Dying To Paint But Where Does The Time Go!

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Dying To Paint But Where Does The Time Go!

I thought retirement would mean that I had more time to pursue my interests, and in particular painting, but the reality seems very different!

Honestly, surely it isn't much to ask to have a few hours now and then to have some peace and quiet to draw and paint?? I am not sure what goes wrong in my life, but all my spare time seems to be eaten into by all sorts of calls on my time. I then end up just plain exhausted at the end of it all and hardly in the mood to be creative - Catch 22 indeed - and it seems to be getting worse. I must be doing something wrong. How does everyone else cope with this dilemma. Do they just ignore everything and anything and paint when they want to or are they like me - struggling to find a space in the schedule. Thoughts of wandering off the the day to do some plein air sketching reduces me to slightly hysterical laughter as it just isn't happening. The older I get, the harder I work and I am sure it wasn't supposed to be like that. Perhaps I should be searching on Rightmove for a remote island in the Outer Hebrides to buy so I can disappear off the radar? Tempting at times.

Thea, where are you? Are you painting under DAC DAC????? Have you moved house now? I hope you are safe and well. Jennifer X

Hi Thea, I dont actually have any excuses for not painting. There's just hubby and me, the children are far away and I have virtually given up on housework (Iam the world's best minimalist when it comes to this topic) and gardening and golf dont really take up that much time, but none the less I have not picked up a brush in the last fortnight. My problem is I love starting a new painting (I have three on the go at the moment ... two oils and one pastel ) but at some point I just come to a standstill. Laziness, inability, Angst ? Who knows but I wish I had a cure for it! I think you are going to have to be pretty tough about your "time problem" and let everyone know how important it is to you. I hope it works out.

Thea, before we moved home last winter I had got in to a routine (after being through the same as you re time and not being able to say no etc). I realised that it was best to put aside a few full days, on these days I made huge pot of soup or stews so when I was hungry I didn't have to stop to cook. most of these days I worked in the mornings and maybe for a few hours in late afternoon. As I also like to paint outdoors or sketch I left a watercolour bag ready in the boot of the car for any time we were going out. I also always carry a sketchbook in my handbag so now I had no excuse not to paint. Sometime I was spending too much time looking on sites at other peoples work, and realised I was using that as an excuse - timewasting etc. I love to paint but sometimes it takes a huge effort to start, especially when you want to keep developing your style. It takes so much energy to start, so I allow myself to copy an old master every so often - I make myself learn from this process - look at the design and ask lots of questions so this gives me a break. Now we are nearly finished our renovations to our new home and I hope to get back to that routine. I hear some of my womed artist friends saying that men have it easier as their wives look after the housework, cooking and even all the admin if they are full time artists. It is difficult to say no to family. I do think that it is great if you can get away a few times a year to an art workshop, or even with a few like minded people who just want to paint !

That's good advice from Shirley T (whom I am a great fan of). I am sure I also have a list of reasons why it is not a good time to start a painting, continue a painting or even think about painting. I think the saying that you are only as good as your last painting tends to paralyse many people, me included, as I am never sure that I can produce anything half decent ever again. I look back at work and think, that looks good, but can I do it again? What I need to remember is that you need to put some distance between you and your painting to be able to evaluate it, so anything new you do will always look worse than past work. I have done this so many times - shoved a new work in a drawer (or even the bin!) on the basis that it is rubbish compared to what I have done before. I have then gone back weeks later and looked again and I can suddenly find merit in the work. There seem to be so many mental games in producing art that is is easy to get caught up in mind bending thoughts and never get around to putting a brush on paper. I think courage is what is required - know where I can buy some, lol!

Hi Thea, your last comment about fear of failure and anxiety about starting a new painting rings true with me. No matter how well a last painting turned out there's always that feeling that a new one won't match up to the last, especially if it's a new subject or style - and I do think we all need to tackle new things as often as possible to stop getting stale. I take heart from a comment of Shirley Trevenas that she finds almost any excuse not to start a new painting, even to the extent of finding some grotty chore to do in the house, but that she's now just accepted that it's part of being an artist and has learned to live with it. I believe she also said that when she feels like this she often just gets her paints out and plays around with them, rather than starting a new painting straight away, then the enthusiasm often returns without the pressure of producing a finished work!

Yes, Robert - all you say and more! I suspect that citing all the calls on my time is just my way of explaining why I don't just get on and paint. If I am totally honest, it is more likely the fear of failure and the sudden panic that I have no idea how to tackle a subject or painting which is actually to blame for my lack of being prolific. I think I need therapy!

Difficult, isn't it? What we really need is the confidence to know we have a few hours ahead of us in which to submerge ourselves in a painting - the trouble is that our lives tend not to work out like that: there are other people to be accommodated, letters to write, shopping to be done, and in my case a meeting today which I think was probably the biggest flaming waste of time I've undergone in months. And I don't even have children or grandchildren to add to the problem .... or a dog: dogs are good at gobbling up time, and they can be very uncooperative too; when I tried to sketch our last dog, she crept up on me, thrust her substantial muzzle beneath the pad, and thrust it upwards and out of my hands. And then sat back with a grin on her chops.... If you can be selfish, I think it's sometimes the only way; I've got better at refusing meetings and distractions - not sure it's made me a nicer person (well, it hasn't!) but I have managed to carve out some time for myself. And I've cleared the rest of the week, having lost all of today. Maybe you need to make it clear to your various loved ones that, love them though you do, your painting is important to you and you need to take the time to get on with it.... Oh, and neglect the housework; this is one secret I have mastered completely.

I must admit logging on to F B and PO L can be big distractors... Family life really does get in the way. At the moment I have two little beasties staying here . ( the two leggedy type) last week it was a four legged one here on his hols. . Life does take over but my days out with a sketching group are sacrosanct , we meet one a month...sometimes more , I get ready the night before and just DO IT. Otherwise as you all correctly say life takes over . I do try and squash stuff into odd half an hours and put off the loo cleaning and spud peeling. You are a long time gone! So make time for YOU.

Malcolm, I could shove a huge hoarding sign up with 'My Time' emblazoned on it and someone would still want me to do something in the day that cuts into my potential painting time. It is probably a lot of my own doing as I am super neat and tidy, so the house and garden have to be just so and that takes up a lot of time. The four grandchildren live on my doorstep and I am involved in lots of aspects of child care - lovely but it eats up the time. Laughably, I had this vision of me being retired and sitting in a nice comfy chair, eating buttered scones and doing the crossword - in my dreams! I should be firm and set aside a time in the week when I shut myself away in my studio and paint..... ahhh, but....what if I don't feel like painting on that day. Here we go again, lol! I think I'll probably have to just muddle through as I do at the moment and turn out a painting when I have the time, energy and inspiration.

Jenny, I know what you mean about POL - I too spend a lot of time (probably too much if I am honest) on the site, but then I do like seeing what work other people are producing. Art is a lonely pastime and spending time with like minded people, if only in cyber space, fills that gap. Perhaps I should be better at multi-tasking - doing an hours ironing and then breaking off to paint for an hour before going out to the supermarket? Sounds great in theory, but it doesn't seem to work for my mind or my creative juices. I always seem to end up painting in the evening when I know that everything is done, no-one can ask me to do anything and my time is finally my own. I bet Monet and Turner didn't have this problem (not that I am likening myself to them!).

You are quite right Thea, it is not to much to ask, but I have always thought that most of the time we are our own worst enemy's . We can only not have enough time if we do not make time and we tend not to make time because we just keep saying YES to everything else. There has to be a slot that has a great big illuminated sign on saying MY TIME that we treat as sacrosanct. I learnt over the years through hard experience it is something we all need to do, even more so at the time of life when you should be focusing on yourself more, we used to say in the 60s live for today tomorrow never comes, so if you do not find time to paint today, when are you going to paint, getting deep now, Ok I have my studio down the garden and I do not mind wind, rain or snow so maybe it is a man thing, or I am thick skinned from spending so much time on the mountains, so have a smile a day and sketch or paint for a time any time. SO SORRY if that was long and boring I do ramble at times.

Thea, your blog exactly sums up how I've been feeling recently. I need a clear head (and the energy!) to paint and it's not enough to have an hour or two between all the other tasks that need to be done. I've spent the past month or so catching up on some badly needed redecorating etc. at home and am now finding it so difficult to get back to painting again - and if I force myself to sit down and start something it invariably doesn't work and leaves me disheartened. I'm also at the moment too readily distracted by constantly logging into POL, which has become a bit of compulsion since I joined the community! I guess the answer is to try to ignore non-essential stuff and really focus on the painting, but it's not easy. I've got our art club's October exhibition to start organising soon, and I've so far only got one painting of my own to enter. Today was supposed to be a painting only day - maybe tomorrow!

Barbara, I have a wonderful studio that we built onto our house a year ago so you would think that I could just shut myself away and just paint in peace. Not so! I am too available now as I am in the house. My old studio was in the garden and the good thing about that was that I wasn't so easy to get to but the downside was that it was cold, despite having heating, and going down there on cold winter days or when it was raining put me off. So it would seem one can't win! Is this a female problem I wonder? Do men have the same issues?

Hi Thea, At least you DO paint. I've being saying I'm going to get back into painting ... for the last six years! I last painted regularly 40 years ago as a teenager. After many years of employment in offices and shops, I feel I would like to do something more creative and they say painting is a bit like meditating. But, like you, I need to clear the decks and there always seems to be something else that needs doing before I settle down to paint. I'm sure it would be much easier if I had a 'studio'. Somewhere where everything else could be shut out.

Posted by Barbara on Fri 07 Aug 16:19:37

You are so right, Linda. I find that I do have a spare hour sometimes, but the thought that I have to rush to pack in what needs doing to produce a painting in that time slot just puts me off. I find I mentally and emotionally have to clear the decks before I can settle down to draw or paint. I am sure this is a common problem with modern busy lives - it is just that I thought retirement would bring a slower pace of life and I am finding the opposite is true.

I know exactly what you are saying I have not touch paints for a fortnight! A whole day is needed to prepare draw up then paint! then interrupted you loose the momentum !!

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