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The need for portable art/devotions habits (thoughts while painting)

When there are too many moving parts in my habits, I figure out what's the bare minimum so I can maintain the habit away from home and on busy days at home. Thoughts while painting a teakettle

Nicole Hanson

1/8/20243 min read

Watch the video, or read the transcript below. The video includes footage of me painting a teakettle!

The need for portable art/devotions habits (thoughts while painting)

The problem with my habits is that I need too many things to make them happen. I’d need all my pens and paints and papers and paints and my palette, my water holder, my brushes… the list goes on. I’d need my Bible, my notebook, my index cards of prayer requests, my concordance…These habits, with all their tools, are decidedly not portable.

As soon as I try to go out of town, these habits become impossible. And when I’m back in my environment again, it can be a struggle to get the habit going again.

If I were to wait until everything was perfect, if I held back from the habit until everything was in place, my relationship with God would stagnate and my art practice would evaporate, even when I am home. If I wait until I am “there”, I will have no muscles built up.

So rather than giving up and forgoing habits altogether, I’m working on making my habits portable.

Habits are great. They’re the building blocks of who we are, of who we are trying to become. To become more like Jesus, I pray, and I read the Bible and apply it. To become an artist, I sketch and paint and design.

My habit for creating art is centered in The Office.

My husband and I share The Office, and it’s my studio. I have a desk and a ring light and an armoire for my papers, supplies, and piles and piles of notebooks.

It’s nothing like the aesthetic studios I see online, all light and airy, and I’m okay with that.

I’m thankful I even have THIS space, dedicated for making (and storing) all my art. Even if storage is starting to run low, and the portfolios are full, and the drawer is filling up, and now the walls are filling up, too. Why am I still thankful?

I didn’t always have dedicated space to make art.

That’s an excuse I make about habits, too. “Oh,” I say, “If only I have the right equipment and the perfect set up, then I could set up this or that habit.” But I’ve bought the dumbbells. I’ve set up the reading light. I’ve put the handled-flosser into the toothbrush cup. I can tell you for certain: I am not more likely to keep a habit just because I have the fancy gear.

My desk is a deal off facebook marketplace. I don’t like my ring light, but it works. I don’t have any natural light in this studio. The desk doesn’t have as much space as I’d like. And yet, I’m successfully keeping the art-making habit.

When I remember my ‘studio spaces of old’, yes, I’m thankful for what I have now. It’s not instagram worthy, and it’s far more functional than it used to be.

A fancy studio does not make an artist. Creating art makes an artist.

One of my previous studio spaces consisted of a bin to store everything in, and the kitchen table. This is also the space that pushed me to paint with watercolors instead of acrylics (look at those carpets! I wanted the security deposit back).

And still, even with ‘a studio’ now and a desk and a light and an armoire, my art-making goes back to the basics. Back to making the art.

All I really need is to keep imagining, a couple supplies, and to get busy and do the work.

For portable art-making, I take paper, a large and a small paint brush, a sketchbook, a waterproof pen, a pencil, and my palette. I figure I can find water and a cup on-location.

My habits for becoming more like Jesus are centered in a blue wing-back chair.

Another deal off facebook marketplace. It’s in a little corner where I can see the edison lights strung up outside, a windowsill to keep my water (or tea if I’m feeling fancy), and a pillow so I can comfortably slouch into the chair as long as I’m there.

The actual habits I’ve chosen have morphed over the years, with the amount of structure ebbing and flowing. In one season, I wrote out prayers like letters. In others, the prayers were written on index cards and flipped through one by one. In another, I simply thought my prayers. In one season, I used a devotional to accompany me in this quiet time, and in others I read straight from Scripture and drew my own conclusions, open to how the Holy Spirit would have me live the principles.

And what about the portable quiet time? What are the bare essentials so I can take this habit on the go? Right now, it includes a Bible app, a concordance app (just in case), a notebook, and a pen.

The bare essentials of a habit, without the bells and whistles and shenanigans. The habit itself, stripped of all the fancy gear. That’s what makes the habit portable, so it is not abandoned, portable so I allow myself consistency even when I travel, portable so I continue to grow.