You Have Time, Do Art

This is not an article on how to find time to create art. You can decide at any time that you have time for art. Let me motivate you and help keep distractions to a minimum so you can finally create a body of work.

Scheduling Time

So, you have time, now schedule time. Many professional artists will tell you that and they do not wait to get “in the mood” to create art. A regular schedule is necessary to create art on an ongoing basis, but more importantly to make creating art a habit. You will decide if you need two, three or four days to create art. Personal experience favors two continuous days, skip one day, then use one or two continuous days again…or more if this is your primary means of income. The other days are when you partake in non-art activities. The day to rest is important to exercise and catch up on urgent tasks.

Try Art Challenges

The pros and cons. I find the 30-day challenges very doable. The best pro for me was that it created a habit of producing art and showed me just how much can be accomplished with truly little time. I highly recommend that you try these out to determine if you are ready to regularly create art.

Prepare for Art Days

Advance plan. Shop for food, make meals in advance, cook simple meals. Eating out does not save time…unless it is drive through food that is generally unhealthy and eats up energy. Ordering groceries is a great time saver. It is not as costly as one might think. Promise yourself that “art days” will not be the days you wash clothes, mop the floor, pay bills, entertain, etc. Remind yourself that this is what you will do on your non-art days. You are reading this because “you” decided that you have time to create art. Of course, you must build some flexibility into this schedule. So, if you use one of your art days for something that cannot be put on hold, like a doctor visit, or a family obligation (still try to schedule those on non-art days), then make it up on a continuous day. Keeping a continuous schedule is imperative to making art days a habit.

Solicit help. Test the waters. If you share a household, ask others to assist with preparing simple meals. Think of tradeoffs you can offer them. If you are not ready for this, then unfortunately you are not ready to create art.

Before the first art-day, select your music, podcast, or audio book. I personally avoid the news because it is too distracting. Also, watching the news is something I do in the evening with my husband. On art days, we watch television in the evening in my studio. He fast forwards the commercials and mutes distractions.

Avoid the following traps on art days:

1. Do not take breaks: Eat before and after you create art. It is imperative that you keep the continuum going. Do not expect to start, stop, start, stop, and start again with the same vigor. Remind yourself that creating art (although it may be challenging) is satisfying.

2. Organize your art materials to start creating art. This does not mean to reorganize your whole studio. For instance, if you are painting just put on your gloves (or use barrier cream), and get your paints, brushes, canvas, and reference photos and start (or continue creating). Or pull together your sketching materials to work out some ideas.

3. Many artists find an organized studio conducive to creating art. But clean your studio on non-art days. Of course, at the end of the art day you must spend maybe 30 minutes cleaning paint brushes, etc. Consider protecting furniture and the floor with plastic, put plastic liners in your trash can, do all this on a non-art day. (Caution! Do not store paint, oil and solvent garbage inside.)

4. Do not take on projects like building an easel or moving studio furniture.

5. If you find you are missing some tools or supplies that keeps you from going forward on your planned activity, do not go shopping. Create a different art piece. Shop on a non-art day. Promise yourself you will not do anything more than write a note reminding yourself to purchase what you need later.

6. Avoid other art-related activities. Use non-art days to set up a video camera and lights if you wish to record your art sessions. Also, it is less distracting to add audio later. Also, blog, edit videos, and shop for art items on non-art days.

7. Avoid time wasters. Use non-art days to follow-up on, for instance, complaints. And follow the adage, “Choose your battles wisely.”

8. If you look up reference information, do not get comfortable reading and forget that this is an art day. Get your information and get back to creating art.

9. Social media and telephone calls can mean an early end to your art day. Be selfish. There is plenty of advice out there about how to control these distractions.

10. If you decide you must get some exercise, come back!!! Rinse off, refresh yourself with a drink of water, and finish enjoying your art day.

But What if I Fail?

If you miss art days in the beginning, start again next week. Remind yourself that if you are an artist, you must create art. If you are unhappy with the art you create, remind yourself that artists usually have more failures than successes. Learn by what you may call your failures…do not toss these because you may want to rework them in a few months or years. A failed watercolor can become a multi-media piece…or even a full-blown successful pastel or acrylic. Oil paints can be scraped down to the canvas and a new painting restarted.

Guests in the Studio

I always welcome guests (a few older children or adults) in my studio as I am creating art. I prefer being alone and quiet as I am getting my initial thoughts together. But guests help encourage me and I enjoy their company. I have fond memories of guests who watched me as I painted. Learn at least a day in advance if guests are visiting. They need to be advised that you will only be creating art but that they can bring a beverage or snack. Stick to creating your own art, not teaching. That is for a non-art day. Of course, answer a few basic questions, but offer to email them a link to some art information later…or maybe this will lead to a workshop or commission if this is something you welcome. Details will need to be worked out on a non-art day, do not get distracted. If they want to look at your art, do this on a non-art day. In the end, use your best judgement. Maybe you should have a stack of art available for them to look through. I have my art ready, on easels and shelves in my studio, in folios and on my website so my art is easily accessible.

A Last Word of Encouragement

Stay in the Zone. Wow, you are creating art! Fantastic. Creating art is becoming a fulfilling habit. Plan an exhibit, but not on art day!

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