I get summers off at BYU, which sounds awesome and laid-back, but in reality I'm spending that time working on freelance character design, illustration, preparation for my classes, and various tasks around the house. I get to set my own schedule, but it's always full no matter what order I put things into. What I thought would be a great break where I could do a lot of my own work has been just as busy as the semesters when I'm teaching.
So I've been thinking a lot about an answer Marcelo Vignali gave in a great interview with Bobby Chiu a while back. Answering a question about how he finds time for figure drawing, he said he makes figure drawing non-negotiable. In other words, he schedules time for it, and when that time comes, no other task takes priority, no matter how urgent (of course this doesn't apply to the house burning down scenario. Or maybe it does: guess I don't know Marcelo well enough to say for sure).
I've taken that "non-negotiable" mindset with my personal art these last few months, and I'm so glad I did. I have a block of time scheduled for it every morning---not much, just an hour---but it's enough for me to chip away at stuff that comes out of my own head. I can't say I've gotten to the point where it's non-negotiable yet; there have been days when I've skipped it for a big deadline, but I'm getting pretty consistent. And amazingly, even slowly chipping away at it is deeply satisfying, and I find more energy for the jobs I have to do afterward. For me personally, it works best to not overthink what I use that time to paint on---sometimes an idea works out and sometimes it doesn't. That's not the part that matters.
|One of the paintings I've been slowly chipping away at. Not because it's worth painting, but because it's good for me to sometimes paint stuff just for fun.|
And while you're at it, go read this article.