Some of you may be familiar with the work of Julia Cameron, and her concept of an Artist's Date which was something brought to life for me about 12 years ago when I first read her best selling book, The Artist's Way. The idea is that you take yourself off on a solo adventure somewhere, to do something that pleases you, inspires you, lights your creative fire. This is what I did yesterday, and you can read a little more about the concept of it here on her website.
I have had a funny couple of weeks, I think my soul felt rather battered and weary from the constant drip feed of horror and sadness brought about by the two recent terror attacks here in my homeland...and then the barrage of politics on social media and TV as we ran up to a General Election. I made myself turn it off, it came to a point where I had to stop looking and absorbing. Enough...enough...my soul called out, and I listened but my heart felt heavy; emerging from so much anger, confusion and noise takes time.
Remembering that love and peace are what heals, is what helps.
And so yesterday, I decided to take myself off to one of my favourite local spots - the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I would make it an Artist's Date, and allow myself some time to be gentle and switch off, to come to surface again.
I took a note book and pen, in case I felt inclined to write or draw, but mostly it was a morning of wandering and sitting. The weather was kind, overcast but warm and the air was heavy with the sweet scent of flowers and the lambs who populated the parkland.
There were exhibitions to enjoy, including sculptures by Tony Cragg - bubbling, ergonomic shapes made from wood, metal and glass and I felt soothed by these soft sculptural shapes which were in the gallery and also outdoors around the grounds.
The YSP is a very special place, a modern building nestled in a beautiful, peaceful landscape. There are trees, lakes and walks, and my favourite - the Skyspace, housed in an old deer shelter. I sat for an age in here, and not another soul came in during my time there. I was left to watch the ever changing drama of the Yorkshire sky above me, with only the sound of the birds and buzzing of insects for company.
How many shades of grey are there in a cloud?
I found myself asking this question, and I found many. Observing this soft, gentle shape shifting was a balm to me; time slowed down and my world was reduced to that simple square of light and sky above.
I walked for miles around the parkland, choosing to make it a mindfulness walk where I listened to the tread of my sneakers on the ground, tuned in to all the different bird songs in the trees above. I noticed light and shade, texture and colour. I took in the shapes of leaves and grasses. I soaked it all up, and when I got to the lake I heard the sound of crickets in the tall grass, saw bright yellow wild iris and watched a grebe who silently dived below the dark surface of the water.
My walking meditation ended with lunch at the YSP cafe, peppermint tea and a sandwich on the veranda, enjoying the warmth, feeling that the tender parts had in some way been repaired...and I sat and watched as a sheep bothered a family down on the grass having a picnic, a woman flapped her arms wildly trying to shoo it away from their goodies. It made me laugh out loud!
I didn't write or draw this time, I didn't really need to but my mind is coming alive once again with ideas and plans. The simple pleasures of nature had done enough to fill up my well, and I couldn't remember quite why it had been such a long time since I did this for myself. I am planning another Artist's Date very soon.
Why not take yourself on an Artist's Date? You don't even need to be an artist to do this really, at least, I don't think you do - I believe allowing ourselves to indulge in a few hours of something that will inspire or just simply delight, is both necessary and good.
Where will you go? What lights you up?
Why not share your stories with me here?