“I want to get back into painting, but I just don’t have the time.”
I hear it every day. “Maybe that’s because you’re in the art world,” you might say. Well, I’m here to tell you, I’m not only messenger of the Society of Degenerate Painters, I’m also its president. Correction – it’s former president. I’ve resigned that commission. And, it was easier than I thought. I’ve now discovered that the statement made by those, including myself, is not a statement of disadvantage but a statement representing lack of real desire.
But for years, I actually believed this statement. I said it so often, that I actually began to believe that I did not have a single moment of the day to make art. I therefore, committed one of the fatal sins of the unsuccessful despite my mother’s constant iteration: “Can’t never could.”
Most of us with an artists mind have one thing in common: an insatiable urge to create. Some are able to carve out time to make… some are not. It’s getting out of the rut of the forever block that separates us creating time to make art instead of finding reasons not to – in whatever way they can. You see, I’m an acrylic artist or I had been in my former life. But kids, house projects and other hobbies took the studio space and time for art. But not really… that was just the excuse I had conjured. And in the end, I had to step outside of my comfort zone to satisfy my urge.
A year or so ago, the urge took control. I had to paint or I was going to burst. But as I said, I had to step out of my comfort zone – make art in a way I had not before. In my previous post, I recalled that the masters sketched in watercolor… and it seemed like less baggage.
So, how would I advise other degenerates looking to defect?

1) Make a commitment.

I really don’t have a lot of time. With a new child and another one on the way, I feel like I have a very good reason to hang my hat on the “I can’t” hook. But, that simply was not true. I had 15 minutes a day – just 15 minutes to paint. That doesn’t seem like much… but I could commit to it.
With only 15 minutes, coming up with a subject was the next difficult challenge. So, I joined a doodle challenge. It made the commitment that much easier as my subject was chosen for me.
Because, I knew I was so scatterbrained at this point in my life, I also couldn’t commit to finishing a complicated painting. Each painting must be finished in 1 day – in just 15 minutes. I repeat that, because it even sounded crazy to me. But, I just wanted to paint. Not make any statements at this point.
So I had 15 minutes everyday, and a subject. I also determined that I couldn’t accomplish a large painting in that time frame, so the painting had to be no larger than 6” x 6”.
This was my commitment to satisfy my artistic urge. (Full disclosure: As I got “into” a painting, I sometimes went over my allotted 15 minutes. But, that’s kind of the whole point isn’t it?)

2) Stick with it.

Like you would breakfast, lunch or dinner.

3) Stick with it.

Like it’s your job.

4) Stick with it.

Like it’s your passion.
Here’s my month worth of painting. I’ve misplaced some of the originals, posted in no particular order, and will add the images back as I can. As you can see, some are successful… some are not. But, I learned so much from this exercise. Most importantly: “I can”.



One more thing that gives me a creative outlet and provides me peace of mind.

15 Minutes of Painting

27 Responses

  1. CArol Anderson
    CArol Anderson
    June 22, 2017 at 11:41 am | Reply

    Loved your subject matter today since I am also one of those artists who has fallen to the world of “can’t find the time to reconnect with my passion.”

    However, there is somewhat of a twist here since when I think about the upshot of getting back my “mojo,” I now believe it will not just go a bit over the allocated 15 minutes, but… will surely take over my life!

    Not necessarily a BAD thing, but, when you live alone and there’s no one to count on but yourself for getting the things of life accomplished, tearing myself away (especially when I’m in a sweet place) can be a very real fear. So I procrastinate, hoping to find the answer. Life is complicated!

    1. Your Muse
      Your Muse
      June 28, 2017 at 7:08 am | Reply

      Envision in your mind’s eye, the picture of life tearing you away from a sweet place.
      What pictures intrigue you when you consider a sweet place, dragging you from the necessities of life?

      Spending 15 minutes envisioning artworks, happens daily, without conscious effort. The discipline, is to distill your best visions such that you can express those that touch you, in the time you can give them.

      If you set up a location that supports your art, you’ll find that you spend too much time there sometimes, but not enough at others. But if you let the quality of your vision define the time you spend with your art, it too will be a sweet place.

  2. Denise Williamson
    Denise Williamson
    June 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Reply

    I, too, am always waiting for that perfect inspiration, perfect idea, great skill, angle and lighting to make the perfect piece. Great idea! Fifteen minutes. Just started my first oil painting yesterday. Haven’t used that medium for 29 years.

  3. Sannojo Hasshu
    Sannojo Hasshu
    June 27, 2017 at 11:46 am | Reply

    Thank you for your post. I completely relate to it. Now I feel that I must not just carry around my sketchbook, but add to it even if it’s “not perfect” or “not having enough time.”

  4. Gerald Murray
    Gerald Murray
    June 29, 2017 at 4:18 am | Reply

    Thank you for this timely article. I have had some personal devastation recently and have had no desire to do anything much less something Ive always enjoyed.

    Maybe this is exactly what’s needed.

    Thank you!

  5. Victoria Miller
    Victoria Miller
    July 3, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your paintings which are delightful! I, too, am finally getting back to painting this summer, and your sharing is wonderful inspiration and a great example of how to do it without self-intimidation through biting off more than you can chew! I’m going to set the timer on the microwave for 15 minutes when I’m ready to go, and I will make every effort to do it each day for a month! Sharing truly helps. Thank you all for sharing!

  6. Joe Campise
    Joe Campise
    July 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Reply

    I can relate very well to these comments about timecand more importantly the inertia needed to just ” get painting”…but, painting is ” work”…and certainly not a mindless activity …once in the groove though…I find it hard to even stop for a drink…eat..or even a bathroom break…it just takes me away to another zone…

  7. Jerry ODonnell
    Jerry ODonnell
    July 29, 2017 at 9:54 pm | Reply

    I teach a group of seniors at our church,due to start a new class in September,have been stuck in “what am I going to teach, since I can’t think what I want to paint.Guess I will check the free videos

  8. Sue Weber
    Sue Weber
    September 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with this lovely blog, commit and create! I used to think that if I took time to create art, I was being selfish. Now, I feel that’s bologna! Is breathing selfish? Is eating selfish? To an artist, creating art is THAT vital. It’s important to feed & nurture that part of yourself. It helps you appreciate the world around you, it helps keep your creative self alive and well. To be a good partner/sibling/parent/child you need to be creative. I always felt calmed, satisfied & fulfilled even after just doodling in my textbooks in college. It made me better at listening & absorbing all the world around me. Nurturing your creative side helps your problem solving skills. When I was young, I had to make a very difficult desision: art school or nursing school. Even though I had longed to be an artist since the age of 5, I chose nursing school. No regrets. I drew, doodled & painted whenever & wherever I could while I worked & raised 2 great kids. I made opportunities to create art when they were young. Now, I get to create with my grandchildren. I feel it’s vital to teach the younger generation that being creative is NOT selfish. It’s a vital part of being a good human being. I create art everday, even if it’s in a sketchbook. I got in the practice of always having a sketchbook with me. I am profoundly grateful for every moment that I have to pick up a pencil, pen, brush or marker, even if it’s just a few minutes of sketching. I feel better & maybe someday the little sketch will make someone else feel better… The artist/nurse in me REEEALLY wants to heal the world with beautiful, cheerful, creative art.

  9. Rene Ghelman
    Rene Ghelman
    September 29, 2017 at 11:07 pm | Reply

    I am not sure that I am on the right side of the theme, but the moment that reading some comments on 15 minutes and watercolor, 3 words made to ring a bell somewhere into my mind: “15 minutes watercolor”. Nothing could express better about the watercolor art than those 3 words. Since my childhood, I had a little box with three or four colors, a small brush and a piece of paper. Being at the beaches of the Black Sea, together with my brother and a friend we were building kites and painting watercolors. Later in life, as an architect, drawing and rendering my projects, watercolors were always there at hand. After retirement, I had finally the right time for my watercolors. I had as well the opportunity to show my art for sale in a “One of a kind” show. One day, a pair of not very young people came to admire my watercolors, asking about the price of one of them and about the time I need to make that piece of art. I was a little embarrassed about that question and I said “well, 15-20 minutes#. “And for 15 minutes of work you ask 300 dollars” was the only thing they said before quickly leaving. Thinking later about that, I had a bad feeling of my lack a fast answer, to tell them that there are not 15 minutes but a whole life of work to achieve to master watercolors painting. This is a short story, but with a deep meaning. Painting watercolors is a spontaneous art.

    1. joan iaconetti
      December 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Reply

      Rene, I could not agree with you more. The next time someone asks “How long did it take you to paint that?” try the response I always use: Smile and say, “About 19 years” — which is as long as I’ve been painting. You’re so right — it’s not the amount of minutes or hours it took, but the years you’ve spent developing your skill and expertise and vision. You can also say, “You know, I’m always working on several pieces at a time, and sometimes I can’t paint every day, so it’s hard to keep track of how many hours I’ve put into one painting.” That’s hard to argue with, and tells people you’re a serious artist. Few non-watercolorists understand how the medium DOES lend itself to spontaneous, quick beauty…after you’ve put in the years to master it.

    2. cathleen gholson
      cathleen gholson
      February 24, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Reply

      it’s a wonderful story.

    3. Marie Baumann
      Marie Baumann
      February 27, 2018 at 9:48 am | Reply

      I know a very accomplished artist/art teacher. When asked how long it took her to do some painting or another, she replied: “30 years”, meaning that all her past 30 years of experience went into that painting. I love that response!

    4. Maria Luna
      Maria Luna
      June 7, 2018 at 10:28 am | Reply

      That is so true we artists have been doing this our whole lives! You have made a good point. I hear you.

  10. Camille
    November 6, 2017 at 11:13 am | Reply

    Thank you, I have the must paint or I’ll burst feeling too right now too. This is what I needed to hear!

  11. Marilyn
    November 14, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Reply

    I have a group of senior citizens, do you have patterns I can buy for them to paint

  12. Katie Turner
    November 18, 2017 at 11:25 am | Reply

    I too am a big fan of the 15 minute watercolor warm-up. I post my daily warm-ups on instagram (katieturnerart) and even have a short article that ran about the 15 minute trick (http://www.ktartstudio.com/articles). It’s a great way to exercise building your painting muscles!

  13. Phil
    November 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Reply

    What is it about – Time? We always want more and Never have enough. Fortunately God gave you just the right amount you need. But it is up to you how you spend it.
    If you find yourself at a point that you want to paint (or continue to paint) and time is the only excuse for you NOT to paint.
    Then fix it.
    And stop whining if you don’t.

  14. Bonnie Hebert
    Bonnie Hebert
    December 7, 2017 at 9:44 pm | Reply

    Awesome inspiration

  15. Elissa Bereznak
    Elissa Bereznak
    December 25, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Reply

    I mostly work with watercolors. I have a table set up with all of my supplies. Even if I do not have a particular picture in mind, I dabble on my watercolor paper every day. After I do this warm up, I think of something I want to paint, even it if is only some fruit or my “fantasy” flowers.

  16. Victoria Alger
    January 18, 2018 at 9:53 am | Reply

    Thank you for the artistic “kick in the butt” today!

    March 14, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Reply

    Thanks for the inspiration. I am fairly new to expressing myself through painting and I often get anxious with just sitting down and decising what I want.to paint. Its in my heart but hard to put what I see and feel on paper. Your post message to me is just paint! Get out of my head and just paint. Do it everyday and I think I won’t be intimidated with all I don’t know (head again). Thanks

  18. Jane
    April 25, 2018 at 10:33 am | Reply

    I am like so many artists who do not have a studio place so it seems like so much trouble to get everything out each time but 15 minutes a day and look at all of the lovely work you created! Well done. You are an inspiration to us all.

  19. antonia acock
    antonia acock
    April 29, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Reply

    I have been painting for over 30 years in two mediums depending on my whims. I have to say that sometimes the short walk to the “studio” is the hardest part. Once there the time flies and I have to pull myself away to fix dinner or some other thing.
    So in keeping with the 15 minute challenge I decided that sketching would be my thing. I will send 15 minture sketches from time to time if that counts. (?)

  20. Maria Luna
    Maria Luna
    June 7, 2018 at 10:24 am | Reply

    I am too very similar to this situation. I have fallen into that,” I have no time to paint”. I even get depressed as to the need to create and paint something anything, and when I do I feel free and very relaxed. I really thought I was the only one who felt this way thank you for this article it is really motivating. I will have time now.

  21. Brenda Liekhus
    Brenda Liekhus
    June 27, 2018 at 11:48 am | Reply

    Thank you so much for this so needed article. I have been in all these shoes. I work from home but I’m on call a lot. 15 minutes or some bit more is very achievable. Then it can help you get back in the right path for ourselves. I have several visions in my head just need to put them down so I can perfect them.
    Thanks again!!!

  22. Retha R Palmer
    Retha R Palmer
    June 29, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Reply

    Thank you so much! I am a piano teacher, and time really gets away from me. Then I feel I’ve wasted my time purchasing all these art supplies and not creating enough time to enjoy painting. I really appreciate this encouragement to begin again–every day begin again! This summer I sold a couple of paintings, was thrilled that they went to good homes, but now I have to get back on the horse and get going!! Thank you!

Leave a Reply