Walking in Mind

A Trail of Thoughts

52 Artist Dates 2016


Two of the most enjoyable – and certainly the most stimulating – weeks of 2015 were those I spent at Rosemerryn, a house-in-the-woods-cum-writing retreat near the village of Lamorna, way down in the west of Cornwall. I learnt much, and received an enormous amount of encouragement from the two tutors, Kath Morgan and Jane Moss, who have now set me a playful challenge for the new year: 52 Artist Dates. As they say on their blog, the Artist Date is Julia Cameron’s idea for a block of time that aspiring and established artists devote to stepping aside from their work to engage in simple, fun activities that nourish their creative spirits. Or as Julia Cameron herself puts it: “the Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” – think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing and Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” – and then allow yourself to try it.”

Mischief, imagination, whimsy, play. It sounds like fun to me, so I’m going to take up Kath and Jane’s challenge and see where it takes me. Over the coming weeks I’ll post a weekly update on how I’m doing, and if you’re taken by the idea as well, then I’d love to hear about your own Artist Dates.

As we’re already into the second week of 2016, I’ve crammed my first two Artist Dates of the year into one week, and I describe them below. A final word. Alongside whatever task or activity I end up doing, I have also set myself the challenge of learning one new word in Cornish each week, with the word being linked somehow to whatever it is I have done.

Artist Dates No. 1 and No. 2

– Go to the hardware store and buy something with whatever change you have on you at the time.

– Use the thing you have bought to work on an object at home.

I have vague memories from childhood of accompanying my father to the ironmonger’s in town. High, dark-wood counters, walls lined to the ceiling with shelves and nooks and boxes of things I didn’t know the names for, and an inescapable mustiness that, I now realise, foreshadowed the end of an era. They don’t make shops like that anymore, and I no longer use the word ‘ironmonger’s’ except when referring to the past. Nowadays, I buy my nails at the hardware store. God knows where I learnt to speak like that.

It’s somehow encouraging that with only €1.53 in your purse, you can still buy something useful, and have change to spare.


Two sheets of sandpaper, one coarse, one fine, came to 90 cents.


When I got home I cleaned out the fireplace and restacked the wood pile, and in the process found the ideal piece. Having broken several bones in my life, a femur fragment from a stout-legged wooden animal seemed like just the thing I would enjoy working on.


IMG_3536 IMG_3535

Cornish words:

askorn n. bone

tewes n. sand

Author: Alan Nance

Old bones creak along the trail. Words often elude me at my desk. I can't go on. I'll go on.

6 thoughts on “52 Artist Dates 2016

  1. Well brother an interesting post. I remember the Ironmongers in question and they were in every town. What is always rewarding is finding that those type of shops still exist in some places. In Uppingham just 6 miles from my village there is what I would describe as an ironmongers rather than a hardware store. Yes they have a wide range of products but it remains that type of shop but in the modern era.
    My challenge for the year is to stop forgetting the few words of Cornish I know!


  2. Reblogged this on The Writing Retreat and commented:
    Welcome to the challenge, Alan. And well done for pushing yourself that extra level to the adding on the Cornish word a week! We will watch out for news of your ‘dates’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Askorn and tewes ! Life and death!


  4. Simply inspiring. Its now the third week of January. I have some catching up to do !


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