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Captivated by the magic of working with glass, Rebecca Weddell creates beautiful and unique lampwork beads and offers a range of beadmaking courses.

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The Artist's Way - a relationship

Since starting the 12-week course ‘An Artist’s Way’ I have found that I have significantly increased my production of beads at the torch flame. This means that not only am I amassing beads for my forthcoming events, but I’m almost ready to refresh my Etsy shop with new collections. It’s early days, but I’m feeling very inspired and motivated doing what essentially means going ‘back to basics’ to my love of my craft! Yes - just making beads!

‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron is a challenging course in ‘discovering and recovering your creative self’, and I’ve been enjoying working hard on the tasks over my first two weeks with the book. Readers of my last blog post will have found out about the weekly ‘Artist Date’, and I want to just share my experience of week two’s Artist Date here too.

I’ve been really looking forward to this, and today - Saturday - I seized the opportunity to walk down to the village and spend some ‘me’ time in Clara’s, the secondhand bookshop. It was busy in the village this morning, with lots of ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ and I made it into the bookshop just as it opened. Perfect!

I sort of knew what I was looking for, but sort of didn’t. I’d had a little thought about nature, and line drawings, small format, not too many words but enough to pique my interest, hardback, not too expensive - or indeed valuable, because my intention was to get my coloured pencils to it, and embark on a whole ‘artist relationship’ with it! I browsed shelves full of local history books, old Haynes manuals, cookery books, poetry books, plays and music scores, and hadn’t yet found my book.

But there it finally was, in the nature section. One of three volumes - I resisted the others - it’s ‘An Introduction to Nature 1’ by Richard Martin, illustrated by R. Stuurman. And perfect for this mild springlike spell in mid-February, Book 1 is ‘The beginning of Nature’s Year - The Trees - Birds’ Nests and Eggs - By the Lake and Pond - Frogs, Toads and Newts.’ The book, published by Blandford Press (no date evident!) is an amateur naturalist’s delight, and is set out beautifully with text, line drawings and colour illustrations.

On page 29 I learned that ‘the water flea has only one eye’.
Silver birches, so I understand, ‘give elegance to the landscape’.
And it’s heartening to know that ‘the earth provides nourishment for all Nature’.

I love this capital N for Nature - the author has given it emphasis and gravitas in its appearance as a proper noun - and rightly so, I’d say!

So, this is my book now - I chose it on my Artist Date, and I anticipate a fulfilling ongoing ‘Artist Relationship’ with it over the next days and weeks.

For my Artist Date this week I spent some time in a lovely second-hand bookshop. This is the book I came home with.

For my Artist Date this week I spent some time in a lovely second-hand bookshop. This is the book I came home with.

The illustrations are gorgeous! I’m particularly fond of blackbirds thanks to a tame one in our garden.

The illustrations are gorgeous! I’m particularly fond of blackbirds thanks to a tame one in our garden.

I’m a busy person, but I am deliberately spending more time on creativity. Yet I’m getting  more  work done as a result!

I’m a busy person, but I am deliberately spending more time on creativity. Yet I’m getting more work done as a result!

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.


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