Open any art or painting magazine and you're bound to see advertisements for instructional videos and workshops. You'll also find opportunities for paint outs, plein air competitions and painting trips to exotic locations. There are ateliers offering classical instruction and plenty of books and blogs to whet your creative appetite. All well and good. But if you're like most artists, you have a day job.
Raise your hand if this sounds familiar. That infernal alarm clock wrests you out of slumberland. You trudge off to shower, dress and brew some coffee. A quick goodbye to the family and you're off to face the morning commute. The office offers the usual morning banter, gossip, meetings and deadlines. You steal a few moments to peruse your favorite art sites. But after the lunch break, you're immersed once again in your work. The late afternoon commute home. Dinner with the family, walk the dog and maybe...just maybe you'll have a bit of time to draw or paint.
Some weekends allow longer stretches of time for artwork, but there are always those intermittent obligations. A wedding here, a funeral there. Even pleasant plans, like a family vacation, can deny you the chance to create art.
When that workshop you've been waiting for finally arrives, you find yourself frustrated. The other participants seem further along than you. Your work feels forced and unrefined. You know you could do better if you only had more time to practice. More time. That familiar lament.
If you want your art to improve, you have to master your time management. Most of the successful people I know share a common trait. They are really good about how they manage their time. And effective time management comes down to two things. Simplification and personal discipline.
Simplification involves cutting out the non essential and learning to say no. Perhaps you joined a service club or said yes to that church bible study. Worthy efforts to be sure, but they deny you time to grow as an artist. Television is a wonderful, mindless escape. But it won't help you become a better artist.
Same for that weekend wine party or after work cocktails. Relaxing, but alcohol can be a huge de-motivator that will stunt your artistic growth. Clutter in your life will also nibble away at your creativity. It's hard to paint if the studio is a mess. Cut out non-essential commitments. Limit TV, booze and clutter. If you simplify your life, you can find more opportunities to create.
Personal discipline is often the magic ingredient that separates high achievement from mediocrity. Think about those brave souls you see jogging in the brisk morning air. Or those chaps out bicycling after work. Contrast them with the folks who sleep in, or the after work crowd who marinate at the local pub.
Highly disciplined people defer gratification and do hard things. They develop steady habits like getting up early to exercise. Or managing their schedules effectively to carve out more time to meet goals. For example, I sometimes take my lunch break in my office. By avoiding the drive to an eatery and time socializing, I can have a quick lunch and get more accomplished. That extra thirty minutes allows me the time to craft a blog post or sketch.
For me, my priorities are my health, my family and my artwork. My professional career certainly ranks up there and at times I have to sacrifice for it. But by saying no to the non-essential, simplifying my commitments and improving my personal discipline, I am able to create more time for my art.
Art instruction, painting videos and workshops can help. But if you want to realize consistent growth and greater creative fulfillment, you need to master time management. There are a number of tools and apps out there that can help you, but remember that this doesn't have to be complicated.
Some people waste far too much time planning and perfecting their time management plans.Keep it simple. Cut out the non-essential. Get up earlier, so your personal time won't compete with family time. Don't be afraid to say no to people who want to spend your time for you. Be gracious about it, but say no. Do hard things. It won't always be easy but you can do it. And when you do, your art will improve considerably.