Five Ways to Make More Time for Art

art calligraphy painting watercolor

We all know art is good for us -- it’s like a form of therapy that makes us feel calm, centered, and more in touch with the beauty around us.

But sometimes art takes a backseat to all the other obligations we have in life, and it’s hard to find time to practice.

So whether you love calligraphy, painting, or some other art form, here are five simple tips to help you make more time for your creative pursuits:

1. Get to know your supplies.

If you’re like most creatives, you probably have a whole stash of art supplies that you’ve collected over the years. (I’m guilty! 🙋‍♀️)

If you haven’t used some of your tools in a while, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Have I not used this tool because I’m not interested in it anymore?
  2. Have I not used this tool because I don’t know how to use it properly?

If you’re not interested in it anymore, get rid of it. Donate it, recycle it, give it away, or sell it. But the key is to get rid of it so it’s not taking up physical space in your life OR mental space in the back of your mind.

And if you have a tool but just don’t know how to use it… practice using it! Experiment, have fun, and pretend you are a chimpanzee who has to figure out how to use it. 🐒 No art supply is so precious that it needs to sit on a shelf under glass. It was meant to be used by YOU!

If you have the tool because it was on the supply list for an online class, go back to that class and watch how the instructor used it. Simple, right? 

2. Go smaller.

There’s something intimidating about creating a physically LARGE work of art… whether it’s a hand-lettered piece or a painting.

Most common paper pads are around 8-to- 9 inches wide by 11-to-13 inches long, but just because the paper is that size, that doesn’t mean your project has to be!

Cut your paper pads down into quarters, or even smaller, like one of our artists from the Watercolor Summit 2.0, Caleb Sinchok -- he loves to paint tiny 2” x 2” pieces in watercolor and gouache!

And for calligraphers, instead of focusing on making larger prints, vows, or signs, make some cute little greeting cards or postcards to give to someone! Most people LOVE tiny things, and they’re so much faster to create!

3. Trace more.

But wait, isn’t tracing cheating?

When you’re just practicing, it’s definitely not!

For calligraphers, you can save time and make sure you’re developing the correct muscle memory by tracing a guidesheet or exemplar as a warm-up (like the ones shown below from the Modern Calligraphy Summit).

For painters, tracing a reference guide or photo is a great way to save yourself a ton of time and frustration, especially if drawing isn’t your thing. Just make sure you have the legal right to do so if you’ll be using your art commercially! You can find royalty-free reference photos through websites like Unsplash or Pexels.

4. Use a sketchbook or notepad.

A cheaper painting sketchbook (like these Arteza ones) or a calligraphy notepad with a cover (like these Rhodia pads or these Moleskine journals) offer a lot more privacy… it’s like having your own little diary that no one will ever see -- and therefore, you’ll be way less intimidated to start creating something!

And because a sketchbook or notebook is more portable, it’s easy to toss it in a bag or backpack, so you can make the most of any spare time in your day.

Just make sure everything is dry before you close it up! 😉

5. Limit the social media browsing.

Has this ever happened to you?

You have a spare moment of time to create something, and you decide to hop onto Instagram or YouTube, looking for inspiration.

30 minutes later, you’ve successfully “liked” some friends’ posts of their kids, subscribed to a new channel, and posted a photo of your dog to your IG Stories, complete with a hilarious gif… but you haven’t created any art!

Social media can be a wonderful thing, but it can also keep you in CONSUMPTION mode instead of CREATION mode.

So when you do use social media, try setting a timer on your phone or watch to limit your consumption… or even better, use the “App Limits” feature of “Screen Time” on your iPhone to restrict the amount of time you spend each day or week on certain platforms. You’ll get a notification on your phone when you’ve reached your max.

Implementing these tips will help you free up more time for art… but if you want more accountability and support to make it a lifelong habit, join me in The Art Habit™ 5-Week Challenge, starting soon!

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