How to Make Time for Art: Tips and Strategies

This week I would like to talk about one of my greatest struggles, and that is, making time to create art. It probably seems ironic for me to say that since I think of myself as an artist and art teacher, and I make art for art shows, clients, and I studied art in college. However, sometimes the things I want to do the most, such as painting and drawing, seem to be the most, difficult to make time for in my schedule. So many things battle for the competition of my time: everyday stuff like laundry, cooking, balancing my checkbook, or other activities such as marketing my art classes or time-wasters like internet surfing and excessive social media use on Instagram or Facebook, etc., etc. All these need to get done, but if I am not careful they can crowd out too much of my time. And if that isn’t enough, I have been battling with artist’s block and self-doubt about my abilities to succeed as an artist, (whatever that means), ever since I have taken my art to a more professional level, by showing at art galleries and art fairs. My standards for making art have really skyrocketed, (and they were already ridiculously high) since I now feel the pressure to try and please others by making artwork that “sells.”

However, in all this, I have lost my joy in making art, and don’t even know what it is that I want to say with my art anymore. This period of my life reminds me of another time period, when I was a senior at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, studying art. I was in my final year at McDaniel and taking an art studio thesis course, where I had to make artwork that demonstrated something I wanted to say and write an artist statement to support that work. After I got that assignment, I felt paralyzed with indecision.

It took me two weeks to come out of that episode of artist’s block, and I really wasn’t sure what I would do during that time, as I felt that everything there is to say about art has already been saying and that everything has already been done in the thousands of years of art history. I felt I had to come up with some really “original” idea and I looked everywhere I could think to find inspiration: art magazines, art books, etc. I finally found my inspiration in the songs of singer/songwriter, Sting, which seemed an unlikely solution to me. I decided to try and illustrate the feelings in some of his songs like Lithium Sunset, by using myself as subject, and color as a way to express emotions. The crisis was solved and I made it through, but I really struggled to climb out of that pit.

Unfortunately, I am finding myself in that awful place again of uncertainty and doubt. So this week I am writing about how to make time for art, in hopes that it will help me to focus my time better and to get back into the habit of regular studio practice. I’d like to share with you some insights from two blog articles I read by Lisa Congdon, entitled, How to Find Time to Make Art When You Work Full Time, and an article entitled, How to Find Times for Art in a Busy Life,  Tara Leaver, in hopes that you will find it helpful to you in managing your life and making time for creativity. According to Lisa Congdon, there are a few things you can do to help make time for art. For example, she recommends that artists and other creative types set aside a block of time every week, even if it’s only for a few minutes or a few hours, and that these small increments of time will add up over time.

She also mentions an all-important habit and that is to limit your time on your computer or phone screen. Another blog writer, Julie Fan Fei-Balzer, recommends a few time management apps she uses to track her time online, such as Flipboard, Tweetdeck, and Alinoff (an online computer app that records the amount of time you spend online.) One final really helpful way to make time for art is to schedule it, and that could mean enrolling in an art class either virtually through subscription websites like Domestika, SkillShare, and if you want free tutorials, YouTube has many excellent art tutorials. Some of my favorite YouTube channels are Rapid Fire Art and Virtual Instructor.

The first channel is mainly drawing tutorials in pencil, while the other YouTube channel, The Virtual Instructor includes a variety of media from pencil to pastel and many other media. I find this method to be the most helpful, especially when you are paying for a course, you might be less likely to renege on the time commitment. On that note, I want to share that I will be teaching several in-person art courses for beginners at two locations, The Delaplaine Art Center in Frederick, MD, and at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg, PA. To learn more about my pastel courses you may visit: or I am also teaching a beginning drawing course at the Adams County Arts Council, called Classic Drawing. This week’s featured images include some sneak peek images of the pencil and pastel drawings and exercises I offer in my Classic Drawing and Introduction to Pastel courses! Thank you for stopping by! Now, go make some art!

Here’s an example of a technique board, which I use to introduce students to pastel techniques, such as gradients and making linear marks. These techniques serve as a strong foundation to prepare you for the more challenging projects in still life.
Example of a medium-hard pastel art tutorial in which I used blending and mark-making techniques such as scribbling.
Example of a 5 value exercise I teach early in the course to teach students how to recognize value or light and shade in a still life object.
Here is an example of a gradient, a wonderful exercise to learn how to shift from one value to the next, and which teaches you how to blend pastels and make softer edges.
An example about how to understand the effects of light and shade on a rounded object. It’s a great exercise for beginners, and especially those who like to draw portraits as the sphere provides an excellent example of how light might be dispersed on a face.

Author: artofschmidt

Jodie's focus is on oil painting, mixed media, and soft pastels.

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