Do you need an Artist’s Altar?

Week 11 of The Artist’s Way Programme asks you to recover a sense of autonomy in how you nurture your artist.

Many of the exercises in this book circle around God and Julia Cameron’s belief that creativity comes from a divine source. Is it surprising then that one of the tasks in Week 11 on the programme, is creating an altar to your artist?

As a secular person, I have been resistant to some parts of her writing, while recognising that sense of flow she talks about when I am following my creative muse. I have written an Artist prayer, though I aim it at the Universe and see the practice of repeating it as a bit like an affirmation. I have a right to be creative, I hope that the Universe will continue to support my creative practice.

This may seem like a cop out, or maybe as I revisit The Artist’s Way in the years ahead, I will come to believe as she does. I remain curious and open-minded which I think is the best way to approach the exercises.

I think she is asking you to take an holistic approach to really nurture yourself. This includes taking regular exercise, which for me will probably mean trying to dance again and continuing swimming, which relaxes me. She is not demanding you have a fitness routine, though I am sure good health helps everyone. She quotes Buddha

To keep the body in good health is a duty…Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”


I think when your mind is preoccupied with the body’s business, your brain is able to come up with solutions. I have often been inspired walking as I posted about here. This then is part of the nurturing practice she recommends, and I will admit I know I ought to do more exercise but don’t always make the time. She also wants you to surround yourself with things that comfort and inspire your Artist’s mind.

She suggests creating and Artist’s altar. Though I was sceptical and do not have a space for a “special corner” in the house as she suggested, I have been thinking more about decorations and things that bring me joy this year as I work my way through decluttering with the help of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Outer Order, Inner Calm. I have identified before how surroundings effect my ability to be creative. And this has led to a series of attempts at decorating our space.

In Britain, I don’t think we are so keen to decorate for the season. I remember going to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving in Connecticut in 2004 and her mother packing away carefully the rich orange and brown china and pulling out the reds and greens of Christmas plates on the last day of my stay. I thought they were lovely. Then, there was nothing much available here even if we did want to replicate this but it has made me think of little touches we can make to update our home each season.

This weekend we took a family walk up Leith Hill. We collected pine cones for decoration. I also bought a couple new scented candles. I am not trying to clutter up my house but instead changing up a few things for a short while so I appreciate them more. So I would say approach the task lightly, with a sense of play. It may not be immaculate but my doodling the phrase “make time to grow” stands out to me. Decorations cheer up the place, new scents can remind you of other places. Dotting around your thoughts, putting up your artist’s prayer or some words that inspire you, these are all a simple way to set an intention for the season.

I would love to know if you have tried an Artist’s altar… if you want to see more about The Artist’s Way Programme here are a few of my previous posts:

Continue reading “Do you need an Artist’s Altar?”