Chris Hart - Find Time to Practice

Ah yes, the quintessential question for today’s overly-scheduled person. You carbon-based units amuse me. Nonetheless, I know that time is a precious commodity. So, how does one find the time to practice? The easiest way is to simply blow off school or work, and draw all day.

You probably already thought of that, but would like some other choices, too. Here’s the problem: Many budding artists go through intense creative spurts. These are often followed by lulls, where they do little, if any drawing. Common wisdom holds that, in order to practice, an artist needs to first feel inspired to create.

Jettison this ridiculous thought. Think about what would happen if everyone worked that way. You call up your plumber to fix a backed up toilet. And when he arrives, he just sits there, at your kitchen island, for an hour or two, while waiting for inspiration to hit him.

Not a good plan.

You’ve got to practice when you feel like it, and when you don’t feel like it. But don’t do it so intensely that you risk burning out, or dreading it. It’s much more effective to practice moderately, but with continuity, rather than in big spurts. As a general guideline, I recommend practicing 2-4 times a week, for 40 or more minutes at a time.

Now that we’ve decided on a reasonable schedule, let’s figure out how to fit it into your busy week. For me, I usually sketch for an hour or so while watching the day’s news on TV in the evening. As a result, my drawings improve, but I end up knowing precious little about world affairs.

Take a sketchpad with you to the beach. Take it on vacation. When you go to an amusement park where there are long lines. At the zoo, for sketching animals. In the plane or train. When you go to the park. At waiting rooms for doctors’ offices. Or, as you sit in a shoe store while your wife or girlfriend shops. Take it when you visit the in-laws. Or better yet, skip a visit to your in-laws and draw at home. The thing is that any time spent drawing is quality time. That’s because much of creativity happens at a subconscious level. When you split your attention between two different things at the same time it’s, it’s almost impossible to judge yourself critically. There’s only so much room in the brain. Therefore, creative work, like drawing, can sometimes flow better when you’re distracted.

So the take away for today is:

“Don’t stop whatever it is that you’re doing in order to draw. Just add drawing to whatever it is that you’re doing.”