If you want to get better at art, you have to practice. One of the reasons my art has gotten much better over the past few years is that I draw almost every day. The trouble is, very few of us can afford to be full time artists, so how do make time to practice? This post is going to talk about some of my strategies for getting art done every day. Some of them may work for you and some not. Hopefully they’ll at least help a little!
1) Make it a habit
If you can set aside each day to work on some art, especially if you can do it at the same time, you’ll start to form a habit. You’ll find that at 9:30am you’ll start to automatically head to the drawing board, or get out your pencils, because that’s what you’ve done for the last three weeks. Personally, I start every weekday at 9:30am. Since I work from home, it’s easy to be lax about when I start, so setting alarms on my phone helps keep me on time. Even a short amount of time each day is useful, so try and fit it in if you can.
2) Set limits
In my opinion, it’s much better to draw for an hour each day than draw for seven hours straight. Even if you’re ‘in the zone’ and things are going well, you’re going to get tired, and when people are tired they get sloppy. I much prefer do a bit on a project each day and then coming back with fresh eyes.
It’s also much better for your mental and physical health to take breaks and set limits on your art time. I have a bad back, so I draw in one-hour chunks and take a half hour break in between. My schedule on weekdays is 9:30 to 10:30am, and 11:00 to 12:00pm. I start a one hour timer when I sit down so I don’t lose track of time, and once my hour’s up, I go do something active for half an hour, like physio exercises or walking the dog.
3) Take time off
It’s okay to give yourself time off. For a self-employed artist, it’s pretty easy to take a day off whenever you need to. The tricky part here is balance; you if you take three days off every week, then you aren’t really drawing most days. But when I wake up with a migraine, or I’ve gone to a craft fair on the weekend, I give myself a day off and don’t beat myself up about it. We all need time off!
4) Give something up
One of the biggest difficulties I faced when I first started my business was that I was working two jobs, and had a few occasional other jobs as well. When I added in the art business, I very quickly became overwhelmed with the amount I was doing. Basically, all of my free time went into completing commissions, and I had no time for fun stuff.
I ended up quitting one of my jobs, not so I could do more art, but so I could do my art and be able to have some down time. You may be able to do everything for a little while, but that kind of thing isn’t sustainable. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying quit everything just to do art, but if you want to be serious about improving, you do have to make time for the art. And the thing you give up for your art shouldn’t be video games, reading, or your time at the gym. You need that down time for your mental health!
Of course, if you have eight hours to spare every day, I’m sure you can fit in a few hours of art without having to give up too much! It’s all about balance.
I hope these tips can give you a little bit of an idea of how to make time for practicing your art. Remember, even a little bit of practice most days of the week will make a big difference!