Somewhere amid all this busy-ness: 4 ideas about creating when you’re crazy busy




September and I are at odds this year. Which is unusual, because its my birthday month and also the time of the Autumnal Equinox, both dates of which I rather enjoy a lot. But this year, I am just about as busy as I have been in a long time. We settled and moved into a new house last week, and then participated in the Doylestown Arts Festival over the weekend. We also have several other projects due to clients and few trips as well. And we have to make this old house livable and fun.


Basically what I am saying is we have a very full plate.


One thing that I always try to maintain is a routine to create. I usually block out of my schedule to focus on my artwork. All but needless to say, that time has basically been crunched into a small tight ball of making sure bathroom drains work, floors are clean and projects are sent out on time. My creative time has been sacrificed to the greater good of supporting ourselves and generally not dying from exposure.


But I know where my sanity comes from. If I don’t get a little time to work on my artwork, or ideas, then I become a very grumpy man. The kind of person my wife, daughter and even myself don’t want to be near.

I am striving to have small chunks of time for creating. To that end, I now offer a few small ideas to fill the gaps with.


1. Email as Notecard


I keep a draft email to myself open all the time at work. This way any ideas I want to record, can be typed easily, and I can also attach any sketches I do in Photoshop or Illustrator as well. I also set up a smart folder in Mail on my home computer that automatically stores email I send with the subject ‘ideas,’ so that I can get back to them quickly ..


2. 5 Cards: The Game


I work as a designer at a print shop for my day job, so one thing there is never a shortage of is small scraps of paper. I take advantage of this big-time by collecting square scraps about the size of a business card. I use these for notes and all kinds of things that actually have to do with work. But I also have been using them to make a little drawing challenge for myself.


Basically, I set a goal of completing 5 small drawings on these cards everyday. Sometimes these are 1 minute abstractions, just a simple composition of lines and masses, but others I get a few more minutes with and use them to copy an interesting face, animal, or place from Google images.


5 is an arbitrary number, but I like having a small goal to short for each day, just so I don’t get distracted from what I think is most important.


3. The Bathroom Board


Okay, be grossed out if you want, but anytime when I am just sitting around is primetime to think things out and come up with new ideas. I always have a pencil and a few scrap pieces of paper on standby at an accessible place. I won’t say I have had my best ideas here, but I have had a few ideas and been able to get quite a few short sketches done.


4. Sketch Yourself to Sleep


I’m a reader and often find an extra 10 or 15 minutes of reading before dozing off to the dreaming to be one of my favorite ways to end a day. But when I am short on sketching time, then I often let my evening books slide by.


In truth, sketching in bed isn’t always the most comfortable thing. You have to sit up a bit, and have your arms up, so I can’t keep it up too long. It is nice though to take advantage of that pre-dreamstate to sketch with. I often find I get all kinds of great ideas doing this, even though while doing it I don’t really have the wherewithal to really acknowledge what I am doing.


I read that DeKooning used to do a lot of sketching this way, so I feel that I am in good company doing it.


So there are a few ideas I have for filling my spare time with some art-making. It can be pretty tough to keep up with it considering how tired I am these days. But the reward of having a few moments to sketch and create are absolutely worth it to me.


And I am on the lookout for new ideas, so if you have any good ones chime in below.