Making Time to Paint

If you have trouble finding time to paint, you are in good company!

Last week I participated in the monthly meeting of the Hawaii Watercolor Society. Nine fabulous painters and all-around, great people surrounded me — these are some of my favorite people on the island. As we discussed the organization’s events and the year ahead, I kept hearing the same refrain:

“When will I find time to paint?”

Starting a new painting, "Called By the Sea"

Bit by bit, it gets done.

Finished!  View it here.

Every year, month, week, and day, we each start with the same number of minutes. Those minutes presumably belong to us to use as we see fit.

Yet I guarantee you will not do all of the things you want to do — EVER! Even if you scheduled your days to the max, you will never get “it all” done! Choices must be made.

We are creative people coming up with new ideas almost faster than we can write them down.

Some of us have a touch of “Shiny-Object Syndrome” whereby each new idea captures our imagination so quickly that before we know it we are lost down another rabbit hole of time and imagination.

What’s a Creative Person to do?

Make friends with structure AND develop a relationship with small windows of time.

Many of us are not fans of structure. We see it as confining and often rebel against it.

While it is true that too much structure will kill creative enthusiasm, not enough structure allows for too many wild and crazy thoughts to take root in our psyche. They are like weeds crowding out the flowers in a garden. Before you know it, our brain is a tangled mess.

That is why at the beginning of each week, I apply structure to my days.

First I list all of my “Ta-Dahs” (accomplishments) from the week before (none are too small!) in a sketchbook/notebook.

Then I list the things that did not get done last week.

I write in my journal as a way to corral my thoughts, so next I reread the previous weeks’ thoughts and record my “AHAs.”

Finally I list all of the things I want to do in the week to come.

I keep this list handy, carrying it with me back and forth between home and studio. When a task is complete, I record it on the left side of the notebook under the day it was done.

We usually think something will take more time than it actually does. If we wait until we have two-three hours of time before starting a big project, we accumulate SO MUCH DREAD in our heart that we might never start. 

Often the mounting dread weighs heavier and sucks more energy than the actual task will take.

Small windows of time are our friends. 

Set a timer for 15–20 minutes and focus on one task during that time. Even just 15 minutes will get you further ahead than if you do not start at all. This works especially well when faced with a task you do not want to do, or are afraid to start. 

This works really well with painting! Watercolor makes for easy, fast clean up, so even if you only have 15 minutes, you CAN paint, even just a little bit. You will feel better if you do!

Stitch enough 15-minute segments together and you will be amazed at all that you accomplish!