Sometimes, we can’t get to our art practice and it can feel frustrating and worrying. However, there are things we can do to stay connected to our art. When we know what we want to do but getting to the art feels impossible, we need a different approach from when we face creative block.

Being disconnected from your art practice

We all face obstacles to our art practice from time to time, from daily responsibilities to big life events.

Illness creates different barriers than taking on a caring role, becoming a parent or being displaced from a home or studio. It might not be a big life change that gets in your way either. Just getting through the daily to-do list can feel like a mountain between you and your creative work.

How you approach this time will depend on the obstacles you face but if you can’t get to your art, what can you do to keep your hand in?

A jar of clean unused paintbrushes on a white background

Here are 5 things to do when you can’t make your art

Find support

If the daily grind is keeping you from making your art but you have a few minutes to get online, connection could help.

Even if you can’t make your art right now, talk about your ideas, your challenges, reflect on other people’s work or maybe discuss the latest art world controversy. No matter how easy it looks on Instagram, everyone struggles sometimes. Connecting with the right people can be supportive and community is great for our health.

Try using your social media time to connect with other artists, ask them how they manage their time or what works for them. Share a moan about how hard it all is before daydreaming about when you can get back to it. Get support from others online or in the real world who understand where you’re coming from.

Writing or journaling

If you can’t get to your art supplies but you have snippets of time, journaling can be a great way to explore ideas, get clear on a vision or think things through. If you don’t have one, start a “studio” journal for your thoughts or reflections on completed work. This doesn’t need a lot of time, it’s cheap to start and can be a valuable resource later.

I keep a notebook on my art table where I write down everything from ideas, working out pricing and planning for events to checklists for different things. Sometimes I make notes about what I’m working on or just have a private moan about how I stuck I feel.

If writing is not your thing, try recording voice notes or a vlog on your phone instead to record your thoughts.

Think small

If you’re lacking chunks of time to get to your painting or creating, it can feel frustrating. Can you work smaller and quicker for a while? You might need to think creatively to find something that fits your circumstances but it’s possible.

Most of us carry a smart phone and it takes just seconds to snap a moment in time. Maybe take a self portrait every day, play with editing apps or document this time with unfiltered, raw snaps to inspire later work.

If you’re able, a tiny sketchbook and pencil are enough to record moments and express yourself. This is good for waiting rooms, trains and small spaces.

Make thumbnails, doodle, take sensory or colour notes from your surroundings or make terrible drawings, it all helps. My drawing teacher once had us fill a tiny Moleskine cahier with fast sketches of our own feet and shoes as practice. After all, they go wherever you go.

Scaling down can help if you’re feeling restricted by low energy or space too.


Do you have an opportunity to read? There is a wealth of art books available and most libraries offer a range of non-fiction that are available as downloadable ebooks too. Check out Borrowbox or Libby apps.

Art blogs are back in fashion and Substack is building a community of artists amongst its writers. Substack articles are sent via email as well as available through the app and the website.

If you have waiting times or trains in your day, or you’re trying to use less social media before sleep, reading about art is not a bad way to spend a few minutes.


If your hands are full, you’re spending a lot of time travelling or you’re physically or mentally unable to make your art, having something to listen to might be a better fit.

Art and creativity podcasts are plentiful these days. Audiobooks can be an option if you have the budget but libraries offer these too for free.

Listening to others talking about art is not the same as doing it yourself but can help keep your thoughts in the art space until you can get back to it. From biographies, interviews and relaxed chats to educational lessons there’s something for everyone.

Watercolour art palette on a white background

Keeping a thread tied to your art

Whatever is keeping you from your art, doesn’t have to steal all aspects of your creativity. There are ways to stay connected to your art, to your community and to your future art projects. Keeping a thread tied to your art until you can come back can be a small thing but it might just help you find your way back when you’re ready.

Or: Take a guilt free break

If life is really battering you or all your time and energy is needed elsewhere, it might be time to take the pressure off completely. I don’t like to think that any artist abandons their art due to outside forces but there are times when stepping away is the right thing to do.

The frustration and emotional distress caused by resisting what’s needed, can be as bad as acknowledging that time away is necessary.

If this sounds like you and other ideas for keeping your hand in feel utterly impossible, try to take a step back. If the fight to keep going with your art against all odds is causing you distress, give yourself permission to ease off for now. It’s ok. Your art will be there when you come back.

A note about creative block

Creative block can also keep us away from our art but can use a different approach. If you’re struggling to find your creativity at all, this article about facing creative block might be more helpful.


Header photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Palette photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash