The Art Inventory

Find Your Creativity With ‘The Artist’s Way’

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 8 September 2014


ArtistsWayClassesSep14This September, at Windows Art Gallery, another 12-week series of classes on ‘The Artist’s Way’, a book by Julia Cameron, kicks-off.  Taught by experienced, and highly praised, instructor Kate Gavigan, the class promises to give its graduates tools and exercises to tap into their creativity.

“When it comes to calling yourself a creative person,” observed Rachael Payne, “there are two camps – those who do not consider themselves a creative person, and those who do.”  Payne falls into the second camp, but when she took ‘The Artist’s Way’ course in 2013, she had classmates who considered themselves part of the first.  “It is really amazing to see someone who didn’t think they were creative,” she recalled, “to see them touch that side.”

Through ‘The Artist’s Way,’ and Gavigan’s warm encouragement, Payne came to realize that often ‘being creative’ is focused on creating a product – a painting, book, song, etc. – “but the class taught that creativity is a process.”

Christine Lee, local printmaker, found her new direction through 'The Artist's Way'.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Sep '14

Christine Lee, local printmaker, found her new direction through ‘The Artist’s Way’. Photo by K. Lindsay, Sep ’14

Also a creative person, Christine Lee took the 12-week class series, twice, to tap into other outlets.  As far as Lee is concerned, “if anybody has considered it for just a moment, do it!  I don’t think anyone would regret taking it.”

Rattling Around

“It wasn’t the epiphany,” Payne admitted about results she’s had from the class, so far.  She took the class, taught by Gavigan and Cyndi Brown, because she’d found her creativity “falling by the wayside.”  A year later, “it didn’t solve all my problems,” she acknowledged, but the lessons have helped her do more creative projects, “and it changed the way I thought about them.”

Also, Payne observed, it’s only been a year.  “It doesn’t mean that what was being revealed is finished.  I think it keeps going, keeps working.  It’s still rattling around in there.”

“The process helps you recognize those habitual mindsets that you don’t see on your own,” Payne said about passing thoughts that can undermine or trip us up, often without our even noting them.  For her, ‘The Artist’s Way’ “helps you break through,” thoughts that might keep us from being creative, and doing what’s best for us.

Accountability Included

Before Lee took ‘The Artist’s Way,’ she’d quit her job.  For 10 years she had worked as a design director for a small specialty manufacturing company.  “If you need a 35-foot pickle,” she explained, “we can build it.”

Rachael Payne hasn't seen dramatic changes since taking 'The Artist's Way' but she's found it's changed the way she thinks.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Sep '14

Rachael Payne hasn’t seen dramatic changes since taking ‘The Artist’s Way’ but she’s found it’s changed the way she thinks. Photo by K. Lindsay, Sep ’14

Even with a creative background, Lee acknowledged, “I didn’t know where to go next.  A friend suggested I take the class.”  Unlike Payne, Lee knew of the book – and had a copy sitting on her shelf – and even though she rarely takes classes, she signed up.  “I was interested in doing it with a group of people,” she said, “Obviously, I wasn’t accountable enough to myself to do it alone.”

When Payne signed up, she didn’t know there was a book.  (“I think I was the only person ever to sign-up for the class that had never heard of the book,” she said.)  “I love doing classes,” she admitted, “I was actually looking for a creativity workshop,” when she saw the listing for ‘The Artist’s Way.’  She’s now very glad she did this with a group.  “I don’t think I could have made it through the whole book,” without the group, and instructors, encouraging and supporting her.

For one thing, Gavigan always acknowledges that her adult students have lives.  Not completing a week’s lesson is not considered the end of the world.  “There were always times when one or more of us were unable to complete the lesson,” Payne acknowledged, yet, “you do get to talk about it.  If you do miss something, you still get something out of it.”

The Windows Art Gallery, an intimate and creative studio in East Fremont, will host the 12-week 'Artist's Way' series this fall.  Photo by K. Lindsay, May '12

The Windows Art Gallery, an intimate and creative studio in East Fremont, will host the 12-week ‘Artist’s Way’ series this fall. Photo by K. Lindsay, May ’12

To Be Open

Lee doesn’t take a lot of classes, yet she did ‘The Artist’s Way’ twice.  “It’s all the stuff you’ve heard before,” she observed, “but the workbook leads you through to self-awareness, if you allow yourself to be open.  There is so much to absorb!”  She acknowledged that, “being skeptical is part of the process,” but she also found the setting – the classes take place in a small, comfortable studio in East Fremont – broke down her natural resistance.

“The class really helped me to focus on what I really want to be pursing,” Lee said.  Since quitting her job, she’s raised her child but also found her passion in print making.  She’s taken other classes at Pratt, and she will soon be ready for shows and selling her work.

An ‘Artist’s Support Group’

An international bestselling book, ‘The Artist’s Way’ has 12 chapters and the 12-week class series goes through each one.  Students, with help of the instructor, can learn how to do the creativity exercises and maximize the strategies the book details.

For those ready to tap into their creativity, or join what Lee took to calling, “my artist’s support group,” this fall Gavigan offers classes on Friday mornings, from 10:30a – 12:30p, starting September 19th, or Monday evenings, from 6:30p – 8:30p, starting September 22nd.  The 12-week course costs $375 per person.

“For anybody who takes it,” Lee said, “the process works, absolutely.”  Both women noticed that among those in the class, everyone had their own artistic interest – actors, writers, musicians, visual artists, etc. – and all found benefits from the process.  “On a daily basis, something will remind me of the words of wisdom from ‘The Artist’s Way,” Lee observed.

For people who don’t consider themselves ‘creative types’, both Lee and Payne spoke about the way Gavigan, and the exercises from ‘The Artist’s Way,’ encourage students to take care of themselves.  “Giving yourself the permission to take care of yourself and play,” Lee said, “and rest, if that’s what you need, or organize your closet, if that’s what you need.”

If you need to find your creative self, which has become lost or was never available to begin with, visit the Seattle’s Artist’s Way Center now to register and find out what you could do.

And if you want to read more testimonials from ‘Artist’s Way’ students, also visit the Seattle Center on-line.



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©2014 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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