In The Artists Way Julia Cameron talks about the importance of “artist’s dates”, taking time to allow others’ creativity to motivate and inspire you. With March starting off on a more challenging note than I would have liked, I definitely felt a need to refill my almost-empty well.
Luckily, there are plenty of places in upstate New York to do this! First up was my own living room. One of my favorite Amazon Prime shows during the pandemic has been “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. Midge Maisel is a woman living an idyllic city life in the 1950’s when she discovers that she wants to be a stand-up comedian. Watching her make her way through NYC’s cafés and nightclubs is extremely funny, but it also highlights the need to consider what you’re willing to do, or give up, to become a popular performer/entertainer. The show has a lot to say about the connections and alliances creatives form with each other, dealing with competition, frequent rejection, and success, and the importance of constantly stretching yourself by leaving your comfort zone to share your work with others. All much-needed reminders for a writer as well.
The next night, the luck of the Irish must have been with me as I was able to get tickets for the Town Pants, a Celtic band from Vancouver, BC on Saturday night. The show was at the Smith Opera House in Geneva, which is a creativity enhancer itself with wonderful acoustics, ornate columns, and star-studded skies twinkling above you. I wouldn’t call the band’s musicians “traditional Irish” performers (No Danny Boy) but I liked them a lot. However, I was completely captivated by the fiddler. Over the years I’ve seen countless live bands but she was something else. It was like her instrument and she were one, and the way she drew the notes out was visceral, conveying so much feeling and emotion that it made me want to return to my desk and use my pen the way she used her fiddle.
For the grand finale, my friend Tammy bought us tickets to see “Beyond Van Gogh” in Rochester, my first encounter with immersive art. It was crazy! And educational too. I didn’t know all that much about Vincent Van Gogh so it was helpful to have the interpretative panels in the first room that talked about his life other than his self-amputated ear. Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo were fascinating as were his self-portraits. The exhibit was also a gentle reminder that we all look at art differently (even when experiencing the same thing), that raw talent does not always initially receive the recognition and respect it deserves, and that rejection, along with loving what you do, is part of a creative’s life.
The format of the exhibit is three-dimensional and mixed-medium, pairing the digital with the classical and it culminates (in the final room) with the slightly-unsettling sensation that you are in the artist’s mind as he’s painting. It’s hard to articulate, but you begin to feel like you are part of the painting process, ultimately becoming one with the paintings as they shift from flowers to ships to everyday people. How cool is that?
Creativity requires hope, optimism, and energy. You’ll know your well is empty when you sit down to work and feel none of these. The art-based activities I treated myself to managed to rejuvenate and galvanize me. Not only that, I got to have fun with old friends and new. Life should never be all work and no play!
What’s your ideal way to fill your creative well? Would love to hear about it!