Image of artwork and creative exercises
My highly organised artwork, colour training exercises and thumbnail comps

Finding Time to Improve?

I love to learn and improve my technical skills. This causes frustration as I feel like many of my art projects remain unfinished because of an addiction to training. I have always blamed a lack of time (which is partly true, but I’m sure that we can all agree that there are never enough hours in the day).

A lot has happened in the last few years and I have realised a few things which are true for me. This has helped me gain a more realistic, achievable outlook to my life and my goals as an artist:

  • Keep it simple - I had too many interests I was juggling with animation, 3D modelling, playing guitar, coding, games development to name just a few. Some of these were a product of wanting a different career but events led me to change my attitude and focus purely on the one thing that I kept returning to - Art. One day I will get back to playing guitar, but with a toddler in the house time is limited and painting is my main creative love.
  • Life needs to be a mixture of self development, productivity and play without an emphasis on one. One author I can really recommend is Paul Dolan. Happy Ever After and Happiness by Design were both inspiring reads.
  • Sleep is very important - an early night and early morning works better for me and I can sometimes do some drawing and exercise before the rest of the house wakes up.
  • Release the pressure - I always want to be as good as I possibly can be at art, but I realise that this is not achievable. Perfection does not exist. It is important to just enjoy your creative journey and be happy noticing how your art improves over time.
  • Think about what is achievable - Setting goals with deadlines doesn’t work when you have anxiety, a part-time job and a young toddler charging around. I need to avoid the frustration of failing to meet these targets.

Artistic development, Productivity and Play

When I am not working on an art commission or paid Illustration project I alternate one week developing art techniques (creative play) and the next week working on a finished painting or drawing (productivity).This helps fulfil my desire to develop my art skills and also covers my need to have something to show for my time. I make sure my days include time to exercise, meditate and a guilt free hour playing on my games console. On Sundays I write a daily list of creative tasks for the week and, looking through my list at the start of each day, I prioritise the ones I feel are most important. I accept list items may roll over to another day without feeling bad.

My drawing and painting skills have developed quicker since taking this approach and I am far less frustrated than before. I’d still like more time to dedicate to art but I am accepting that at the moment I need my part time job to keep regular money coming in. I am actually lucky that I get to dedicate a good chunk of the week to artistic endeavours.

How do you manage your time?

I’d love to hear from you about how you balance developing your creativity with producing art. Are you happy with your plan and the amount of time you have to dedicate to your artistic pursuits? Do you have any useful advice for people struggling to fit art into their lives?

Thanks again for reading, I’m off to start a new painting now.