Break out the Label Maker- Time Management for Artists

by Mindy on January 18, 2012

in Time Management

I have had people write into to me with questions about how to manage time. One of the biggest complaints I hear is,

"I never have enough time to paint, How do you do it?" 

Do you know where your kneaded eraser is?

One of the first things is to be dedicated. A long time ago when all my friends were getting married and talking about having children I made the early decision not to raise a family and commit my life to being an artist. I never really had the strong maternal "urge". My instincts were to create art and I knew that I would not be able to pursue my dream if I had children to raise. I know lots of artists who have done both; raised children and have a successful art career. For me it never seemed possible to do both. don't be discouraged you can still be focused too even with a family.

So in part to answer the question, "How do I do it?"   I immerse myself in my work. I constantly take and teach classes. I grow and raise my subjects. It seems everywhere I turn there is something that is art related surrounding me.

Of course I have the problem that others have about evil necessities like eating, sleeping, cleaning cat boxes, watching football with my husband and being the caregiver for my mother. Every artist has stumbling blocks. One summer my mother was very ill and it was almost impossible to get any art done. I stopped and thought about how was I wasting my time? My biggest issue was trying to find things…… Where are the scissors? my kneaded eraser, my favorite brush etc…. I was spending tons of energy and frustrating moments trying to find things. As we head into the New Year one of my ways of reclaiming time is to label the outside of all my drawers and storage compartments. I must have a dozen kneaded erasers and I have a pull out drawer that is labeled "erasers". When I clean up, I have a place to put those erasers that have grown legs and walked around the house. When I can't find an eraser I go to that box and viola! there they are, or at least one so I can get to work. Putting labels gives everything a home, a place to return to at the end of the day.

If you are looking to reclaim time so you have more time to create ask yourself, " How do I waste the most time during the day?"

Please leave your comments and solutions so that you can share with others how you "find more time to paint". We would love to hear from you!


I am almost finished with painting #3…….coming on Friday… The Pinocchio Orchid!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Bea Lancton January 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I have two major time-wasters, one is not being able to locate my tools.  I've done massive "organizational clean-ups" only to find that I can't find stuff after I've organized it.  Well, what a simple and perfect idea – labels!  That was a major "duhhh" moment when I read your blog post.  Thank you!
Oh, and the other is the computer, which points to a flaw in the self-discipline department.  It's a little like dieting – it requires a lifestyle change.

Gail January 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

When I started as a science teacher, my youngest of five was three. When I stopped teaching 17 years later, that child was twenty and the youngest was eleven. I was busy.  I fit art in here and there; I mainly did sketches and graphite drawings. I painted upon occasion. I would carry (and still do) a drawing/sketching "kit" in my purse and do art-on-the-go.
Today, my children are adults with some having children of their own. Happily, I spend the bulk of my time working on music and art equally. I have a room as a dedicated art studio. The best way for me to accomplish the things, is that I  *must* have deadlines. I also must prioritize. I use a daily planner to plan out each day in general time blocks. Unfortunately, homemaking is on the bottom of the list. I do what I must, but do not fuss.
(I took care of my total care mother. During that time I didn't get much artwork done! I was glad to to it. Art had to wait. :-))

Mindy January 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Hi Bea,
Sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective. I would periodically reorganize my studio and it would seem like a major overhaul.I would spend hours only to have it deteriorate in no time at all. With the labels on everything I am reminded of where things go. When I forget where something is the label tells ….. hey you……. the erasers are in the drawer marked “erasers”. I hope it makes your life as good as it made mine!

Mindy January 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Hi Gail,
A drawing/sketch kit is a great idea. I have used that when I am sitting in waiting rooms and doctor’s offices for my mother. I have even started doing silverpoint on the “go”. I have some small clay coated sketch pads made special for silverpoint and a silver stylus, This was I don’t even need an eraser or a pencil sharpener. Happy music and art making to you!

Jan January 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I noticed that things that fragment my day have very often been the biggest deterrent to painting.  A doctor's or other appointment, even a coffee date or lunch date might be enough to deter me from starting until "after."  Lately, though, I have found myself starting very early in the morning.  This morning I started at 6. (Sometimes I start even earlier)!   I turned down an offer to go to the gym (not so hard, really) and one to have coffee (a little harder).  Seems like once I get going I don't want to stop.  Then I take a long break at lunch to eat, run errands, tidy up, check email, return phone calls, etc.  Around 3 (eight minutes from now) I start up again.  Maybe it's getting an early start or maybe it's just a change in priority or both.  But it does seem to be working.
Right now I'm experimenting with the following.  Mindy, you said you wanted to do a painting a week.  That almost gave me an anxiety attack but I decided to do twenty gilded botanical paintings this year. Roughly 2 a month.  I finished one and started a second.  I have a number 3 and 4 in the planning stages meaning I'm waiting for the flowers to bloom!   There are also a number of shows I want to enter this year so there are a few "deadlines" I have to meet if I want to participate.  OH, it's 3:03 so I have to get going!

Mindy January 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Hi Jan!
Great to hear from you. I think it is important to find a quiet time (chunk of time) to paint. I used to get up really early too and that worked with me for many years. I try to keep a schedule that I can follow so that I get exercise and a cup of coffee with friends too. I am thrilled to hear that you have challenged yourself with 20 gilded paintings. That is a lot considering the many steps it takes to get to a final piece. My best of luck to you and I hope to see those fabulous paintings if not in person than on the web.

Julie Paradise January 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

With 2 little children (2 and 3 years old), the end of my studies and some "jobs" like scientific proofreading I have to be quite organized and disciplined. Often people ask me "when do you find the time to do this? I am too busy." and then you find out that they spend the most of the 3-4 hours they stay awake after the children went to bed in front of the TV. Or the computer. I think those alone cost most of those asking hours each day.
And there is a second task I quit — and handed over to my husband: The cooking! Ha! He does it perfectly and I have some more time then. (Never liked it anyway 😉

Mindy January 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Hi Julie,
I agree! Being a couch potato or a internet surfer can be a time waster. I was thinking about getting some laying hens to have organic eggs in my own backyard and realized I had spent over 5 hours on the internet over 2-3 days researching chickens! I decided that even though the organic eggs were more expensive it would be better than running after them in the yard! I use football season to do colored pencil in front of the tv. I can be with my husband and not be missing out on art time. My husband cooks a bit too… I clean cat boxes….LOL!

armond January 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Hi Mindy, 
Beware, as Einstein proved the older you get  the faster time goes by. so I use calenders, lists and alarms to help with my time management. Even with all these tools I still feel I am always catching up!!

Mindy January 21, 2012 at 11:01 am

Hi Armond! It is amazing how time flies. I find lists help me to remember…… as time flies by I find the older I get the more I forget!!! LOL!

renatabarilli January 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

I make list too, at the end I always find not have done everything, but I don't mind as following the list, I've done more then without. I have also find some tip to quickler houskeeping :like not to use iron just make things perfect before dry them, and so on . Finally 2hours in the afternoon are just for me: so I can do study and art. For this I'm said not to be around ever, or the busy one!!This year our son has starting university so he is  mainly in Milan and I'm planning my day life different.  The day I'm off work, I go to the fields and nobody stops me. I'm improving my time  and hope to became to a perfect one. The point is that going on, my interest are growing everywhere and every time I look around I find something to portrait. I'm happy !!!! ciao

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