5 myths stopping you from creating time + space for your art

Sometimes one of the hardest parts of getting started with any practice, like yoga or art making, is finding the time and space.

It can feel like there is never enough of either.

When I worked other jobs and lived in tiny apartments, I never felt like there was enough time or space to make the art I longed to make. It always felt like I needed more hours in the day, more energy to get to going and more space to spread out.

And these days, I even though I do have a little more space, it can still feel like there isn’t enough.

But, the creative energy within keeps pressing me on anyway.

So I find ways to carve out time and space, even when it feels like I have none of either and you can too

Related: 4 Helpful ways to get out of bed for yoga (and my at home yoga space)

Today, I’m busting through 5 myths that might be keeping you from creating time and space to create your art.

Myth #1 You have to have large spans of time to do creative work

There is this belief out there that you have to have hours upon hours of time to paint and create. That masterpieces have to be started and finished in one fell swoop. But who has got that kind of time?

Even before having a kiddo around and working full time as an artist, I still didn’t have large scopes of uninterrupted time. In fact, I probably only spent about 30% of my work time actually creating art. Sometimes less.

The truth is that nobody really has time to make art. You have to make time for your art.

  •  Jhumpa Lahiri (author of The Namesake) wrote her first novel in 15 minute sessions between breastfeeding her newborn.
  • Poet Wallace Stevens wrote poems while he walked to and from his job as an insurance lawyer (McNiff)
  • I often start my paintings during my child’s afternoon naps and finish them in the evening while hanging out with my husband.

You must find small chunks of time in your day where you can make art.

Got a morning train commute? Or a half hour before you head to bed? An hour and a half at nap time? A 30 minute lunch break? 20 minutes first thing in the morning?

Action tip: Look at your day. Are there any times, even if they are as short as 10 minutes, that you could dedicate to your art practice? Find ‘em and schedule them into your planner.

Myth # 2 You have to have a studio to make art

Now, I make art in my garage turned studio, but I have made art in lots of weird and random places. I’ve made art on the pink carpeted floor of my childhood bedroom, and on my bed itself.

In college, I made a lot of art in the hallways and stairwells and common rooms of my school. I’ve made art at my kitchen table. I’ve set up in the corner of multiple living rooms and guest rooms (I have moved 7 times in the past 10 years.) I’ve made art outside and on the go, in trains, planes, and automobiles.  

There is no place, really, where art can’t be made.

It is a lot easier to make art in short spurts of time when you have a place and your supplies ready to go, but that place can be anywhere!

Action tip: Look around your current living area. Is there any corner or nook where you could set up a place to make art? And even if you don’t find one, what about creating a mobile, on the go art set-up?

Myth #3 You can’t make art in your living room or anywhere you might make a mess

I once worked in a costume shop that had a wonderful rule about mess making. This shop was incredibly organized. Every pair of scissors and tape measure had a place. But, when you were in the midst of creating something, like sewing sequences onto a ballerina bodice, for example, you were to let all the scraps, threads and extras bits fall to the floor.

There was no need, my boss told me, to take the time to pick anything up until we were done. Then at the end of the day, a huge broom would come out and we would clean it all up, but not until then.

Having the freedom to create without worrying about cleaning up after myself as I went along, made my creatively messy heart very happy.

Having a place (even if it’s temporary) to make art is helpful because when you don’t have a lot of time, knowing where to find all of the things you need to get started, without having to spend time looking around for it allows you to get going on things more quickly. 

But, it’s equally important to feel, in the midst of things, that you can throw your paint around or get charcoal everywhere and not have to worry about making a mess.

If you don’t have to worry about making a mess or ruining your floor/table/clothes, it will free you up to just play.

Here are a couple of hacks that will allow you to get as messy as you like, even if you are in the middle of your living room:

  • Use a drop cloth

Grab an old sheet and throw it on your living room floor. Boom. Place to work, wild and free.

  • Find a smock

Put on an old oversized tee-shirt or a backwards button up shirt over your clothes. Now you don’t have to worry about smearing paint on your work shirt.

  • Grab some cardboard

This is another thing you can easily throw down on the floor, table surface, your deck or the grass in your backyard. You can tape it to the wall behind where you are working if you tend to get particularly splatter-y (I tend to get paint everywhere!)

Action Tip: Gather the things you would need to make messy art no matter how fancy the floor or your clothes. Get them ready for the next opportunity you have to make art.

Myth #4 You have to have a lot of (expensive) art supplies to make art

When I was learning to paint with my dad, he would give me three colors (red, blue and yellow) + white and say, “you can make most any color you need with just these three colors. If you start with too many colors, it’s easy to make mud.”

And even though, at first I protested, I soon came to see the brilliance in his ways. By working within a limited palette, I was less likely to get overwhelmed by the options. I could learn how to work these few colors really well rather than trying to figure out how to mix a whole bunch of them and end up muddled.

Having lots of supplies can be fun, but it is totally not a requirement to make art. There are as many ways to make art as there are artists and it is not necessary to go out and buy hundreds of dollars of supplies, especially when you are first starting out. And if you haven’t spent all kinds of money on your supplies, you can be a lot less precious about the work. It’s easier to let yourself experiment and create ugly stuff.

Some simple supplies that are easy to find + inexpensive to buy:

  • Watercolor sets (like this one)
  • Kids art supplies, like crayola markers and colored pencils.
  • If you do want to buy paint, just buy a couple tubes in the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and get really good at working with them (these are the paints I love using)
  • And you can paint on watercolor paper (which is cheaper than canvas) or even cardboard! (My brother has a friend who created an amazing series of paintings on old pizza boxes.)
  • Sharpies! (Great for line drawings)
  • Number 2 pencils
  • Computer paper (I draw on computer paper all of the time)

And here are some examples of amazing artists who don’t use ANY art supplies to create these pieces:

+Andy Goldsworthy Nature Sculptures

+Faith Evan-Sills Mandalas

+Yuken Teruya Toilet Paper Roll Forests

+Jane Perkins Found Material Paintings


Action tip: What supplies or materials do you already have lying around your house (they don’t even have to be traditional art supplies)? Pull them out and see what you can create with them today.

Myth #5 But I’m not a “Real” Artist

What makes an artist a “real” artist? I think if you spend time making art, you are, by definition, an artist.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to make art.

You are innately creative and if you have the urge to create and you listen and act upon that urge, even when you barely have any time or space to create, you are an artist.

Art, like meditation or yoga, is a practice, a spiritual exercise that you have to carve out time and space for. It doesn’t just happen by itself, for anybody.

Art as a spiritual exercise suggests that any person can find a way to make time for the creative act each day.
— Shaun McNiff

Action Tip: Commit to making art as a practice. Set aside 10 minutes a day (or as much as you can commit to) put it in your calendar and get started. And just like that, YOU are a real artist.


Let me know in the comments what other things keep you from carving out time + space for your creative practice?