Art in 15 minutes a Day


Virtually all of us tend to waste small increments of time and throw away 15 minutes here and 40 minutes there, arguing that we are doing so much already that those windfalls need not be used productively.

We opt to check our email, surf the net, play a game, take a peek at our social media, watch a few minutes of a program that we like or in some other way pass the time until our real work begins again.

Artists with busy lives often find that they need to change their minds about squandering these precious small increments of time — in part because so much can get done in just a few minutes.

Yes, it is much easier for a writer to open a file and start writing than it is for a painter to get all set up to work super quickly — yet that still may be a habit for a visual artist to cultivate, so that the small increments of time that life provides get used well.

If you can’t get to the studio when those 15 minutes appear, can you sketch, make notes to yourself about your ideas and intentions, or in some other ways make productive use of those sudden intervals of time?

This isn’t to create a new “should” about how you “should” be more disciplined or more productive. Rather, it’s to afford you the opportunity to stay connected to your work and involved with your work in ways that may really serve you.

One of the ways that we can connect to our deepest artistic themes — themes that may be eluding us in the chaos of life — is to attend to our art so often in the day, even if just for 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there, that our art remains close to us and has a chance to grow. Don’t scorn those small increments of time that added together amount to hours, days, weeks — even years.

Eric Maisel is America’s foremost creativity coach and the author of more than 40 books including Making Your Creative Mark, Coaching the Artist Within, Fearless Creating, The Van Gogh Blues, and Mastering Creative Anxiety. Dr. Maisel presents two live one-hour teleclasses every month with the Academy for Optimal Living. You can visit Dr. Maisel at or contact him at [email protected].