Sweet Spot

When a friend gently encouraged me to read The Artist’s Way (and do the book’s exercises, too, of course), I was in a slump. My little health food/cafe store had recently closed and I was grieving. My friend knew there was creativity burbling beneath the surface but I couldn’t feel it. But I trusted my friend and surrendered to Cameron’s process, including the Morning Pages ritual. Without fail. Before anything else each day, I kept my appointment with my pen and 3-ring binder thick with rainbow tinted paper.

It was week 9, and I was working through the chapter titled “Recovering a Sense of Compassion,” when I felt the artist within make a shift. “Recovering from artist’s block, like recovering from any major illness or injury, requires a commitment to health” Cameron writes about Creative U-Turns. Here’s the thing — I didn’t know there could be a wounded creative soul within. I had survived without tears or lingering angst the peer and teacher critiques at Haywood Tech. Some people ‘got’ the stuff I made and others didn’t — no big deal. But this shift was enormous and as I was paying attention to Cameron’s every word, I knew I had to honor the voice inside.

One of my favorite classes in the production weaving program at Haywood Tech was studio photography, during which we learned how to shoot, develop and print black-and-white film for our portfolios. We had a visiting teacher, who was a commercial photographer from Chicago. (This was awe-inspiring, given the rural locale and atmosphere of the school, which is in the Smoky Mountains.) I had great fun with some of the assignments, which required us to get out of the building and find interesting things to shoot. An eye for vignettes is clear in these early compositions.

The teacher asked if I had considered making a career with photography. I hadn’t, but his suggestion was encouraging and flattering. With pride, I took back to Boston my portfolio of prints and the dream of an artful career. I couldn’t wait to show my work to my father, an accomplished self-taught photographer. I sat on the edge of the sofa while he quickly rifled through the prints, glancing but not looking. I don’t recall the exact words, but his critique was savage. My happy bubble burst and disappeared from sight. Not until reading Cameron’s discussion of creative u-turns was I brave enough to reconsider the damage and pain of his words. By the time I was working through the exercises in The Artist’s Way, decades had passed since I had let go of my dream.

My friend was so right. I am forever grateful for her advice that I give The Artist’s Way a look. Which brings me to the fresh cherries at Parlee Farms. I couldn’t wait to get home to stage a little photo shoot! If any image epitomizes my personal creative u-turn, it is this one. I feel as though it is ‘me’ all over. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thanks for the visit.

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7 responses to “Sweet Spot

  1. hi ,thank you so much for your post aboutthe artisrs way book ,i have had it months and go on the forum most days but still put off starting -i dont know why umnless its because im more of a crafter than an artistic person .It sounds like a great book for healing fragile emotions .

  2. Love the story and the photo – the thumb on top really makes me feel like I stepped into another world. Maybe it’s time to give The Artist’s Way another try. I liked doing the three pages (ten years ago…)

  3. Hi Lisa, the house is quiet and I finally had time to sit and read your words. Your journey is a gift…..The Artists Way…..perhaps I need that as part of my journey. As always, thank you for sharing your heart. Toujours, Robin

  4. Hi Lisa,
    I’m a believer in The Artist’s Way and Julia Cameron is amazing. I’m glad you found your way to her. I’m still writing morning pages a year after first reading her work.

    Your photography is beautiful, as is your words. I steeped in your story like a perfect cup of tea. Thanks for sharing them with us.
    ~xo

  5. Hey woman,

    I still haven’t gone out and repurchased The Artist’s Way, but reading your words and thinking about creative u-turns is some real incentive. Thank you for your always beautiful photos and inspriing words.

    Jenny

  6. Lisa,

    I have just had a luxurious sensual soak in the beauty of your photos. You have an intuitive eye and an incredible talent in creating your master pictures.

    Thanks for the uplift.

    Maureen

  7. Hi Lisa,
    Many of my friends have done The Artist’s Way and it’s something I’ve always heard about but never thought about doing. Thanks for making me re-consider. Perhaps the timing is perfect now.
    Thanks,
    Leila

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