Plein Air Podcast 257: Joe Paquet on Artistic Choices and More

In this episode, Eric Rhoads interviews plein air painter Joe Paquet, who is leading a special session titled  “A Beautiful Beginning: The Art of the Start” this year at the Plein Air Convention & Expo.

Watch & listen as they discuss:

– Finding one’s artistic voice through organic or adopted methods
– Artistic influence, style, and authenticity
– Art foundations, principles, and passion
– Art principles, skill-building, and creativity
– Artistic choices and techniques in painting, including color transition and subjective voice
– Historic masters George Bellows and Winslow Homer
– And more!

Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric answers the questions:
Can artists use giclee prints as a form of passive income?
Should artists hire someone to handle their marketing?

Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Joe Paquet here:


Related Links:
– Joe Paquet online:
– PleinAir Magazine:
– Plein Air Convention & Expo:
– Publisher’s Invitational:
– Submit Art Marketing 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, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.

Eric Rhoads:
This is episode number 257 with artist extraordinaire Joe Paquet.

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 0:00
Welcome to the Plein Air Podcast. I’m Eric and and, man, it’s been a while, you know, you’re supposed to do these things on a pretty regular basis and consistently. And normally, we do but, things are starting to open up in terms of, our ability to travel and so on. Obviously, they’ve been open for a while, but things are getting busy again, I took a group of 35 people to Japan to do plein air painting. And that took a couple of weeks. And there’s been, just a lot of things that have kind of gotten in the way. So I had guest hosts on my daily YouTube show art school alive. And I just have not been able to get this done. So my apologies. But I’m making it up to you because today, we have an extraordinary artist and one of the artists who I think is perhaps one of the deepest thinkers when it comes to the process of art and the purpose of art and I think you’re going to enjoy it tonight. Just hang in there, we’re going to have Joe Paquet with us. Hopefully this plein air podcast inspires you to paint. Because I think that plein air painting actually makes us all better painters, when you paint indoors, and you paint from photographs, and I’m not dissing any of that. But they’re, photographs, live photographs make things darker. And when you paint outdoors, you see true light and color, you’re able to represent it more. And you’re also able to to essentially represent the spirit of the place, instead of looking at a photograph and going in and doesn’t look all that great. But, you ever taken a photograph and you get it home. And so I was in that amazing place. And this photograph doesn’t feel at all like that amazing place. Well, that’s the difference in plein air painting. So we hope that you’ll embrace the idea of getting outdoors and trying it and you know, don’t give up too soon. Because it’s not easy. Nothing is easy. But it’s it’s really worthwhile. So anyway, that’s what this is about is, you know, learning to paint on location, expressing yourself differently, being able to represent light, color, form, and emotion differently. Also, you know, there’s a huge movement of people going outdoors to paint. And it’s a really great chance to meet a lot of other people. Sometimes people like me like to paint with others and travel with others. So it’s pretty cool. Anyway, this podcast is a chance to get to know the artists get into their heads, learn about their struggles and their journey and some of their techniques and why they paint. I’m really grateful to you. Without you, this show would not become the success it has become. We’re really happy about that. At the end of the podcast, I do what’s called the Art marketing minute. And that’s where I offer some art marketing tips for those of you who are interested in and creating a business out of your art of selling your art. And there’s no shame in that. But some people think there is I don’t understand that completely. But anyway, I will give you tips and techniques that I’ve learned over hundreds and hundreds of years. It seems, man it just goes on and on. Okay, so anyway, I just want to mention a couple things before we get started. First off, we’re right around the corner from the plein air convention. It’s a phenomenon it is it is just so incredible. I mean, I was thinking the other day I was thinking about last year in Denver I was standing outside. We were in this canyon, I could see kind of almost everybody and everywhere I looked as far as I could see in every direction there were painters lined up painting the scenery in this park. We’re in this canyon. And I just thought, how did this happen? How did we get this entire family of painters together, it’s just such an inspirational feeling to know that you’re part of history. Jean Stern, the great art historian said to me, he said, after going to the first plein air convention, he said, this will be written about in the history books, because this is a phenomenon this nothing like this has ever occurred in history, you know, where you had that many painters together in one particular place. And he also said something else that was really interesting, he said, mark my words, 10 years from now, some of the people who are in this audience observing who maybe are just learning to pay said some of those people will be on the stage, teaching people to pay, and that is absolutely come true. It’s really interesting to see how things ebb and flow and and how people, you watch their careers and then they blossom. And then we invite them onto the stage. And so we have, I think, 76 or 78 instructors, we have five stages, we have people who are out there, we teach in the mornings, and sometimes early afternoons, and then we all go and we paint together and for different days for different locations, including this year, the Biltmore Estate and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. And it’s such a phenomenon to see all these people painting together. So anyway, you should go. I don’t want to shoot on you. But it is really a phenomenon. And you don’t really have to be in a special place. You don’t have to be accomplished. You don’t even have to paint if you don’t want to. But you’re safe there. This is a safe environment. Because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been embarrassed to paint in front of other people, or we’ve all been concerned about what they’re going to think about us. Nobody cares. I mean, they care about you, but they don’t care about what you’re going through on that because that’s just part of what we all go through. So anyway, we do have a few seats left, but I really I think, like less than 20. So I mean, this, this, I think is going to be the biggest plein air convention we’ve ever done. Okay. Also, by the way, if you’re not a subscriber yet, to plein air magazine, make that happen. You’ll get inspired, you know, you need to be able to look into other people’s work, one of the things that’s important to all of us is to study other artists to study their techniques to study their approach their, their, their feelings about their paintings, and we have a lot of articles about that techniques and other things. But, you know, and also getting out to museums, those things really make a difference and this Instagram era where everything’s, you know, on our phone, you know, if you’re not looking at paintings in person, you’re missing a whole lot of it because there’s only half the story in a visual photograph. The other half of the story is looking at that and seeing the brushwork and being able to see what happened underneath and some of that showing through and really studying painting. So plein air magazine is a good place for you to be. So check it out at plein air Also, coming up after the interview I mentioned Joe, with Joe is we’re going to answer some art marketing questions. So Joe Paquet let me just tell you about him real quickly. He’s one of my heroes. I met Joe Paquet about 300 years ago. And, and it seems like that some days but but the plein air painters of America, which is the premier group of painters in this country, who really started the plein air restarted the plein air movement in America, I had nothing to do with it. They had everything to do with it. They they held a workshop and it was an old Lyme, Connecticut. I think it was all blind was the first one. And there were I don’t know there were 100 people there or something. And we each studied a morning with one artist and an afternoon with another artist and we rotated through them through the week. And the second artists first artist I studied with was Ken auster. The second was Joe Paquet. And I learned so much from him and his his way he starts a painting, which I think is really important. But one of the things that I want to mention about that because I was talking to Joe the other day, I realized now that some of the things that he was teaching us at that time, which is probably not any different than what he’s teaching at this time, I could not comprehend because of my level at the time. And that’s why it’s important to go back and say you know, rather than saying, well, I already watched his video or I already studied his workshop. It’s important to go back to these people and because as you learn as you grow, you’re going to see things differently. Joe is was born in Paterson, New Jersey, 90 In 62, his parents were immigrants and very hardworking. He was a kid like, you know, loved the outdoors. He loved to wander around do a lot of daydreaming just attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and credits. Instructors, John Foote, David Paladini, James Mick Bolin and others for inspiring his deep love of drawing. And he later studied, this was a breakthrough for him. John Phillips was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey who has introduced him to the prismatic palate, which we’re going to talk about. Joe’s philosophy is rooted in deep connection and sensitivity to his subjects. And you will learn that about him as we get into this. So, Joe Paquet. Welcome to the plein air podcast.

Joe Paquet 10:47
Oh, great to be here, Eric. Looking forward to chatting with you. Guys, it has been a while and yeah, we’ve known each other for a long time. I remember like I said, I remember you come into the the show and Catalina pushing that stroller with the three little babies in there. That’s how long ago it was.

Eric Rhoads 11:06
it was even longer than that. Because I think I met you before that. Yeah, actually, the workshop you did was before that. Certainly. Those kids are in college. Yeah, it’s been a while,

Joe Paquet 11:17
for sure.

Eric Rhoads 11:20
We have so much to talk about today. We’ve had you on the podcast in the past. And we’re going to try not to repeat things that were said in the past, which is always difficult. But I’m just really curious about this. Why do you do what you do?

Joe Paquet 11:37
Part of this is going to sound precious, but it’s it’s not. When I used to hear people say I don’t have any other choice. I thought it was precious, I thought they were being a bit full of themselves. But I’ve come to realize that this is what I’m meant to do. You know, I mean, I think about things in pictures, right? So and in the authenticity talk that I gave for you guys a couple of times at the event, one of the things I talk about is a tightening spiral. And that you know, every time you make a choice in your life, about anything, but you know, as artists, you know, you make a choice that either serves your highest self, or maybe you do the easy thing. Serving your highest self generally isn’t the easy thing. But I think when we’re younger, the knowing who we are, takes a while you I don’t think most people just know who they are. I’m sure there’s old souls out there that are born with a great deal of clarity. But I’m not sure I was one of those. So basically, I think the intervals between incidents and events and how they connect to form who we are meant to be, are very broad in the beginning, but every time you make a good choice, or the right choice for yourself, that serves your highest self, the spiral starts to tighten. And I think every time you do that, especially if you’re you know, internally motivated and not externally motivated, which we’ve talked about before. You know, just the simple desire to create, I think what happens eventually your path becomes clear to you. And so sorry for the long answer to your short question. But I think it’s important to flesh that out a little bit. Because for me, I’ve come to realize that the teaching, which I love doing and painting, even the speaking and the writing that I do, they’re all part of the same thing. And they’re all essential for who I am. And I think we all have to find out who we are. So this is something I do need to do. Otherwise I’d become a real cranky, difficult guy to be around.

Eric Rhoads 13:50
Here’s a newsflash, Joe, you’re already cranky and difficult to deal with.

Joe Paquet 13:57
All right, then, good. Cut to the chase

Eric Rhoads 14:00
maybe less so. So this, this kind of plays this spiral kind of plays into the big question that you and I always get everywhere we go. How do I find my voice?

Joe Paquet 14:17
I have a there’s again, I think there’s there’s two in my mind two very distinct paths for how people find their voice. Some people find their voice by adopting an amalgam of the voices of others. And then some people take a more organic path to find their own and I think the only way to do that is to go to nature and it doesn’t matter whether it’s you know, painting, you know, people or landscape or anything else. I think once you have sound basic principles behind you, going to nature and Learning to see harmony and all of those things first, and then you branch out from there. And you realize that the subjective choices that are made in the painting become a large part of who you are. And it’s the balance of that subjectivity and the objectivity that creates a voice. And there’s an organic way to do it, and an inorganic and so. So if I’m cranky, this is where I’m cranky, I think, I think it’s a mistake, to adopt the mannerisms of other people. And then, and it gets you a quicker result. But you’re always to quote, Ralph Waldo Emerson, you’re always a poor shadow of an individual or an institution. And so and the other part is the joy of the search, which, you know, a lot of people are just in a hurry. And I understand that. I mean, most of my students are older. And they say, I don’t have time. And I don’t buy that as a as a rationale, or, because it’s a choice time is a choice. Yeah. And I think the organic path is always so much richer. But it takes more time. It takes a deeper introspection, and, and being alone with your struggles. And sometimes when people are alone with their struggles, they get online and they go, how does this person solve this problem? How does that person solve that problem? And there’s nothing wrong with some of that. But again, in my experience, certainly after a lot of years of doing this, I think a lot of the time folks will go oh, okay, I see how you know, this artist painted their cloud, so I’m going to adopt that calligraphy. And so they adopt the calligraphy and there there have been artists that I can see their work. And I can say you studied with or you studied this person, this person, this person and that person, because their work has, like I said, the mannerisms of those people. But this is where I’m, you know, I don’t know if it would be termed old school. But I’m a principal everything’s principles with, that’s what I teach nuts and bolts, there’s nothing sexy about nuts and bolts, and I don’t think there’s a shortcut. I don’t think there’s any shortcut to that organic path. But man, is it rich, and I’ve had students into their 80s, who did amazing work, and amazed themselves more importantly. Because it’s just it’s about their path. You know, so I just think that you know, you we all choose, you know, and then we all have to look in the mirror and say, This is what I chose. And if some people or if they’re in a in a big hurry, they’re going to do the easier thing, and in the end their work will never truly be their own. It will be like if you look at somebody else’s work, and it reminds you strongly of someone else. That’s the sign right there, of course thinks we can. We’re all influenced I was influenced by my teacher, John Osborne, I was influenced by by Levitan by karo. But my I’m not trying to paint like them. What I’m trying to do is adopt the sound principles by which they heightened the visual experience in a painting.

Eric Rhoads 18:33
Yeah, well, you know, that we have we have seen people who, you know, they’ll go to a workshop, and they will adopt the style. There’s one particular painter I have in mind, I don’t mention names in case like this, but this particular style person, you know, their style leaps out and you go, Oh, I know that painter. And so many people have loved that style and adopted it, that it actually started hurting the work of the person who taught it, I remember and there was a gallery that had they called me one time we were talking about something and and they said, By the way, this particular painter you know, when we get a one of his or her paintings in the door, they instantly sell we don’t even hang them on the wall and that we get premium pricing for and then one day I was down at the gallery judging a show and they had one of his paintings there and and I said, Hey, I thought they sold instantly. They said Not anymore. He’s trained so many people to do exactly what he does. People, untrained people, collectors who don’t know the difference between the master and the copier are buying the lesser course. And so they said it’s really making it hard for us to sell. So I think that as an instructor That’s also an important thing is don’t you know, don’t be me, don’t you know, you’ve got to figure out how to be you.

Joe Paquet 20:06
I work with mentoring students all over the globe at this point. And I can tell you that I’m working with people whose work is stylistically polar opposite of what I do. And I it’s been very healthy for me to try our endeavor to respect their choice making, and yet be constructive still, in terms of going back to those basics, unity, variety, harmony, how the eye travels through the image. So it doesn’t matter what type of image it is, I mean, so many of those precepts. They’re just sound, you know, so it doesn’t really matter. But if you if you get to Florence, Italy,

Eric Rhoads 20:57
and you do there this week, all right

Joe Paquet 20:59
So the PT Palace, okay. In the PT, there is the work of the a group called the maki aioli painters. And they were kind of a loosely banded group, from the 1850s, all the way up into the late 19th century. And, and their work is fabulous. And it’s all different. You know, there’s certain things that are constant with all of them, they drew beautifully, all of them. But when you go through the galleries, and you look at the work, you go, Oh, my gosh, how can I never heard of this, this is not in any was not in Gardner’s art through the ages that I studied when I studied art history at the School of Visual Arts. But what happened is very interesting, if you go through the museum, you see where the the influence of Saison struck Italy. And the painting changed completely. Because of the force of his persona and his idea, people felt that somehow, if they didn’t get on board, they weren’t contemporary or modern. So actually, what happened, when you go through the museum, I took my my group through there a bunch of years ago, you see the painting become homogenous, or generalized because everyone’s starting to flatten the forms, and work in two dimension and three dimension. And all of a sudden, people stopped looking. That’s what was so striking. And when I took the group through, I’m like, Look at this. When you look at the group of the Machiavelli paintings, they were all studying, they were all they were all looking to be informed by something outside of themselves bigger than them. And then when Saison hit people subordinated themselves to a concept of what painting should be. And I think that’s just something to be wary of. Because there are silly platitudes out there at least silly in my estimation, Picasso good artists copy Great artists steal, you know, all of this, and people that that indulge in that kind of stuff. They always love to drop those, those, those aphorisms. But the point is that when you look at the work of the maki aioli, your eye is completely engaged, and each artist’s vision is different. And then all of a sudden, everyone kind of fell into line. You know, and one of the painters I’m going to be talking about with you a little bit later, George Bellows that happened to him as well. After the Armory Show, he felt his work needed to be more modern. And so he gave up the beautiful neutrals and tonality in his work, and the exquisite character based draftsmanship and so he he gave up the neutrals for chroma, and screaming color everywhere in the painting. And his drawing slipped from character to caricature where all the figures started to look more similar than different.

Eric Rhoads 24:04
Let’s talk about that. Because I think I think this happens every once in a while. All right, it happened with the Armory Show, way back when modern ism was kind of introduced in America. And it changed everything and and people wanted to be part of the the IT group, the hip group, whatever, when the next wave at the time. It was very popular, but there are artists still living like Burton Silverman, for instance, who really struggled for probably 30 years of trying to keep alive what he knew was beauty in his mind and the idea of of form and light and not falling getting sucked into the whole modern movement. And he was, you know, in the 50s and 60s, I mean, he was right there. being pressured into it and resisted the pressure. But so many people didn’t resist the pressure, you said something controversial at the very beginning. And I want you to address it. And that is use. You said something about if an artist understands the principles, and what are the differences between a modern artist then and a modern artist today, and we’re gonna get hate mail about this, and I’m not trying to diss anybody. But a modern artist in the early stages, they weren’t classically trained. They knew these principles, they may have abandoned them, but at least they knew him they had a foundation. Today, if you go into most colleges, you know, they’re still saying, well just go express yourself, doesn’t matter what you do, doesn’t matter how you do it. So talk to me about why you think foundations are so important.

Joe Paquet 25:59
I remember hearing an interview with Pat Metheny, years ago, the musician and he talked about the importance of, of tradition in any art form. And, and, and the profound nature of that foundation. You know, what people do with it, they do with it, you know, and so I, you know, I’ve got some very good friends who are non representational painters, and I respect their work greatly. But in every case, the artists that that appeal to me that are non representational, have certain formal aspects. Their work is imbued with certain form formal aspects, in terms of harmony or does or elegant design. You know, there’s a conscious NISS combined with the unselfconscious pneus in the work. And whenever the whenever you have a proximity of opposites of where the greatest excitement exists, right, so anything that’s overly thought out, I find, frankly, pretty boring. You know, and anything that is just randomly thrown out there isn’t always boring, but it’s it’s haphazard. You know, years ago, I was teaching a workshop in Manhattan. Back away, back 2005, I think it was. And I took the group to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I was talking about form, and energy. And we talked about people talking about energy, and work and passion and all that kind of stuff, which, of course we all love, and abandon, right? I think that’s the great appeal to a lot of non representational painting is letting go, we all want to be able to let go. But I was talking about form in this instance, and the importance of understanding volumetric form when you paint so the form rolls this way, and it rolls this way. And I turned the corner and it was like this great gift. This object lesson was right in front of me. There was one of the best mid career paintings by George inness called autumn oaks. And next to it was a vertical Thomas Moran waterfall painting. And there was there was the lesson, you know, if you looked at the Moran, all of the rocks, the outside shape of the rocks were perfectly drawn, but there was very little internal form understanding, and it was very rigid, and it was very stiff. And next to it was this fiery Ines, you know, and he was a fiery personality. And but those oak trees are like basketballs, that you could put your arms around his sense of volumetric form. And so he was he was hitting on all cylinders. He was he was delivering on all the basic principles, and yet it was imbued or driven by this passion or this fire. Anyway, we’re standing back looking at the paintings I said, Who would you rather go to a party with? You know, so I’m all for formality. Like I’m not an extremist in any way. Politically, or otherwise extremes bugged me. I mean, there are benefits there, there are things to be learned, if you listen. And and so the modernism when it when it swept through the last 100, and some years, it was a necessary evolution of painting. It will because in the 19th century, work started getting tighter and tighter and more realistic. And then the artists started using photography. So some of the French painters like Femi a, can’t remember the rest of the names now started. started really using photography. So the work, where could the work go from there? It had no place to go. So the natural evolution was to deconstruct and I think That’s what we’re working through now. So I don’t have any problem with either side of it, people do whatever they do. The only thing is I like when I teach, I teach principles, and I teach skill building. And so and I’m going to be talking about this at the convention in my workshop, a pyramid of training about being able to diagnose where your skill sets are. Because a lot of the time, people avoid doing the hard things, like drawing like truly understanding form, a lot of people copy form, but they, they don’t understand it. And and there’s this, there’s a huge difference there. But if you take the time, while you’re studying to do those things, to actively go after those lagging skill sets, then you have nothing to apologize for, right? Or make an excuse for, we all know people that refer to themselves as an impressionist because they’ve never learned to draw. And that’s a fact. It doesn’t mean everybody that calls themselves an impressionist does that way, certainly. But it’s not uncommon. Let’s just say that. So I just say, Look, I don’t care what where you are in your life, age wise, you can get better. And you can, you can, you can do that thing. Once you have that understanding under your belt, like truly understanding of harmony outdoors in nature, takes a real long time. And so there are certain instructors, painters out there who talk a lot about creativity and about doing this and pushing that, and I have no problem with it, other than if you don’t understand relativity, beginning to skew it is only going to mess you up. So so I don’t when I’m outside teaching a workshop, people go well, so and so told me if I don’t like where that group of trees is, I should just move it. And I said, Well, you’re not with so and so right now. And I’m not that person. Learn to paint the relativity that exists in front of you. The deeper you go, the more exquisitely you understand that. Certainly, when you were in the studio, if you want to play God, go ahead, move stuff around all you want, but not without relativity. So there’s a lot of talk out there about design, and about pushing this and being creative and blah, blah, blah, nothing wrong with the concept of it. But the truth is over design, you know, there are certain painters that are really overt designers, high horizon, low horizon, big angled cloud, you know, blah, blah, blah, and you see a painting you go, Oh, that’s really cool. But all sudden, you see a whole bunch of them and you realize it’s a thing. And when I see a painting that’s designed overtly, I never bowled over. First by the design, I’m always first moved by the harmony. If there’s a truthful harmony in the work, it doesn’t matter what the design is. I’m in, and I think most of us are, I think it’s something in our animal brain.

Eric Rhoads 32:58
So Honey, get there. Oh, well, yeah, it’s

Joe Paquet 33:02
takes a lot. That’s practice.

Eric Rhoads 33:06
And that’s not just practice. Well, no, it’s it doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice, right,

Joe Paquet 33:10
and which is what I believe in. And so that’s why you know, the start of a picture is so important. Because every harmony is specific. And so a lot of artists get recognized for doing a thing, we know that we know that they market that thing, and it works for them. And I’m not judging it. I just think it is what it is. And they end up being a creative cul de sac, you got no place to go. And I think if you stay humble to the grandness that exists out there in the world, and you step outside of your ego long enough to let it in. It rewards you immeasurably forever. It never that never ends. So it’s about to answer your question. It’s about changing how you study. That’s how you get there. You change how you look at the world. Give me a process,

Eric Rhoads 34:09
give me something that I can

Joe Paquet 34:14
you learn to frame in effect, first of all, which is what I’m going to be doing for you and at the convention, the learning how to do an underpainting to freeze a specific effect. And the more profound The deeper the understanding that’s in that underpainting the more you can find the particular within the universal. In other words, you could paint a little grouping of bushes and trees that make people go oh my god, that’s really beautiful because you’re paying attention on a deeper level. And so, again, a lot of people want the answer. They want to come away and they want to have a painting. And what I always I try in workshops is to say Nice, don’t try to make paintings here, study get better at study. The thing is, the more pure your study, the more organic your path. And then if you can maintain that balance of ego and humility, because you know, you have to let the face a canvas, and that takes the ego, but you have to let the world and then that takes humility. If you can do that you can get better for the rest of your life, theoretically. And it doesn’t matter what like I said, what age you are, or anything else, none of that matters. It’s that it’s changing how you look at what’s in front of you, instead of looking for the answer, or an answer. How do I paint clouds? How do I paint trees? Blah, blah, blah. That’s why I would never do a video on any of that stuff. Because I will always say which cloud which tree? How about you work on your drawing, you work on your understanding of value and color relativity, and then take everything in a case by case basis, then the world opens up to, like I said, Every day is different. And it’s profoundly different. Not a little different. So to answer your question, how do you get there you get there by changing your attitude you get there by changing how you study?

Eric Rhoads 36:18
How do you start a painting what you tell, walk? Walk me through finding the spot? Deciding where you’re going to pay. Thinking about it. What What’s your process before you ever put a brush to the canvas?

Joe Paquet 36:35
you know what? Yeah, it’s that’s a good question. I think in the article I talked about that. The Bob Bahr article that just came out,

Eric Rhoads 36:42
oh, I should mention that. By the way, Joe, Joe is on the cover of the plein air magazine, with this painting, the one that’s actually behind him, and so huge painting. Yes, big gratulations. On that, by the way.

Joe Paquet
Thank you. Thank you, thanks for the opportunity. It was during COVID, where I just decided, you know, what I can do this I can get by, it was tough, because I had to give up my classes in my workshops, which I have enjoyed doing. But I thought while I have this time, maybe I should push myself and see what I’m capable of. So I did really large paintings from nature. And I started drawing more. And instead of just drawing with the brush, which was the way I was trained, I started drawing with charcoal. And because I taught figure drawing years ago, gesture figure. It’s all about rhythm and movement and hierarchy. And just in line, I would decide if I loved this composition and the flow of the forms within it. And so if you can start on a really base level, and the composition workshop, I’m teaching in a couple of weeks. It’s exactly what I’m talking about. In line only you deal with balance, unity, variety, and interest and contrast. And so in the beginning to get people warmed up, I have them diagram master paintings and great illustrations in line. And then what you begin to realize is how these artists broke up that space, how they lead the eye, and all of that long before color and value ever even enters the stage. And so on these, so I would go out with a sketchbook and I’d walk in I walk and I’d walk when I saw something, I was get this little vibration right here, you know, it’s like, oh, there’s something there. Now, it’s not always fleshed out. But I can feel it, right, I feel that thing. And so I’ll take out my sketchbook and I will do some little thumbnails, some of which I’ll show at the convention, and they’re not fabulous drawings, what I’m doing this I’m filling out the flow, and how the shapes move in and out of each other, and how I break up that rectangle. And the other part that I think about which I think is really important, is instead of designing just within the rectangle, to me, the greatest paintings feel like a well ordered piece of something larger. In other words, the painting has an implied life beyond the frame. So I’m thinking outside of that border, but that fragment is well ordered, and it’s elegant. And it has a movement and rhythm. And in that linear aspect when I’m drawing. I’m always thinking about connection and movement and hierarchy. And then through that, there’s the chance if I can hold on to that concept through my under painting and my darks and they all follow that there’s a chance for the painting to be active instead of static. If the foundation and like I said this is the stuff I’m going to flesh out in the workshop, and then once I’ve done I do that then I’m, I’m thinking about what’s my shadow pattern? And how do I freeze that in place. And so some of these large paintings like the one behind me, I mean, there’s probably five days, five mornings outside on that. And then I don’t try to finish it outside. That’s for me, that’s ego. Whatever, I get my ego involved in the painting, I ruin a painting. Whenever I start to think I’m going to paint a Paquette I ruin a painting. So what I do is I bring the painting in. And if I have the right size frame, I pop it in a frame and I sit in a chair. And honestly, I might stare at it for a day or two. And that might sound excessive. But I have learned that every time I have tried to bulldoze my way through a painting, I’ve ruined it. So I go let the painting talk to me. And then I stare at it. And years ago, this the big lesson happened years ago when I painted a painting called a gentle indifference. And it was a forest interior. And I hadn’t painted one in 20 years. And it was on Madeline island on a great day, this birch wood forest. And anyway, it was a great day, but light filtering down very delicate, all the tones were really beautiful. And I remember doing the block and and being so amped up, you know, and I got home and I said I’m going to finish this thing. And I start, I’m going to finish it today. So I just didn’t say that just last night in class, and I go, Famous last words. So I tried it. And then I realized, oh my god, I’m being ham handed. And I’m not honoring that last 5% of the painting, which sometimes takes twice as long as that, you know, first 95%. And then I start looking at all the trees in in that in those woods and I go, Well, where do I need last edges? Where does these things need to transition? Where does color need to transition into color or value transition into value. And I spent a week doing that 5% of that painting, and that completely changed my life. So that’s why I never tried to finish a large painting outside because the subjective choice making what we actually said we’ll talk about a little more with some of the greats in a little bit. It becomes really important. So there’s objective understanding, which requires that utility of study and understanding of harmony and relational value and color and transition. But there’s also the subjective choices which distill your vision. Right? Where do you suppress information? Where do you amplify information? Where do you suppress color? For for the sake of other things in the painting? Where do you enhance color? Because it to me there’s a there’s a elegance to the intentionality of that. And that’s why I’m drawn to people like Whistler and hopper and bellows early bellows talk,

Eric Rhoads 43:06
this is a good transition to talk about some of those, why don’t you pick one? And and let’s, let’s talk about them individually and what you’ve learned from them.

Joe Paquet 43:16
let’s say, trying to think of first one we talked about, let’s talk about Hopper first. All right, you guys have that image. Okay, so that’s Nighthawks, by hopper. And, you know, if we could blow it up really large, what you’d see in the interior is is how he transitioned color. Because that, that that is how do I dis? He’s created a plausible fiction. Right? So there’s enough objective understanding and reality and truth of observation in the painting that you buy into the visual experience. But there are all of these subjective choices, personal choices, that mortise into that, that create his personal voice. And so for example, if we could, if I could take all of the people that are hearing this and get us all in the room standing in front of Nighthawks in Chicago, you’d see how he transitioned the yellows inside and how those yellows transition into the green that runs along the base of the front there and every color to contain something of the color next to it. Right and so he’s He’s eliminated Absolutely. Anything he feels is non essential. So primarily you’re hit with the light effect in the design. After you see the light effect in the design. You do. I delighted in the harmony. But what was what really weird that he did and so effective, was the large window Behind the people seated at the counter, he, he took all the information out of it, you’d see right through it. And what he did was he suppressed all of that information back there. And he created contrast it well, yes. But the other part is, he made a quiet space for the eye, right? So that your eye went right to the people at the counter. And then furthermore, what he did is he shrunk the size of the road in the back. Right? He turned it almost into a footpath. If that was the real road back there, it would be much wider. Right? Right. The other thing he did, which I think is really exciting, is is he let if you look at that refraction of those shadows and how they fan out along the sidewalk, in that, where those shadows, they, they, they follow a kind of a star pattern, you know, they follow perspective, as it rolls around. That’s absolute, Pure Natural observation. So that’s completely real. And it’s so beautifully done, and so well observed, and yet so unobtrusive that he gets away with doing these other kinds of wild things like taking all the information out of the window in the back, and you completely by this, you know, the other thing that he did in the painting is he transitioned information. And you can’t go from having a lot of information in one spot to automatically having nothing, there has to be an optical transition for your eye to move through those forms. And so if you roll up if you go all the way up to the top of the painting, which I don’t know where it will be able to see, but there’s a Phillies cigar sign. And so you see just enough of it to know what it is. And then it gets everything information is completely suppressed in that front facia board on the on the diner. And then you go into that light effect. He’s he’s making all of these choices to move your eye through that image. He’s enhancing that information where he feels like he wants to bring your eye, and he’s suppressing it everywhere else. But his understanding of flow of light is so acute, that he’s able to weave together like I said, all of these subjective choices. With objective truth.

Eric Rhoads 47:28
Well, that spot of light in the building behind it, that it’s a very intense spot of light at the edge of the window. That’s an arrow that points you up, it brings you into the design. Well, it brings you into the sign and the building up on top. And then the other arrow kind of brings you into the room, the you know the shape of the edge of the window, kind of acts as an arrow.

Joe Paquet 47:51
Yeah, there’s absolutely nothing, nothing random in there. So now there’s a painting that’s pretty well planned. But I totally dig it. I buy it. You know, I always think of when I think look at this, I think of Wes Anderson, the director. Right, right. And one of my favorite movies of his his Moonrise Kingdom. And in that movie, cuz some of these movies are such fantasy, and they’re delightful. He picks a color palette and all that kind of stuff. And it’s really fun. But your mind is saying it’s a fantasy. But in Moonrise Kingdom, he creates this plausible fiction like you’re, you’re actually get lost in the story. Like he’s combined enough truth with enough subjectivity that it creates its own truth. And to me, that’s very exciting to me. Those are the greatest paintings. For me, they are you’re not pure subjectivity and not pure objectivity. When I when I see people painting photographically with a tiny, tiny brush, I can respect the skill involved, but I’m bored to tears. You know, I want to have an area that surprises me. Right? One area where somebody took a risk and made a mark, because there’s if you get up close on my paintings, you’ll see there’s some violence in those paintings, too. Right? It’s not all control. It’s that you got to let go a little bit. It’s like when you’re a child and you’re running down a hill, which most of us have done where you’re running so fast and you believe your feet or you’re going to catch yourself, but you’re giving over to the hill. And so to me, that’s what a good painting is. years ago I was out sledding took my son he was a little guy with a dear friend neighbor and who’s very put together and very very put together I mean, there’s not a No self respecting weed would ever show itself in his yard kind of thing. And and we go sledding and I you know, I have some crappy little dish plastic dish for my son. And he has this beautiful big, you know, pontoon type thing with handles on it. And anyway, I watch him go try to go down the hill. And he keeps wiping out. I’m like, so what’s the matter? It’s like, oh, this damn thing, he wasn’t able to get over to the Hill, he was trying to control that. So to me it painting is an analogy similar that, like, I have to give over to the painting a little bit. So I have to, I’ll make marks, particularly in my lane that are free and felt, hopefully, that come from here, and not just from here or here. So that that felt Mark can combine with a more intellectual mark, and that they play off of each other. You know?

Eric Rhoads 50:43
So let’s talk about a couple other artists because that was very valuable. Talking about the one So the next one is bellows

Joe Paquet 50:51
bellows. All right.

Eric Rhoads 50:54
George Bellows, which one is there we go low and

Joe Paquet 50:57
tenement one of my top 10 Great American paintings. Now, purportedly bellows, according to his roommate, Eugene spiker said that he would just walk for hours with a little sketchbook, and he would study, study, study, study something, and then he would come back to the studio, and he would do these fairly large paintings, largely from sketchbook and imagination. I don’t know how true that is. But this is this painting is a perfect example of exactly what I was just talking about. So plausible fiction. Okay. But what he’s done in this is, is brilliant and so hard to do, because he’s painting essentially last light, you know, hitting this tenement, under the bridge. And what’s happening is most of the sky, if you think about the sun being very low in the sky, we’ve got this dome of the sky, right, it’s, and so that wedge of light is tiny compared to the, the rest of the dome of the sky. So most of the sky is reflecting back into the shadow in this painting. And so if you looked at shadow is keyed up, or it’s pretty light. Yeah, but but that’s exactly what happens at that time of day. But he’s also doing making all kinds of little choices in here. If you look at that dirt under the bridge, that dirt connects to the base of the tenement. So the color at the base of the tenement is very similar to the color of the dirt, so your eye transitions right up into it. And the other thing he’s doing that is optically, absolutely brilliant piece of observation is as he’s going up towards the edge of the shadow, that shadow is getting darker. It’s getting darker because he’s coming closer to the bridge, and there’s less reflected light in. Right? And then it’s darker and warmer. Well, yeah, well, it’s actually actually a tiny bit cooler, in fact, okay, so kind of a green or a greener note, against the orangey light that’s on on the top, but that that green or note transitions into a gray green into grey or green into the gray of the flat plane. And then what he’s doing with the groupings of figures, he’s using them as a little Nike stripe, to pull your AI across. He’s grouping those figures. He’s not thinking about the individuals, he’s thinking about the grouping and the pattern of that grouping. Each of those patterns has a value with in that design, they become a shape and a value within the design. So he’s not rendering people. He’s thinking about those people as groupings and those groupings as elements in an established hierarchy to distill his vision, profound, it’s amazing, this painting, and then if you look at the background, he simplified it to you couldn’t simplify it anymore and still carry it off. So what he was tensioning in these in these paintings, 1907 1908 After he finished up with Robert Henry, he was like a wunderkind. He was shot out of the cannon kind of like hole, which rarely happens for an artist, but there’s an upside and a downside to it. In his case. The upside was he achieved extraordinary acclaim very early as a young man. But you know, he ended up marrying wealthy. His father in law bought he and his wife Brownstone on Fifth Avenue, that kind of wealth. And so he went from painting speakeasies and his barroom fights, you know, stagnated Sharpies and all this gritty, edgy, powerful stuff that wasn’t popular at the time to painting polo matches, and you know, women and parasols walking in the park. To be more probably palatable to the money set. I suspect But this this stuff, his early stuff was tensioning risk and care. And that that balance is what makes those early painting. So exciting. You get up close on him, like I said, there’s violently applied paint where he’s scrubbing, like in a form. And then then he has other areas that are much more fully developed. But he transitions the eye from those more raw areas into the more fully developed ones very thoughtfully. So you go from a very broad, simplified area. And then you start to pick up detail and information until he pulls you into his subject, where you kind of have more, more or less fully realized sense of form. And that is the subjective choice making in this painting is extraordinary. This is nothing like what a photograph would ever give you. Absolutely nothing like it is they’re all choices. But again, there’s enough truth in that and enough truthful observation that that that mash up of the two creates an incredible visual excitement in the history. One more

Eric Rhoads 56:07
I think we have one more Homer? Yeah,

Joe Paquet 56:11
Homer Oh, man. I stood in front of this painting. My buddy John Cosby and I went out for a pop up plein air painters paint out up there in Gloucester, we went a day early just to go to the museum. And man, I stood in front of that painting, which I don’t do much these days for an hour. Usually, I look for something specific, and I kind of move on. The truth of observation in this painting is overwhelming. And my suspicion based on everything I’ve read about him and photos I’ve seen is he probably propped up a boat in the yard and had a guy, you know, on a on a grayish day. And he probably laid all of that in from life. Because if you look at it, it’s impeccably drawn, and the harmonics of nature are so clear, in that section of the painting, he’s designed it beautifully, he’s created that zigzag pattern, that’s all a choice, right with the fogbank moving in. And then there’s a diagonal path of that large middle wave that, that that boat is starting to move up on. And then he’s got the opposite angle of the flounder. So he’s created this beautiful movement. So he’s thinking movement throughout this whole thing that water is not, that’s active water, that’s not passive water at all. And he’s grouped his dark so beautifully to in the boat that the boat for has the power of the silhouette. He’s not looking into the guy’s you know, jacket, or shoes, or anything else are they hinted at, absolutely. But he’s thinking, again, as a designer is thinking as in that boat and that figure become an element. The placement of that particular element is of optimum importance, just like a rake to Japanese garden that has three, three stones in it. Right. So from a design standpoint, you can keep moving those stones around until you will find an absolute optimum place within that rectangle for those three shapes with that red gravel, so what he’s doing is he’s placing that boat and that figure is pretty much right on the golden section in the in the painting, you know, so all of that those are all choices, then something really cool I saw that I never saw before. Do you notice that kind of odd wave in the front of the boat. In the painting, you can’t see it in the reproduction. But in the painting, you can see the pentimento the strikethrough of the paint. When he first put that boat in the painting, the the the stern of the boat is touching the bottom of the canvas. And so here he did this almost perfect painting. And we’ve all done a painting where you feel really good about it. But there’s one thing that’s niggling at you, right? And then I started to look closer, and I realized that that that scruffy wave in the front doesn’t actually follow the perspective of the rest of the water at all. But He does it so well. He covered up the front of the boat is what he did, and he did it violently. So the paint is applied violently. And so again I don’t know that this is a fact but I if you put some stuff together this is this is possible. He loved to drink he was big drinker he ordered like cases of you know, alcohol to his place in you know, up and up in Maine. I would bet you anything. He was sitting in that room staring at that painting going It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine. Do what we all do a painting and there’s something bothering you because everything else is working. And he had to get some courage up to put that stuff in there because if You look at it, it’s not painted. If you blow that up, it’s not painted the same way as the rest. Well,

Eric Rhoads 1:00:04
it looks like it was paint almost looks like it was painted by a different painter. It was painted

Joe Paquet 1:00:08
by probably an inebriated painter who needed a little courage to fix the problem. Because it’s, again, it’s all a guess. But it was really cool when I saw that pentimento. And then I stepped back, and I realized the anatomy of that shape doesn’t quite add up to everything else in the picture, but because his understanding of the sea is so good, he was able to throw that in there. But I thought, wow, that’s really cool. You know, to see that. Like I said, everything else, literally, it’s so well painted, so perfectly done. But the bottom of that boat touching the edge of the canvas. That was a, that was an issue that he had to fix.

Eric Rhoads 1:00:47
Awesome. Joe, let me ask you a couple of questions before we roll. Talk to me about Osborne because he had a huge influence on you.

Joe Paquet 1:00:57
Well, thank you for asking that question.

Eric Rhoads 1:01:00
The one thing I this is a big question. It’s impossible to answer. But I don’t know how long you studied with Osborne. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who studied under this guy, not an artist, but he studied with him for six years. I said, How could you distill it down to two or three bullet points? He said, No. But here’s what they would be if I could. And I’m curious about that with Osborne.

Joe Paquet 1:01:27
Well, I can tell you this, I studied with him for four years. But that wasn’t full time. I was already out of art school, I was working in advertising as a designer and an illustrator, and a comp marker comp artist before the computer came in. And I was paying, you know, I stumbled across him. I was just looking at keep my finger drawing going, which was my big passionate at School of Visual Arts. And I stumbled into this little studio in Midland Park, New Jersey, a few blocks from where I worked, you know, under the, you know, category, no accidents, right. And I see this guy’s work blows me away. Nobody knows who he is. He’s 33 years old. He’s still teaching high school art. But he’s teaching this prismatic palette, and his paintings had this subtle tonality and delicate pearly control of color that I had not seen before. So I started studying with him taking a Thursday night class, which is why last night I had my Thursday night class, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you if I didn’t go to that class. So I always want to make sure everyone has that opportunity, should they want it. And so and then he had a Sunday morning outdoor class. So I did that for two years while I was working full time. And so I took two classes a week, he said you should paint outdoors, and indoors. So you can understand the principles that govern the prismatic palette, which are involved, and the skill sets that are attended to those principles, and then outside you get a chance to practice it. So that seemed plausible to me. And then at the age of 25. I just got a wild hair. And I thought you know, if I don’t ever do this, I’m gonna hate myself. So I took a leave of absence from my job. I had a crappy little shotgun apartment in, in a kind of a not great part of town nearby. And I said, I’m going to ask you, would you mind? Is it possible that I could take a year off and study with you mentoring essentially, which wasn’t even a word. Nobody was talking about it back then. He said, Let me think about it. And then he came back and he said, You know what, yeah, let’s do this. And I said, Well, can you because I have to budget? Can you give me an idea of what what you’d like to charge? And God bless him. He said, You know what, Joe, he said, what I want you to do is help me with all the classes that I teach. That means set up, break down, help people with their drawing. Anything that that will help. He said that we’ll we’ll call it even. And during that year, I didn’t I wasn’t with him seven days a week i i ran a sketch group on Monday nights, I actually taught a drawing class on Tuesday mornings. Then I painted portrait or closed figure on Wednesday and Thursdays. And then that was either outside or in the studio the rest of the week, seven days a week for a year. And he was so I’m so glad you asked that I can give him the proper thank yous because i There’s no way I’d be here talking to you if it weren’t for the generosity of that man and the patience of him. You know, because I’m sure I was an intense young guy. And I didn’t come to concepts easily. I don’t learn quickly. It takes a long time for things to settle in with me and he was so patient Eric, with me. And by the end of that year, though, I had learned so much and I advanced a lot, and I only spent one more year with him. And it was just in the night class. He didn’t say it was time for you to go. But I could tell that the critiques were starting to become more subjective than principle based. And and I said to him, I didn’t say that to him, because I love the man has great respect for him. All I said was I you think it’s time for me to move on? He said, Yes, I do. Yeah. He said, I’ve given you the basics. So when I went to and move to Virginia, I left everything I knew, move to Manassas, Virginia. And I’m down there by myself. And in the beginning, honestly, I had a little bit of, I was a little annoyed. I thought, man, he didn’t teach me to finish a painting. And it was like it was only a few months later, after a lot of driving out to the Shenandoah and painting on the weekends when I wasn’t working. Because I was working full time by then had my first child trying to support a family. I realized that the great gift he had given me was to start a painting better. And he used to say all the time, the better the start, the closer it is to being finished. And and he’s so right. And most people render a painting into existence. And what I try to do with people is teach them to deconstruct what’s in front of them, and put it together and in a clarified way, making good subjective choices. So it’s your painting and not a rendering.

Eric Rhoads 1:06:28
So this workshop, you’re going to do pre convention workshop, which is not included with the convention, but same day we start yes, that workshop is going to be about starting the beautiful beginning.

Joe Paquet 1:06:41
Guys, I can’t I can’t tell you, there’s not a one of you, and I’m not selling you, I’m telling you the God’s honest truth that would not benefit. Or start off your week in the best way, by paying attention to this information because it changed my life. And it made me a very consistent painter. Because you have to understand why something works. So you can do it twice. There’s nothing wrong with being intuitive painter. But, you know, even some of the greatest intuitive painters like Kevin McPherson said to me once Joe, you know, I’m an intuitive painter, five out of every 10 paintings don’t work. But when they work, they’re fabulous. He didn’t say that I say that about his work. But the point being, that, that after all these years of doing this, I’ve that’s what I’ve come to and after doing those large paintings, concentrating on how the painting is begun learning to freeze that effects even like I said, I said to you when we spoke the other day, and this is no idle boast, trust me. Taking anyone’s existing knowledge or knowledge of color. And then having them start to this practice of understanding and clarifying in effect understanding and clarifying form, getting unity and variety at the start of a painting with an underpainting. Just what their existing knowledge, if they could improve that front end of the painting, their painting would be 50% better in a year, if they did the work.

Eric Rhoads 1:08:10
So let me be a skeptic. Yeah. You know, this is a one day workshop. Okay, can I really get enough out of one day of understanding that that it’s gonna make you have

Joe Paquet 1:08:23
I’m giving you I’m teaching you how to fish. I’m giving you just the really good nuts and bolts. I you know, years ago, Eric, I was in a when I was a young guy, and I was weightlifting all the time. And I can eat like a horse. I went into a deli in North Jersey when I was studying with Osborne. And I walk in I go, I want a tuna fish sandwich to the guy and he goes, Okay, I got it. And he brings over the sandwich. And I mean, there was much tuna fish on the sandwich. I go, What is your name? And Louie or whatever. I said, Louis, I love you, man. This is awesome. He goes, You know what I make the kind of sandwich I’d like to eat. So honestly, I teach the kind of course that I would love to have. And after teaching so many people some of whom, you know, like, like I said, you know, Carl Gretzky’s going to be presenting Bob Upton, they both study with me for a long time, as well. This is all principle based stuff. And so the one day is going to introduce you to a way of thinking it’s not going to you’re not going to get better in the one day, I’m giving you some information that if you apply it and you haven’t monitored it, just applying it on your own is not the same thing. Right? You do have to have you got to have somebody check you when you do this. It’s kind of like yoga class I took years ago, which was I mean, it was a joke, really. My mother in law who was an occupational therapist, you know, used to say Oh, you want to do yoga and I’m like, Yeah, yoga, yoga Shimoga you know, I was a football player and a wrestler and all that stuff and and you I took this yoga class, it was great. And I was, but I was the least bendy human being in the northern hemisphere, right? And so I was a running joke in the class, which was fine. One day, I finally after about six months, I felt like I’m getting this right. And I’m in this post. And I’m sitting up and you’re my, and she comes over with her yoga voice, this lady Chow, she says, lift your chin, and I lift my chin and I go, Oh, put your elbows in it, she made three adjustments to me. I was so far off. Those adjustments were so small, but they made the biggest difference. So getting information is the beginning of something, the monitoring and the practice of that information that’s up to the individual. That’s where the improvement comes.

Eric Rhoads 1:10:49
Awesome. Well, I should mention that Joe is doing a pre convention workshop at the plein air convention. And also he’s going to be on stage on the last day of the plein air convention before we all go out painting. But the, the, what he described today is going to be in the pre convention workshop. So we’re gonna go down a completely different path for the other sessions. So we’d like to invite everybody who’s coming to the convention, to sign up for that there are three pre convention workshops going on one in watercolor, one in oil and one in pastel. Joe is doing the one in oil, Amit Kapoor from India is doing watercolor and Aaron Schuerr is doing pastel. And we also have a pre convention basics course for people who are brand new baby plein air painters who want to learn all the stuff that you just need to learn. So that’s, that’s what carry current. But Joe, thank you for doing this today. Thank you for agreeing to come back to the convention, it’s been a long time. That’s probably why it’s selling so well. So many people are coming back. Of course, a lot of people were kind of in lockup mode or locked down mode for a while. And I think everybody’s like finally getting back to normal. And just really exciting. Thank you for doing this today, you’re an inspiration. And I’m looking forward personally to taking the course myself. And hopefully one of these days I’ll get up to one of your composition courses or one of your other courses because they’re really great. I would encourage everybody to look into Joe’s website and to check out his mentoring programs and everything else. He’s got a lot to offer and as you can tell is a very giving and very thoughtful person. So Joe, thank you very much.

Joe Paquet 1:12:36
Thank you, Eric. It’s been a been a delight to visit with you and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to to to share this with you guys at the convention.

Eric Rhoads 1:12:47
it won’t be long. It’s just around the corner just around the corner. All right, take care. You too.

Joe Paquet 1:12:52
Thank you.

Eric Rhoads 1:12:53
I just want to mention Joe’s website is Okay, what do you say we do some marketing. Let’s go to the art marketing minute.

Announcer 1:13:07
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 1:13:19
So you guys can send your questions to me [email protected]. Or you can come live on the podcast if you want to do that. And we can pre arrange that just let us know. So I have never seen these questions. I’m doing this stuff off the top of my head. The first question is from Trish Dorton in Columbus, Georgia. Question is about passive income, for example, giclee prints of works? Does that impact your brand and marketability as a fine artist? And can it be done in a way to accentuate your career? Well, I think that, you know, there’s really two questions in this maybe more questions. The first question is about passive income. Let’s talk about that. Before we talk about prints. I think that every artist needs to look for an opportunity to find passive income, passive income are things that that you can do without. It’s essentially leveraging yourself right. So think about this, if you’re a doctor, you only have so much time and you can only see so many patients. But if you’re a doctor who has some other special skill, maybe it’s something you can train people and then you have the opportunity to create passive income so passive income as an artist isn’t necessarily teaching right. So teaching in person is taking up your time. Right so if you’re teaching online, or you’re teaching in person workshop or you have a class on a Thursday night or something like that, that’s, that’s really not passive income, that’s income. It’s important income. But if it takes your time that it’s not passive, it’s active, right? So passive income would be like, if you came to streamline pink tube, for instance, and you created an art instruction video with us, that’s passive income, you invest a few days of your time, a little bit of planning time. And then we sell it and it continues to sell over years and years and years and years. And you get a check in the mail every month, hopefully for 20 or 30 years. Right. So that’s passive income. The same thing would be true for a print market, or something else. But of course, what you have to figure out is how do I make it passive? So if you decide you want to go into the print market, which a lot of artists do, then how do you? How do you leverage it? Well, in one way, or print is a leverage of an original right, so I had dinner one time with Thomas Kincaid, and he said to me, my biggest regret in life is that I sold a lot of my original paintings. And he said, You know, I, I didn’t make prints of all of them, because I didn’t know how to do it. I don’t even have photographs of all of them. But he said, in a world where I can make prints, he said, I keep my originals, I don’t sell my originals, they become more valuable. And then I make prints off of them. And so I can potentially make prints off of one painting for for decades. And I’m sure even though he’s passed, I’m sure somebody is still doing that. And so, you know, there was when I first got into this, there was a lot of people who were dissing the idea of doing prints, and because it cheapens the artist. But you know, I know a lot of artists who were very successful doing that, and in in a couple of ways, John Stoll Bart was a dear friend of mine, John was a multimillionaire. And he became a multimillionaire by selling prints. John had full page ads, if you can imagine, running in the New York Times, selling prints. Well, he didn’t sell a few, he sold 10s of 1000s of prints. Now, John was leveraging himself because he was on PBS at the time. So some people knew him. He was at the peak of his career, you know, he was very popular and well known. And even if he wasn’t, you know, he advertised a beautiful print. And people would buy them. That was what I call direct marketing, right? He ran an ad and had a place that you could, in that particular case, you could fill out the form on the ad, cut it out, put it in an envelope and send a check to him, and he would send you the painting and return. Nowadays, of course, you can do that all online. You know, nobody has to send checks, everybody can just do it online. And it’s easier. There are lots of artists, I’ve got a friend in Texas who does. He has a huge print business he’s got, he does his own printing, he does his own framing, he makes his own frames. And it’s, it’s a huge income for him. Now, the way he sells them, though, is he does these art shows. It’s taking his time. So it’s active, not passive. But he has art shows where he’s selling originals, but you’d see an original and it’s a two or three or four or five or $20,000 original, you go well, maybe that’s not for me, but I love it. And so somebody goes, well, here’s a print for $50. And, you know, and he knows that his cost to create that print is $16 or whatever. And so he’s making good money on it. And if he sells 100 of them an art show, hey, that’s better than not having them and because sometimes you don’t sell an original. So I think it’s perfectly fine. I think that you need to talk to the people who support you. Meaning if you’re in an art gallery, how do they feel about it? Some art galleries don’t feel good about prints, and some do, but I would encourage everybody to say, okay, in what ways can I create passive income? What can I do one time and repeat it multiple times where it doesn’t require me to be there physically, that’s leveraging yourself that gives you passive income. And I think it it can be very valuable. So what the question that is that Trish said is is can it be done in a way that accentuates your career? Well, I don’t know what that means. Is it going to build your brand? Probably not. I mean, likely somebody buys a print and they don’t even know who did it and it gets framed and hung out. a while and they might see your signature, they might know who you are, they might not. Same thing, by the way is true even with an original song. It’s it’s sometimes that just happens. And I even have paintings on my walls that I’ve forgotten who, who did them, and I shouldn’t. But it’s just kind of the reality. So I don’t know if it accentuates your career, it accentuates your income. And if you have income, then that buys you freedom, right? Freedom buys you a lot of things. So income, I look at income, not as do I need that income, to be able to pay my bills, and to be able to go on trips and travel the world and all that stuff. Yeah, I need that. But I also take a percentage of my income. And I use it in other ways, right? So like, I might want a percentage of my income going to, in my case tithing to help other people. Or I might want to say, look, I’m going to take 20% of my income. And I’m going to devote that to advertising. My giclee prints and setting up a direct marketing thing. So that people can click on these ads and see him and by him, or I’m going to use percentage of that income towards advertising to build my brand and to get more collectors familiar with me so that they know who it is. They’re hanging on the wall. So I hope that helps Trish.

Eric Rhoads 1:21:22
The next question is from a user whose name is @paintpot7623. I have difficulty following through with any marketing. Welcome to the club. I’m older, I’ve struggled for over 30 years to chase up money for sales. Should I keep trying? Should I hire myself to hire somebody to market for me, or just concentrate on the art itself? Well, you’ve touched on a big nerve. So I was watching something on X last night on Twitter. And it was a speech from a woman in Silicon Valley who was talking about growing a business. And one of the things that she said, really struck me, and that is that you can’t grow. Without help. You can only get so far on your own. Because you are limited in what you know, you’re limited in your abilities, and you’re limited in your time. So I have a staff of 55 people. And I used to have no staff, right. And as soon as I could afford one person, I hired one person and I said, Okay, this is what you’re going to do for me. And then that person got to the point where they were maxed out. And if I wanted to grow and I wanted to do more things, I had to figure out how to afford a second person. And a lot of that, of course, is sales. If you have somebody to help you with sales, then that funds everything else, right? You don’t want a bunch of employees and are not generating income, you want people who are helping you generate income. So should I hire someone to market for me? Well, you have, I think a couple of options. There are a lot of artists out there who are doing marketing with a marketing professionals. Sometimes it’s an ad agency, sometimes it’s an agent, sometimes it’s a husband or a wife or a friend. If you can find somebody that you know and trust to do your marketing, then you’ve got to figure out, okay, how do I pay them. Now, you might pay them as a percentage of sales, that’s one opportunity, you might just say, I’m gonna pay you a flat amount of money, here’s what I need you to do for me. And by the way, if you don’t understand marketing, you might not even know what you need them to do for you. So I’m a big fan of other people helping you first off it, it’s going to leverage you because the the one thing that painters forget, you know, I, I get so frustrated because I see I see painters who are pretty good. Who could be getting to the next level if they were putting eight or 10 hours a day into it. But instead they’re they’re getting distracted by income distraction. Right? So an income distraction is I got to figure out how to do my own shipping. I gotta figure out how to package these paintings. I gotta figure out how to frame them. I got to figure out how to sell more. I got to figure out how to deal with gallery relationships or get a gallery or I’ve got to figure out how to sell more stuff online. I got to do more social media, so I sell more stuff online. All of these things are shiny objects, and they’re distractions. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do them, but if you had somebody to doing this Social Media for you, if you had somebody helping you with your marketing, if you had galleries representing your work, you’re leveraging yourself, there’s that word again, leveraging, right? Because you can only do so much. But you know, you picture a fulcrum, right? There’s a rock, there’s a rod, and you don’t have to push very hard on that fulcrum to lift something heavy. Well, that’s what other people do for you. So if you can do it, if you cannot afford it, then find a way to get somebody to help you do it temporarily. AND, and OR for a piece of the income. Now you want to be careful with that. Because if you’re given up pieces of income, next thing, you know, you don’t have any everybody thinks that that’s an easy route. My dad told me something when I was very young, he said, don’t ever have partners. And I immediately went out and got a partnership. And so immediately, B and another guy were splitting things 5050. And, but I was doing a lot of work, I was doing all the sales, he was doing all the product. And it seemed like a really good relationship. And it was until it failed. And then all of a sudden, we went from, you know, 100 miles an hour to zero because he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. Or, I’ve had other situations where I’ve seen people say, Well, you know, I have this, this guy is going to help me I’m gonna give up 10% of my company for him. And then there’s another helper, I’m gonna give 10% for them, and then another helper, I’m gonna give 10% for them. And if it’s actual stock in your company, then one day, if things don’t work out, which sometimes they don’t. Next thing, you know, you know, your company’s more valuable, you got to buy him out. And so that’s why I’m a little bit reluctant about that. Be really careful about just giving away the farm. It’s much better if you can hire somebody and pay them a fair fee or wage for the product that they’re producing for you rather than giving up equity. Because someday you’ll regret it. It doesn’t seem like much. Now, you know, you might say, well, I don’t mind giving up 10% To somebody now, because I’m only making $1,000. But what if you were making $100,000? And you realize you gave him 10 to $10,000? Or what if you’re making a million dollars, and you were given him $100,000 And they’re not working that hard anymore? So those are the things you have to keep in mind. Yes, leverage yourself if possible. Find a way to get somebody to help you with marketing. A lot of artists, you know, my big frustration, I teach marketing a lot. I’ve got a website devoted to it. Art I’ve got a book, I’m going to be teaching at the plein air convention, I’m going to be teaching Lunch and Learn art marketing sessions. And my big frustration is that artists want to be artists. And they don’t really want to learn marketing. They know they need to learn marketing. You need to understand it and learn it even if you have somebody else doing it for you because you need to control your messaging and make sure you’re not getting perceived as sleazy or otherwise. But I think that just just keep that in mind as you’re as you’re progressing. Anyway, that’s been the art marketing minute. I hope it helps.

Announcer 1:28:24
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:28:34
I want to remind you guys the plein air convention is coming up. There’s not very many seats left. I mean, the first 20 people who hear this that that go to the website right now they might be the last 20 people to get in. I mean it’s packed. But that’s it plein air And and of course, if you’re going to the plein air convention already you have to be going to the plein air convention to go to the pre convention workshops. We might make an exception or two but we have to charge extra for that. You might as well go to the convention. It’s in Asheville or near Asheville. This year. It’s driving distance from a lot of places easily. Pre convention workshops, we have Joe Paquette I met Kapoor and of course Erin sure doing pastel and then Joseph oil and a bit from India is in watercolor, one of the top watercolors in the world. So make sure that you come to those workshops come in the night before it’s worth it. Believe me, it’ll be worth it. Don’t tell yourself and then I’m gonna spend the extra money. Listen, if you invest in going to one of these workshops, you go to the Joe Paquette workshop, you’re going to walk out of there going, this was worth $10,000 to me. I’m not kidding. So it’s going to be great. I also want to remind you guys make sure you pick up a subscription to plein air magazine. You can get that at plein air If you’ve not seen my blog called Sunday coffee, I do it every week. Check it out. You can find it at Coffee with Also I’m on the air daily on Facebook. It’s called Art School live. We have hundreds of artists. We’ve been doing it nonstop since COVID, five days a week, every noon, every day, five days a week every time at noon Eastern. And of course you go to YouTube, you can subscribe so it notifies you hit that subscribe button notification button and please also give me a follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, you name it. Okay. Hey, remember, it’s a big world out there and you need to go paint it. And I think after today with Joe Paquette, we’re gonna paint it differently. We’ll see you soon. Bye. Bye.

This has been the plein air podcast with PleinAir Magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected]. Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.



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