I love the upcoming Holiday season but know that every year it puts huge limitations on my time normally devoted to art. There were even a few years in the past when I didn't paint, draw or even think much about art for a number of weeks because of heavy personal and family commitments at this time of year. Each time this happened I found that my ability to perform regressed. I lost my working momentum, the rhythm of my process and even became unsure in my skills. It took weeks to regain all that was lost. This lapse combined with others of shorter duration throughout the ensuing year delayed my growth as an artist.
I finally came to realize that I could not afford to allow this to happen. Instead of beating my breast and feeling guilty I decided to break my time into small segments that were manageable and develop a schedule I could keep. My formula was simple, it consisted of deciding what I needed time wise to maintain my skills and rhythm at a working level.
In general, I knew personally I needed at least 4-6 hours a week to just keep my skills honed to a passable working level. That broke down to doing quick studies for at least 30 - 40 minutes each day. That was reasonable and something I was able to do even on the most busy of days
One of the biggest misnomers among my students is that they feel they must create "paintings" whenever they pick up a brush. That's wrong! It is far more important to do studies and small exercises to keep up skill, grow and be able to preform when called upon to do so. Anyone can do a drawing, a series of 4-5 thumbnails, work on a value or color study, etc., etc., in a 30 minute period. That is far more important than waiting until you have a "block of time" (which may never happen) when you can "paint". Part of all this is simply mind set.
The bottom line is that if you do nothing with your art over the holidays you will most assuredly regress. If you dedicate 30 minutes per day you will maintain for a few short weeks before regression begins and if you work an hour or more each day you might even be able to build more skill in certain areas.
If, throughout the year, you take art classes and/or work regularly in your studio then why jeopardize that investment? Isn't what you do important to you...important enough to maintain it through a busy time? Surely you can tweak your schedule to guarantee just 30 minutes a day for your art?