For many of us painting is our day job, or our part time job. But no matter which camp you might be in there are times that "real life" will intrude deeply into your painting time. It can be illness of a family member, yourself, financial issues, family drama- the list could be endless. Sometimes the break can be beneficial to your artwork, it can stop you when you are in a rut and just producing the same painting with no growth over and over. Other times it is totally inconvenient and you see no good in it at all. I have found that I first need to get over the resentment of life or family intruding on my time. It is a narcissistic attitude that can get a hold of us artists very easily. It is almost as if society expects it of us- calling us "creative types" when actually it is a self centered point of view and has nothing to do with being creative. It can become an excuse and the start of the "poor me" syndrome- I could be a really good artist if it weren't for ___________ -you fill in the blank. Everyone will have some of these bleak times to go through but I have found an exercise that has been very helpful to me and you probably do this already, but it was a new revelation for me. I have taken martial arts classes and loved them. One of the ways to practice our movements was to go through them in your mind. To move through each step slowly and carefully as real as if you were actually in motion. This would cement the movements in our minds so that when it came time for sparing, your brain and gone through that defensive motion so many times that it would react quickly and precisely. And this has to do with painting ?? Yes it sure does. While waiting at a doctors office, performing some boring task your mind is still free to paint. Critically observe objects in front of you, draw they shape, break down the color to where you start to blend that color note in your mind. Looking at a scene stop and look, how would you compose the start of a painting with that scene in front of you. Do quick "starts" in your head. This is better than taking a picture and to your brain it is the same thing as having a brush in your hand. Athletes, dancers, and musicians use this technique with success so why can't artists? See the objects or scene in front of you as a painting, even if the scene is not what you would typically paint now you get to try it without any failure! I realize that my attitude is a bit harsh on the poor me syndrome but I speak from experience. I wasted a great deal of time playing that game and someone needed to stop me long ago. But better to learn now that even later in life. Don't let yourself be held back by yourself. Stop blaming your boring day job, husband, kids, where you live- take a hold of your mind and your attitude and see what can happen.