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Studio Updates

Studio Update: Learning To Take Myself On Artist Dates

Studio Update: Learning To Take Myself On Artist Dates

by Callie Garp

September 13, 2023

When I first re-started therapy last year, my therapist and I talked about how important it was for me to start getting out and doing things on my own and for my own joy. Breaking years of submissive conditioning was hard, and well over a year later I am still working on it. A couple months ago I started listening to The Artists’ Way and working my own way through the process and the prompts, and one key assignment in the program is The Artist Date.


The Artist Date. It sounds both sexy and intimidating, no? But, really, it’s an activity designed to support the idea that the act of creating involves translating imagery from your brain to something else. And, in order to keep creating, you have to keep feeding your brain images and experiences. So, once a week for a couple hours, you gotta do just that. Like many people doing The Artists’ Way (it certainly is popular right this moment, so who *isn’t* doing it??) I had a bit of a block around these dates. What would I do? What would feed me creatively?

One week I hopped on my bike, wandered through the neighborhoods, down to the park along the Niagra River and doodled in my sketchbook.

Another week, I went for a bike ride around my new town, paying attention to different objects I found interesting, including bits of street art. I wandered into a gallery I hadn’t even noticed before. I ended the ride/date at my local coffee shop (another place I hadn’t been into before!) and sipped a coffee while drawing. It was humid, I was sweaty, and also so happy.

I’ve gone to the Buffalo Central Library as an artist date.

And I have walked over to one of several parks near my house and just written responses to some of the prompts in the book. 

What I have noticed throughout all of this is the more flexible and fluid I am with the process, the more room I have to actually engage with the ideas presented in the book. My life right now is in gigantic changing tides - for the better, but still involving lots of really big changes. I don’t have the ability to do hours and hours of writing every day, unless I am going to sacrifice something else, like collaging or sketchbooking, and that seems like it outright defeats the point. Kids gotta get picked up from school, orders have to be filled and illustrations need to be drawn. But, creating pockets of time to feed my creative brain, to write about my relationship with art and art making, and committing to starting every single day with three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing (The Morning Pages) is something I *can* do.

I feel like I have wandered a bit off track here. My apologies. I tend to write the same way my brain works, which I guess is a bit like a web spiraling outwards, and there are lots of connection points. Maybe that’s why collage is so appealing to me as a medium.

Getting back to Artist Dates, last weekend I packed up a sketchbook & headed to the Kenmore Farmers Market. It’s a small but growing market, a sweet environment to wander with a coffee. 

What I have noticed about the conscious effort to get out and tap into my creative brain is that it coincides with meeting new people and getting exercise. Working as an artist can be incredibly lonely and isolating. Although you do regularly need time alone to focus and create, I think art is inherently a social mechanism, and when you don’t get to people with the other peoples, you suffer and your art suffers. So, regardless of if I suddenly start creating masterpieces or not (commercially or otherwise), the impact of artist dates on my mental health makes it totally worth it. Go do it.

My strategies and tips for Artist Dates (and what the heck do I know??? I’m still figuring this out!)

♥ Integrate the Date into your life. I have to pick up the kids from school. Is there a place I can stop on the way?

♥ Cross things off your list. I’d been wanting to go the Buffalo Central Library foreverrrrrr. An Artist Date was the perfect excuse.

♥ Make it easy. No matter what else is going on in my life, it’s pretty manageable to hop on my bike and wander someplace I can draw. Or sift through materials at Little Free Libraries.

Here are 101 Artist Date ideas, in case you need more inspiration.


What I've Been Reading: The Body Keeps The Score (I have very mixed feelings about this book, but I wanna finish it)

What I've Been Listening To: Hey, Pixies

Watch: me finish my fav collage to date


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