Prioritizing Time for Painting
As an artist, you know how important it is to have studio time to create and produce new works of art. However, with busy schedules and daily responsibilities, it can be challenging to find the time and the energy to paint. If you’re struggling to prioritize your painting time, here are some tips to help.
1. Make a Schedule
One of the most effective ways to prioritize your painting time is to create a schedule that works for you. Block out specific times in your week for painting and stick to them as much as possible. This will help you build a routine and make painting a priority in your life.
- Know that schedules change! For me, kids in school, kids out of school is the big thing that really throws my schedule out the window.
Tell your family your schedule. They can’t respect what they don’t know about!
2. Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals for your painting time is key to staying motivated and productive. Determine how much time you can realistically dedicate to painting each week, and make sure your goals align with that amount of time.
- For example, if you want to produce a new series in the next year (12-20 paintings), and it takes you 20 hours to create a good painting, that is 240-400 hours you need for just the paintings you keep. Plus, inspiration, and exploration time. Plus, all the mistakes we toss out along the way. So, let’s say that is now more like 600 hours needed. Have you set aside 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week? If those are your production numbers, but not your schedule, you haven’t allowed yourself the time you need!
3. Create a Dedicated Space
Having a dedicated space for painting can help you stay focused and minimize distractions. This can be a dedicated room in your home, a studio, or simply a corner of your living space that you designate for painting.
- Dedicated space doesn’t have to be an epic studio. ANYTHING can help. Once upon a time, my dedicated space was the two feet between my wall and my bed. Was it ideal? Oh, hell no. But I was able to keep painting until things changed for the better.
4. Limit Distractions
When you’re painting, it’s important to minimize distractions as much as possible. Turn off your phone (or set up do not disturb with only the emergency people you need able to contact you), close your email, and eliminate any other distractions that may take away from your painting time. Have your playlist ready ahead of time. Let your family know that this is time where you aren’t interrupted unless the house is on fire. Guess what? You’re family loves you and wants you to be happy. Once you let them know this is important to you, they should respect that. (You may have to remind them a few times. Also, be really plain spoken about it. Hints aren’t going to do it.)
5. Take Breaks
While it’s important to prioritize your painting time, it’s also important to take breaks when you need them. Taking regular breaks can help you recharge and come back to your painting refreshed and ready to create. One time, I met an artist who was super depressed because she was trying to find another medium besides clay. She had come to me to see if it may be painting. After realizing she really loved ceramics, I asked why she was forcing herself to switch. Turns out she couldn’t do the 8+ hour marathon studio sessions physically anymore. So I asked, why not just do an hour or two, and then take a break and see how you feel? Eureka!
6. Surround Yourself with Inspiration
Surrounding yourself with inspiration can help you stay motivated and focused during your painting time. Keep your favorite paintings, books, and other sources of inspiration nearby, and let them inspire you as you work.
7. Set Up a Plan for Success
Leave the studio when you have inspiration ready for the next day, and a plan to get started right away. I learned this from Ernest Hemingway describing his writing practice.
When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.
You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. – Ernest Hemingway
8. Find a Support System
Finally, having a support system of other artists, friends, or family members who understand your passion for painting can be incredibly helpful. Share your progress with them, and let them offer encouragement and support as you pursue your artistic goals. Sometimes, this person can be your spouse. Sometimes spouses love you but are totally clueless on this whole “art-thing.” Reach out for support if you need it. Trust me, there are the most wonderful people in the world waiting to cheer you on. Artists become more creative and improve when they aren’t by themselves!
Prioritizing time for painting is an essential part of becoming a successful, productive artist. And, it is important to you. It is important to your mental health. Show up for yourself! You won’t regret it.
Need a support system? I am starting an online community. Let me know if you want to be invited!