So, what is an Artist Date?  Well, according to it's creator, Julia Cameron, and I quote, "an Artist Date is Assigned Play.  A once-weekly, festive, solo experience to explore something that interests you.  The Artist Date need not be overly 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 an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, "what sounds like fun?" ~ and then allow yourself to try it."

Now, this can be as simple as getting lost in the crafts store to a solo lunch at your favorite cafe or in my case recently a trip to Ojai for their annual Holiday Home Tour.  This event sparks such inspiration for me every year and it goes far beyond decor, the beautiful homes, the gardens, it's about lives well lived, efforts made for simple comforts, creativity that fuels my soul.  From one homeowners passion for growing vegetables to another striving for sustainability to another that opens their home for charity concerts, to painting and music studios carved out of abandoned old structures to a romantic knitting attic secretly hidden above a bedroom.  
It was November 17th and I arrived in Ojai at 10 AM on the dot, as that's when the houses opened.  It was a gorgeous November day, just starting to cool off into typical Southern Cali fall weather.  Another words, if you stood in the shade you wouldn't broil.  It's a self guided tour and I had to stop at Libby Park and pick up my map and wrist band.  The park, which is beautiful in itself, was also the site of the annual Holiday Marketplace.  I took a quick cruise around the park stopping to smell lavender candles, look at beautiful pottery and taste Ojai olive oils.
No photos are allowed inside the homes but the outsides were equally as fabulous so I got lots of those.

I picked 'El Sombrero' as my first stop.  I loved the name.  Also it was on the east end of Ojai near one of the other homes and then I'd work my way back west which would put me right in the middle of town for a lunch stop at Papa Lennon's for my favorite salad and garlic fries, then the other two homes were in the right direction to head back home.  The houses were opened from 10 - 4 so I had to plan well, you know, because of the fries.

It was amazing!  It's the home of a world renowned architect and for that you're probably thinking huge amazing home, but this was not the case as this architect/homeowner is committed to sustainably and modest sensibility.  The home is 1150 sq ft, sits on 1.25 idyllic acres, and is referred to as "Modern Rustic".   It was cozy, comfy and lived in.  The best part was an old out building that had been on the property, a 10 x 10 rustic thing that looked almost like an old outhouse from the outside.  Then the doors open and OMG!  It was converted into a rustic bath house complete with a claw foot tub in the corner, next to a wood burning stove, a wall of books and an Eames chair.  Wish I could have taken a picture!  I could imagine myself there on a rainy night with a cup of tea and a book in that tub by the fire, heavenly!

The home was set in the middle of the property so when you walked through the gate there were seating areas, a gorgeous stone fireplace, a modern pool, (in ground but above ground, very cool), a studio, the bath house, the main house and just all around rustic chic amazingness.
The next house was 'Foothill Farm', a 1925 Tudor style home sitting on 1.25 acres.  It's been lovingly updated without compromising its rich history.  There were several out buildings, a guest house, studio and a pretty happening designer chicken coop!  Besides the chickens there was a bull dog, a pug, two lop-eared bunnies and two Cordon Blue Finches.  The vegetable garden is in raised beds with not a snail in site.  All the snails are at my house.  The master bath in this house was pure old Hollywood glamour.
House three was 'Tuscan Ranch'  and it was amazing.  Walking up to it from the gate I was immediately transported to Tuscany.  And so was everyone else.  The tile work, fresco's, secret spaces, courtyards, it was a Mediterranean dream house full of charm and complete with stables.  The house had an exterior walkway from the main living part of the house to the couples office and a secret craft/knitting room tucked above the master bedroom, the view of the pool was a shot out the window from that room. Technically I was in the house, but I asked the docent if I could take a pictures out the window of the gorgeous view.  This house was the most me.
And the last house was 'The Wall House'.  The home of another award winning architect.  It's called The Wall House because it has a 300 ft long solid steel wall facing the entrance balanced by an all glass window wall opening onto a lap pool and private oak grove.  Walking through the gate and up to this house it appeared to me to look like a prison.  No offense to the award winning architect.  I completely appreciated the meaning of it, something about solar and the direction of the sun etc., but it just looked like a prison.  Inside was ultra modern, not my style, until I got to the kitchen, the kitchen!!!  It was all white modern cabinets with an entire wall of professional chefs stainless steel appliances and gadgets, and the stove of all stoves, designed for the owners son who is a professional chef.  Then on top of the cabinets were baskets from all over the world, stacked to the ceiling, and that I loved.  I would have given anything to have been able to snap a picture of it, although it's still etched in my mind.
And of course my lunch was fabulous, kind of like an Artist Date within and Artist Date.  Remember, it doesn't have to be an all day event like this was, it can be a lunch hour and it doesn't have to cost any money either.  So make a list of your upcoming Artist Dates and make yourself a priority in 2020!