Finding time for Art?

 In Creativity

I am an Artist. It’s my career, my profession, its what I ‘do’.
It’s my day job ( my night job too). It’s the fire in my veins.
So what happens when I’m getting no art done?
How do I let that happen?
Am I even still an ‘Artist’ when I’m doing hardly any art at all?

I’ve been ‘on the road’ for the last month with huge, back to back exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne. Early starts and late finishes leave little ‘me’ time, little creative energy…and I start to worry about not being ‘creative everyday’.

I’m sure, what I am going through isn’t at all unusual. All arts professional need to take time to work on the ‘business end’ so their career continues to flourish and move forward. Being out of the cocoon and connecting with collectors of my work is essential. I have a chance to see what I have created with fresh eyes. I glimpse the legacy I am creating over my lifetime.

So, taking a step away from art making is a bit of a rush. For me, it’s a solitary process. I need space to create. It could quite easily be described as a rather selfish endeavor. So a step into the Outside World and to be in amongst crowds of people is a good thing.

At an exhibition, the prime focus is on me and my artwork of course. Being the centre of attention, public speaking, demonstrating what I do by painting live on stage takes a type of courage that is born of ‘just doing’. When I engage with people, I can feel the energy pouring out of me, I’m one of those ‘you have my undivided attention’ people. It’s exactly like creating art and at the end of the day, I’m pretty depleted and I need to rest to refresh and refill.

I also get to meet many of my online students and that’s a really magic moment for me, to hug someone I have come to know online through their art . There is laughter, much sharing of journals, sometimes there are tears. It’s emotional and the highlight of my days out in the ‘real world’.

So when I am ‘on Tour’ I am doing very important things. But I do leave behind being an ‘Artist’. I just don’t get to it… I may do a bit of painting, a smidge of journaling here and there. I pack all my art stuff and hardly look at it.

And yet I know that my students are squeezing their art into their days somehow. In amongst motherhood, jobs, partners, renovations, illness and life in general.

So am I letting myself down by not pushing myself to keep creating while I am on tour? Should I be planing my days and structuring ‘creative time’?

How do you feel when you go on a creative hiatus? Does it make you worry, or feel guilty? Does a little part of you whisper that you may ‘forget’ how to be creative if you don’t keep at it?

Or can a little break be a good thing? I come back into my Studio and see un-completed paintings with fresh eyes. I see all of my supplies anew and want to open up every draw and see if my pencils missed me ( they did!).

Other times, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things… I find that’s when attending a workshop is particularly helpful! To surround myself with other artists and learn some new skills. It can be a perfect creative kick-start.

Joynal starts on Monday and I am madly busy with all the admin preparations that entails. There’s still been little time for creating artwork for myself…but! I go into fairy mode tomorrow! And I can feel the excited anticipation of ideas that have been formulating in my mind for the past 6 months… things I want to draw, to paint, to teach. I like to expose the secrets of what I do. I like sharing my creativity. I love the challenge of breaking down what I create into its essential elements. I love sharing in my students creativity.

Even when I’m not creating art… I’m still always an Artist at heart. I feel it deep down, through and through.

How do you find time for Art? And when you don’t, how do you feel?



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Showing 24 comments
  • Beth

    p.s. I love that first image, with the crying bear holding the girl. I think you have painted a picture of my heart with that one.

  • Beth

    Love this conversation. For me, I battle with self-doubt, fear, and (to be honest) laziness. Those are the things that stop me from creating everyday. Those are things that I want to be pushing through more — because when I do, it feels so good, even when the actual art-making is hard or frustrating.

    But what about when you need a break? It sounds to me like you are doing creative things, even if you’re not actually picking up a paintbrush. And if you need a break, I say take it. I don’t know if it’s healthy to push through exhaustion or burnout. For example, would you say to a person who needs sleep that not sleeping is the key to feeling more awake? Probably not. 🙂 I love that you took the time you needed to be away from your art — and it sounds like you’ve come back to it refreshed!

  • Victoria Gobel

    Hi Jane, first off, I’m new to commenting. I’m a huge fan of your work. Being an artist means many things to me, I’m a fine artist as well. I find that reminding myself on a daily basis to be grateful for the “talent ” keeps me always feeling creative and at peace. You have MUCH to feel blessed. Our art has inspired me monthly.

  • Natalie Spence

    Jane i totally get where you are coming from here as its hard to run the business and do the business all at once. Thats why i love my art journal so much because she comes everywhere with me just waiting for that five minutes I have spare. I also take heaps of photos while i’m rushing around as inspiration can be stored instantly that way for me. Now that the hectic shows are over, have a cup of tea and let the faries carry you through the Joy nal endeavour. Big yellow hugs xxxxx

  • Angharad

    Hi, Just read your blog and just want to say its ok to keep on top of your own creating!! Artists will understand. I just do what I feel like doing and some night its all art. Some days its just reading, Some days its only cooking lol
    Thanks for a great website including art journaling, workshops, blog and delicious supplies!
    ps I dont like waiting for paint, gesso, inks to dry haha Think I might buy a heat gun 😉


  • annie!

    Wow Jane…you’ve asked some serious questions here. I believe that when I’m happy with when and where I am and remind myself that I have all the time in the world…which I do…it’s ALL Good.

    I came to your site via 21 Secrets which I’ve just enrolled in and I’m very happy that I’ll be getting to know you! Your art is poignant and beautiful.

  • Timaree

    Hi Danger! As a coincidence I just into’d myself on Joynal with the caveat that at times when I head to California to be with family my art sometimes gets derailed for a bit. I didn’t realize that happens to you too. My sister’s means of keeping art in her life when she is too tired out is to get a cup of tea and just look through some inspirational art book or magazine. It’s important for our creativity IMOH opinion that we give ourselves permission to “take 5”. Everyone needs a break and when you are doing your shows and being out amongst people which although exciting, can be very draining, then you need to be able to pull back and get off the rollercoaster! I could see you enjoyed the carnival and the rollercoaster ride but would you want to stay there? Creativity works best when we are rested and/or refreshed. It’s a very hard ting to learn how to let go and do but it is important.

    My sister’s method is looking at art books. I take a new class. What will work for you? When you are home a walk on the beach probably does wonders. When you are travelling on business … a new book? A relaxing dinner instead of a guilty night of no art? Surprise a waiter with a pretty face drawn on a clean napkin! Now I’ll go read what everyone else does.

  • Tammie

    I feel so much like you have expressed in this post. I am so craving creating at this moment, in fact after this comment the computer goes off and i must sit and sketch.

    it is quite interesting how faceted the benefits of making art are!

    you have been one busy busy lady! I am guessing that as you dive into fairyland that your art will not only be for us, it will be for you and those wee fairies will sprinkle magic all around your feelings and art. sending you a warm smile.

  • wendy walsh

    I have joined up for Journal because I just want to PLAY…..we all live such busy lives, for some, including myself, life has been more difficult lately than ever before….so Play I will, this will recharge me because i am surrounded by positive artists that love what they do regardless of the outcome. Jane…know that its you that empowers woman and the art will come…..effort equals perfect eh?

  • Gutsy Arts Girl

    Jane, I totally get your feelings. I own a couple businesses that are not “typically creative” and those business demands can be seen as distractions from my professional artistic journey. I wrestled with this for a long time. Your comments about quiet space to create resonate with me. I give myself totally and publicly to each student, or the audience or a client, and I also offer the same undivided attention to my art, and I don’t apologize for it. Those creations also have my respect, and focus. So how to successfully integrate?
    Here are a few tips that have worked for me to keep myself connected in both worlds: 1. Allow my creativity to be an action in my mind – not necessarily in my hand. I take a coffee time out, or a walk, or 5 min alone in a women’s washroom (if I am speaking somewhere) and dream. I think about shapes, textures, perspectives etc. I charge myself with my imagination. 2. I practice creative THINKING – where I use my love of layers to see LIFE through layers – what is today, will morph tomorrow. 🙂 3. I “draw” the line – I am no good on this earth if I don’t internally recharge. I look like an extrovert(as you do!) but I renew my energy like an introvert – I need space. SO, to BE what I need to BE in order to give what I have to the world, I must “create” space. And if that is the ONLY artistic thing I can do today, I will do it. 🙂 Finally, you will find my “need to paint” on napkins, toilet paper, coffee cups, you name it..all those imaginations just longing to come to life! Jane – I LOVE your work and your help and what you teach – and today I love you more for being so true, and open. HUGS

  • Donna L

    Jane – I am kinda of new to Mixed Media — about 1 year into it and thoroughly embracing it. I found you through 21 Secrets and have signed up for Draw Happy. I’ve been on vacation from work all week and I am loving the time to spend on being creative. I do get the feeling that I might “loose it” if I don’t keep using it. Back to reality for me Monday, it will be a hard day but at the end of it I will squeeze time for art. Thanks for sharing your gift!

  • Marit

    I’m fulltime busy with art and things around that – sorry if I’m using funny words, I’m tired ánd from the Netherlands and my mind is a bit slow, yet you raised an important question I like to think about and answer ’cause I’m in the middle of the same ‘lack of creativity’. I just published a magazine and I put all my time in that, and I find connecting with writers/artists inspiring I don’t have the energy to create much myself. I am not ‘on the road’, but sit at the table in the afternoon – cook a quick diner and feel ’empty’. I tried squeezing art in, as you say, but it does not work for me. When I ‘squeeze and push’ – my art is not good. I am a slow/thoughtful artist and I need time to create. When I have little time, like ‘only’ one hour, to create, I feel rushed and frustrated and nothing good comes from that. The moment when ‘business’ is over, I need a day or 2 (or 3, or 4) to come back to the ‘groove’… (I usually do a lot of housekeeping in that time, my beloved loves those day *teehee*)
    Enjoy the teaching, enjoy the ‘road’ and connection and everything will be fine. You are an artist no matter what!

  • Veronica

    Hi Jane, I also have to squeeze art into my life. I NEED it. I feel better having released my creative soul onto a blank piece of paper or canvas.
    However, sometimes, one has to just do what you can. Accept that a little bit of art is okay too. It’s better than nothing.
    I find that even if I can ooh and aah over the work in the gallery from your classes, that’s even artsy enough sometimes. It gets my mind going in creative circles without even picking up a pencil or paintbrush.
    Looking so forward to Joynal!

  • Angelique

    Dear Jane, what a lovely blog you have written. To share with us that even you find it hard at times to find time to create art. We who adore you are all in the same boat. Same as the girls above I have not joined up for Joynal yet at this stage as I have my dad coming over from overseas to come and stay with us for 3 months. So I have been busy getting work up to date and getting his room ready. I have not created as much art as last year when I did your course supplies me. Even though some days I feel the withdrawal symptoms of not being able to spend enough time, creating art, I am still buzzing from all that I have created last year. Knowing it is still waiting there for me whenever I am ready gives me so much energy everyday to get through all the jobs that have to be done. As I now don’t procrastinate difficult jobs anymore like I did in the past. Now I get it over and done with. As I know my reward will be time to make art.

  • Jane Davenport

    Hi Miriam, you can’t fall behind, because all my classes are open for SELF guided study for as long as they are open. You can keep on tuning in when it suits you. So there is no pressure – none at all sweetie! xoxox JAne

  • Karen Thomas

    Jane, I think you know who you are and that’s the most important thing. You are an artist. All wells need time to refill, so perhaps you could think of your time on tour as your refilling time. Taking less art stuff with you could release the pressure, you can create a lot with a paper and pencil!

    I have learned so much from the small amount of I heart drawing that I have done. I am trying to overcome my perfection issue and just let it flow. That is what you have taught me, so thank you.

    Very much looking forward to doing Joynal with you.


  • Alison Mackay

    Hi Jane, I see that you are off to a Papercraft fair in Brisbane in June. I’m wondering whether to go up for it (from Byron)…I’m into art journaling, not scrapbooking though, do you think it would be worth going to? I’ve only been into art journaling a few months and I’ve never been to anything like that so I don’t know what to expect!

    • Jane Davenport

      I would say YES! Scrapbookers and card makers have SO much awesome stuff being created for them! Archival, non-toxic, fast drying, convenient to use loveliness…. plus theres a MASSIVE book fair next door on the same weekend usually, so its a great day out!

  • Sharron chittick

    Well, I know there are a lot of us developing artists that thank you for the time and effort you put into your everything…and I hope you do one of those art weekends like in Perth in Sydney sometime- cause I would defiantly be there. Thanks Jane. Sharron from wollongong

  • Belinda Lindhardt

    Oh Jane,
    I can sooo relate, this is where i have been the past few months, hardly any time for art, that is why i havent signed up for Joynal, even tho i desperately want to, life has just been soo busy I just don’t think i can dedicate the time at the moment, it makes me feel like a bit of a fraud saying i am an artist when i havent been consistently making art lately.
    Strange isnt it.

    Love your post thankyou

    • Jane Davenport

      Love to You Belinda – I’ll miss you so much and your gorgeous art in Joynal – but you know you can join in anytime sweetie!

  • Mairin

    You don’t need a route. You just need a destination. If you are clear enough about what you want to achieve, you will find a way to achieve it. Options will present themselves. Possibilities will arise. When we become too concerned about following this road to that junction, then making this kind of a turn or that kind of a choice, we make ourselves vulnerable to all kinds of delay and diversion. Close your eyes. The child Jane is standing next to you. She whispers in your ear & gives you permission. Carry on, Danger.

    • Jane Davenport

      Thank you Mairin…. “The child Jane is standing next to you. She whispers in your ear & gives you permission. Carry on, Danger.” printing it out right now for the wall!

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