Julia Cameron on the Language of Art

Julia CameronIf you do anything in the arts, then you most probably have heard of Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. Written in 1992, her book about inspiring personal creativity and empowering the artist within has become a mainstay of artists, writers, and others engaged in artistic pursuits as it continues to grow in popularity. The Artist’s Way, for example, has over 25,000 ratings on Good Reads and 1100 reviews.

Her workshops and adapted versions of her workshops are offered all over the country and on the internet, and her ideas have been applied in areas far a field of the arts such as in business  A former journalist and film-maker (Cameron collaborated on three movies with Martin Scorese, her former husband) her inspirational book grew out of her battle over addiction and alcoholism which she described in her memoir Floor Sample.

 While many find the book over heavy on “New Age inspiration and spirituality” and light on craft as a key component of artistic success. Many people find the book to be uplifting which explains its staying power. The book promises to change one’s life in 13 weeks through the exercises it requires. These exercises, which range from brainstorming ten tiny changes you want to make for yourself to keeping “morning pages” or a journal, help you process her suggestions and keep you focused, but they take a great deal of self-discipline to complete.

The following excerpt is taken from the first chapter of The Artist’s Way p. 21.

In order to function in the language of art, we must learn to live in it comfortably. the language of art is image, symbol. It is a wordless language even when our very art is to chase it with words. The artist’s language is a sensual one, a language of felt experience. When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience and scoop out images. Because we do this, we need to learn how to put images back. How do we fill the well?

We feed it images. Art is an artist-brain pursuit. The artist brain is our image brain, home and haven to our best creative impulses. The artist brain cannot be reached–or triggered–effectively by words alone. The artist brain is the sensory brain: sight and sound, smell and taste, touch. These are elements of magic, and magic is the elemental stuff of art.

Are you looking for inspiration for the new year?

Do you think The Artist’s Way will help?

Or do you think it has become too commercialized?

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