Doing it All

Make Time for Art – Part 1

When it comes to the really important stuff – the stuff we want to do, that’s good for us, the stuff that’s really important in life – it always seems to come down to time. Between balancing motherhood, career, and creativity, I’ve learned a few things about how to make time for art. This series is all about making sure you have time for art, without dropping the ball on all of your other responsibilities.

Young Mother Contemplating By Albert Anker - SIKART dictionary and database. SIK inventory number 92320., Public Domain, Link
This is not what motherhood actually looks like.

How Much Time, Exactly?

The answer varies. Ideally, I’d like to get around 15 hours a week in the studio, paintbrush in hand. That breaks down to 2 hours/day, Mon-Fri, and 5 hours broken up between evenings and weekends. That’s pretty ambitious, considering I also work full time and manage the chaos of a big family.

The total number of hours you’ll need depends on your goals. Maybe half an hour every day to work in your art journal is what you need to stay sane. Or maybe you’re a full-time working artist and you need to set aside 20-30 hours a week in the studio, plus time for the business side of art. In any case, don’t guess about this one. The more accurate your estimate is, the less crazy you’ll make yourself. Trust me on this one!

What Kind of Artist Are You?

Again, it depends on your art practice and your goals. Here’s how I would go about answering this question in three situations:

  • Hobby Artist – you fall into this category if art is something you do strictly for yourself, because you enjoy it or because it’s an important part of your personal wellness practice. It’s important to you, and you’ll make time for it, but nobody’s going to die if you skip a day or a week.
  • Student Artist – if you’ve committed to leveling up your artistic skills, either through formal art school or a self-directed program of learning and practice, you’re a student artist.
  • Working Artist – you’re a working artist if making stuff is part (or all) of how you pay your bills. Art isn’t something you do when you have some extra time, it’s your job and you show up in the studio whether you feel like it or not.

Here’s the super-critical thing to understand: These three categories aren’t hierarchical. If you’re a Hobby Artist, you can probably learn something about making time for your art from Students or Working Artists. If you’re a Working Artist, you might be surprised at the ingenuity of Hobby Artists when it comes to blocking out time to create. And Students – your whole goal is to learn, so soak up knowledge wherever you can get it, and be generous with sharing when you find something that works.

How Do You Decide How Much Time You Need?

As a Hobby or Working Artist, I would keep it simple. Glance at the clock when you start working on a project, and make a note of the time when you stop to do something else. Keep track of the time you spend over the course of several days, and think about whether or not you feel like you get enough time to do the projects you want to do. (If you’re reading this, my guess is the answer is no!) Do you wish you could spend twice as much time every time you pull out the art supplies? Or do you feel the need to create more consistently? Make a couple of notes about how you feel about your art time.

As a Student Artist, I added up how much “in-class” time I’m committed to in each of my art classes. Since I’m taking them online, I added up the length of each teaching video. Then I doubled that number to account for actual painting time. In hindsight, I probably should have tripled it. I don’t paint as fast as my teachers do!

Once you have a solid number of hours you need per week, you can start hacking your schedule to make it happen. Come back next week for part 2 in the Make Time For Art series!

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