25 Years of The Artist's Way

THE ARTIST’S WAY is the seminal book on the subject of creativity and an invaluable guide to living the artistic life. Still as vital today—or perhaps even more so—than it was when it was first published in 1992, it is a provocative and inspiring work. Updated and expanded, it reframes THE ARTIST’S WAY for a new century.”
–Branches of Light

I just bought the 25th anniversary edition of the Artist’s Way. In December, I’d given my worn out copy to a loved one who expressed interest in it. Just recently I agreed to lead a summer session of the Artist’s Way, so I had a great excuse to buy the 25th anniversary edition. It has me reflecting on 25 years…

My first apartment
The Eagles Club is a monumental 4-story structure considered to be the grandest Eagles building in America when it officially opened on September 13, 1927. Constructed by the finest craftsmen of its day, the Eagles Club truly is one of Wisconsin’s most spectacular historic landmarks.

My Artist’s Way initiation was in 1995. I was living alone for the first time in my life. I had a great little apartment at 23rd & Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, WI. This was only a block from The Rave / Eagles Club concert venue where I’d hand delivered a rose to BB King while he performed on stage. One of my jobs at that time was as a “rose girl” selling at various clubs. I’d also seen Megadeath & Misfits as well as Disturbed at this amazing venue. I love that gorgeous building.

Anyway, back to the apartment. It had this great window seat in the kitchen. Every night before bed I’d make sure that kitchen was clean, flowers or other table decor set just so, and fluff the pillows on the window seat in the most inviting way. I’d arrange my daily pages and favorite pen until it all looked perfect. I’d wake up to a coffee-commercial kitchen, curl up in that window seat with the freshly brewed elixir and snuggle up to write.

The amazing coffee-commercial kitchen (to me!)

Writing three pages every morning is one of the creative recovery tools Julia Cameron states is pivotal in The Artist Way. Page after page I’d negotiate the twists in my thinking, the curves of judgement and resistance while I calculated my budget in the margins. I’d kept journals before, but this was different. This was spacious, forgiving, and full of grace. Sometimes I’d run out of things to say and just re-write my favorite affirmations until I got to the end of the 3rd page. I was learning to trust myself by filling those 3 pages every day.

I always say, “Don’t mistake the tools for the progress.” I don’t write 3 pages per day anymore. I’ve cleaned up my stinkin thinkin and find I don’t even desire to journal much anymore. The progress I gained – coming to truly know myself and become more integrated, authentic, and congruent in my daily life – is the result of using many tools over the years such as morning pages. I’ve collected a whole tool-box full of practices for mastery in the art-of-living. Changing up the tools seasonally and in response to life content helps me keep my creative channels open and the soul sparks coming through!

Weekly Artist Dates are the other pivotal tool of Cameron’s. This, too, has evolved for me in 25 years. I remember visiting an art gallery in Hutchinson, MN shortly after moving there as a newlywed. I’d never been to an art gallery before, and this was my artist’s date for that week. (I’d been to art museums, but somehow that was okay because in my mind a museum is supposed to feel a bit foreign.) I felt so self-conscious. I was very judgmental of the art as well. My frugal upbringing kept me baffled as to how anyone would pay that kind of money for art. I was truly bewildered!

It’s funny to me now. Now I know that art is a process and not a product. I also now fully understand and appreciate how and why artists should get top dollar for their creations and how the buyer could be making that purchase from a level of soul sparks. I get it now. Mostly. I still don’t totally get some art, or art collecting, but I think that is business, not art.

Elemental Charm Studio

Now-a-days my Artist Dates have evolved into Wonder & Wander Dates. I am inspired in nature. I must have time in the woods, at the river, and in my backyard. I take time to really look at things…to truly attend to a patch of grass, a flower, or some foraged piece of nature. I am lucky to have childhood memories of barefoot outdoor adventures that conjure up my inner wildling with ease. I am also lucky to have a great public library system that brings in all kinds of artists. I’ve taken classes in pastels, story-telling, drum-making, pine needle basket-weaving and more through my local library branch just blocks away from my home. My artist dates also include quarterly craft days with my sister. We do needle felting, polymer clay, and resin. We like to experiment and make mystical whimsical art pieces out of wood, wool, stone, & metal.

My sizzling summer session of the Artist’s Way will be epic! If just one day of reminiscing over 25 years has brought the content of this blog, I can only imagine what a full re-visit of the course will bring. Epic summer adventures in recent years have included Disneyland and Ireland. There was the summer we did a 1004 mile midwestern tour of 3 states, four family homes, camping, waterparks and the Mall of America. This summer will be quieter, slower, but no less epic. My internal explorations have always been the richest and most intriguing adventures.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Magical Missives are sent at the 8 Wheel of the Year Celebrations.  Connecting with the Seasons & Cycles reminds you to never lose your magic! Occasional extra emails may fly over when there is some timely bit of Wonder, Wisdom, & Whimsy that simply cannot wait, only things that pass our strict enchantment requirements will be sent.


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