This is Plein Air Podcast episode number 253 with British artist and plein air mountaineer James Hart Dyke, who shares a story about a plein air adventure all of us wish we could have been a part of:
James Hart Dyke climbed and painted Mont Blanc, which has an elevation of almost 15,800 feet, making it the highest summit of Western Europe. It was a treacherous trip of navigating around crevasses, going up glaciers, and avoiding avalanches and rock falls. Failure was not an option.
Why did he do it? He wanted to reenact and emulate as closely as possible the conditions under which the legendary French painter of the Alps, Gabriel Loppé, made his pair of Summit paintings at sunset in 1873.
Listen as they discuss:
– The inspirational moment he had as an 8-year-old, which led him to his path as a painter
– How studying architecture in college launched his professional artistic career (“It’s a bit dreamy, but that’s how my career started.”)
– Dealing with frequent rain as a plein air painter in the UK (“Plein air painting is not for the faint-hearted.”)
– The positive aspect of having what he calls “generators,” or challenges when painting on location
– His thrilling experience with the British Intelligence Service and painting combat zones
– How the producers of the James Bond films discovered him and his work (“It was very thrilling, but I’d say it all comes out of plein air landscape painting.”)
– His experiences with King Charles and the Royal Party
– How his plein air Summit adventure came to be, how he prepared himself physically, mentally, and logistically as a painter
– His takeaways from the extreme experience and what he learned about himself
– The plein air movement in the UK
– And what’s next for James: Painting one of America’s iconic parks
And in this week’s Art Marketing Minute:
What can you do to attract more out-of-town buyers?
Are there ways to vet potential buyers so you don’t waste your time?
Listen and learn!
Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and James Hart Dyke here:
September 27 – October 8, 2023, James’s exhibition “Mont Blanc: The Summit Paintings” is on view at Cromwell Place in London. It will show around 40 paintings and sketches from the adventure, including ones made during the climb itself. These pictures will hang alongside the two painted by Gabriel Loppé 150 years ago at the same time of day.
– James Hart Dyke online: https://jameshartdyke.com/
– Plein Air Japan: https://pleinairjapan.com/spring-2024
– Realism Live: https://realismlive.com/
– Plein Air Magazine: https://pleinairmagazine.com/
– Fall Color Week: https://fallcolorweek.com/
– European Fine Art Trip: https://finearttrip.com/stockholm-madrid
– Sunday Coffee: https://coffeewitheric.com/
– Submit Art Marketing Questions: artmarketing.com/questions
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, it is sometimes slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
This is episode number 253 with British artist and plein air mountaineer James Hart Dyke who is going to share a story about a plein air adventure all of us wish we could have been a part of.
This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast, we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher, and painter, Eric Rhoads.
Eric Rhoads 0:08
I hope you are having a terrific well, I guess It’s fall now isn’t it so beginning of fall, I hope you had a terrific summer or winter for those of you who are on the other side of the hemisphere. It’s kind of comical. I live on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains in the summertime. And people come up here only for the months of August and part of July sometimes. And we had rain every day all summer with the exception of about three beautiful days. And then the rest was all rain cold. We had some hail, we had some storms. We had record rainfall. And then Labor Day hits and everybody goes home. And Labor Day was the next nice day and ever since then it’s just been absolutely beautiful weather. So I’m staying I’m gonna stay as long as I can stick it out probably at least another month. I have this little wooden electric boat and I tool around in that electric boat. It’s nice because it’s low. I can control it. There’s no steering wheel. It’s just got a tiller. And I have my that way I can set my easel up right in front of me. And I sometimes throughout anchor but I usually don’t I just drift and I put my my painting up and I do it. So I had a chance. Finally, all the times I tried to paint the summer, which was not many because of the weather. I had waves you know the kids were out with ski boats. And so I was tossing around with waves. And it was pretty crazy. But there was zero boat traffic on Labor Day and I pulled up in front of the Vanderbilt pagoda, which was built by Mr. Vanderbilt years, you know back in 1908 or something and it’s a beautiful Japanese pagoda whose whole camp is Japanese. And I did that to practice for this trip that I’m going to be taking soon. Tell you about about it tell you about it soon, but I posted video on my Instagram. If you’re curious, just find me @EricRhoads. My goal with this podcast is to help inspire you to paint outdoors because I really believe painting outdoors makes us better painters we see light and color differently. And of course the plein air lifestyle is so cool. I love it because I get to meet and paint with lots of friends. As a matter of fact, this week, Collie Wison from Australia is going to be visiting here in the Adirondacks. We’re going to go hang out and paint for a few days. And it’s fun to just paint with others. It’s a chance to be outdoors in nature. I’ve never been like a sportsman. But I love to express my creativity and love to express nature. And this is a chance to get into the mind of artists this podcast and to learn about their struggle, their journey, their techniques. And anyway, I’m so grateful to you, this show would not be the success we literally have had millions, millions of people listen, it wouldn’t be a success. And we wouldn’t be getting all these people listening if it weren’t for your positive reviews and you sharing it leaving comments. So thank you for making that happen. Today is going to be a red letter day because we have a really great guest and this is a story you don’t want to miss. And at the end of the podcast, we’re going to do the art marketing minute to help you sell more paintings. Now a lot of you don’t do that. That’s okay, too. But for those of you who do we talk about the pros and cons of various things, and today we’re going to talk about some new things that we haven’t touched on before in the in the art Marketing podcast. Now, I have to admit that I was a bit of a fairweather painter, and I got a little rusty this summer, because, you know I just wasn’t painting enough. But I did get to practice a little and I’m practicing as much Because I can the next few weeks before fall color week. Fall color week is my annual Fall Retreat. This is our last year in the Adirondacks. It starts on the 29th goes for a week it’s it’s sold out with about 100 people actually more than 100 people and there is a waitlist. It is sold out so you’re not likely to get in but if you do decide you want to go get on the waitlist because at the last minute somebody gets sick or has a death in the family heaven forbid or something like that then we can possibly get you in always join those waitlist. Right after fall color week I’m going to drive back to Texas I’m driving because we have dogs and we can’t fly with them. Then I’m heading out to Sweden and Spain. I have my annual Fine Art trip with my magazine Fine Art connoisseur and we take collectors behind the scenes to museums we take we go to see artwork we go oftentimes go to collectors, homes, artists, home studios, we’ve got some really cool things planned. And there are seats available for that. Not many but maybe three or four. And you might want to check that out at FineArtTrip.com Also, there’s a waitlist for my March plein air Japan trip which I think is sold out but I do think there’s rumor that there are going to be a couple seats available. So let’s find out about that if you want to go just go and join that waitlist at pleinairjapan.com. Feedspot, thank you very much made us the number one art podcast in the world. Two years in a row. I don’t know how things like this happen. Just little old me but I’m I think it’s pretty cool. I have to admit, you know, I don’t want my ego to get out of control or anything else because it’s still you know, just a tiny tiny little thing but that’s nice to get acknowledgement. Thank you for making that happen. coming up in November, we have Realism Live, which is our online art conference about realism anything about painting anything real right? portraits, figures, landscapes still life. We even have an essential stay for beginners and a refresher. Anyway, we’ve got some incredible masters including and this is great, the great Burton Silverman and Burton Silverman hasn’t done many things like this, and you know Burt’s in his mid 90s, early 90s. So this is a rare opportunity to see him go to realismlive.com. Coming up after this interview with James, like I said, I’ll be answering art marketing questions you can send in your questions to me, [email protected]. Or if you want you can come live on the recording of the podcast. Not many people want to do that. But I understand that. Okay, now I want to introduce our guests. This is really a red letter day as far as I’m concerned. It’s a fascinating story, because our guest James is what we would call an extreme painter. In July of 2022. He climbed Mont Blanc, which is the highest summit of Western Europe, and it’s at the border between France and Italy. Now Mont Blanc has an elevation of 15,800 feet. I’ve been to Mont Blanc I haven’t been on top of Mount Blanc, but I’ve been on top of the young Frow in the summer, and it’s really cold up there. So I would imagine there was snow and cold we’ll find out about that. Anyway, he was accompanied by a collection of guides, cameraman climbers as he attended, ascended to the treacherous North Face to paint from the summit at sunset which was his goal. He wanted to reenact and emulate as closely as possible the conditions under which the legendary French painter of the Alps, a Gabriel Loppé, who made his pair of Summit paintings at sunset in August 1873. And I liked these plein air traditions like this, thanks to a weather window and a great painting James was able to spend nearly two hours on the summit, not an easy task, and paint two pictures on the site and also captured a number of studies that he took back to the UK and worked on from his studio. I’m anxious to hear all about this. He’s not just a mountaineer. He’s an adventurer, and he has undertaken a series of projects including an artist in residence for the British secrets intelligence service. So does that mean he’s a spy? We’ll find out. He was an artist embedded with the British forces, working with the producers of the James Bond films, working for Aston Martin and accompanying his Royal Highness King of England, Charles, on Royal tours, Charles as you know, as a painter. We’ll probably talk about that. James, welcome, man. There is a lot to talk about. You’re a pretty accomplished guy. I’m curious about how this whole journey began. When did you get an interest in painting?
James Hart Dyke 9:57
So I actually very clearly when I was at the age of eight my parents took me to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Yeah, there I saw a little study by John Constable.
Eric Rhoads 10:08
Oh, there’s a whole wall. There’s a whole wall of Constable studies.
James Hart Dyke 10:12
I saw a little study actually obvious house in East burgled. And that triggered something in me. And from that day onwards, I’ve been painting, I’d be painting and I’ve tried to give it up a few times and do other things more, might call more sensible things. But actually, I can’t, it’s ingrained in me. And so it’s a very clear beginning.
Eric Rhoads 10:32
So did you pursue a career as an artist, as a young man? Or did you pursue other careers?
James Hart Dyke 10:39
Well, I’ve always painted but I did actually, when it came to university and studying, I tried to study architecture. So I did study architecture for six years, I went to play for the Royal College of Art. And there you have all sorts of people doing all sorts of artistic endeavors. So there, I saw the painters doing a painting, and I thought, it just made me think I want to go back to my painting, although I love my architecture. And strangely, at the end of Lent, the architectural training, you have something called a degree show, and you put up all your architectural work. And the idea is that architecture come along and give you a job to be an architect. Well, I got architects coming along to see my work. And I got lots of work to paint buildings or paint, build paint, make paintings of country houses. So in a way that started my professional, artistic career. And I started by painting architectural views for architects, and also going around country houses around the UK, making paintings of country houses, rather like Brideshead Revisited. So it’s a bit dreamy, but that’s how my painting career started with.
Eric Rhoads 11:49
It sounds a bit dreamy. Well, plein air painting in the UK is a bit of a challenge because of all the rains. So how do you deal with that?
James Hart Dyke 11:58
You just have to put up with it. And it was one of the many factors also probably I probably the dogs and horses and Hornets and bees, all the usual things one hasn’t played. Those.
Eric Rhoads 12:09
Those are the joys of plein air painting right now.
James Hart Dyke 12:11
It’s really tricky game, I have to say plein air painting is not for the faint hearted. It’s really tricky. So it’s great. You have the show. It’s wonderful.
Eric Rhoads 12:21
That’s what I love about it. You know, I love I love the challenges. And you know, people, some people say, Well, you know, I don’t want to go paint in snow, or I don’t want to paint when there are mosquitoes and you know, and you have I have memories of great experiences from the toughest conditions. Yeah, you know, I can remember, I took a group to fall color week, we went to Banff and Lake Louise and they had a unexpected record, snowfall while we were there. And I thought, you know, I’m not a I’m not a snow painter, I don’t want to go out in the snow. And I did and my friends did. And we all you know, we felt like we challenged ourselves and we conquered it. And I have great memories from those kinds of things. So winter painting is fabulous.
James Hart Dyke 13:05
So you know, sorry, but you know, was difficult is a regenerators for painters and they’re not kind of negative things they make the kind of painting you do. The fact you’re cold means you can’t stay there that long, which means you have to paint quicker, which makes a certain kind of painting.
Eric Rhoads 13:23
You’re painting with instinct at that point, you’re not you don’t have time to think,
James Hart Dyke 13:28
no, it’s a very positive thing. I call those horrible things, generators, they’re not bad things are good things generator.
Eric Rhoads 13:34
I think that’s a wonderful, wonderful term. So before we get into this, I would be curious about this, this part of your bio, that we talked about the British intelligence service, and so on, let’s start there. Okay, what happened? Where did this all How did this all come about?
James Hart Dyke 13:55
Long story, but actually, it came at a landscape painting. When I began that kind of begin to extend my landscape painting into places like the Himalayas, I actually went into places which were at the time war zones. And that linked to me that the British military became interested in me then they started commissioning me to make paintings of military subjects and going out war zones. And then somewhere along the line, I must have met someone in that intelligence world, which I didn’t know at the time. And I did get a call one day a random call to go and meet someone in a restaurant. So I went into this kind of dingy restaurant, we had a chat. And the person said, the end, you know, we’d like you to come and do a project for MI six or Sr. S is as they like to be called the British Secret Intelligence Service. And actually, I thought he was a bit bonkers, actually, I thought, I thought this was some kind of joke. However, they organized a meeting, and I went into the head office, and now I met some of the senior people, and I realized this is a real thing. And actually, the objective was, it was the centenary of the British Secret Intelligence Service. And they wanted to celebrate it in some way. And they obviously can’t bring cameras into the, into the environment, they thought they could bring in artists to make some kind of interpretation of what they do, and give a field for people in the public to, to sense what their life was like, the idea was to I was going to work in secret for a year, which I did, so I had to sign a lot of documents. And at the end of that year, there’ll be a public exhibition. So we’d go public with it, and have a public exhibition. And that’s, that’s the basic principle of the whole project.
Eric Rhoads 15:42
Were you were you there in the in the building along the river by the bridge? There’s a beautiful old classic art deco building.
James Hart Dyke 15:52
Yeah, yes, I was there in that building. It’s quite sad was, that’s when I realized it was serious. Like they let me in, I went to all their security. And I realized, okay, this guy wasn’t just bluffing me, it was a real thing. So it was just Yeah, it was, it was pretty thrilling.
Eric Rhoads 16:07
So what do you find yourself exposed to overhearing conversations you should have not heard?
James Hart Dyke 16:15
Well, I guess you can imagine the whole thing was very carefully controlled. So I never ever heard anything secret or sensitive, or just given a general run around the place as far as they could. And I was able to talk to people just to get a feel of what life was like, working in the British Secret Intelligence Service, and actually just by working for a year undercover, so I couldn’t tell any of my friends what I was doing, like anybody, any normal spy,
Eric Rhoads 16:41
like that’s, that’s got to be kind of hard to do is
James Hart Dyke 16:44
really tricky. So I’d go from this the the Mi six office back to my studio, which is in London, the time and I couldn’t tell people what I’ve been doing, or my friends or my family or anyone. And actually, it’s quite a good thing. Because you suddenly understand what life is like, what their life is like, and you can respond to that as an artist. So it’s a good process to go through.
Eric Rhoads 17:04
I don’t know if I could do that I, you know, I, my son recently went to work on an internship at weta workshop in New Zealand. And he came home and he said, I can’t tell you anything. I had to sign a nondisclosure. I can’t tell you about the movies we worked on and the sets we’ve worked on. They all have code names anyway. But I still can’t tell you, I can’t tell you the actors that were there. And I thought I don’t know if I could do that. That’s, that’s remarkable.
James Hart Dyke 17:34
It’s another way of life. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 17:36
So you also painted in combat zones. I know that historically, the military and a lot of countries has had combat artists. Some of the great illustrators of the 30s and 40s. Were combat artists, what were you actually painting in combat situations and documenting that?
James Hart Dyke 17:59
Well, they took me to war zones. And I was able to, I couldn’t get the front lines. So they said, it was just too dangerous. So as we painting in the main, like Camp Bastion, in the main kind of army bases, really, but I got to fly with them, and to talk to all the soldiers and get a sense of what life was like, in a way actually those in the bases you see, you know, see soldiers relaxing, and being calm, you can talk to them. And you get a really good kind of quiet sense of what’s going on really, rather than the watery stuff, which is not very obvious in a way with the quiet psychological stuff that’s going on. And that sounds kind of constantly constantly on that stuff. Really.
Eric Rhoads 18:40
Yeah, I would imagine. So it was, was there a takeaway from from that experience, or a takeaway from the Secret Service experience that you can share in terms of what you learned about their lives?
James Hart Dyke 18:55
Well, in that world, people are self less apt to say, in civilian life and find people much more selfish. But in those worlds, they’re self less about what you can give to other people, and what you can do for your country. And it’s a very it was a very beautiful set of people to work for. It was very inspiring, and I really enjoyed and I really miss not being with them, actually. They’re really special people. Oh, nice.
Eric Rhoads 19:22
Now you also had the benefit of working and you said on a James Bond film, tell me about that.
James Hart Dyke 19:30
Well, because of my work with MI six and MI six obviously never really talked about what they do, or and particularly don’t have any images about what they do. The producers of the James Bond films were quite interested in meet me. So I went to meet Barbara broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. And they were a bit of a discussion. And I think they’re just interested to see what what I have to offer in terms of images, they look through my images, see what they what they liked, but at the end of the day I did a portrait for them. And they use one of my paintings in their film Skyfall. So that was really exciting because great to be part of that world.
Eric Rhoads 20:10
It’s being seen by millions of people your work. That’s wonderful.
James Hart Dyke 20:13
Yeah. Yeah, it was very thrilling, thrilling, but I’d say it’s all comes out of plein air landscape painting.
Eric Rhoads 20:19
Yes. Well, that’s. And of course, the one I’m very curious about is your relationship with now King Charles, did you ever have the opportunity to paint with him?
James Hart Dyke 20:34
Yes, I mean, he, it’s an old tradition that you’ve all found each member, the royal family used to always take an artist’s wisdom on their journeys abroad. And then print His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on our King Charles, he always took an artist with him when he went abroad on his foreign trips. And I was lucky enough to go on four of those trips with him. And you’re, you’re effectively his guest, you kind of run along behind him in the royal party, and you can paint and draw whatever you wish. And at some point during the trip, he’ll, you’ll you’ll have a dinner with him. And he will discuss how you’re getting on and we just talk about painting, you know, really a very generous gesture. And I know many artists, he’s helped and has taken with him. So it’s very beautiful thing.
Eric Rhoads 21:17
Well, he’s been very good for the arts, yes, throughout the world, not just the UK. And he is also a very wonderful artist himself. I mentioned to you off camera, that I took a group of art collectors to the UK, and we went to a gallery to try to remember the name of it now. But they carried Charles’s work, and they had an exhibit that we got to see, which was fabulous. And, and you know, there are a lot of people who are in prominent positions who paint. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and painting with many of them. Some of them. Don’t paint. Well, he does.
James Hart Dyke 21:57
He’s very good. He’s very underrated. And he’s extremely good.
Eric Rhoads 22:01
Yes. And it’s got a couple of books out I think of his paintings.
James Hart Dyke 22:04
Yes, he has prints. He’s extremely Isaac’s extended, also painting under tremendous, tremendous pressure, really, because always people around wondering about it’s not much fun. It’s even I find it annoying in the street. When people come along. And pest you know, I have a little trick that I always put a with old Arthur mine told me, it’s got a hat down beside you, you might get a few quid or bucks, or they might not linger too long. I find that keeps people away a bit longer.
Eric Rhoads 22:32
One of the tricks that I’ve seen is that people will put your phones ear pods in their ears. And they even if they’re not listening to anything, just just so they don’t have to answer questions. Yes. And I would assume the questions you get are the same questions we get.
James Hart Dyke 22:48
I’m sure. Yeah. Yes.
James Hart Dyke 22:49
“Are you painting?”
James Hart Dyke 22:51
“Yes. What are you painting?”
Eric Rhoads 22:52
“Are you painting? Well, yeah, my aunt was a painter. Yes.”
James Hart Dyke 22:57
Yes, yes, you get a long discussion. So there’s, I think it’s the same wherever, wherever you are in the world, although strange, actually, in the Himalayas, they the people there have no idea you’re painting something in front of them that the concept of painting is about symbolic painting. So when they can watch you, they come and stand in front of you. And they have no idea you’re painting something in front of you, which is quite interesting. It’s another way of
Eric Rhoads 23:20
thinking. So it certainly is. Yeah. Anyhow. Well, I, I applaud you for what you’ve done. Did Prince Charles give you any pointers or tips? Or did you give him any?
James Hart Dyke 23:33
He’s, um, he’s very complimentary. And I, you know, it’s difficult to be too, too pointed about his painting. But yeah, he’s very good. He’s extremely good. I wish you wish to do more. We probably have very little time for it now, sadly. So.
Eric Rhoads 23:46
Yes. Well, I mentioned to you, again, off camera that Joan Rivers was a real close friend of his, and was an acquaintance of mine, I would say a close friend, and she called me and she were on the phone one day and she said, You know, I really love all this plein air stuff that you’re doing. I said, Oh, I had no idea you knew. And she said, not only do I know, I’m a plein air painter. And I’ve been I’ve been painting with Charles. And I bought Charles plein air magazine subscription for Christmas. And I’ve renewed it several years now. So and I need to find out if he has renewed since her passing. Well, he doesn’t have time to read it. And I put a request in to I said, I dropped at the drop of a hat I’d fly over and and take him painting with me. So well. So far, I’ve only received one rejection letter.
James Hart Dyke 24:47
But like I said, very polite rejection. Very, very good.
Eric Rhoads 24:52
Very good. Well, let’s talk about this great adventure because I think that’s fascinating. First off, kind of let’s Get the behind the scenes story. How did it all begin? Where did this idea come from? Talk to me about the inspiration of this.
James Hart Dyke 25:08
Okay, well why my dealer who’s dealt with my paintings for a good 20 years now. He’s actually a specialist in Alpine paintings and he is a climber himself. And in particular, he specializes in his artist called Gabrielle lapo, who lived in Chamonix, which is the town right below Mangalore and he was painting in the 19th century, lots of big fashion that time for paint thing, Alpine scenes was the Alpines or the mountains actually just been discovered that time. In you kind of older times, people would never go to mountains. But during the climbing, just revolution, people started going out to the mountains, and people wanted paintings, the mountains. And so there’s a big market for mountain painting. And Gabrielle lop is one of those painters, and not only was he a painter, he was extremely good climber. Actually, in fact, many of the first climbers were actually artists. So I always find that very interesting. The matter horn, which is a big spiky mountain in the Alps, was first climbed by an artist in 1865. And actually on the way down, he lost four was the man who fell off and caused a bit of a storm throughout Europe. But in our lobby, he decided 1818 73 to climb on law, and to paint from the summit with his friends, celebrity Stevens. And yes, he did two paintings from the summit. You have to remember that time going into the summit among blondes like going to the moon? Yeah, I’m going they’re also going to sunset, which he did. No one had done that before. Well,
Eric Rhoads 26:37
because you can’t stay up there overnight, I assume. And then you have to climb down in the dark.
James Hart Dyke 26:44
Yeah, that’s right. And the temperatures drop very quickly when the sun goes down. And so no one actually knew at the time, what would happen, could you get down in the nighttime down a very treacherous route in the dark. And also the temperatures will be dropping very fast. So it’s extraordinary and audacious that Gabriella went up there and did these two paintings and came back down again. So that’s the kind of beginning of the story. And my dealer William Mitchell, who’s the specialist in Alpine paintings, he has a brother called James. And I think they will one day having a random conversation. And James, I think James brother suddenly said, Well, why don’t you go to the top of Mont Blanc, and, and paint from the summit, get an artist to paint for the summit. And that triggered the idea for William. And then he spent three years planning this trip, and a lot of time and effort finding the funding as well, and putting a team together to go to the top. And he very kindly asked me to be the artist to go to the top. And I should say, I’m not an experienced climber. And I also get bad altitude sickness, which I found out in MLS. So in a way, I was not the first option, you might have had to go to the top of Mont Blanc, among blondes, 4800 meters, and you can start getting quite sick for our altitude sickness at about 3000 meters. So I when I said yes, I thought was probably a 50/50 chance that I’ll get to the top of Mont Blanc and be able to paint
Eric Rhoads 28:05
and so what what did you have to do in preparation to to get yourself in shape?
James Hart Dyke 28:14
Well, I spent we did do a training climb the year before. So with the whole team came together, we met in Chamonix. And we tried to test climb on another mountain was actually quite a severe issue north I could test out my painting, which is what I really need to do. And I found a lot of flaws in what I was using. And so I spent actually, the next year, designing a painting set, which I know would work on the top of Mont Blanc would be what kind of what kind of
Eric Rhoads 28:41
challenges did you find that you needed to redesign your painting set? I assume high wind
James Hart Dyke 28:48
does Yes, wind is a problem for everyone just winds a problem but also, at the time my first trip I tried to use acrylics, which if they freeze, you lose them, they’ll they won’t cut Unfreeze. So I realized I have to use oil paint and the problem with all pain is you have to take turpentine or some kind of spirit with you which increases the weight. But yeah, that’s that’s I had to take all paint.
Eric Rhoads 29:13
How many colors how many colors did you take with you just the primaries to keep weight down
James Hart Dyke 29:18
I took I took a lot I took about seven or eight colors I’ve got seven or eight colors I normally use in in smallest tubes but the whole thing was designed so it could really be worked as efficiently as possible no messing around looking for tubes of paint so each color each tube of paint I colored the whole thing the color it was so I could find it really easily. So lots of tiny details to save any amount of time. And also the fact I could fold the the board or painting panel into the into the painting box to kind of standard thing but I had to make sure it’s going to work absolutely properly and efficiently. Also want to stand up to paint I didn’t want to sit down, right, so I wanted to make a certain kind of painting a kind of a freer, more liberal kind of painting. So I took a reason man of paint. And the reason man of turpentine and big brushes, and a board, which is about 30 by 40, centimeters, not huge. And, and had a team of 10 people to spread the things out between. So it was about a year testing and trying out different ways of painting and actually made the painting box myself. So it fit is exactly what I what I needed. What I needed to do. There’s a long as it was about a year was a year working
Eric Rhoads 30:38
on that, what time of year, what time of year was this, this trip?
James Hart Dyke 30:42
So we went up in the early summer, so July.
Eric Rhoads 30:46
what was the temperature at the top?
James Hart Dyke 30:48
Well, it’s actually very warm. And sadly, as many parts of the world are experiencing, we have with climate change and global warming, and the whole the outdoors melting. The route we took, which is called the ancient route, which is the route Gabrielle Lakota is now considered very dangerous, and most people do not do it. So we had to find a special guide. There’s a man called Crystal Prophet who’s quite a famous climber in France. And he’s the only one who knows the root, or the ancient root, which involves going up glaciers, winding your way around crevasses and trying to wiggle your way around very dangerous points where there could be Avalanche or rock falls.
Eric Rhoads 31:30
Did you ever get up to did you ever get up to a certain point and say, What am I doing what I need to turn around, I need to get out of here.
James Hart Dyke 31:39
You know, I was so fearful of not going to the top, I was going to the top somehow. And also the climbers around me said you are going to the top, even if you collapse, we’re carrying you up there. Because there’s been so much effort put into this project that I felt that huge responsibility to, to perform to get up to the top also to make the paintings but a lot of pressure on me when I was making the paintings on the top actually, it was really very stressful ordeal. But also a very thrilling one too.
Eric Rhoads 32:06
Did you get sick? You got altitude sickness?
James Hart Dyke 32:09
Amazing. I was absolutely fine. No problem at all. I did go a couple of weeks before to the outs to kind of climatized that may have helped somewhat.
Eric Rhoads 32:19
Yeah. And what time of the day did you start out your journey? And again, to get there and be set up by sunset?
James Hart Dyke 32:29
Well, we it’s basically a two it’s a two day journey to get from Chamonix to the summit. And we didn’t take any cable cars. We took the exact route lApi did walking the hallway. And we actually walked from his studio was house actually, which still exists with all his old ice axe isn’t his painting, still sitting there. And he died in 1913. I think it hasn’t been touched since. So it’s extraordinary kind of museum. We, we walk from there. And you walk to a halfway point called the Grand Moulay. And that’s about a day’s walk up to that. And then we had to wait two days for the weather. And then it’s another full day starting eighth up in the morning to climb up to the summit to get there. I think we got there about eight o’clock in the evening. And we had two hours on the summit. And then it’s another Well, what you walk through the night to get back down to the hut. So it’s been 24 hours walking, really?
Eric Rhoads 33:24
And how much painting time did you have?
James Hart Dyke 33:27
Well, I two hours on the top. I can’t remember the thing was so highly charged at the top. I mean, there were it was a very moving experience. And you know, a lot of burly climbers were in tears, including this guy called Crystal Prophet who’s climbed Everest and all the big sums the world but he was so excited that we were going up not to bag the mountain but to be Reverend to the mountain and to to venerate the landscape. And to show his beauty, which, you know, he doesn’t often come across that he was actually very, very moved and touched by that, which is a very, it was very thrilling that
Eric Rhoads 34:02
so you said you did two paintings plus studies at the top.
James Hart Dyke 34:08
I did two paintings at the top and that’s that’s all I did was two paintings at the top really
Eric Rhoads 34:12
Okay, well, that’s a lot of paintings to do in two hours.
James Hart Dyke 34:15
It was well only had really half an hour on each because a lot of fiddling around with clothes. I mean, the moment we reached the summit, I was pinned to the ground by the other climbers and they started dressing me in very warm clothing so I wouldn’t get cold. But I felt like a boxer being prepared for a match was quite, quite soon. It was extraordinary thing I shouldn’t say that she that. I never saw one of Gabrielle Lopez paintings he he painted this kind of triangular, purple shadow, which comes from the mountain and stretches across the landscape and up onto the horizon. And I thought that painting, you must have made it up or it was not correct or unreal.
Eric Rhoads 34:57
We can show that for the people who are watching on YouTube.
James Hart Dyke 35:00
Yeah. In fact, that’s it There’s a little on the left hand side of that strange shadow. But in fact, one of the first thing I noticed when I arrived to summit was this extraordinary purple shadow going right across the landscape and moving quite fast. So I just set up very quickly. And I made one painting of that shadow, as
Eric Rhoads 35:22
was your goal to, to create the same painting that he created? Or to do something completely different?
James Hart Dyke 35:28
I think, I think I probably do without knowing Yes, I think, but I thought the painting was fake. And I thought not fake in the sense of fake painting. But I thought the shadow was something he made up. But when I realized it’s a real thing, it’s really there. I decided, that’s what I got to paint. That’s the first painting. So first painting is the shadow. And then I turned around and painted the sunset, just as he had done almost 100 years ago, the same, that’s the same kind of view. So it’s kind of yes.
Eric Rhoads 35:57
Fascinating. And then you mentioned you did some studies, you didn’t do them at the top, but you must have done them in camp or along the way.
James Hart Dyke 36:06
Yes, all the way up. I wish I had time. Generally, in the evenings or first thing in the morning, I made little studies on the way where I could really, there wasn’t that much time actually between moving around and climbing. There’s not a huge amount of time. But there are some little studies I’ve done. You know, some of these, some of these mixtures been done in the studio and done up there.
Eric Rhoads 36:29
it looks like you had prepared paintings with an under under painting of orange or something.
James Hart Dyke 36:35
Yes, I took the underpainting color from is very important. And I decided the two colors I wanted on my trip to Mont Blanc was a gray and an orange. And a gray is quite useful because it’s kind of it turns in with rock and kind of classical, classical, basic effects. And then the orange. So this one now is actually done on site, you see it’s painted on a gray. So you get a very soft kind of colors. And it helped me work much quicker by working on a grid, it’s very efficient. And the orange was for the evenings when you get an extraordinary orange light that makes all the rock glow. And I thought by using the orange, I could effectively save time painting in orange rocks effectively, I can just leave the surface as it is and just paint around it. So it’s another way of being efficient in terms of painting.
Eric Rhoads 37:26
Fabulous. And and you I understand you took a film crew with you or was there a documentary created?
James Hart Dyke 37:34
Well, we had a yes, we had a photographer with us. And we had a journal kind of writer with us. And we also had a great great, great grandson of Gabrielle Loppé. We have my dealer and we had a couple of clients who climb and also collect mountain paintings. And then we had some kind of professional guides who have you used before. So it’s kind of nice mix of people we’d all climb together before
Eric Rhoads 37:58
what kind of physical shape did you have to be in to do that it looked like you were climbing a pretty incredible incline. I climbed a mountain this past weekend took me two hours just to get to the top of the small mountain. I can’t imagine what you went through.
James Hart Dyke 38:14
Well, I did I trained physically very hard. We have some hills where I live. And I’ve been, I was running up and down the hills. But also as I said, I was not a experienced climber. And all the guides said about the climbing technique. It’s no problem. Don’t worry about the ropes, and we will we manage you. But I was determined to learn a bit about ropes and climbing. So I went to my local camping shop bought some ropes and some climbing kit and went to the nearest woods where I learned techniques in climbing, to the dismay of some dog walkers because I came tumbling out of trees on the end of ropes when they weren’t expecting. That was my that was my mountain climbing was in the local works. But actually, it served its purpose because I did learn a few basic things which were useful and we were climbing. Otherwise the guides really they they can take you out without much experience.
Eric Rhoads 39:08
what a fascinating experience. What did you learn from this experience? What was your final takeaway of having gone through this?
James Hart Dyke 39:20
I realize that quite often I’m not painting properly on the top of Mangalore I’ve never ever concentrated so hard in my life I had, you know, had all these people wandering around me, I had my deal spent three years organizing this we’d had press, all sorts of things been happening. I spent a whole year preparing for it. So the pressure on me to perform on those two little paintings was enormous. And obviously I’ve never, ever concentrate so hard in my life. It was a very beautiful experience. And I realized that when I’m playing a painting, I must wherever I am, I’ve got to try and concentrate in that way and not just render and coloring which we say but really think hard about Painting, I think you can tell when the paintings been really considered when someone has just kind of filled it up with not much feeling in it. There’s two very distinctive ways of painting. That’s what I would take away from it.
Eric Rhoads 40:11
And what did you learn about yourself?
James Hart Dyke 40:12
I suppose I learned I could perform under those conditions, actually, because it was quite difficult. I mean, that was definitely one of the things I’ve done that was extremely challenging. But in fact, all the things that mi six and working for the Royal tours, fact the work of the Royal tours, you have to work in difficult conditions, because you’re surrounded by people, quite often you’re sandwiched between some prime minister and some president, you don’t know who they are. And you’re sitting there drawing, which is quite intimidating to try and do that. So in a way, all those previous things I’ve done, had prepared me for this. Climb on one blog, which I have to say is a really a dream moment for me in my life is like one of those moments when everything in your life comes together at that point, very, very special moment, I never do things again
Eric Rhoads 41:03
well, I try to picture myself or any of the people in our audience who are listening to this. When somebody comes to you and says, Hey, would you would you be willing to climb Mount Blanc and do a painting at the top and it’s gonna take you three days and you’re gonna be really cold? It’s gonna be very miserable. And you’re gonna have to spend a year getting in shape to do two paintings. And, and I think a lot of us would have just got I don’t know. So just the fact that you said, yes, it says an awful lot about your adventure nature.
James Hart Dyke 41:37
Well, I couldn’t say I was strangely like, when I was at art school, I spent a week at art school and the weekends I was at an RAF base, learning how to skydive so at his pace strange duality in the art world. And actually, when I came to painting mountains, I found that actually, as I said, before, many of the first climbers were painters, and there’s great duality between the physical and aesthetic. And there’s there’s a whole thing about sublime and Romantic movement, which I’ve discovered and I’m, I feel very happy in myself now. It all kind of fits together having I’ve done
Eric Rhoads 42:13
now talk to me about plein air painting in in the UK. You have there’s there’s a couple of people who are getting a lot of notoriety over there. Namely, Pete the Street. Yes. Hey, Joe, David Curtis, you know, some others. And but but talking to you off camera, it was you’re not seeing a huge plein air movement over there that you’re experiencing, is that correct?
James Hart Dyke 42:41
Well, I think depends who you know, I do know Pete the Street. Wonderful. He’s fantastic and great names. Well, I mean, but I know a lot of people went to the main art schools, the kind of highbrow art schools and they they rather sneer at in the world, which I think is very great shame. Really.
Eric Rhoads 42:55
Why do you think that is?
James Hart Dyke 42:57
I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think it’s it’s being reborn now. I hope. I think he’s regretting the fact people are going out into the landscape. Enjoying the landscape is good on so many levels, not just painting, but on just for mental health, relaxing
Eric Rhoads 43:12
Perhaps they sneer at it because in the UK, as you know, back in probably the Victorian era, there were what they called Sunday painters, when everybody was watercolors, and they’d sit in the parks and they do watercolor and they were hobbyist and perhaps there was this perceived connotation that it was not professional or something. But you know, the movement that we’ve seen in America in the last 20, 20 plus years, I mean, it really has blossomed from there. We anticipate that there are hundreds of 1000s of people, plein air painting. We’ve done some questioning from the easel manufacturers and so on and find out about how many there is selling. This is a this is a massive movement. They are seeing you know, there’s a massive plein air event in Wexford, Ireland now. And there’s also a giant plein air movement happening in Spain. I’m going over experience a little that soon. And, and so, to me, it feels like you know people are picking up on it and we just need more people like you to get visible and to help encourage others and let them know that there’s nothing wrong with this. As a matter of fact, I think all of us who listen to this podcast believe that plein air painting makes you a better painter because you’re not staring at photographs that have lied to you about color and light and shadow and so on. Now you’re not you’re not able to capture that vibrancy without it
James Hart Dyke 44:46
I said no. I said no mistake the fact I just don’t I can live in my own kind of world with I don’t know that many other painters so
Eric Rhoads 44:53
I figure if you’re a studio hermit,
James Hart Dyke 44:55
well I kind of pseudo in the landscape somewhere or I just busy doing my own thing. stuff is a bad thing to get out and see more things and feel more artists really?
Eric Rhoads 45:04
Talk to me about Constable you you were inspired initially as a child by those constable paintings. Some of the best plein air paintings I’ve seen in my life is that wall, I think it’s in the Victoria and Albert, if I remember correctly, there’s a wall of paintings that a constable did. One in particular, I can’t get out of my head. It’s a tree trunk. And it is as good a painting is I’ve ever seen anybody ever do? Have you ever? Have you ever studied constable or tried to follow his path or, you know, go paint in some of the locations that he’s
James Hart Dyke 45:43
definitely I read all about him all the time, I feel I almost know him in a way. In fact, where I live in Brighton, which is just to south of London, he used to live in Brighton. And so I actually walk the walks he used to walk on I can, I can spot some of the views he painted. And I and I go to where I used to live, and I pay homage to him. He’s my real hero. And I almost feel like I could I could understand him. Although sadly, I think he wouldn’t like what I do. Because he liked the every day. He wouldn’t like me going up the top of a mountain and painting the top of the mountain. He was very much more about the everyday but maybe he forgive me.
Eric Rhoads 46:23
I think he probably would, I think you know what all of us look at you. And what you’ve done is as pretty remarkable. And and you know, there aren’t many of us who would have done something like that. So I applaud you for your effort. So you’ve you’ve done something that that has been pretty beyond remarkable, you know, a lifetime achievement. What’s next?
James Hart Dyke 46:43
Oh, well, I’m coming to the states. I’m going to come to Yosemite Park. Are you now? Where else are we? I think it was the first national park in the world, wasn’t it? I think it was set up by is it John Muir, who was, he promoted? I think it was who was a Scottish kind of writer about landscapes. And I think you’re coming? I think soon November, November? Yes, I think. Next trip?
Eric Rhoads 47:10
Oh, wonderful. Well, well, I’ll give you all the all the tips about painting and a cemetery. I’ve painted there many times, it’s wonderful, you are the best, we love it. And there are some places that are equally, as stunning as you somebody very close by as well. So you’re gonna enjoy that. And if you want to be connected with painters who will meet you there, we’ll do that for you, too.
James Hart Dyke 47:32
Thank you very much. I’d love to Great. Fantastic. Very exciting.
Eric Rhoads 47:36
Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing and for inspiring us. And let me tell you, James, that you have a standing invitation to speak at the plein air convention, to teach to paint. And to tell your story. I think people would love to see the slides and the story and maybe the video. And and if you decide you want to do that, let us know. And we’ll put you on the agenda. Cool can be great can be fantastic. And I’m looking forward to meeting you. It’s next next trip into into into UK or next year next trip here.
James Hart Dyke 48:14
Oh, tell me tell when you’re coming be great. I’d love to meet you.
Eric Rhoads 48:17
All right, that would be terrific. Well, thank you so much. And thanks for being on the plein air podcast.
James Hart Dyke 48:23
Thank you so much for inviting me. Thanks.
Eric Rhoads 48:27
All right, we’re gonna keep the recording going. And, James, we’re just gonna say a quick goodbye, because we got to do a little bit more of the recording. But thank you so much. Ali will connect us by email. And then if you want some introductions of some people that might want to meet you over there to paint 70 is a wonderful experience.
James Hart Dyke 48:50
I can’t wait. But Hello, there’s so many landscapes in the United States. I mean, I can’t be wonderful to many places to go. Yeah. And
Eric Rhoads 48:57
if you if you want to come, I don’t know if we have stage slots in March or not. Ali would know that. But if we do, you’re welcome to come in. In March to we’re going to be in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. And if not, we I think probably in the future. We haven’t announced where we’re going to be yet but it’ll be another mountainous area. So beautiful snowcapped mountains.
James Hart Dyke 49:21
What do you tell me? I’d be lucky to you know, maybe I can make some of these things would be great.
Eric Rhoads 49:25
Yeah, we’d love that. And let us know if you get any results from from this. This exposure, I think is there’s a lot of people listening.
James Hart Dyke 49:33
It’ll be interesting. I’ve got that’s great. You do this podcast and plein air painting is fantastic. I’m really excited.
Eric Rhoads 49:38
We’re excited about it too.
James Hart Dyke 49:41
It’s great. You say it’s growing which is so wonderful. Yes, it is gonna grow a lot. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 49:46
We’ve been doing it for many, many years now. So we’ve got a lot a lot of episodes two or 300 episodes.
James Hart Dyke 49:52
Yeah, but I think he sees the rebirth in kind of Los Angeles lockdowns people discovered landscape actually. And with that tons landscape painting. Yes, so many people, many more people going out enjoying the landscape painting. It’s great.
Eric Rhoads 50:07
We did a we, during COVID. And since COVID We’ve done a 12 noon show on YouTube, we’ve had something like, I don’t know, 15 million views or some such thing. It’s insane. And we’ve, we’ve taught a lot of people to paint. And so if you ever want to come on that show and do a lesson we would we would happily have you there too.
James Hart Dyke 50:28
Okay, well, thank you very much for any kind of you.
Eric Rhoads 50:29
Thanks, James. thrilling. Okay, all right. Bye bye. Okay, now it’s time for the art marketing minute.
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 50:51
Hey, if you’ve got a question or concern, a comment, we’d love to hear from you just email me [email protected] Or come live on the podcast. We’ll record your questions right. This question comes from Mark Reynolds in Quincy, California. Mark says I own a frame and gallery shop in Quincy. In 2024. I’ll be organizing my third plein air festival. Congratulations on that Mark, it’s pretty cool. The first year 23 artists attended and 2023 there were 38 artists in 2024. I’m expecting 60 artists. I advertised in two magazines, plus Facebook and Instagram. And I need to attract more art buyers to attend the reception and the street fair. What else can I do to attract out of area art buyers? The area’s full of artists but not very well known? Well, that’s a big question Mark first, congratulations on doing that. I think it’s really important to to start plein air events. You know, there are, are now hundreds of plein air events around the world. And there were none. When we started this magazine are very few maybe maybe under three or four. So it’s really changed a lot and people like you are important to us. And thank you I know one of the advertising places you spent money on was plein air magazine, thank you. It’s a good place to be if you’re selling a plein air event. Many galleries have tried to avoid things like what you’ve done because they think it hurts their business. Because we had a gallery say to us, you know, I don’t I don’t want to be a part of a plein air event because all these people are gonna come to town, they’re gonna buy paintings at the plein air event. And they’re not gonna buy paintings from my artists and from my gallery. And I said, Oh, contraire, they will because they’re in there. They’re here to see art, they love art, they go see paintings they want, they’re gonna wander into every gallery in town, they’re gonna buy paintings. And sure enough, that turns out to be true. So I applaud you, because a lot of galleries might have just rejected that whole idea. So that’s really nice. People get this art buying dopamine high, and they like to buy art. And so when they come around for a plein air event, you know, especially if you’re sponsoring it, you’re gonna sell art, you’re gonna have a big, a big success. And I think we all need to approach things with an abundance mindset instead of, you know, a protective mindset. Now, you say you advertised in a couple of magazines that you need to attract more art buyers to attend? Well, let’s take that. Let’s take that question. First. I think that the question is, how did you advertise in those magazines? I know you advertised in one of ours. Plein Air magazine, I don’t know if you advertise in Fine Art connoisseur, which is where all the collectors are. And I think you advertised in one of the Western publications, all good, all good decisions. But the things you’ve got to ask yourself is did I have enough frequency? Frequency is the repetition of ads? And did I have an ad that really stood out that got attention that made people slap them in the face and made them pay attention and get their attention? I think everyone in the plein air world needs a dual strategy. And the dual strategy is a local strategy and a national strategy. Now, a national strategy would be something like plein air magazine, right because you’re reaching a national audience. And it’s important for a lot of reasons. First off, it reaches art collectors who are specifically plein air collectors. And it reaches people who oftentimes traveled to shows especially if it’s a regional thing you know, if it’s a couple hour drive three hour drive a weekend away, then it’s cool say hey, I’m gonna drive up to your town to Quincy and experience this event. But the other reason it’s important is because the key to a successful plein air Event is the artists. And because the chatter from artist goes like this, Hey, I went to this plein air event and they didn’t have any good artists and they didn’t sell any work, I’m not going back. So the other artists, when they get the opportunity to go, I’m going to skip that one. And to make yourself known. So what, what we typically say is, you want at least three and one is a call for artists early on at the time, you’re getting ready to solicit artists to have them come in. And then the second one is about a month or two months before the event, and you get and then the third one is right before the event. And then we recommend also, that you get on our newsletters and things like that. So that it’s a reminder, hey, next weekend is this and make sure you come to this, make sure you schedule this, that kind of thing. I think that’s really important. But you know, you really need to reach local people, because anybody who’s within a, let’s say, an hour or two hour driving distance is the most likely to come to your event. And so where do you reach people like that? Well, the first question is, you know, are you a suburb of another area? Are you isolated in the middle of nowhere? I don’t know the answer to that. Because I don’t know where Quincy is, I should know. I’m sorry. But I think the the idea here is there are lots of ways you can advertise locally. And there are local, you know, websites, newspapers, magazines, tourism, books, things like that. We have up here in the Adirondacks, we have a very successful plein air festival, it’s it’s in its 20th year, and you know, they are everywhere, they have banners on the streets, they get the local community to put up banners. So it’s talking to the tourists, you know, they’re there in all the local magazines, their stories in the newspaper, they’re really working the PR angle, they are advertising, they have posters all over town that you know, they do all those things, all of those things matter, not one works independently. So you want to make sure that you’re getting out and having a local strategy. But you also want to have that national prestige because you need those, you know, there sometimes it’s one collector who sees that ad who comes in and buys you know, six or eight paintings, and spends $20,000. You know, that’s, that’s what you hope for. And so make sure that you’re doing both of those things. I think that’s important. The other thing I like media partners, I like collaborations, media partners, would be you know, you go to the local city magazine, in the surrounding area, or the local TV station, a local radio station, you say, Hey, I’m gonna put your logo on the posters, you’re gonna have a presence, you’re gonna have a booth, a table, whatever. If you promote it, we’re gonna get you involved in it, you could do you get the exclusive on the local story, you know, those kinds of things, that stuff works really, really well. And that’s how I would do it. And the other thing that’s really important is who you have involved in your event, most of the successful events in America, and there are lots of successful events. But the ones that are the biggest and most successful, surround themselves with really, really smart local people who they get involved as volunteers and all kinds of different levels. And you want smart people who know lots of people who can invite lots of people, smart people who know how to encourage people to buy, know how to run auctions, because you can’t just assume they’re going to buy, you need to nudge them a little bit, you need to help them along, you need to have somebody standing there by the booths and saying, Hey, let me tell you about this painting, you know, there’s a lot of different things you can do that will really help this. And remember, the artists component is really, really important. There’s a show, I won’t mention names, but there was a show it was really a big and prominent show. And they decided in their infinite wisdom that they were going to be a little bit more equal and sensitive to the needs of the local community. Make sense? Right? So they said, All right, we’re gonna make 50% of the artists, local artists and 50% national artists. And so they did not jury in the local artists, they just put in the squeaky wheels, the ones who, you know, always were asking, and as a result, they brought the overall quality of the show down because some of the artists that they let in were not very good. I happen to be at that show. I happened to be judging that show was a almost an embarrassment. And the thing that happens is the the good artists who come in say, wait, wait a minute, I’m showing with other artists, they should all be good. It shouldn’t be a bunch of good artists and a bunch of lesser developed artists. I mean, every one of us was a bad artist at one time. So I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, but you’ve got to have good artwork. And so the key to that is to have an independent third party juror who juries in it’s fine. have local people, it’s fine if you want to have 50% local people, but make sure they’re juried in and, and that you’re not doing favors for somebody who, who you know you like them, but they’re not a very good painter. And I know I’ll get emails about this, I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But the reality is if you’re trying to build a reputation for show, you need to have good painters and and so the good painters would not accept the invitations for the show when they were invited back. And the word got out that the show didn’t sell well. And because people saw, I don’t know something about bad paintings brought things down, I suppose. And as a result, things changed pretty dramatically. And so what you want to do is focus on getting really, really good painters in there, Quality Matters, local Quality Matters, National Quality Matters. But make sure that it’s good because word spreads, and artists don’t want to come to shows where they’re not going to make any money.
Second question comes from Scott Pinu in Dalton, Pennsylvania, he said, I just read your book. And I now have a clearer vision on how to handle social media and how advertising is a more effective tool. Each day, I spent at least an hour working on some aspects of marketing planning, Bravo on that, and I’m working to launch my business in the fall of 24. I’m developing ways to make buying my art enjoyable as an experience for collectors. My question to you is, since I’m planning on selling directly to collectors, when I’m approached regarding my works, is there an easy way to vet the potential buyer early on to make sure I’m dealing with a legitimate collector without insulting them? Or coming across? Like, I don’t know what I’m doing? We hear a lot about fraudulent sellers. We hear a lot about fraudulent buyers, but to what degree should I be concerned about potential fraudulent buyers? Well, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I mean, you know, we’re all getting these emails that say, Hey, it’s my, I saw your work online, it’s my wife’s anniversary, I want to buy or something special, I like your paintings, I want to buy one of your paintings turns out to be a big scam, you know, they send the painting the check bounces, you know, etc. Watch that. It’s very, very tough. But, you know, I think that first off, why do you need to find out if they’re legit buyers, you know, if if you’re doing something quality, you can kind of tell if somebody’s quality. But be careful about that. You know, I was at a gallery in New York one day, I was sitting there waiting for a meeting. And this guy walks out of the gallery, and the gallery owner says, Hey, that guy just spent a half a million dollars in paintings. He said, When he first came in, I looked him up and down. He was wearing flip flops, shorts and a T shirt, I thought he can’t afford anything. He can’t, he doesn’t belong here. Well, he just sold his company, his kids are out of college, he had plenty of money, and he spent a half a million dollars. So you can’t judge people based on the way they look. You know, you want to, you might want to have legitimate payment methods, you might want to have a credit card machine so that you can, you know, run it through the bank, if the if there’s fraud, that’s the bank’s problem, not yours. I wouldn’t you know, if you want to take checks, you can take checks, but there’s certainly ways that you can call and check those checks or deposit those checks with your with your camera and your phone instantly to make sure they go through. So there’s a lot of things you can do, you’re gonna have some risk, but I wouldn’t worry about that too much. I think the thing that I worry about more is that if you try to categorize people, you might lose people because some people might be offended by some attempt to find out if they’re if they have the money, I wouldn’t worry about that. I just don’t worry about that kind of stuff at all, you know, the majority of people who are going to buy something are going to be legit. And you know, once in a while you get burned, I got burned on something one time pretty badly. It stung but I didn’t stop doing everything. I was just one more cautious. The other thing is, I’m a little concerned about what you said is I’m only going to sell direct. Now, a lot of artists do that. And that’s a really, really wonderful thing. But here’s why I oftentimes say to people, be careful what you wish for. Because, you know, the art of the typical artists argument is well, I you know, I get to keep all the money. So I you know, now I have the responsibility selling all the paintings, I get to keep all the money, I have to do all the advertising, I have to attract all the customers. I have to deal with the customer service of all the customers I got to answer questions. I got to be on the phone. I got to be constantly reaching out to people I got to constantly advertising man, it’s exhausting. And yet if someone good likes your work like a gallerist for instance, they are selling while you’re sleeping. I mean literally in some cases because if you get a gallery in a you know Ever timezone and they’re open while you’re still in bed, you know, if they’re in New York and you’re in California, they’re open and they’re selling paintings while you’re sleeping. And, uh, you have a gallery in Alaska or you know, a Hawaii, there are a lot of different things, you know, they’re selling while you’re sleeping, and they’re selling for, if you have two or three galleries, I don’t like to have more than two or three, I have three, currently, I have an offer from a fourth I’m considering but you know, I don’t know, if I can, I can produce enough quality for that. But some artists sell direct up to a certain size, and then anything over eight by 10, or whatever they’ll sell through galleries, that’s an option. But you know, you have a lot of work to do. And I like to leverage, you know, if I can have three people, three different people selling for me, you know, if my sales skill isn’t very good, then you know, if I’m, if I screw up, I don’t eat, you know, if I’ve got three galleries and one of the three is good, at least I eat something, if two of the three are good, I might sell a little bit more, all three are selling stuff, I’m golden. Now, I don’t ever like to turn 100% Over of anything over to somebody else, I want to make sure you remain in control. I talked about that my book a little bit, you probably saw that. But you know, you could you could try a couple of things. First off, you know, direct marketing. And that’s what you’re doing. When you’re selling direct. It’s a whole different game, you have to build email lists, you have to do a lot of different things differently. And you got to stay in touch with people and there’s a limit to how much ask you can make. So you got to look for different ways to get your work in front of different people get it seen and get it seen by people that you don’t know exist because the ultimate buyer is somebody you don’t even know. So I like the idea of multiplying yourself and I hope you consider it talking about selling direct. I think it’s it’s okay, but you got to be really good at this. And I don’t know I’m pretty good at it. But I’m not selling any my work direct. So, just just a thought. Anyway, that’s the marketing minute. I hope it’s been helpful.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 1:07:22
Check out fall color week, make sure to check it out. Even though it’s sold out get on the waiting list at fallcolorweek.com Same thing with fine art trips not sold out, but it’s going to be and that’s a finearttrip.com We’ve got pleinairjapan.com We think we can get a couple more seats in there on pleinairjapan.com. And of course realism live is coming up and you really should go to that we’re gonna have some plein air painting and there’s some, some landscape painting some figures, some portraits, some still lifes some incredible people, Burton Silverman, the only one I’m mentioning right now, but there’s many, many, many more about 30 of them. So check that out. I also have a blog on Sundays. It’s called Sunday coffee, you can find it at Coffeewitheric.com. And it comes out every week and sometimes I talk about are not very often it’s just kind of about life. Also, if you don’t know this, I have a show daily on YouTube weekdays at 12 noon, Eastern. It’s called Art School live where we teach art we have different people teaching every day and you can learn or you can get better for free. Now if you want in depth, you know really high quality professionally produced stuff. We have a whole website called Painttube.tv the world’s leading masters really in depth you know many many hours high definition quality, big close up zooms. But if you want to learn, just go to art school live daily to I’m Eric Rhoads and I’m the publisher of Plein Air Magazine, Fine Art connoisseur magazine and other stuff. Head. And thank you for watching today. Remember it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. Bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with PleinAir Magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected]. Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at pleinairtips.com. Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.