I am a elementary school art teacher, and single father of two under the age of 10. They are both precious to me and require a lot of my attention and time. Honestly I don’t know how I find time to paint or even write this blog post, but I do. What I have found is that with a little tweaking and some simple life hacks I am able to get a fair amount of painting done. Enough to participate in local art shows and gallery representation.
However; I must admit it has been a challenge and I am not where I would like to be in carving out time to paint, I am doing a lot better than I use too! Most of my artist friends and students in my adult painting classes always say that they struggle with finding time to paint. The thing is that if you wait to “find” time you never will, you have to make time.
I know this may sound harsh, I know that your lives are filled with tons of responsibilities, but you still have to push through and make time to paint, if that’s what really what you want to learn to do. Again as a single father of two, I know firsthand that it can be extremely difficult to carve out time to be alone and paint. However; with a few tricks and some time management I have been able to push through and create some time to paint.
Make Painting A Priority
I believe the first thing we have to do is make painting a priority. I just heard someone say that the reason we are not exercising like we should, eating like we should, or any other important goal you want to accomplish is because we make other things in our lives more important. Now I am not saying that taking care of your father who is ill, is not important.
What I am saying is that watching three to four hours of Netflix may be a higher priority than improving your paintings skills. All I am saying is that if you are wanting to answer the call as an artist, you have to make it a priority. So from this point forward make painting a priority.
Yes, I know you have responsibilities and if you are like me, you have small people depending on you; but if you make your painting a priority, I believe your creative outlet will spill over into your day to day life. I will explain a little more about that later. I know it sounds crazy, but I promise it will fit into even the busiest of schedules when it becomes a priority. Not to get to “woo woo” on you, but painting or any other type of creative outlet reduces stress and helps you become more present. I’ve noticed that when I paint and really let loose while I paint, I get a sense of “everything is okay in the world”. So make it a priority today and stop wasting time on things that only take away from you, and start putting your attention into things such as painting to feed you.
Schedule Time to Paint
So after you make it a priority, you now need to schedule time to paint. This is very important as the first tip to finding time to paint. In order for you to be successful at making painting a practice, you have to set a time and date to paint. I know you hear a lot about expressing yourself when the moment hits, I understand that but sometimes the moment never hits, and then what? You go through another month or year without making a masterpiece. One quick tip you can do is go through your week as you normally do, and write down any down time you have where you could possibly use that time to paint. For me, what I’ve found is that during my free time at school I can use that time to paint small paintings and when my kids are asleep I paint as well. I have tried almost everything, but what I have found is that these two times are the best time for me to paint due to my schedule and responsibilities.
So look at your schedule for about a week and see when you have open times for you to set and paint. Also take a closer look at the times where you may waste a lot of time during down time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe in setting time to relax. What I am speaking of again is those times where you could be doing more productive things during that time. I am all too guilty of this myself. Whenever a new season of my favorite TV show is back on air, I will totally binge watch for hours. It’s too embarrassing to tell you how long I sit in front of the TV on a given Saturday. There are plenty times I had to pull myself together and cut the TV off and do things that were more productive. That TV is a powerful thing. So with that being said and from my experience, setting time to create is very good habit to start. Most of my time is pulled from different things and a lot of time it’s from things that just need to get done that constantly nag at my mind, like washing the dishes. Sometimes it’s hard to do things if you keep seeing a pile of dishes in your sink. What I have found, if it’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time, I just go ahead and do it, that way my mind is a little more at ease. It frees my mind so that when the tasks are done, I can paint . Some things on the to do list are important and some are not, but it makes it a lot easier if it’s done so I can move forward and begin painting.
Use A Timer
After you have schedule your time to paint the next thing you need is a timer. Yep, a timer. A timer is a great tool to help stay on task and stay focus while painting. Timer is easy to acquire and everyone pretty much has one. I use the timer on my phone when I paint. I don’t use it all the time, but when I am in a rut and I know I need to paint I use the timer. I don’t know what it is but it’s something about that timer, but once it starts it triggers my mind to start painting. It never fails. When I started setting up my easel and paints sometimes I’m still in a sluggish unmotivated or uninspired mode, but once I hit the timer It’s like a get a little jolt and start painting. Again, I don’t know why that is but it works. I know there is probably some sort of science behind in relation to the mind, and getting you to take action. I would encourage you to try it out and see if it works for you. If you have a hectic schedule like I do, try to it out for about 20 minutes.
Set up your supplies, next set the timer for 20 minutes and start painting. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in 20 minutes, especially if you do it on a consistent basis.
The reason why I say 20 minutes is because 20 minutes is not as overwhelming as 30 minutes or an hour. If you go over 20 minutes that’s okay. That’s a good thing. Let the timer stop and keep on going. Also, if you miss a day, don’t fret just pick up on the next. So, try it out and see what happens and if 20 minutes is too daunting try 15 minutes. I know you can do 15!
Set Up Your Studio Where You Can See It Everyday
Once you’re dedicated to painting for 20 minutes a day, another great way to keep you in the habit of painting on consistent basis is set up your studio where you can see it everyday. A lot of people don’t paint because they feel you need a large studio.
Guess what, your studio doesn’t have to be in a large space or in some elaborate room. It can be in a small corner in your living room, kitchen, bedroom or wherever have you. The main thing is that your easel is somewhere you can see it everyday as you are going about your day.
I learned this tip from an artist named Jack White, an amazing painter. This one tip has made a huge difference. Like I said before, it doesn’t matter where your studio resides. You may not believe this, but my studio has been in my bedroom, my kitchen and even my kids room. I’ve even painted in the back of my SUV while my son was at soccer practice. Hell, most of my videos you see on youtube has been in the kitchen. LOL. So, don’t let it stop you, work with what you have!
Practicing these few painting hacks you can begin making painting a habit. The more you paint, the more you will be amazed as you watch what you will accomplish in months or in a year. With your new inventory you will have enough work to possibly enter that art competition, sell your work online, display at an art show or finally have your work represented in a local gallery.
The key is to set your painting space where you can see it everyday, set a time to paint and paint during that time for 20 minutes. You will be amazed what you will accomplish, I promise. There are many barriers that keep artists from creating new pieces and using these simple hacks can offset a lot of those barriers.