Posted tagged ‘The Artist’s Way’


November 21, 2017

cocktail-party-_2502341b-11247034466.jpgSuppose you are at a party.   Trying to make small talk, you strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know.  Sooner or later, you are likely to ask the ubiquitous question, What do you do?  If the person replies, I’m a doctor … or even better, I’m a neurosurgeon … you are likely impressed, as well as encouraged that a path for an interesting conversation lies ahead.   If your new acquaintance says, I’m an engineer, not so much on either account.   But what if the answer is, I’m an artist?  How do respond?  With interest or skepticism?  Do you subtly check her out to see if she looks like an artist?  Are you intimidated?  Do you silently wonder, Do you have a real job?  If instead of introducing himself as an artist, your new friend says, I’m a painter, do you automatically assume he paints houses?  Or, if she says she’s a writer, do you ask, Have written any books?  Which means, for sure, Have you published any books?  Do you mumble, I don’t now anything about art, and escape to talk to someone else.  Or do you say, I used to like art but I wasn’t very good at it?  Or, recall that when you began to dabble in drawing, your parents cautioned, You can’t make a living as an artist, you know. (more…)

Being (or Not Being) a Photographer

October 27, 2015

slide ruleFor  years, I was an engineer that wanted to be a writer, which means … wishing I was a writer instead.  This in spite of the fact that one of thewriting pen skills my employers always valued was my ability to write about the complex systems we were developing. So, I bought books on writing.  I took classes and got a certificate in creative writing.  I published a short story.  I wrote an (unpublished) novel.  I started this and several other blogs.  But I didn’t become a writer in my own mind until I said, I am a writer.  I still sometimes feel that I have to say it’s my avocation, not my vocation.  Old habits die hard.

cameraI have a similar issue with being an artist and in particular with Being (or Not Being) a Photographer.  I have a nephew, Bryan, who has studied photography and posts beautiful pictures on Facebook, as well as on his website.  He is trying to make a go of it as a professional photographer.   He probably knows more about cameras, composition and things like depth of field than I will ever know.  I use a camera that makes most decisions for me and my work depends on eye for interesting scenes and what I believe is a natural sense of composition.  So, am I a photographer?  Am I a photographer if I say it’s an avocation?**

On Tuesdays, at least for the time being, I am since I post one of my photos.  This one was taken a the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, Italy, home of the famous leaning tower.  Not being a traveler or a history buff, I expected the tower to stand alone in the middle of a large square, not be part of a magnificent cathedral and baptistery.    I snapped this shot of the cathedral and tower against the bright blue sky filled with cumulus clouds.  It is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.


** If you struggle with calling yourself an artist, there is no better place to address it than Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Friday Favorites 8/9/2013

August 9, 2013

engineering orEighteen years ago, I happened on a book called The Artist’s Way with the slug line, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.  I threw myself into it with perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm and found myself wondering, Was I meant to be a writer, not an engineer-scientist?  Was I led to engineering by parents and a societal prejudice against artists?  It was certainly true that in high school, my favorite subject was English, and that my favorite aspect of that very broad subject was composition.  It’s also true that I was raised by a father who often voiced his regret that he chose to join the Army instead of going to engineering school.  As the son of lower middle class parents, I saw college as the path to financial success and electrical engineering was the hot major … my guidance counselor was more than happy to guide me in that direction.  And so, even though I hadn’t a clue what an electrical engineer did, I spent four years taking courses on matters that didn’t interest me all that much, enjoying my electives more than my major.  All of that made it easy for me to consider reinventing the past by saying, I should have been a writer.  I began writing, even got a university certificate in creative writing.  It became a passion and I considered a change of vocations. (more…)

Words and Pictures

March 28, 2012

I  asked a friend who knows about such things why people … and I, in particular … who have perfectly good relationships still love heartbreak songs.   She said, Often, people have sadness to deal with that they can’t face directly, so they sublimate it onto the music.   That is part of the fascination of art journalling for me … it brings out things that might remain in my unconscious otherwise, things that might not even be revealed in my Morning Pages.  The combination of prose or poetry with freeform art recommended in Jeanne Carbonetti’s The Yoga of Drawing has particular power to bring forth work that surprises me. (more…)

On Getting a C+

February 9, 2012

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way consists of 12 chapters designed to help the reader recover his own Inner Artist.   A premise of the book is that few families and institutions know how to nurture the artistic soul, and that they often suppress a young artist’s creative instincts.  Chapter 1, Restoring a Sense of Safety, provides exercises to discover what Cameron calls The Enemy Within, core negative beliefs about being an artist.    A child may be taught these beliefs with the best of intentions (You can’t earn a living as an artist) or through uncaring criticism (You’re a terrible writer – stick to math).  Either way, understanding the source of these beliefs is the first step in eliminating them. (more…)

Pages and Posts

January 21, 2012

If you are a WordPress blogger, you know the difference between Pages and Posts.   Pages are static and used to publish information that doesn’t change much.  Good examples are Older Eyes’ Home Page, the Who’s Bud page and Bud’s Favorites.   Pages often show navigational links, like Blogrolls, links to other sites and subscription information in the sidebar.  Posts are individual publications that are listed in reverse chronological order, usually on the Home Page.  If you click on a blog entry … or arrive directly from an email subscription … the post will appear as if it is a Page, with or without the navigation, depending on the WordPress Theme the blogger is using.   I use Sapphire, which by default does not show the sidebar.   As I wander about the blogosphere, I notice that quite a few people use the word Blog interchangeably with Post, as in, I like today’s Blog.  Technically, the Blog is the entire collection of Pages and Posts, the blogger’s website, if you will. (more…)

Into the Box

September 25, 2011

Last Tuesday, the September 20th reading in Iyalna Vanzant’s daily reader, Until Today! began with, Do you have a God Jar?  If you don’t, you should.    I’d heard of a God Box nearly twenty years earlier in one of my first Twelve Step meetings.  A God Box could be any sturdy box.   It didn’t have to be fancy but many people either found a decorative box or decorated one with their own art work.  Mine is a carved wooden box I found at Pier One Imports, decorated a photograph I took of the hills near the location of our Men’s Retreat.  Supposedly, the God Box started out as a God Can (as in, I can’t, God can) … I don’t know whether that’s Twelve Step legend or not but it’s cute.  It turns out that the notion of a God Jar appeared in Julia Cameron’s Vein of Gold, sequel to The Artist’s Way.  In keeping with her theme of finding your inner artist, Cameron recommended decorating your jar with your own art and keeping it in a special place she called an artist’s shrine.   Vanzant recommends an old mayonnaise, pickle or jelly jar and says, If you are so inclined, you may decorate the jar, consistent with her pragmatic approach to spirituality. (more…)

Friday Favorites 12/9/2010

December 10, 2010

Flowers by Bud

Almost since I began posting on Older Eyes – Buds’ Blog, I’ve talked about doing Morning Pages, the morning writing discipline I learned from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.  Morning Pages are two to three (Julia says three) pages of writing done first thing in the morning.   The idea is to keep the pen moving and write whatever comes into your mind.   I’ve been doing it most days for close to twenty years, and of all the things I do to get my day off to a good start, Morning Pages is the most effective.   Before I began doing Morning Pages, I journaled on specific topics … for example, How can I be more spiritual? The problem for me was that in picking a topic and constraining my writing to that topic, I wrote about what I wanted to write about and often said what I wanted to hear.   Once I disciplined (more…)

Getting Started

October 19, 2010

Sixteen years ago, I found a little book named The Artist’s Way: a spiritual path to higher creativity.    I was fifty years old, leaving my arrogant, cock-sure forties and sailing into the transitional fifties.   Twelve weeks later I was sure that I was meant to be a writer.   Now, in my chosen career of electrical engineering, my skills as a writer were highly valued and, in fact, I was writing hundreds of pages of technical reports and proposals … but that didn’t count.  So, I began to write short stories.  Truthfully, they weren’t very good, although my wife and a few friends who read them were kind.   Fortunately, one of the precepts of  The Artist’s Way was If you want to be a good artist, let yourself be a bad artist.   To try to move my progress along, I enrolled in a Fiction Writing program at Cal State Fullerton. (more…)