 1. It’s a bit of a journey but I’m finding it incredibly interesting - and, already, rewarding.
The task to tackle every day is my ‘morning pages’ - described by Cameron as ‘three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing’. By way of pen and paper I have been ‘downloading’ my random - and less random - thoughts from my head and onto the page - and I’m utterly stunned at how much more prepared I am to go about my day after I’ve ‘done’ my pages.
A weekly task is the ‘artist date’. I was - am - a little daunted by this, worried that I need to hang out at a different art gallery or exhibition every week, but I was reassured as soon as I read the following:
‘A sample artist date: take five dollars and go to your local five-and-dime. Buy silly things like gold stick-’em stars, tiny dinosaurs, some postcards, sparkly sequins, glue, a kid’s scissors, crayons…….’
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
Well, I thought. That sort of thing sounds much more low-pressure than I’d feared. But what would my first week’s artist date be?
As it happens, I accompanied my husband on a work trip today, and had a couple of hours on my own to spare in between commitments. I felt that THIS was my opportunity for my ‘date’!
Here’s what I wrote down afterwards, alone, over a cup of tea at a tiny corner table in a lovely independent cafe. I haven’t edited it - it’s exactly as I wrote it at the time:
Week 1 - my first artist date!
Found myself with an hour or more to spare in (of all places!) a Macarthur Glen outlet centre. With no plan in mind - especially where it came to spending money - I spent a very enjoyable time mooching and browsing and finding things I would want to buy if only I were in a buying mood.
In my head I bought a set of sleek, unfussy, sans-serif alphabet rubber stamps, a fountain pen, a set of stunning oiled-leather luggage, two storage jars with round wooden tops to match the one we’d treated ourselves to at Christmas. And best, best of all, I didn’t buy a calf-length unlined wool-blend belted burnt orange wrap coat from Hobbs.
No I didn’t buy it, but I took it off its hanger, held it up, felt the luscious fabric against my skin - and hung it up again. But I couldn’t just leave it - I unhooked my rucksack from my shoulders, took my own coat and scarf off and made another greedy grab for Burnt Orange. I was in love! It swamped me as if it were a dressing gown, so I belted it even tighter as I strode and swished all the way through the shop floor until I reached the floor-to-ceiling mirror.
I felt a million dollars - Zsa Zsa Gabor meets Marlene Dietrich. It was fabulous! I didn’t need to buy it - I’d politely yet ruthlessly stolen my moment with it, and that was all I needed of it in my life. Back it went onto its hanger. Coat, scarf, rucksack back on. And off I went.
Was today’s experience what Julia Cameron would call an ‘artist date’, I wonder? For me it certainly hit the spot. I was walking around with different eyes today - I wasn’t buying, I didn’t need anything, and I don’t have a shopping budget right now - so I treated a simple jaunt round an outlet centre as my date. And yes, I fell in love with Burnt Orange - not with the coat, but with the moment.
Did I feel special? Creative? An artist?
You bet I did.