Follow my 10 tips and find the time to paint.

Tingewick Studio when I first moved in before modifications. ©2013 - Cathy Read -

I’m often asked “Where do you find the time to paint?”

I’m married to my wonderful husband and a mother of 3 active young people. We have a dog and cat. I’m also building a business around my art.

I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I wonder myself.

When I’m on a tight deadline “Planned Neglect”is the simple answer. Before you start calling the NSPCC or social services, the neglect I’m talking about is more on the lines of housework. If I have a deadline, housework goes out the window. I make sure my family is fed, have clothes to wear and are where they should be in time. We’re usually on time, OK sometimes we might be a little late but most of the time we make it. That’s usually only when I have a deadline though. The rest of the time I try to be more organised.

These are the Top 10 tips which keep me on track,

  1. Have a studio –

    By leaving things set up so that when you’re at the studio you just get on and paint/draw. Your studio can be part of a room or a proper studio like mine below. When I started I had a designated piece of kitchen worktop where I left my art or scrapbook project. Ideas would often come to me as I passed which I would either do or note, depending on the project and whether it was the right time/stage to do it.

    Studio shortly after I moved in
    ©2013 – Cathy Read – Tingewick Studio after moving in.
  2. Regular studio time helps with that too.

    Little and often and on a regular basis.

  3. Have a notepad with you to take notes when an idea comes.

    I’ve been doing this for years now and the times I forget or decide not too, something always crops up.

  4. Use your phone to take pictures when you see something inspiring.

    Many of my best pieces have come from simply being in the right place at the right time. The photo for Lost and Abandoned in the City below was taken when I was a passenger in a car.

    ©2015 - Cathy Read - Lost and Abandoned in the City -
    ©2015 – Cathy Read – Lost and Abandoned in the City – Watercolour and Acrylic – 40 x 50 cm HR
  5. I work on several pictures as once.

    That way if I get stuck, or something is drying, I can make the most of my studio time. It also helps get over writers block.

  6. My painting area is organised.

    So I can find things without wasting time looking for them.

  7. I work in blocks.

    I find an hour is too short a time so schedule blocks of 2-3 hours where I paint. You need time to get into a creative mindset and the last thing you need to do is stop when you’re on a roll.

  8. Schedule to suit your working rhythms

    Because my studio time is restricted by the school run, I try to schedule meeting first thing or at the end of a day (see reason 7) If you want to stress me out, suggest we have a meeting at 11am.

  9. Take a book or a notepad/sketchpad with you when you travel or will need to wait.

    Make use of time where you are traveling to read, sketch or plan out projects etc. I pick my children up from school and often get there a bit early so I can park safely away from the gates. (Pass a school at home time and you’ll understand why) It means I often have 20 minutes to do something, Quick sketches and planning are often done in this time. In fact I often miss this time when I’m running late and my children turn up just as I park up. I also take a travel paint set and this picture was done over several sessions while I was waiting for my daughter outside her piano teachers house.

    ©2009 Cathy Read -House watercolour and ink
    ©2009 Cathy Read -House watercolour and ink
  10. Stop and leave unfinished pictures where you can see them often.

    There’s a lot of thinking required with art. Sometimes you get stuck, something isn’t working but you are not sure why. Don’t force it, or you’ll spend the whole time doing nothing. Instead, leave it propped up somewhere you can see it for a few days or weeks. Sometimes it’s space you need and one day you’ll pass by and think a) This is what it is, I need to do that. Or b) You realise it is finished, you just weren’t ready to let go.

These are the 10 that I use most often but there are bound to be more.


Do you have any tips to help you find the time to paint?

Let me know in the comments.

Cathy Read




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