• Desley Stewart Artist

Can you find 7 hours per week to fast-track your art?

I get it. I work full time, have teenage kids, a dog that needs walking and a mountain of endless tasks that go with running a household.

So many people ask me: how do you find the time to put in the practice needed to fast-track your art skills?

While there’s no quick fix, and it will be easier on some weeks than others to find time for creativity, by tweaking your activities by an hour each day you can create a whopping 352 hours every year for art time!

Of course, some days you will only be able to squeeze in half an hour for art, but on other days your hour will turn into two or three and you will astound yourself by the improvement you see over a year.

My own experience suggests that the more you draw or paint, the more you will want to draw or paint, and your daily habit will go from ‘how can I find the time’ to ‘how can I not find the time’!

Here’s seven ways to find seven hours.

1. Drop one TV show

For me it was the nightly news. I realised that I was getting all the news I needed electronically, AND sitting down to watch the news every night for an hour. Now I head for my art space instead of the remote, and more often than not, I get so absorbed that one hour becomes two.

2. The sketchbook by the TV

My neighbours love sketching and for them, a folding table and a sketchbook near the TV (and the fireplace) compels them to pick up a pencil while they ‘watch’ or listen to a music channel. Have a stack of favourite photos printed, use a smart phone favourite image or even sketch the cat while it sleeps.

3 Slow cooker Sunday

This is a favourite of mine - throwing a meal into the slow cooker in the morning can save you an hour or more at the end of the day to practice your art instead of preparing dinner.

4 Workshops and demos

Going to a workshop counts as a whole day for fast-tracking your art – there’s always something you can learn from a good teacher in any medium. Demonstrations are also great for focussing your mind on a new technique without having to lug your gear. Choose a few at the start of each year and pay up-front so you’re motivated to get out of the house and go.

5 Make social media art-related

You’re too tired from a long day to think about picking up a pencil, so you pick up your smart phone and start scrolling through social media. If you create a profile on a platform where you only like things art-related, it counts as learning! Instead of looking at more selfies of friends curating perfect lives, you’ll be browsing all things art, learning what like-minded people are creating, how they are presenting it, where the exhibitions are and reading reviews on top new product ideas.

6 Art publications

Jump into bed with an art magazine if you want to fast-track your art. Be as specific as possible to your chosen genre and stuff your head full of ideas before you turn out the lights. Some favourites of mine are Pastel Journal, Australian Artist, International Artist, Plein Air, Fine Art Connoisseur – there’s too many to list.

7 Travel time is art time

Turn your car into your studio by listening to podcasts and audiobooks about art. Most people spend an hour or more travelling each day, and this is precious listening time. What you hear as you travel has the ability to change the way you think. Lately I’ve been listening to Andrew Tischler’s Creative Endeavour Podcast, Creativity Inc Audiobook by Ed Catmull and an absolute goldmine of inspiration, Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoades.

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