Tuesday, January 31

How do you get creative on demand?

The reality is that I have way less time to paint than you would think. Basically anyone who runs a business knows, you have to spend a lot of time doing all of the little things. Things like setting up computers and printers, getting ink, paper, boxes...If you want, I can explain how all of these little things get done in my own studio, but today I want to talk about how to be creative on a schedule.

What I mean is that I try to stick to a schedule in the studio, otherwise I end up waisting the day on Pinterest, or answering emails all day, and scattering my energy. That means that on Monday, even if I am not feeling it, I paint. No work on commissions, or anything for anyone that requires thought. Just do whatever comes to naturally. I have a schedule for the rest of the week, and I want to share that with you too, but I  also want to know what ingenius tricks you use to stay on schedule.

This is what works for me:
1. Monday morning I wake up knowing that all of my essential emails and "businessy" things are taken care of for the the day (on account of I did it over the weekend, or on Friday.)

2. Workout! Cardio, weights and pilates. Gives me energy for the whole day.

I rave about Pilates to anyone who will listen!
3. My dear sweet Coco and Moxie get to go to daycare on Mondays. Mostly they are fine at the studio, but I like to be able to stay as late as I like, and sometimes they get anxious. I refuse to have anything distract me on my free paint days. The doggy daycare by us is great, inexpensive and they even have cameras so I can see them if I feel like it during the day. Plus they can groom them if I need it.

Of course I could get a sexy dog walker...
4. After I get to the studio, shower and settle in I order lunch (at like 10am). It feels so special to have someone else make my lunch, b/c I usually bring my own food. Today it was a spinach salmon salad and a cappuccino. Yum. Eat half, save half for later.

Not spinach, but pretty right?
5. Pump up the jams and start painting. I try to remember to take breaks, and drink a lot of water. Some days I like to jump around and dance, other days I just listen to "The Power of Now" and am super in the moment all day. This is one of the paintings I busted out today.

The best thing about Mondays is that I get to experiment all I want! This weekend I went to town at my local art shop (I use Utrecht on Peachtree) because they had a 30% off sale. Hollah! I bought drippy watercolors, neon spray paint, crazy tape, all kinds of graphite and charcoal pencils, gold leaf and also tons of different kinds of glossy messes in tubs for to make the paintings special. I used them all! By the end of the day I have a couple of finished paintings, and many half started ones. I can finish them up later this week, or save them for next free paint day!

So that is how I get my creative day in. How do you do it? Do you have to wait until after work, or the weekends? Do you just get creative whenever the mood strikes? I wan't to know! Lets talk about it.


  1. Brilliant post - thanks for sharing. I find it so hard being creative on demand, so I will be trying a few of your ideas! Jo xxx

  2. oh Michelle, such a great post. You don´t how I needed it. I am still looking for what works for me go get creative. At this moment nothing works, that´s why I am so much thinking about it. What I really want to do is to set a schedule for the painting and to eliminate all kinds of distractions. I am the scatty queen and I think this could be the only thing that helps. I have a day job, so I could set time in the evening (but then: the fatigue of the day..the soul draining stuff from work...I don´t want it to flow in my paintings). It seems a day on the weekend would be better. But then: first the flat hast to be tidied up (i live in a small city apartment in Madrid and it´s also my studio). I can´t concentrate and let go in a dirty and confused environment. Your post inspires me, thank you so much!

  3. Loved this post. It's nice to see how others schedule in their creative work time. I wish I had more time for this. I still have to work full time so it's really difficult to 'get creative' at 7:30 p.m. after a long, boring workday, walking the dog, cleaning up the house, making & eating dinner. Then I just want to watch an hour of TV and call in a night and read in bed. I really only have Sundays for a full creative day. Saturday is spent leisurely or running errands getting supplies. When sewing, one must have all that is needed for a project which can be a lot. Fabric, lining, dye, thread, cording, zippers, embellishment items...the list can go on and on. Anyway, I struggle with setting aside creative work time and also spending quality time with the husb since he travels all week. Thanks for sharing how you handle it!

  4. great post! Love the peek inside a creative mind. While I draw, illustrate everyday...as a medical illustrator it doesn't allow for very creative work. You can't take artistic license with someone's coronary bypass. Blogging (after work and kids are asleep) has become my creative outlet....allows me to enjoy others work, even if I don't have time to create my own right now

  5. I love hearing about all of your efforts to carve out time for creativity! Thank you.

  6. I just need my house to be clean. Simple as that. It clears up my mind to be more creative. Thanks for sharing some insight into your creative mind!

  7. Michelle, I loved hearing about your free Mondays. This sounds like such an important thing to keep your creativity up, keep growing and being true to your art. I'm the type who spends all day at my day job and has to wait until weekends and night to paint. I like to live vicariously through people like you! I'm going to steal that Monday lunch thing one day!

    P.S. love the new painting and spray paint integration.

  8. You rock! This is a great start to this post series! I try to be on campus, working or doing school office work at 10 am everyday. Does that happen? Ehhhhh. I need to step it up for working in the 'actual' studio. I always seem to randomly pump work out during toddler nap time. Hah!

  9. I am so impressed that you have this down to a science. It obviously works for you. I mean, that painting is kicking my ass. This is one thing that I really need to work on. I could wait forever for inspiration to hit, but it is a sneaky little booger. It tends to show up while I'm drifting off to sleep. And I put off sleep for no one.... not even inspiration. So basically I'm screwed. I'm gonna have to be more strict with myself.

  10. Wow, I loved hearing about how you get creative! It sounds like such a fun, special day! I still get creative whenever the mood strikes me. I am going to try some of your tips though next time!


  12. So interesting to hear about your process. Creativity on a schedule is very difficult, particularly with a whole other (non-creative) work life, kids, pets, family, friends. Life is busy! I work part-time, so basically I get small pockets of time to hit the studio between kid's naps and quiet play when I'm home, and after kid's bed times. My office days wipe me out so I generally don't get much done and have to catch up on the weekends.
    I find a few things helpful, like having a home studio with everything ready all the time, so I can literally walk in and get painting. By stepping in and putting a paintbrush in my hands, I can normally summon some kind of creativity, even if it's painted over the following day!

  13. As some of the other commenters mention, I also have a full time (non-creative) day job, and is usually too tired/busy in the evenings. I devote weekends, as much as possible, to drawing and painting. I agree with third room studio that it helps to have a studio at home (in my case a small table) with everything there, ready to go, so I can just start painting when inspiration hits, even if I only have an hour before bed. But I find that even if I schedule painting time on a weekend I end up frustrated, because not all the work I do is good, I have to paint a few crap ones before I 'nail it', I do feel like I sometimes waste my precious painting time! I know painting crap paintings is part of the process, but I do wish I had more time to devote to painting... Sorry for the super long comment! ~ Sara

  14. My problem is not really being creative on demand, but clearing all the clutter out of the day and being productive. Your process for minimizing distractions and producing so much work in a day is really inspiring- thanks!

  15. Thank you for your insightful comments! I also have to paint over many MANY paintings. I personally have to just get it out of my system, and then I get into a flow. That is why it is so great to have a place set up and ready to let you jump right into the action as soon as you are free, or the mood strikes. GREAT advice Third Room Studio.

    Also I agree that it must be hard to summon up creativity after a long day of work, cudos to you all for making it happen!

  16. Great post, I love the idea of a free paint day. I am going to add some free paint time to my schedule, it's to easy to get distracted by all the other stuff going on. I find it hard to be creative and have my computer on at the same time. Now, time to go to the art shop and buy some fun stuff to get painting with...

  17. Love this post! I am also so busy during the week with my job and finally am making time to be creative for myself again. I love hearing everyone's suggestions. I'm working on getting my table set up for making art in the 2nd bedroom- but it's a very small area. Michelle, your day sounds amazing!

  18. Yes, let's have more of these "how I work" type entries! I LOVE learning how other people work it's just so fascinating to me.

    Me, I work every morning from 6am - 8:30 or so, which is when I have to get ready for the day job. It usually involves a big warm up crayon drawing at the easel, then either sitting down and working on the ongoing project, drafting something, dealing with computer stuff -- whatever's needed.

    Then it's day job time, then back home (anywhere between 2pm and 5:30, depending on what happens) and then it's back to painting (or drawing, or computer things, whatever's needed) until about 8 or 9. Wind down. Begin again.


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