Taking myself on an artist date is one of my favorite ways to spend a day away from the studio. It is personal time that I use to focus on fun, entertainment, and childlike play. If you are an artist, writer, poet, or photographer, the following is a list of what I consider to be the 8 best places for an artist date in Southern California.
Descanso Gardens – Inspiration and space abound at the Descanso Gardens. I love following the walking paths and relaxing in the Rose Garden or among the Camellias. I always take my camera, and sometimes a journal or paper and colored pencils. Walking through the open grassy areas encourages bare feet and daydreams while wandering through the Oak Forest ignites magical imaginings. For color inspiration, I love to visit the rock garden, waterfall, and Japanese Garden. I also like to wander off the main path and see what color combinations await. (To view photos from my Descanso Garden artist’s date, click here)
Huntington Library – A visit to the Huntington Library not only includes a walk through the library but several art galleries as well. Gallery works include the newly restored Blue Boy and Pinkie and feature special exhibits such as Art of Science. Walking paths wind through the 120 acres and feature sixteen themed gardens. My favorite time of the year to visit is in the summer when the fragrance from the Rose Garden is intoxicating, and I always find inspiration in the Japanese Garden.
Norton Simon Museum – This is my go-to museum when I need to be in the presence of my favorite masters, Vincent Van Gogh and Vassily Kandinsky. I specifically visit this museum for the Van Gogh part of the permanent collection. The museum also includes an amazing collection of impressionist art and Rodin statues. There is a tranquil pond located outside with a small path. A café for coffee or tea provides a place to sit, think and write. Cameras are allowed however, some exhibitions may prohibit photographs. The Norton Simon is one of my favorite outings because my visits are always relaxing, and the museum is rarely crowded or stressful.
South Coast Botanical Garden – The South Coast Botanical Garden is located in the Palace Verdes Hills and is a great place to visit for a relaxing afternoon. The gardens are lovely and include a beautiful rose garden. It is easy to get around here with plenty of seating for writing, drawing, or sketching. There is plenty of open grass area for picnicking.
The Arboretum –This is my favorite place to see and photograph peacocks. The males display during the mating season beginning in early February and provide a gorgeous array of colors. The Arboretum includes, among other things, a waterfall (where TLC filmed their music video in the 90’s) and the Queen Ann Cottage once featured in the television show Fantasy Island during the late ‘70s. There are large gardens with plenty of walking trails that I think are great during the cooler winter weather, and this artist date always provides me with a great collection of photos.
Used book and clothing stores – The Alexandria II Bookstore in Pasadena is one of my favorite bookstores to wander through. The bookstore features new & used books, crystals, and everything for esoteric thought and creative thinking. It’s a Wrap is a used clothing store that sells clothes and props used by the television and movie industry. It’s great to venture through the store and read the labels with the names of the actors and actresses from T.V. shows, major movie studios, and independent production companies.
The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Malibu – A walk through the gardens and a visit to the mediation center is one of the most peaceful and tranquil places I have found in Los Angeles. With benches located throughout, I can sit and write in my journal. There is never any disruption, noise, or crowds, and I have found that the other visitors always respect my privacy.
Getty Villa Museum – Designed after a Roman country home, the Getty Villa has a courtyard in the front and back and features antiquities, exhibitions, and art from ancient Greek and Roman life. There is a beautiful museum that overlooks Malibu so, I always take my camera and my journal. The courtyard is a wonderful place to write and reflect and includes a café and coffee cart. In the future, I plan on treating myself to Afternoon Tea. For more artist date photos from the Getty Villa Museum, click here.
As artists, it is important to take time away from our work and get out of our studios. The goal of an artist date is to spend time alone and recreate that childhood wonder and spirit that adult life routinely attempts to diminish and suppress. For me, connecting with nature, art, and colors rekindles my desire to discover new ways to express the excitement and joy I feel and strive to express through my work.