A lot of artists I meet have other jobs and/or families, their 'art time' can vary from a large proportion of the day to just a few hours per week, or month! A problem faced by those of us that like painting, drawing or doing 'our art', is the perpetual problem of finding time to do it during our hectic lives. I hear the phrase, "I just cant fit it in" regularly. And I am often asked "how do you find the time?”
Though I'm getting better at getting in the creative mood at a drop of a hat, there is nothing like knowing you have 'X' amount of time to do something. Then you can look forward to it, work up to it, plan in your head what you will do to make best use of it, for that reason alone its worth trying occasionally to have a good chunk of time to invest in yourself and your art. This brings us to our first problem;
Problem 1: Other people don't value that creativity requires focussed time.
For some reason, if I say to people I'm going to be painting tomorrow, they seems to interpret that it means I have nothing serious planed, that I have free time and I have all day to waste and chosen to just do some colouring in or something, I find people will endeavour to talk you into doing something they feel is more worthy of your time.
Problem 2: Is our time less important than other peoples'?
As in the examples in problem 1, we the artist are also guilty of devaluing our time. When something has to give we often cut our art time to make way for other things. However, try and make space for it as best you can.
Problem 3: Time Management
A couple of tips below for tackling the problem of time management. The former seeks to make space for sizeable chunks of time to be creative. The latter is for finding snippets of time overlooked in the day.
Reorganise your day
As humans we can procrastinate, and when we muddle through a day we inevitably waste time but I recommend examining how you use your day/week. See if you can increase or decrease time of other activities, effectively see if you can do other things more efficiently. And think, does everything you do need to be done that way? You may find some things are done out of habit? For example - eating at a certain time could be moved earlier for one day.
Don't forget art time can also be snippets of the day in some cases, all adding up to something bigger. So tweak daily routine in your favour. I cut out time I waste on mobile phones or listening to music while out and about. Now I often sketch my surroundings, jot down ideas or mentally visualise me painting my next projects and how I'm going to approach it. All during these small easily overlooked parts of the day.
Problem 3: Ease of access
It seems simple but if doing your art is obstructed by some effort and is in any way complicated by something you are less likely to do it. To give an example, for me I felt the need to sketch more but taking around large, medium or small sketch books proved impractical and I either didn't use them or left them at home. Instead now I often take out a tiny 7 x 9cm sketch book that fits In my pocket. It means it's no bother to carry and is there when I have a few moments. As much as we may all want a huge studio, this is impractical for many, I've seen people with improvised drawing boards on their kitchen table or easels tucked in a corner of a room. The fact of the matter is it has to be easy to use, just 'there' and waiting ready to go. No getting things out a cupboard or from under the bed and no setting up.
This may all sound a bit selfish. Me, my time, my art, my space etc but as a fellow artist I hereby give you permission to be selfish. Its OK to make people wait. Its fine to not answer the phone once in a while, its acceptable to say you have something on at the weekend when all you intend to do is have some quiet time to paint and not be interrupted. Its OK to not go out after work and instead be at one with your art like you planned to do. Don't sideline it, instead embrace it, encourage it into the light.
A healthy dose of discipline is required to make all this happen, there are so many demands of our time.
But do try and make room for art in your day, you will feel better for it and your art will benefit from it.
In summary here are a few pointers to increase your art time;
To get more art time;
- Schedule it and make it routine – make it an ordinary occurrence, not an uncommon event.
- Make it clear to family and friends how valuable time to do your art is to you.
- Manage time effectively.
- Plan ahead to avoid calendar conflicts. And make sure you have materials you need ready.
- Make it easy, find ways to have materials ready.
- Think realistically what you can do in short gaps during day or week – what art can be achieved in that time.
- Assert your right to be a bit artistically selfish.
During art Time
- Turn off phone, TV, radio, computer to avoid distractions.
- Be determined not to find other things to 'just do quickly'