The biggest problem I have with improving my painting ability is finding (making) the time to paint. I have learned to do it the same way I find time to exercise; I schedule it ahead of time.
A group of painter friends and I paint every Tuesday between 4pm and 7pm at a place in Breckenridge that is part of the Arts District. We pay $2-3 each every week, which helps to pay the heat bill, and as it is used as a studio anyway, don't have to worry about messing the place up too badly. If we didn't have this place, we would meet at someone's home, or look for other alternatives. One added benefit is that we have others available to critique our work if we want it. I find that having another eye on my work really helps me to see things that somehow I was blind to while I was painting it. How did all those trees get lined up in a row, all the same height and same distance apart?
I am a Realtor, and this summer had a new construction project listed for sale. I spent many weekends there doing open houses, which can be very boring and not pleasant to do. I took my painting gear with me and set up in the garage with the door open. If it was cold, I put a tarp on the floor in the entryway and painted there. I really enjoyed those weekends and got a lot of work done!
On Thursday mornings I take an art class at the local junior college. It doesn't really matter what I paint, just so I do it, but I really do prefer landscapes. Some of the classes have been still lifes and in others we have had models. This summer it was plein air. The painting above was done in that class (and then tweaked at home in the studio.) All are good for me, and I won't get any better without practice! It seems strange to me that people complain that they are not getting any better, when without spending the time painting, there is no way they can improve. At least, that is the way it is with me. Our last project in my last class was to paint on a 24x30 canvas. I have never painted larger than 16x20 and normally I paint pretty small, but I really enjoyed that project. I have ordered some large panels am going to try doing another one or two.
My exercise classes are three hours a week, and my goal is to paint at least 6 hours a week. With a full time job, that can be challenging, but I generally find a way to get it done. If I can do more, so much the better. Having just starting painting in my late 50's, I have a lot of painting time to catch up on!