Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Power of the Pages

Working in the studio on "Through Veils of Illusion"
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, says that to recover as an artist we must be willing to be a bad artist. She encourages us to approach our art as play. But how do I allow myself to play when there are bills to pay?

I have the same day job I did 3 years ago – the last time I did The Artist’s Way and was a guest blogger for the book’s publisher, Tarcher/Penguin. But I’ve since gone down to 4-days to focus more on my art. With the reduction in hours came a reduction in steady income so I feel pressure to be successful. When I approached my art as a hobby, I didn’t care if I didn’t get accepted into a show or went months between sales. But now that I’m making a living honoring the creative call, I need Julia’s advice on removing creative blocks more than ever.

The morning pages are helping. However, I don’t call them morning pages. I just call them pages because I tend to write during my lunch break. On my days off, I often write earlier in the day. But since I’m a night owl, and I like to work in the studio into the wee hours, it’s often a struggle for me to get out of bed early enough just to get to work on time.

The last time I did The Artist’s Way I cheated on my pages. Julia recommends writing freehand, allowing a stream-of-consciousness to flow out onto your pages, James Joyce style. I thought I could write my 3 pages faster, to get the task over with, if I typed my pages. But I would find myself editing as I typed, disrupting the flow.

This time around I may not be writing my pages in the morning. But I am writing them – freehand – in a spiral bound notebook with a pen. I’ll be honest though, I hate the process. My hand cramps up. My neck starts to hurt. But it works!

For example, I have visions of combining my love for painting with my love for dancing as performance art. The idea exhilarates me, but the thought of following through absolutely terrifies me. Recently I was expressing the fear of this idea in my pages and then I wrote, “Baby steps. Keep painting. Take dance lessons. It will evolve naturally on its own.”

What?! Who wrote that? Certainly not me!

I was writing about my struggle with my creative fears, but then this encouraging voice of wisdom channeled through me, telling me exactly what I needed to hear in that moment . And that’s when I got it, the power of the pages. When we release our thoughts and emotions onto the page, we open ourselves to receive guidance from our higher, creative, self.

"Through Veils of Illusion"
Since starting to write pages again I finished a new 36 x 36” abstract painting titled, “Through Veils of Illusion.” The experience creating that piece was unlike any I’d ever had while painting before. It too felt channeled. I’d lose myself in the paint, having no sense of time. When I would step back I couldn’t believe that what was on the canvas came from me. It’s better – looser and freer – than anything else I’ve painted. I believe this evolution occurred in my work because the pages allow me to dump the junk in my head so that I can be completely present to the creative flow when I sit in front of the canvas. So, yeah pages!

Maybe between now and my next post I’ll have an epiphany around weekly artist dates. I have yet to find the time to schedule one. Julia says that resisting our artist dates is our fear of self-intimacy. Hmmm… I’ll explore that concept next time as I continue to live The Artist’s Way.

“Through Veils of Illusion,” can be seen in Art at the Armory now through Thursday, March 7 at the Armory at Brighton Cultural Center, located at 300 Strong St, Brighton, CO 80601. Show is open to the general public to view during business hours Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. A reception for the selected artists from will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 5 to 9 pm. Refreshments will be served as you mingle with the artists and enjoy the sounds of Mezzo Mestiz, an acoustic trio from Boulder. Reception is free and open to the public!


  1. Hello Marcella! I've just read your blog. Wonderful.

    It has particular significance to me right now, as I just started "The Artist's Way" a week ago for the very first time. This book has been recommended to me for years, by many people. I imagine you are one of those people.
    I am writing it freehand, and writing in stream-of-consciousness as much as possible. Yesterday was the first day it didn't feel so forced. I can already appreciate the value of doing it. I may consult with you about the process throughout the course, if that's okay.

    If you ever need a dance partner, give me a shout. I LOVE to dance!

    Your new work may be my favorite yet. It feels a little darker to me, which is somehow comforting. Perhaps because it reminds me that "It is always darkest, just before the dawn."

  2. Brett, that's great! I'm SO excited that you're also doing The Artist's Way. Be gentle with yourself. When life get's busy remember, progress, not perfect. Do what you can, when you can. Writing your morning pages most days and the occasional solo artist date are better than not at all. Yeah! I'm so excited for you!

    1. Thanks for the support! I will be patient with myself and not judge. That is as perhaps the greatest discipline I can gain right now.