According to Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”: The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.
This one hour solitary playdate can be very difficult for my clients to indulge in, and I would have to completely agree with them especially when I was living in the United States. For me, it just seemed really frivolous to plan out an artist date. Eventually with time, I now understand the magic behind creating Artist Dates.
I hate that term “dating yourself.” It just sounds so cheesy. I got rid of the term “date” and treat this weekly solitary appointment with yourself as a way to re-charge and enjoy life.
In Antigua, I felt like my life was just one gigantic artist date. Just capturing photos on my iPhone, walking around my neighborhood, and living my life felt like an enormous luxury in filing up my creativity. You can’t take a bad photo in this tiny town. It’s almost impossible. The ruins are old, textured, and lovely. The mountains and volcanos always added a nice backdrop. And, the colorful clothes that the locals wore reinvigorated my artwork.
One of my favorite Artist Dates in Antigua was putting on a swimsuit, sundress, and my sandals and walking over to the spa at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo during a quiet weekday afternoon. Most of the time, I was always granted the gift of solitude. Can you imagine just for $20, you had access to the spa facilities: outdoor pool, sundeck, two saunas, and two heated indoor pools?
Just like a Korean spa experience (without the scary lady scrubbing and scraping the dead skin off of me), I wanted to take up residence in this spa and live out of a bathrobe. I’d start the afternoon off by jumping into the outdoor pool. Then, I’d grab a lounge chair and read a book. Sometimes, I’d pass out and take a nap. Afterwards, I’d hang out, stretch and lay down in the dry sauna. I’d take a second swim in the indoor heated pools. Finally, I’d end my visit eating the best comfort food in town, a bowl of pumpkin ravioli.
Anytime you invest in taking care of yourself, committing to an extended period of time on your own, or letting yourself play hooky, I think is a way of setting a boundary for yourself. For me, it reminds me that I am responsible for myself. Running myself ragged and hustling all the time is not healthy for me. It leads to stress and can damage my self esteem and take my thoughts to some dark places.
I am grateful I have allowed my Artist Dates heal me. I was recovering from an especially traumatic time in my life, and the need to enjoy my life was apparent. I have a tendency to go all in and jump head first into work. I’d forget to leave my apartment, and I realized that when you work for yourself and when you’ve been treated poorly, it’s time to recover. It’s time to re-define how you love and respect yourself.
I wish more people took Artist Dates. People think Artist Dates have to be a fancy visit to a spa, and honestly, it doesn’t have to me. I used my Artist Dates as the reason why I needed to check out the latest exhibit at a local gallery, run off to browse through all the wash tape and watercolor paints at the office supply store, or to sign up to learn how to weave Guatemalan textiles. An Artist Date doesn’t even have to cost a lot of money. Grabbing a cup of coffee, going for a walk and reading a book is one of the cheapest and easiest Artist Dates you can have.
It’s time to reclaim time for you and rediscover some playful exploration.