Finding the Time

How many times do we excuse our lack of creativity by using the phrase, I just don’t have the time”? I use the term “excuse” lightly as, in our busy lives, it is a very relevant reason for not drawing or painting.

Family, work, maintaining the home, managing the finances and social activities are just a few of the things that take up our valuable time. Especially since our lives have been so restricted with Covid, many of us have been more than ready to embrace a life a little more normal and requires leaving the house to pursue activities involving people. Catching up with our friends, enjoying meals out, cinema, even markets and craft events are back in the calendar and it feels good.

I am not a full-time artist, it is a hobby for me but, over the years, it has become an activity that is very important both from a creative aspect but also for my own mental health, a term we hear all too often now we seem to finally acknowledge its importance to our well-being. I am very lucky that I have a studio, an asset I worked hard for, but now it is also an office space for my day job.

Finding the Time 1

I have been asked many times why I don’t go into art full time, the reasons for this are many but mainly because I love my day job too!

Finding the Time 2

There are, of course, the benefits of a regular salary, sick pay and health insurance but I am a firm believer that you are a long time working so you need to enjoy it. However, I have given over a corner of my studio rather begrudgingly to my job thanks to Covid as it is after all, my happy place and therefore precious to me. Just as well as I can end up spending all day and then all evening in it. Even still, I like many others, do not paint or draw as much as I feel I should, even with my garden studio, and experience the associated guilt.

So why is this? I have everything I need, I don’t have to set up or take down my materials which I know can be a big deterrent, this was my creative scenario for many years so I know what a pain it can be.

Finding the Time 3

But at the end of the day, do you know what? I’m plain tired, it’s as simple as that. So why do I feel so guilty?

I don’t have an answer for that question other than feeling guilty achieves nothing. I am in a lucky position with my students as they are certainly a driving force. I teach workshops once a month and these lovely people are keen to learn different mediums and subjects so this gives me direction and I learn new methods along the way. And sometimes I even end up creating a piece even I am delighted with, no small achievement as, let’s face it, we are our own worst critics.

Finding the Time 4
Finding the Time 5

Aside from that, what can you do to find the time to pursue your creative activities? Firstly, don’t pressure yourself which is something that every artist I have ever spoken to does. Art is meant to be enjoyable so why not just pick it up when the mood takes you.

Finding the Time 6

Doodle when watching TV, join an art club, visit an exhibition, watch art programmes (there’s so many now!), be amongst other artists as they are a great source of inspiration. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge to allow ourselves the indulgence of some downtime, time just for us to create. It might only be an hour a week but, from this little acorn, who knows what will grow.

Starting out with Soft Pastels

With so many art materials available to us out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. My “safe” zone for many years was graphite and coloured pencil but even with those, now that I know more, I realise I was only using them to a tiny fraction of their potential.

Finding your Mojo, when all creative ideas desert you

For many of us, art is a refuge, a place of comfort. It is something we turn to at all points in our life, a place to escape to. For some, it’s vital as it pays the mortgage whilst for others it equals in importance as a therapy for anxiety and depression.

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15 responses

  1. A great blog! Thanks for sharing your experience which I am sure is something so many artists will relate to!

  2. Thank you so much for putting into words what many of us feel, and for suggesting practical ways of moving out of the mind-set. I’m principally a watercolour landscaper, but I’m trying pastels for plein air (when I get the chance) and enjoy the looseness that comes from working with the medium on a larger scale than my watercolours.

    1. Thank you so much for your reply, I’m delighted you are trying pastels, they are so versatile. If you haven’t tried already, you can add water to them too. I use a spray bottle and a paintbrush to lay down backgrounds, you can get some lovely effects.

  3. Thank you. I’m going through a non-creative patch at present and spending time sorting my pastels instead of using them and watching videos and TV programmes instead of doing. I have the guilt but you are right, it’s better to wait until I’m ready to go again than to feel forced.

    1. Sorting pastels is very therapeutic, I find the same with sharpening my pencils too. I love watching other artists work, all these things are a creative process, I have no idea why we feel the guilt! Enjoy what you do 🙂

  4. Another great post. I am guilty of not “taking” the time, as I feel I am not worthy of my hobby. The time I spend in my studio feels like stolen time from other household chores. But, I am lucky to have a family that loves my art.

    1. Studio time is never stolen, its important for our mental health as we spend so much of our energies thinking about and looking after others. Everyone has a hobby, enjoy it 😊

  5. (Translated)Hello,
    Very interesting and yes, often we feel guilty but less and less because I tell myself that creating should be a pleasure.
    Thank you for sharing.

    (Original)Très intéressant et oui, souvent on se sent coupable mais de moins en moins car je me dis que créer doit être un plaisir.
    Merci pour ce partage.

  6. Thank you so much for your honest sharing. I too find my desire and longing to paint is only in my mind. I find so many excuses for avoiding the challenge. I substitute buying more supplies and cleaning, rearranging my art space as a substitute. I also become so judgmental over my painting that I fail to finish it.
    How do we overcome remains the personal question?

    1. Procrastination is an eternal problem and a human instinct I think so we have to accept it as that. Once I get started on a piece I’m quite happy but oh the faff to get going!!!
      As for being judgemental of our own work, we are all guilty of this, it comes with the territory. The key is to not have expectations and enjoy the surprise that turns up on the paper. This is something I hear myself repeat often to my students as what you create one day will be very different to another day. Be it good or bad, you may have learned a new technique, created a happy accident or found a medium or subject matter you don’t enjoy. Either way, you move onto the next but…… Never throw it away, keep it as then over time, you will see how you have progressed. Try not to spend too much time analysing your work, paint it, finish it and put it to one side. Revisit it in a few days/weeks/months and you may find your opinion of it changes.

  7. (Translated)Hello,
    I see myself so much in what you are describing. Come on, I just turned 71, it’s high time I got back to it..

    Je me retrouve tellement dans ce que vous décrivez. Allons, je viens d avoir 71ans il est grand temps que je m y remette..

  8. My Guilty Estelle, – what to do when each painting is finished – there’s Mounting Framing and Marketing, but my efforts end up in a drawer or a folio – I’ve even counted how many pieces I’ve painted and what I’ll do when there’s no more storage space !
    But there’s a satisfaction of producing something that’s good to look at and I’m happy with, so it’s on to another work of art.

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