In a Hurry? How to fit in Creativity

One of the many trends of social media is #dailyart #artaday #drawingaday. While it’s great to scroll through daily posts from some very creative people you can sometimes feel pressure to do the same and for most of us with full time jobs this is very unreasonable! Something that I found that works well is to do very small, quick experiments regularly to help get some creative juices flowing with dedicating a huge amount of time. 

Everyone has their own patterns and habits that will help them learn to paint quickly - these are just a few of mine. 

Work in stages

I like to work on paintings in stages and as I found out recently at the National Gallery in London - I’m not the only one! Turner amongst other great artists would have several paintings on the go and rotate them so when we was using a colour he liked or if he was having a good streak painting clouds on a particular day. 

This may not be not be the best setup if you don’t have much room. So on a smaller scale, you can spend one day laying down just a few background colours or base colours on days when you’re just not feeling up to it. Then on the weekends or when you have a bit more time you can spend more time working back into them. 

Part of something larger

Keeping in mind some of the bigger projects you’d like to work on, break those down into smaller components: 

  • Can you experiment with what colours I’d like to use with this project? 
  • Can you practice the layout to make sure you have the right composition?

You can work on an element in small bursts when you have a small amount of time to prepare for a larger project which can you be very productive.


Take the time to put two things together that you never usually would - even if it’s polka dots and stripes or orange and purple. Try them out, fail and succeed. 

Don’t be afraid of simple

If it’s just a few streaks of colour on a page - that’s ok! You have put colour on a page, created something, practice mark-making and hopefully learned something.

Make everything accessible

Remove the obstacles that could hold you back from starting to draw or paint. This means if it’s possible leave out all your utensils in an area of the house, whether it’s on a small desk in the corner of a room or if it’s a pencil case and a drawing board easily stored next to the couch so all you need to do is sit down, lean over and start. It’s not possible for everyone - I lived the dog for a long while who would be very interested in paints if you were spending time with them and sometimes they look so edible… 

Build an Image Library

Many of the artists I know keep library of references that they can draw on when the right commission or project calls for one. For example, John Howe would keep organised drawers of pictures he’d taken of old trees with close ups of the texture and branches so when he came to illustrating Lord of the RIngs he had plenty of reference which could be found easily and quickly for the woods and Ents. 

If you don’t have the spark of inspiration or the energy at that moment to start something then you can start to start to build this library - whether its from the internet or from photos you’ve taken on your phone. Many times I’ll be on the tube without signal and I’ll be sorting the photos on my phone into folders, e.g. photos of flowers at Kew Gardens or Sunsets to call upon later. Most of the time you can also find inspiration through doing this as well and you’re making things easier for when you sit down to your next project.


Read a magazine to see what others are doing or read up on a new topic which you may want to reference later on in an illustration. Absorbing information can always be seen as a productive use in time in my opinion - it can help to create a richer and more informed piece of work later down the line.

Zoom in

When you only have a very small amount of time available something really quick to do is take an existing artwork and start cropping it in different ways. You may find a composition you didn’t initially perceive that can definitely be used at a later date on a future project. 

You can also take this one step further, start combining existing pieces or layering them on Photoshop and looking at the results. Experiment with different effects and try out different brushes to see what happens. Starting with an existing artwork and transforming it can also help you to find new ways of efficiently using your artwork.

Feeling Inspired? Let me know how you squeeze in small amounts of creativity into your day to keep creating.

Using Format