The Plein Air Podcast has been named the #1 Painting Podcast by FeedSpot for two years in a row.
In this episode, Eric Rhoads interviews Minnesota superstar Kami Mendlik. Listen as they discuss:
- Kami’s new book, “Color Relativity: Creating the Illusion of Light with Paint,” which has been in the works for years. While other publishers were interested, they wanted to edit it beyond her vision and original intent, so she started her own publishing company and crafted the book from scratch.
- The importance of working from life samples and painting from life, even when you can’t finish your work in plein air.
- Her dyslexia, which was a frustrating hindrance for her developmental years, and yet was another part of her mind that let her see the world differently than others. For example, she sees shapes in everyday objects and the value relations between them.
- Explanations of the value scale and how it works.
- Kami’s advice for how to get to the next level, and her advice for single moms who are also artists (“Never lose sight of that passion and belief in yourself.”) Kami discusses being a single, working mom of 20+ years and how she has discovered unique ways to sell and market her paintings over the years. She also talks about the struggle and necessity of taking time for yourself to paint, even when you think you owe that time to someone else. She and Eric agree that there is always time to paint (or to follow your dreams), you just have to find the balance to make it work.
Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, addresses how to know whether or not a buyer is honest, and how to prepare for your first plein air painting competition.
Have a question about how to sell your art? Ask Eric at artmarketing.com/questions.
Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Kami Mendlik here:
– Kamie Mendlik online: https://www.kamimendlik.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.
Welcome to the plein air podcast. This is episode number 229. With Minnesota superstar Kami Mendlik.
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 0:36
Well, happy November, everybody, I hope you’re doing well. I know November has been it’s a crazy time. What can I tell you? It’s just insane. Nobody’s happy about anything. Some people are happy, other people are not happy. It’s just really crazy. But you know, the nice thing about plein air painting is we get to escape all that nonsense. I try to just kind of avoid it. I don’t I don’t put my head into the news. I’m trying to stay off social media a little bit more. I just don’t want to be consumed with fear or anger. And as a result, I think it’s really nice just to paint and get outdoors painting. And I hope you’re doing the same thing. This is one of my favorite times here to paint as you know, I love to paint fall color. And a fall color may or may not be gone depending where you are. I was up at fall color week in Maine. All the leaves are probably bear by now. But you know, when I drove from Maine, back to Austin, I could tell that I beat fall in some areas. And some areas haven’t even had a hit yet, just barely beginning to hit here. And we have this incredible fiery red tree across the street from my house. And I tried to paint it as an annual tradition. So I can kind of see my progress. How am I getting my getting better. And I tried to paint it every year and it hasn’t even turned color yet. So I’m looking forward to that I’ll post pictures on my Instagram or Facebook at Eric Rhoads. And you can you can travel along with me as I paint the fall. One thing I’ve discovered this is just me Everybody’s got their own personal preference. But one thing I’ve discovered is that when I paint fall, you know, my tendency is to want to put all that incredibly bright color, especially if the sun is becoming behind the leaves. And it’s intense. You know, it’s almost like when I see bright bright green grass when the sun is hitting it, I want to put that intensity there. But when I do, I ended up with garish looking paintings. And as I study paintings in museums, I realized that that they gray things down. So what I’ve tried to do a little bit is I’m putting a little complementary color into my reds or my oranges or my yellows, and grain them down. Sometimes I’ll put a little chromatic black in there instead, that’ll gray it down. And when things are grayed down, it’s just a little tiny bit more pleasing to the eye at least I think so. And then in the focal point, I’ll just put that pure Chroma on there and punch the color. And the whole thing will feel colorful, even though the whole thing isn’t as colorful as you might think it is. So anyway, that’s kind of what I do. I’d love to hear what you do put them in the comments or something. Also, I’d like to know what you want to hear on the podcast or who you want to hear who you want to see interview. Just drop me a note Eric at plein air magazine.com. And I would love to hear from you for any reason I answer every every single email sometimes it’s a little hard to get to him but I do it. And I would love to hear from you. And especially you know anybody who is in a different country or you’re maybe you’re in a you know you have an interesting story or you’re in an interesting journey, you know, you’re beginning and you’re learning. I’d love to hear about that. So drop me a note. We are so honored plein air podcast continues to be number one in the Feedspot 2021 Top 15 painting podcasts list and we’re we’re working on number two, we’ll see how that goes. You can subscribe wherever podcasts are available. And there’s a lot of places and of course if you don’t know that this podcast is available on audio and video. So we’d love to have you tune in on the video portion. Sometimes we show some pictures. We don’t talk about them, but we show them coming up after the interview. I’m going to have the art marketing minute where I try to help you with art as you probably know by now. I pride myself on being really good at marketing. And I try I was in marketing way before I was in art and so I’ve been trying to bring some of that skill To you, and I’m always spending time trying to get up to date and learn the latest things. And so we’ll we’ll talk about that. I’ve noticed things are starting to heat up. And what I mean by that is, you know, the plein air convention was coming up in Denver in right before COVID. And then we had to cancel, but we had 1200 people, our largest ever registered, and we were like minutes away from being sold out. And now it’s about to happen again, because we’re going back to Denver in May, a lot of the people originally signed up are starting to resign up and people are learning. It’s our 10 year anniversary, and we’re going to be celebrating, we also have a mystery celebrity guest and that’s going to be a big deal. I’ve been dealing with this person’s agent, it’s I mean, we’re talking somebody really big and famous. And so that will be happening. And then we’ve got a lot of other things happening. I guess, you know, now that people are getting out again, I think people are going to be coming back. We’ve had a lot of events. You know, once in a while somebody gets sick at something, but you know, everything’s a scratchy throat these days. Let’s hope knock wood that that continues. We have a pre convention workshop and Laurie Putnam, we’re going to have online streaming if you can’t attend in person. We have about 80 instructors, including like CW Monday of the great CBD month CW Monday he’s gonna be on stage, we’ve got Alberto Castaneda, the great watercolorist Daniel sprek, who by the way, even though he’s known as one of the top figure painters in the world, there has been a PBS documentary about him. He is a incredible plein air painter, and he manages to nail the values so well. And he teaches a lot of things about new ways to look at perspective. So you’re gonna want to see that anyway, just come to the plein air convention. And if you want to sign up, you know where to go plein air convention.com speaker to sign up, we have a big event coming up. We just wrapped up realism live with some of the top realist painters and instructors from some of the top academies. Now we’re going into watercolor Live, which is coming in January. It’s a great Christmas gift. It is a great gift for yourself. And you know, in the wintertime, for most of you, some of you are listening in other parts of the world. Maybe it’s not wintertime for you, but great time to just kind of sit back spend three or four days and focus on watercolor with the best watercolors in the world. And we have an incredible faculty. I won’t get into it now. But you can check it out on watercolor live.com. And by the way, this year’s realism conference was bigger than last year, in spite of the fact that COVID was still going on a little bit. This year’s watercolor conference is bigger than last year. So we’re getting a world audience. It’s a lot of fun to get to know people, we have a lot of fun, just go to watercolor live.com. And last but not least, I just want to mention to you that on the last podcast, I talked about subscribing to plein air magazine, because a lot of people didn’t even realize we have plein air magazine. And yet, it’s the number one selling art magazine nationwide in America at Barnes and Noble. We’re pretty excited about that that’s been going on for a few years now. And we have a print edition coming out every other month. And we recently redesigned it and that’s just pushing subscriptions. Everybody’s subscribing now. And we had a massive number hundreds of new people subscribed last week, which was really flattering. Thank you for that. And it’s better than driving in the new standard picking it up because it’s cheaper when you buy a subscription comes in your mail, something to look forward to. And the new design. We’re really really proud of Kelly and the team just really knocked it out of the park. So go ahead and subscribe at plein air magazine.com. Now today, we have it’s going to be a little different but not a lot different. We have a guest who is CAMI Mendeley. She’s a fabulous painter. She’s an author of a new book, she spent 12 years in the making. It’s called Color relativity. And it’s an expensive book. But you know what, I have an autographed copy and it’s worth every penny. It’s really good because you can learn a lot about her process and what she’s learned and the how to use the chromatic palette properly. And so anyway, it’s called creating the illusion of light with paint and she is the founder CAMI is powder the St. Croix River School of Painting in Minnesota, Stillwater, Minnesota, she still teaches there and she’s got this 16 acre farm where she teaches that she bought I don’t know in 2014 I think and converted a an old barn into a really cool place for painting and so if you’re up in Minnesota, you’re lucky camis coming out with a new video. She was here in Austin, Texas that are soundstage and she stayed in the world famous artists cabin. That gave me a chance to get to know her a little bit. She’s fabulous. You would love her. We’re going to be doing a new video announcing that soon. But anyway, I had kami in the soundstage in Austin. So I took advantage of that offer. opportunity, and did the podcast interview over there. So let’s get to that interview right now. Welcome to the plein air Podcast. Today is an unusual podcast because we’re not able to be in the podcast studio. But we’re in our soundstage in Austin, and my guest on the podcast today is CAMI Medlock. Cami. We’re so excited to have you here.
Kami Mendlik 10:25
I’m excited to be here in Austin. Yeah,
Eric Rhoads 10:28
you are a rock star painter, you’ve got a really great career. And we’re gonna learn all about that. And you have a new book out, which I’m excited about because you gave me an autographed copy. Yeah. And I was flipping through it. I haven’t spent a lot of time with it yet. But I was flipping through it last night. And this is like, a lifetime achievement. I don’t think people realize I’m a publisher, I realized, but I don’t think people realize what goes into creating something like this. When did this project begin?
Kami Mendlik 11:01
12 years ago, 12 years, 12 years ago, I thought it was a decade and then add three, well, two to three years of editing and designing. And then here it is. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 11:14
So when, when you decided to publish a book, what’s going through your head,
Kami Mendlik 11:20
you know, I didn’t actually necessarily even decide to publish at the beginning I just had. So I’ve been teaching for over 20 years now. And, you know, I have a strategy that I teach that just kind of slowly marinated and developed over watching students, you know, struggle with color. So they’ve been telling me for years, like you’ve got to write a book, you’ve got to share this with people. And I just kind of kept putting it in the back of my head. All along, I was photographing my demonstrations and my trials and experiments. And in this, you know, applying the strategy. And I guess I just started documenting it writing it, I have a desire to write. And I just do. And I was not trained as a writer, I’m not educated as a writer, but it just like painty, and I have this desire to write down my thoughts, because they’re so busy in my head. So I just started, you know, doing that. And then just a ton of encouraging from students and collectors and family and friends. And just like you gotta get your book done. So I just kind of kept compiling it over the course of a decade. And then during the pandemic, the beginning of the pandemic, a, you know, big encouragement from people like sending me links to, you know, different books, sites, and things like that. And one thing led to another. And ultimately, I actually had a couple of publishers that wanted to publish it for me. But I really wanted control over it. Yeah. And I ultimately opened up a publishing company hired editors went through that whole process. And then hired a designer, and I wanted it printed in the United States, that was important to me at the time. And for offset printing, you know, it’s not print on demand. It’s the real deal. And every morsel of the book was very thought
Eric Rhoads 13:30
after. And what’s interesting is, is as you open up the book, and I’ll just show this real quickly, these are photographs, and I assume these are your students.
Kami Mendlik 13:41
Those are my students, right? Some are me, but but me teaching, but mostly, it’s really to honor the land that inspires us and the students.
Eric Rhoads 13:52
So I’m gonna use this as a little bit of a guide to kind of talk through some things, but you said that you’ve developed a process a system. I’d like to understand that a little bit.
Kami Mendlik 14:06
Yeah. So just a tiny bit of a backup story here. background story, I should say that I am dyslexic. So I was born. Really, I mean, I, when I reflect now in childhood, I I definitely saw the world differently or uniquely felt really different felt really odd. Reading was hard, but seeing colors and shapes was natural. And seeing negative shapes was really natural. I saw negative shapes more than I saw the positive shapes, like for instance, I’d see the color in the shape of the sky, more than I would see the color and the shape of the trees and then I go and there’s another shape. So that was natural for me. The reason I circle you know, back to the beginning, is because I strayed away from that and And my strategy is very basic. And it works really well for visual creative people outside of the box, and when I found, you know, my people in the painting world, and I started teaching, I realized that most creative, all the painters that I was meeting, and now it’s been 1000 that I’ve taught, really are similar to the way I think and see. But I don’t think it’s been articulated in that way. And a lot of similar stories, maybe there aren’t dyslexic. But since I’ve actually shared this personal part of myself that I’m dyslexic, very hard to go through, it’s really hard because it’s embarrassing.
Eric Rhoads 15:52
nothing to be embarrassed about.
Kami Mendlik 15:54
Yeah, it’s just who I am. But it was when I was a child, because I was I had a learning disability. But really, that just means that my brain doesn’t think just like everyone else’s. But that’s actually a good thing. Now we know that right? As adults and creatives, and it’s good that we are unique, and authentic. So, so I just worked really hard even just to read, I still practice reading, just to make sure because I do readings, you know, for my classes,
Eric Rhoads 16:23
right must have been a great thing. I
Kami Mendlik 16:25
love them. They’re my favorite. I love learning. But I just get i fatigue myself reading, like actual words. So learning is great, and my mind is busy. And I’m really good at articulating to my students and finding a way to reach each one. So then putting this into book format was a whole nother thing. But my strategy you asked about is like it developed out of necessity. And like complete passion and desire to help people understand how I was making color, and what the process was that was happening in my brain. Because there’s so many times that we see people teaching or painting and it looks like this. And that doesn’t really teach us it might inspire us. But it also might deflate us when someone says Okay, so here’s how you do it. And you see this physical act. But we know that it’s actually more of a brain act than it is just a physical act, because this doesn’t actually do it. It’s the brain that’s guiding the hand.
Eric Rhoads 17:38
Well, it’s even more than that, right? Because you’ve got you’re interpreting through your eyes, through your optical nerve into the brain coming out the arm. That’s wild, I think that you know what you’ve articulated. It’s interesting, that certainly worthy of a discussion. You know, if if Van Gogh had been born today, he’d be on ADHD drugs, or something. And he might not become who he was. Because of that. Do you ever think about that kind of thing?
Kami Mendlik 18:14
Think about that all the time. Yeah, I wear myself out. I think about that stuff. So much. I mean, I just think all of the things that I mean, I can even just think of myself what I’ve gone through and learned and had to kind of overcome and to get here is exactly why I’m painting the way I’m painting and that I’m even sitting here and I think about I think about Monet a lot I think about Van Gogh, I think about I think about so many of the people that I admire in the past, and you know what, what we perceived them to be or what the critics thought, and I’m not a big fan of the word crazy. You know, I just like when I think of what, you know what they say about, you know, different people say about Van Gogh? I’m like, yeah, no, because I think that I’m grateful that I had kids so young, because I think they kept me grounded and sane. You know, because I could go so I can go so philosophical and deep. Like when I get out painting, that sometimes you just don’t want to leave it and just having the real life responsibilities.
Eric Rhoads 19:17
So you’re one of these people who overthinks everything. Oh, totally.
Kami Mendlik 19:24
Totally, we call it in my family and my friends and students say she’s going off on a tangent again, leaves somewhere.
Eric Rhoads 19:32
Well, you know, you and I know a lot of artists and I can think of people that, you know, that are brilliant artists, but they don’t. They didn’t have the same kind of issues that you had. Yeah, I think of one in particular who was a doctor who is as scientific and logical and linear and detail oriented. As anyone that I know, yet he has managed to become a brilliant painter. So I don’t think what you’re saying is you can’t really become a brilliant painter just unless you’re, you know, a kind of a colors and shapes, dyslexic type of person.
Kami Mendlik 20:16
No, I’m not saying that. It’s interesting that you say that though, because this is what’s fascinating. And what I’ve learned about myself and people like myself is that the science part is very strong. It’s just that I, I deal with it differently. And my strategy for making color and the necessity the desperateness, of like, trying to teach my students what was going on my brain is such a system. It’s such a strategy, and it’s so systematic, and it’s so logical, and it’s problem solving. It is not, it’s not a formula, because I don’t think anything in painting is a formula. But it is definitely, it is definitely scientific in and it’s in the use of the primary colors, and the prismatic, like the recession of warmists, to coolest and relativity and just breaking it down. So it is a system. And I think it really helps to erase all the noise and all the gray zone of everything, you know, anything can happen in painting, but to break it down. So it is actually I’ve learned about myself that my dyslexic brain definitely desires and loves the system, my spirit. The wild spirit in me didn’t want anything to do with that early on. But my passion wanted to master painting badly enough in my lifetime, or at least attempt to that I knew that I needed fundamentals. So I am totally, totally fundamental properties of color drawing composition value, like I’m rigid about it. Yeah. So
Eric Rhoads 22:14
I’m sure we have very similar opinions in this kind of a thing. And if not, it doesn’t matter. But, you know, today, maybe not entirely today, because things are starting to shift. But there was a period of time my brother, for instance, went to art school, he wanted to become a fine artist. And they basically said to him, nobody does this anymore. You don’t need to learn to draw, you don’t need to learn to paint, you just need to be expressive. And so we have had 5075 years of art instructors telling everybody to be expressive, but they don’t have the foundational principles. And yet the people that they idolize, or want to emulate in some way, Picasso, you know, classically trained, yes. And I equate this to a photography course, I took for a couple of weeks years ago with a guy named Fred picker. And Fred, I was about a week into the course I said, you know, we’re not, we’re not doing any, any of the creative stuff, any of the fun stuff. And I can remember what he said, he said, until you get to the point where you can make the camera work for you instinctively, where you don’t have to think about it. You can’t be creative. And I think the thing that these people are missing is if they had these foundational principles, and they got those locked into their brains, they can be as free and creative as they want. But they don’t have but but by not having them they’re actually hampering their freedom.
Kami Mendlik 24:01
Totally. And I think that without foundation or being academically grounded, and in the fundamentals, you know, when we’re doing representational painting. I just think it leads to frustration, because I think we have a burning desire to do this thing, or we wouldn’t be doing this thing because there’s so many people on this planet, and most of them are not wanting to paint, but we want to paint and the people even that are probably watching this have either a desire to or they’re interested in it, or maybe it’s drawing or whatever your medium is, but something visual arts. And I mean, I think I know that we agree on this that, you know, you can’t say enough about how important it is to study and to know where the keys are inside and out on the piano before you make beautiful music. You know, so it’s it’s so parallel to
Eric Rhoads 24:51
if somebody went up to a piano and they just started slamming, yeah. You know, probably nobody would be very interested. Anna, and yet, that’s the musical equivalent to what some would say, as modern art. I’m not trashing it. Yeah, I love the fact that people can can be expressive, but I do think they’d actually gained freedom by learning some essentials. And I think that’s really important. Go ahead.
Kami Mendlik 25:19
Well, I was gonna say, when you said freedom, I mean, I just think that’s everything to authenticity. I mean, I think we all are just striving for freedom. And I think that what takes our freedom away from in painting, which brings us to authenticity and truth of our work is, is the is fear. And I think the fear comes from not being confident in you know, I’m all about making color, you know, and if you’re not confident that you know how you made the color, how you got there, then you’re, you’re you’re stingy with your paint, or you’re saving that little last morsel on your palate. And so I think that knowledge and practice and having a foundation or a strategy of that you can always hang your hat on and you can just go to and you can practice this. In that’s what my book is on. It’s like, here’s exercises that you can do this so that you can shed the fear because what I want for everyone, I mean, I truly do, I don’t know why I’m so passionate about this, but I just am. I want people to experience freedom so they can, they can express themselves because painting is a language and it’s my most true form of communicating. You know, I’ve practiced speaking but but that’s not my truth. That my desire where words you know, fall short
Eric Rhoads 26:45
is paintings. You can say things with your colors and with your parents. can’t articulate. It’s a feeling. No Talk to me about going outdoors, plein air painting. When did that begin for you? And how essential is that in your artistic soul?
Kami Mendlik 27:05
Yeah. Well, I didn’t even know what plein air was. in me, I was doing it since I was a kid. So I grew up on a 400 acre farm. And my parents built when I was four across on the farm, but across the field a mile across from my grandparents farm was and like daily, I would go out and i Nobody drew or painted or anything that I did, and I just need I kept asking for things and they got me oil paints in second grade. And they probably they didn’t too clearly to not know that you should not give a second grader with turpentine, you know, but I find I think we think but um, yeah, so wait, what was I saying?
Eric Rhoads 27:50
I went ADHD. Well, you were talking about what were you saying?
Kami Mendlik 27:55
What are you saying? Something? Oh, going outside to paint? Yeah. So I yeah. Great Minds. Yeah. So I have been going outside to paint forever. And then, you know, when I was like 18, I met Mary Pettis, and she became my mentor against her will at the time. I just wouldn’t go. How did you meet her? You know, I met her. She used to be she used to be a wildlife painter. And I just was like, she lived in your area. She lives in my area. We live in the St. Croix River. We live 25 miles from each other. And I think I was just a little bit of an annoyance at first, but I met her and I just idolized her and I was young and she was young too. But I just kind of latched on basically and wouldn’t go away. And finally she’s like, alright, she’s not going
Eric Rhoads 28:47
away. What a great mentor though. Yeah, what a great mentor, a good painter.
Kami Mendlik 28:51
She’s such a girl. Yeah. And she was teaching classical realism at the time. So I
Eric Rhoads 28:56
was part of the, the Atelier a, what was Richard lac? Richard Lange?
Kami Mendlik 29:02
Yep. And then she opened up her own atelier in Osceola, which is across the river. So Minnesota, Wisconsin, and there’s a St. Clair River. So that’s where I studied. And I just saw she started. She found out about plein air painting by taking Uh oh, who invented the soltec again, what was his name? Oh, Wilcox Wilcox. So he went she went out and this is when workshops kind of first were a thing because they really weren’t. And it was a big deal and she went out there and she’s like, you can paint a painting in a day because I was painting paintings for like nine months like using the collarbone and you know, site size and there’s a cuttlebone is like, I think it’s a shell. I think it’s like soft and you. You can buy it at the bird at the pet store. And the birds like pick Got it and get the calcium. Yeah, but it’s like the softest, very softest, like sandpaper. But it’s the collarbone it’s it’s natural. And it’s like a spongy white kind of soft shell thing and then you rub down like you sand your painting so you gotta live super so it’s perfectly smooth. Like you it was like forbidden to have any bumps of paint.
Eric Rhoads 30:22
Well, because in that in that academic realism movement that really started in Minneapolis for America. Everything had to be perfectly smooth. You were never allowed to show a brushstroke.
Kami Mendlik 30:35
Yes. fat over lean me like sable little sable brushes. I mean, I, I painted a crystal cut vase with like, I think it had 1700 cuts in it. Yeah, seriously. I mean, how would I know that? Because I painted each and every single. Yeah, right. It did. It did that to me. And I thought I’m just done. But I would just get obsessed with it. And then we had we painted silk flowers, because flowers wouldn’t last hours went last nine months. And we had to like dust off our set because you know, every day. So that’s what I did with her. And then she starts painting outside. And she’s like, if you know, Mary, I mean she’s like exuberant and, and she’s like, running through the fields with her hands in the air. And you can paint a painting in a day. Look at this, and there’s just paint and well, that
Eric Rhoads 31:23
had to be life changing for her. That was
Kami Mendlik 31:25
life changing for her. And I was so young that to me, I’m like, Okay, makes sense. It didn’t seem because I had already been doing it. Because it was a free model. I mean, the trees, I was curious. But then I learned it was called plein air. Yeah. And then yeah, I’ve just been doing that ever since. And it is definitely my favorite way to paint. And my most inspiring way to paint but I definitely I spend probably more hours painting in the studio now. Like I’m big paintings. But my inspiration and information is always from my plein air work.
Eric Rhoads 32:03
But the the critical part about that? Is that getting that sample from life. And this is something that studio painters typically don’t understand if they’ve been a studio painter their whole life. Right. Obviously I’m promoting plein air because of plein air magazine. But yeah, I you know, once you’ve painted outdoors as much as you have, you can paint from a photograph and make it feel like it was painted outdoors.
Kami Mendlik 32:37
Yeah, because I think I mean, we’re not really using it. As the information and inspiration, it just might be a little bit more reference if we’re confused about what that broad stroke was on. Yeah, eight by 10 Now,
Eric Rhoads 32:51
I can’t pick from a photograph. Yeah, I can paint from a study that I’ve done outdoors and do a bigger studio painting. But to me photographs just don’t inspire me you know, maybe once a while if I want to get a you know, an angle of a sale or something, you know, go back to a reference but it’s it’s really that idea of of light and form being so different in person than what you see on a photograph because the photograph compresses the you know, they try to get all the range of light in there so blows out the skies. Or if you get this the sky in focus, then it blows up, it darkens the foreground. You know, there’s a slight curvature in a photograph that most people don’t realize. The dryness. Yeah. So when when you’re getting that sampling outdoors, it matters. It really, is this an essential that that you encourage your students to do.
Kami Mendlik 33:48
Yeah, so we work from life, even if it’s so so I just feel like working from life, even if it’s, it’s not outdoors is essential. And especially, you know, my whole Jive in life is painting color. And always practicing drawing, but when we’re painting, we’re always drawing scale proportion measuring, but we will work from still life and we’ll work outside. And then we also have exercises that we turn our plein air pieces into like larger pieces. So it’s essential. I mean, I just think I think people are just missing missing out on a big experience. You know, they don’t if they’re not
Eric Rhoads 34:30
so the one thing that when I started painting and I love color, and I wanted everything to be colorful, and there’s a misperception at that stage, I think that a lot of us go through maybe all of us go through and that is that everything is bright and garish and you know those oranges are just you know popping out and, and what I look at your work, it feels cold. are full. But it’s not distasteful. It is it’s elegant. Thank you. And that’s got to be hard to figure out.
Kami Mendlik 35:09
You know, I think, I think I’m realizing that everything that we experience seen is a tertiary, and tertiary is great. So that’s where it’s a complicated thing. And when you’re talking about how, you know, we’re beginner painters want everything to be super colorful, I think of Robert Henry and his book where he says, color cancels out color. And I used to just scrapple like, what, what what Keller cancels Keller and I totally get that. So it’s like, you need a color? I think it has, I think what he’s referring to is a grave color. So like a tertiary, it’s all about color relativity, right? Right. So if you have a gray or color, next to a more saturated or chromatic color, then you don’t need as much of the saturated or color that’s more chromatic or secondary, it looks more the relationship or the manipulation of the tertiary next to the secondary, the primary makes it look even more alive and colorful. So you know, for me, and in the book, I talked about primary secondaries. Tertiaries. Primary is yellow, red and blue, a secondary and a lot of people don’t. This is so basic, but but I think it’s important to talk about the basics, because it even refreshes our advanced painter minds to remember like, oh, yeah, this is actually kind of basic, yellow, red, and blue are primaries. secondaries are any color made out of two primaries. So we’ve got orange, and we’ve got purple, and we’ve got green, because they’re one plus one is two. And then a tertiary is any color that’s made of three primaries. And I think the problem in making to, like you said garish color or to gray or flat color, is that there’s not the opposing and people first go and they make garish color, typically. And then they realize, oh, I want to subdue or settle this, or I want to get the nuances. And then they start making what some people call mud, because they mix the three primaries, or use just a bunch of colors that they don’t know how to use. And they’re green too much. And then the work goes flat. Yeah. So I think there’s mod can be beautiful, though. But see, that’s why I say some people say Matt, I just don’t think there’s an ugly color, it was probably next to the
Eric Rhoads 37:41
so I used to I used to take, I go to books, of paintings, and I would copy the paintings. interpreting them the way I saw them the way I thought they were, you know, for instance, a row of trees in a bright green grass, and I’d make that bright green grass, you know, like chartreuse. And then I started going to the museums, and studying. And that’s when I realized that these paintings weren’t bright at all they were, or they are weren’t as, as I would define colorful, that they were really gray paintings with, with color interspersed. But there was something about the juxtaposition of the color combinations that really made those colors vibrate. Does that make any sense?
Kami Mendlik 38:35
Totally juxtaposition? Yeah, the one color next to another creates the illusion. It’s like, I remember years ago, you know, you have these little moments in time where someone said something to you. And someone said, painting is just an illusion. You know, like, this isn’t real. It’s just paint. And I was like what you know, but it is it’s like, here we have yellow, red, blue. And then we can make this and we can trick the mind to think that looks like the last moment of sunlight glistening on water and a reflection and like we think it is, and that like yellow or white or whatever isn’t even white or yellow. It’s like a two and a half on the value scale. I mean, it’s just this manipulation, right? Like we just manipulate colors to create this illusion.
Eric Rhoads 39:19
What do you do in the value scale? What do you do with your students to help them learn values? Well, I guess first, in case somebody’s watching, yeah, that might not know would you explain what values are?
Kami Mendlik 39:35
Sure. Yep. So So typically, painters are using I mean, most of the painters I know in the representational painting world are using a nine point value scale. And you should have a odd number, an odd number of value scale like 123456789 What is the value scale? I could show them in my book? No Oh, no. So a value scale is a range of light to dark. And so typically they’re using white to black. And then it’s an even scale or a step of values between white to black. So White being your lightest that you can go and black being your darkest in the middle. And the reason we want an odd number is because in the middle is mid tone, or half tone, mid range mid tone, there’s a few different words for the same definition. If you have a nine, five would be half tone, in five is really useful to have as your palette is well because you can use it as a tool like a mid tone gray palette, right? And the important thing is to have your mid tone palette actually be mid tone, because sometimes they’re a little darker, and then it can throw your color off. So for instance, let’s just say okay, so a value scale is a range of light to dark, okay, and it’s a gradation. So I think that everything in painting has to do with gradation and be out being able to control lightest to darkest darkest to lightest warmth is to coolest coolest to armas. So it’s it’s controlling these gradations. So we use, painters use values to create the illusion of light. So like in my book, I show my paintings in just black and white to show the value of value. And then I show them in color. And even without the color, you can see the light effect with just the value. It’s the second chapter. And it’s just so valuable, pun intended, but you know, I can’t help it. And it’s just important. But there’s different keys of light that you can use to manipulate or employ your value scale, like you have a mid range light effect. And that’s when you have a clear separation of light and dark. So anything in your lights like that would be something being hit by light or by sunlight. But one, you only want one light, not like multiple lights in a studio, that area would be 123 or four. So be lighter than five on your on your value scale or on your palette. And then anything in shadow and a mid range would be 6789. And to keep your values tight, you typically want to avoid one into an eight nine and and then save the one and the nine for extreme light effects. Yeah,
Eric Rhoads 42:38
and never use like barely ever use them. Right. I mean, you almost never used pure white and anything or pure black and anything because it’ll stand out. Yeah, well blend, Linda. Yep. You talk in your book about we talked about plein air painting. You live in the Minneapolis St. Paul area, which is extremely cold in the winter. Do you get out and paint in the winter? A lot. So I saw in here a car painting.
Kami Mendlik 43:05
Yeah. Yeah, so I kind of have a general rule that if it’s 20 degrees or lower, I don’t stand outside and paint just no matter how many gloves and heat packs. It’s still hard for me. But I definitely get out and paint 20 degrees and above it just dress appropriately. I love it. But there’s just times the winter, you know, the days are super short, too. And so you just sometimes really want to get outside. So I will paint in my car. And usually I’ll just climb over to the passenger side. I’ve got a Honda Pilot with like a sunroof that has a moonroof, too, and I can just leave that open. I cracked the windows, I use Gamsol. And it’s so peaceful. I love it so much. I used I started doing it when my kids were young. And I would just need to like they’re like fighting or something and, like, I’m going Barbadian for an hour. And I would have just like a six by you know, but it’s just so I’ve given myself like pushrod challenges doing that, and it just feels good. And you’re right. Once you get once you’ve practiced painting in plein air enough, it’s actually the easiest kind of painting because you’re just studying what’s in front of you and making decisions like not creating
Eric Rhoads 44:24
big ideas that the light is constantly changing. Yeah, you know, those those things which you have? Yeah. What’s the key to painting snow?
Kami Mendlik 44:34
Looking at it, everything has shapes of color. And I really think I think that’s the key of a painting anything that people think is difficult. I mean, I like to find I don’t just pay cash, shadows and light I paint overcast days and snow and as long as you are looking at the world in abstract shapes of colors, and like pick three to five big shapes and then just start breaking them down here I
Eric Rhoads 44:58
would say that you have to do Get your eyes around constantly. Because if you stare at snow, or a bright object for too long, you’re going to change your irises and it’s going to change your colors.
Kami Mendlik 45:11
Yeah, he’s talking about color relativity compare, don’t stare. So you have to keep moving your eyes exactly what you just said, move your eyes are on all the time. I find it helpful to squint a little bit. And I know some people say, to paint values, squint to paint color eyes wide open, I think everything helps to kind of swing because it takes out the detail for me. Although, lately, I just have to take my glasses off, and it takes out the detail. But
Eric Rhoads 45:39
well, we were talking last night in my studio. Yeah. You were telling me something, I think it would be worth mentioning. You know, I teach art marketing. You’re doing something that I think is really unique, you essentially, have found a new way to sell your paintings.
Kami Mendlik 46:00
Oh, well, yeah. I mean, I don’t know if it’s not new for me.
Eric Rhoads 46:05
Maybe I shouldn’t say a new way. It’s not a traditional or standard way.
Kami Mendlik 46:09
Yeah, it’s definitely not. So I have been. How do you say something without seeing the background a little bit. So I have been supporting myself and my children. My kids are 22 and 24. And you’re a single mom, single mom, since they were I became a single mom when they were four and five. Oh, my. So
Eric Rhoads 46:30
and you and you supported yourself with your painting?
Kami Mendlik 46:33
Yes. Since that time, yes. And that is the truth. There was no other no other income. No other jobs is child support. None of that no sink or swim. So basically, yeah. So in really, I mean, I’m not saying everyone, I think we can do it. And I just knew that I had to get good at what I was doing. I had to get creative. I needed to feed two beautiful kids. And that’s pretty motivational. I knew that if I had to had to, I could always go waitress. And I just I’ll use that as like security in the back of my mind. Like you can do this. If you have to do this, you can go wait tables, you can flip burgers, or do whatever you will work you will, you will feed them. But I didn’t want to and I also really had the desire to become I just had the desire to say what I wanted to say with paint the best I could say, which meant I needed to get better. And so I you know, I was teaching for a long time I was framing when I was in my 20s framing other people’s pictures. And then I ended up stopping that luckily. And then I had gone to a show many years ago and I was in galleries and everything like that, but I spent a lot of time and money and like energy shipping paintings and and I love galleries. So don’t get me wrong. I’m all for good galleries. And I wish we had more good galleries but but I also spent a lot of my very valuable resources which is my time and money dealing with the galleries and shipping you know so and then not getting a great return. So I went to a show in the Galleria, which is in the Twin Cities a kind of upscale area, the Twin Cities, Jeff Larson, who I just really admire greatly. He had a show, and he would have it an annual show in November and rent out this space in this. Yep, like a pop up. And that was an I heard I’ve heard. I’m not gonna say numbers, because I can’t I can’t know that. I mean, I can’t know for sure. But very good. Very, like, wow, he did that. And he just would pay it to have you know, this one show a year. That’s what he did
Eric Rhoads 48:50
more than a year’s salary. probably
Kami Mendlik 48:53
really good, really good, really good. And I’m like I’m doing that. That’s what I’m doing that makes sense to me. And so I started doing that, you know, and I started inviting local people. And I also had I did it well, and I had my strongest work and I had things framed and I didn’t, I didn’t discount I’ve never discounted a painting in my life. Like, no, that’s just not a thing. And I had good advice that your prices can just only slowly go up and you never want to discount them and I just kind of stood by that. And I understand the reasoning behind that too, that people are or collectors are believing in us and investing in us and it’s it’s feels disrespectful. For me, it feels disrespectful to them, who have bought my paintings, so that I can keep painting tomorrow and feed my kids and everything to say now what you bought is worth less than it was last year so so I just always stood by that and grew and I still grow and so I have one annual show. And I just had a big my annual show book launch event. September 23, just did this year. And we had 350 people. We opened the doors at four, we closed the doors at eight, at 315 People started lining up, we had almost 200 cars. So I have almost 20 acres, just under 20 acres. And that’s what I bought nine years ago. And
Eric Rhoads 50:24
you have a barn? Yeah. And you did the show the barn did the
Kami Mendlik 50:28
show in the barn. But I turned the barn into me. And it’s finished. It’s heated and AC and everything like that. But we would let a certain amount of people in every 10 minutes. Oh, my. So it creates urgency. Yes. And we had a record record year. That’s great. Yeah, that’s
Eric Rhoads 50:44
brilliant. Yep. Yeah, that was smart. So I want to touch on a couple other things before we wrap up. Best advice on how to learn how to paint or how to get to the next level, best advice and how to learn how to paint well.
Kami Mendlik 50:47
I’ve only spent 12 years now just getting no guilt or anything that comes from that. I just think having a regimen I really think I think community is important and having support. I think I give my students and people that I mentor a tip to have Sunday’s be check in nights. So even if you don’t have a spouse or you know, someone to check in with, either find a buddy or check in with yourself, write it down. But usually we know our week in advance on Sunday. And write it down decide what time of day is good for you. You know, a lot of people Eric have full time jobs and are wanting to do this too. And I can really sit here and say yeah, I mean, I was raising two kids and and trying to make a living there as part of it that I had to make a living and part of I wanted to get good. I think the best way, if you are limited in time, you can make time and you chunk it apart. And I think if you did, like 60 minutes a day, five days a week, find that 60 minutes a day working from life, I think that’s the first step to getting better, and
Eric Rhoads 52:18
you can find it, you know, you may not spend two hours watching TV at night, or you may get up an hour earlier, but you can find it
Kami Mendlik 52:26
you can. And I mean, I hear that from writers and poets and you know, people that are you know, their kids are little and they get up at four in the morning and go into closet and write for 30 minutes for themselves or, you know, so we can do it if we want it. We just have to make it happen now, because this is our precious life. Well,
Eric Rhoads 52:45
and you recently had a very tragic event in your family. And that has, I don’t know if you want to share that or not. But that has changed the way you think about your timing on everything.
Kami Mendlik 52:58
Yeah, I’ll try to it’s been almost four years. And let’s see, my sister at 30 It was killed in a car accident.
Eric Rhoads 53:11
So sorry, yeah,
Kami Mendlik 53:13
thank you. And actually, she’s a big reason that I like really finished this book. So it’s been done for quite a while. But Excuse me a minute. But the painting on the cover is called into the silver lining. And the book had to be square because I had to have that on the cover. And that into the silver lining is very symbolic. And I’m sure you can imagine the meaning behind that. But also just realizing, like really realizing that this is this is our life right now we’re in it. And whatever those dreams are things that you have that you want to do. We just have to or changes we need to make that are hard changes, because I just want to say also, I think sometimes, you know, some of us that are even in social media a lot in here, I’m painting this and everything is so great and beautiful. And it is but I think it’s also important to say the truth that it’s also hard. And sometimes we have to make really hard changes to have the life or create the life we want. And I really think we can do that.
Eric Rhoads 54:27
Well we have this tendency to say someday, yes. And this This is a pet peeve of mine because I’m like always trying to push myself and better myself and take risks and do things scheduled things to look forward to. Because you just you just don’t have any way to predict when when you run out of time right and when you experience something like you did you it really reinforced it for you.
Kami Mendlik 54:59
Yeah cuz we always Did we really know that we have this time? I mean, I’ve always been kind of in tune to that, probably more than some people, but then when your little sister, like, that just doesn’t seem it doesn’t make any sense. And then you’re going, okay, so this really is, this is fleeting. And then you learn, but then you have to learn to be in the moment. You know, like, this is special, just like, I’m no longer just trying to get through things I’m grateful for, you know, this conversation.
Eric Rhoads 55:34
Well, and, you know, a mentor of mine said, you know, we’re always looking forward, we’re always looking at what’s next. But once in a while, you have to turn around and look the other direction. And realize, you know, I was lamenting about needing a bigger house or something. Yeah. And then I looked back, and I thought about all these crummy apartments that I stayed in, you know, filled with cockroaches and, and things that, you know, I was hoping someday to get to the next level. And then I look at what I have now. And I go, wow, I don’t really need any more. Yeah. But I think living in the moment, you know, the, the nice thing about painting is that even when you’re struggling, even when you’re frustrated, you’re still painting,
Kami Mendlik 56:19
it’s still good day, if you if you’ve painted, it’s a good day. That’s what I always say, I know. Speaking of that, I there’s a thing I tell my students, I’m like, Okay, so here’s the deal. You’re never gonna get there. And they’re like, What? Because they’re like coming into here, how are they going to get there? And like, and that’s a good thing. Because why would we show up tomorrow. So like, we’re here, here we are. And there’s always a place to grow. And we don’t know how long we’re going to be here. But this is what I am so, so grateful that I’m spending my life doing.
Eric Rhoads 56:54
So I want to ask you one other question. And that’s a single mom question. Because I hear I get this question constantly. I want to paint, I’m raising kids. Sometimes they’re not single moms. But you know, they’re, they’re dealing with a husband, or sometimes it’s a single guy. But usually, it’s like, how do you how do you manage it? How do you do it? And not only that, but to take the time to pay to take the time to get good to take the time to make a living? What’s your best advice?
Kami Mendlik 57:29
My best advice is? Well, I think I think it’s to never lose sight of that passion and belief in yourself. Like that, if there’s a desire to do that thing, which is to paint, I know that this is true that there’s a reason for it. And it is really hard to be a parent. It’s hard to be a human sometimes. But so I would say even people who have spouses that are supportive, even that mean not even but that’s hard. Like, there can be hard things, but my best advice is to communicate with your children. Like from the beginning, I have told my kids, mom is gonna paint for 60 minutes. And here’s an egg timer, because we didn’t have like a phone, a cell phone, and we had like a telephone, you know, with the cord and stuff. I’m like, 90, no, I’m just kidding. But, but I would set the egg timer. And I would communicate because I think so often we have self induced guilt. And we say I can’t, I can’t do this. I can’t do this, because I have this. But it’s prioritizing, and it’s not prioritizing painting in front of family. Family, for all of us is definitely first. But everyone and everything in our life suffers if we don’t do something for us. And for painters, it’s painting, and it’s getting to the easel have your stuff set up and people and then the other excuses. I don’t have a space to paint. I did not have a space to paint I was broke, like my kids and I were eating ramen noodles and crepes like five nights a week. And nobody was unhappy. I mean, I was probably scared, but they were not unhappy. And it was like, I communicated with them. And, and I got rid of the self induced guilt that I’m doing something wrong by doing something for myself. My kids were happier. They would if I were if I wasn’t painting for a couple days, they’d say Mom, where where are you painting? So they got used to that. And so I think just communicate like communicate and even if you’re you have a spouse and you know you think oh, I can’t do that or I think that people think it’s selfish. Selfish isn’t bad. I mean, if you’re not going to take care of yourself who is
Eric Rhoads 59:57
some of the best life advice happens when You’re getting ready to take off in an airplane and the flight attendant says, put the mask on yourself before you put it on
Kami Mendlik 1:00:08
zactly. That is, that’s, that is so nice. That’s such a necessity in order to care and love and take care of anything in our life, including our people. Communicate, yeah,
Eric Rhoads 1:00:20
we have so many people who attend our events or online events and, and, you know, they’re their caregivers for husbands, wives, children, et cetera. And they always talk about, I just can’t take any time. And yet when they take the time, they’re better at what they do. They’re, they’re more tolerant, they’re more patient, they’re happier, because they’re at least getting a little time in doing what they love,
Kami Mendlik 1:00:49
right. And I just don’t think there there can be any excuses. I mean, of course, one day someone throws up and you can’t, you know, whatever that is, but I want to add something to this too, because for many years now, it has been known in the painting world, and you know, my students and different people know that I’ve been a single mom. And I felt like, it was really important for me to share, because I’ve reached a lot of people, and just to let them know that they’re not alone, and they can do it. So that’s a good thing. But now, my kids are 22 and 24. Financially, my paintings are doing great, you know, I’m in a really comfortable place that I’m so grateful for that. And my kids are just both moved out, and they’re doing their thing. And I have all this time. And I have most of my friends are married. And I also want to just say that, and they have supportive spouses. I also want to say that, that’s a hard, that’s, that can be a hard thing too, because there can be guilt, self induced guilt, I mean, with the exception of abusive, you know, you know, situations, which I know there are. But for in general, the people that I know, aren’t in that, but they have self induced skill, and they also have all the time in the world. And that can be can bring its own set of challenges. For sure. And, and feeling like I can’t do this because he or she needs this or, you know, again, the selfish thing. And again, I just say it’s communication. And I’ve seen marriages grow so strong from us having these dialogues and conversations about communicate, they, they tell them what you want, like, you know, tell them
Eric Rhoads 1:02:39
well, and in my own case, I’ve said, you know, a day without painting is like a day without oxygen. And oftentimes, I’ll be sitting in front of the television with my wife, because I want to share that time with her. And she’ll say, go out to your studio, go paint. And to me, you know, that’s kind of like permission. And I think we we’ve communicated and understand that. So I think that’s great advice. Well, Cami thank you so much for for inspiring us and for teaching us so much. And I’m looking forward to getting into your book color relativity, and also looking forward to some of the other things that you’re doing. So thank you for your time today.
Kami Mendlik 1:03:19
Thank you. I’m, I’m just grateful to be here. Thanks for everything you do.
Eric Rhoads 1:03:24
Well, our guest today is CAMI Medlock. And I’m Eric Rhoads. Thank you for watching well, thank you Kami. It was a pleasure getting to know you and I hope you guys enjoyed that she’s got a lot to offer you as you can tell we kind of really got into her soul on this one. All right, now let’s improve your sales for 2023 right we’ve got a we’ve still got time, Stein time to work on yourself and work on your sales. If you’re an artist who wants to sell more art, you know, we have art marketing.com You can go there for ideas. I have a book. You can go there for ideas, you know, a lot of stuff going on. And I teach sometimes at the conventions and so on. So anyway, this is the marketing minute. Let’s get into it.
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 1:04:23
My goal here at the Art marketing minute is to answer your questions so that this is more about you and what you need and what you want. You can upload a question at art marketing.com/questions or you can email me [email protected] And I love to get your questions. My producer, Amandine from France always reads the questions Amandine, what do we got?
So the first question is from Sophia from Miami, Florida. Your art marketing advice is great. A problem I have is the offers received on Instagram have been from buyers that want to pay by Check, do not want to pay for my website where I feel more secure. I should one know whether or not a buyer is honest and not a scam. I don’t want you to sales, but I don’t want to be giving my home address or personal info to strangers. Through my website, credit cards and PayPal are accepted.
Eric Rhoads 1:05:19
All right, well, I think that’s a really great thing. First off, you should know, Sofia, that there’s a massive scam that is going around, and I get emails about once twice a month. They’re always different people always different names, but they always say the same thing. They say, Hey, I was looking at your website, I love your artwork. And my anniversary is coming up and I thought I’d buy a painting for my wife. It’s a surprise. And I’d like to buy that from you. Can you reach out to me and contact me and we’ll work it out. So the way that scam works, the way I understand it, I may have it wrong First off, they they oftentimes send you a check. And sometimes that check is just not a legitimate check. But they want you to ship that painting. So the first thing to think about is it’s probably a scam. If it feels like a scam, it’s probably a scam. Secondly, is if they’re paying by cheque, you want to make sure that you go to the bank and and that you hammer that check. In other words, you get cashed beforehand. And you also need to find out from the bank. What happens if they the cheque ends up not being good. You know, does it come back on you? What is what does that work? I think the scam is that they actually send you a check, you actually cashed the check, and they send you a check for too much money. And then you end up going wait a minute, you sent too much money and then you send a check back somehow. And I’m not exactly sure how it works. But what I do whenever I get these, I forward them to the FBI, there’s a email you can forward them to FBI probably doesn’t have time to look into it. But they’ve got their own issues. But But I think you want to just kind of probably avoid those things. Now there, there are going to be things that come through that are real. You know, the trick is, if you’re selling on Instagram or Facebook, you might get a private message. And the question is, is it real and and I’m sure the scammer is going to figure out how to do it through those. My guess is, you know, the best thing is, if you don’t want to accept checks, just don’t accept them. And if you’re going to lose the sale, okay, that’s okay. If you want to accept checks, then maybe get a Pio box and nobody knows your address, or have it mailed to a friend or you know, something like that. But I think the the thing you got to figure out is how to get that cash, check that cash in hand that check cashed before you ever send off the painting and make sure of course, you’re collecting your shipping and handling costs and everything else like that. Now, the reality is, we sell a lot of paintings in a lot of different ways. Now, I’ll tell you a quick story. I was in a big show in Annapolis in a gallery there. And it was from our Cuba trip and I sold quite a few paintings in that trip. But I didn’t sell them all. Well, this, this collector reached out to me and he said, You know, I was at the show, I bought a couple paintings of yours. But I would like to see what else you’ve got from Cuba. And so I sent him pictures of what I had from Cuba. And he said, Okay, I’d like to buy that one. And so we worked out a transaction, and I don’t remember how we how he paid for it. But so I I sent it to him. And I know I remember when I sent it to him, I enclosed a little note, and I enclosed actual photos. Remember those actual photos of the other paintings. And I said, because you bought one before and because you bought this one, I will give you one of these two or either of these two at a at a 20% discount, just let me know he ended up buying a boat. And that was pretty cool. Now this can happen in any situation. But I look at things I always say look, I have someone who’s interested in me, I have a buyer, how can I turn that buyer into a collector and so you’re always looking at ways and you know when you oftentimes will go someplace and they’ll say hey, because you bought this will give you this at a discount there that’s called an upsell and they’re trying to get you to spend more money and they’re figuring Well, you know, it’s better to give them a discount now than to hope that they’ll come back and pay full price and so that’s kind of the methodology behind it. So you might want to think about how you do something like that. Now you ask about payment. You know I I like to have PayPal. When possible Apple Pay when possible. Lots of alternatives. There’s a bunch of places now pay pal for instance, you can buy it and then you can make payments and those payments. You don’t have to wait for them to collect them. You know you get your money up front, but PayPal collects the money. And even if they don’t pay, that’s pay pals problem or somebody else’s problem. So, you know, there’s you can do Venmo there’s a lot of different things you can do. But, you know, make it easy for people, you know, and there are people out there we have, you know, we have paint tube.tv And we still have some people who insist on paying by cheque. So we have our system, what I explained to you, and and we just double check that, you know, and and do we get burned very rarely, very rarely. But you know, once in a while you do so be very careful about that. Anyway, good question. You know, even though it’s not specifically a marketing tactic, you know, in terms of bringing people in the door, really, all of these things about business are important. And they’re important because you’ve got to make sure that your business is running smoothly. And my wife was telling me a story about she took our car into the car dealer the other day, and for some repair, and she said it was effortless. You know, she walked in, they handed her the keys to the to the loaner. She walked back in, they handed her the keys. I mean, there was no paperwork, there was nothing. They had all that figured out in advance. And that’s wonderful. I called a client the other day, my doctor actually I called my doctor and I wanted my prescription renewed. And I didn’t even have to give my name. They knew me because my phone number popped something up on the spirit string and on the screen, and they said, are you still on this? This percentage and this prescription? I said, Yes. They said, Okay, just click the button. I’ll renew it. It is going to this pharmacy, right. Yeah. Okay, Ahmed. And what’s our next question?
Our next question is from Trey from McMinnville, Tennessee. Can you share helpful hints on mentally preparing for your first plein air painting competition, how to let go of insecurity and fear of not being good enough?
Eric Rhoads 1:11:50
Well, I know Trey, Trey is a doctor and he’s a plein air painter, and he’s been studying a lot with Bill Davidson, they become great friends. As a matter of fact, he’s good friend of mine. He’s become a really good painter. And because I’ve been watching him study relentlessly, so you probably have nothing to be worried about Trey. But here’s, here’s what I think. When we first started creating videos, the first one we did was Max Ginsberg, the great artist in New York. Max at the time was in his 80s, maybe early 90s, I think in his 80s. And Max said to me, I’m a little nervous. And I said, Well, that’s understandable. You know, you’re on camera, you got lights, all this other stuff. And he says, Well, I’ve been practicing for five days. He said, I said, Max, you’ve been painting for 65 years. Why do you need to practice for five days? He said, Well, within a couple of days, you lose your hand eye coordination. He said you got to practice all the time, he says, but I wanted this to be good. So I kept I practice portraits five days in a row to make sure and I practice talking. So I’m gonna make sure that I had my act together. Trey, I think the best advice I can say to you is your confidence comes from being prepared and being practiced. I know plein air painters, if they’re going to an event, let’s say they’re going to the Laguna plein air, they may go to Laguna two or three days before the event starts and scope out where they’re going to paint and find those locations and paint smaller paintings of them are maybe same size and they paint them one or two times just to make sure they know the landscape and they feel good at it and it gives them confidence. And it’s a great way to make sure that you’re practiced well rehearsed. You know, if you stop a couple of days, when I go to my my event in the Adirondacks paint the Adirondacks. And I usually haven’t painted for a week or two, sometimes longer. And when I first started out first couple of days, you know I’m really making a lot of mistakes and but after By the third day, I’m rocking it and all the things that you know, I have to remember I’m remembering and that’s the value of practicing right before you come in. You know, even if you’re practicing at home, just practice it’ll give you a confidence now, nervousness is actually a good thing. All the research says nervousness is beautiful. Now fear and anxiety, not beautiful. But nervousness is okay because nervousness makes you grow. It makes you want to get better. It helps you It forces you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. And when you get out of your comfort zone. That’s where the real growth occurs. Now, let’s talk about the you didn’t ask this question. But I think this is something to think about. If you’re an artist who is doing a tent show an art show where there’s a lot of tents, or you’re at an outdoor art show or you’re in an art show in a auditorium for Christmas or something. Or you know, you’re at a plein air paint out. Here’s some things that you can do. First off, if you’re at plein air paint outs, they all have rules and there’s certain things you you have to do. There’s a lot of stuff going around about people who are breaking those rules. And everybody knows who they are, you know, and I’ve even been asked to do articles and been given names. Now, I would never do that to somebody. But there are people who abuse the systems. And so for instance, there’s up there a couple of people who went to plein air paint outs. And as you know, at plein air paint outs, they stamp the back of your canvas. So it you can prove it was painted, they’re not pre painted. And a couple of artists actually glued those panels over another panel and put them in a frame that they had pre painted, and tried to get away with it, but got caught. And so they’ve been asked never to attend another event. And by the way, they tell everybody else, and then those people say that I’m not hire, I’m not bringing this person in. So your reputation is everything. So don’t do stuff like that don’t play games, like that’s just not worth it. The other thing is pricing is really important. And there are people who go into these events, and they they look around and they say, Okay, I’m going to price my stuff at half of what everybody else does. And they get all the sales and nobody else gets any sales. And then you know, it’s good for you. But the reality is, you’ve destroyed your reputation, you got to be part of the team. And so be careful about stuff like that. But in terms of when you’re at an event, here’s what I look at, first off, I’m at an event, and I have, let’s say 5000 people coming through the event. And there’s, you know, 3040 50 painters, there are booths or otherwise, and how do I get them to pay attention to me, because I’ve got to stop them in their tracks, like long enough to get them to pay attention, because you know, you’re walking through an art show, and you’re just kind of your eyes are darting around, and then something grabs your attention, and you stop. And you look now at that point, then the point at which they stop and look, you need some kind of an engagement mechanism, what is an engagement mechanism, the goal is you’ve got to get them to go deeper, right, you either want to get them inside your booth, you want to have a chance to talk to him, or you want to figure out how to get them to contact you or to get their email information, there are a lot of different ways you can do that. Now, I used to teach people how to do tradeshow booths, because I was expert at that. And a simple trick is I would put a bowl of wrapped candy, with a little sciences free help yourself. And I put it inside the booth at the back of the booth, but you could see it from the front. And people would walk in, and they take a piece of candy. Now there’s a thing called the law of reciprocity. And it’s kind of like well, now they feel a little obligated to pretend to be interested and you get a chance to talk to him for a minute. And sometimes just that one minute is an opportunity to kind of switch them and get them to think about something or get them interested. So, you know, look for little things like that. Now, how do you get people? How do you stop traffic? Well, in a plein air show, it’s about being different, you know, if everybody else is doing the same kind of painting, what can you do? That’s not the same kind of painting. And so you know, that’s why a lot of the people who are doing more abstract, more colorful, more different approaches at plein air events, like lawn brow or or Laurie Putnam and so on. I don’t think Laurie does those events anymore. But I think the idea is that they really stand out. And so that helps them get attention. So what can you do to stand out another thing, it’s an old gallery trick, but it’s very effective. A galleries know that if you have a great big painting that you see through the window, it really grabs attention, and then draws them in. So can you can you do a great big painting and hang that up? And yeah, you know, the bigger paintings are more expensive, and they may or may not sell. But the idea is you want to draw people to your booth. And so if you have a really great big painting of, of, you know, the town that you’re in, first off, somebody’s probably gonna buy it. But secondly, it’ll draw people in. So use something to draw people in. Now, if you’re at a tent show, you can’t do stuff like this at a plein air event. But if you’re at a tent show, you could have something outside of your tent to grab people’s attention. You know, maybe it’s a giant skeleton was something that dressed in a funny way with a funny sign. Maybe it’s something that people want to get their picture taken in front of for Instagram or Facebook. And you want to make sure that your signage is in there. So it’ll be seen when they’re getting their picture. And that’ll help you virally. But it also, you know, it also gives them your name. And if your paintings are kind of in that picture, and they take a picture and maybe they saw you at the 10th show and they walked on and they don’t remember your name which happens all the time. Now they go through their photos to go oh, there’s Eric Rhoads i That’s the guy that had that painting and you know now they go to your Instagram and now they figure out how to reach you direct message you etc. So there are a lot of techniques about stopping traffic. So look for something to put on your booth. The other thing that’s really a great idea is put you know, I first up I like big signage. That’s above people’s heads that gets people’s attention and get a QR code on there and give them an incentive. Right. So, you know, get my, my free book of all my paintings, just scan this QR code, they scan the QR code, they put their email in, you send them the Book of your paintings automatically, but now you’ve got their email address, so you can mark it to them, they may or may not be interested, there’s a whole chapter on that in my book, where you can kind of go into that kind of thing. Now, once you get their email addresses, there’s, you know, there’s a process and you want to be respectful of them. But you can get it through, you get their email addresses through a QR code, you can get them through a visitor book, which is kind of old school, you can do a drawing, where they can win something painting or you know, a prize or print or something. And the best way for the drawing is just a QR code, you know, when this painting, scan here, and now you’re getting their email address, and you know, you give away a $50 print, it’s not a big deal, and you get their their name and email, if you live in that town, and you’re marketing to that town, it’s always a good thing. But even if you’re, if you’re, you know, looking for a way to get to plein air collectors, you know, throw a QR code with a message in a frame and put it up with your paintings if you’re allowed. And that’s a really good way now, how do I get people to buy if I’m in a live environment? The first thing I want to say is I don’t like manipulation. You know, in the old days, car dealers, they’re manipulative people, I don’t like that. There is training that teaches us some things you can do to engage people. And you know, you’ve got to get them out of their, their, you know, I’m not interested mode. And so it’s not manipulation, it’s engagement. The first thing is never be dishonest, you’ve got to tell the truth all the time. The second thing is always ask questions. If somebody comes up to you and talks to you, for a minute, have three or four questions in your mind that you can ask people, and and just, you know, just to get them to keep them there longer, the more they talk to you the more chance you have of selling them. And you know, because they’re always like, guard up, I’m not interested. And so you just say, you know, hey, do you have? Do you have any original paintings in your house? And they’ll say, Well, no, I never had one. And then you can say, you know, say something about that, and then ask another question, and so on. But you know, some people are intimidated by original paintings. And so you can, you can talk about that a little bit. But it’s you can kind of guide them in, but ask questions. The second thing is, you can look for ways to create what’s called scarcity. And what is called urgency. So scarcity and urgency, like, you know, somebody’s looking at a painting. Now, don’t say this, if it’s not true, but if somebody’s looking at a painting, you can go, you know, you’re the third person today who’s been interested in that painting, you know, a lot of people have said, they might come back, I don’t know if they will or not. But it’s kind of interesting that at something about this painting is really resonating with people, it’s subtle, you don’t have to say you better buy it. Now, you don’t have to say that. They’re like, Oh, maybe if I want this, I better grab it. You don’t have to say anything more, it just want to plant a seed. Or you can say, hey, if you like that, if you want to hold it to make sure nobody else takes it, if you’re while you look through the show, I can take a you know, a $50 deposit or something, and then you can come back for it. But I can only hold it for 30 minutes, because I don’t want to lose the sale. But you know, that might be enough to pull them back, they’re going to at least come back for their money. Another thing you can do is find ways to talk about your credibility or show that people have interest in you. And that is, you know, it’s funny thing about that painting, I painted that painting. And the great art historian John stern came by here the other day and and he said this about the painting now all of a sudden, you’re building the credibility of you and credibility of the painting. And if you look for ways you can build your credibility when you’re having a dialogue with them without being braggy. You know, I you know, I’m modestly you can say, you know, I’m really excited because, you know, plein air magazine just did this article about me. And I think that’s really, you know, it seems like ever since then my paintings have been selling to more collectors, you know, things like that will give you credibility. Now, we all have to, you know, we’re a little uncomfortable with those things. And you have to decide what you’re comfortable with. Again, I don’t want you being false or lying or manipulating. In terms of scarcity, you can make it scarce, you know, a way to make it Scarce is you know, and again, tell the truth, but you can say hey, you know, it’s funny, my wife told me that if this painting doesn’t sell that we’re going to keep it in our personal collections because she thinks it’s one of the best I’ve ever done. Well, that could backfire. They might say, well, you should sell it to your wife, but you might also they might say well, you know, maybe this is good or you might look for other ways to make it scarce. Like you know, I’ve sold all my paintings to this last one. I’ve got this myself. My shows are selling out like crazy. I don’t know what’s going on. Um, but I’m really happy about it. And boom, you know, or I mean, you know, these are the the last two or something. And then you know, look for credibility builders like putting up the ribbons if you want an award or putting up a large copy of an article of you and plein air magazine or something that will help. Anyway, I hope these have been helpful to you. That’s today’s art marketing minute.
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 1:25:30
All right. Well, you guys have been very patient. I hope you have a really terrific day. Get out there keep plein air painting. Join me at the plein air convention is going to be a lot of fun. Join me at watercolor live, that’s going to be a lot of fun. And subscribe to plein air magazine.com, you’ve got to have that, I should mention that. We also have an event coming up that’s called plein air live, which is going to be happening in March. And so we’ll be talking more about that in the future. If you’ve not seen my blog called Sunday coffee, I do it every week. And it’s kind of fun for me to write about things that aren’t always about art, but are kind of the things the lessons I try to teach my kids and, you know, we’ve had, you know, a huge number of people pick it up. last number I heard was something like 150 200,000 people reading it. I don’t know if it’s true. But I don’t know why anybody would want to read my stuff that many people would want to read my stuff, but I’m honored is kind of neat. I’m on daily on Facebook, and it’s called Art School alive. And now a new thing you can do on YouTube. It’s on YouTube and Facebook, you go to YouTube and just put in at Eric Rhoads. It’ll find my channel there. You can also look for art school live. And then you can subscribe on YouTube and hit the notification button. It’ll notify you when I go live. And of course, if you follow me on Facebook on Eric Rhodes publisher, or Eric Rhoads, my personal page, then you’ll get notified when I go live as well. But we’re there every day and we’re interviewing artists and most of those artists are doing demonstrations. And so that’s kind of a good way to learn. It’s kind of like in some ways better than art school because you’re getting you know, a lot of information packed tunes in that short space. You don’t have to wait forever. Okay, that’s a lot going on. I’m Eric Rhoades, publisher of plein air magazine. We thank you for reading it and thank you for your time today. Remember, it is a big world out there. Go paint it. We’ll see you soon. Bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with PleinAir 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.