Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Years ago Eric Rhoads found himself in a conversation with a group of artists at the Carmel Art Festival. As they shared drinks and conversation, it came up that it was, sadly, rare for a group of artists to just sit and hang out together at a plein air event. Why? Because most are at such events to paint in competition and to sell their works.
It was said that, “We’re working on our pictures at night in our hotel rooms, we’re framing them, and we just don’t get a lot of time with other artists. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have an opportunity to be together and paint together and just establish our friendships?”
An idea was born. Eric, who is both a dreamer and a doer, chimed in and said, “What if I were to put something like that together?” The obvious answer was positive, and so his first Publisher’s Invitational took place that year in Austin, Texas. Seven artists were invited originally, and they invited more, growing the group to 16, more than ten years ago.
“We had a great time,” Eric recalled. “We painted together all day, we cooked together at night, we sat up and painted portraits, we had a lot of fun. So I started telling other people about it, and that eventually led to people wanting to be invited. I realized I had called it a Publisher’s Invitational, but really no invitation was required. I wanted anybody to be able to come, no matter what their level or experience was, even brand new beginners of painting.”
The vision was specific: to have an environment where amateur and star artists could gather to simply paint in nature together; not a workshop, but a symbiotic relationship of everyone helping everyone in some way, whether it was sharing an art tip or creating a great memory while painting.
10 Year Anniversary in the Beautiful and Historic Adirondacks
The first Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks was held on the campus of a private school called Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York. Since then, many of the participating artists have returned year after year to paint outdoors and make new lifelong friendships. Of course, the stunning environment adds to the experience.
“I had fallen in love with the Adirondacks because of its beauty,” Eric said. “It’s a protected park and many people aren’t even aware it exists. It’s mountainous and has waterfalls and greenery; it’s unlike anything in America.
To celebrate the anniversary of the event, this year’s group started the week with a cocktail party to get to know one another since about half of the artists were returning, and half were first-timers.
“Being at the Adirondacks Paintout for me was about being surrounded by inspiring people and sharing their dedication and commitment to the fine art of plein air painting. Thanks to All who made this possible!” ~Sandhya Sharms
An Orientation: Time to Get Pumped Up to Paint
Simply put, “After a community breakfast and announcements, we go out every day with a sack lunch to go, and we paint,” Eric said. “We have a daily agenda with locations; some people go off on their own and some want to be with a group. Some people want to paint a scene that’s easily accessible, and some people are willing to hike or even climb to get the ‘perfect’ setting.
Each day includes three to four main group locations, with Eric leading one set and Sandra Hildreth, a local artist and attendee of 10 years, leading the other set. In all, the painters can choose from 50-75 location options. One of the spots is exactly where the painters of the famous Hudson River School community stood and painted the landscape en plein air.
“What a glorious way to celebrate our emergence from quarantine! Beautiful landscapes that sometimes felt like they were right off a postcard, new friendships with warm, kind, and interesting people, creativity from dawn to nightfall, and throw in a few guitars and banjos and the chance to sing with this fabulous group of new friends.. I left with 18 new paintings and countless memories of the experience.” ~Debbie Underberg Mueller
To get to the exact spot where some of the famous Hudson River School painters stood and captured iconic landscapes, Eric left the beaten path, climbing alone over rocks across a roaring river. Others watched in curiosity to see if he’d make it across; he did, and once there, painted a magnificent waterfall.
This year the group visited one of the most beautiful farms in America, the previous home of Rockwell Kent, known as Asgard Farm. The owners welcomed the artists to come and paint on the property, take a tour, and visit Kent’s art studio in the nearby woods.
“I’d been wishing all week for someone to pose in a canoe. On the final day, I was painting along Black Pond, and a young man paddled by in a red canoe. He happily obliged me by paddling back and forth several times! I now have some great reference photos for studio paintings!” ~ Jeffery Mathison
Painting is Great, but the Best Part Is…
“Essentially, we visited many painting locations and had plenty of camaraderie,” Eric said. “The best part is that a lot of people made a lot of friendships, including people who were new to plein air painting. They were able to get a little acclimated, and could learn by watching what other equipment people used, how they packed, and how they set up and painted the landscape.”
At the end of each day of the Invitational, everyone brings their new works together; this year, with 106 artists, there were well over 1,000 paintings in the final collection. Most artists average two paintings per day, with the exception of those such as Terrell Gable, who creates up to five or six, painting from sunrise to sunset.
Evenings include dinner together, followed by painting portraits or enjoying live music led by Rick Wilson and others who usually join in. This year, even renowned painter CW Mundy sat in with his banjo.
“An event of painting and relating, to one another and to the glorious Adirondacks. A bigger pleasure than expected. Thank you, Eric.” ~Gary Hoff
Speaking of CW, one evening he joined Eric on stage for an impromptu interview about the important principles of painting, sharing art tips early in the week so that everyone could take the information and apply it to their work, which they did enthusiastically.
On another night, Eric held a hearty audience Q&A about art marketing, art business, and how to sell one’s art, leaving everyone with even more helpful information to take home and apply.
“After being in isolation for a year and a half, what better way to reconnect with nature and people than plein air painting. This was an experience that I will forever cherish and friends that will last forever.” ~Linda Richichi
A Game Changer
By the time parting day came, there were tears and hugs. Everyone had made new friends, some reporting that the experience changed their lives, their friendships, and their painting. One artist even shared that being a part of the Invitational and listening to the lectures helped her “figure out” other things going on in her life.
The 11th annual Publisher’s Invitational (June 11-18, 2022) has already half sold out; those interested in attending should visit PublishersInvitational.com today to reserve a spot.
Some artists, such as Annette McGowan and Melissa Murphy Stewart, drove their RVs cross-country to be a part of this year’s Invitational. The Adirondacks is within driving distance for many in the northeast: it’s about five hours north of New York City, three hours north of Albany, one hour south of Montreal, and two hours from Burlington, Vermont. Are you in the area?
“Is there anything better than painting in the beautiful Adirondacks for a week with 105 of your old and new Friends!? I can’t think of a thing! Thanks Eric!” ~Mary Fuscaldo
“Ahhh… The sights and sounds of nature and so many joyous artists. While out painting on the first day the bullfrogs were calling to each other. Twang, Twang…. they sounded like Banjos being tuned! And every once in a while they seemed to call out “Eric? Eric?”. It was a wonderful week of joy and laughter and it didn’t matter your skill level really! Camp for Artists… it was Fantastic! And of course I’ve signed up for next year!” ~Cathy Runkle
A Rare Event
Coming up in autumn is our annual Fall Color Week, and this year it will be unlike any other. The Streamline team has secured a 100-year-old camp in the Adirondacks for this Publisher’s Invitational, which usually takes place in a different part of the country. September 30 – October 6, 2021 is the only time this historic camp was available, so now is the time to consider painting the Adirondacks with Eric and about 100 plein air enthusiasts.
“We had more painters, more smiles and hardly any bugs! New places to paint, new stories to hear and tell along with FIREWORKS! The 10th Anniversary rocked in ways that we all needed after what we’ve been through over the last year….and No Drama!” ~Tom Zangerle
“It was an exhilarating first time adventure. Painting with, learning from, and sharing with artists from all over the country was a joy. All this and so many beautiful locations to explore created a magical week. Capping off with fireworks over the lake seemed appropriate.” ~Jean Frey
“Great to be painting with old and new friends in some of the most beautiful places around. Such a growth experience every time. Looking forward to to the next one!” ~Patty Mabie
For more information about the upcoming painting and artist retreats, visit PublishersInvitational.com.