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A Belated Artist Date

Some of you know that during this past month, I’ve been participating in a 30 day writing challenge called Write Yourself Alive. It’s been great. I’ve met new people. Thought of new things. Tried things I hadn’t tried before. Some have worked for me but, seemingly, not so much for others. Some have worked for others but not quite clicked for me. Some I’ve just missed because there’s been a spot of real life and plumbing sprinkled liberally amidst the rarified realms of poetry and reflection.

A week or so ago, one of the prompts called for us to take ourselves on an artist’s date. If you’re familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way,  you’ll have an idea about where this is heading. You “simply” take a day, or a part of a day to go off alone to a place that inspires you. Maybe a park you’ve loved for years. Or a place you’ve never been before. Fancy art museums are good. Local galleries. I’m especially fond of my favorite quilt store. I go, not to work on a project, but just to wander and drink in all the fabulous color.

Another place I love is Kudzu. It’s kind of an upscale-resale place where set designers from Atlanta’s growing film industry brush elbows with folks like me who are stretching beyond genetically installed decor schemes. Imported antiques, local art, Science teacher charts, vintage handbooks, kitchen stuff galore. I love it! And it’s huge so you get the added value of a gentle stroll while you try to imagine new uses for things you can’t even identify.

If your art is writing, no worries. Inspiration is inspiration and it doesn’t have to come from books to count!

Yesterday, my agenda was different. Technically, I may have been cheating but Michael’s was having a great sale and my girls are coming for Easter. Then there are the flowers I’m doing for a baby shower next week. So, shopping and inspiration in a single trip.

First stop…totally unnecessary but oddly appealing Easter stuff. Little china bunnies and sparkly eggs and day-glow baskets. Not all truly useful when the girls have to get back on the plane just after lunch time on Easter Sunday. I went a bit less traditional but, it must be said, this Grammy apparently needed decorations.

I got ribbons for the baby shower and 1/2 gallon Mason jars for the flowers on the food and gift tables. There are plenty of pint size jars in the basement just waiting to be called up to help. Doing the math on the ribbon seemed like a little more challenge than I needed so I just got more. Spools and spools and spools of  muslin and blue burlap. Boy babies are harder!

I picked up a few silk flowers for another project, a picture frame, and some covered wire. Then it came to me! Crafts for the girls!

Back to bunny-land for squatty little bunnies carved out of ply wood. A good color mix  in acrylic paints. They’re easier for kids to work with. Some foam brushes and markers for detail stuff. And then some canvasses, primed and on sale, because we’re going to need more stuff to paint. (I need artwork in the not-yet-finished guest space.)

They’ll probably have fun. I sure did! Color and texture and process all running through my brain with a deep undertone of the precious time we can spend together.

It’s been a while. I have to admit, though, that I’m excited about coloring eggs and painting bunnies.

Theologically, the bunnies are pretty far away from the meaning of Easter. And, technically, my girls are Jewish but they love to color eggs. And make carrot cake muffins. And I love to help them create memories of being loved and capable and creative.

Which isn’t so far from Easter, after all, when you think about it. (The 2 women fighting over who got which color basket at Michael’s, maybe not so much!)

All I know is that my inner artist and my inner Grammy both came home happy and that works for me. Check another prompt off the list. We’re almost out of challenges.

Take your inner artist on a date. If your inner critic, who will probably demand to come along, starts in with a bunch of stuff about, “What do you know about that?” or “Who do think you are that you can make something out of that?” thank her politely and explain that you’ve entered the meditation portion of the date and you’d really appreciate her silence until it’s over.

Most of us are pretty well acquainted with our inner critic. One interesting process is to spend a few minutes listening to see if you recognize whose voice it is you hear from your inner critic. Your mother? Your 2nd grade teacher who didn’t post your picture for open house night? The person you had a crush on who told you your stuff was “cute” but not art?

Once you have a sense of whose voice your critic has adopted, it will probably be easier to recognize that the criticism comes from your past and you can decide to leave it there. You could decide that the hurtful words were way more about them than they are about you. You could even go really radical and decide that there’s no wrong way to do art!

I’m hoping that, while we’re painting wooden bunnies and art for my walls, my girls and I will also be learning exactly that. There’s no wrong way to do art!

Just do it!

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