In the book my writers group is currently reading and discussing The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, the author introduces an important ritual to keep your creativity flowing. You need to take yourself on an artist’s date at least once a week. On an artist’s date you do something totally creative just for yourself. It is a way to foster and stimulate your creative side. You might go to a concert or take an acting class or try ballet or sit by the seashore and sketch.
It struck me lately that my mother took herself on an artist’s date every Sunday afternoon. Mom’s life was incredibly hectic, she was raising four children, cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and keeping track of all of our busy schedules, supporting us in our many music and sports involvements.
Mom was also busy with a host of volunteer things at church and in the community but on Sunday afternoons after she had cleaned up the dishes (and on Sundays she made a full course hot meal at noon) she would sit down at the piano often for an hour or more and just play. Mom played for school and church choirs and at countless weddings and funerals. She was a sought after accompanist for singers and violinists at music festivals. But ……….on those Sunday afternoons she played for her own enjoyment. She played what she loved- sonatas and etudes, minuets and gavottes, preludes and nocturnes and plenty of popular tunes from the thirties and forties. Most of the time she played without sheet music- the memorized pieces tumbling from her head to her hands, out into the livingroom and through the house. It was her weekly artist’s date.
When my mother was dying in the hospital we noticed that she was using the coverlet on her bed as a keyboard, first finding a middle C at a certain spot and then playing the pieces she loved, her fingers flying along the threads of the blankets.
Today on my Mom’s birthday it inspires and comforts me to know that she was still in touch with her creativity till the very last days of her life.
Note: Mom owned two pianos during her married life. The first a Heintzman upright is now at my sister’s home and has been lovingly restored. In this photo at a Christmas gathering at my sister’s my grandson and my two daughters- in- law are singing at the piano. Her beloved grand piano graces the main room of her granddaughter’s house. Recently my niece’s partner told me it is played almost every day. My Mom would love that!