Artist dates are one of the enduring activities that appear in all of Julia Cameron’s books that are themed around her bestseller, The Artist’s Way.
I’ve been working through Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write with my Patreons, noting my thoughts on building a sustainable and regular writing practice, outside of my freelance writing commitments.
The two main tools Julia encourages everyone to use are morning pages, and artist dates. The Right to Write breaks with the progression of tasks in her original book and explains artist dates first.
What is an artist date?
Artist dates are activities you do alone to fill up your creative well.
Julia describes them as “anything you find delightful”. But she also says they should take you out of your normal environment - visiting places, doing things you wouldn’t normally do in your day to day life.Defining what you feel an artist date is highly personal.
- Michelle Geffken (Paper Blogging) defines an artist date as a rabbit hole she gives herself permission to go down.
- Michael Nobbs, (Go Gently) plans and goes on tiny adventures and shared them with his patrons.
For me, it’s an ambiguous “It depends!”
In my opinion, artist dates can be exciting, relaxing, interesting, soothing or curiosity sating. They can build energy, or calm you down. They are different for everyone.
Tip: Put your artist dates into your calendar, and tell someone about them, so you aren’t tempted to skip them!
What is a virtual artist date?
Artist dates are hard in a pandemic, or for those who can’t get out and about easily.
Julia suggested in her blog that you could watch recordings of plays or musicals instead of seeing them live, or take the time to watch foreign-language or award-winning films.
There are many more real-world artist dates you could go on virtually.
Concerts and performances online
There are even complete piano gala concerts like this one from the Chopin competition, and many more.
Or you could drop by a live music performance on Twitch, from classical piano, to anime and game covers with cool piano visualisations, live learns to play covers of audience requests, looping pop covers, classical guitar, and so many more amazing musicians performing live.
You don’t have to interact with the musician streamers or chat participants, just lurk and listen for your ‘solo’ artist date as if it were a concert.
These are just the instruments and music I am interested in - you’ll find musicians to suit your tastes on YouTube and Twitch.
Virtual museum or art gallery tours
Many organisations started offering online tours for school children (and adults) stuck at home at the start of the pandemic.
Some organisations have filmed the entire building and presented it as a virtual tour that you step through as if you are using Google Streetview. While other organisations offer virtual tours of specific collections, artists or exhibitions.
- The National Gallery
- The Louvre
- The Melbourne Museum
- The British Museum
- The State Library of Victoria (I used to work here, but tucked away in a back room, unfortunately)
- The Guggenheim Museum
Those listed above are some of my favourites, but there are many others available via Google Arts and Culture.
Virtual garden tours
I’d love to visit the famous garden show in Kew some day, but until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with virtual visits.
Many home gardeners and small scale farmers have also recorded garden tours for their YouTube channels - search for “garden tour” and you’ll find a huge list of videos.
Virtual castle tours
Castles around the world have also started moving online, primarily because of the pandemic lockdowns closing their doors. By offering partial tours or tours of specific collections, they hope to tempt audiences to come and visit in person once it is safe again.
These tours have the added bonus of attracting future tourists, and providing access to those who are disabled, who can’t easily visit in person.
For something much smaller than a castle, but quite impressive nonetheless, search for “tiny house tours” on YouTube and you’ll find videos of amazing tiny house builds, often the size of a caravan or large trailer.
Virtual deep dive into any topic
If you are in the mood to read rather than watch videos, how about browsing through some well written content on highly specific topics?
So many cultural, historial and science organisations cover deeply interesting topics in their blogs, often accompanied by fascinating photographs.
- British Museum
- Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Sky and Telescope
- Wellcome Collection
- Nature Watch
- The Met
- Minneapolis Institute of Art
- Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Virtual inspiration or mood boards
Alternatively, you could build an inspiration board on Pinterest for an exciting project, or a mood board with ideas for your artist dates.
Alternatively, watch artists share their work in “sketchbook tours” on YouTube for creative inspiration.
Virtual relaxation sessions
Need to relax? Watch some slow tv, long recordings with no-one talking. Some slow tv recordings are ideal as background noise or a visual focus for meditation sessions too.
Search for “slow-tv” on YouTube to find an incredible variety of videos. Here are a few to give you a taste.
Virtual travel via webcams
If you want a change of scenery, spend time with a live webcam or stream. I was surprised to discover just how many are available via the explore.tv website, but you can also find them on YouTube, Twitch or on various organisation’s websites.
Some of the live camera feeds I particularly enjoy include:
- in a forest
- by a lake
- with ducks on a farm, or chickens (you can even feed them!)
- with fairy penguins at Phillip Island (seasonally, as the penguins are migratory)
- otters at a marine rescue
Virtual worlds to explore
There are a growing number of beautiful walking simulator games, which often include simple puzzles to complete, interesting character stories, or mysteries to solve. Single player games are best for this one!
My favourite walking simulator games include:
- Eastshade - explore an island, learn about its inhabitants, and capture scenes on a canvas (below). So beautiful!
- Paperbark - take a journey through the Australian wilderness on four stubby wombat feet, collect stickers of flowers and insects, and discover how wildlife is affected by the regular bushfires and encroaching human settlements.
- Rainy Season - spend a day in a family home during the hot rainy season in Japan.
- Or any from the Myst series of games - I think Myst was the first walking simulator puzzle game that founded the genre.
Non-virtual pandemic-safe artist dates
In the process of brainstorming artist dates as one of the exercises in the Right to Write, my list naturally fell into categories, but all were pandemic-safe activities. I’ve listed the virtual artist dates here, and shared my list of low energy and high energy artist dates with my patrons today.
Join me on Patreon
If you are interested in working through The Right to Write, or would like to read my take-aways from the book or discuss the exercises and any thoughts that arise, I’d love for you to join me on Patreon.
As a patron, you can also access various language puzzles, cheat sheets and lesson plans, as well as receive creative updates, writing prompts and tips, and join in co-working sessions and intensives.
I’ve also recently started streaming piano practice sessions with the Keysight visualiser for patrons.
Categories | WRITING
Tags | Patreon, writing
09 Jun 2021