Alice Payne's collection of plein air studies from Fall Color Week
Alice Payne's collection of plein air studies

Each year at Fall Color Week – a week of plein air painting with no pressure – Eric Rhoads invites the attending artists to share their stories – their unique paths. This gives each of us art inspiration in unexpected ways, as you’ll see in the following from Alice Payne, who posted this in the exclusive Fall Color Week Facebook group, where everyone continues to network and build friendships.

Art has taken a back seat for my entire life. I was never encouraged as a child and it wasn’t in the budget in college (“Gotta get that computer science degree!”).

My art time is scattered – which isn’t often enough to flip my mindset permanently from the left brain to the right. I’m stuck waffling back and forth between the two, never fully landing in one or the other, and never satisfied with the accomplishments of either.

Seeing Fall Color Week advertised sent my heart singing, as if the Lord laid it all out just for me. A whole entire week with no left-brain commitments! I wanted to accomplish that mindset flip and leave my left brain in the dust. I told myself that if I came home with only two paintings I didn’t hate, it would have been a success. I feared the hiking and physical exertion. I feared being the worst artist in the group, or the only one who never went to art school. I feared not making any friends and coming home reminded that I’m not good enough to live in that world.

Painters at Fall Color Week 2023
Painters at Fall Color Week 2023

I learned lots of lessons from plein air painting with new friends at Fall Color Week:

From Sherry: Get a painting buddy. Go out together as often as possible. Working out architectural perspective with another person puts the fun into it.

From Wendy: Don’t kill the huge brown spiders having sex under your easel; just flip them out of the way with whatever you have. Be kind and considerate of others and remember that the roads are there for everyone to share.

From Dottie: “Cousins” are everywhere – whether or not they’re blood! Ultramarine and burnt sienna make a beautiful gray-green. Flat brushes rule. If the brush handle is too long, chop it off with your Dremel and paint the tip. Never stress a dead GPS. Being lost can be fun – you’ll get there in the end.

From Sarah: Stay passionate! Try everything (even portrait sketching for the first time). Don’t be afraid of the hike. Drive to the far waterfall (next time, I promise). A zippy car with a dropped top and Bolero blasting from the speakers makes whizzing around the leaf-covered, winding mountain back roads exhilarating. Wear a little makeup and a pretty hat, even in the woods. Wild leggings absolutely do go with a striped nightgown as a day dress. Wipe your paint on your clothes – who cares! Family “duties” are not essential – living one’s passion is.

From Pieter: Chivalry is most certainly not dead. Mind your corners. Do not rile up a mama bear after she’s turned away.

From Eric: Use more paint! Find my tribe. Know my ministry. Nobody is forcing me to stay in my current situation except me. If I climb those 32 stairs often enough with a 15-pound pack, I’ll get good at it. Don’t care who’s watching. Do not stay where you no longer fit – build a new “home.” Double the price! Plan the next vacation – having something to look forward to is important. My health is my first priority. My legacy is second – make it beautiful. Job is third – the Lord will provide.

2023 Fall Color Week family portrait
2023 Fall Color Week family portrait


I came home with more than two paintings I don’t hate. They’re not Louvre-worthy, or even sellable. But they represent a week of dedicated focus on something I love. And I learned a lot! Thank you all for being such a supportive group! I hope to see you all again soon.

Check out the 2023 Fall Color Week Photo Recap here at for more art inspiration.


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