How many people actually have time to make art every day? And how can you do it without getting tired of your art practice and being in the studio? What could fall apart in your life if you spend every day making your art?
Not every artist has these kinds of thoughts, but I do. In high school I was balancing art with high school cheer and gymnastics, maintaining my GPA, and spending time with friends. I made a ton of art in college when I was in art school.
But no matter how much art I made, I didn’t figure out what I really wanted to do with it after school, which made college graduation terrifying instead of exciting.
And making art as an adult is hard. Balancing work, family, and all the other things that are important to me means that I sometimes go for months without finishing a piece.
But I have some tools that can help, and I’ve used these tools many times to continue to make art, even when life is hectic. Sometimes I even find a way to make art every day.
1. Just Make Art Every Day
Some people dedicate their whole selves to art practice. Some because it’s their job, others are lucky, and still others have found a way to support themselves with their art. Some art high school students are building a portfolio or trying to get into art school. For these people, it’s about keeping it interesting.
To make art every day without getting bored, choose a problem to solve or a topic that fascinates you. Many artists are conscious or subconscious collectors.
For example, I collect pictures of:
- Pictures of clouds
- Amusement parks
- Fire escapes
I’ve never experienced artist’s block or run out of ideas. In fact, I have too many ideas to create them all and struggle with editing my ideas. It can sometimes take months to figure out what is good and what isn’t.
Unfortunately, the only way I can test my ideas is by executing them. This means it usually takes three or four years after each show to create another body of work that operates the way I want it to.
Ideally, I would be in the studio every day to speed up the process, but that’s not the life I lead. It may not be yours either, so keep reading.
2. Schedule Studio Time
I work full time, so if I’m making art, it’s usually on weekday evenings or on the weekend. If I don’t schedule time, feeling tired or other fun activities can quickly pull me away from my studio.
During the pandemic, my studio practice suffered, and I didn’t finish a piece between July 2020 and December 2021. It was important to me to change that in the new year, so I set aside one night a week to be in the studio.
Sometimes I work on projects at other times, but every Wednesday night I spend at least an hour making my work. It’s not the amount of time I used to spend, but I can see consistent progress no matter how busy I am.
3. Buy an Art Planner
I am an advocate of planning. For everything else in my life, I use calendars, bulletin board charts, and other visual tools to plan and structure my time.
When it comes to experimenting in the studio, if I plan too much it’s not as much fun. I enjoy the discovery and I feel like my work is better when I get in my own way.
But when I am preparing for an exhibit or balancing multiple creative projects, an art planner is a smart tool to take advantage of. I break out each step by the amount of time it will take, accounting for drying time and other challenges that can extend the timeline of an art project.
I also use a planner when I need to run experiments for site-specific installations. If I have an installation in a new space with a different scale, temperature, or lighting than my studio, I often have to play with materials to get the desired effect.
Using an art planner helps me work backward from the final vision of a collection of work. It gives me a space to anticipate variables, order alternate materials, and play with ideas before a deadline hits me.
My favorite planners for art have a calendar function because that’s the easiest way for me to visualize time. You don’t need a fancy art planner either.
For some, planners that come with stickers, colored pens, and other fun extras are a distraction. For others, these extra tools can help with focus and time. Pick an art planner that works for you.
4. Do a Sprint
Another strategy is to make art every day for a set period of time. There are two ways to approach this.
Approach one is to set a time period when you will make art every day. It’s up to you how long this period will be. An easy way to make this happen is to go on a residency and focus on art during that set time. Most residencies run from two weeks to three months.
Approach two is to set a goal for output. For example, I was making 6×6 inch drawings on wood during my second semester of graduate school. I’d made about 20 drawings in a month and was excited by my progress.
Then I had a studio visit with Lance Fung, a curator. He recommended that I try to make 100 drawings in the next two weeks.
The drawings I made were mostly just as good as the first few, and many were better. This approach also gave me a lot more to work with and think about. I had more pieces to choose from when it came to editing the work for shows.
This volume of pieces also led to some fun ideas and challenges for installation.
4. Take a Break
You might think that you want to make art every day. But many people make art without direction or really spending time with the work.
Sometimes taking a break is the best way to work through your ideas. Other times it gives you fresh eyes to see where you want to go next or how you can improve.
A break can also give you time to look at the work of other artists or to get some inspiration to renew your excitement about your work.
So, experiment with these ideas, and try what you think will work best for you.