Art retreats - Fall Color Week

Recently about 100 plein air painters met in Acadia National Park for the Publisher’s Invitational painting retreat known as Fall Color Week with Eric Rhoads.

“The event is designed for people who want to have a retreat, meet other artists, and get better at painting through practice, and taking the time that they wouldn’t do on their own to do two or three paintings in a week,” Eric said.

They started the event with introductions at a dinner and cocktail party. From there, every day they went painting.

“We started out as a group painting along the rocky Maine coast’s rocky islands and pine trees, with crashing waves and old lighthouses,” Eric said. “The nice thing about this location for Fall Color Week is that not only could you paint beautiful color, but there was also a lot of character to paint, like old lobster shacks and harbors full of lobster boats. Most of us were eating a lot of lobster because it’s so available.”

Photo credit: Gloria Gaus

In regards to painting, there were plenty of quality subjects for everyone. “Some of us went to the Isle, and a lot of people went over and painted on Cadillac Mountain or Bar Harbor.

During the retreat, Eric gave general announcements every morning, during which various people would give a 5-minute talk about things that they had learned so far and wanted to share with others. “We had a really great time,” Eric said.

Learning scratchboard one evening during Fall Color Week
Learning scratchboard one evening during Fall Color Week

This year Fall Color Week was a quick sell-out with a waiting list of folks who wanted to attend. (Hint: Sign up soon to join us for the next Publisher’s Invitational, which will be in June 2023 in the Adirondack Mountains!)

When asked what his favorite part of the week was, Eric admitted that it was simply the fact that he, like many others, was able to do a lot of painting. “I did probably the best painting of my career so far, at very dangerous spot called the Raven’s Nest,” he said. “It’s dangerous because you’re walking on windy cliffs that fall down 40-60 feet into rocks and the ocean. But the views are gorgeous.”

Eric Rhoads, "Raven's Nest," 24 x 30 in.
Eric Rhoads, “Raven’s Nest,” 24 x 30 in.

He had set a goal for the week to paint a 24 x 30-inch canvas just for this location at Raven’s Nest. He waited for the perfect day and sunlight and planned to spend four hours in the spot, including the Golden Hour. He ended up getting to spend only two hours there, but captured the golden light while the wind was howling at about 70 miles an hour. “I was holding on to my easel as it shook and rattled while I was painting,” he said. “But because I was painting so fast and because the wind was howling so much, I was not able to overthink things, I just had to move fast and move instinctually and that worked to my benefit.”

He typically tries to paint a minimum size canvas of 12 x 16, and to paint more instinctually, so painting a 24 x 30 in those conditions is quite the accomplishment.

Schoodic Point; photo credit Jeanne McLeish
Eric on location at Fall Color Week

Beyond painting en plein air, the people who come are something to celebrate as well. “I think the thing that impresses me most about Fall Color Week is it tends to attract the same people year after year, and they’ve become family. Oftentimes they’ve met someone who has become a lifetime friend. And it’s really sweet to see that.

“At the end, I asked people if they had made new friends and most raised their hands. We also had a lot of people who did their first time doing nocturnes and they had a full moon and so we were able to get out two or three nights for these. There were a lot of people getting up and doing sunrises and sunsets because it was so stunningly beautiful. It was nice to see people trying to experiment and getting to know more about painting and also just getting to know other people.”

It’s just one of the reasons he hosts events such as the Publisher’s Invitationals (by the way – consider this your formal invitation!). For hobby artists and professionals alike, it can be difficult to dedicate an entire week to painting and to create two or three works in a single day because there are so many things going on in their lives.

But at Fall Color Week, he says, “what happens after you paint for a couple of days there, you get a rhythm of setting up your gear faster, and doing your paintings better and faster, so by the end of the week, you’re really painting well and you also learn a lot from other people. We all put our paintings out just for ourselves, and it’s an opportunity to see how other people approach the same subject. So it’s very valuable.”

Mark Burkett painting a portrait from a live model during Fall Color Week; photo credit Sherry Snyder Wilson
Patty Mabie during Fall Color Week; photo credit Regina Caufield Pryor
Photo credit Elaine Miller
Eric Rhoads, painting on location during Fall Color Week

Visit to find out all the amazing opportunities for artists through Streamline Publishing, including:
– Online art conferences such as Plein Air Live
– New video workshops for artists
– Incredible art retreats
– Educational and fun art conventions, and much more.

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  1. This looks fabulous, in territory I love. I spent part of my young life with my Grandmother at her Island home near Acadia (as the crow flies). And my first plein air painting was created at Pemaquid when I was 8 years old…Maine soaks right into your heart and bones.
    I’ve since moved to another place that wraps you up in wonder and beauty…New Mexico.
    Boy, do you look happy Eric! You are beaming.


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