I know better than most how hard it can be to find the time to create.  Running a business and raising a family take up most of my time, and I am so thankful for both!  However, I am always trying to find a bit of extra time to create.  My creating days are few and far between, but when I do finally have that time alone in my studio, I am usually ready to go!  You see, even when I am not actually putting paint or charcoal on canvas, I am actually still creating!  These are some of the things that I do when I can't actually get to my studio:

  •  Reflect - I think about my most recent work and ask question.

How do I feel about what I have created.  Do I like where my art is going?  Am I getting bored and ready to try some new things?  Should I add some of what I used to do back into my work and see if I can marry some ideas?  What do I like from the past and current work?  Can I marry the two?

When I take the time to reflect, it helps me with my direction, which helps me to continue to grow as an artist.  I don't want to stay in the same place as now.  I want to continue to move forward.  So, trying new things is important and crucial to my growth. 

What are some questions that you ask yourself?

  • Make a list of things to try - this can be a mental note, or you can jot this down in your journal.  In my earlier work,  I used to use mark-making and collage quite a bit.  I keep thinking about how I can bring that back into my current work.  Will it work with what I am currently doing?  Can I add some papers, some patterns, some words, a message?  I love having a message and have been thinking about bringing that back quite a bit. 

What are some things that you would like to bring back into your own work?

  • Peruse - Who doesn't spend time on Pinterest?  Instagram?  Facebook?  I mean for artists, this is how we see other artists' work, learn about them, become inspired, etc.  So, I spend time every day perusing art.  However, I do try to limit that time, because time is precious!  I want to be sure not to get stuck surfing the net because I am trying to make sure I have time to create! 

I also spend a lot of time looking at photographs that I have taken, or that I have saved, and create albums of inspiration on my phone.  I have albums of photos that I think would work well in my painting style, and albums of photos that I think would work well in my charcoal work.  For both, I play around with apps to help me get an idea for the composition and design.  This is a lot of the leg work for my work in general!  This gets me so inspired!  Also, once I have that window of time to work, I already have a bunch of inspiring images to work from. 

Do you peruse the Internet looking for inspiration?  What about having images ready to go when you finally have some time to create?

  • Balance - I am often trying to balance work, family, and creating.  Of course, creating takes a back seat, but it is important to take the time.  When my kids are in school, I try to stick to a pretty strict schedule to allow myself to get into the studio.  So, I have a schedule.  Monday is definitely a computer day.  This is my day to get things all set for the week, lessons, classes, emails, etc.  There is so much to put together to keep the community and network afloat.  I have also started to hand over jobs that I can no longer handle on my own.  This also allows me the time to create.  I try to get to my studio by 11:00 Tuesday through Friday so that I can have a couple of hours to create.  I am not really a journaler or sketcher, so the ten to twenty minutes a day don't really work for me.  However, if I can have a couple of hours a few times per week, this does me good!  So, I try to stick to it!

Do you have a schedule for yourself?


My most recent work was something that I had been working on for some time, in my mind, and on my phone.  I knew that I wanted to go back to charcoal and play.  One of my recent lessons in Let's Face It 2021 really got me inspired!  I had been thinking about my workshops with Paul Cristina, and also with Robert Kelley, and wanted to merge a few techniques that I had played around with. 

So, I created a couple of portraits using some of these techniques and found it quite satisfying!  It was super playful, and I couldn't really control the outcome.  With this technique, you get what you get, and have to be okay with it.  Because I am a bit of a control freak, I actually found some freedom in this.  I found it quite exciting!  You sort of learn to go with it, and problem-solve around the results of the marks.  Since creating that lesson, I hadn't had time to back to the charcoal until two days ago.  I had been looking at images, playing with filters, and preparing for when I would have the time.  Finally, this past week, I got to try it out again, but on a larger scale, and I am so pleased with the results!  

I keep discovering on this art journey that TIME is PRECIOUS.  PATIENCE is PRECIOUS.  So, if you are struggling to find the time to create, think about all of the ways you can create in your mind or how you can prepare for your next date with your studio.  Be patient and trust that the time will come, and you will be ready, and the ideas will flow.

Share in the comments below ways that you stay actively creating when you are unable to actually create in studio!  I can't wait to hear all about it!





  1. Brigette Zavala on July 26, 2022 at 10:37 AM

    Thank you for sharing these great ways to kee the creativity flowing. I create in my mind throughout the day while working my 8-5 job. On my lunch hour I cannot get into a good flow with hands-on art so that’s when I’ll watch lesson videos or squeeze in 15-30 minutes practicing my violin. I get my best hands-on art time in right after work. Not every day, but, at least, 3-4 days per week. I have a long list of art that I am looking forward to creating.

    • Kara Bullock on July 26, 2022 at 12:37 PM

      Hi Brigette!

      Sounds like you have created a great plan to squeeze in art where you can! And 3-4 weeks is a good amount! That is more than I do lately!


  2. Randy Weldon on July 26, 2022 at 11:49 AM

    One creativity-expanding thing I’ve enjoyed for several years is going to the Denver Comic Con(vention) (now called Denver Fan Expo) and talking to the many talented face and figure artists (most do fine art not just animated character art) and authors at their tables and discussing their techniques. I have bought a number of prints because I love some of their art and especially their many unique techniques. That has triggered many ideas in my head, but being a new artist since retiring at the start of the pandemic, my ability to execute well is still limited. So I have been doing many of Kara & Friends classes to learn better skills with acrylics (Kara and several others), oils (Mara Light and several others), watercolors (Katrina Koltes and several others…. Watercolor has become my personal favorite!), and inks etc.

    I will soon post an oil portrait of Stan Lee (of Marvel fame) that I have been working on, combining everything I have learned. Not super happy with it, but the next one will be better! I also did a portrait of my dad and another of one of my many sisters, also trying to use everything I have learned. I may post those also.

    • Kara Bullock on July 26, 2022 at 12:38 PM

      Hi Randy!

      Thank you so much for responding! I would love to go to a Comic convention at some point! Maybe I will make a trip for Denver for that sometime! Would be really fun! Would love to see your Stan Lee portrait, as well as the others! I do hope you will post them.



      • Randy Weldon on July 30, 2022 at 8:54 AM

        By the way, Kara, you have the largest ComicCon in the world each year in San Diego! Not sure how close that is to you…. Also, if you ever attend, i like to bypass all the many booths that are selling light sabers and costumes and “stuff” and go to the back where all the amazing artists and authors tables are usually located. Many are painting and drawing live, but are very happy to stop and chat and share!

        • Kara Bullock on July 31, 2022 at 9:34 AM


          I am going to have to go to the next one! San Diego is pretty close! I could go for the day, or spend the weekend there!


  3. Cynthia Brewster aka Cindy on July 26, 2022 at 12:22 PM

    I find smilarities to my own path in the categories you list such as reflect, peruse, balance, etc. I think because artisits may think in similar ways, but never exactly in the same way, the act of creating may be reached. It is the process of getting there that is similar. When we have many obligations, it leaves one desperately unable to begin anything. I think we must prioritize our own needs first, and leave time for the process. Just time to process is wonderful in that it leads to exploration and ultimately to beginning anew.
    One thing I have done (while being on a creative hiatus so to speak) is to go through hundreds of my (primarily charcoal) drawings… gesture drawings from live models. I keep these for awhile, look at them again to determine those that inspire me for the action, particularly, involved in the drawing. I tear around the drawing, keeping it intact, until I have a pile of my favorites. Some are from one-minute, three or ten minute poses, usually not longer. I attempt to arrange them into a composition, pasting them onto a wood panel, which has been gessoed. This can be fun, challenging….whtever you can imagine may happen. I may add some color when the composition is determined, or sometimes words, keeping the gestures intact. I finish with coats of clear acrylic medium. It is something old and unfinished becoming a new and more complete work. Although I am not actively drawing I am still creating something new, freeing my mind for more to come.

    • Kara Bullock on July 26, 2022 at 12:40 PM

      Hi Cynthia!

      It is great that you have some ways to stay creative, too! Today I actually thought to myself, “what if I started my day painting instead of checking emails?” I didn’t do it, because I am not used to that, but what if it is a better way to begin my day. I may have to try it. I think the gesture drawings are a great way to quickly get something down. I loved hearing your ideas!



  4. Darla Deiparine on July 26, 2022 at 2:34 PM

    I,too, review my creativity mentally when I can not create with “Paper and Brush” In addition to this I look at all in my World and experiences with a creative eye ( I think this is a special insight that all artist have – we see so much more than others do- visually and passionately.” Another thing is creativity is in all I do eg. gardening, interior and outdoor designing, cooking, dressing, homemaking, studying writing, communicating , entertaining and professionally. Sometimes the “well” gets dry in one facet or prioritized in another but I always feel the gift of being a creature of creativity 🙂 —it is my Joy!

    • Kara Bullock on July 26, 2022 at 2:58 PM

      Great point, Darla! The world is OUR canvas!! Agree, I too, create more than just my paintings/drawings. I also cook, design home projects, and more. I also think that planning our days can be considered creativity! Thank you so much for sharing your joy with us!


  5. Denise Cloutier on July 26, 2022 at 4:54 PM

    You are vers helpful and tout are inspiring.
    Your arteork is magnificent.
    Thank you!
    Denise Cloutier.

    • Kara Bullock on July 26, 2022 at 10:07 PM

      I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. Thank you so much!



  6. Mary on July 26, 2022 at 10:53 PM

    Thank you for generously sharing your insights Kara . So many of us share these frustrations .
    When I do finally get into my studio and don’t have anything that inspires me to paint and am not prepared , I get so annoyed with myself !
    Being prepped ,inspired and ready to roll is so important . So yes I totally agree that time and patience are precious . Using the “times between” creatively to ponded and play with images old and new, makes all the difference.

    You can’t do it all though . Time out to stare at the clouds / fill that bucket , before one resorts to running away to a shack in the woods to paint! ?
    we all appreciate your encouragement and hard work x

    • Kara Bullock on July 28, 2022 at 10:20 AM

      Hi Mary!

      It can be so hard to stay inspired, right? I agree that staring at clouds and filling the bucket are crucial parts of our journey! Thank you for that reminder, too.

      I appreciate your encouragement, too!


  7. Leslie Callaway on July 27, 2022 at 7:26 PM

    Thank you, Kara, for this wonderful post! I am dry in my creativity at the moment, but I am always thinking about art and trying to work out ideas. I know my “want to” will come back soon, but reading your post has encouraged me so much. Thank you and have a blessed day!

    • Kara Bullock on July 28, 2022 at 10:19 AM

      Hi Leslie,

      I think it is normal to go through dry spells, but it usually means that we are either creating in other ways, growing, or just needing a rest. Don’t worry….it will come back to you. Thank you for your encuragement, too.



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