“I’m so busy. I don’t have time to paint.”
I hear this excuse more than any other when people are telling me why they aren’t creating. Really? Although I don’t chastise anyone when I hear this excuse, I often wonder how much time they’re spending on other less productive activities. I work full time in a demanding job with irregular hours, have a large garden and often have a grandchild here. I usually paint a couple of hours every evening and maybe ten hours on a weekend. This is the equivalent of a part-time job! I have a friend who gets up a couple of hours early every day to do her painting. She’s working on her MFA and also has a full-time job. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find the time. So I thought I’d compile a list of my top five suggestions for finding time to paint.
1. Find a place to be able to keep your materials at the ready. If you have to unpack and repack your painting gear every time you want to use it, you’ll probably not do it as often. I am fortunate that I have a studio which is detached from the house but there are many other ways to carve out a bit of space. Do you have a spare room, corner of the basement or attic, or even a closet which can be converted to a studio? Even a corner of a room with a screen to hide your “mess” will make it more convenient for you to work.
2. What can you give up? For me, it’s TV. I honestly watch very little TV every week. Maybe the news and Antiques Roadshow, maybe a movie once in a while. But I couldn’t tell you who is on Dancing with the Stars or what the new sitcom is. And this is in a house with satellite TV and a kazillion channels! But…do you have too many hobbies? Maybe you will have to cut back somewhere else to concentrate on your most important creative work. Do you stop at the local tavern after work every day to unwind? How much time does that waste? No one expects you to become a hermit but you have to set some priorities somewhere. You have to make choices.
3. Look for small nuggets of time which you can use fruitfully. Can you head to the park on your lunch hour? How about pulling out your sketchbook on the way home if you are a train commuter? (I have an hour drive every day so I listen to books on tape.) Waiting in line, at the theatre, or in a restaurant are other places you can do a few quick sketches. Check out Urban Sketchers for some great ideas.
4. Do a little bit of art every day. This will keep your juices flowing and keep you in the creative mindset. Keep a small sketchbook in your pocket or purse. Add a few colored markers or a mini watercolor set and you’re good to go. These are often inspiration for larger pieces later.
5. Ask for some help. If you have small children, hire a babysitter or enlist the help of a significant other, friend, spouse. Maybe even trade time with another creative person who is looking for some alone time.
6. Be easy on yourself. Even if you can’t stick to a perfect schedule, as long as you’re moving in a positive direction, you’re making progress.