UART Tip #38: “How 10 Minutes Can Change Your Art-Life” with Jen Evenhus

If I were to tell you that 10 minutes can improve your painting, would you look up from your phone, curious enough to ask – “how can 10 minutes make a difference?” As a visual artist, we just want to find the time to paint – to have some much needed studio time. The one thing I hear most from fellow artists is, “I just don’t have time to paint!” So if we want to paint, why is it so hard to simply walk into the studio and paint?

Discipline. Procrastination. Worthiness. Expectations. Time.

Just a few excuses that we use.

First, let’s take Discipline. That pesky D word. We’ve heard this word ever since we were in Jr. High School. But it seems no one ever actually taught us how to be self-disciplined. We have had to learn the hard way – if we are not self-disciplined, we never get anything done. It is the number one key to success. It’s actually very simple – just ask yourself, “do I want to be a better painter?”

Next, let’s talk about Procrastination.  Putting off that which you can do tomorrow. But as you know, tomorrow never comes. You know you have a show coming up and need to produce something new, but there is laundry to do, dusting and vacuuming. Weeds to pull. Emails to answer. Grandchildren to play with. Pretty soon it’s 3:30 in the afternoon and almost time to start dinner, certainly not enough time to head into the studio! What I began doing a couple years ago, is heading to the studio first thing. Get your 3-4 hours in, then you have the rest of the day for whatever happens.

Worthiness. Do you find yourself feeling guilty for taking time for yourself? I know I do. I feel I should be available whenever anyone needs me. A daughter and granddaughter who visit often and enjoy having me around for granddaughter to play with. I sometimes feel guilty because I don’t help hubby outside on our mini-ranch with chores very often, carving out precious studio time instead.
As artists, I’ve found I must create … fill my well, so to speak … in order to give my heart and soul to others. You are worthy. You deserve to take that time, and share your passion to make the world a more beautiful place.

Then we have Expectations. Usually, it’s our own expectations that trip us up. Whenever we do enter the studio, we expect to create a masterpiece. There is no room for failure, let alone play time, experimentation time. What would happen if next time you sat in front of your easel, you did not put any expectations on the result of your efforts – just allowed yourself to play or experiment. Draw, scribble, scratch, blend and splatter. And to put a timer on … so you don’t get too detailed. Now do you see where this is going??

 Yes, that elusive thing called TIME.  Get beyond all of your excuses by realizing you can be productive in only 10 minutes!  If you have ever taken one of my workshops, you will remember my 10-minute exercises – and the panic you experienced when you heard I wanted you to paint something in only 10 minutes!! But by the time the exercise was done … you didn’t even need the full ten minutes for your next try.  And then you rocked it in only 4 minutes! It’s funny how that happens.

“Why?” you say. “Why should I set a timer and paint fast??”
Let me tell you …

  • Creates confidence
  • Increases problem solving skills
  • No time for details
  • Forces you to be bold and brave
  • Your natural style will soon be revealed
  • You will see unexpected happy-little-accidents appear
  • You will create many small masterpieces

Prep ahead of time to Succeed – Be ready for your 10-minute session

  • Choose your favorite UART pastel paper – mine is 400 grit
  • Cut into small sizes – 5×7, 6×8, 8×10 – at least 8 sheets
  • Underpaint using a variety of colors – bright pink; orange; ugly neutrals; black
  • Choose several still life objects / florals – daisies are my fav / photo ref
    – working in a series is enlightening – ex: do 6 pieces of same bouquet using diff colors
  • Each session, after choosing what you want to paint, choose your sticks before setting timer
    using 10-15 hues and values, plus black and white
  • If you paint with music, choose something upbeat
  • SET YOUR TIMER FOR 10 MINUTES – when the timer goes off, STOP
  • If you must paint more, begin a new one, set the timer again and REPEAT

I GUARANTEE THAT IF YOU DO THIS 4 TIMES EVERY WEEK, YOU WILL SEE INCREDIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN YOUR SKILLS WITH PASTELS – and don’t forget to have FUN!!   Take photos and share with me and the world …


Visit Jen’s website at to see more of her paintings and her workshop schedule.