In this episode of the Plein Air Podcast, Eric Rhoads interviews Mark Shasha, an amazing plein air and studio artist.
Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, answers your questions!
Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Mark Shasha here:
– Mark Shasha online: https://www.markshasha.com/
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericrhoads/
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eric.rhoads
– Plein Air Today newsletter: https://www.outdoorpainter.com/plein-air-today-newsletter/
– Submit Art Marketing Questions: artmarketing.com/questions
FULL TRANSCRIPT of this Plein Air Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Plein Air Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
Eric Rhoads 0:00
This is episode number 223 with the amazing plein air and studio artist Mark Shasha. I think you’re gonna find him especially engaging and you’re gonna learn lots. So let’s get this thing started
This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher and painter, Eric Rhoads.
Eric Rhoads 1:16
Thank you Jim Kipping. And welcome to the plein air Podcast. I’m excited because I get to go painting this weekend, I have a full time job as you know, but very excited going to go up to or down to a little town called Utopia, Texas, which is where lots of Westerns were filmed a lot of old John Wayne westerns, beautiful, beautiful Texas scenery, rolling hills. And so I’m gonna go down there and paint with some friends this weekend. So that’s gonna be fun, I am trying out a new easel, I am on this, this quest for the ultimate easel I have not found it yet. I like them all. I buy them all. And I just bought this one. And I’ve already drilled into it and modified it and changed it and to try to make it a little better for my purposes. And then I’ve got another one that I just ordered. And they’re not sending these things to me for free. I’m buying them because I want to support these people. But, you know, ultimately, I’ve got to find the one that I’m going to land on. I stayed on one for many, many years. But it still was just not quite what I wanted. And as I aged a little bit, you know, weight becomes an issue. So I’m trying to figure out, you know, all those things anyway. I’m running out of shelf space, I should probably say, I guess I should have a garage sale for easels. Anyway, we are thrilled that this podcast is now on audio and video. And we have over 1.5 million downloads to the podcast that’s being heard in 90 countries. And it has been rated number one and feedbacks. 2021 top 15 painting podcasts list. Maybe by the end of this year, we’ll get number one again, who see we’ll see anyway, after the interview, today, we’re going to have the art marketing minute and you want to hang around for that. So make sure you do that. Also things are heating up. The plein air convention is like the big family reunion, we’re all very excited to be able to get together again, we have been checking in you know, in New Mexico is not having any real COVID issues anymore that we’re back to normal, we don’t have to social distance, we don’t have to wear masks, we don’t have to do any of that stuff. And we would love to have you there we have plenty of seats because we had to cut to half size because of COVID. But then all of a sudden they released it. So we have more seats than we probably could sell quite frankly, that’s very unusual, because we’re usually sold out. But also we’ve decided that we’re going to open it up to online attendance, which will be where you can see the main stage only. But that way you can see it, you’re gonna get art Marketing Bootcamp, you’re gonna get the main stage, which has got some big, big names, and a couple other things that we’ve got in there. So you can go to pleinairconvention.com And just look at the page about the virtual option that’ll tell you all the answers there. It’s gonna be spring soon. My well it actually is spring here but late spring and early June, mid June actually I do my annual event in the Adirondacks. It’s called Paint Adirondacks. And it’s basically about oh, I don’t know usually 80 to 100 friends who get together and we paint together for a week. It’s a lot of fun, beautiful scenery. We have meals together. We stay in the same place together. Everybody’s together and it’s a lot of fun. We sit up at night paint portraits, we play music, it’s summer camp for adults who are painters who plein air painters, and even people who are new to plein air painting you know, they come and they learn about it. It’s matter of fact, Charlie Hunter was an artist but he was was fairly new to plein air painting, he came up to the event, he decided that he was going to start doing all these other events and he became famous, but he kind of started there. And so that’s kind of cool. We have a lot of that kind of story happening. So we hope that you’ll join us. The other thing that I’d like it, I should probably tell you the, the website, shouldn’t I it’s paintadirondacks.com. Also, this fall, I’m going to be taking a group of 50 people to New Zealand to paint. I did that several years ago. And it was really an amazing trip. And people said, you know, you gotta go back. And so we’ve refined the trip made it even more painting and even better, and we’re taking some new painting spots, and one of the things we’re going to do, which is really cool, we were not able to do before we were able to visit Milford Sound, which is like one of the seven wonders of the world, it’s beautiful. But we weren’t able to paint there. This time, we’re gonna be able to paint there, we’re also going to be able to paint in Glenorchy we painted there, enough time for one painting, but you’re gonna have an overnight a little more time. That’s gonna be cool. So we’ve got a lot happening anyway, this is limited to 50 people because there’s a boat involved. And we’re going to be actually staying on a boat one night as we go down to Milford Sound, and there’s only enough for 50 people. And so we can’t expand this trip. And we already have, oh, more than half of the seats are occupied. So I think there’s a at this time that I’m recording this, there’s 23 seats left, you can get the itinerary, and all the itinerary, all the other things that paintingnewzealand.com. Anyway, we have a really terrific guest. today. Our guest is Mark Shaka, he was born in 1961. That means he’s an old guy, but he’s not as old as yours truly. He’s an award winning American artist. He’s an author and educator and actor. After college at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983. He was a frequent illustrator for the Austin Phoenix, the globe and many other publications. His work led to invitations to hundreds of schools and libraries, where he delighted hundreds of 1000s of children with stories and songs and drawings, and he continues to delight us. He has recently released a video with streamline paint tube called shimmering light, and it is doing very well selling well. And it’s very informative. So Mark, welcome to the plein air podcast.
Mark Shasha 7:39
Thank you so much for having me, Eric, it’s good to see you again.
Eric Rhoads 7:42
Do you get a big head when people read your bio?
Mark Shasha 7:45
Never Never. Thank you for the grudging introduction, as
Eric Rhoads 7:51
they say, Well, you’re not a big head kind of guy. You know, you’re one of those, those people who’s really a super nice guy you’re fun to hang out with and, and pretty modest, I’d say,
Mark Shasha 8:03
well, thank you for that I do. I’m always looking for what I can do next, or usually the conversations I have with other artists and painters is what do I need to do next to, to move into a new thing? So I never I tends to humble me a little bit.
Eric Rhoads 8:22
Well, let’s talk about that. Because it’s a really great transition. You know, there are there are artists that we all know who kind of stay in the same place for their whole career. And then there are artists like yourself and others who are really trying to always push themselves to the next level. What’s the thinking and the feeling behind that?
Mark Shasha 8:46
Oh, what a great question. I just feel driven somehow to express myself in various ways. And I find that it may sound a little corny but I think I fall in love with things and I want to express them on canvas. For example. I for a period of yours I just wanted to write and illustrate children’s books, I wanted to tell stories, and I loved bringing people along with my books and that was so important to me and then at some point I realized that I was it required that I collaborate with a lot of other people and I you know editors will had their point of view and art directors had their thoughts and I just thought well okay may have done enough with children’s books for now. I want to I want to pursue paintings of the ocean or paintings of the landscape and that is the next thing that caught me and I just fell in love with that and then during the COVID period, I you know during the a lot of those locked in Allen’s I would feel like this is a great opportunity to finally do some painting that I haven’t done enough of like, maybe do a little more figurative work or get back into sort of cityscapes. And as I was looking at the shoulds, I should I should, I should, I started feeling more like, you know what, no, there’s things I want to do. And I’m gonna go for the things I want to do first, and I just wanted to paint the beach, I wanted to get back into the sand and the sort of the texture of the ocean type painting, getting that on Canvas. So that’s kind of what I started to get back into. And I had a great big show. In Boston, last year, a solo show at the guild of Boston artists, where I’ve been a member. I just, I have a very expressive person. I think that’s what keeps me humming and being interested in a lot of other things.
Eric Rhoads 11:05
Well, I think we, you know, we got the benefit of that, too. Because you, you, you and I were talking personally when you were here, filming your your video here in Austin. And, and you were talking about the pandemic and how you kind of it took you up several notches, it brought you up to a higher level. And of course, all these new things that you learned, we were able to put into that new video product too. So that’s a that’s a benefit. And what other ways did you receive what I like to call the gift of COVID? You had time to, to paint and experiment. What what other benefits? Did you did you see?
Mark Shasha 11:45
Well, I think that it gave me an opportunity to read more Catch, catch up with some really great books that I’ve wanted to read. I really am fascinated in the era in Vienna at the turn of the last century, when artists and thinkers and scientists merged together. And there’s a great book, I have to say over here somewhere. The the age of the age of insight by Eric Kandel, it was a wonderful book, got me into that. And but also, lots of painting. I mean, the thing about this experience we’ve all been through is, it’s great for people who are solitary who like being in on their own, and just then there’s an artist in the studio or an artist out in the field, we, the obligations were a lot fewer for that social stuff.
Eric Rhoads 12:44
So do you have a process that you try and discipline yourself towards? Growth? You know, I get this question a lot from people is, you know, how do I get myself to the next level? You’ve done that several times? You’ve obviously, how long have you been painting?
Mark Shasha 13:06
I’ve been painting for 50 years easily.
Eric Rhoads 13:09
So you’ve got multiple times, do you have a process or a system that that helps you, you know, kind of push yourself to the next level,
Mark Shasha 13:19
I’ve never had to push myself, I’ve never had to I just, I naturally am constantly wanting to paint. It’s it’s kind of just been the joy of my life, to sing and act and pick up the guitar and play it or, you know, try out for a play or pick up canvas and paint. I always have my sketchbooks. I think my process is just to be open to the world and to open myself to things that I love and to just dive right into them.
Eric Rhoads 13:49
But don’t you ever get to a point where you’re like, I was in a museum and I saw this piece and and like, I can’t figure out how that artists did that. And you’re trying and you’re trying and you’re frustrated?
Mark Shasha 14:02
Yes, exactly. That that’s the other. That’s the other part of it, which is, I have this longing to study these, like forget, I may have mentioned this with you at another time. But, you know, I went into the Art Institute of Chicago because I had not been there before. This was about 15 years ago. And I went around the corner I was just soaking in the American weighing all that American, all those American landscape paintings. And I turned the corner and there was the magnificent fountain by John Singer Sargent. It I had seen it all my life. And it just filled me with such passion to see it too. I wanted to know how did he make that tree behind the woman so perfect. How did he make the water look like it was moving? How did he make that beautiful hand gesture that she has with those brushes. And it looks it looks like you can almost see the fingernails. But when you look up close, you can. Now this was the first time I had the chance to see it in person.
Eric Rhoads 15:10
I’ve never seen it in person. How big is it?
Mark Shasha 15:13
Three hours I walked tried to step walk away, it kept coming up and studying. I don’t remember how big it was. I you know, I’m dealing 16 Is bigger than 16 by 20. Yeah. But it’s just a mesmerizing experience. And of course, the passion. Is this like, it’s like gasoline, you know, it’s, it feels me like how did he do that? I want to learn how to do that myself.
Eric Rhoads 15:40
Yeah, that particular painting, you know, the story behind that painting is that that is Sergeant sister who was a watercolorist. And Richard Ormond, who is the historian of Sargent, that was his grandmother. Incredible. So you know, that it’s, it would be fun to sit in on those family stories and, and hear all about him. We’ll have to have Richard on again sometime. So who are your inspirations if you if you go to seek out books or museums, that certain painters that you know, we all have some of the same ones, it seems, but there are certain ones that maybe you have, who are some of those people?
Mark Shasha 16:24
Well, I love Hopper, you know, and I, I’ve really gotten turned on to Andrew Wyeth, again. Something about Andrew Wyeth, I had read this wonderful book about him an artist’s life. And oh, man, just I think of myself as an artist. But you read about Andrew Wyeth. And I just don’t feel like a real artist compared to his intensity.
Eric Rhoads 16:53
What was it? What was it that made you feel that he was a real artist?
Mark Shasha 16:57
Well, I mean, he struggled his struggle over every single penny, you’ve read about how the agony he went through, to try to get a mark right and his anger as he was painting and used to try to get these lines a certain way. And he would crumple up the paper and he’d throw it and toss it in the dirt and step on it and just get angry with it. And then he’d hold it up and look at it and say, Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m going for, you know, he would he would damage his work in an effort to just because he was the angst, you know. And it never really stopped. He had that kind of angst about his work and trying to get it right all the time. And I think Andrew Wyeth was dismissed as just an illustrator for decades. And I it’s just fun to revisit him and to revisit his, some of his paintings. And, you know, there are other artists too. I said, I mentioned Hopper, but, you know, Hopper. I’m a New England guy, to go to Cape Cod. You know, Harper was painting my life before I knew hopper. You know, it was like, art, of course, the word art comes from artifice. And so here we are, we’re creating the truth on canvas or paper through an artificial means, right. And I would look at how Harper and I mean, he captured the the grass hit in the late afternoon sun in September, in those dunes, and the light on the building behind it, and then the dunes Above Beyond perfectly composed. And it’s all just paint on a canvas or paint on a piece of paper. And it’s hard to believe that so much could be there, in this simple imagery. And I just constantly am I marvel when an artist so perfectly captures so much that is true. And making something that’s, you know, handmade. So, mind blowing,
Eric Rhoads 19:13
wasn’t Hopper also an illustrator? Yes, no, I don’t.
Mark Shasha 19:18
I think he was, I kind of always put the, you know, it’s interesting, isn’t it that line between what’s an illustration versus what is fine art. And of course, we know the word fine and fine art doesn’t mean it’s really really fine or is what nice finery the word fine and fine art comes from the Latin word theme, which means end and end in and of itself. And that’s what makes a fine art. painting. The painting doesn’t have a utilitarian purpose. It’s not like a piece of pottery which can rise to the level of fine art, but it doesn’t have a purpose other than in its own it Is the end in and of itself?
Eric Rhoads 20:01
Well, you know, I when I first got into the art world, there were there were people who considered illustrators to be a lower class. You know, I remember a discussion with someone about Rockwell, for instance. And this was a high end East Coast art dealer who said, Oh, no, no Rockwell’s an illustrator, we don’t consider that fine art. But there was a transition somewhere along the line where all of a sudden it was embraced as as remarkable as it is. The same thing happened with Maxfield Parrish, were Maxfield Parrish, you know, all these guys. Land Decker, you know, they were they were illustrators, they were doing, you know, the Saturday Evening Post and others such things. But now their work is really being appreciated for how fine it really was. I mean, these people were brilliant drafts people to start out with, but you know, perish. And what he went through to execute a painting was pretty remarkable. You know, he’d build models and light them myth is pretty amazing.
Mark Shasha 21:10
Yeah, took it very, very seriously. And, you know, most of those illustrators, they came up in the golden age of illustration was before television. And so illustrators had to tell a story. That was the TV of its time, you know, you had radio, but you could turn or you go to the movies, of course. But I mean, just look at the storytelling in Norman Rockwell and what he, how many layers of information he would put in what into one of his paintings. And it’s not just a painting, it’s, it’s a story. It’s a it’s an emotion, it’s a multiple, multiple emotions, and people really responded to it. And now that everything is now the TV’s been around for a while, and now we have the ubiquity of videos on the internet and all that. It’s interesting. What do we what do we what do we expect from the painted picture now? It’s, it’s just an interesting thing. And it’s funny you mentioned Maxfield Parrish. I was just at the St. Regis Hotel in New York at the old King Cole.
Eric Rhoads 22:18
Oh, wonderful bureau. The
Mark Shasha 22:19
bar I’m talking about. Yeah, yeah. Where they got that big Maxfield Parrish thing. Yeah, they
Eric Rhoads 22:24
weren’t here we’re talking about
Mark Shasha 22:27
you know, that that painting that mural is probably worth more than the real estate. It’s in. Which in New York City is saying something.
Eric Rhoads 22:37
Yeah, really is. So while we’re talking about inspirations, anybody else coming to mind? Oh, so
Mark Shasha 22:45
many come to mind, Eric. I mean, I’m inspired by so many artists and so many things. You know, I don’t want to bore your audience with long list but, you know, Jacques Cousteau, for his, you know, I people say what cha cha Cousteau, where the hell you can do that? Well, yes, he was an explorer, but he was also a designer. You know, he is he designed scuba gear, he came up with it. He also was a great poet, a great writer, great photographer, under appreciated a true filmmaker. So I’m inspired by people who respond to the natural world. And as far as painters go and illustrators, I mean, I still think Chris Van Allsburg, who was one of my teachers at the Rhode Island School of Design, great inspiration even now, I don’t know what he’s been up to lately, but I love the way he always turns the head away in a picture and invites you to look into the mysterious places. He He’s it’s mind expanding that way. In the same way that Rod Serling was mind expanding with the Twilight Zone, say,
Eric Rhoads 24:00
What would you say? What would you say? Sorry to interrupt, you know? What would you learn from you said it was Chris. Chris Van Allsburg. Yeah. So what do you think are the major takeaways? Obviously, he had a big impact on you when you were studying, but are there things that you could articulate today that still ring and you know, you’re talking to yourself while you’re painting and you’re thinking about some essential lessons that Chris taught you?
Mark Shasha 24:29
Well, I do think that the leaving the sense of mystery in your painting, I tended, I always did, I always had and making your painting alluring, so that it’s not just a picture of a thing, but that it invites you in. And maybe that’s a little bit of the illustrator and Chris Van Allsburg as well. Just inviting the viewer in and one and encouraging you to linger in the mystery of it all. I remember when One of my classes, I had him for a few classes, but one of the classes I was going through kind of a funk. It was, I think, my sophomore year of college. And he, I had, I went in for the first class, and I did a really great job on my homework assignment, which was to draw something which was a pen and ink drawing. And then I skipped the second class, I skipped the third class. And I showed up for the fourth class. And he said, Mark, I want to talk to you. And he took me out into the hall. And he said, You know, I haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks. I mean, what’s going on? And I said, Well, I don’t know I’m going through a bunch of stuff, I’m trying to sort things out. And he said, Well, look, all you have to do mark is decide, just decide if you want to take the class or not. Now, that might not sound like a very deep lesson. But I really took this to heart. And I took it to heart and applied it to other things in life. I did decide I decided to stay in the class, I decided to put it give it 100%. And I did very well in that class. And, you know, I ended up doing a children’s book, I dummied up a children’s book for my assignment for that class and did some other things. But it was it’s a lesson that I learned from Chris, just decide make a decision,
Eric Rhoads 26:30
a life lesson, isn’t it? I mean, you know, sometimes we all get so mired in the, in the idea of trying to figure out, you know, that we’re just back and forth. And sometimes you just got to make a decision. I think that makes sense. You know, you were talking about seeing seeing paintings in person. And I would be curious, because I think you’ve got, you’ve got a good track on society. And what’s happening. I look at what’s happening with Tiktok, and Instagram, and Snapchat and everything else. And, and by the way, I think it’s all marvelous. I’m not one of those guys who thinks it’s the double end of the end of the world. I think it’s all very wonderful and very fast moving. And I think it also is going to recraft how we have to edit things, and video and so on. Because everything that you know, you can tell a story in 30 seconds now. But what’s the impact on the art world? Because I feel as though I ask actually, I’ve heard from people, young people who have said, I saw something online, it didn’t really get me all that interested. But when I saw it in person, it completely caught my eye. And one of the things I think we’re all concerned about is, you know, during the TV age that changed, probably how people perceived and used our radio age was probably before that, a little bit of that. But how, how does all of this impact? Those of us who are artists, those of us who are gallery owners, or museums?
Mark Shasha 28:11
Well, that’s an excellent question. I think the good the good and bad news is we don’t know yet entirely how it’ll affect us. I think the it’s going to affect us a lot. I see it affecting my life in ways that I can pinpoint. I mean, it before Instagram, I just think of all the artists I didn’t know about Instagram, Instagram, introduced me to hundreds and hundreds more artists even in Facebook, it introduced me to, and it has been an absolute joy to get these artists personally,
Eric Rhoads 28:45
some brilliant artists who probably didn’t even have any success, or any notoriety until Instagram.
Mark Shasha 28:54
Yeah, that’s incredible. And and you know, you got hats off to Instagram for for doing that. Now tick tock. Tick tock is an interesting thing because it includes music and a little video and a little bit of other stuff. And we don’t know yet how that what that’s going to lead to. You know, I think it’s interesting. I’ve got five or six new songs in my playlist, thanks to little snippets that I heard on reels and on Tik Tok that I just love them like when hoots What is this music? I love it. So I would download the music and I get to know the album. The whole you know, and so that’s happening. And I do believe and I’ve talked about this before, I think that the there is a flow in our culture. That’s what culture is. It’s the flow of artists to artists, musician to visual artists to actor to you know, we all have that experience. And I mentioned it, maybe before but you know, some I’m not a mechanic Go designer, but somebody designed the first tubes of paint the first oil tubes. And then Monet picked that up and said, aha, a light bulb goes off. He’s outside painting, and for the first time, we have Impressionism. He inspires someone who sees the brushstrokes. And that’s Van Gogh. Van Gogh sees Matt Monet’s brushstrokes that he has gotten all this light. And he gets very expressive about it and does starry Starry Night. You skip ahead, and you have done McLean singing starry Starry Night. And, you know, you get chills when you see the connections of art artists, to musician, musician to visual artists. I remember when I read, Bob Dylan said that he thought his song all along the watchtower was one of the best songs he’d ever written. And then he heard Jimi Hendrix’s version of it. And it was like a whole new song. Yeah. And he got chills from that. So where will Tiktok lead? Oh, man, all I know is it’s going to be good. I really do. Going to inspire people,
Eric Rhoads 31:08
you were talking earlier about putting mystery into your paintings. I find that to be very challenging. I have attended marketing courses on creating mystery in advertising, you know, where, you know, it’s in some cases, it’s, you know, that direct stare of the eyes, but usually it’s the eyes looking off or someone looking away. But in a landscape painting, which is what you mostly are known for anyway. How do you create mystery in a landscape painting?
Mark Shasha 31:42
Well, there’s a few things that jump right to mind. One is that painting that I was already talking about the one the fountain by John Singer Sargent, you know, there’s so much going on in that tree. That’s what, that’s what I mean, the tree takes up a huge chunk of the painting. But what the heck is going on there, looking at the, you know, the undulating greens, but what’s in the shadows? You know, the shadows are the mystery. What is she thinking about? What is he thinking about? I mean, and what is the setting? You know, there’s a lot there’s like, unwritten things, untold things that are suggested, but not really didactically expressed. When I was writing and illustrating children’s books. I remember my editor at Simon and Schuster said to me, don’t put in the artwork, any information that’s going to be in the text. So for example, if I’m carrying a red apron on my way to my grandmother’s hotdog stand, don’t write, I carried my red apron. It’s in the picture. So you leave the picture to answer questions that the text does not answer. And that became part of a window into an insight for me into how much should we let our pictures tell the story? And how much should we ask of the viewer to kind of inquire on their own. But you got to grab their attention first. And sometimes that’s the hard part. So what
Eric Rhoads 33:20
makes a great painting in your in your opinion?
Mark Shasha 33:23
Oh, man. Oh, gosh, a great paintings gotta grab Yeah. All right, here’s my first thoughts about this. And like the hippies say, you know, first thought best thought, I think the, I think the picture that pictures don’t speak, you know, they don’t make any noise. They sit on a wall, you could easily walk right past them. They don’t sing. They don’t have any flashy things on them, you know, like, and they don’t make noise. So I guess a great picture is something that when you’re across the room, and you don’t even know what it is yet. Just something about the shapes coming together on the wall, far far away. And it’s got your attention. You’ve probably got a great painting there. It’s and then when you get closer to it, and you and every time you look at it, you see something new, or something that you didn’t see the last time all zoom pulls you in, and it lights it should I think a great painting should light up parts of your brain. It should light up parts of your imagination. It should make you want to make it should it should make you think or make you feel things.
Eric Rhoads 34:42
What was the first painting that ever did that to you? Oh man, remember the moment I
Mark Shasha 34:49
had to be long ago might not have I think art I think art always hit me that way regardless of whether it was a song or a painting but To answer your question about a painting, maybe the first, maybe the first visual images that did that, to me, were the illustrations in some Walt Disney books. You know, Pinocchio, right? There’s a scene in one of the great old Disney books. I don’t know if they come out anymore, but they used to be like, a collection of little versions of what were really the movies. But they were illustrated by some really terrific illustrators. And I remember a scene. This might be the earliest one that did this to me of Pinocchio walking on the bottom of the ocean. Remember that? He’s walking on the bottom of the ocean. He’s trying to get back to his dad, or something he’s trying. He’s left the island of where all that weird stuff happened. He’s got he’s got the donkey ears or something. I think that was the one or maybe I think that was probably, you know, if
Eric Rhoads 35:57
it was, that’s pretty incredible recall, you know, I hadn’t even thought about any of those. Oh, yeah. Well, you think, again, you think back at at the great illustrators who were doing those things, you know, NC Wyeth and I don’t know who did Pinocchio. But, um, but you know, Treasure Island, and you know, the swashbucklers. You know, I never really stopped to think about that. I remember a painting stopping me when we went to New York as a kid, maybe I was 12. And we went into the frick, I don’t I didn’t remember being the frick, but I went into the frick of a few years before COVID. And I walked in and I thought that’s the first painting I really remember ever seeing. It was a you know, like a 30 foot painting of pirates that were sword fighting on the top of a ship and I and it was the first time I realized art could come alive. I never really thought about the books I had seen that probably did that. And you’ve, you’ve done a good job of articulating that you had gone. You went through some tough stuff. You know, when I teach art marketing at the plein air convention and I always say, you know, my job is to eradicate eradicate the idea of the starving artist, you know, we have we’ve romanticized Van Gogh and the hell that he went through. But I don’t want any artists to have to go through the difficult times someone like that went through with his drug addiction, his alcoholism and his sexual addiction and everything else that went with it. But it was, you know, there was some value to that angst as well, right. And somebody said, Well would vote Van Gogh had been Van Gogh if we had invented Prozac back. Right. But you were a starving artist, you were literally sleeping on the streets. Tell us about that.
Mark Shasha 37:53
Well, my sleep, my sleeping on the street spell was very brief. And it wasn’t it was for just a few nights, but I experienced what it was like, because I didn’t have enough money to get on the train, to go back to either my home or where my aunt was going to put me up for a few a little while I needed to stay somewhere. Well.
Eric Rhoads 38:20
What puts you in that position?
Mark Shasha 38:22
Well, when I got out of the Rhode Island School of Design, I was just broke. And I didn’t have money for first and last month’s rent. And I didn’t have a job yet. And all I had was my art resume. And a portfolio. I went up to my my, my aunt lived in Newton. And I went to her place. And for a couple of days, for a few days, I couldn’t stay there. But I left my stuff there. And I went into town thinking I was gonna stay with some friends. And I couldn’t stay at their place for other reasons, and I just had nowhere to go. And I had I didn’t have any money for a train or even food most. I ended up I had three or four nights on the street. Just sleeping in, you know, under bushes and stuff. I hated it. I tried to stay awake. But when I see people who are homeless now, I’m telling you I have I as though it was only a couple of really less than a week. I know what it feels like and it’s it’s horrible. But I got out of that.
Eric Rhoads 39:31
you have had the benefit of a long and prosperous career. There are people who are listening to this who may be in a similar position or maybe they’re they’re in a job that they don’t love and they really want to become artists they want to produce they want to make their living. If you could save them a few steps or save them some years of difficulty or and Just in terms of launching their careers, what would you tell them to do?
Mark Shasha 40:05
Oh, boy, that’s a tough one. Because I don’t know that there are any shortcuts, I’m sorry to say it’s, but if I could take any angst out, I would just say, be true to yourself. Be true to yourself. You’ve got to know yourself, you got to know whether or not you can. Whether or not you can put up with the, the, the ups and downs. And, and, you know, the truth is, I had it easy in a way because I never could be employed. I was unemployable, really. I mean, I tried to I did jobs. Sure. I mean, I was a waiter, I did a lot of waiting of tables, because there was food there for for me, and I could, I could eat and I could smoke cigarettes, and smoking cigarettes, like killed my appetite. So I didn’t have to worry about eating. And I drank a lot of coffee. But I don’t advise that for anyone. I just think that what you got to do is you just got to believe. I mean, there’s, without too much elaboration, I had a life changing experience. When I was 1616 years old, I was in a boating accident. And someday I could get into everything that happened there. But basically, I was in a boat, I fell out i i went, I fell out of the boat in an attempt to save someone who had fallen out of the boat. And the two of us were now out of the boat. And I had to get back in the boat. To not only save myself, but to save him. And the current was pulling me away from the boat. I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know how, what what source of energy I found. But when I I got back in that damn boat, I swam back to the boat and I jumped into the boat. And my buddy who I ended up saving, says he saw me jump out of the water like a dolphin. And I don’t know how many times in my life, I have had a situation where I thought well, can I rise to this occasion? can I really be an artist? can I really be a lifeguard? Can I really get this? Can I I never had another fear after that. I mean, I just I have not been afraid of much. I mean, I will talk to anyone, I will call anyone. I don’t run around with a lot of fear of what will happen if I pursue my dreams. I just do it. And I have done that with my children’s books. People said you’ll never get published a month after they told me that I was published by Simon and Schuster.
Eric Rhoads 42:44
Does that challenge you? When somebody tells you something like that? You’re like, Nah, I’m gonna.
Mark Shasha 42:50
I do. I think my whole life has been you know, about doing what I really want to do. And I don’t I have no fear of what people tell me. If they say don’t do it. You can’t you’ll never do it. i It’s almost like I didn’t even hear it. Yeah, it’s just, of course, I’m going to do it. I sometimes I have to negotiate with people. Because I can’t just do what I want. I have to if it affects other people, I have to work with them in that situation. But oh no, I’m uh, I followed everything I wanted to do. I have no regrets.
Eric Rhoads 43:26
I want to talk about some plein air painting and some technique in a minute. But I want to ask you one other question. You had I remember you telling me you had kind of a pivotal year when you moved from being an illustrator to a fine artist. Tell me about that.
Mark Shasha 43:43
Yeah, I had an amazing experience. I was I had been writing and illustrating for children’s books. And And before that, I had been an illustrator for magazines, newspapers, and such. And I got to some point where I hit a wall. I was tired of trying to navigate things with the publishing world I didn’t know how to I just didn’t want to work with so many people. I’m not a good collaborator, right? That’s, I’m not proud of that. I’m an independent headed guy. And I just couldn’t find my way and one day I went into a buddy of mine and said you gotta go to a gallery in Orleans Massachusetts down in Cape Cod, you gotta you gotta check it out. And you know, we are just we’re always told people say Oh, you got to do this. You got to go there paint this. And I put it out of my mind but I thought it was one rainy weekend I was in Orleans it was 2001 or so. And I saw the name of this gallery was trees place and I thought you know what, I might as well were here I might as well go check it out. Good Gallery, and it changed my life. Because it opened up finally it opened it up to me. I walked in and there was Dawn demurrers painting there was a painting by Dawn of just a fisherman on the beach in the surf. I walked in, there’s Bill Davis, with this beautiful boat, and I saw a Joma girl painting. I couldn’t believe he had nailed the color green on that grass. So perfectly. It was it was hot, but it was cold. It was magic. And the guy who ran the gallery at the time Julian Barnes walked over to me he could see I was captivated. Very good. gallerist by the way, I’ve never seen any he really paid attention to people walking in.
Eric Rhoads 45:40
Really, that was yeah, he has an incredible eye though. Incredible. And he saw me
Mark Shasha 45:45
like salivating over this painting. And he said, you know, Joma girl has been with us for a while and he just sold out. We this is the last painting he has. In this gallery. We just had a show of his. And I just couldn’t believe people my age, or close to it. We’re making a living as painters. Yeah. And I that was the thing that turned me around. I thought you know what, that’s it. I want to just, I’m just going to pursue the painting. I love painting. So what I’m going to do, and like I said about 20 years ago, I was already a painter before that. It’s not like I wasn’t a painter, but I was doing a lot of studio work. And Joma girl was the first one that really just opened me up to go outside and paint more, do more of that. And
Eric Rhoads 46:33
so let’s talk about that’s a great transition of talk talk to people. Again, we have people listening to this who have never picked up a paintbrush and people who are experienced pros and everything in between. But there’s a light that goes off at some point with every artist who starts going outside. And and what what I think is really fascinating. I’ve talked to a number of artists who said, you know, I’ve tried plein air painting, I hate it. I hate the bugs. I hate the wind. It’s too hard to do it and they give up. But talk about the benefits. What if you don’t give up? How does everything change? Well,
Mark Shasha 47:15
in one thing, the first thing that jumps to my mind is that when I was an illustrator, I was trained as an illustrator, and I went to school for it and I was my job when I was you know, starting out, and I used photographs. That’s how I did it. And I had no problem with it. There wasn’t a principle about it. All the great illustrators Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, they all use photographs. And I had there was no, it wasn’t like I was against photographs, or like photographs. I liked using them. But then I started painting outdoors. And I, all of a sudden the color, I could see colors that I couldn’t see in the photographs, I saw that there was a lot of red in the greens, I saw that there was a lot of yellow in the sand. But there was also a lot of just surprising color combinations, things that I could never get from photographs. And I also realized that the when I stood outside and I was actually painting on a location, it was so much different than a photograph photograph captures a split second. But when you’re standing there, and the clouds are moving, and the light is changing, and all of a sudden a bird lands on that branch, and then it flies away. You see the branch differently, you and then you feel the air changes, the temperature changes. And you a different part of the landscape comes alive. And all of this gets put into the painting in a way that a photograph. You just can’t do. And the funny thing is I was just at the Olmstead plein air Invitational, and I was painting with a lot of people. and I were having a conversation. And I realized, you know, I can’t use photographs anymore. I’ve actually grown away from it. I
Eric Rhoads 49:13
don’t have the same problem. And I never thought it would happen.
Mark Shasha 49:18
I never thought it would happen either. But I look at the photograph. And there’s just it’s like what Picasso said, There’s that famous story where somebody walked up to Picasso. And he said, you know, all your paintings, they all look like this. Why don’t you paint like this? Here’s a picture of my wife. And and Picasso looked at the photograph and said she looks very small and gray you know, it’s just you see the world differently once you’ve been painting outdoors. So Mike, I think there’s so much to that.
Eric Rhoads 49:52
Yeah, well, absolutely. I think it’s it’s, it was there was a moment I can’t I can’t articulate when it was but was three or four years ago it was I decided I had been painting almost exclusively outdoors or from studies that I would do and translate into studio paintings. And then there was something I decided to do from a photograph. And I, I struggled with I couldn’t do it, it was just the weirdest thing is finally I thought, Well, it’s because I just, I don’t have a good source. So I know there are people out there probably yourself included who can do it who who are so experienced that you can you can turn a photo, a photograph into a painting and of course, you know, once you’ve painted outdoors for a long period of time, it kind of changes how you paint and how you’re looking at everything. That’s what what are you have you you do teaching, you just did this video shimmering light? What are the things that you find that most painters struggle with that maybe you could give a tip or two that might help them overcome some struggle?
Mark Shasha 51:05
Well, you know, it gets no respect, it gets none at all. The light source, the lights are light source in your painting. And I think that’s the thing that most artists just keep forgetting. If you’ve got if you’re outside, and you’ve got the sun shining, the sun has to come from the same direction for everything that it’s hitting. So be mindful of the shadows being cast, and be mindful of what side of this object is getting hit and pay attention to that. That is hands. I mean, I don’t know how else to put it. But it is. If more artists did it, they would be amazed at how much their paintings would communicate to people because I think that’s the number one thing that most artists just forget to do. I don’t say forget it, it’s now I have to there is a caveat. Yeah, which is, and some of my best friends do this. They, they are designers they pull off, they pull it off, though, they can design a painting, and it doesn’t really matter where the light is coming from. Because the design is so amazing. You know, and there are other things that can make a painting work. You know, in painting, when when you’re an artist things aren’t right and wrong. Things either work or they don’t work. And, you know, you got it’s kind of a mind expanding thought but you got to kind of be open to the possibility that you know, the rules are there to be broken.
Eric Rhoads 52:41
So do you what is your success rate these days now that you’ve been painting for 50 years?
Mark Shasha 52:46
Oh, I’ve been very, very happy with how most of my paintings come out. The some of the some of the plein air events, I don’t have as high a hit ratio, because sometimes I don’t buy hit ratio mean the number of paintings that I attempt that actually come out the way I envision them. But that’s a little bit like picking up a guitar and strumming versus picking up a guitar and really performing. So sometimes I’m just strumming. Sometimes I’m performing. And I think I’ve given myself that leeway when I paint. Sometimes it’s going to be a small idea. And sometimes it’s a bigger idea.
Eric Rhoads 53:29
Do you ever find yourself influenced by the painters around you? Oh, yeah, absolutely. How do you deal? How do you deal with that?
Mark Shasha 53:39
Well, I let it I let it go. I don’t beat myself up over it. For many years, I was very strongly influenced by Chris Van Allsburg, my works sort of started to take on a similar you know what you’re getting when you’re, when you’re influenced by another artists, you’re beginning to see the world the way that artists does, yeah. And so invariably, your work is going to start to have a little of that influence. I went from that to being really invested, influenced by Sam Voki, who’s a still life painter and a landscape painter here in Boston. And then Joma girl in was a strong influence on me. But what’s happened is you firstly you’re going to let it go. It’s the highest praise if you’re if you’re that connected to another artist, but eventually you’ve got to you’ll break out of it. If you pursue your personal passion. For example. A few years ago, I kind of looked at some of my paintings and they were getting really dark. And I thought you know what I’m trying to copy I’m not kind of copy is not the word I’m trying to emulate. You’re trying too hard to see through another artists eyes. Yeah. And when I see it through my own eyes, the key here should be much higher. Yeah, and now my paintings are a very, very high key. And I’ve had the great compliment of people saying You know, Mark, I can walk into a room, and I know which paintings are yours from the other side of the room? Because they’re very bright. They’re, I don’t know, sometimes maybe they’re a little too bright. But that’s okay, too.
Eric Rhoads 55:13
Well, they’re beautiful. You know, I, the reason I asked that question is because for years, I struggled with the idea, you know, I’d be painting with other painters, which I prefer to do, actually, I do like to paint alone, but I also like to paint with other people, it’s fun. And I would, you know, take a break, get a sandwich or something, and I would peek at what they were doing. And then I’d go, oh, you know, I really liked the way he did that water or that tree. And then I would, you know, go back and start changing my painting of which, of course, became a disaster. And so the only way I’ve been able to deal with it is I just don’t look, I wait until we’re all done painting. And then we all look at each other’s paintings, but I don’t I just don’t want those other influences. And it’s sometimes it’s not a matter of them doing it better. It’s just a matter of them having a different idea or composition approach.
Mark Shasha 56:05
yeah, and not only that, but you’re learning to we’re all learning and every time you’re open to learning, you’re going to be susceptible to that. So I mean, I remember years ago, my father, who was a lawyer, would, he would have a lot of friends of bringing over these law books, and interspersed with these boxes, would be the New York Review of Books. And in that issue that came out I guess, monthly or whatever, weekly. There would be David Levine, do you remember David Levine, his his very fine illustrations of they were caricatures? Yeah, I would copy those almost line for line trying to get try to figure out the magic of his line work. And in fact, when I was digging through a few of my recent portfolio old portfolios when I was a little kid, those are the first things I took really seriously. Were my little pen and ink drawings of copying David Levine.
Eric Rhoads 57:03
It’d be honored.
Mark Shasha 57:06
Yeah, well, it’s the audit, you got to be honest about these things, and just be open about it. We get influenced by artists we like, and, and that’s fine. And it’s of all the criticisms people could level at me. That’s the lowest one that’s going to do me the least personal pain. You know, you really look a lot like Norman Rockwell. Okay. I’ll get over it.
Eric Rhoads 57:32
Well, I bet. And I think this kind of goes to that whole idea of training, because you have the, you know, you have some artists who train copyists. And then you have other artists who train techniques, and the use of your own brain. And there’s a big difference, because I won’t mention names. I don’t want to hurt anybody. But I remember a particular artists that had such a magical approach to the way that he was painting. And everybody was copying that approach by going to his workshops, and so on. And ultimately, it hurt his career, because there were a lot of knockoffs. And so I think one of the things that I thought was magical in your video, for instances, you were talking about how, you know, I’m teaching you the way I do things, I’m teaching you techniques, but you know, you’ve got to go out and find your own voice.
Mark Shasha 58:29
Right. And that’s one of the reasons I love doing the plein air circuit as they call it the circuit. Yeah, I’m happy to what I love is that it pushes me to come up with new ideas. And I think ideas are really what hold paintings together. It’s all well and good to learn a technique and to lean on a certain thing that you like to paint. But coming up with an idea. This that’s where the excitement is when I was in San Angelo, Texas. For one of the for the recent paid out last October. I had, I just had this idea. Wouldn’t it come to me anywhere else in the world, I was just out at this ranch and there was a this cactus on the ground. And I thought you know what, I’m gonna paint a painting, using the cactus to get the texture of the cactus into my painting. And, I mean, that never would have happened if that was not there. And not on that trip. And I love that painting came out. It was really exciting. And ideas like that. I may never paint it with a cactus again. But my point is, you’ll find your way if you’re if you keep looking for following your heart and looking for the things that are true to you.
Eric Rhoads 59:47
Yeah, in other words, don’t force it. It’ll come Yeah, it’ll just oh, you know, this is this is always the big the big debate and I you know, it’s fun to sit around with other artists and have these kinds of debates but The idea of, you know, you could in some ways you can make a better living, when they, when you follow the advice of the gallerist, who says, you know, those little red barns, you know, I love more of those little red barns. And it’s like, I’m never painting another little red barn. Again, I just took out a big commission and I just after that commission, I said, I’m never doing another commission, because it was such a miserable experience, in a lot of ways, but I think the you know, the key to all of this is really, you got to paint what you love. You know, when I started this out, I didn’t really believe that as much as I believe it now, because it’s like, I do have a philosophy. And that is if, if my option is painting toilets, or painting more little red barns, I mean, not painting toilets, cleaning toilets, if the option is cleaning toilets, or painting red barns to make a little bit of a living until I can get on my feet and paint my love, I’m okay with that. But ultimately, if you’re not painting what you love, it’s going to come across in your work. And it’s, it’s, you know, you want to you want to be who you are. And I think you’ve done a great job of that.
Mark Shasha 1:01:09
Well, thanks. Thank you.
Eric Rhoads 1:01:13
Mark, thank you so much. I really appreciate you being on the podcast today. I you know, you’re such a good conversationalist. We could probably go for another hour and, and, but I got to get to the art marketing minute, and we have some other business to take care of. But thank you so much for being here today. And I want to acknowledge you. You’re an inspiration. You’re a I think you’re a marketing genius. I mean, who else paints in a tuxedo?
Mark Shasha 1:01:42
Well, yeah, my tuxedo to the plein air convention, and I’ll paint with you there.
Eric Rhoads 1:01:46
when people come to the convention, the guy in the tuxedo, they’ll know who to look for. I think that’s really fun. And, and I really enjoyed getting to know you. And of course, we spent a lot of time together when you were here shooting the video and getting some one on one time, which was which was really valuable. So I’m looking forward to seeing you at the convention. Seeing people in person. I want to tell everybody that Mark’s got a solo show coming up at the Marblehead Art Association and his contact information is pretty easy. It’s Mark. Let’s see. What is it for Facebook?
Mark Shasha 1:02:23
Mark Shasha but I’m gonna be doing less Facebooking so you’ll see me at Instagram all the time. Yep. At Mark Shasha Arts.
Eric Rhoads 1:02:32
Okay. All right. And your website is Mark Shasha Markshasha.com. Terrific. Mark, thank you so much. Oh, my pleasure. I look forward to seeing you again. Yeah, we’re looking forward to to actually being with real people in person again. That’ll be nice. Can’t wait. All right. Thank you, Mark. Thank you. All right. Well, that was a fabulous exchange with Mark Shaw che and I really could converse with him for hours he’s so articulate and and very good. What do you say we get to the art marketing minute now.
This is the Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the number one Amazon bestseller “Make More Money Selling Your Art: Proven Techniques to Turn Your Passion Into Profit.”
Eric Rhoads 1:03:17
If you have questions you can always send them to me. You can send them to artmarketing.com/questions or [email protected] You can actually go to artmarketing.com/questions and click on it and record a video if you want to do that. Normally my producer Amandine is helping out with questions today but she has a cold and doesn’t want to be on camera with a cold which I don’t blame you for so let me read the question the first question is from Lisa, Misty Oak in California. She says I read the books you recommend and I’m reading your book on selling art now that book by the way is called make more money selling your anyway it is so helpful thank you for that Lisa the she says I’m trying to get away from Commissions and do more painting sales and I’m just afraid my genre work that inspires Commission’s won’t sell I have a million ideas for different series to paint should I keep trying with genre and people paintings or transition to something like trees that might be easier to sell. I’m in the land of zero confidence with my work right now. I you know, I can’t tell you what to paint. And I can’t tell you you know I can go into a gallery in here in Austin, Texas and I can say what’s selling and they’ll tell me and I can go into that same gallery six months from now and they’ll answer it with a different answer. And it really shouldn’t be about what selling it should be. As we have talked about in the past and that is what’s in your heart. You know paint what you love paint what You want to do now, you don’t know if it will sell until you try. And you might not even know when you try because sometimes it takes time, right? So when you first launch a career, now it sounds like you have a career as a commissioned artist. And that’s it probably took some time to build that up to build up clientele to get the word out. The same thing is going to be true for for building up your paintings of various genres or landscapes or otherwise people and so you’re not going to necessarily know right away you’re gonna have to get the work out there if it if it doesn’t sell. The good news is you have Commission’s to fall back on right. So what I would recommend is don’t go cold, cold turkey on me here don’t just say all right, I’m not doing Commission’s anymore. You tell yourself all right, I have a plan. I am going to transition I’m going to continue to accept commission work. But I am going to work towards selling more of what I want to paint and then when I get to the point where I have replaced my income, then if you decide you don’t want to do Commission’s any more than don’t do commissions, I think you want to be careful about that. But do ultimately what you love, and you will find a way you know, it’s it’s not quite like Field of Dreams where if you paint it, they will come. But they will come once you learn the basic principles of marketing, which are in that book, which you would just mentioned. You have you know, I don’t think I honestly don’t believe that there are very many people out there in the world who are artists, who the world comes to them and beats the path to their door. And things happen magically, you know, it’s like the story of Lana Turner, the actress from the 1940s or 30s, who was sitting in a in a bar, not in a bar in a soda shop and a producer came in and discovered her the real story probably is the producer came in and hit on her or something like that. But anyway, it things like that just don’t typically fall in our laps, we have to make sure that we’re helping things fall in our laps, you want to help yourself along. And that’s where learning marketing is really really critical, which I teach. In my book, I have my blog artmarketing.com I have I teach at art marketing three mornings at the plein air convention. But you want to be careful about you said something that I want to remind you of is you said I have I’m afraid my genre work inspires Commission’s won’t sell. And that’s a story right? You have a story that you’ve implanted in your head for some reason. And we tell ourselves stories all the time. And we get ourselves in trouble because we will avoid something. Because we’ve told ourselves a story that something is true. And it might be true. But it might not be true. Or it might be a little true, because you’ve seen a little evidence I was in a meeting earlier today. And I caught myself telling a story to myself about why something wasn’t possible. Well, I changed I put the brakes on. I changed. I said let’s do it. Anyway, let’s try it. Let’s see what happens. Because humans are the stories get in your way. So be careful to stories. Regarding your confidence, Lisa, you’re not alone, we all have have confidence issues. I remember the first time I put my work into an art gallery, I was really nervous about it, you know, and I thought, well, The Gallerist is doesn’t really want it for some reason. You know, I’m telling myself these stories in my head. And and I remember taking the work and dropping it off at this gallery in Santa Fe and I was really super nervous. And I you know, I just was making excuses. And it’s just kind of what we go through. Right? But the confidence will come and you just confidence comes from taking action. Right? Though I was watching a psychiatrist on on YouTube the other day and he said something that I thought was very profound. He said, people are reluctant to start something because they don’t want to feel incompetent. They don’t like that feeling of being out of control. But when you’re learning something new, you are always incompetent until you’re not right until you have learned how to not be incompetent. We all go through that he said but you will remain incompetent for the rest of your life. If you don’t start, you have to start. So same thing with whatever it is you want to do. Your confidence comes from taking action and feeling a little bit in control by taking action. But then the success will build your confidence, you’ll have the success, you just have to stick with it and you will get it right. And, you know, success. Again, doesn’t fall in your lap. You got to do things like promotion and advertising and writing books and, and you know, doing whatever you have to do doing art shows, you just got to take action, but if you don’t take action, then you won’t get anywhere. Okay, so next is a question from Sherry Denton Maxwell in North Carolina says says, I’ve been an artist for more than most of my 57 years, I’ve been doing very little plein air. I’m inexperienced that I need to paint outside. But I’m having an issue with being shy or nervous when folks come up and want to watch or ask questions. I feel like my work isn’t good enough yet for them to see. All right. So do others feel like this at the beginning? And how do I overcome this and then break that ice, I used to go out snap photos and then go back in the studio and paint them. That’s called hiding out share. It’s called hiding out, you’ve been hiding out. So listen, again, this is not unusual. This is something I you know, I am less self conscious today than I normally have been in the past. But I’ll tell you a story. So I, my wife and I landed in Paris. And she went to the hotel room to to get sleep because of jetlag. And I’m like I’m going painting so, and I was super tired. But I wanted to stay up till like 10 or 11 that night. So I go to bed at a proper time. And so I take my backpack and I’m walking, I walk over to the corner of the bridge for Notre DOM Cathedral is and I’m going to paint notre DOM cathedral. This is before it burned. And I’m standing there and I’m doing a painting and there’s a couple of things. First off, I’m tired. I’m really struggling to keep my eyes open. I haven’t painted in a probably a few weeks. And so I’m rusty. And on top of that, I just did a really really, really awful painting. You know, it just wasn’t very good. But I’m in the middle of doing this painting. And these teenagers come up and they start laughing. And I so I turned around and I look at them. And of course they don’t speak English. And this one kid does speak English, he comes up to me, he says, Sir, you really should be you really should not be a painter, you’re not very good at it. I was mortified. Right. So I could have decided at that moment that he was right. And that I could quit. I could have made an excuse, which I did, which was we’ll come back in a couple hours when it’s finished and see how you feel about it, then that is he probably still would have felt the same way. But I think the idea is, you know, don’t let anybody else pull your strings. You, you’re gonna do bad paintings we all do. I mean, some of the pros do bad paintings, and some of the things you do are going to come out great. You just got to tell yourself that you have the right to interpret what you’re seeing. And just because somebody else doesn’t resonate with it doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s it’s what’s coming out to your, your brain through your nervous system through your arm and onto the canvas and through your eyes. And so just understand that you’re your own unique self. If you don’t want to deal with that, you know, one of the tricks I’ve used in the past is I take some some white Apple earbuds with a string on it right cord on it, and I stick it in my pocket as if I’ve got an iPad in there. I can hear what’s going on. But it looks like I’m I’m listening so people are less apt to interrupt. I happen to like it when people interrupt. I love to talk to people I love to interact and you know sometimes and sometimes I still will make an excuse like a you know, it’s not done yet. You know, give me a break. And usually people are nice and they don’t say anything nasty, but once in a while it happens. Just what’s the worst that can happen? Right? Is your life in danger? No, probably not. Is somebody going to insult you? Probably not. But maybe on a rare occasion and so what if they do you don’t know them? You don’t care about them? They don’t know you. Just give it up. Let it go. My dad used to say this, let it go in one ear and out the other right? Just don’t don’t let it stick right. The people who get in trouble are the ones who let it stick so you don’t have to accept anything anybody says the only way to get experience is to get experience. Part of plein air painting is painting outdoors and and having other people walk up to you and make comments and ask questions, and just accept it, embrace it as part of the struggle that we all go through as painters, and you will be much better off for it. Anyway, that’s today’s marketing minute.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 1:15:25
Looking forward to seeing you guys at the plein air convention. If you live close, you know, just drive into Santa Fe, you know, close to Colorado and Arizona and Texas and other places. But you know, a lot of you are coming from a long way away. And it’s a great opportunity to learn, we’ve got about 60 Incredible instructors, we have four stages, we have an expo hall. And for those of you who are not able to make it, we’ve decided this year only we’re going to do because some people are still kind of freaking out about COVID and stuff. So this year only, we’re going to offer the mainstage on a live virtual, so you can attend that. And that’s got about 45 hours, including some incredible instructors and art Marketing Bootcamp and all the openings and paint wars and the plein air salon awards and major speakers etc. I mean, it’s it’s huge. Most people spend most of their time on the main stage. So you’re getting the majority or you’re not getting as the watercolor stage or the pastel stage, or the demo stage or the expo hall and you’re not getting the benefit of going out painting with us all but you’re getting a great opportunity and I dropped the price to about half so that you would be able to attend online now don’t cancel to attend on live canceling. being there in person, it’s going to be a whole lot better anyway. That’s plein air convention is coming up also New Zealand. I got 23 seats left last I checked and just go to paintingnewzealand.com It’s a trip of a lifetime. I’ve been three times now and it’s beyond amazing. This scenery is beyond spectacular. And then of course this spring in mid June. Don’t forget about paint the Adirondacks. It is a retreat. We spend a lot of time together a week we go out painting twice, three times today to some spectacular spots. And we have a lot of fun. There’s about 100 people typically and we’re almost there. Got a few seats left. So you should join us we would love it if you did just go to paintadirondacks.com Also, I do a blog called Sunday coffee. I do it every Sunday morning kind of a personal thing. It is just an opportunity to share some things I’ve learned I originally started writing it to leave some hopefully imparted wisdom to my kids. They don’t listen. But anyway, maybe someday they will. It is called Sunday coffee and you can find it coffee with Eric calm. Also, I’m on the air daily on Facebook. It’s called Art School alive. We have hundreds of artists doing demonstrations and we have all of that on YouTube where you can find it. Just go to YouTube and search streamline art video. I’m there 12 noon, Eastern every single weekday and live most of the time recorded some of the time. And you can of course subscribe on YouTube. And I wish you would because I’m trying to get my numbers to 100,000 on that. I’m just about last I checked 86 87,000 and if you subscribe that’ll help help with that. I don’t know no reason to do it other than it’s kind of something fun to talk about. Anyway, please also follow me on Instagram and Facebook. That would be really helpful. I’m Eric Rhoads, the publisher and founder of plein air magazine. Thank you for your time today. I’m honored that you would take your time to attend. It’s a big world out there and it needs to be painted. You need to go do that. We’ll see you. Bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with Plein Air Magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected] Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at pleinairtips.com. Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.