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How Much Time Should I Spend Practicing My Art?

Artist practicing her art

How Much Time Should I Spend Practicing My Art?

How Much Time Should I Spend Practicing My Art?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question as it varies from person to person. Some will need to spend more time practicing their techniques where others have the natural abilities. 

During one of Bobby Chiu’s 90-minute challenge, Bobby asked Schoolism instructor, Pablo Carpio, if it was better to have a time limit for studies or leave them open-ended. The short answer is that both are beneficial in different ways. Finding the balance of study time vs. work time can be overwhelming, mainly because there is no direct answer. 

While it may feel like messing around and doodling to those in other professions, your job is to create art, and to do that, you must practice like everyone else. Even professional artists that have been in their field for 20+ years return to the basics to brush up on their skills and discover something new about their art. 

Two Sides to Every Coin:

Not setting a time limit allows you to spend more time perfecting the technique and the detail, whereas having a strict time limit creates a sense of urgency and can help you improve your efficiency. Pablo believes there is a place for both techniques, especially at the beginning of your career. First, you need to learn the technique, but then later, efficiency comes into play. 

As you practice, you will naturally get faster because you already know how to do it, but you can make this process faster if you deliberately try to be more efficient. Your paintings or drawings do not have to be elaborate and detailed. Instead, take a simple object and recreate it as fast as you while still retaining accuracy. 

Warm-Up Before Your Art Practice Session:

Depending on the position you are in, warm-ups may be an excellent way to get into the mindset of drawing. A few quick sketches can bring your focus to the paper or computer in front of you rather than on other things in your life. Sketches are an easy method to get your ideas on paper, and it is not a big deal to start over when it only took a few minutes. 

For personal work, warm-ups are likely simple ways to get ready for the day, but for work with a client, a quick sketch can help you convey your thoughts to the client and allow them to see your thought process. Those outside the art community often struggle to see in their head what is described. A fast sketch can convey the idea quickly and easily. 

Some artists may choose to do quick sketches of gestures or something simple before starting work, while others generally jump right in. Both methods can work well for individual artists. Try both ways and see what helps you improve. 

Judge Your Art Practice Time in Minutes, Not Hours:

A pile of antique clocks artwork

It can be difficult to judge your speed and improvement if you measure in terms of full workdays. Improvement comes in minutes, not hours, and a timer can help you see your progress. Drawing, like any skill, takes time to learn and even more time to perfect. Set yourself up for success by not expecting huge results from the start. 

If you measure your success in days or hours rather than minutes, you may be discouraged with your progress. Set a timer for 30 minutes and see what you can accomplish in that short amount of time. The more you do this, eventually you will be able to get more done in a shorter amount of time. The first time you may only have an outline, but in no time, you’ll have a complete image.

The professional world wants to see that you can complete a project thoroughly but also quickly. Time is money, and your clients want to know that they are getting their money’s worth when they hire you. You can use this to your advantage if you can complete a task in less time than another artist. They will likely hire you instead. 


Man falling from too much work

If you start thinking that you need to finish a project by the end of the workday, you may feel like you have time to procrastinate or do something else, but if you tell yourself you need to finish it in only one hour, that’s when you start to see an increase in productivity. 

When you are trying to accomplish a task, even the slightest distraction can get carried away into minutes or even hours of non-productive time. A quick email check could lead you down the rabbit hole of finishing another project for a client that asked about it, or a trip to get a drink of water can turn into a chat with friends about plans for later. 

You don’t have to set timers for long periods of time, but try to see what you can get accomplished in a shorter period. You may surprise yourself. Another tip for productivity is to separate the task into smaller pieces that are easier to achieve in a short amount of time. Attacking one small piece will provide you with a small win and encourage you to continue. 

Spend Some Time Doing Art Student Exercises:

Simple drawings that are done as warm-ups can also be used as exercises to increase speed. A student needs to complete these exercises to learn the technique of shading, lighting, color matching, etc., but a professional that uses these exercises as a tool to improve their current work will likely see rapid improvement. 

The 90-minute workouts that Bobby hosts with other artists help him improve his art as well. Going back to the basics and spending 90-minutes working on a painting can show where you need to improve and where your strengths lie. 

Make Time to Practice Your Art:

If you spend all of your time working and none of it practicing your technique, you may notice your progress plateau. Even if you can only spend a few minutes a day practicing, spend it intentionally working on an aspect of your art you want to improve. Many artists find themselves doodling on scraps of paper or thinking about new projects. Use your time wisely

If you intentionally create time to practice and focus on specific aspects of your art, you will see improvement in your day-to-day work. There is an argument for creating a scheduled routine for your practice, but it is better to get 20-minutes here and there than skipping your practice because another project went over on time. 

Use Various Styles:

As with many aspects of art, there is no right way for everyone to practice their skills. Try multiple methods of practice with various mediums to find out what works for you. Do your best to aim your practice within your career goals. If you want to be a videogame designer, practice your 3D character art or paint mixing skills for color matching on canvas. 

Once you have found a style of practice that works for you, stick with it and see that results manifest in your art. The basics of design are an excellent place to start, and you can integrate the timed methods to improve your efficiency as well as artistic skill. 

Repeated Practice:

Scraps of paper with practice sketches of stacked blocks

There is a saying that it takes 10,000 hours to become the master of anything, but this is often incorrect when it comes to art. Art is constantly evolving, and there is no set of rules to follow. Each new era breaks the previous rules and creates a unique style or subgenre of art. 

Take a single subject that you are struggling with and draw it more than once, doing something different each time. This can help you discover what is missing from your first attempt and add new depth when you combine them later. 

If you struggle with portraits or landscapes, focus on the one you find the hardest to steadily improve your art overall. Your time of practice isn’t meant to be perfect. It is precisely that: practice. A routine is helpful when practicing as it works on the same skills repeatedly. You don’t have to do it at the same time every day, but make an effort to work on it each day if you can. 

Keep Investing Time in Practicing Your Art:

The overall moral of the story is that you need to keep practicing and keep drawing to improve your work. Once you have mastered the techniques, speed will come more naturally. You won’t get anywhere by giving up when something gets complicated, so keep working to improve your skills. 

There is no set amount of time that you should be focusing on your studies, but you should try to carve out a chunk of time from your day to work on your skills. Art is constantly changing, and there are new techniques created every day. Who knows, maybe the next new technique will be yours. So challenge yourself to do better with every project and be more efficient in your creation!

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