Plein Air Podcast 251: Four Painters Share Their Best Advice

In this episode, Eric Rhoads interviews painters Jill Wagner, Albert Handell, Aaron Schuerr, and Bill Schneider. Listen (and watch) as they discuss how to develop a style, how to stimulate yourself to the next level, and how to move forward when you’re stuck. Our four guests even give you their best tips and advice on how to become a great artist.

Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric addresses the first things you should do when you’re ready to begin marketing your art; and how to know which media could be the most effective for showcasing your unique work.

Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Jill Wagner, Albert Handell, Aaron Schuerr, and Bill Schneider here:


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The Plein Air Podcast has been named the #1 Painting Podcast by FeedSpot for two years in a row. New in 2023: FeedSpot has named Eric’s Art Marketing Minute Podcast as one of the Top 25 Art Business and Marketing Blogs on the web.

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 251. And today you’re in for a treat, not one, not two, not three, but four guests. And we’re going to talk about how your path as an artist doesn’t really have anything to do with plein air painting, but it does. You’ll find out more, developing your own style a lot more. Guests are the great living Master Albert Handell, William H. Schneider, Jill Stephanie Wagner and Aaron Schuerr. Let’s get this thing started.

This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast, we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher, and painter, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads
Nothing like a little Mozart to get things started. You’re in for a treat today, for artists and lots of answers to questions that I get all the time. I finally decided because I get the questions all the time, I was gonna get some experts on and record it. That’s what you’re getting here today. I am coming to you from the Adirondacks in upstate New York and I have been painting every weekend since I’ve been here. And I’ve been painting in my little wooden electric boat. It’s quite an experience the other day, quite a shaky experience a lot of ski boats going by. But it’s trying and sometimes it’s fun. And sometimes I’m learning something, but that’s the most important thing. Anyway, I posted lots of pics on my Instagram, which you can see it Eric Rhoads and I love it when you send emails. So he received one from a listener in Poland. I thought it was worth sharing with you guys says I am only writing to say I’ve been listening to your podcast from Poland just in case you didn’t know you’ve got listeners in that part of the globe. That’s nice to hear. We have people in a couple of 100 countries I think thank you for your work. I enjoy every podcast very much. It’s very informative to it was a great pleasure to listen to you speak with such artists is Joseph Zbukvich, Alvaro Castagnet, Thomas W. Schaller. And I have had no chance to meet any of them in person, by the way is Herman Pekel in your plans? Absolutely. As I implied above, I’m into watercolor. Although I tried my hand at some other mediums. I guess I couldn’t. I could call myself a hobby artist. Unfortunately, I have no knowledge of the plein air movement here in Poland. And I reckon that the weather is not conductive or conductive. Yes, I guess to such activity. And there’s no such tradition here. Do you have any knowledge of plein air events anywhere else in Central Europe? Anyway, it was just supposed to be a thank you email and I’m rambling on. Thanks. Regards, Alicia. JOCO. Hop, HK ba I probably butchered that. Alicia, thank you for that. I appreciate the letter. Thanks for the kind words, we do have people listening in a lot of countries and it’s encouraging to see people interested in plein air. You can follow us on Instagram On plein air magazine and a lot of different things on social media. I will book Herman Pekel. We’ll make a note of that right now, since you love watercolor so much I would love to have you come to our worldwide online watercolor event. In January. It’s called watercolor live. And since you were so kind to send a letter, I’m going to be so kind and send you a free entry to the essentials day, which is the first day which you can attend separately. And that’s going to be my gift to you. My producer will reach out and give you that ticket. We have people attending from all over the world and we have about 30 Top watercolor masters teaching and that’s going to be watercolor live in January. For a long time. There wasn’t a lot of activity in Europe, but things are changing that people at the show called Art in the open. I did an interview with them and they told me that the plein air movement is really starting to take hold there. They liked what was going on here based on what they were hearing on the plein air podcast. And they started pushing it more and more now they’ve got this big event in, in in Ireland that really attracts a lot of people from all over the world and that’s really cool. I want to go it’s just it’s always in the summertime when I hear in the Adirondacks. But anyway, that’s big. They told me that there’s a lot of influence from plein air magazine and from online and social media. And there’s more activity happening in Europe than ever before. Actually, plein air painting, of course started technically, in France. If you consider the the Impressionists the beginning of the movement, I don’t I think it was way earlier than that. There’s some evidence of that. But that would have been in Spain, actually. And now actually, there’s some events. Quite a few events happening in Spain. Pablo Rubin told me about lots and lots of plein air events almost every weekend in Spain. So check that out. I’m sure you can find some and I recommend that you try plein air painting. If you’ve not, you know, we paint a good ad bad weather. We’re not fairweather painters. It’s not just a summer sport. I know you have good weather in Poland because you have spring, summer and fall. So get out and try it. It’ll change your life I think so it makes you a better painter in a lot of ways. And I bet if you poke around on Facebook or Instagram, with keywords of plein air, you’ll start discovering people that you can meet throughout Europe that you can go and paint with. And and I emphasize you can start a group just posting something on local sites or boards or meetup or social media. You will find other plein air painters or people want to go outdoors and paint, start a local group go to a local art school association get started. That’s what I did. You could do it. Thank you for that letter. You guys can send your feedback or your letters, or emails. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten a letter in the last 20 years anyway, you can send your feedback to Eric at plein air Thanks again to feed spot for making this the number one Art Podcast two years in a row. We love it when you guys are given us high ratings on your platforms Apple or Spotify or wherever you’re listening. It helps it helps others discover us and find out about plein air. And a quick reminder, we have pastel live coming up in mid August. I was not a pastel painter. But I did it anyway. And I not only discovered lots of approaches and styles and things I never understood about pastel. I found some advantages some ways that sometimes pastel is the only medium that will work with what you’re trying to accomplish. And it helped me get re energized about all my painting and helped me discover that my oil and my watercolor painting were actually made better because I was learning pastel because there were things that I learned in pastel that I’ve applied to watercolor and oil that I had never thought of doing before. So it’s pretty cool. It’s a lot of fun to get to know people from around the world. We have people attending from many, many countries, and you get to access about 25 Top pastel leaders who are teaching and demos answering questions. And if nothing else attend the essentials day the first day. Check it out at pastel three other things real quickly. Though our Japan plein air trip is sold out sold out very quickly, we decided to take a waitlist because we’re trying to squeeze in a few more people buses are smaller. In Japan, they have fewer people, I guess, because the roads are narrower anyway. So we can’t, we can’t add more than we can hold in a bus to take you to locations. But I think we’re going to try to add a couple more. Because the cherry blossom season rooms are really hard to get. But if we can get some more rooms, the hotels we booked then we’ll try to squeeze some more in so join the waiting list at plein air And that’s gonna be a busy fall for all of us. But especially for me because I’ve got my full color week artists retreat. And this will be the last time we’re doing it in the stunning Adirondack Mountains where the color vibrates. It’s just incredible. You know, you can get full color and a lot of places in the US but you can’t get brilliant full color and a lot of places and you know, get mountains in the background. And to have that juxtaposition of you know, yellow and red trees against a purple mountain and a lake. Man, the mountains were just glowing red last last fall. So anyway, I only have 11 more seats this year, and they’re gonna go fast go to fall color last I’m taking a bunch of art lovers or collectors on a tour of some European cities this year behind the scenes this October to some amazing art or we’re going to do museums special privileges, we’re going to have some art visits, some artists visits, studio visits a lot of different things for keeping it smaller this year so we can get access to places that we normally couldn’t get access to with a bigger group. And we do have room for a few more but not many more. I don’t know how many but this is a painting trip that you’re I mean this is not a painting trip. Sorry. But I always squeezed some painting in I But, you know, it’s really great. It’s really, the privileges that we end up giving you are pretty amazing. I mean, some behind this, I have held a Van Gogh in my hands. I have been in the Sistine Chapel privately. That’s unheard of. We’ve been in the Vasari corridor was was never open to the public privately. You know, we went to the home of Alphonse Buka, privately to see his personal collection. I mean, there’s 1000 More examples of that over 11 years. And this is this year, we’re going to Stockholm and then we’re going to Madrid and you should go book it, it’s going to be amazing. I just go to find art And if you live in any of those places, and you’re listening, email me we might want to get together and paint or hang out or have cocktail or something. Coming up after this special four person discussion. I’m going to answer our marketing questions in the marketing minute. And of course, you can send your questions in to me anytime, Eric at art And we love having here. So let’s get right to our interview. today. I’m leading a discussion for world class artists, Jill Stephanie Wagner, Albert handle, Aaron. Sure. William H. Schneider. And we talk about how to develop your own personal style, how to stimulate yourself to the next level, how to move forward when you’re stuck. And our forecasts are going to give you their best tips and advice on how to become a great artist to have a great career. This was done last week live. People loved it so much for putting it here on the podcast. Enjoy. Let’s get started.

Eric Rhoads 11:30
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here. We’re glad you’re here. All right. So we have met on a couple of occasions, working on this today. And I’ve got a lot of questions, but I’m going to start out with a big one. And we’re gonna do ladies first in this case, and then we’re gonna go to each of you, Jill, how do you find your personal style, your personal voice? That’s the biggest question I get all the time.

Jill Wagner 12:07
I think when we’re just starting out, a lot of us want that we see other artists who have something that’s recognizable and everything, any one of their paintings. And I wanted to do that as well. And I went to the woman that was my mentor at the time and said, I don’t have a style, I just pop all over the place. I don’t nothing looks the same and how do I get my stuff. And the first thing she said is that your style come to you, you don’t go to the style. The more you paint, the more your style will, will come forward. But the other thing she did to make it easier for me to understand she said, I think you should paint one subject 25 times, not the same reference photo, but the same subject matter so that you learn something inside and out. But if you flip it around to a whole bunch of different things, you don’t ever get a good grasp of one subject matter. And other things she told me to do, which was very helpful for me was to paint large, your painting way too small your painting these little teeny weeny paintings get big. So I did that I did 25 paintings of river stones, which I would do during your studies, they were 30 inches high and 15 inches wide. And they also old and it really put me on a path to painting in a series. So that helped me get a style.

Eric Rhoads 13:31
Awesome. All right, next, we’re gonna go to Albert, Albert, did you ever have that struggle? What struggle is that? Trying to find a style.

Albert Handell 13:42
I just kept painting. As I look back in my career, I had a preponderance for transparent color, including in oils. And when I studied at the Art Students League that was discouraged and large brushes was encouraged and all night. And I learned how to do that. The first day I laid it out the way I lay things out now. Second day, I covered it all up. So I could do proper painting and I really felt depressed. And then the third day a lot of this stuff is the nude and all that. I took it out as a toilet bowl as I used to say and did this that and the other thing and the painting was much better, much more alive. And I said this process really doesn’t work for me. And I got very good. And in the process, I started working with small brushes and all that. And if the eight, nine years of doing very, very well, I had a show coming up at the ACA Gallery, and I had a painter’s block, which basically meant I wasn’t going to mix those oils up again and again. And something said, I still am when I called up my friends by this by them, it was like a fish going into water. I didn’t have all those tapes in my head. And it was through the pastel that I found another Albert, which has been wonderful to breed and has affected my oils. And my transparency for my oils. And my pastel is a big thing for me personally. And I started off with that. And I got waylaid walked down the garden path. And it was a fun trip. But sometimes you’re just going to have to work at it and see how you feel, and moderate things so that what you’re doing works best with your feelings. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Eric Rhoads 16:51
Well does. But I have a couple of probing questions as a result of that. You said that you got depressed and you said this process isn’t working for me. But you said also, I pulled it out of the toilet and reworked it and it got good. So what was it that you did that changed it that made you go from it not being good to being good? Was it just working at it some more

Albert Handell 17:20
seeing it freshly doing this, that any other thing and that was the end of it, going back to the things that I initially established and having them stand out more than all the shoulds that I was dealing with the second day.

Eric Rhoads 17:42
Okay, so I want to ask you a question. I I studied photography under a guy named Franz Franz picker who was a student of Ansel Adams and one of the things he said has really helped me in painting and I’m curious if this is what happened to you he said put it down for six months or a year and don’t even look at it turn it to the wall and then come back to it. Do you find that just having the time to get away from things improves your your ability are you beyond that now?

Albert Handell 18:15
Oh, no, no, I’m not beyond that. Fresh look is perfect. And I do precisely what he told you to do. And it works like wonders for me. Oh, I started painting pastel on location or oil in the studio. And after a session or two got something and what I do is I sign them right then in there. I say to myself I walked out of the door and I get a heart attack does this picture as the state that it’s in deserve a signature? I say yeah, what the heck? Why not? And I do that so I don’t have to go through the agony of is it finished? Can I sign it? thing could be very painful for an experienced artist. I don’t know if that helps your question.

Eric Rhoads 19:21
That helps me a lot All right. Next we’re gonna go to Bill Schneider. Bill, what about you? Did you ever struggle with finding your look, your voice?

Bill Schneider 19:35
You talking about yesterday or (laughter), we always struggle. You know. I remember when I was starting out I would see these great artists, contemporary artists, and I would you know have them on on the pedestal. Oh, I am not worthy. And I have come to realize in conversation with other artists said I admire, you know, you talk to a Dan Gerhartz, who, in my opinion is one of the best artists that has lived ever. And one of the great guys of all time. Yes, absolutely. But if you ask these artists that you have on a pedestal, well, what are you working on? What are you struggling with? Don’t rattle off five or six things. And so it never ends. That’s the beauty of art. That’s why I gave up the pension consulting business, which my partners were happy that I sold it to them. And they think I’m crazy, but you know, it this. It’s not even a physical art is a calling. You know, why do I paint because I have to, I must, if I don’t do that, I will go crazy.

Eric Rhoads 20:49
To put that as a quote and tweet it said, Art is a calling.

Bill Schneider 20:55
Yeah, if you. If I don’t do it, I would go crazy. I have to do it.

Eric Rhoads 21:02
It’s interesting. You say that because I used to do the same thing. I put these guys on a pedestal. And I was talking to Richard Schmid, one time I think the first time ever talk to him. And he was telling me about all the paintings he had just screwed up and how, how frustrated he was. And I said, Oh, that’s great. He said, What do you mean, it’s great. I said, it’s good to know that even you screw screw up your paintings. He said, I screwed them up all the time, that what he later told me, which I thought was very valuable. He said, I spent so much time screwing up paintings because I wasn’t careful enough in in the beginning. He said, So I painted with him on two or three times, I guess. And, and he came he I was set up next to him in the garden, and painted. And I tried to do what he did. And he spent a lot of time meticulously mixing things looking up mixing, looking up, spend, you know, five, six minutes mixing, and then he’d look, he lands palette knife, he’d look and he’d do one stroke. And he said, get it right the first time because otherwise you go back and spend all your time fixing things. Anyway, I thought that was interesting. Absolutely. So you, I can tell from each of you, though, that you have a style. I mean, I you definitely have developed a style. But it was not intentional for you. It just came.

Bill Schneider 22:28
Yes. When I was at the American Academy, and I asked the question about, well, I want to get my own style. And I had a very, very good instructor, Bill Parks, the legendary Bill Parks, and he said, Don’t worry about style. Just keep trying to be honest, and paint what you see and what moves you. And as Jill said, your style will come to you. You know, I don’t particularly think I have a style. But I think that that’s the case with everybody. You know, you can recognize work by various artists, you can recognize Aaron’s work, you can recognize Jill’s work Albert’s. But what I’m trying to do when I’m painting is basically solving problems. You know, we’re, we’re trying to capture the illusion of three dimensional reality on a two dimensional surface with little blocks of colored mud, also known as pastels. You know, what could go wrong? So, and in that process, we have to solve different problems, we have to solve problems of placement, of drawing of color, relationships, color, temperature, relationships, of values, edges, design, all of that stuff. And what I just listed are the five things as, as a beginning artist, you need to learn shape, value, color, temperature, edge, and composition. And that’s all that’s it,

Eric Rhoads 24:08
Which one is first?

Bill Schneider 24:11
What is first – shape, drawing. Drawing is the most important thing. Because it you know, if the drawing is off, you can have the best rendering the best color, all of that stuff. But the viewer will, all they’ll notice is that the drawing is off. And so when I jury shows and when anybody else juries shows, if the drawings off, that painting is dead, it goes into the reject group. So the next time you go through, you don’t have to look at it. So drawing it oh, by the way, drawing is the most trainable because there’s only two components to it. There is length, and there’s direction. So how, you know what is the length from here to here? Have my nose. And what is the angle? If I get links and angle? It has to look like what I’m trying to trying to paint

Eric Rhoads 25:10
Well, that certainly simplifies it, doesn’t it? It’s not all that overly complicated. It seems like it would be. Yes. Well, we’ll talk a little bit more about some of those things. Thank you, Bill. Aaron, when I judge art shows, which I do frequently, I just got finished judging a show in Spain, and also the art renewal center show. One thing that that happens to me as I can, even though they don’t put the names on artists, I can instantly identify the fingerprint of the artist, I can tell. In many cases, that was a Kevin Mcpherson, or that was an Aaron. Sure. What has what are your thoughts on developing personal stuff?

Aaron Schuerr 25:56
Wow, first of all, thank you so much for having me on. And I’m just so psyched to be here with this wonderful, amazing crew of artists that all inspire me. So you’re welcome, fellow fellow traveler with these amazing people. You know, I think you’ll send it right away. To develop a style one, don’t go looking for it. Because you’re gonna get lost trying to look for it. And so I just made a quick list. The student, always, so there’s always there’s always more to learn. So be open. And with that, I’d say, Make there’s a quote from Neil Gaiman. He’s a writer, he says, make glorious mistakes. And I I’ve always loved that make glorious, that’s what I tell students all the time, make glorious mistakes, you know, go for it, and fail spectacularly. Because if you’re, if you’re afraid of failing, you’re gonna tighten up, and your work is gonna look unresolved and not fresh. So yeah, paint from life. And with that painting from life, your experience. The reason that I am such an avid plein air painter, is because it’s not about replicating the place, it’s about sharing my experience of a place. And that’s how I’m going to really develop my style is just to respond honestly, in the moment, you can do that best by working from life versus working from a photograph. Again, like don’t rush it is another thing I put down it, you know, that it’ll, it’ll come as you grow and develop. process over product, you know, different way of saying the same thing. And then another thought about looking at other artists and arts, you know, great art, whether it’s historical or contemporary. be discerning and how you look at that artwork. So the artists that I really, really admire, oftentimes, they are diverse enough in their approach to painting that, I might just absolutely fall in love with a certain painting the painting next to it by that same artist. It might be technically and in every way as wonderful as the other one. But the first one, that one just hits me, you know, right here makes me short of breath. So I need to ask the next question. Why does that one hit me so hard? versus say maybe the next one, even if it’s, you know, by the same artist? And so taking some time to analyzing like, what do you really respond to in other art and for high that will help you to understand yourself? Because ultimately, it’s about underneath understanding yourself, and being as true as you can to your experience.

Eric Rhoads 28:55
So do you find that when you’re out plein air painting, that you also have that something takes your breath away moment? And and you’re like, you truly have to really understand why it is that you’re, you’re responding to that is Will that make it a stronger painting? Or is is there more to that?

Aaron Schuerr 29:18
Oh, that’s an interesting question. Um, there are moments. I remember, I think it was Quang Ho who talked about stages of development. And the last he called grace, which I loved. And that’s when, whether it’s the landscape the painting is carrying you along, and they’re just there for the ride. And I remember him saying that that happens to him maybe once or twice a year. And I’m like, put your call on hold. Because you and so, you know, so again, it’s one of the things don’t go looking for it, it’ll find you. There are those moments where suddenly something happens. If, and if you’re open and you’re open to that idea of making glorious mistakes, you’ll be able to, to let that carry along. I guess the way I would look at painting, plein air landscapes, is, it’s more about like, where am I most of myself? What places can I go and work that I don’t think about the state of politics, news, you know, terrible things that are happening in the world or personal stresses. And for me, that’s just being out on location, everything else falls away. So and because lights changing, and you have, you know, generally a couple hours in the session, I have, I’ve learned to be decisive. And to go for it. And so I’m having a relationship with the landscape in the moment. And that’s what just gets me excited. And it and it helps me to, to focus, I struggle a lot more in the studio. To stay focused, I’ll get more distracted, check social media, pick, oh, I should finish that frame or do that email. So I look for the places that I can be most to myself, and, and most focused, and I try to make that time for those plates.

Eric Rhoads 31:25
I’ve ruined painting sessions, because I’ll take a break from painting and I’ll check my, my email, and somebody will say something that makes me mad. And next thing, you know, it’s like, I can’t even think about this anymore. Oh, that’s a great point. I’m going to open this up to everybody. You have you have a dialogue going on in your head, you’re painting something? I’m just curious what that dialogue typically is, are you, you know, are you saying, Oh, this one’s gonna really sell or the gallery is gonna love this, or this is garbage, or, you know, what, what kind of things are going on in your head, anybody want to take that one?

Bill Schneider 32:05
Now, I’ll start off, because this is something that I pay a lot of attention to, as humans, you’re always talking to ourselves in our heads. You know, it’s a non stop stream of subject, verb object. And so we can’t control that. But we can control to some extent, what the dialogue is. So if the internal dialogue is, geez, this really sucks, I started too late, I’m not going to be a good good enough artist that I want to be. Maybe I should just give it all up in the pickup golf again. You know, if that’s the dialogue, that is not helpful. But what I have found is helpful is to ask myself paired questions. And when I say parrot, I mean, the two extremes. So is this. Is this stroke too light or too dark? Is it too warm? Is it too cool? Is it to vertical? Or is it to horizontal? Is it? So I’m asking myself questions about a specific point. And if you ask yourself the right questions, all of the answers that are there in your subject. So, you know, if I can say, Is this too light or too dark? Well, look at the subject. Okay, How dark is the shadow under my eyebrows, compared to the dark of my shirt? Or the, you know, the the door behind me? So I can say, how dark are the darks compared to the darkest dark that I’ve identified? How light are the lights compared to the lightest light that I’ve identified? If I squint down, how sharp are the edges compared to the sharpest edge? Now, if I squint, I’m looking at myself. And I can see a sharp edge where my shirt is up against my skin. And if I stay in a deep squint and raise my eyes and look at my eyes, how sharp are the edges in my eyes, compared to the edge of that shirt? If I asked myself that question, I can say well, wow, those are just whisper soft compared to the sharpest edge. And so I’m basically directing myself to questions that can be solved by observing what’s in front of me.

Eric Rhoads 34:31
All right, good. Anybody else want to take?

Albert Handell 34:34
Yeah, yeah, I come in from a different angle. All right. I like bills work. And he’s doing portrait is very important with the corner of the nose is in relationship to the corner of the mouth, in relationship to the corner of the guy. I know what that’s about because I used to Do a lot of work with portraiture. And it’s a great way to measure as a landscape painter. I turn it around and whatever hits me right then and there happens. And it’s an intuitive response. And my intuition is wonderful. I’ve learned to respect the intuition. Now, this might not work for a portrait. Everything bill just told you is portrait work and God bless him and his work and portraiture. I’m talking about landscape, where you have distance behind the initial subject where you have changing light conditions, where it’s not stable. It’s it’s in it’s in the process of moving so to speak. You have different intuitive choices and intellectual choices. Yes. I work on DACA. Like what’s your that’s clearly best Claire. I, I do all sorts of things with my oil brushes and my pastels, I have found with my past hours that if I vary the pressure of each color, I have more than one color in each stick. And that means a lot to me. So I can flow with the water rather than stop and find something a little darker, a little lighter. So this understanding full landscape is not portraiture has allowed me a freedom to flow from one side to the other side, varying the pressure of the pastel and varying the color. So it’s very intuitive. One second. I like to talk to myself. When I’m painting. Thank God. I demonstrate. I just opened my mouth, and they get to hear my thoughts. So there’s there’s a world of difference between still life portraiture, and plein air painting and landscape. For me, I have gone from like Bill said, you know, everything he said, I’ve done and I agree. And maybe it relates to his landscapes, but it doesn’t to mine. Why mine is an intuitive first glance response.

Eric Rhoads 38:23
All right, Jill.

Jill Wagner 38:26
Well, to answer your original question, especially since I started later in life, I didn’t really get plugged

Eric Rhoads 38:34
in training you willing to say like approximately what age you were when you started,

Jill Wagner 38:39
I started back painting again, maybe when I was maybe 48, or something.

Eric Rhoads 38:46
When you say again, had you painted as a younger person?

Jill Wagner 38:50
Yeah, I went to art school at the University of Michigan and fully intended to be a painter when I got out until I realized the very last semester that I was going to starve to death, that I wasn’t ready for that. To be able to make it a full time career. And I needed to support myself somehow. So I, the very last semester, I took graphics, and then I went into advertising and there was no time to paint, especially when I own my own agency. But when I started painting again, those all those questions were going through my head, is this going to sell? Is this good? Does this look like my mentors? I mean, all those things rushed through your head and can crowd out the things that you really need to be doing. And it took me a while to figure out that. And I tell my students in my work through the same process myself whether I’m painting plein air which I do most of the time or in the studio, you have to paint with intention to some extent. And what I do is first thing I figure is what do I love about this scene? Whether it’s from a photo or plein air? What is it that makes my heart sing? Why do I have to paint this, and I write it down on a little piece of paper on my canvas. And then I say, Where’s my focal point? How do I move the art the viewer through my painting to get the effect that I want them to have? You have to paint with a voice you have, I think, to have some kind of thing to say, and lead your viewer to understanding what that is.

Eric Rhoads 40:27
What are you trying to say?

Jill Wagner 40:31
Well, it depends on what I’m looking at. Is it the glory of the sunset, or, you know, the way that lapped the waves are lapping on the water is not a humongous idea. It’s just the idea for that painting. And actually, you could have a different idea over and over again, for the same, the same view. But without having some of that in your mind, you get lost in thinking about comparing yourself to everybody else, or you just have a focus for yourself. And then do a value study. This is all before oil or pesto touches the paper.

Eric Rhoads 41:09
How do you how do you get all that stuff out of your head? Jill, you know, we just have so much baggage, we have all you know, our head is always being critical. I liked what Bill said. But you know, the worst thing that happens to me and I’m setting up a painting with some friends, and I’ll go look at what they do. And I go, Oh, that’s so good. Mine sucks. Yeah, I should have done changing things. So now my rule is I never, I never look at their work until we’re all done for the day. Because it influences me too much. How do you get beyond that?

Jill Wagner 41:48
Do you it takes time, I don’t think you ever get completely over it. I mean, we’re constantly everyday looking at social media, and seeing everybody’s work in front of us, even if it’s not at the same place where we’re not painting the same view. So it’s, I think it’s even harder than it was hundreds of years ago, because we have all of these choices to look at and so many people that we admire. At some point, you take all that in, and then you have to distill what’s the most important for you what makes your heart sing, you know. And it’s been a struggle for me and I’ve been, it hasn’t been lifelong, it’s been has had to happen quickly. And I’m still doing it every day, every day I I mean, I throw away at least half of what I paint or have to paint over, you know, or brush them off with pastels, you can actually brush off the, the pigment and start again as well. You know, it’s the 10,000 hours, it’s the Keep, keep doing it, loving it. That whole talent thing I think is overrated. I think talent really is having a passion to do something so strongly that you will keep doing crappy paintings over and over and over again till you get better. Nobody comes out painting like, you know, DaVinci or or anybody, they had to practice and practice and practice. And I think through that process, you learn more about yourself and what it is that really flips your switch. AND narrows down. Okay, the things that you’re going through,

Eric Rhoads 43:31
rather than focusing on the same question each time, I’m going to just keep asking different questions of HP are different people. But if you have anything you want to add, of course, do that. One thing I I get a lot. I hear people send me notes from the podcast and they’ll say things like, I need to know always ask this question. And that is, how do you push yourself to the next level? You know? Is there a way Is there a Oh, you guys got to see this. I’m sorry. I’m gonna show you this. This is how we live on the lake. Look, there’s a barge with a truck on it. All right, sorry about that. Okay, so what is there a? Is there a method that you could tell people that that will help them break through? Anybody want to take that?

Bill Schneider 44:27
Sure. I would say do what Sargent did, what Sorrolla did, and that is they went to art school, but after they were done with art school, they were instructed, go off to the Prado and copy masterworks. You know, I have a degree in music and the difference between musicians and the visual arts that musicians have to start by copying masterworks. That’s Do you learn things? You know, if you’re a pianist, you play Chopin and Bach and Rachmaninoff, and so on and so forth. Because it’s sort of get that information into your ear. You know, the the greatest pop musical group, The Beatles, how did they get so good. They were playing eight hours a day in Hamburg. And they were studying Little Richard, and the Shirelles. And, you know, Motown artists, he’s fun. And, you know, you don’t have to worry that you’re going to be mistaken for Richard Schmid, if you copy a Richmond painting, but you will learn from that. And if you copy a bunch of different masters, you will start to learn, you know, how do I solve this problem with edges? How do I solve this problem with composition? And so I strongly encourage I to this day, I copy a masterwork at least once a month, you know, and it helps you get the information into your head, so that you have it to draw up on when you’re solving the problem you’re dealing with at that moment. It

Eric Rhoads 46:13
doesn’t hurt bill when you have masterworks in your house.

Bill Schneider 46:19
Yes, that helps. Dress up. We live in a marvelous time. At least from this standpoint, we don’t have to go to the pratto. To see, you know, blast because we can pull it up on on our computers. And that zoomed in heightened enough to see the brushstrokes. So we can solve or learn how the master solved a specific problem, how did how did fashion deal with eyes, I can blow up a fashion, I can just make a little copy of that I and what I find is that the information travels through my brush up my arm into my brain, and it stands a chance of staying there. If I just read about it, or think about it or talk about it. I’ll forget it. You know two weeks from now, I’ll have forgotten 90% of whatever I talked about today. If I paint it, it stands a chance of sticking.

Eric Rhoads 47:29
Alright, good. Anybody else want to take that, Aaron?

Aaron Schuerr 47:34
About how to how to move forward to grow to?

Eric Rhoads 47:38
Yeah. Is there a way you can stimulate yourself to the next level?

Aaron Schuerr 47:43
Yeah, okay, with focusing on plein air painting, I would say looking for simplification looking for the silhouette.

Aaron Schuerr 47:56
So one of the exercises I’ll have to do, that sometimes drives them a little crazy as flat color plane exercises, I didn’t invent the idea, you know, something that was taught to me. And that’s just basically looking for average color average value of the whole form. So if I’m looking at a mountainside, not getting lost in the little nuances, but looking at the overall color, cast temperature value, and trying to get as close as you can, shooting for the average. And the way I would describe it as if you had a pile of colored paper, and you had to cut out and paste pieces of colored paper to make your landscape. So that you you know, in that case, you couldn’t do half tones and little nuances in between. But doing those exercises, keeping yourself to about 30 minutes on each one. With the landscape, we’ll help you to start to see the simple silhouette, the abstract shapes, it will also start to hone your compositional sense without really trying to be compositionally clever, you’re just trying to put together the shapes. And that’s helped me a lot. It’s also helped me to learn to pull out salient details, you know, say now talking about doing a finished piece. Taking those simple shapes and just pushing it a little bit and you have a finished painting. So I think students can get too caught up in getting just getting engrossed in all the little details and they get so focused on one area of the landscape, that they lose the overall relationship, some simple color, shape, maps like that can help you too. To keep it keep it clear and to learn to bring out only the details that are necessary.

Eric Rhoads 49:57
And then to chime in quickly. may jump in just a second Albert, I just want to say something to what he was saying I, there’s a couple of things that I’ve discovered, that worked for me, they may not work for anybody else, the one thing is play. But what I find is if I’m feeling stuck, if I feel like I’m not getting far enough, I’ll just start playing, I’ll start, you know, sometimes I’ll just take a brush and some color, and I’ll just start scribbling on my canvas and ruining the painting, deconstructing it or take the palette knife out and deconstruct it. And I find that usually I get some kind of a breakthrough. There’s something that I hadn’t figured out before that it was because I softened an edge or push something back by accident that all of a sudden, something came along, Albert, what were you gonna say?

Albert Handell 50:47
I was gonna say, I agree with Bill completely. If you’re interested in the portrait, everything he said is right on. I’ve done portraits. And when I started working on landscapes, I waited, I was in Woodstock, New York, 1970 to 1983. I couldn’t wait until the greens of summer disappeared. So I can see the skeleton of my trees. And I went out there and drew the trees, with pencil and to two ply bristol board, and I did one after the other. And that’s how I was able to get into trees, for whatever it’s worth. All right,

Jill Wagner 51:42
good. You know, I think one other thing that can’t be put aside is that if you feel like you’re stuck, or you are going as fast as you would like to master some area, think about taking either a workshop or a video class. And I would suggest you only take them from artists that you really admire, who are something similar to what you want to be like that that can shake, they can shake you up and make you things that look in a different way. And take you out of the way you always do things. If you listen to the instructor and try something new and different. That can really stop that kind of dial, downward slide you can feel and I still take time. I mean, I have taken tons of workshops, and I still take workshops,

Eric Rhoads 52:36
how many of you? How many of you who teach workshops, have had students come to your workshops, and then they don’t do anything you teach.

Jill Wagner 52:46
They just go back to what they feel comfortable in. Because they don’t want to look like a fool. They know what they can get by with. But that’s not what workshops should be about making a masterpiece. It should be about playing and learning something new and experimenting, and not having expectations.

Eric Rhoads 53:03
Yeah, I think I think that’s right, and you have you have to embrace the pain, you know, when we get uncomfortable, we get frustrated, we just want to give up but that that’s usually when the breakthrough is about to hit. And the mistake I made. I mean it was good and bad is first off. When I first started studying, I studied under two completely different people simultaneously. One was Camille prismatic. The other was Charles White, they couldn’t be more different. Charles White is, you know, renders things very carefully, very exact, and Camille’s a colorist, and she’s loose, and free. And, you know, it kind of screwed up my brain. And then when I got into producing these videos, the 600 videos later, I’d go to all of your shoots in many cases, and you know, and then I’m changing my palette, and I just keep in a flow. I want to do it. Albert does I want to do it, Stephanie does. And so I think that the idea is, I like that idea of kind of stabilize on something, get something that you’re really going to try and master whether it’s a style, you don’t want to copy anybody, but you want to learn the things that they have to offer. You know, Joma girl gave me a hard time about that. Because he said, you know, you’re you’re all over the road, you know, one minute, you’re David lapel, and the next minute you’re me and and why don’t you just learn what I’ve taught you and just practice that for a couple of years. Don’t change your palate, don’t do anything. Just practice that. And when I did that, that’s when I started getting unsolicited compliments. And so I you know, I still fall into that a little bit where it’s like, oh, I think, you know, Jill uses this color. I’ll add that color. But at some point, I think you have to kind of stabilize and go in a direction.

Bill Schneider 54:49
Thoughts. I agree. Yes. Just to piggyback on what you said, if you work on one thing at a time, it’s better than trying to I do everything. And what I mean by that is, if I’m starting a painting, and I want to really focus on getting good edges, but I want the values good. And of course, the design has to be there. And, you know, I can try to incorporate everything, or I could do an exercise and say my biggest problem, right now is edges. So let me practice edges. And so you just sort of chunk it. You know, that if you work on one thing at a time, if you’re a musician, you know, and you’re trying to increase your speed, you work on speed exercises. So if you’re an artist, and you’re trying to get better at understanding values, just work on the values. And, and one thing that was a great breakthrough, for me, I no longer make paintings, because that puts too much pressure on me. Instead, I’m doing studies or exercises. And if I think of it as a study, and an exercise, my internal plan is with every painting, that I plan to throw it away. That was two thirds of them anyway, even when I add on that I plan on getting rid of it, then I can experiment and work on things. And lo and behold, I can always change my mind and say, you know, this one’s pretty good. I think that I will send this one out into the world instead of the circular file.

Eric Rhoads 56:32
To the to the point that, that idea of chunk learning, and there’s research on that, you know, when I was taking guitar lessons and trying to learn the scale, my instructor didn’t say, learn the whole scale. He he’d say, play this note, over and over until you get that note. Now add that note, now go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth to the point where you can do it in your sleep. Then he’d say, okay, what are the next two notes and he’d add those next two notes. And then he’d say combine them together. So that idea of learning is they have proven now that Malcolm Gladwell wasn’t completely right. You know, it’s not about 10,000 hours, it’s about if you can chunk learn something, you can learn faster. Which is why when, you know, when you’re watching a course, and you see something, you know, rewind it and look again, say okay, now let me try it when you’re watching, have still live, you know, you’re like, Okay, I’m going to paint along, I’m going to try this, I’m going to rewatch it and then I’m going to rewatch it again in six months or a year, and see how I’m doing and just keep practicing back and forth. Those are the things that will will really elevate you fast, I think. Okay, so next question is have you this is kind of Zen I suppose, but why do you paint?

Jill Wagner 57:59
because when added to all my life, ever since I was little The only thing that interested me. I mean, I got good grades, I did well in college and academia, but I did well in advertising. But all the time in the back of my mind was I want to paint I want to paint I don’t how can you say what the way as it was the only thing but I always say it’s the only place my brain doesn’t constantly were and think about, you know, spin and think about things that other things I should be doing or organizing or it’s the place where I feel calm and awesome. Nirvana. And even when I’m doing a crappy painting, I feel like

Eric Rhoads 58:43
why do you paint?

Albert Handell 58:45
Why do I paint? I don’t think I have a choice about it. I sense I could have been good. When I was younger.

Albert Handell 59:01
I used to draw on the streets of Brooklyn with chalk. And people told me I was good artist. And I needed that. And when I did Santa Claus in the public school, he told me I was a good artist. And they needed that. I was considered slow and overly protected and not expected to do much with my life. No as being a doctor or a lawyer. It was beyond my abilities.

Eric Rhoads 59:45
This is you’re talking about from your parents. Yeah. We kind of had something You excelled that you got positive feedback and That’s what drove you.

Albert Handell 1:00:01
Yeah, that was the one thing I could say to hell is it all? I’m going to do it? And I did it.

Eric Rhoads 1:00:11
Awesome. By the way, I want to say hello to Scotland and New Zealand. I see in the comments. I’m sure there’s people all over the world. Aaron, why do you think?

Aaron Schuerr 1:00:21
What do I paint? Yeah, again, it’s one of those very, very difficult questions to answer. I wish I could say that I was like, you know, a Zen kind of calm person. But I’m not. There’s a lot of chatter, a lot of noise up here, that happens. And the only thing I find that really quiet the chatter is artistic expression. And primarily painting, I also act to theatre, and right, and that that also kind of quiets the clutter here gets me focused on something else. And I was thinking about just as a way of maybe, maybe a way of illustrating that, over the past handful of years, I’ve been doing these crazy trips, where I backpack, my painting gear, I’ve painted my way across the Grand Canyon, I’ve painted across the Beartooth mountains in Montana. Every generally every summer, I do at least one long solo trip up to about six days painting and backpacking many miles into the, into grizzly country or, and I think about it, it’s like, this is a crazy way to get work done. Right. You know, I mean, Cisco, you know, let’s go 26 miles over a mountain range, or across the same thing. Like, it doesn’t make any sense really to do this, there are much easier ways to get paintings. And, you know, I started thinking about, like, why do I do this, it’s not about for me, it’s not some heroic thing, you know, it’s not like, give me a, you know, red bowl or Mountain Dew and like, look at me, I’m this tough guy. It’s not at all about that, it’s that when I get two or three days into the wilderness, it is so completely immersive, that the creative process is all there is. And I can’t think about anything else. So I’m willing to go through any kind of paint carry a 60 pound pack, if I can get to that place that I will truly be quiet. And for me, it takes that much work. And so paintings where I find that, and then the the other side of that is, you know, there’s the question of if, you know, if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to no one is there to hear it doesn’t make sound. I asked if if I make a painting and hide it from you, is it still art? Or is it just therapy? So the other part of the equation like why do I paint, it’s the relationship, it’s, it’s the way that I start a story that is incomplete. And it’s the best I could tell it. And usually I’m a little bit frustrated, because that’s not exactly what I wanted to say. But the painting, and somehow the viewer comes into it. And they have their own experience their own stories, their own memories, and they come into it and they finish the story with their own experience. And the portal is art. And to me that’s like, how do you explain that that’s so amazing, to be able to have that emotional connection, sometimes with people you’re never gonna meet. And so I feel like, okay, if I can, if people are happy to let me keep trying to tell these stories to start these things off, that they can finish, I’m gonna keep going with it.

Eric Rhoads 1:03:54
That’s one of the best feelings in the world is to be the fly on the wall and the gallery and not tell anybody that you’re the artist and just listen to how people respond. Sometimes you don’t want to hear it. But sometimes, you know, you hear oh, you know, they start crying because that reminds them of something in their life. Bill, what about you? Why do you do this?

Bill Schneider 1:04:15
Because it’s the most interesting thing possible. Well, you know, I, I had a very successful pension consulting business, and we’re managing many billions of dollars. But everything I needed to know I learned sort of in the first three years and then after that is just repeating stuff. With art, it never ends. There is a great quote from somebody and I don’t remember who it was, but, you know, an artist in their late 80s on their deathbed. And so soon, I was just starting to understand you know, it never ends you know, you go over a hill, and there’s another hill in front of you. So you can always get better.

Eric Rhoads 1:05:05
And I hear this a lot from people who are surgeons, people who are dentists, you know, a lot of doctors who who are taking up painting, because it’s the same thing. You know, I learned at medical school, I got really good at it over 10 years. And after that, it’s like Groundhog Day, every day. Not. And thank goodness, we have people who do that. I don’t want to diminish that. But I like the idea of the challenge that you’re right. There’s, there’s never a perfect day, or very rarely a perfect day, you’re always pushing yourself always getting to the next level. I want to ask Carrie, if Carrie has any questions from the audience? I don’t know if she does Carrie, you want to do a quick check in and then we’re going to step off and do something for our sponsor real quickly. Carrie? Yeah, sure.

Kari Stober 1:05:52
Um, so we’ve got, I mean, there’s a quite a few questions, and you guys have actually done a really good job of actually answering these are your talk, which is pretty good. Um, some of them pertain to, you know, there’s marketing ones, there’s ones of, you know, how do I get started, one that I found kind of interesting. And I don’t know, fully if you guys touched on it, but a couple of people have asked, you know, what do you do when you’re in a rut? Like, you can’t get out of the block that you’re in, you’re just stuck and you don’t know how to move forward? How do you? Is it just? Do you just keep painting every day? Do you have a method for how you try to get out of that rut? What are some of the ways that you guys would try to answer that question for them?

Eric Rhoads 1:06:35
Who wants to take it?

Bill Schneider 1:06:38
I can. I go back to what I said earlier, if I, if I’m feeling sort of stuck. I tried to identify what specifically am I stuck with? Is it shapes his value? Is it edge? Is it design? And then I would pick somebody that I think is really good, you know, a sergeant and say, How did he do with that? And I find that in moments when I’m stuck, that’s why I keep tapping masterworks to this day, I get sort of stuck. And then I go back to the fountain, and copy somebody, and it doesn’t have to be a whole painting. It’s just maybe, how did he treat this eye? Or what did he do with the edge of a shadow where it goes into the halftone, it can be little simple things, and maybe you spend 15 minutes, but I find that that gets the creative juices flowing again. You know, we have to put stuff into the computer in order to get something out of it. And, you know, we need a repertoire of things that we have seen observed, loved, whatever, as the input so that we can come out with a painting.

Eric Rhoads 1:07:56
Okay, awesome. Anybody else want to touch on that?

Jill Wagner 1:07:59
No, I feel like I’m really lucky that I work in basically two mediums, oil and pastel. And as I’ve said on your show, before, Eric, when I get really pissed off, and my pastels, I work in oil, as it’s the pastels. You know, I go back and forth between them. And now I’m starting to work them in grass. And each one of them teaches me something about the other, they’re all pretty much layered the same way you start with the dark and and build to the light. So there are different mediums, but there’s still an application similarity. And it just, it frees me up from whatever I was having a trouble with and the other.

Eric Rhoads 1:08:45
What would you what would you say to somebody who’s like, Well, okay, I could spend my whole life just focusing on my watercolor or my oil. What? Why would I possibly ever bother to pick up pastel for instance?

Jill Wagner 1:08:58
Well, I can understand that because for years, I was watercolors for like 25 years. But it was when I actually tried some different mediums that I started to grow. I started to see color in a different way. I started to understand how to layer things. But you know what, what value really means that I learned so much from the different ones. I think there’s a problem if you’re, if you’re working in 67 different mediums, and they’re all applied a different way like watercolor, it’s basically work to the dark, consider work to the light. But I think each medium can give you a little information. But I really do just stick between oil and pastel for my gallery paintings for plein air painting, all that kind of stuff. But dabbling in something else can get you out of a rut.

Eric Rhoads 1:09:53
Okay, I’m gonna ask Albert the same thing because you do oil and pestle. You said that you started About as an oil painter, and we all think of you as a pastel painter, but you do both beautifully. Why would somebody who’s an oil painter, even consider doing pastel?

Albert Handell 1:10:11
Paint. Remember that every day. And after a while, I just didn’t want to paint that day, who is a block if you wish. And what I started doing and have done was draw with pencil and two guy bristol board. And one day, it was in 1966. I got into this block. And I was wanting to have a show at the ACA Gallery in New York City and September. I said, Oh, my God. And then something came up from inside of me, that said, pastel, so I called up Dan Green and Javi Dinnerstein and all the folks who are my friends who are a little older than me. They told me buy this, buy that. And I bought this and I bought that. And it was why a wonderful opening. Because pastel, few things. It’s a drawing painting medium, much more so than oil. So at least that’s what I found. No, no, no comparison. And also, I’m used to resinous docks with oils. And you can get that with pastel. I’m used to color mixing with oils. And if you put too much white in it, it becomes chalking. There’s no, there’s I couldn’t, I was not chalky at all. So it was like a whole. Now this time I could go I had no tapes. I had no tapes. And now I switch backwards and forwards with the to medium. I usually work on location on plein air with pastel, smaller 12 by 1614 by 18 blah, blah. And I don’t worry if I finished it or not, I just do it. And the way I find my material, this is landscape now. I don’t like to dry for a long time. If I’m going to paint in Taos, I would sleep in Taos tonight house in an hour in 10 minutes, I work towards the waterfall. And if something hits me on Route, I really take that very seriously. I always have my eyes open and when something hits me it means something out there is touching something inside of me. So you see how vague this is as compared to portrait work which I’ve done. So I’ve become more intuitive. And I switch mediums I work larger with oils in the studio. And I turned my pastels and my other stuff into shells. And I turned them around and I can work with pastel and oil in the studio. Some of the plein air paintings, I don’t touch at all. Some of them I throw away. And some of them I do some work on after I have a fresh look at it. So this is not so much right and wrong. I wish it was I wish it was all right. There’s no z in this alphabet. I wish they weren’t

Eric Rhoads 1:14:21
awesome. Bill. When we did pesto live, we launched it two years ago. I felt obligated to learn how to do pastel because I hear I am asking people to learn pastel and I wasn’t doing it myself. And so I got pastel and I started playing with it and then I watched and I watched you know basically as much as I could when I was working on that. And it’s like it all assembled. Waited I didn’t I didn’t get I didn’t become a master overnight. I’m not suggesting anybody could, but it is simulated. And I started Seeing things that I could do. And I could only do with pastel that I couldn’t do with oil. But the other thing that I found really interesting is that all of a sudden, it changed my technique in oil that it opened up new horizons that things that I had never thought of doing. Because I have learned about them on test li What is your experience with that and the oil versus pastel, because you do both to

Bill Schneider 1:15:29
basically the same experience, I tell all my oil painting students, you should study pastel as well, because there are certain things you can do in pastel that are extraordinarily easy, that are difficult in oil. But once you see them in pastel, you want to you want to accomplish that in the other medium. I’ll give you a quick example. I blend with my pastels. So all of my edges in pastel are automatically soft. And I have to think to make a sharp edge. In oil, if you make a stroke, it’s going to have a sharp edge, and you have to think to make it soft. So it’s 180 degrees different. But in pastel, you get used to seeing all these soft edges. And in oil, you get used to seeing all of these hard edges. And if you do both mediums, then you end up with a more balanced approach on edges. In, in oil painting, it’s easy as pie to get a thin, transparent, rich dark, you know, you can take transparent oxide brown, little bit of ultramarine, blue edge medium to it. And you’ve got a thin, transparent dark. For pastel, it’s difficult. But once you see it in oil, you want to see it in pastel. And so it forces the artist to grow maybe in directions that are not easy based on the medium. But doing both of them you get a more well rounded approach to things. So anyway, that’s what I found. Okay, Aaron, taken up both of those mediums who said Not I, I really should have just spent my time on one.

Eric Rhoads 1:17:23
Yeah. Aaron,

Aaron Schuerr 1:17:27
let me go back real quick to the your the question before about feeling feeling stuck. And then because I was just thinking about a time in my 30s that like, you know, kind of emotionally it was just a really tough time I was feeling really low and feeling really stuck feeling like my work was terrible. And that I was getting nowhere. And And it’s funny, because I look back on that years later. And I realized that that was the breakthrough. It was not the moment of breakthrough. It was the moment of just lasting through that period of frustration and

Eric Rhoads 1:18:05
feeling. It was a pre breakthrough,

Aaron Schuerr 1:18:08
yet well no, it actually no, it was the breakthrough. I just didn’t recognize it until I should I see. So, you know, like, so what I think about is in terms of feeling stuck or kind of being in tune with your feelings on painting, like take stock of them. Straight coach and I love coaching new people because they are just making these Games Week by week, you know, boom, boom, boom, they’re getting better at new skills. And then there’s a certain point where you were making those games takes a lot more time and a lot more patience. And so it can feel like God, I’m not getting anywhere, but you are if you’re putting the time in. So if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re feeling down about your work, you know, like, have a look at those feelings. Greet those feelings. Say Yep, this is real. But recognize that you might look at it differently. A little bit later. Because yeah, absolutely. Like I think, you know, the the most award winning piece that I’ve had in my entire career was done at my lowest point. And I just, I didn’t realize it until until later. So just push through, and and then recognize that as you as you mature as an artist, the growth is going to start coming slower because it’s the littler and littler things your acuity of vision is getting greater. And so it’s going to be harder to to feel like you’re having a moment of breakthrough growth. Well, you

Eric Rhoads 1:19:50
know, there’s one value and just knowing that it’s normal. That what you’re going through this idea of being depressed or being stuck or being frustrated It’s just part of the process and it’s part of life. Yeah. Yeah. And okay, now talk to me about oil versus pastel because you do both. Yet what what are the pros and cons of that?

Aaron Schuerr 1:20:14
It’s a funny thing. Because I wish I’ll even, like I’m just about to go the Door County plein air leaving on Saturday. And every once in a while, like I’m packing for a plein air show like that. And I think, Alright, maybe this time, I should just pick one medium. Everybody else is working in one medium. But I’m, I’m packing pastel and oil, just because it’s like I have these two Muses and sometimes one is what is hitting, and one is working. And one is not like I think back to the last two years of Laguna plein air. Two years ago, I was super frustrated with my pastels. And my oils were just they were, I was making discoveries. So I’m like, Okay, I’m doing more oils on this one. And then the next year was the opposite. So I, I’ve learned not to not to fight with it too much. I think part of the reason I got into oil was that the workshops that were available to me, when I was learning, I would just take whatever would come up to Montana, and it was always oil painters. So So I started doing oil, because you know, kind of that that’s what the workshop instructors instructors were, that were available. But I find that yeah, you learn from pastel, making color commitments in pastel because you have to, you know, like saying, Okay, this is as close as I have to the color of that mountain, I’m just going to put it down. And then I’m going to react to it react to what’s there. And so then I put a stroke down and I said, Okay, is that too? Too bright, too warm, too cool. You know, how do I play around an experiment, and at the start of every painting, I feel a sense of despair. Because I feel like this, you know, I don’t have enough palette. I mean, I don’t have enough colors, this isn’t gonna work. And then I start playing around and layering. And suddenly, somehow it does. So I can carry that color boldness into my oil work. Because oil, you can tend to mix and mix and mix so that it becomes tentative. So pastel has taught me to, to be more bold in my color choices with oil. Oil has taught me to attend to edges more because you have to work harder to to get, you know, variety of edge work in in oil. So each each medium has taught me something about the other medium.

Eric Rhoads 1:22:51
Awesome. Thank you. Thank you for that, Kari.

Kari Stober 1:22:54
Yes. Hi. So we have another question a couple of questions. Um, so for obviously, with oil, paints, watercolor or acrylic, you blend your colors together to get different colors, you’ve got the color wheel, you can start with primary mood to secondary and it’s easier because you can blend the colors together to get what you want. With pastel, it’s quite a bit harder because I know from my own experience that if you don’t have the right color, sometimes it really can can turn the painting into something different. Since all of you guys are oil painters, but also pastel, how do you kind of overcome that issue of do I have the right color? Have you found a way to blend your pastels together to get the color you need? Or do you just keep growing your palette so that you have the colors you need whenever you need them.

Albert Handell 1:23:39
Can I take that one

Eric Rhoads 1:23:41

Albert Handell 1:23:47
you can do with oil is by putting some weight into it and all that. So as you can, there’s two things that I do. I make use of a lot of different colors of similar value, which takes the value which might be correct, let’s say and rounds it out so it’s not just one color. As far as darkness and lightness goes, I have found by varying the pressure. My dark colors can get a little lighter and fit right in there. If I vary the pressure, just a touch and I think pastel is are doing that if they know it or not. And this is true with light colors. If it’s too bright, just relax a little bit with the same two piece of chalk and put it on with less emphasis and it gets darker. This is something this I found this for me a revelation Then that’s my answer. Okay. It’s more than one color to each pastel stick. All right, and rocket polishing get lighter. By varying the pressure and lighter colors, white and roller can get a bit darker by going lightly with the application, I don’t know if that helps.

Eric Rhoads 1:25:24
Thank you, Albert. Okay, ladies and gentlemen, the big question, the best advice, the most important advice that you can give or that anyone ever gave you, as an artist, we’re going to start with Albert first.

Albert Handell 1:25:42
Dedicate at least one hour to dedicate towards drawing. Figure out you might have to use my advice is to copy somebody rather than try and work from your own photography. Work for one hour, even if it kills you. I mean, you know, I mean, stay there. Yeah, Buck. But make a conscientious copy of somebody’s thinking that you like, and wish you had done. And stay there for an hour. And the next day, go back and stay there for an hour? No two ways about that hour. No two ways. After a while, I hope the hour become an hour and a half gallon. Yes. It’s much better than nothing. And it could lead you into something. Good luck.

Eric Rhoads 1:27:00
I think that I think that’s great advice. And and, you know, even if you’re sitting around with your family, watching television, you can still have a sketchpad in your hand.

Albert Handell 1:27:09
No, I don’t agree. Okay, let’s hear it. I don’t agree you sitting around with your family and you’re watching TV with a sketchpad? No, I don’t believe in that at all. That’s what I said.

Eric Rhoads 1:27:23
All right. I stand corrected.

Albert Handell 1:27:26
You are forgiven

Eric Rhoads 1:27:29
focus one hour. Albert, don’t write me out of here with buddy. I love sweet. All right. No.

Jill Wagner 1:27:44
Do you say bill or Jill,

Eric Rhoads 1:27:45
I said, Bill, okay.

Bill Schneider 1:27:50
You know, rather than, you know, working for five hours on a Sunday, and then not doing anything from the for the rest of the week, it’s better if you can only do 15 minutes, when I was still working in my pension consulting business, I forced myself to draw it, if only for 15 minutes before I went to sleep at night. And you learn so much more from doing it on a daily basis. Rather than going to do it all at once, one day a week and then ignoring it the other days that you’re not practicing, you’re going backwards. And so if you practice every day, you’ll be going forwards. One of the

Eric Rhoads 1:28:33
things I noticed when I was in Russia hanging out with friends, is that they they always had a sketchpad with them in their pocket. And we’d be standing in line at a grocery store or something. And they’re sketching people. And I asked him about it. And they said, you know, you just have to keep your hand eye coordination alive. You just got to always be drawing. Yes. All right. Now we have Jill, Jill.

Jill Wagner 1:28:57
Well, we all seem to be on the same lane. Draw, draw, draw. There’s no getting away from drawing I have often heard my students say, Well, I don’t want to draw, I just want to paint. And you can’t really get from there to there without drawing. But what I really have found super helpful is going to figure drawing and portrait classes. And not because I want to be a portrait painter, or a figure painter, but because if you can realistically capture a body and or a likeness, you can probably draw anything. So you know if your athletes just a smidge on where the eye is positioned, or if you’ve got a rib coming out the wrong way. The painting just does. The drawing just doesn’t work. So I really focus on most of my drawing in those in that area. The big thing that somebody said to me, that really changed the way I looked at my painting was up, you could try to be somebody else just be you.

Eric Rhoads 1:30:04
Okay. All right, excellent. You know, we promised sevens. And we actually touched on each of the seven steps, but we didn’t actually put them in list form here. So I do apologize. But if you go back to your notes, those are the key things, you know, starting with drawing, copying, getting yourself to experimentation, copying masters, et cetera. Aaron,

Aaron Schuerr 1:30:31
no, I’m really inspired by getting to share this time with with all of you guys, and I’m taking notes that what everyone else is saying here, because I feel like we’re just all fellow travelers, just at different points in the journey. So I have, I have two things that I want to touch on one Some advice I got at a key time early in my career from an artist that I admired. And he talked about the the ambition of an aspiring artists, you know, you’re chasing, you’re chasing deadlines, you’re chasing shows, and you finally get on that show, and you get some recognition for, say, a certain kind of painting. And so then it’s easy to start to try to paint that kind of thing again, because it worked, and that others know. And he said, You have to have the opportunity to fail. And I love that you use the word opportunity as like, Oh, this is a great thing, let’s fail. And that has stuck with me. So that I’m not focused on chasing deadlines, chasing shows, I am focused on growth. The other thing he said about that is, if you’re focusing on growth over the product, he said, obviously, you’re going to be the better artists in the long term. But he said, you will also have the better career. Because you will because you know, because it will be varied. And your work will show that maturity. So that that has really stuck with me over the years. The second one, I’m going to call this cultivating selfishness. I have students that come into workshops sometimes, and they say, you know, I really, really would like to be able to paint like you, and then look at their materials that they bring to the workshop. And I think, well, I can’t paint like me with those materials. So take yourself seriously. If you’re in this, be all in. So that means getting the materials that will help you succeed. In this case, you know, sign up for the pastel live, and really invest in and invest in yourself, take yourself seriously and and you will you will grow. And then the last thing with that with something like whether it’s a workshop, or pastel live, the most important part of any workshop is the weeks after the workshop. It’s when you take the time to really sit with yourself and do work within the next couple of weeks after workshop because during a workshop, you know, you’re getting flooded with more information, it’s afterwards that you can start to really ingest it and make your own. Yeah, especially

Eric Rhoads 1:33:07
because you know, you’re a little worried about all the people around you and how you’re going to look and you need to kind of get used to it. But I think that’s great advice. What when I went to a Tony Robbins event, I booked a full day of hotel room after the event. And I spent one full day going over my notes and picking out the things I wanted to work on. And the reason I did that is because I knew the minute I got back to my normal life, I would get consumed with my normal life and busyness. And I think a great thing to do to just expand on that is if you go to a workshop, you know, take a couple of days, if you can afford to take a couple of days after the workshop and just focus on your notes what you learned, practice what you learned. Because this is why we do the plein air convention the way we do. We say okay, we’re going to learn in the morning and then you’re going to go out in the afternoon, practice what you learn because the sooner you get brush to canvas or pastel to paper, and you put those things in your head, you’re going to learn them faster. That’s why I like it when people either paint along during pastel live or they take notes and then they watch it again and they paint along and sometimes return to it time and time again. Okay, any final thoughts, people?

Jill Wagner 1:34:27
Let’s have fun.

Eric Rhoads 1:34:28
Let’s have some fun! I would encourage everybody, if you go through your notes from today, I went through and I came up with seven things but there were more things in seven, you know, draw, take the opportunity to fail experiment. Embrace your fear, because that’s when you’re just breaking through. Control the voices in your head. Don’t worry about your style. It’ll find you it’s like yours signature, it will find you and then step out of your comfort zone. Everybody here has experienced tough times that paintings, voices in their head, but they and they continue to experience them. It’s just part of the ongoing process.

Albert Handell 1:35:18
Can I add one thing? You’ve heard wonderful advice. There is no failure.

Eric Rhoads 1:35:33
That’s right. No failure. I had to write that down. Do you want to expand on that?

Albert Handell 1:35:45
Yeah, of course. There is no failure, you’re going to do it. Decide which technique which learning technique you’re going to use, use it. And there is no failure.

Eric Rhoads 1:36:07
While you’re learning from every mistake,

Albert Handell 1:36:11
of course, and you’re learning from every asset, not just the mistakes, don’t worry about the mistakes. Don’t worry about finishing the picture. Just do them.

Eric Rhoads 1:36:25
Like Bill said, it’s a sketch go don’t make it precious. All right. Anybody else any final thoughts?

Bill Schneider 1:36:34
I have a final thought. You’re the artist, you’re in charge of quality control. That’s, I heard that from Bill parks probably 1000 times. And I think what he meant was that we get to make decisions. You know, if you’re doing a landscape, and the tree happens to be dead in the center of your painting, you don’t have to put it there, you’re in charge of quality control, you can decide to move that tree in your painting, you can decide what to put in what to leave out. You know, the the question of style style is basically the habitual decisions that we make about what to put in and what to leave out. And so after a while, you keep making similar decisions. And then people say, Oh, I love your style. It’s it’s these habitual decisions.

Eric Rhoads 1:37:29
Excellent. Excellent. Anybody else?

Aaron Schuerr 1:37:33
I think my, my final thought would be just a sense of gratitude. You know, realizing that there’s this amazing community out there is, is really, really encouraging, like to feel part of a tribe. Because it can be a little lonely being an artist from time to time. So I just, I take a lot of energy from from all of you.

Eric Rhoads 1:37:56
You know, the thing I hear often, Aaron, is when people come to my retreats, like well call me. They say, you know, nobody here is judging me, you know, it’s, I’m painting next to, you know, John McDonald or somebody, Jama girl or somebody like that, and, and yet, nobody’s judging me. Everybody’s embracing me. Everybody’s helping me. And that’s what’s so wonderful about this community, you know, and we’re all happy people because we’re doing what we love. All right, well, I want to thank all of our artists and I hope you guys will find a, an opportunity to, to put some quotes that you’ve seen today from some of these artists out on social media. Thank you again, to our artists. We love you guys. You gave us a lot of great insights, a lot of great time today. I’m very grateful to you. We’re looking forward to seeing you on pastel live and seeing you whenever we see you. Okay, well, that was pretty interesting. I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you to our guests. Let’s get right to the marketing minute. You can send your art marketing questions to Eric at Mark art And you can come live on the podcast during the marketing minute if you want or you can directly send your questions to me. Let’s get this thing rolling.

Announcer 1:39:14
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 1:39:26
Okay, so I’m going to take your questions and try to get them the best I can. We also put this on the art marketing minute as a separate podcast. That’s why you see the plein air podcast set beside me because we’re doing it from the plein air podcast in case you’re wondering if you’re listening. Okay, this is from Sandy White in Colorado who says I am finally getting into marketing my own artwork. What are the first things that I should be doing? Sandy, congratulations. You’ve asked a loaded question because marketing is vast. And it includes so much and I will go into some depth. But all these answers are in my book, or maybe most of them are. But let’s touch on some of the key things. First off, you, you ask yourself, why? Why am I marketing? Why do I want to market what do I hope to accomplish, you need to be very specific, not broad. For instance, instead of saying, I want to sell more art, which is broad, you say, I want to sell $500 of art in every single month, or 5000, or 500,000, or whatever your number is. Now, we all have different reasons for our why. And that’s why we have to define what we want first, because marketing isn’t always about selling art. It is always about selling yourself and your brand. But you might do it for different reasons, you might do it for recognition, you might do it for awareness, you might want to get galleries to pick you up, you might be marketing to get invited to all the great parties in your town. And of course, you might be marketing to sell art. So no, you might want all those things, but you got to pick one, and make that your primary focus. So make a list of everything that you want, prioritize it, define that list exactly into exact terms, and then set some goals, your goals will determine the actions that you take, because each action requires a different approach in most cases. So once you get some goals, break them into small steps, what I call micro goals, I like weekly goals, I have a weekly goal every week of the year for my entire year, based on my big initiatives I’m trying to accomplish. So you can do that, too. It’s not hard, take some time, but it’s not hard. Just follow a plan. So it’s not all or nothing at once, right. So we can’t get it all at once. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much money we have, we can’t get it all at once. There are things you can do to stimulate things better with those things. But to get noticed, to get started selling, you’ve got to gradually build sales with confidence before you pull the trigger. You know, if you decide you want to go full time, and replace your full time income, then you’ve got to kind of get used to it first. So don’t just jump in and quit your job. I mean, I don’t recommend that I think you want to keep that job because things always take longer and cost more money than you think they will and having that job will help you and you’ll be able to just work two jobs simultaneously your art and that job. Alright. Also, you need to decide where your focus is gonna lie is it local, regional, national or international, it becomes more complex and more expensive, the more you add to that and expand, but I want to recommend that every artist ultimately, as a local strategy, and a national strategy. And the reason I say that is because local is really important to you. Because you know, you can get involved in local things and become a celebrity locally, and that’s gonna buy you a lot of parties and invitations and things like that, and you’re gonna get seen, and there’s money in your town who will buy your paintings. But a national strategy is also good because sometimes the local towns have bad economies, and you want to have a strategy so you can go where the money is, jump or fish are jumping into the boat, so to speak, right? So this list, of course, is the top of the iceberg. But start defining what you want your life to look like what you need financially, what you want to be able to do, such as travel or workshops, or other things, perks. And then you know, maybe it’s building the ultimate studio like Lori Putnam did. She’s famous now. But she came to me she was broke. We built a plan. I helped her with her marketing. She built her ultimate studio and makes more money than she ever thought possible in her life. And it’s very possible, it just takes time and dedication. She’s worked very hard at it for 10 solid years. And she made really good progress fast, but she makes more and more progress. The longer you keep it going you build momentum. She’s passionate, she’s driven, she works hard. And she’s also become a better marketer than me, because she’s really good at it. She’s got good instincts, and so if you study it, you can become that too. So hope that helps.

The second question comes from Scott in Middleton, Pennsylvania, who says this is a long one. I’m driven to specialize in biblical narrative compositions in the style of Caravaggio, late Titian and late Rembrandt in the 10 of Burzum. Tradition. I don’t know what that means. I’m drawing upon it education and biblical studies. 20 years of managing a high end picture framing and manufacturing business, and a lifelong connection with the church. Over the last 24 years, I have researched museum conservation bulletins, technical books, and the old masters and frequented museums. I am making my own on panels using historical pigments sourced from regions in Europe, where old masters are likely to have acquired theirs, you would like our our video that Eric Johnson did. He goes through a lot of that. Anyway, using high quality, linen, traditional techniques for the restricted palette and I aim to create quality paintings that will age well far beyond my lifetime. Let’s hope so I prioritize creating powerful and dynamic images that evoke contemplation. Currently, I’m working on donating two eight foot by 16 foot paintings for a church ceiling. Installation. One is an intimate dramatic composition of the Last Supper, the other is an eerie landscape with Christ carrying His cross. My primary goal is to create a masterpiece that is worthy of appreciation, as though by the hand of an old master, or, as I would say, a new master, right? I feel that I will be ready to begin promoting my work sometime next year. What type or which type of media do you think would be the most effective in showcasing my work? Wow, Scott, that’s very impressive. Man, I’d like to see your work. I’ll look it up. You know, that’s a loaded question. Because it’s really a question that is not answerable. Because you haven’t given me enough data? You see? You have to know the purpose or the desire, you see what a start marketing, but for what purpose? Are you going to give away paintings, you got to do more donations? What are you going to do? Most people think about advertising and where they want to advertise, before they even consider what goals and outcomes they want, which is really not the right thing to do. Because you end up spending a lot of money you don’t need to spend when you don’t know it’s like, you know, taking your car and putting it on auto drive and not knowing where it’s going. Right. So you want to begin promoting your work. To what end? I asked okay, I can imagine a lot of scenarios like wanting more Commission’s wanting to sell collectors wanting galleries, seeking recognition or galleries. I’m sure there’s many, many more. But I’d like you to go into depth with your answers. Asking which media I should use is kind of like saying which tool should I use to build something? Well, it all depends on what you want to build, how fast you want to build it, how long you want it to last, what are the weather conditions it’s going to be exposed to all those things matter because your tools and materials matter. So marketing doesn’t have to be complex, it’s a simple solution to overcome a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. But I can’t solve a problem till I know what the problem is. And you can’t either. So you need to define that. media choices can accomplish a lot of different things for you and at different levels. I magazine Fine Art connoisseur, for instance, reaches a lot of really mega rich billionaire type art collectors, who love realism. But it may not reach people who commissioned church paintings, for instance, you know, my neighbor was put in charge of a megachurch commission of a mosaic and she spent five or 10 years on it. She went, she didn’t even know my magazine existed, she went to Florence found answers there ended up getting an artist there to do it, who spent five years building this and then shipping it over and installing it. So you know, you need to figure out where the fish are that you want to buy, and that you want to catch. Right? So, you know, first off, you got to know what the problem is start by stating the desired outcome. And if that’s I want to get more commissions then get specific, how many more commissions, one commission, two commissions and at what amount of money? If you want one commission within 12 months, and I know you have to work in advance, because you’re going to be working on one for a long time, then, you know, what are you willing to spend to get that commission? Are you willing to spend 10%, five to 10, sometimes 20%, marketing expense is pretty normal. And so if you get $100,000 Commission, whether you spend 10, grand or 10% to get that commission, it’s probably worth it. Right? And so sometimes it’s not about advertising, though, you know, it might be a matter of a couple of phone calls, or asking the right people who the right people are, or maybe it’s advertising, maybe it’s in a church publication that church art curators read or something I don’t know, you’re gonna have to figure out that out. But answer those questions first. And then I can suggest the tools you need. And you can ask again on here and I’ll give you more answers. Might not be immediate at all though. Right? Hope this helps. Anyway, that is today’s art marketing minute.

Announcer 1:49:36
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:49:45
Hope you enjoyed today’s podcast a little different a little departure thanks to our for guests. And email your questions to me [email protected] A couple of reminders. Get on that waitlist for plein air Japan if you want to go paint cherry blossom In March, it’s going to be spectacular. It’s a VIP trip. Check out fall color week at Check out pastel live. So and check out the fine art trip, which is going to be this fall. It’s going to be spectacular. We’re going to I tried to do a pre pre trip trip to see Zorn and Maura. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but I’m trying so anyway, get registered. Okay, that’s it I have a blog on Sundays called Sunday coffee. Just go to to subscribe so you get it. And I’m on the air daily on Facebook on a thing called Art School live are hundreds and hundreds of artists do demonstrations for free. And it’s noon, Eastern every weekday. You can subscribe on YouTube by searching art school alive and hit the subscribe button. Also follow me on Instagram and Facebook. It’s at Eric Rhoads. I am that person. Eric Rhoads, founder and publisher of plein air magazine. Long time ago. Time flies. Thank you for your time today. And thanks again for the letter from Poland. I’d like to hear from more of you. It’s a big world out there. Let’s go paint it. We’ll see you. 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 Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.


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