Laura and I have said “I just don’t have time to create art” many times while attending to our various life commitments, whether it has been personal (marriage, raising children) or professional (working outside our studio or tending to art business matters). Is this really true though? Yes, things happen and sometimes we temporarily have to step away from the studio. However, under normal circumstances why do we not have time for creating? Why are we not making it a priority?
I recently spoke about this topic on a live webinar for the National Art Education Association titled “Making Time for Making Art”. It is still available to listen to if you are a member of this organization. I thought I would share a synopses of the webinar here for those of you who are not members.
I spoke alongside two other artist/teachers: Craig Hinshaw and Donna Anderson. I started by introducing myself and then launching into three tips that may be helpful for those who are looking to carve out more studio time.
It is important to recognize that knowing ones voice (your voice being the connecting thread to all the pieces of your life and then communicating clearly what you have to say to others) takes a long time to develop clearly. I didn’t know my full voice until I left graduate school at the age of 35. That is after about 20 years of working at it!
Notice your patterns. What topics do you keep coming back to? What materials inspire you to work longer and push your ideas further? What imagery keeps repeating in your work?
Allowing oneself to walk in the muck of not knowing where the art is going yet, is crucial. This photo is of my current series of art. I am not sure where it is all going but I am very excited about it, which means I am on to something. When it is finished, I will sit back and put words around it.
Time is our biggest enemy. There never seems to be enough of it. I really like google calendar for managing my time. It reminds me what I need to do when I get lost in the chaos of teaching, art making, and parenting. I even share a family google calendar with my husband which I know has saved our marriage several times avoiding the ultimate pitfall of miscommunication! This graphic is a bit tiny but I will tell you the key. Purple and green are teaching, red is family commitments, blue is exercise, and orange is studio time.
This crazy schedule has helped me discipline my time and form positive studio habits.
It is also important to understand when your creative mind is most alert. For me, that is the morning so I schedule my longest studio session on Sunday mornings from 5:30am- noon every week.
Over the years of attending artist exhibitions and inviting other artists to my studio for coffee I have found a tribe of local artists I enjoy spending time with (pictured on the left). We meet monthly. Not many of these people are teachers so it helps me keep the art world in a perspective outside of my experiences. It also helps me to be accountable on how I am moving forward as an artist. When I hear about all the wonderful opportunities they have found, I want to up my game to run with these cats!
And then there is the lovely Laura on the right, always checking in with me and asking good questions about where I am headed in my art practice.
Ask yourself where your time is being spent and why creativity may not a priority if you find yourself saying “I don’t have time for art.”. It is a valuable exercise for everyone to track their time. There are a lot of other programs and people who speak better than me on this, but once you have nailed where your excess time is, I am pretty sure you will see where you can fit in at least ten hours a week for your creative practice. Yes, I said 10 hours! If I can do this with a full-time teaching job and parenting two children, I know you can too :)
I hope this helps,