Being Creative During a Busy Day

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share a new little technique I’ve been using recently to stay creative during hectic days.  As a mom to now a baby and a toddler, my day gets busy pretty fast, and countless times I’ve found myself taking a breather to look at the clock and thinking, “it’s that time already!? Where has the day gone!”

In the beginning of my new life as a mom of two, I constantly found myself going through the whole day without doing any acts of creativity.  As I started to get frustrated with my inability to find the time to be creative in my current situation, I stopped and took a step back, and had a good look at my day.  And I realized that in order to be able to continue to be creative, I had to get creative in how I could be creative.

the one minute painting watercolor technique

So I started doing what I’m calling The One-Minute Painting. Yep, it’s a painting that you do in one minute.  But it can help you learn new ways of making marks with a paintbrush, and play around with layering colours and textures and patterns without any real fear of ruining anything. Because really, I’ve only invested one minute into it, so what if it turns out looking like crap?

So here’s how it works:

  • Get yourself a good sketchbook that can hold water.  A watercolor paper pad works great, or I use the Leuchtturn 1917 Sketch Book.  It can hold watercolor pretty well as long as I don’t use too much water, and I don’t rub the paper too much with the brush.  It’s perfect for a quick exercise like this.
  • Have a watercolor palette set out and ready when you are.  I also like to use a watercolor brush pen so I don’t have to waste time filling a jar with water.  The goal is to have these things ready to go so it literally takes no time to set up.
  • Sit down and open your book to the first blank spread
  • Take a deep breath, relax, then grab your paintbrush and just paint. Draw shapes with your brush, or cover the whole page in a wash, or draw a series of squiggly lines, it really doesn’t matter.  Just do what you feel like doing, and don’t think about it.
  • Once the page is full or you’re at the point where you can’t do anything else until something dries, you’re done.  Carry on with your day.  Let the book lay open until the paint is dry, then you can close it.
  • Repeat this process the next day, layering overtop of what you did the day before.  With watercolor everything is transparent, so you can layer and layer and layer.  Again just do what you want and go until you have to wait for something to dry to continue (otherwise you’ll run into making muddy colour).
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat!
  • Once you have a few layer, you can change it up and start using a pen or colored pencil or marker to make marks and lines on top of the watercolours, it’s really up to you.
  • Once you think you’ve finished your artwork, flip to the next page and start all over again!
one minute paining techniques
A few sessions of my one-minute painting. I’m still going to add more to it, but I’ve started adding pen on top of the watercolor.

The process each day takes about a minute if you’re going fast and working with just your instinct.  The goal is to just paint, and not get caught up staring at a blank page and thinking about the possibilities.  Just do it.  If you mess up you can layer overtop and hide it, then try again next time.

I found this process to be really enjoyable, and it’s kept me sane during the busy days of caring for a newborn and not having any time for yourself, other than sleeping whenever possible.  And now that I’ve got more of a daily routine down with my little ones (the baby is almost 4 months old now, so things are a little easier than they were when he was a fresh babe), I still find myself playing around with this exercise most mornings, as a little me time while I have my morning coffee in between feeding the baby and waiting for my toddler to wake up.

If I find any patterns or shapes I really like, I redraw/paint them into a separate section in my sketchbook, so I have a little collection of references for when I have time to make more formal art.  Here’s a few I’ve been keeping track of:

collection of painting marks
A collection of marks I like while I’ve been playing around in the One Minute Painting.

So in addition to getting a bit of creative energy out of me, the paintings also serve as inspiration for future artworks because I log and collect any brushstrokes that I find interesting.  So while I’m enjoying the moment, I’m also ensuring that I’ll also have lots of ideas to work with when the time to make a more finished piece of art presents itself.

Alright, so that’s all I wanted to share with you today, I hope this idea is useful to you, and let me know in a comment below if you’ve started doing anything like this too! Thanks for stopping by, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

the one minute painting watercolor technique

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  1. I have been uninspired since December, when my brother became sick with a brain tumor and then died in January. This was on the heels of another tragedy and loss of a family member. Your suggestion to start the creative juices flowing by just starting to put paint and brush to paper for a short time is very freeing. I don’t have to find a big, involved project. Something simple is perfect. Art is healing and helps us to rebalance. Thank you for you post Ashley! Beth

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Beth. I’m sorry for your loss. Art is indeed very healing, and I’m glad you were able to find this idea helpful!

  2. I love your blogs and words of encouragement! I first discovered you when looking for tips on creating a simple background for acrylic painting. You technique just saved one of my paintings. I did have to do the unthinkable and correct it after the subject was finished.Carefully maneuvering around the bird i was able to create a background that enhanced rather than overpowered the subject. Maybe you aren’t always aware of your impact but rest assured as a beginner you are a Godsend!

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