355: Artist’s dates

Early this morning, I sat at the dining room table looking out at the pond every now and then as I scribbled my morning pages.  Most of this start-of-the-day writing is blah, blah, blah, but I’m surprised by the occasional insight that creeps in.  That’s what happens, I suppose, when you de-clutter your mind.

I had the patio doors open so I could listen to the sounds of morning.  As the sun came up, the cicadas took over for the chorus of crickets.  The kingfisher chattered at the back of the pond, his rattling cry rolling along the surface of the pond and up to the house.  The water carries sound well.

There was no fog or mist this morning.  It was surprisingly clear and still until the sun came up.  The sun brought the wind with it in the form of a lovely, cool, refreshing breeze.

Once I finished with my morning pages, I went out for a walk around the pond.  The grass was soaked with dew, as were my feet within a few minutes.  I stopped by the wildflower meadow to say good morning to the Praying Wotsits.  I’m not sure but judging by the glower on this mantis’ face, he probably hadn’t had his morning jolt of caffeine or breakfast yet.  He certainly looks as though I disturbed him.

Back by the cattails, masses of yellow flowers are in bloom.  I’m having trouble identifying them.  I suspect we’re going to have to do something about them.  That area of the pond is slowly turning into a marsh with all the growth of emergent plants.  M and I have been talking about building a boardwalk back there.  It’s on the list of future projects.  Between the two of us we have so many future projects that we’ll have to live forever to complete them all.

As I was walking, I got to wondering about the artist’s dates.  Do I really need to have an artist’s date every week?  Do I need to have one at all?

I do have one scheduled for this week, and I’m looking forward to it.  However, it seems to me that my daily walks have become artist’s dates.

Behind the cattails and heading towards the woods.

I walk the same paths most days, yet find something new each time.  Then I bring those new things home with me via the camera (the memory card in the camera, if you want to get technical about it).

A dead crow found in the woods today.

Once the photos are uploaded, I can play with them and create something that represents my view of what I saw while on my walk.  Most of the time I do little or nothing.  Just some resizing for the web.  A little adjusting of the contrast or exposure.  Some sharpening.  But other times, I use post-processing to turn it into something else.  The crow pictured above, for instance.  The photo straight out of the camera was so stark and bleak.  I wanted to do something to honor the spirit of the crow.

Every walk has been a learning experience, especially in terms of my art which is photography.  For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to capture the light and shadows in the woods.  Auto settings tend to make everything one level of light, missing the nuances.  Through a lot of trial and error, I’m learning how to use the manual settings so the camera will come close to capturing what I see.

I have to admit that I’m becoming increasingly dissatisfied (frustrated?) with the limitations of my point and shoot camera.  I work at being grateful to have it at all.  The DSLR I have my eye on is a long way off in terms of my budget and my future.  It’s best to appreciate what I already have and forget that greener grass on the other side.  For now.  (Unless, of course, someone from Canon wants to give me my dream camera just to see what I can do with it.)

The positive thing about acceptance of what is, of course, is that it forces me to be much more creative with what I have on hand (or around my neck, as the case often happens to be).  All of which brings me back around to the artist’s dates and the question of whether or not I need to schedule them if I’m already doing something creative on a daily basis.

What do you think?  I know it is entirely my decision, but I also know some of you have worked your way through The Artist’s Way and have been praising the artist’s dates.  Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

Out of the woods and back in the meadows, I stopped to talk with another praying mantis.  Neither of us had much to say so we just stared at each other for a moment, and I moved on, heading back towards the house where I could dry my feet, have a cup of tea, and get on with my day.

Thank you for dropping by and joining me on my morning walk.  I watched the weather report on the local news at noon today and our weatherperson is saying today will be the last time we see the 80s for a high temperature for a while.  Best to enjoy it while we can.  🙂

32 Comments on “355: Artist’s dates”

  1. giselzitrone says:

    Wunderschöne Fotos Grüsse mal lieb aus der Ferne und wünsche eine gute night Gislinde http://zitroneblog.wordpress.com

  2. Kel says:

    your outdoor walks and photo taking are great artist dates

  3. I would suspect that your daily walks would work well for artist dates. The only concern would be that it’s not a new activity–not something outside of your nornal activity–thus not a “date”–if that makes sense. I think the idea behind the artist date is to set aside a special time once a week to do something you don’t do every other day.

    I guess the bottom line is this–for most of us who don’t take the walks that you do each day, yes, that could be an artist date. And for you I think it can from time to time. But if you don’t try anything new, I suspect you might be selling yourself short.

    Then again, who am I to say. I haven’t read Cameron’s book in years and haven’t been on an artist date in ages. I think it’s great that you did the writing this morning. The second paragraph of this post is especially lovely. I have to wonder if your writing this morning nurtured your writer’s voice–allowed her to speak with a new lyricism.

    You are inspiring me, Robin. Thanks so much for that gift!


    • Robin says:

      Kathy: You have made some really great points. A relationship kind of date, which is what I gather this is supposed to be (even if that relationship is with me, myself, and I), might get stale after a while doing the same thing over and over.

      Something new always freshens things up a bit, especially my photography.

      Thank you for some great thoughts and advice. 🙂

  4. I tell ya Robin, I find it unbelievable that you’ve only got a point and shoot… Your shots are always superb, and I’d hate to think how much better they’d be if you get yourself a DSLR… It’s simply not fair… lol…
    As for your artists dates… I dunno, as I find “dates” restrictive, and find I have better success when I am in the mood… but on the flip side, I also tend to “not” do, when I probably should, so planned dates would fix that… I’m glad to be of absolutely no use whatsoever… 😉

    • Robin says:

      Thank you so much, Brian. 🙂

      I think the Kodak cameras get short shrift when it comes to the quality of the photos. I’ve had a lot of luck with their point and shoot cameras. That said, it will be nice to move on to a big girl camera someday.

      lol! I know what you mean about dates being restrictive. I’m rebellious that way too, not wanting to do what I probably should.

  5. Bo Mackison says:

    Hmmm, speaking as a cohort on this adventure, 🙂 I vote for artist dates different from your every day walks. Yes, you see something different every time you walk the very same path, but you’ll be exposed to totally different things in new places. And it just may jog your brain in a creative way because you are exposed to something out of the ordinary and you’ve made it special in your mind.

    That said, artist dates don;t have to be a big deal, or even ‘speciaily scheduled. I took mine today in the produce section of a specialty store I typically don’t visit but drive by all the time. They had a much larger selection than I usually see and I ended up buying a single Asian pear as my treat. And had a wonderful experience with the sights and smells. Took me about 15 minutes. And I felt refreshed. And, no, I did not bring my camera.

    I have decided that to really make it a date for me, I am not inviting my camera along for most of my dates. Even though I love my camera, I’ll get too involved, and all of a sudden I’ll do more “work” and less “date”.

    It’s hard to take a vacation when you’re a photographer! 🙂

    BTW I’m 2 for 2 on the Morning Pages. I read the chapter but haven;t even thought about answering all those questions — that part is going to be my challenge, I think.

    • Robin says:

      Well done, Bo! I’m 3 for 3 so far, have read the chapter, and I’m feeling like you are about answering all those questions. I will probably pick one or two, but they won’t be the time travel sort of stuff. I’ve made peace with my past, try not to look ahead and worry about the future, and prefer to try to be present in the moment. I’ll leave the time traveling to others. 🙂

      As for the artist’s dates, I think you and Kathy are right. I need to do something different or it really isn’t a date. I like the idea of not inviting the camera along. I’m going to strongly consider it. Thank you! 🙂

  6. There is nothing more soothing and more relaxing than to have looked upon these beautiful photos and your lovely words today. I really needed this, Robin. thank you

  7. I echo the words of the “petalpusher” noted above.

  8. Marcie says:

    I know exactly what you mean..and how our time spent walking about with our camera’s become our ‘artist dates’. Gorgeous scenes and images!!

  9. Pat Bean says:

    Your morning walk always leaves me refreshed.

  10. Hi Robin,

    I think the yellow flowers are a Bidens- showy something or other. They are quite nice, but can become dominant. There is a nice stand of them at Volo Bog, near where I live.

    I always feel like you are taking ME on an artist’s date when I visit your site…happy sigh. I know just how you feel but I have found that once in awhile it does me good to force myself out of my groove and into an artist date, complete with new sensations, novel experiences. I usually resist, and then am glad.

    I love morning pages- cannot really start my day without them, now!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you so much, Melissa. 🙂

      The flowers do look like they could be a Bidens-something or other. I looked them up and I’m still not quite sure. I’m going to have to have a better look at the leaves next time I’m out there. Thank you for the lead on them. 🙂

  11. Karma says:

    I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say “artist’s date” – was this a possible new commitment you are considering when this current commitment comes to a close? I personally wouldn’t be crazy about anything that would “schedule” me as far as when to be creative; creativity is something that needs to flow when you feel it. If I feel it at a time that isn’t convenient for me for taking pictures or writing a blog post, I do try to jot some notes down.
    I love your current creativity very much! 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Karma. 🙂

      The artist’s date is part of The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course I started this week. The book is by Julia Cameron, and it’s something I’ve tried to work my way through in the past but always ended up quitting within a week or two. There is a chapter to read each week which includes exercises (questions to answers, things to do, etc.). You pick what you want to do as far as the questions and stuff go. The only two things that are requirements, so to speak, are the artist’s date (making a date with yourself to do something that will spark your creativity) and the morning pages (writing 3 pages of whatever first thing in the morning, the idea being that this will help you de-clutter your mind). That is probably a poor summing up of the course. The author of the book has a website that explains some of this if you’re interested:


      I’m not crazy about scheduling creativity either, as I tend to go with the flow when it comes to creativity. However, I think the idea is make time for yourself in that regard. People often get so caught up in jobs, family, blogging, life in general, that we don’t always make time for ourselves in that way, so my interpretation of the thinking behind this is to make a date with yourself for something that will bring you fun, joy, etc., such as going to a museum or visiting an art supply store, or whatever you can think up.

      This is my last attempt at The Artist’s Way. My problem in the past has been my perfectionist tendencies. This time around I’m going to have fun with it, and do the things I want to do.

  12. Barbara Rodgers says:

    I think your photos are definitely art that you create every day. And I love the shot of the caffeine-deprived mantis! I know what you mean about trying to capture the light and shadows in the woods, and have similar dreams about a “better” camera…

  13. comingeast says:

    Okay, just ignore my comment on your “texture” post about using my automatic setting. I can’t believe you get what you get from your point and shoot. Maybe I need you to come and show me how to use my point and shoot! I have a nice one of those, too (Nikon L110) besides my Nikon D60. I’m not using either to their best advantage.

    As for the Artist’s Date, mine usually consists of walking myself up to Talbot’s. LOL! It’s hard living in the city in an area where I can walk to tons of nice restaurants and great shops. I’m so tempted. I miss walking in nature, though, like when we lived in Connecticut, so many long years ago. Your pictures are lovely, by the way.

    • Robin says:

      LOL, Susan! Well, fashion is an art. 😉

      I sometimes miss living in a city where I can easily go on those sort of outings. Funny how when we get one thing, we miss the other.

      The key to learning to use your point and shoot is, well, to use it. Mine didn’t come with much of a manual so I started playing with the settings and menus. A book that was a tremendous help for me is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I kept my camera close by as I read it and would sit there in the living room playing around with settings, white balance, etc., until I got the hang of whatever the chapter was about. Then I’d take it outside and try it out. There has been tons of trial and error. Thank goodness it’s digital and not film or I’d be bankrupt by now. lol!

  14. ElizOF says:

    Those yellow flowers are beautiful. How wonderful that you are still surrounded by flowers. We are entering Autumn and everything here is dying down and changing color… 🙂

  15. Christine Grote says:

    I know you’re frustrated, but you’re doing an incredible job with your point and shoot.

    Sounds like you’re keeping up with The Artist’s Way. Good job.

  16. Dana says:

    First of all, these photos are taken using only a point and shoot??! I’m flabbergasted, but also extremely impressed. I tend to blame my lack of photography skills on my wretched point and shoot camera, but clearly I’m just not using it properly! 🙂

    Secondly, I wanted to say that I really liked your photograph of the crow, post-production. What a beautiful way to honor its spirit.

    Finally, I think that your artist date(s) should be something special and out of the ordinary for you. You don’t have to schedule them as frequently, since you are already getting outside and taking photos every day, but the dates should be something different and something to look forward to… does that make sense? Good luck with the journey!

    • Robin says:

      Yep, Dana. It’s a point and shoot. Someday I’ll get a big girl camera. I’ll have to win the lottery or something first, but I’ll get one. 🙂

      Your advice makes perfect sense. Thank you!

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