Friday, May 13, 2011

Reading Deprivation (Jillian)

Last week, I embarked on the chapter in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way that emphasized... reading deprivation. It is exactly what it sounds like, plain and simple: don't read for pleasure, don't read to kill time. Don't read.

Bibliophile that I am, my first reaction was that this exercise was unnecessary self-torture, especially coming so soon after Lent. Here's what Julia has to say about it:

For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried... It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions, we are actually filling the well. Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world... Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some one us begin to immediately fill with new words - long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion. We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist's inspiration, above the static. In practicing reading deprivation, we need to cast a watchful eye on these other pollutants. They poison the well. (p. 87)

Hard as it is to believe, I found this to be completely spot-on. You can imagine with a job as a receptionist, I find many windows of ennui in which I am tempted to while away the hours with a deep perusal of internet newspapers and/or with a good novel. But when I relinquished said distractions it was a very clear indication of how addicted to this unhealthy media chat and extraneous stuff I'd been.

Those days as far away from a novel or the internet as I could get, I did actually find myself focusing on my art and filling the time (not killing time) with those introspective, creative thoughts. It was helpful. And it is still very eye-opening to know how much of the outside world is let in, and how much I don't actually need.

Very good lesson, indeed!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Artist Date (Jillian)

I have begun to revive the practice of going on purposeful artist dates - just me, myself and I. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, it is basically the act of taking yourself out to recharge your creative batteries - do something simple but stimulating and freeing.

This activity could range from venturing to the local craft store for modeling clay and spending an afternoon twisting it into shape. Or it could be spent trying to figure out a sewing machine. Or simply take a long, thoughtful walk. Last week, I watched a movie. This week on my day off, I decided to plant flowers in the pot on our front porch which until then had been occupied by a very dead geranium. "Enough is enough," I thought. "It's finally spring, and I have an artist's urge to do something!" Hence the violas and purple allysum you see below.

It was a nice little creative project to accomplish in one afternoon. I didn't go ahead and tackle the garden like I'm tempted to do, but I know that will follow. These little bursts here and there are nice bits of encouragement I've been able to give myself. And flowers, with their bursts of color, really do give hope for brighter days ahead. Nature is in our veins; creativity is our natural interaction with the world, so I am not going to apologize for smiling with pride on my little flowers every time I leave the house!

Apart from the neighborhood squirrels digging in the pot for non-existent acorns, I'm satisfied to call this a success!


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