It was about 1999 when I took a course in The Artist’s Way based on the book by author Julia Cameron. Since then, whenever I’m asked my “secret” for churning out articles and blog posts and seemingly never running out of ideas, I point to something in that classic bestselling book.

Cameron introduces what she calls ‘tools’ for our creativity. One is Morning Pages, something I do (almost) every morning, and it’s simply three stream-of-consciousness pages in a notebook. I find it enormously helpful and essential to my craft, but the tool I’m focusing on here is called the Artist Date. Here’s how Cameron defines it:

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.

Cameron says it’s an opportunity to enchant yourself.

When I woke up on a recent winter day in the Northeast and realized we were in for 60-degree temperatures all afternoon, I knew I had to plan an Artist Date. And I knew where I would go – ABC Carpet and Home in New York City. It would unquestionably put me in the holiday spirit and it would likely spark some ideas for my home or for a simple gift.

Off I went, so happy to see people eating al fresco in the unseasonably warm temps as I strolled. When I entered the store, it was like a sparkly wonderland. My eyes didn’t know where to go, such was the glistening feast before me. I went to the first thing to catch my eye, but then decided I needed a strategy to make sure I didn’t miss any of the beautifully curated displays.

As I made my way through pillows, scarves, ornaments and jewelry, I wondered where I might put the bird cage mobile meant for a baby. It was made of cloth, but not baby-ish at all. Just angular and monochromatic and whimsical. Elsewhere, place settings with a dusting of glitter or a seemingly stray gold glass ornament cried to be touched.

But mostly I was captivated by the pink vignettes everywhere. I don’t know why. But seeing groupings of pink Santas and pink Christmas trees made me want to bring the idea into my own home, perhaps on a table or shelf. My thoughts were all in keeping with the theme of the season the store had repeated on placards everywhere – In Pursuit of Magic.

Ahhhhhh.

Dreaming of a pink Christmas as I hummed along with Bono … “Baby, please come home, baby, please come home.”

There was something Zen about it all. Maybe it was the sparkly gold Buddha ornaments that put me there. Or the pink and white stained glass feather that reminded me of a quill.

I didn’t make any purchases, but I did buy myself a mesmerizing Artist Date.

I filled the creative well. Until next time.

By Nancy Colasurdo

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