You Can Do It: Pray, Read and Find 20 Minutes

You Can Do It: Pray, Read and Find 20 Minutes June 12, 2021
African children
This artwork was completed 20 minutes at a time for the most part. “A Light Has Dawned,” 16 x 20, oil pastel on paper by Susan E. Brooks

If you want to accomplish something and you feel you don’t have time, see if you can find 20 minutes. Twenty minutes a day of making art added up to my first solo show in 30 years. This can apply not only to art, but also to other endeavors.

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. —Vincent Van Gogh

Putting It Off

Back in 2016, I was one of thousands of people who majored in art, and then never did much with it. I taught and did the occasional painting or drawing here and there. Teaching was a financial necessity. I was inspired by my students, and I hope I inspired them sometimes, but teaching also exhausted me. Time and energy for making my own art eluded me. During summer breaks I opened an Etsy shop and sold a couple of paintings. I also self-published a couple of children’s book for my grandkids, but still. This was not the thriving art career I had dreamed of. I kept waiting for life to slow down. Then I would start.

Start With Prayer

Around January of 2016, I started praying for the time, self-discipline and motivation to do artwork on a regular basis. I wanted to, but it was so hard to find the time and energy to start. I don’t know why it took so long for that prayer to come to fruition. I’ve read that reminding ourselves of goals on a regular basis causes our brains to work toward those targets subconsciously. Maybe that’s what happened after all the praying, and I believe God did his part too. Science and faith work together to help us, it seems to me.

Read Motivational Books

Enter the year 2017. I had read Austin Kleon’s books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work. After about 18 months of praying about my art and reading the books again, I committed to doing what the books suggested. I started doing a little artwork every day and sharing the process photos on Instagram. Find books or articles written by people who are doing what you want to do and learn from them. How do they do it? If they can do it, so can you.

Work for 20 Minutes

In the mornings before school, I’d get up early and set a timer for 20 minutes. I had my easel set up with my source photos and pastels ready, and I would work until the alarm went off. Then I’d tear myself away from the art and rush off to school. That was it. No big secret, but once I started sharing, people encouraged me and I gained confidence. By the next spring I was showing my work locally, and a gallery owner invited me to have a solo show. Because of my routine of 20 minutes at a time, I had a sufficient number of pastel paintings for a solo show! I hate to admit it, but 30 years had passed since the last solo show. It felt so good to show my work, I kept at it.

It All Adds Up

Maybe some things cannot be done twenty minutes at a time, but many can. Twenty minutes of exercise daily may not turn you into an athlete, but it can make a positive difference. One great thing about setting a timer and starting something you’ve been putting off is that getting started is the hardest part (except maybe for finishing, but that’s another article). And once you get started, you may find yourself spending a lot more than 20 minutes at a time, which in most cases, is even better. So pray, read, set your timer for 20 minutes, and see what happens!


Do you find this helpful? I’d love to discuss it in the comments!


I’m an artist who loves to write. If you’d like to get to know me better, please follow me on social media.

My Blog:

Instagram @sebrooks81 (Mostly Art)

Facebook, Susan E. Brooks, Artist,

Twitter @sebrooks81



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