Do you have trouble trying to find time for creativity? Do you want to make more art but just find there are not enough hours in the day? I know the feeling.
BUT I’ve been making more and more time for art in my life and have found people asking me how I do it, so I thought I’d share some tips here!
So let’s set the scene. I’m a working 40-something year old mum with three boys who are soon turning 10, 12 and 14. Like everyone my days are busy, and as my husband works long hours I’ll be honest and say I’m pretty much the primary carer on weekdays. I work five or more hours a day from home as general manager of a global online publishing business and blog Digital Photography School (dPS). Between work, two different school drop-offs, school council, sports, the “prepare for the unexpected” moments of parenting and best intents to keeping our home vibe humming along – you can imagine there’s not much time left to do what I really love – art.
I’ve been working remotely for over five years now, so I’ve become somewhat adept at being aware of and managing my own time. I’m not perfect at it, by any means and there are days when I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything at all. But it’s forced me to be mindful about balancing (is there such a thing?!) work, life and home, so I hope these tips give you some ideas on how you might make more time for creativity.
1. Put your creativity on the kitchen table
I used to keep my art gear stored away “just in case” I felt like being creative one day. No more. I have paintbrushes in pretty jars, art smock, paint and paper on a table right next to my kitchen, which is where you are most likely to find me (three boys, remember!) all ready for my to dive into. No excuses! Keep your tools nearby and ready to use when you’re on a creative whim! It’s a visual reminder of what you really want to do.
2. Don’t make excuses, just do it
The best time to make your art is…right now! If you catch yourself thinking about art, why not get out a pen and paper, or even better…your paints! You don’t have to create a masterpiece, just do something small in the time you have.
I find weekends are my time to do something creative and I’ve learned to be less precious about having my own physical or mental space. It means that kids might interrupt me to ask a question about their homework, or that the living room is a crazy a mess for a couple of hours. It means….patience. But who cares, I’m doing what I love, so I turn the music up and just keep on trying. If I waited for the perfect quiet time to paint, it would never happen. Embrace the chaos and let your kids see how good it can be to do something creative.
3. Create something, anything!
If you want to progress the most important thing is that you’re DOING SOMETHING, ANYTHING! If you tend to be ambitious and unrealistic expectations become overwhelming, it might be time to get back to basics. I have a big stack of butchers paper and pastels for this very purpose. Creating something temporary doesn’t take long and it’s a great way to unlock your artistic inhibitions before you tackle bigger projects. If I find I’m stuck when starting a painting, I force myself to splash some colour on a page and make a start. If you don’t start, it will never happen. If it doesn’t work out, just start again!
Creating something, anything means that you’re exploring composition, colour, linework and you’re training your eye to see.
I find it’s also helpful to keep track of your “something, anything”. I share some of my creative pursuits on Instagram as a way to be accountable to myself. Sure, it’s really lovely when a friend gives feedback on what I create. But most of all my photos are there for me to keep track of my progress. Ta-da, I can say to myself, I’m doing it! The very best surprise is when I get messages from people saying that my progress has inspired them to start their own art – now THAT is awesome!
4. Make a decision. Make creativity a priority
I’ve always loved art. I’m the daughter of an artist. I studied art all the way through high school. I went on to explore animation and media at Uni. Art. Is. Just. In. Me. But somewhere along the line life got busy and art was at the bottom of my to-do list. So I started to make creativity a priority again. I joined in online creative photography and fundraising challenges. A few years ago I went along to some life drawing classes. I’ve been dreaming of creating large scale art, so recently I invested in a one day street/aerosol art class with Mik Shida (which I loved loved loved because of his creative approach as much as anything! And yes, I learned how to spray paint as you can see below!)
I’m seeing myself less as someone who practices art in their spare time and instead, as an artist who happens to be a working mum. It takes a decision to forge ahead – and I’ve decided to take my art seriously.
5. Surround yourself with art, ideas and love
Doing is great. Being is essential. Input and reflection matters. And this is where my work and passions intersect with my art.
For instance I love to learn, and it’s why I’m equally passionate about my work – equipping others to pursue their creative goals (in photography at dPS). I’m interested in technology for the future of learning. And when I spend time investigating emerging technology, I find I’m inspired to look at things differently, think out of the box, and become open to new ideas in how I might approach concepts and mediums. And this in turn inspires my creative approaches to work.
Reading is something I’m doing more and more and finding friends who enjoy and recommend books has inspired me to create too. If I make time to read – be that first thing in the morning (getting up a little bit earlier to do so!) or ignoring the ironing so that I can get an extra chapter in – I know that books are important to me and it influences themes and colours in my artwork.
I make time to visit art galleries. If I catch up with friends I like to head along to walk around a museum together. If I find myself procrastinating I make sure that I schedule in time for surrounding myself with art, be it in books, on walls, beautiful food, a movie, concert – or a quick walk in nature. Ideas are everywhere, if you look for them.
Reflection on paper is good too. Take notes. Doodle. Dream. Off the phone and onto paper, even when waiting between kids’ appointments and just 5 minutes at beginning or end of the day. It helps!
And most of all I make time to be with my friends and family. It’s important because as I mentioned earlier, life is busy between all the responsibilities of work and parenting, and it’s vital for the soul to take time out with those we love.
Making time for art is probably easier than you think, once you set your mind to it you’ll find that every little bit of creativity counts. Remember – make something, anything! Just make a decision.
Do you struggle to find time for art? What holds you back? What’s one thing you can do today to fill your life with more art?