Plein Air Podcast 234: Ryan Jensen’s Turning Point

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 Ryan Jensen, an inspirational plein air artist who is making an impact in more ways than one.

Listen as they discuss:

– How he was inspired by his artist parents (a graphic designer and an illustrator) and their hard work; after serving in the Military, he took a painting class and went for it
– The importance of a father’s love and influence
– Why you can use comparison to others as fuel for yourself
– How art helped him with PTSD from the war and his addiction to sleeping pills and alcohol; how your strength comes when you ask for help (“It’s okay not to be okay.”), and the turning point he had when looking into his child’s eyes
– His involvement in the plein air community; how it helped him and inspired him to then begin mentoring other artists (“Pick a mentor that will inspire you and think big.”)
– And more

Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, discusses why website traffic might not be as important as you think; and the top art marketing lessons of 2022.

Have a question about how to sell your art? Ask Eric at

Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Ryan Jensen here:


Related Links:
– Ryan Jensen online:
– Plein Air Magazine:
– Watercolor Live:
– Plein Air Convention & Expo:
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram:
– Plein Air Today newsletter:
– Submit Art Marketing 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:
This is episode number 234 with Ryan Jensen.

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 1:06
Thank you Jim Kipping. And welcome to the plein air Podcast. I’m Eric publisher of plein air magazine. Loving being here. I’d like to say Merry Christmas to everybody, even though Christmas has passed. Merry Christmas anyway and Happy New Year. And whatever else you might be celebrating. Congratulations, I guess congratulations are always in order for something right. We have a great guest today. We’re gonna get to him in a second. And he’s just crazy. So you don’t want to miss this. We’re really thrilled. Feedspot which names top podcast named us the number one podcast in the basically painting category Arts category, two years in a row now. So that’s pretty cool. Coming up after the interview, I’m going to be talking about the pros and cons of websites. And I’m going to talk about how to make your next year a successful year. So if you’re listening to this on time, this is your lucky day. All right. And if you’re not well just do it anyway. Just listen to it, change everything and do it anyway. And that’ll be coming up in the marketing minute. You know, you’ve probably got a little Christmas money in your pocket, right? Maybe you got some bills. But if you got a little extra Christmas money, you need a subscription to plein air magazine. If you’re listening to this podcast and you’re interested in in plein air at all. Whether you’re a collector, whether you’re an artist, whether you are an event promoter, plein air magazine is like the foundation of this whole thing and you need it just go to Also, I want to mention to you that we have the plein air convention is coming up and this kind of like Woodstock for artists. Somebody came up with that title years ago. And it’s really fun. Because we’re all out there painting together, we have indoor stages. And we have stages for oil and watercolor and pastel and so on. And some of the top artists in the world will be attending other top artists in the world will be teaching. It’s just a great it’s kind of like a reunion for everybody. It’s a lot of fun. And this year, we’re going to have a celebrity guest because it’s our 10th birthday, a 10th anniversary of the convention. Normally we’d be into a 12 years by now, but we lost a couple during COVID. So anyway, our celebrity guests will soon be announced. We’re just kind of waiting for the right moment to make sure that’s all confirmed. And this is a big time celebrity and everybody’s already trying to guess who it is. I haven’t seen any correct guesses yet. I’ve heard I’ve seen some pretty wild guesses. But nobody’s gonna guess this. And if you are a VIP attendee, VIP attendees can get, you know, special upfront seating and they can get some other perks, some dinners and some some lounges and things like that. But they also get their picture taken with this celebrity, which is going to be pretty cool. I’m kind of looking forward to that myself. Although, you know, I do have a whole pile of celebrity photos I’ll show to some time coming up in January. We have watercolor live, and that’s just around the corner. It’s the end of January last last, I don’t know 15th 18th 20th of January, something like that. Check it out at My guest today is Ryan Jensen. He is a San Francisco born crazy man. He began his career sketching as a child and he never stopped. And he says somewhere deep down he knew that he wanted to be a pro artist one day. And so he we’re going to learn more about that. But at 21 Ryan chose to pursue a career in the US Marine Corps and served eight years and Ryan, thank you for your service, three years in combat to both Iraq and Afghanistan. And he gained what he says is crucial life experiences that helped him see the world through a different lens. And we’re going to talk about that too. He was honorably discharged and returned to school majoring in fine arts and he is on fire. I mean he is everybody is like trying to get Ryan to do their events. You know, when Ryan doesn’t event everybody just kind of lives. He’s like a magnet everybody’s drawn to him. So, Ryan Jensen Welcome to the plein air podcast.

Ryan Jensen 5:24
Thank you. very delighted to be here. I can you hear me, Eric?

Eric Rhoads 5:32
I hear you, Ryan, what’s with the hat?

Ryan Jensen 5:37
I, I started to stiffen up lately, and I was not doing my best work, so to speak. So what I’ve done is I’ve taken the liberty to loosen up a bit and be more like the feather.

Eric Rhoads 5:52
Right. Ryan Ryan is wearing a Beret.

Ryan Jensen 5:58
One thing when you work in a studio like this, I don’t even know if this is a French accent. But we’re going we’re going for it. Yeah, this is good. I’m suffering from an identity crisis. So I brought this in the studio. And everyone thinks I’m in plein air. Everyone thinks I’m going out in play and doing these things on location. But I’m not. Sometimes I come in here and do them too. Because in 100 years, no one cares. That’s the thing. No one cares.

Eric Rhoads 6:26
I don’t think anybody cares.

Ryan Jensen 6:30
They care about the good work. That’s all they care about.

Eric Rhoads 6:32
That’s all they care about. Yeah, this this is a whole discussion. Take the hat off, right. Oh, the reflection is, is killing my eyes. Here we go. Here we go. That’s good. That’s much better. Right and welcome. So I think that’s a great place to start. You know it. The plein air painting has become a sport of sorts. You know, there’s a massive amount of people. It’s a big following that’s happening. And it’s a lot of fun to get outdoors and paint. And of course there are benefits to getting outdoors and painting. But as you say, at the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re doing a good painting. Let’s talk about that.

Ryan Jensen 7:16
Right well, it’s exactly like you said, and my mentor Jiminy Cricket told me this. We’re talking about plein air and he says, you know, 100 years. You know? No one’s really gonna know. You know, it’s so easy to get lost in. Is it plein air or is it not? Is plein air style? Like what is plein air and and for me it’s direct observation is connecting with the subject and to stand there at the easel to really seek that truth. Not only do the fun, happy accidents happen like the drips in the end just the spontaneity of being present with the moment but what plein air does, you meet people out there too. So in a sense, it’s almost dangerous to stay in the studio too long because there’s so many benefits from being outdoors painting on location, but it’s really easy to get lost in what is plein air and what isn’t it for me in the open air while I’m in the open air in my studio, and here I’m painting from like to

Eric Rhoads 8:23
have the window open.

Ryan Jensen 8:27
If I keep it if I keep this window open right here, you’re gonna hear some I’m in downtown Eureka here. Sometimes people walk by this window and we have to blur out some things they say down here. So but anyway, for me plein air is is. Yes, like you said it’s an extreme sport of sorts, but I’m just, I’m all about painting from life. I want to see color. I want to see reflected light. I want to see things and just find that truth in the subject. Every time

Eric Rhoads 9:00
you’re painting. You’re painting some really big paintings. I assume you’re painting a lot of those big ones on location.

Ryan Jensen 9:09
Right? Yeah. Yeah, that one right there. That one was when Borrego Springs so down. And

Eric Rhoads 9:20
so the people who are listening, the people who are listening might not where you can’t see what he’s referring to because there’s a video version of the podcasts and so he is not able you can’t see it. You can tune into the video version later. But anyway, he’s referring to some some images and some big paintings that were on the screen. Ryan, let’s let’s kind of go back to the beginning of all of this. You said you were sketching as a kid. When did you actually become serious about becoming a professional artist was that daring before after the military

Ryan Jensen 10:00
So I had recently got out of the Marines and I was going back to school, I was using the GI Bill. And I was amazed you’re gonna business class wasn’t an astronomy class. It’s a sixth class. And one semester, they put me into a painting class. So, here I am, was one of my electives. And I’m in that painting class, and I am just coming back alive. I’ve always been an artist, right? I’ve always drew but that color problem, I was always intimidated by color. And I just that just the thought of like, you know, I was pretty talented as a kid. But I watched my parents really go through it, they really suffered. Like, we didn’t have a lot, you know, and, but they were successful artists. They, my mom was a graphic designer, my dad was an illustrator. And my dad was an illustrator in Silicon Valley. And he eventually moved up and got this job doing computer WarGames with the artwork with these computer wargames. And I watched how hard to get to work. And countless hours, my mom and dad had to be in that studio. Up All Night, my dad was was driving me to school in the morning, from the sleepless nights, the airbrush all the paint on his hand, still talking to me about warm and cool, like showing me talking that the countless conversations about like my dad wouldn’t have with me, and my mom always helping me with book reports, making sure like, we just, she was so creative as a graphic designer. And I watched that, and I think that there was a big part of them that saw my potential. But I think they wanted something else for me,

Eric Rhoads 12:02
right, I was gonna ask that they try to discourage you from making a living as an artist. Yeah,

Ryan Jensen 12:07
a little bit. I would later find that after my dad passed 60 years ago, my mom said something to me, she said, your father, he said that if he can only just commit and be more disciplined with his work and have that work ethic in his hand, just be so steadfast, and where he would just not quit, and he put his mind to it, he would be unstoppable. She said that to me, all right after his funeral, and I literally went to his studio, and I picked up his brushes. And I remember, I put them in my pocket. And I just picked up a little palette, sitting there all organized next to him self portrait, and I just when she said that to me. I just changed I went back to school, to that to that painting class. And very quickly, everything switched for me. I felt like I had this massive obligation to fulfill like this legacy, so to speak, like my dad was just I just chatting with my dad, like, I was like, I needed to connect, I’m gonna get emotional, but like, I just needed to connect with him. Like in that way like I just I was super sad that he was God. And but he didn’t have to be you know, so I just, I would take those brushes off. I went to the store and I bought it years old. And I just went and painted obsessively all all year, every single day on the way to school in the mornings. And on the way back from school and very quickly schools getting in the way of my painting. Everything just switched three paths just I never quit after that, you know I just once I heard that and so it’s just a way for me to connect with my dad. You know when I go to these plein air events when I went when when things are heavy for me, when I’m going through stress when maybe sales aren’t going well. Right and especially in my earlier part of my career. Where does little necklace thing was bothering so I’m gonna get to Susana BIA, but I mean, I’m serious. There’s a serious, like a father’s love and a father’s like guidance and so important. He taught me so much. And so I read this book in college. The outliers are outliers from Malcolm Gladwell. And here I am in the stats class with all these really smart kids great with math and they’re getting these concepts that these teachers are talking about. They’re going right over my head, and I’m just having these moments where I’m like, here I am with all these kids in this class, and they’re all understand they’re all doing great and I’m just struggling to understand what is this T Just talking about, you know, so I read this book, though, and it talked about that 10,000 Hour Rule. And I realized very quickly why I have 10,000 hours in something. And that’s drawing. So I took that drawing, and all the time I had built. And while you’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people in life, I was comparing myself to like, I will This is kind of like my I thought as my competition I was, I was stressed out the Marines now, right? So I had this new start, and wife start over was something like, maybe this is an opportunity. Maybe this is a time for me to go off to revision here. I mean, maybe that’s what life’s about. I learned that and I learned how small I was in the astronomy class, just down the hall. Like I learned about the universe, and all that stuff. This is mind blowing topics. And then business class I was in all, you know, like, there’s a silver lining to school, like the overall concept, what are we there for, to learn education or to learn, like, perhaps like, there’s an opportunity to live more of a purpose driven life here. So I took that, and I ran with it, and I never turned back and I, all the 10,000 hours would not go to waste and decided that right there could hear my heart right, I just so I suggest anyone, anyone listening to this, anyone struggling, to have more confidence to have more. Like I know all about that, I it’s all about that mindset of commitment, when you set your mind to it know that there’s going to be lows, there’s going to be times, as you know, especially in the early part of your your career as artists who are going to doubt yourself, you’re gonna be surrounded by your self imposed ceilings, your limiting beliefs on what you can do. But if you can make it non negotiable, you could put the easel right, put an easel in your car, put it in your truck, and just decide you’re gonna go paint every day no matter what. You’re never going to be satisfied with your work. I never was I never am, really. But all that matters is those hours, those brush hours that you accumulate over time. All right, while you’re manifesting this vision, you’re going to do it, you’re going to put faith in something like, like, for me, it’s, you know, my dad, like always kind of feel like he’s looking out for me. And I like I can, you know, and, of course, there’s a bunch of other tricks, right? But just overall, lining with your vision, just knowing that, you know, if you really want this, well, that will become a need for you, you’ll turn that into any, you will go burn all bridges behind, you know, there’s no option B anymore, you’re just gonna go be an artist. And the process, right, there’s no arriving. Just the process.

Eric Rhoads 17:32
I think I think that’s a very good observation. And the idea behind just showing up for work every day, even if you don’t feel like it that that discipline alone, you know, who was it that said, half of life or 80% of life is just showing up? Because a lot of people don’t. And if you just get that discipline down, you mentioned one other thing I just learned something I thought was a very interesting observation. We tend to compare ourselves to others. But if you really want to flip your mindset, compare others to you. In other words, rather than looking up at all these others and saying, how do I, how do I stack up against them? Ask yourself, how do they stack up against me? And it flips your mindset?

Ryan Jensen 18:20
Totally, no, I like that.

Eric Rhoads 18:23
So go ahead.

Ryan Jensen 18:30
I actually never heard that one before. I like that. I just, I feel like in a game where you’re trying to be in the leader of your life. Now you’re, you’re moving forward, all of a sudden, there’s that it’s just you and you and your brushes, right? There’s no one else around, people are gonna, you know, there’s no, there’s no certainty you, Patti. So you get this like, kind of leadership lonely, right? You’re up there, and everything’s uncertain. Now. All you have to do here is compare yourself to who you were the day before. That’s it. And, and if you’re making progress, I said the progress over the perfection, you’re, of course, you’re not gonna like your work. Of course, you’re, you know, they’re all going to be doing better than you. That mindset, it’s just take all of that and just use it as fuel, stick it in your tank and keep going. Period. And that can be a very scary, very intimidating place for a lot of people to be because right here, it’s just there’s gonna be times where I mean, overwhelming circumstances are coming at you. We’re here we have the joy of painting, flow state, getting in tune with the subject when they’re standing the easel. I got these headphones, I can listen to music, but oftentimes when you’re in pure flow state, it’s just beautiful. I mean, there’s moments and and I think plein air is just a word I just am painting in and capturing the subject and seeing things and finding truth in a moment that you didn’t know why you’re painting it but you’re trying to find like a cool Once you’re gonna ask, what’s the point? What’s the point of painting? What am I doing? This is a 12 by 16. It’s two dimensional surface here. And what I am not when I’m painting is I’m not depressed. I’m not living in the past. I’m not anxious. I’m not living in the future. Right? I’m in pure now. And it’s, that’s what plein air is for this just as hard to get that. Well, looking at one of these photos here doing the studio, I can do it. But there’s nothing that beats sitting on a tailgate out there, I just set up the easel right, they’re gonna get into work. And it’s just part of a meditation. Now here this though, so when I’m out there working very hard. And it’s been a long time I remember this in the early part of my career, especially, you know, you’re on your way, you know, you’re doing well, when it’s now it’s time to force yourself to take a break a lot of people because the other way around, we get we have to force himself to go pain or fun. No, it’s got to be the other way. Take that that time and take that initiative to be like, it’s okay to stop. Be that upset, I’m serious, you’ll get very good very quickly, you will be up two o’clock in the morning kind of obsession where you’re watching Monet painting slideshows on YouTube. I just just like, you’ll notice the

Eric Rhoads 21:24

Ryan Jensen 21:26
It’s it’s a complete transformation of, Wow, what I was doing, I was inspiring myself, I was seeing, not my neighbor, his broken color and all his beautiful brushstroke. I was seeing him seeing him for his struggles. I’ll see in the failed papers. He never wanted anyone to see. Of course, someone goes in and they are done with those moaning struggle, right, gots he struggled. So but he just never stopped. He was obsessed. And so I tapped into that, right? I’m not obsessed more. And now, when you’re focusing that hard on something, right, whatever, maybe there was ego involved, right? I wanted to, I wanted to be someone amongst my peers, I wanted to be recognized. So with that certain amount of ego and I wanted, ultimately, I’m trying to feed my family, I’m trying to get these paintings sold. Very, very difficult. Luckily, we have things like social media, where you can post it, like your resume to the world. And, but I lost focus on me. You know, I lost focus on who I was, I was so cool. I mean, I was observing Eric Right, I was looking, I was seeing warmth, a cool color contrast design, to the discrepancy looking at, you know, all kinds of ways to see better, because I’ll, I’ll paint, there’s the there’s painting. And then there’s observer. Like there’s, there’s, it’s just mostly observed, you have to be able to see as a painter, and that, for me, it just took away from certain parts of my, my brain, which was like self care right now. So I’m not taking care of myself, I’m not, I’m stopping and Jack in the Box. I’m not, like, I’m just my dad suffering from this, my dad, you know, overweight and ran through his problems like that, like he was so focused on on getting awards as an illustrator. Right. And I just, I was becoming my dad in a way where it was all about art. That’s how I validated myself and started getting, I don’t know how until one, I’m just gonna tell you my story. I don’t know how in depth we want to get here. But

Eric Rhoads 23:42
well, let’s, let’s let’s go ahead and start. You know, one of the things I wanted to talk about is your service, by the way, thank you for that. But the idea that you told me one time that I think you told me this that that art really helped you overcome your PTSD from the war. Not true.

Ryan Jensen 24:02
That flow state Yeah, that that direct observation. So it turns out with PTSD, what I had to learn is, is no, get rid of it, it’s gonna stay there. It’s always gonna be there. Good luck ever, you know, thinking you’re cured, but you can prolong the amount of time between you get these episodes

Eric Rhoads 24:22
help us understand it for somebody who has not been through this. Help us understand what what you go through. What what happens when you get these incidents. Can you say you’re willing?

Ryan Jensen 24:37
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s what I Where do I start? So first of all, you understand that to something like self realization, right, reflecting and being able to practice that self awareness. That humility, that’s gonna happen in that moment was just like, I don’t I don’t it’s okay not to be okay. And a lot of a lot of guys, especially we, man, we got to be tough. And there’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of a problem. I don’t know I’m not okay. That’s okay. And your strength, your superpower will come in the moments where you realize I need help. And I don’t necessarily know where to go for help. Well, luckily, I like the VA, you know, I like there’s a bunch of resources there. So like, luckily, I had to go through some really hard times with alcoholism, with just kind of addicted to sleeping pills on deployment just to help me get to sleep. And I started to get kind of high up on deployment, I got home and you might just got pressure between in between missions, you know, I got back and I just I wasn’t drinking at the time, but I got addicted to those damn pills, those they’re just regular sleeping pills. You can get over like any write a coffee, I got them in Afghanistan at Camp Leatherneck. And I started taking them to help me sleep. They started increasing. And that’s where my relapse happened. Because I was sober in the Marines, I was very good Marine. But over time, the pill got more and more I got back. And boy did I fall off. Here I was I got married. I I just was out. Now. I was like, I didn’t have PTSD, right? I was fine. The second you leave your brothers, the second you leave that kind of camaraderie in there. And all that accountability, like you can have a bunch of guys went through a bunch of issues, but when you got them to that togetherness, right? Well, you got togetherness you got you got that? Once you’re alone, you’re staring at a, you know, you’re a little baby, your wife and like it’s real. It’s really easy to start feeling it, there’s no one to relate to anymore. You’re all alone. And I mean, stack a bunch of like, like I was purposeful about I was living a purpose driven life there. Now I’m suffering. And I don’t know how to what to do. So very quickly. I was just drinking so much, and it creeps up on you. And so I highly suggest if anyone is thinking that you need to be tough, and there’s something wrong with you. Realize, all you got to do is reach out everyone loves you. People want to help you genuinely people and like they’d love you. Like they’re going to want to help you. They just don’t know. So you because you’re holding on, you’re guarded. I had to get unguarded and that was the biggest part of my growth, going to treatment getting help. And that work. That work, you got to put it I had to put it on myself.

Eric Rhoads 27:55
Now, what was there? What What was the turning point? What when you were in treatment? What was the aha moment that that you think really helped you turn it around?

Ryan Jensen 28:07
Gosh, I have aha moments every day.

Eric Rhoads 28:11
I’m only talking about that one. But

Ryan Jensen 28:23
you get these aha moments when you look deep into your kid’s eyes. And what an innocent little thing this is this little you’re still human here and that you really look in that, that I have that child and you’re like, Dude, I gotta I gotta like, this is not about me anymore. You know? So what I have to do is become completely selfish and selfless at this point. Don’t and I might as well practice a little bit of faith in something that could help me because my designer is not working. What I’m doing isn’t the answer. I know that now. Like I’m a history buff, right? Like I know that. I don’t have to you know, keep doing that. So that means absolute humility, just the TriStar mouth go get help get counselors do everything I can and I completely change I would take you know some more pain from like, you know, my wife having to separate and take those kids for a little while and I’m starting to get real here but the goal here well why I’m telling you this is because I realized very quickly that I wasn’t alone and possibly this could help someone watching this video to know that this could give you strength because when she let more pain came I hear I’m in this house by myself and I had to look in that mirror. I mean know what’s happening at this point now it’s just about like stayin alive, right? So now you get you get real oriented on. Okay, either there’s two options. I’m gonna go, go or I’m going to go do burpees on my porch We’re gonna do pushups, I’m gonna start eating healthy. Because when life gets real bad, all of a sudden, you realize real quick, like, what you can control. And what you can control is what you put in your body and how hard you know. You want to practice your self care, your training. That’s it. That’s all you can control.

Eric Rhoads 30:17
So you that got pretty heavy.

Ryan Jensen 30:20
Oh, yeah. Yeah, to fit 270 pounds overweight, and

Eric Rhoads 30:28
270 Hoefer weigh

Ryan Jensen 30:31
270 pounds? Oh, no, it’s 270 pounds. And but I lost that, you know, I got gotten down to 200 pounds in 105 days, on just strict military like mindset, like, I’m gonna get my family back. And we’re gonna, like, just to dead set like. And when we got back in the house, and I realized, like, I just had to change, you know, so I can’t it’s even hard to be talking about this, really, I haven’t really opened up a lot of this. But I just want to let anyone know that like, if you are suffering, and you’re going through a hard time, there’s hope. And through my journey, I realized like, once I got fit, once I got back to that, like, like, more fit than I ever was on this mindset, just like practicing faith in a higher power, you know, and just, like helped me that humility and grace, I had empathy towards other guys, I realized I wasn’t alone. So I would go start chats during COVID. And I got other guys to their goal, put them on my program, what I did, how I did it, and I got all of them down and weighed two. And that felt amazing. I started painting again. And it just opened up a lot of growth for me a lot of a lot of spirituality in my life where I just, I practice, you know, I haven’t like there’s hope. Oh, great, you know, I guess. But then there’s fake. So when to hope goes away, you still get a choice or you can practice faith right here. That’s what I had to do. And

Eric Rhoads 32:04
so you mentioned the one you left the war zone and you had your unit that you were no longer part of that unit and you felt lost as the community in the in the plein air world and the artist world kind of replaced them. Because that you know, there is such a community. I mean, we all know each other we all spend time together when we go to these events and sometimes locally if we have people that we can hang out with in pain has that had an impact on you? Oh, I

Ryan Jensen 32:35
don’t like artists at all. I hate it. I hate it. No. I absolutely. Like I’m so glad you brought that up because there’s been some of the most real conversations some of the most real relationships. Like it’s so cool to go from being just a warrior you know, type and now to just transition into being an artist where like it’s wild like I love artists you know, that’s who I am I’m also this other like so

well there’s so many people watching this right now that are just my tribe. And they know I’ve had these conversations, you know, and like we’re fragile creatures, you know, we got feelings like we got we got We’re normal people we got we’re afraid but we have this deeper calling to go pain and it just we all can live on that we all can we have that in common. And so right away like the plein air convention where I was just awesome, by the way last year we just instantly have gone and so I wanted more of that. So recently I just started mentoring artists. I just I’m like that and so when I get this calling yeah and just get this idea in my head where I started mentoring artists and put them in a shop I work with. Same way my mentor Jimmy picker work with me. I love my mentor Jim he just

Eric Rhoads 34:05
I can almost the best. I should mention that you for those who won’t be able to mentor with you personally we have we have a couple of videos coming out in the future. Stay tuned we’ll talk about them in the future. But I think the you know, one of the things I like about you is you have no fear or if you have fear you don’t show it. And you know you’re willing to take chances we put you up on stage at the plein air convention with some other crazy people and and you just you know you were bold and you took action and you had fun. But I think that what I also think is pretty cool is you’re kind of and I don’t mean this to be an insult but you’re kind of a poster boy for you know the fact that you’re a man’s man. I mean you know you’re You’re a tough guy that you know you spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq military, your body builder you know you’re a man Hands, man. And at the same time, you’re an artist. And I think that helps overcome that some of the stereotypes that people have held over the years that, you know, you have to be a certain type of person to be an artist, and I liked the fact that, that you overcome that. And I also liked the fact that, you know, you’re a young guy, and we need to bring more younger people into plein air painting. And of course, there are a lot of them out there. And we just need to get them all, you know, engaged and involved because they can learn so much from from everybody not, you know, they can hang out with younger people, they can hang out with older people who can teach them a lot of things. You know, there’s, there’s just a need to really draw those people in. Because this plein air community has to survive. You know, it had died, it was going nowhere. Some things happen, that that revitalized that rekindled it. And now there’s more people painting plein air than ever in history. And as John Stern says that it’s the largest movement in the art in art history. And so we rely on people like you to make sure that when people like me are gone, that you’re you know, you’re you’re continuing to wave the flag and bring people in and get people excited about this.

Ryan Jensen 36:23
First of all, thank you, you know, thank you for keeping this table. You give it up, you get a Paul Therap I mean it like when I see you saw your magazine as a as a kid. Right? My parents, we had the magazine, and I would look at their in that magazine constantly. And I just got it, you know, oh, look at my dad’s work, I would look at Impressionism and painting. Like, it was intimidating. For me. When I looked at the magazine, I was like, Oh, I can never do this, like this is just too good. I imagined amount of work I’d have to do to ever be at that level. Like if I could only ever even like, pay close to that. And so it’s just wild. What can transpire over time, if you put in those rush hours, who knows? Maybe you can get, you know, in that magazine one day, right? So I urge you, maybe

Eric Rhoads 37:09
that’ll happen someday.

Ryan Jensen 37:12
I urge any artists right now. Get plein air magazine, get the subscription. And look at every single page where it shows, especially my ads in the back page, okay? Look at that magazine. And just let it let it soak in it like I was, I was a scared little kid would never make it as the artist. Never know, that was not gonna be me. Like, they’re all really good. But guess what? I don’t see a lot of those artists in there that I saw a kid that did not in there anymore. Now it’s a new cruise. So if you put in the time, right, you’re going to get better, you’re going to get better. And eventually if you don’t quit, you’re going to be in that magazine. You just don’t have that mindset. What you got to do is get a mentor, what you got to do is get my video when it comes out. I’ve talked about everything in there. The mentor, though, pick a mentor that you trust, pick a mentor that inspires you, your inspiration will be your fuel source. So it’s on you to practice that self reflection. Like why do I not feel like painting today? It’s because I didn’t look at a Monet or it’s because I didn’t go to the St. Louis Art Museum, or it’s because I didn’t do this and get inspired. All right. There’s so many ways to trick yourself into being inspired. I think it’s gone with that.

Eric Rhoads 38:23
Yeah, go ahead.

Ryan Jensen 38:27
I got a little bit last year, but I just think that anyone I’ve just seen it. Like I’m seeing it with the students I’m working with right now I’m seeing it with so many people. And you can get better at painting. You can it’s it’s it’s not this big like, like difficult opposite. It’s difficult, but like it’s just an obstacle. And once you see it as like, oh, like I can do it. Like I just got to show up every day. A lot of people mess that part up, they stop showing up and then you show up everyday suffer through the pain of a few bad paintings here and there. And I want to also say to Eric, I’m this tough. I you know, a lot of people see me as a tough guy. I am a teddy bear. I’m a scaredy cat i i am so fearful. I realized that and here’s the deal about fear though. Fear is necessary fear. You’re supposed to. You’re supposed to be afraid, but it exists without fear. So if I’m going to let fear dictate my decisions if I’m going to operate from feelings, right, like amateurs operate from feelings, pros operate from consistency, so I’m going to show up no matter what that easel. I’m going to make it in plein air magazine. But not just that, you know, I’m going to get on the cover of plein air magazine or not just that I’m going to be in an art museum one day or not just that I’m going to make a million dollars paint selling paintings just to think big. Think so. We’re big, that way. Like you’re trying to shoot a ball right and trying to hit your target aim high. And maybe you’ll get into plein air magazine raise, that’s your goal.

Eric Rhoads 40:08
So how do you overcome that? That part of your head that, you know, when you say I want to make a million dollars as a painter, that little voice in the back of your head that saying, Yeah, but you’re really never going to do that? How do you overcome that?

Ryan Jensen 40:26
It’s good question. So with that fear, comes responsibility. So what I did is I ended up taking that all the way to standing in front of the clock every day at 4am. And training. So I trained my body, I realized that that fear is very real, my insecurities are real. I still care about what people think about me. And what really matters is what I feel about myself. And, and, and to help people to be of service in some way. So this year, I started to feel, you know, like, now’s my time I got this, I got more calling in my life. And I trained a lot of people in my fitness app, I get great results from from them. It turns out, that takes being up very early in the morning. And my coach is up every single day. And by 6am, every day, after my workout, all the muscle groups rotate and my frequency is raised. I’m feeling better. I’m feeling confident, I’m presenting myself to the world as my best self. I’m not projecting on people anymore. guy like me, you got to work hard to self work, right? Because once projecting now I’m just reflecting, I might be the best me. I feel confident in me. Now the way I like my frequency, the way I feel, is how I see the world to now. So it’s the massive game of observation. But first, before we see our subject, we have to be able to see ourselves and self reflect. It’s so important. And I’m so glad I got to that place of life because I was really not doing that right for a long time, you know?

Eric Rhoads 42:05
Well, I think that that’s fascinating. I would love to like to learn more about your app. How do we learn about that? And how do we learn how to work out if, even though that’s not directly related to plein air painting, I think a lot of us want it.

Ryan Jensen 42:20
Yeah. Watch this with my dad, Dad was a phenomenal painter. I believe it’s our job to try to, you know, learn from our parents learn, learn, learn, but surpass, surpass or mentor surpass our coaches. They would love that. That’s that’s how you honor the best. So it’s not all about our true art is love, like love. And if we know that, like the soul origin of all things, just just pure love, like the divinity of who we are, and acceptance, helping people. It took me a long, long amount of suffering to get to that. But there’s, like times get really hard out there for a lot of people and the people reaching out to me, like I am so honored and blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many people and seeing them change seem to get better. Because depression is very real. All it is, is living in the past anxieties living in the future. None of that, like just plan for your future, have a long view have goals have ambition have drive. But have right now, like be grateful for right now. Because you’re my problems, I think I had that they’re so great compared to what like if I stubbed my toe compared to someone on the other side of the world starving, you know, my toe stops hurting. This makes me a very good artist if I can do this, because suddenly I realize it’s not about how good my work is. You know, it’s how much hard I can put into it. And I mean, you guys, like if there’s anyone going through a hard time know that if I can get through all that hard time in my life and eventually realize, like, I’m actually grateful for it, because it built me into who I am. Let this message resonate with you to like, you can do it, you can do it. It’s not gonna be all that you do to to do this, it’s gonna be what you don’t do to get to where you want to be. That’s the hard part. Like anyone can say, I want to fill up my car. Yeah, because I can love people when my cup is full, but you got to have a clean cup. You got to have this this cup like like a good cup, you know? Hope that makes sense. I know that.

Eric Rhoads 44:36
It’s It’s terrific. And I think you’re looking at at, you know, a great way to interpret this as it’s about the whole it’s not just about the process. It’s about who you are. It’s about overcoming your issues about overcoming your depression, overcoming health issues, etc. It’s it’s the whole thing. Ryan, we’ve come to an end we’ve run out of time. This is so good. We’ll have to have you back again. And, but congratulations on your success. It’s really fun watching you. Thank you for participating in the plein air convention. Thank you for inspiring us. I see a lot of great things coming for you.

Ryan Jensen 45:16
Eric, I appreciate you so much. Thanks for keeping this movement a lot. And I mean,

Eric Rhoads 45:20
well, somebody’s got to do it. You got to do it too. All right, man. Thank you so much. All right. Well, that was Ryan Jensen. What a very deep, deep thinker and a really terrific so why don’t we get into the marketing minute now.

Announcer 45:37
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 45:49
The marketing minute I try to answer your art marketing questions. Sometimes I fail. We’ll see what happens today. You can upload a video question to art Or you can email me [email protected] Amandine, my producer is on it. She is gathering questions and she’s going to tell us what today’s question is.

Amandine 46:10
So the first question today is from Rick Pearson from Jacksonville, Florida. I have kept a website for years. But other than traffic, I deter it from my own social media and email, it gains very little traffic, how can I create interest and raise the level?

Eric Rhoads 46:31
Thank you for that, Rick, you know, so this is? It’s a similar question. This woman came to me. And she said, I want a website. I said, Okay. And she said, I said why? And she said, because I know that if I build a website, you know, the world’s gonna be the path to my door, I’m gonna get rich, I’m going to sell lots of paintings. And you’re going to sell lots of workshops and everything else. And I said, Okay. Do you think that’s going to work? She said, Yeah, I do. I think it’s going to work. So she builds her website, she calls me six months later, and she said, I haven’t really had any visitors. What am I doing wrong? And I said, what you’re doing wrong is you’re assuming that a website is a marketing tactic. And it’s kind of like having a website is kind of like being listed in the phonebook. Anybody remember phone books, you know, there, there are some, some ridiculous number like 190 200,000 new websites every single day, you know, there are billions of websites, and to think that somebody’s going to discover you, and come to your page and spend money. It’s just it’s folly. And so what you have to do is you have to, you have to drive the discovery, you have to have a very specific purpose. Now, you mentioned that, you know, other than social media and email, I gained very little traffic. So this this case, Rick Peterson from Jacksonville is using email, probably sending out a newsletter or something like that using social media to drive traffic, but it’s not driving enough traffic. Or, and the reality is, I mean, if you back this up a little bit further, when how many people do you really need? How many visitors? Do you really need? Do you need 100,000? Do you need a million? Do you need 10 million? It kind of goes back to how many followers do you need on social media? You know, the reality is if most artists who are active and generating paintings are not generating a whole heck of a lot of paintings, and if you want to sell let’s say your number is 50 paintings a year? How many people do you really need? You need 50? People actually, you probably need 25 people, you just got to sell two paintings, each one of them. So you got to think a little bit differently about this. Rick, I think that I have a gut feeling that this concept of websites is going to change pretty considerably. Because the reality is you need to be where the traffic is. And the traffic is not on your website. So where can you be where the traffic is? Well, there, there are lots of options for you there are there people who sell art online and you can become part of an art online community and sell your work there. A really great example of that is Etsy. Etsy is a site for crafts people. Amazon also has a craft site where you can put your craft, in your case your paintings, or photography, or whatever it is on those sites. And you might have a chance of getting discovered a little easier in there. Because you know, somebody might search a term that will pop up one of your paintings in the search, or you have the opportunity in some case is if you want to put a little money after you can kind of stimulate how you can get featured on a page or how you can show up a little faster and so on. But you know, the reality is, is if you want to drive traffic, you have to be willing to spend money. Now you can do it organically. But you said you’re doing it on your on your social media, and you’re not getting a lot of traffic. And that’s an issue. Now, a lot of us have social media followers, who are our own tribe, not the people that you want to sell paintings to. And so you might want to start there by saying, Okay, how can I make my social media more about the people, I want to sell paintings to how do I get art collectors there? To my, to my site? And then what else can I do to drive them there? You know, so how do I drive people I drive people. First off, I use everything, you know, it used to be, there was a single channel for marketing. Today, there’s 100 channels for marketing. And, and there are channels within channels, for instance, magazine advertising, which may seem old school is still working very effectively, because there are people who like to have that tactile paper in their hands and the images and, and they’ll rip pages out and hand them to their assistant and say, Hey, call and find out how much this painting is, you know, really, really rich people think like that. And you want to be in an environment where you can get to the people who are likely to buy your paintings and doesn’t necessarily have to be really, really rich people. You know, my magazine Fine Art kind of service, you know, like three 400 billionaires and a lot of upper one percenters and really, really rich people who read it. And I had I had an incident where somebody said to me, Well, you know, I’ve advertised in there, and I’m not selling, and I looked at their ads, and I looked at their website, and I said, Well, you’re too cheap. And they said, Well, how could that be? And I said, well, because people with money want something that is not cheap. And so I recommended actually considering raising his prices. I don’t know if he did or not. But you know, I always tell this story about this art show. I’ve told it 1000 times probably told it here. But this guy at the plein air convention told me the story said he was at an art show, lady came up to the booth said I’d like to buy that painting. She said, How much is it? He says it’s for $4,000? She writes, she said I’ll take it, she writes a check handsome a check for $40,000. He says, oh, ma’am. It’s not 40,000, it’s 4000. And she said, Oh, it must not be very good. And she ripped up the check and left. So you’ve got to understand how people think. And just because you think a particular way doesn’t mean that’s how your buyers think. So you’ve got to ask yourself, How do I drive them their ads, social media, et cetera. But the real real issue is, everybody is focused on selling a painting. And I think that’s the wrong focus. You see, selling a painting isn’t necessarily what it’s all about. It’s, it’s ultimately where you want to be. But what you want to do is sell a painting at a higher price, you want to get your prices up, you want to get to a point where collectors are collecting you buying multiple pieces of work. And the way to do that is through branding. I’ll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. But I think the idea is you want to be capturing names, you want to be contacting those names with, with some, you know, some newsletters, and there’s a whole different way to do that. You know, most people do newsletters wrong. I talked a little bit about that in my book. But the idea is, if you want to drive traffic, follow what the big boys do. And the big boys spend money to drive traffic. And they do it in a lot of ways. Sometimes it’s social media advertising, sometimes it’s traditional advertising, sometimes it’s direct mail. You know, there’s a lot of different things don’t poopoo the old things just because, you know, they’re not cool and modern, because they still work. And those things can be very effective for you on Monday. And our next question.

Amandine 54:17
I actually have a question for you. We are now one day away from the end of 2022. And I think it’s a good time to look back at the year and remember what we accomplished and learned. So share with us the marketing lesson that helped you the most in 2022.

Eric Rhoads 54:36
Well, I’m not sure I could tell you a specific marketing thing that I learned and 22 I I study like a madman I read everything. I’m a member of some mastermind groups. I you know, I buy courses I am obsessed with learning, because everything changed me Everything changed. After COVID, the way people buy today is different than the way they bought two years ago. And everything is always changing. So you got to stay up on the changes, and it’s hard to stay up on top of it. And, you know, I probably spend at least a couple hours every single day trying to stay on top of this stuff, because I teach it, I got to make sure that I know it. But you know, it always boils down to the basics always has even the things that are changing boiled down to the basics. What I do, and what I would recommend for most people to do is, is you’ve got to make a plan for 2023. In this particular case, it’s kind of late, right? Because you’ve got to make a plan, then you got to implement the plan. And I usually try to, you know, make my plan in the early fall, usually September, and I plan out my whole year, my company, all the things that we’re going to do, and and we have meetings, and you know, we do all that kind of stuff, then. But you know, it’s the second best time is now right? So what you want to do is sit down and I recommend go into a quiet room with a pad of paper, and just sit down and dreams start with a dream. And start with asking yourself, what do I want out of my life? What do I want my life to look like in 2023 2425? You know, be thinking a few years in advance? And what do I don’t want? What do I not want to do? Because that’s important? What do I want to do more of one of the things I love doing, what do I need? What are my my financial needs? What are my family needs? You know, what, what are you dreaming about having? You know, is it something you want to have build a new studio or build a house or own a house or, you know, whatever it might be? And so you start out by you lay all that stuff out, you get it all on paper, and then you go through and you say, Okay, let’s come up with a priority, what is the most important one thing on this list? That if I if I managed to do this one thing, then I will be further along. So you figure out what that one thing is. And then you say to yourself, Okay, I have the one thing now I gotta build a plan. So I you know, I usually have two or three things, but one thing makes up 80%. Right? So what is the one thing that makes up 80%? That’s going to move the needle the most in my life? And then you say, Okay, what do I need to do to get there? Now? If it’s financial, then you say, Okay, well, the number is $100,000, or 500,000, or whatever your number is. Now you say, Okay, how much is that a month? I just wrote an article that’s going to be in the OPA newsletter, maybe it’s been there already about this, but you know, you start looking at your your needs, what do I have to have in order to hit this goal? What do I need? On top of what I have to have? How many paintings do I have to sell in an average year to get there? And how do I get that many paintings sold? And then you know, it’s a process of, alright, if I’m selling two to a month now and I need to sell for a month, I’m doubling my business, how do I do that. And so you go through this entire process of thinking through it, and you’re going to be thinking about your advertising your social media strategy, your tactics. But first off, you think about things like your branding, because as I mentioned earlier, you know, branding is really, really, really critical. Because branding, puts you on the top 10 list, or the top five list or the top two lists. You see, here’s what happens. Let’s say that somebody decides to leave me a big amount of money. I don’t know what a big amount of money is. But let’s say it’s a big amount of money. And I say to myself, you know, I have enough money. There’s an artist that I’ve always wanted to own. And who is that artists now, in my particular case, I can tell you right off the top, if I had enough money, I would buy John Singer Sargent and I would buy Edgar Payne and I’d buy Joaquin, Surya and Zorn, you know, those kinds of things, if they could be bought, you’d have to have a whole lot of money to get some of those. Well, the other thing is, how do I get on the, you know, of the contemporary artists, everybody out there? If I if I say, Who do you think of is the top landscape artists in America that you would want to own? I think a lot of people would say Clyde, ASP IVIG maybe they’d say Scott Christiansen, there might be some other names, but there’s a couple that float to the top. Now, that doesn’t happen by accident. Now, it does happen by longevity. But it’s not just longevity because there are artists who’ve been out there longer than these people have, that nobody has ever heard of. So they’re very, very smart. people and they’re very smart about keeping their names visible, you know, and finding ways that they can be, they can highly visible and build their brands. So, you know, you say, Okay, well, okay, who’s number three on that list? Is it? You know, is it George Carlson? Is it T. Allen Lawson, is it? You know, I mean, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of big names that come to mind. You’ve got to figure out how do I insert myself into that list. And the way to do that is branding. Now I can tell you that an artists like Lori Putnam, just put her money where her mouth is probably 10 years ago, and she just said, You know what, I don’t have the money, but I’m going to start advertising and she advertises and fine art connoisseur and plein air magazine, every single issue. And I think both issues are both magazines, I’m not sure. And over time, and it took time, it built, she started getting invitations to things she started getting invitations to better galleries, and then she got able to go into even better galleries, and she started a collector base, and she became very well known. And she knows that if she drops that advertising for three months, she’s out of sight and out of mind. And or if she drops it for six months, and a lot of people are like, well, you know, everybody knows who I am now? Well, no, because it’s like a giant escalator. Right? There’s people coming in, and people coming out all the time, and you got to be branding to new people all the time. There’s attrition, you’re gonna have collectors that you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna be bringing new ones on, you have to stay top of mind. And so when you’re laying out your plan, ask yourself what you know, where do you really want to be, and most things don’t happen in a year. Right, you can make some pretty big things happen in a year. But you know, to get on, get known at the level of a high level artist, you know, first off, you got to get the chops, you got to be able to paint like that. But you also have to be, you got to just be branding yourself constantly, you got to be out there, pushing it, getting your name out there. And look, look at Ryan Jensen’s ads in plein air magazine, you know, he’s flying across the air, like Superman, it just grabs your attention, it immediately says this guy is different. This guy’s a crazy man. And that’s the branding, I’m sure that he wants. And so by being out there all the time, what’s going to happen, he’s going to elevate himself into the, that list of must haves as a collector, you know, and a lot of collectors have a must have list, you know, they have the artists that they see it the events they hear about, they just got to have them in their collection, that’s where you want to be ultimately so, you know, figure out how to where you want to be what’s your strategy, what are your tactics, it’s not always about selling art immediately. It’s about planting seeds, right? You know, you don’t grow money trees, you don’t put a seed in the ground, and that money tree doesn’t grow. Immediately, you know, it’s just like you say, Okay, I’m gonna plant bananas, well, you got to, you know, I planted pineapples, it took a little time for pineapples to come up, I planted an avocado tree out of a seed, you know, in the first five, seven years, it didn’t bear fruit, and then all of a sudden, I had more fruit than I could possibly have. So I think the idea is you want to just plant the seeds for money trees, and then you want to stand in the river where the money is flowing in that in other words, what that means is, where are the collectors, where are the people buying paintings, spending their time, if they’re in Fine Art connoisseur or plein air magazine, then that’s where you need to be it because if they’re not on your social media site, and many of them are not, and there are people out there, you don’t even know who are out there that are seeing these things that are buying these things. I have a one one gallery tells me he sells an average of $80,000 for every time he runs an ad in one of those magazines so I mean it just it but he sells expensive paintings. So you just got to lay out a plan, figure out your tactics, but most important is start with a plan and get help you know, there’s lots of lots of marketing information out there. Some of its good some of it’s not good, you’re gonna have to decide, but get some help learn about this study this if you are in a business, you are expected to become good at what you do. And even though a lot of artists say Well, I’m an artist, I don’t really want to be in business. If you’re selling work, you’re in business, and you got to have the mindset of I gotta learn the stuff I got to learn. And you know, you’re still an artist, it’s not changing your identity. But you’re just putting out a different hat I you know, you have to have an accounting hat you have to have a shipping hat. You have to have a gallery relationship hat. You have to have a customer hat you have to have a marketing hat, etc. Think about the different hats anyway, that is today’s marketing minute.

Announcer 1:04:58
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads, you can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:05:06
Join me at the plein air convention. You can find out more at the website plein air Join us at watercolor live. watercolor live is coming up in January. It’s gonna be phenomenal. And of course I’d love it if you would subscribe to plein air magazine. Thanks to Ryen Jensen for the plug. I didn’t pay him for that. But I probably should. If you guys have not seen my blog, Sunday coffee, it comes out every Sunday, and I wrote some special stuff for Christmas. Got just go to to find it and also every day, every weekday I’m on on with art school live with me. And I bring a lot of different artists on and that’s on YouTube and Facebook. Just go to art school live on YouTube. And while you’re there subscribe. And also if you don’t mind, give me a follow on Instagram at Eric Rhoads that would be helpful. I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher, and founder of plein air magazine and I want to thank you for your time today and thank Ryan Jensen really a great inspiration. And remember it is a big world out there. Go paint it. 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 Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.



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