Producing artwork requires not only dedication to your craft but finding time to create. Through the years I have found some time strategies that have worked for me. Some of these techniques evolved from when I was mothering a daughter and had to be creative to find the time to paint, and I hope that some of my experiences will help you carve out time to accomplish your own art goals.
Schedule your studio time just like you schedule appointments for other commitments in your life, I suggest you calendar your studio work time. For me it works well if I map out my studio time a week in advance, but scheduling a day ahead also works. The act of writing out my schedule solidifies the commitment. I also make a list of what I plan to work on during each scheduled time. This written schedule helps me stay on task. Without a specific plan, I might go into the studio and stare at a blank canvas and decide that I really need to organize my brushes or art books.
Evaluate your time and your life. Look at the demands on your time and see how many hours you can realistically devote to making art each week. You may have a full-time job, which leaves the weekends for painting. You may be raising children, grandchildren or caring for aging parents. What is the reality of your life at this moment in time? The demands on your time could be so great that you can’t give enough time to your artwork to provide an immediate stream of income. However, with limited time you can make progress and art for your enjoyment. This situation is much like a person who plays golf. We all understand that it takes time and money to golf, but don’t expect the recreational golfer to immediately bring in money. Just as it’s acceptable to golf for pleasure, it’s wonderful to paint for pleasure.
Reach for a level of intensity and find a deeper level of concentration that yields a more efficient use of the time you have. Identify the distractions that you encounter as you work. Some distractions can be managed easier than others. I identified my main distractors as phone calls, texts and emails. I realized that I didn’t get any messages that were so urgent that I had to respond immediately. Now my family and friends understand that I will respond to them as soon as I take a break from painting. I turn off the phone and silence the alerts to reach a deep level of work. If I am totally present with my work for an hour or two, I can get some amazing work completed. The minute I look at my phone to see who is calling or texting, I lose this level of focus. I am convinced that every hour of focused concentration is worth three hours of distracted working.
I believe our artwork benefits greatly from total concentration. If you doubt this, try working for a two-hour stretch without answering your phone, checking your email or looking to see who’s calling or texting. I understand that a three-year-old child needing your attention is a different matter. Just know that they won’t be three forever and enjoy that time.
Hiring help creates you more time. Some years ago, when I looked at my time at the easel compared to my time spent doing other studio tasks, I realized that I needed more time at the easel. I hired an assistant two days a week. This gave me a potential of 16 more hours per week at the easel. Sixteen more hours at the easel can make a significant difference in production.
I know of a successful portrait painter who was behind on commissions. She hired someone to clean her house and do the laundry. This gave her the time she needed to get caught up. The money produced by the extra time at the easel was much more than she spent for the help she hired. There is a possibility that she enjoys the time at the easel more than the time house cleaning. Maybe paying someone to cut the grass might give an artist the extra time they need to improve their craft.
So, whether you make art for profit or purely for pleasure, I would encourage you to discover ways to find more time and to use the available time you have in the most efficient way.