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Being Arty When You Don't Have the Time: Keeping the Artistic Fires Burning
Part Time Painter by Nicole Cadet
Time is a precious commodity when you are a busy person. The more crazy your life, the less time you seem to have. And even when you get time, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is painting, paperwork or marketing. There will be times when you have to choose, have to cut back, have to be realistic about how much you can do.
For the past few months my day job has been incredibly draining. I have a full time job, and while there are a number of hours during the week 'free', after a really intense day I come home with a head feeling like Swiss cheese, and the desire to crash out in front of the TV with junk food and ignore everyone and everything for ... well, until the next day begins again.
When you're at this point, how do you retain your passion for art? How do you keep motivated? What kinds of things can you do that won't take all day, won't hurt your brain too much, and are still mildly artistic?
Spend 20 minutes trawling through online galleries. Bookmark a few pages for looking at later and change the wallpaper on your computer. Browse a stock photography gallery and write down some ideas for sketches that you can pick up later. These might be words, colors you want to try painting, names of mythic characters or stories to investigate, book titles that have interesting covers. Tack up a few photos or pictures that inspire you around your working area.
Read a book and allow the words to create pictures in your mind. Any book will allow you to escape. Get lost in the words. Think about the scenes, the colors, the textures and how you might paint them later.
Spend half an hour doing handicrafts (if you're that way inclined). I do hand sewing or knitting -- something that I can do without thinking. It's using my hands, which leaves my brain free to veg out. You might like to cook, do woodwork, make jewelery, garden.
Color in some pre-existing line-work. Remember those coloring books you had as a child? A great way to keep up the painting skills when you are too tired to develop a fully fledged painting is to start with a drawing already done. Play with colors, new brushes, different styles and techniques. If you are stuck for ideas on colors, do color samples from a favorite photograph or painting. Of course you aren't going to be able to sell the art or display it (unless the original artist has provided the image for use and display), but you might really be surprised at what you can do. Alternatively, if you've got some old sketches lying around, scan them into your computer or photocopy them as a starting point for a painting.
Repaint an old painting. Take a concept that you alternatively loved or hated the outcome of and repaint the picture. Maybe you could try it in a different medium or different style. Inverse the color scheme. If it was a black and white piece, add color. You drew the piece in a realistic style? Re-draw it in cartoon style. Take the characters and change their costumes, skin color or hairstyles. Spacemen become knights in shining armor, mermaids become mermen, pretty fairies become evil monsters.
Dress up and take some silly self-portraits to later inspire paintings. Even if you don't like the way you look, grab a blanket and drape it over yourself as though you were a cowled wizard. Take photos of objects around your house, take macro shots, take photos of strange shadows on the wall -- they don't have to be perfect photos, the idea is to get you looking and thinking about painting.
Look through some paintings you admire and do quick thumbnails of the composition or some aspect of the painting that draws you in. Artists used to take studies of master pieces. Do the same. Copy the face, sketch up the costume design, take the architecture and add to it. Write down why you like the painting. Is it the colors? Does the composition make your eyes flow around the page, is the pose strong. Again this isn't something you are likely to display online or sell, but it may kick start a painting or an idea for a painting.
Sketch whenever you can. On the train or bus if you have a long commute, in your lunch break, when you are waiting for a meeting to start, during the ads on TV, while waiting for your dinner to cook.
Subscribe to a magazine or blog that is focused on art that you want to learn, enjoy or are interested in. You don't have to read religiously. I only get to scan through my RSS feeds maybe once a week. I don't read every article, but sometimes one or two articles will catch my attention and make me want to try something different.
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