Artistic Mindset: Making Time for Your Art | Christine Nishiyama | Skillshare

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Artistic Mindset: Making Time for Your Art

teacher avatar Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Assignment


    • 3.

      I'm Too Busy


    • 4.

      I Get Pulled Away


    • 5.

      I Can't Stay Motivated


    • 6.

      I Can't Stick to a Routine


    • 7.

      I Don't Have Big Chunks of Time


    • 8.

      The Deep Down Issues


    • 9.

      Conditioned for Fear


    • 10.

      Challenging Our Core Beliefs


    • 11.

      Fighting Fear with Self-Compassion


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About This Class

One of the most common issues I hear from artists is “I just don’t have time”. They want to be drawing consistently, but there’s never enough time to do it. How do we ensure we can make time for my art?

The real issue with making time for art depends on where you currently are on your artistic journey. If you say you “don’t have enough time to draw” you are dealing with either Surface-Level Techniques (you're ready to implement tactical techniques to use your time efficiently to make more art) or you're dealing with Deep-Down Issues (you're not ready for those techniques, because you have deeper issues that need to be addressed before those techniques can work for you).

In this class, I'm going to cover BOTH these aspects so we can all make time for our art no matter where we are in our life as busy artists. 

For years I thought drawing consistently was just a matter of willpower and discipline and would beat myself up for not being able to do it like other artists do. But through experience, I’ve learned that’s just not true. There’s so much more to it, and more often than not, the struggle stems from issues much deeper than willpower. There's a deep, hidden reason why you're not able to make time for your art, and I'm going to lead you through it here in this class.

By the end of the class, you’ll be more aware of what's really getting in your way of drawing and you'll be armed with techniques and guides to finally start drawing consistently no matter how busy you are! Now let's not waste time and jump right in!



Check out my other Skillshare classes here!

You can also see more about me and my work on my website:

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Thanks so much! <3


Meet Your Teacher

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Christine Nishiyama

Artist at Might Could Studios

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Hallo! I'm Christine Nishiyama, artist + founder of Might Could Studios.

I make books and comics, and I draw a whoooole lot. I teach aspiring and established artists, helping them explore their art, gain more confidence, and discover their unique artistic styles.

My core belief is that art is good and we should all make more of it. 

Instagram: Yeewhoo, I quit all social media! 

Books: Check out my books here, including a graphic novel series with Scholastic!

Subscribe to my Substack newsletter: Join over 10,000 artists and get my weekly essays on creativity and artmaking, weekly art prompts, and behind-the-scenes process work of my current picture book. Subscribe here!

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1. Trailer: Hi, I'm Christine Nishiyama, Artist and Founder of micro Studios. One of the most common things I hear from artists is I just don't have enough time. We all want to be drawing consistently, but there's just never enough time to do it. I've been thinking about making time for creative work a lot recently, because I'm currently eight months pregnant with my first baby. My time is going to be severely compressed when the baby comes. But I don't want my creative time to slip away. How do we ensure that we can make time for our art? The real issue with making time for art depends on where you currently are on your artistic journey. If you say you don't have enough time to draw, you're dealing with either surface level techniques, meaning you're ready to implement tactical techniques to use your time efficiently to make more art, or you're dealing with deep down issues, so you're not quite ready for those tactical techniques because you have deeper issues that need to be addressed before those techniques can work for you. In this class, I'm going to cover both of these aspects so we can all make time for our art no matter where we are in our lives as busy artists. First, we'll focus on surface level techniques, where I'll go over the five most common issues for busy artists, including I'm too busy, I can't stay motivated, and I can't stick to a routine. For each issue, I'll offer actionable steps you can take to overcome these obstacles. Then we'll dive into the deep down issues. For years, I thought drying consistently was just a matter of willpower and discipline, and I would beat myself up for not being able to do it like other artists do. But through experience, I've learned it's just not true. There's so much more to it and more often than not, the struggle stems from issues much deeper than willpower. Ultimately, we are our biggest obstacles and we have to learn how to get out of our own way to make more art. There's a deep hidden reason why you're not able to make more time for your art. I'm going to lead you through it right here in this class. For the class project, you'll follow along step-by-step in our printable PDF project guide, as you go through the videos, recording, reflecting, and experimenting with all the techniques we covered. By the end of this class, you'll be more aware of what's really getting in the way of your drawing no matter how busy you are. Let's not waste time and let's start drawing more. 2. Project Assignment: Before we begin, make sure you download the project guide for this course so you can follow along. As you watch these videos, you'll come across project steps where you can take action and record the results right in your project guide. This printable PDF will help keep you accountable with your experiments, reflect on what's working and not working for you, and get the most out of this class. The goal of this class is to get you drawing more and this project guide will help you get there. As you go through the project steps, snap a photo, and share any of your realizations or reflections with us here in the class. Go download the guide and let's get started. 3. I'm Too Busy: Issue 1, I'm too busy. I know we're all busy. Our to-do lists are overflowing and our responsibilities keep piling up. We tell ourselves, I'll have time for my art after I do this, this, and this. But as soon as we do those things, more things come up. There's just never enough time to sit down and draw. How do we get past this? Consciously prioritize your time? We make choices in how we spend our time every day. Sometimes we prioritize our art and sometimes art work, family, or relaxation. None of these priorities are wrong. But if we want to draw more, we have to prioritize it more, and that usually means prioritizing something else a little less. The first step is to be more aware of where our time goes. Project Step 1 pull out your project guide and write down your top five priorities right now. Where does drawing or art-making fall on that list? How often do you do tasks for priorities below drawing, this awareness can help us locate where our priorities are and where we're actually spending our time. For help, If you constantly feel busy, you're most likely doing too much. We live in a culture that prizes busyness, but it's a really ineffective and unhealthy way to live. Always being busy keeps us in a reactive state of urgency. Instead of proactively making time for what we truly value. There's no shame in asking for help when you've taken on too much. Project Step 2, sit down with your significant other children or roommate and tell them you're trying to work on prioritizing creativity more in your life. You'd like to have some time to yourself when you can sit down and draw for a bit without interruptions, ask your significant other or a roommate, if you could trade off certain responsibilities to carve out some more time for you to draw. If your kids are old enough, you can ask them to help out too. Tell them your creative time is important to you and ask for their support. 4. I Get Pulled Away: Issue 2, I get pulled away. Busyness often happens when we get into the habit of focusing on our responsibilities to others, more than our responsibilities to ourselves. We typically allow this to happen because of guilt and feelings of should's. We think we should do this, this, and this, to be the best person, mother, father or whatever. But in the end, constantly focusing on others just makes us bitter and exhausted. We have to learn to prioritize ourselves and defend our own needs and wants in addition to others. Defend your time and say no. Sometimes that will mean saying no to things. It's hard to say no, but it's the only way to lessen the busyness and make more space for all the things we value, especially ourselves. Invitations, requests and distractions are everywhere. We have to turn down some to have time for art. Once you're clear on your priorities and goals, it's much easier to stay on track and say no to things that don't align with your values. Without consideration, we often say yes to everything based on the assumption that others really need something, but that may not always be the case. Projects step 3, write down one task this week that you could say no to. Notice how easy or hard it is for you to say no. When the task or event comes up, try to use that time for drawing. Notice if you have any feelings of guilt for prioritizing yourself, and try to replace those thoughts with reminders that you are nourishing yourself, which is healthy and necessary. Simplify other tasks and responsibilities. I used to spend hours, hours grocery shopping and cooking each week. It just kept growing and growing until it was out of control. I enjoy cooking, but the amount of time I was spending on it was unnecessary and ultimately led by feelings of should's instead of actual values and goals. I've since learned to streamline cooking and grocery shopping, so that I can still enjoy those activities, but not spend so much time doing it. I mean, it's fun to spend an evening making the best taco ever every now and then, but do I need to do that every single night? Simplifying allows me to have the extra time in my day to do other important things like drawing. Projects step 4, think back to yesterday and write down the five major activities you did that day. How much time did you spend on each task? Which tasks were the things you prioritize yourself and which were motivated by should's? Which tasks perhaps took too much time? Which tasks could be simplified to make time for others? Try doing this step for a few days to get a better awareness of where your time really goes. 5. I Can't Stay Motivated: Issue three, I can't stay motivated. Sometimes just seen drawing at the top of a priority list isn't enough to maintain the motivation to do it consistently. It's hard to stay on track with defending our time and priorities if we don't know why we're doing what we're doing, Define your intentions. Motivation can come from clarifying and reminding yourself of why were you interested in drawing in the first place. Once we have that list of reasons, we can come back to it and our moments of doubt. If we forget why we got into drawing in the first place or why we want to get back to it it can be hard to stay committed. I've written previously about this in my essay, Why I draw, which you can find a link to below. Project step five, take a moment to write out why drawing is important to you. Why do you draw? Does it improve your mental health? Is it a creative outlet? Do you want to improve your artistic skills? Why? Do you have a big dream project you want to work towards? What do you want to achieve? What does drawing do for you? Define your goals. Setting specific achievable goals can help keep you motivated and on track with your intentions. This could be part of an art project you're working on like, I want to make a children's book this year or it could be an overarching continuous goal, like I want to draw daily in my sketchbook. Or maybe your goal is to enroll and complete a course on a subject that interests you. Project step six, write out one smart goal you'd like to achieve around your art. Craft your goal with the smart criteria included in your project guide. After you've written your goal, try writing it on a post-it or making a piece of art out of it and posting it somewhere it you'll regularly be reminded of where you're going. 6. I Can't Stick to a Routine: Issue 4; I can't stick to a routine. If we want to draw more, it can be helpful to have a creative routine to help us stay consistent. People are always trying to claim that they've discovered the best or most successful routine. But really they're just telling you what works for them. Everyone's ideal routine will be different. Don't be pressured to follow someone else recommendations. Figure out when you draw best. Different artists prefer to work at different times of the day. Some people are early birds and some people are night owls. I like to draw in the late afternoon or early evening when I've already done a lot of other things and feel less pressure to get stuff done. I feel more relaxed at this time and it's easier for me to sit down to draw. Life is unpredictable though, and you won't always be able to draw at your ideal time. But if you know what times your most creative, you can try to squeeze drawing and during those times as often as possible. Projects Step 8; Experiment drawing at different times on different days. Notice when it seems easier or more difficult to get into a creative mindset. Notice and write down what time it is if you get random bursts of inspiration throughout the day. Once you find what general time of day works best for you, try committing to drawing during that time for awhile, figure out how you draw best. Just like with the time of day, everyone has a different environment that they work best in. This includes whether you're alone or with people, listening to music, or drawing in silence, or drawing at your desk or outside. It's good to be flexible. But again, if we know how we work best, we can aim for that as much as possible. Project Step 9; Experiment with different conditions for drawing. Draw one day, one way, and another day another way, and notice how you feel differently. Which ways of drawing put you in the creative zone? Pay attention and find what works best for you. Once you know how you work best, you can use that to your advantage. Create a flexible drawing routine that fits into your life. Try not to let your routine stress you out and turn drawing into an intimidating activity. Your routine should help you be less anxious, not more pressured to draw. Crafting an intense, complicated routine that you'll never be able to keep up with is just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Flexibility is key. Projects Step 10; Make a routine that fits into your current schedule, not your dream schedule. Maybe it's drawing 10 minutes a day. Maybe it's drawing for one hour weekly. How much time do you have and what works for you? Now, think about where you can add that drawing time to your schedule. Do you have some free time Saturday mornings or in the evenings after everyone has gone to sleep? Try one drawing routine out for a week. See how it works for you and record it in your project guide. Remember, be flexible and aim for consistency, not perfection. 7. I Don't Have Big Chunks of Time: Issue 5, I don't have big chunks of time to draw. It's common to have the mindset that we need to draw for hours for it to be worth our time. This is a big misconception that I'll be talking about more in the next videos but there are also some tactical strategies we can use to combat this belief. Draw for short periods, drawing can fit into any schedule no matter how much time you have. You don't have to have a whole afternoon. Just 10 minutes each day will bring you the benefits of drawing consistently, even two minutes is better than none. Little bits of work add up over time and it can be less intimidating to get back into drawing if you plan to draw for short time. Project step 11, try drawing today for just 10 minutes. If 10 minutes isn't doable, try five. Notice if you have any thoughts about it not being worth your time or feelings of it not being enough. Remind yourself that drawing is drawing no matter how long it lasts and give yourself credit for drawing today. Add drawing to existing tasks. Some days we don't have the time or energy to sit down for an art session, no matter how short it could be. In these cases, it can help to have ways to unleash our creativity in our normal daily routines. Not every drawing has to be a polished masterpiece and we can be on the lookout for small opportunities to inject art-making into our lives. Project step 12, try adding drawing to a normal daily task once this week. You could draw a little cartoon on a post-it inside your kid's lunchbox. You could doodle on your notepad during a meeting at work, or you could draw on the bus commute to work. All of these are solid ways to fit drawing into your life. What other tasks could you add drawing to? Always have a sketchbook with you. If you're trying to squeeze drying into little spurts of your day, you'll need to always have something with you to draw with. You never know when a few extra minutes will pop up. If you're prepared ahead of time, it will be easier to take advantage of those small pockets of free time. Project step 13, buy a couple of small sketch books and pens and stash them in different places, like your purse, car or jacket pocket. When a free moment pops up, whip out your tools and draw a little bit. A little bit is all you need. The more you draw, the more it builds on itself. The drawings compound and you'll notice with each day it becomes easier and more enjoyable to draw. If, on the other hand, you've tried some of these strategies and none of them have really worked for you. You may have other deeper issues to address first. Don't worry, we all have deeper issues. That's where we're going with the next videos. 8. The Deep Down Issues: The deep-down issues. Maybe you've already tried some of those time management techniques we just went over. You've read countless productivity articles, books on managing your time, and try it again and again to make changes and create a consistent drawing routine, and yet something snags, something holds you back. No matter how hard you try, it just doesn't work. You're not the only one. For years, I thought drawing consistently was just a matter of willpower and discipline and would beat myself up for not being able to do it like other artists do. But over the years, I've learned that's just not true. There's so much more to it, and more often than not, the struggle stems from issues much deeper than willpower. Getting out of our own way. So often we think externally, blaming outside circumstances for our problems. We blame our job, our kids, our spouse, anything around us, taking our time and getting in the way of making our art. But more often than not, it's us. We are holding ourselves back. We are getting in our own way. That may sound like terrible news, but it's actually good news because we can't change other people or external sources, but we can change ourselves. We can discover and learn what's inside our minds and work hard to change our mindset. We can learn to get out of our own way so we can make more art. Asking the wrong questions. If this is where you are, then you're asking yourself the wrong questions. You don't need to ask, how do I make more time for my art? There are deeper and more important questions to be asked here. Instead, we need to be asking, why am I not making time for my art? Why am I choosing not to draw right now? If you're choosing not to draw because of deep down issues, trying to use time management strategies can become just another method of procrastination. We spend time setting up our desks, organizing our tools, searching for inspiration, looking for a new classes to take, anything but the actual drawing. So why, why are we doing this for heaven's sake? Why can't we just sit down and draw? 9. Conditioned for Fear: Conditioned for fear. If we follow this thread all the way down, we find the root is fear. No matter what our method of procrastination, no matter what we blame for our lack of time, it all leads to fear. Fear is what holds us back from making our art. David Bayles, photographer and author of the book, Art and Fear, echoes this idea. To the artist, all problems of art appear uniquely personal. Well, that's understandable enough, given that not many other activities routinely call ones basic self-worth into question. Now the question we must ask ourselves has changed again. We can only make time for our art, when we figure out the answer to our ultimate deep down question: what am I afraid of? Project step 14: fear is a natural part of the creative process, and we all have similar artistic fears. In your project guide, write down your biggest fears around art and drawing. Are you afraid of not being good enough, of failure, of making mistakes, or of what others will think of your art? Get them all out on the page now. Unlearning fear. But where does this fear come from? How did we become afraid of a silly thing like making art? It's a matter of conditioning. This fear and negative thinking is learned thinking. Through our experiences, we have been conditioned to believe certain things about art. Through teachers, parents, classmates, friends, books, and everything else, we learn what an artist is, who can be an artist, what it means to make art, and what is good or bad. Many of these beliefs are negative, demoralizing, and insanely counterproductive to making art. I'm terrible at drawing, no one likes my art, I'll never be an artist. Through repetition, we absorb these ideas as our own, and these negative thoughts become automatic thoughts, which then develop into our core beliefs about ourselves. But these thoughts are not facts. They are untrue, unprovable, and unhelpful. They only lead to anxiety, beating ourselves up, creative block, and ultimately quitting art. This all sounds dark and depressing, I know. But there's good news here too. We learned to think about our art in this way, and if you can learn something, you can also unlearn it. We can learn new ways of thinking about art that will lead us to making more art. We don't need more time management techniques and productivity hacks, we need new core beliefs. Project step 15: Write down where you think the source of your creative fears came from. Did you have a teacher who shut down your art in school? A parent who made fun of your drawings as a kid? A friend who seem to always be better than you? A brutal critique that left you full of self-doubt? It can be hard to revisit these memories, but it can also help us see where our fears originated, so we can learn to move past them. 10. Challenging Our Core Beliefs: Challenging our core beliefs. Because we learn our beliefs from society and those around us, we tend to share similar core beliefs about what it means to make art and be an artist, especially in the beginning of our artistic journeys. As artists, we either learn to deal with the fear and negative thoughts we've absorbed or fear wins and we quit. Artists who don't have time to draw, blame themselves for being lazy or poor time managers. But that's not always true. More often it's that they are blocked by their negative thinking. Instead of spending their time and energy on drawing, they spend it ruminating on their core beliefs. "I'm terrible at drawing, I should be better by now, I wish I could draw as well as so and so. I'll never be an artist." Instead of creating more art, these beliefs create more self-doubt. It's these internal blocks that get in the way of making our art. It's the emotional and mental issues that manifest as self-destructive behaviors like not making time for our art. I don't want that to happen to you, and if it already has, I want to help you unlearn those automatic negative thoughts and get back to drawing. First, we have to become aware of which core beliefs we have, and then we can work to replace those negative thoughts with more helpful thoughts. Commonly held core beliefs and replacement thoughts. Project step 16. In your project guide, I've listed some of the most common core beliefs of artists that lead to fear and self doubt. Go through and see if you hold any of these beliefs in your mind. There are also some blank lines for you to add your own core beliefs. One way to convert these negative core beliefs is to replace them with new, more helpful thoughts. Go through your core beliefs and write down a replacement thought for each one. Here's an example to get you started, "this drawing is terrible." The replacement thought for this core belief could be some drawings I'll love and some I won't. That's the creative process. In the future, when you find these core beliefs popping up, you can come back to this list to counter those negative thoughts. Over time, we'll be able to change those thoughts automatically. 11. Fighting Fear with Self-Compassion: Fighting fear with self-compassion. There are two themes in that list of common core beliefs. Our automatic negative thoughts are based in fear and self doubt. Our replacement thoughts are based in patients and self-compassion. Our negative thoughts assume they know what the future holds and tend to catastrophize imagining the situation is worse than it actually is. Our replacement thoughts aim to reflect a reality and see the situation as it really is. Self-compassion allows us to be patient with ourselves, the creative process, in our artistic journey. We're able to see and accept ourselves as humans with imperfection, instead of beating ourselves up for not being perfect, artist machines. Treating ourselves with self-compassion leads to accepting our art as it is today. That acceptance allows us to stop ruminating on our perceived failures and instead focus on our capacity for growth. It encourages us to keep going and keep drawing, which ultimately leads us to more improvement than bullying ourselves ever would. Fear tells us to stop. Self-compassion, tells us to keep going. Being a self-compassionate artist is not about being lazy or passive. It's being kind, patient, and persistent. It's about being present in the moment of making, instead of obsessing about the future. It's about being kind and encouraging to ourselves, instead of braiding and bullying ourselves. It's about acceptance of our unique way, not the right or wrong way. It's about giving ourselves over to the creative process and letting our love of drawing carry us through the peaks and valleys of creating. It's not about thinking and worrying. It's about making art. Fear and negative thinking is a natural part of art making. Unfortunately, it never completely goes away. Even famous award-winning artists still have fear and self doubt. Dan Santat, who received the Caldecott Medal, the highest honor in children's book illustration in 2015, has said, "I constantly worried that I would be discovered as an imposter and that everything would fall apart." There's no way to completely rid ourselves of this fear and self doubt. But we can learn how to fight it. We can unlearn our unhelpful, automatic negative beliefs. We can learn how to reframe the negative core beliefs that knock us back into helpful beliefs that propel us forward. There's only one thing that can do all that, self-compassion. Project step 17. The final page in your project guide is an artist agreement with yourself. It's like making a deal with yourself that you will aim to grant yourself self-compassion. That you'll aim to be kind to yourself instead of beat yourself up. That you'll keep fighting the fear to make your art. It's a commitment to yourself and your art. Read through the deal, add anything you'd like to add, and sign and date it at the bottom. Time management strategies and productivity hacks are short-term solutions to a long-term problem. The only way to truly make time for art making and our lifelong artistic journey is to beat back the fear and self doubt. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves and try being kind instead. Together, I know we can do it. Thanks so much for taking this class. I hope it helps you defend your time, fight your fears, and above all, make more art. Want to kick-start your creative habit? Join the Might Could Draw Today Challenge. Follow the link at the bottom of this page or at the end of the project guide.