Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews Craig Nelson, a landscape painter who began his career in art by doing album covers, including for Sammy Davis and The Everly Brothers.
Listen as Craig Nelson shares the following:
• The reasons it’s practical for plein air painters to practice painting figures and still lifes
• The two types of students that come to art workshops and classes in general
• His thoughts on marketing and having an entrepreneurial side to one’s art
• The critical skills an artist needs, and how to obtain those skills
Bonus! Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares what to say to a potential buyer to keep them engaged, and where to start if you’re brand new to marketing your art in this Art Marketing Minute Podcast.
Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Craig Nelson here:
– Craig Nelson online: http://craigzart.com/
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericrhoads/
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eric.rhoads
– Sunday Coffee: https://coffeewitheric.com/
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Plein Air Salon: https://pleinairsalon.com/
– Publisher’s Invitational: https://publishersinvitational.com/
– Value Specs for Artists: https://streamlineartvideo.com/products/paint-by-note-red-glasses
– Paint by Note: https://paintbynote.com/
– The Great Outdoor Painting Challenge TV Show: https://thegreatoutdoorpaintingchallenge.com/casting-call
– Figurative Art Convention & Expo: https://figurativeartconvention.com/
FULL TRANSCRIPT of this PleinAir Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the PleinAir Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
Eric Rhoads 0:00
This is episode number 179. Today we’re featuring the man who probably has trained more top artists than anyone in America. We’re talking about Craig Nelson.
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 This show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher and painter. Eric Rhoads.
Eric Rhoads 1:09
Oh righty, thank you so much, Jim Kipping and welcome everybody to the plein air podcast. Golly, golly, golly, it’s almost July of this year has just slipped away. This is the year that disappeared. 2020 man, we’re gonna look back on this with a lot of interest. I hope you’re having a good summer and able to get out and most of all, I hope this finds you healthy. Well, mostly out of quarantine. And let’s all do what we can do to keep from spreading all this nonsense anyway, of course. I hope you’re painting. I hope you’re doing lots of painting this summer and I’m doing more than I think I have any other summer so it’s fine. Finally something is happening. I’ve been staying close to home and painting around the property and it’s just really nice to get some painting done. Quickly. I’ve got a couple of reminders for you the last chance to enter the Plein air so Art competition is on the 30th of the month June 30. And you could win $15,000 the cover of plein air magazine other cash prizes and of course monthly prizes. If you win any category you’re entered into the national competition we will provide the winners announced the winners at the plein air convention coming up in August. So you enter any painting it doesn’t have to be fresh any painting it doesn’t have to be plein air we have studio paintings with finger paintings with still life paintings and a lot of different various categories 20 or 21 of them, including a senior’s category, a youth category etc. Anyway, you can enter at pleinAirsalon.com that’s pleinairsalon.com also a last chance to win a seat to the plein air convention to the figurative art convention you get to choose. We’re giving away one in the month of June. We’ll give it away July 1. I’ll announce it on my daily on Facebook Live at Eric Rhoads. Anyway, if you Want to enter you can enter by the 30th of June 30. Gotta enter and enter at streamlinegiveaway.com. Also in case you have not heard you can be part of a historic historic first time ever event the world’s first plein air virtual conference. It is called plein air live and you can watch from the safety and comfort of your home this is great if you’re not ever able to come to the plein air convention or maybe you can’t this year or maybe you just you know for whatever reason you don’t have the the ability to put it all together to come and have the money or whatever but you can grow be part of a community meet other painters see top instructors for all over the world. And it’s an incredible lineup some of the world’s top plein air painters including Scott Christianson. hmm wow, Sherry McGraw, Jill Carver Joe Paquette Catherine stats Kevin MacPherson hollenbach Albert Handell Mike Hernandez Jane hunt Kathleen Hudson john McDonald, Paul Crowder Charlie Hunter, john Patashnik, Nancy King Mertz john Stern, Carrie Curran Jim Woodark Susie Baker Laurel Daniel and more more more more more and and brilliant international painters teaching you for the first time so like Leon Holmes is going to be teaching from Australia, Haidee Joe summers is going to be teaching from England and tone passing art from France and Rose shirring. from Holland. At is so cool. You’re going to see demos, you’re gonna see talks about painting, instruction critiques, roundtable discussions, and there’s going to be a really cool round roundtable discussion about the state of women in the world of plein air painting, you’re gonna like that, and we’re going to do live painting together. We got a whole new way of doing it. She is something you’ve not done before. I think you’re going to have a good time. Plus, we’re going to be connected to new friends feel like you’re part of the world plein air painting movement. This is the first time the world has come together. Like, this is so cool all the printer painters in the world you want to be part of this, this is art history in the making. And rather than having to spend upwards of $3,000 on tickets by the time you get your ticket, your airfare, your hotels, your meals expenses for the plein air convention, which by the way, a lot of you are still coming, thank you, and it is still going on. But for about 10% of what you’d pay, you’re going to get the best instructors in the world and four days of content. It’s a four day event optional fifth day for beginners. And the beginners day is all about you know all of you who have interest in plein air but haven’t really explored it. You want to learn more about it and learn what materials How about the easels, how painting Outdoors is different. And we got a whole day devoted to that kind of thing. And that’s an optional and you can actually attend that without attending the other thing, but you’re going to want to attend both actually. Anyway, it takes place on the 15th through the 18th of July the beginners day is the 14th of July 15 through 18th of July and you need to get signed up now because it’s coming up fast. You can learn more at pleinAirlive.com that’s pleinairlive.com live online but not live in person right pleinairlive.com and get that ticket reserved because we have to get our what we call our streaming positions books so that we can book space for the enough seats and so on. So, uh, coming up after the interview, I’m going to be answering your art marketing questions. But first, let’s get to the interview with Craig Nelson. Craig Nelson. Welcome to the plein air podcast.
Craig Nelson 6:39
Thank you very much.
Eric Rhoads 6:40
And Where do you live Craig? I seem to remember you’re out in the Bay Area somewhere.
Craig Nelson 6:46
I am 50 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. Santa Rosa to be exact.
Eric Rhoads 6:52
Man. I love that area so much. It is such, talk about a painter’s paradise. Sand crabs. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. If I were going to go back, I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 10 years. If I were going to go back I’d go back there. That’s because that’s where all the painting needs to take place. I’ve got a lot of paintings I haven’t finished yet.
Craig Nelson 7:11
There you go. It’s all one country after two plus we got it. We’ve got a wonderful coast that most people don’t know about.
Eric Rhoads 7:18
yeah. Well, it is an ideal place to paint and do you get out and do a lot of plein air painting?
Craig Nelson 7:26
Not as much as I’d like. But yes, I do. In fact, I was just, I’m sure you know, we hung away. And it was a very good friend of mine. And he lives about a mile from me and we’ve just been talking about trying to go out any day now.
Eric Rhoads 7:40
yeah, well, I know it is, you get busy and all of a sudden, those the best plans get occupied by some other thing that comes up so
Craig Nelson 7:49
Yeah, that happens.
Eric Rhoads 7:51
Why don’t we kind of start from the beginning because you know, you have a huge reputation. I would say that I could probably safely say that you probably have taught more people plein air painting than any person on earth. Because you’ve incorporated in your curriculum in all the teaching you’ve been doing. So tell me about, give me a little feel for your career before we go there. How did you begin painting and how did this all start for you?
Craig Nelson 8:21
Well, I started as a young child, basically, I was always interested in drawing, and I was in early high school, I was a Mad Magazine character, wanting to be like that. And then as I got to be closer to a senior in order to impress girlfriends, I got into portraiture and started doing pastel portraits and from there, and I found a love of doing figures. So and doing things that are obviously a little more realistic, drove me down to Art Center College of Design, which is where I went to college, where I went to school, four years there. graduated as a kind of a dual major painting, illustration. Graduated, we had nothing. We had wonderful technical training but nothing to give us any idea of how to go out and earn a living doing this stuff. So, being in Los Angeles I when I got out of school, I had a lot of figurative work and I went to the record album companies and MTM records hired me to do two or three album covers, and that led to other things and eventually I got into doing film posters.
Eric Rhoads 9:28
So any album covers that we might know?
Craig Nelson 9:31
Oh, yeah. One for Neil Diamond two for Sammy Davis. Natalie Cole, Shirley Bassey, Solomon Burke, I’m trying to remember Lou rolls, The Everly Brothers.
Eric Rhoads 9:46
And what are you doing, portraits? Are you doing the graphics? What? What exactly?
Craig Nelson 9:51
No, the portraits the paintings are really painting. Yeah. Wow. And so I did a whole bunch of those. And that led me into doing film posters. Because a lot of our record companies were linked with, like uni records was linked with universal films. And so they brought in art directors. So I started doing film posters. And it kept me from doing any gallery type work, because it was lucrative, very, very lucrative. And I was, I was literally busy. From the day I got out of school, which is like 1970 until I kind of started to hang it up and move into fine art or around 1988. And what happened is I just kind of got tired of it, I there was still a lot of work to be had. I was just, I have two very good friends, Dan McCall and john asaro, who were both just getting going and painting and fine art. And whenever we get together, they go back to painting and I’d have to go back to an illustration. And so I finally said to my wife one summer I said I’m going to take the whole summer and a bit of nothing but paint was around 88. And I remember her coming into the studio saying, Are you having fun, and I just turned around, looked at her and said, This is why I got into this. And I never looked back. I literally just kind of weaned off the commercial work and got a lot more involved in gallery work. During that time, I was still painting, I don’t want to say I wasn’t painting. I just wasn’t exhibiting, I was just painting and had kind of a cache of, of work that I had done. And I was teaching workshops…teaching at art center, and I started teaching.
Eric Rhoads 11:33
Okay. So that’s where this teaching began.
Craig Nelson 11:36
Yeah, what happened is, when I was illustrating, particularly, I was working almost 24/seven, and you know, you’re a hermit, and other than that your clients you talk to, and I felt like I needed to talk to other artists. And so I got a phone call from the school that I had taught at an art center, asking if I’d come back and teach a kind of a painting from the model class. And I jumped at the chance because it broke my week up, got me involved and talking to other artists. And it was just it was really wonderful. And eventually that led to teaching two days a week and then they tried to get me three and I just, I said no, can’t do it. I just I still, I’m still an artist who teaches not a teacher who does art.
Eric Rhoads 12:20
Well, there’s a big distinction there. I’m curious. I’ll go back to the commercial illustration era, when you were doing album covers, movie cut movie post posters, and so on. Were you doing those from photographs? Did you did you pose these people and draw from life? What was that situation like? Were you meeting any of you?
Craig Nelson 12:37
Yeah, the only one I did from life I get a George see Scott called the savages loose and they gave me photos. I did all the photos and Chris vanderveer, who was his wife at the time was in costar wasn’t happy with what I did. And so I actually went over to their house one afternoon and drew her from life and did My piece from that and she approved it and everything went fine. No most of the time, the only ones I met Lou rolls, I met Sammy Davis. But it was just a Sammy Davis I met him basically, because he wanted to explain the kind of wardrobe he wanted to wear. And so what what happened is I would I usually was given headshots, and then I’d have to come up with my own interpretation of any body movements that I want and often night grab a friend or use myself as a model. And so there’s a lot of kind of combining one thing with another film posters was all the only one I get one called a Monster Squad where I was actually able to pose a kids and, and I think I did makin me where I was able to pose something, but other than that, no, the actors, I mean, we were looked at truthfully as kind of a low guy on the totem pole. Sure, if you think about it, no, because, you know, we just, we filled a void that was needed and so we were given, and it was almost all black and white back then it was a black and white photo. So we hadn’t learned that invent our own color and things of that nature. But it was honest to God, it was a wonderful learning experience, because I got paid to learn, so to speak.
Eric Rhoads 14:19
Well, and what they what they tend to ignore, but obviously somebody knows is that if that album cover isn’t right, if that poster isn’t right, that movie doesn’t sell. Yeah.
Craig Nelson 14:31
Yep. And if you’re fortunate to do something that went well, a lot of you get a lot of accolades. And if it didn’t go, Well, you don’t get a lot of down you just basically don’t hear much. I got a few Broadway plays, too. That was kind of I did too for Neil Simon. And he bought the paintings from for his own collection. So that was kind of nice.
Eric Rhoads 14:51
Outstanding so Okay, now now we have you at art center and you’re teaching what happens then.
Craig Nelson 15:00
I was mainly teaching figurative. And it’s interesting because I really wasn’t school. Well in landscape I was schooled in pretty much figured of. But as I started painting for myself on my own, whenever I find a low, I realized you had to put those figures somewhere, unless you want to just put them against a simple tone. And I want it was found very intriguing. During my time at art center, I was able to travel, I take off six weeks in the summer, and we go to Europe. And that did it. I hit the museums, and I saw great art. I saw art that I went, I just looked at that stuff and said, that’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to do. And so that really inspired me and I started looking at the environments when the worst figure of art. And so when I did as I started, I use my children. My kids at the time, were small And took them to the beach. And I was living in Southern California. And so I, I go and I do a little painting on the beach, I’d have them pose for me. And or my daughter’s a natural, she’s a dancer so she I don’t even have to tell her what to do. And so I started doing Allah, Sorolla figures on the beach, and that kind of started. And at that point I started putting my work in galleries and things started happening and which was really nice. And but that the fact that I had figures in an environment got me intrigued with the environment. And so then I just started sometimes doing the environment with no figures. And, and I still bounce back and forth. And I’m always looking for something new. I’m always looking, I try not to over repeat myself, which again, from necessarily a marketing point of view that isn’t great. But it’s who I am.
Eric Rhoads 17:01
Well, I’m not so sure that’s such a bad thing. I remember having a dialogue with Fred Ross from the art renewal center one time. And he showed me this really marvelous figurative painting and and he said, Eric, what’s wrong with it? I said, it’s the landscape is awful. He said, exactly. He said, I went back to this painter and I said, I can’t buy this painting, because the landscape is awful. He said, If you want to make it, you’re going to have to learn landscape painting. And so I have been, you know, that kind of informed me very early on the importance of plein air people, landscape, people learning the human figure and human figure people learning the landscape. And so I’ve been trying to kind of incorporate a little bit of everything into these conferences so that you know, there is at least one figure painter there or there is somebody teaching landscape at the face conference, etc.
Craig Nelson 17:53
Yeah, that’s, to me. As an instructor, I try and tell our students Constantly that if you want to be a landscape painter, practice some figures practice and still lifes if you want to be a figure painter, practicing landscapes, one helps you with the other. And who knows, you may find you start out with as one end up as another. I mean, you know, some of these guys that I know personally because I either had them as students or I’ve known them are wonderful figurative painters, but they’ve chosen just really to concentrate more on landscapes. And which is which is great. It’s it truthfully, figurative is it takes a different kind of discipline, simply because you’re dealing with anatomy proportions. landscape is so much more freeing for me. I just enjoy the heck out of it. I was speaking with a friend of mine, John Poon, recently, you know, but a year ago, and john had been arrested. Mine years ago, and when I was doing mainly figure, and I told john, I said, you know, john, I think if I could make my living, they forced me to choose one thing, and I could just make my living doing it would be plein air painting. And john said to me, like, Craig, I’m really surprised to hear you say that. And I said, it is just pure joy. It really is.
Eric Rhoads 19:25
So did you once you started plein air painting going out to the beach and so on? Did Did you just kind of self educate in terms of that, or had you had any instruction? And you did help educate?
Craig Nelson 19:35
Yeah, yeah. Basically by looking at art, looking at great art. And every time I’d have a show, in a town, wherever it was, I go around and look at the galleries. And I’d look at people, I had the chance to look at what I thought was great art, or great landscape. And so that’s really where it came from. And truthfully, it’s practice. You know, we had a young student recently saying to one of our instructors Well, you know, I don’t think you’re telling me everything because I’m just not as good as I want to be. I’m just I think you’re holding back. And the instructor said, and he told me this, I thought was great line. He says, No. If you want to learn how to be a great painter, you’ve got to paint. You’ve just got to paint short learn from painting, which is true. I mean, great instruction workshops. All this is wonderful, because it’s inspiring and you get helpful hints. But there’s nothing like us sitting down and just hammering you know, fighting your way through a painting. Got a great I got a great line I use that was given to me by a fellow painter. And he said, Every artist needs to learn how to make frustration your friend because it’s just Part of the experience that you go through is your learning, no matter how good you are.
Eric Rhoads 21:08
Well, that’s absolutely you know, it’s true in everything. It’s true in marketing. It’s true in life, right? We’re learning from our mistakes, it makes it makes total sense. So you I want to understand how you ended up in the teaching position you’re in now because you’ve been there, what? 20-25 years 30 years. So in that 30 years, you have trained a lot of a lot of people that we know as big names today, who started out with you. So tell me about how you ended up where you are now.
Craig Nelson 21:43
I got a phone call. My wife and I at that point, I was looking at strictly getting out of the LA area because I was known pretty much for my illustration work and I just wanted to move. I I considered I did my time there. I didn’t It was a wonderful place to live start a career. But it wasn’t where I wanted to live my entire life and raise a family. I wanted to be inspired more. So we began looking for, I was going to move up north and completely quit teaching. And just pretty much rely on my painting. And I got a phone call from the Academy of Art asking if I’d like to come up and take over their fine art department because they said it was a mess. It was by the way. It was completely, completely conceptual. There was no training in terms of skill building or anything of that nature at that particular time. And the President was a little bit of a visionary and seemed to know it. So I said, Well, this plays right into our hands, because we’re kind of looking at moving up there. So I said, here’s the deal. I wrote up a curriculum because I had been on the curriculum committee At that art center of what I considered an ideal curriculum. In other words, I looked at if my kids were going to go to school, and they were going to go to take courses. This is what I’d want them to do. And so I wrote up an eight semester curriculum. I showed it to him. And he said, Well, when can you start? I went, ah, we still live in LA. We’re, you know, so he said, we’ll fly up, give me an apartment. So for eight years, I flew back and forth. And when I came in, I had to kind of work with curriculum they had got rid of, they got rid of all of their instructors, except pretty much there were two or three that I really wanted to hang on to. And I had one of my students was teaching there at the time. And so I was able to grab her bill mon at the time, William on kind of was co director with me and he moved over into another area eventually. But one of the first people that walked in looking for a job was we have And I looked at his work and it wasn’t your height. I mean, it was great back then. And we’re talking 19 9091. And so he taught with us for years. And you know, it was just it was a small handful of us teaching just a group of courses. And eventually, we kind of looked at developing more and more, we developed more, we just started with one landscape class because there was no class in it. And eventually, that led from to landscape, one landscape to a class we call studio landscape. Cityscape, urban landscape, a lot of different forms of painting outside. And then we’d always have one class, where you learn how to take those back inside and learn, do larger studio versions of those. So that’s kind of how that transpired over the course of the years. I’ve been there a long time, and I’m really fortunate. They do Leave me alone into school me meaning my department, not just me personally. And they have a lot of trust and faith in what we’ve done. And, and so it’s it’s been good, but I’m, at my age, I’m ready to kind of say maybe a couple more years. That’s about it. And people keep saying no, no, no. I keep saying Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Eric Rhoads 25:21
So what are you seeing? How are the students different today than they were when maybe when you first started teaching, or is there a difference? Are you still seeing the levels of passion? What has changed?
Craig Nelson 25:34
I see the passion. I don’t see it. We get two types of students. And this is this is we’re talking college workshops are completely different as you as you well know. But we get two types. And I think in workshops, you get two types of students also for that matter. One of them wants to the degree and they like art because art is fun. And they put in work but they don’t put in maximum Then you get the student who just wants to be really good. And they, they just push themselves, they push themselves. And so you get those two, those two types of students and it’s, you can’t let go of one even though you’d really like to work with those other students, but I have misjudged students truthfully, I’ve seen students I thought, well, they really don’t care. They’re not done. And all of a sudden, something happens in their, towards their senior year and a switch turns on and they start turning out beautiful stuff. And truthfully, from from my point of view, one of the other instructors wives said to me, she goes, Don’t you mind doesn’t bother you with it, you’re, you’re actually creating your competition. And I said, Well, I don’t necessarily look at it like that. But in some respects, it’s good. It’s good to feel like I really got I mean, I Students sometimes like Oh, man, I gotta pick myself up. I gotta kick myself in the butt here. Because these guys are just just coming out with some great stuff. So it’s, there’s an altruistic part to teaching
Eric Rhoads 27:13
well, right. But competition really always makes us up our game. You know not none of us like it but it makes us better. So it is, but because of we’re being in this you know, social media Instagram selfie kind of a world you know, lower attention spans, quicker gratification. How does that manifests itself in the art student today?
Craig Nelson 27:40
Well in it depends on, it really depends upon the individual in general, most of the people that go into fine art because we teach across the board we teach fine art. We have illustrations, students come over visual development. They all love fine art. You get it if I have a class 20 for example, I may have two students that you can tell, just want to waiting for a coffee break to come. You know, the rest of them are just engaged and passionate. However, they do there are they are on their cell phones a lot. And I in a model class, I’ve seen him, I don’t I’ve caught up doing this, where they’ll take a photo of the model on there and instead of models right in front of them, but instead of looking at the model, they’re looking at their self image on the cell phone. And I go over into why are you even What are you doing? That’s the model. This is an image of the model paint the bottle, you can see more. So we do get that that kind of individual who feels compelled to always have that as a backup. And it’s, it’s unfortunate, it’s not a lot of them. But there is that that side to it.
Eric Rhoads 29:04
So what happens to these students? you’ve had 30 years of students graduating and going out into the world. How many of them really make it? You know, are they succeeding?
Craig Nelson 29:16
You know, they find this and I tell people this all the time, you find your Avenue, you find your, some of them become gallery artists. I know, two or three that have actually opened galleries. Some I have some that have become what do you call it? in conservation, museum conservation. And so we’ve had a few move into that area. Some go into teaching, some go into elementary school teaching, usually are almost always art as a matter of fact. Most of them stay engaged in one way or another in art. That that is something that I have found. The one the ones that Excel are not necessarily Always I do know great ones that I don’t know what has happened to him. I am so young lady graduated about nine years ago, a couple of phenomenal, I mean, incredible painters. I don’t know what’s going on with either one to this day. And I’ve known other people that have gone through and done pretty well. And they, they keep growing, and they keep getting better. And you just, you know, you’re I see their work now and kind of, wow, you know, it’s just, it’s phenomenal to see. So, but I would say the majority of them have stayed involved in art in one way or another. They may not be full time what we consider painters, which is fine. I think people have to find their own comfort zone, what feels, what fits fits their personality, you have to have the right personality to be as you well know. You have to have the right kind of personality to be a painter. You have to learn to have a little bit of an entrepreneurial side to yourself so?
Eric Rhoads 31:02
Well, we both know painters who are very successful who don’t have entrepreneurial sides, though. I mean, you know that the key for those people, though, is figuring out who they can hand it off to or how they can get some help. Now, what about training? it? You know, you and I were talking offline before this started about the idea that I have this goal of figuring out how to get art marketing as a pretty substantial curriculum piece into all of the art schools because I think it’s so critical. And yet it seems to be something that is considered poisonous or venomous or evil or, you know, marketing. How dare you compromised by marketing? What are your thoughts on that?
Craig Nelson 31:42
Oh, I’m 100% behind you. When I first came to the Academy, I told you it was. I remember, there was a rebellion with our students, and they wanted to have a meeting with me. And so we set up in one of the big smaller auditorium had a meeting. And they said, Well, what if we don’t want to compromise and sell our Ark? That’s your choice. Yeah, that’s fine. But if you are, if you are to continue doing this, you have to purchase supplies. You have to have a place to live a place to work place to eat. I said, I know a young lady that I was a restaurant that I had been going to for years. And she was a bartender, and I don’t know how we got into it. My wife and I were in there and we started talking. And lo and behold, she was not a bartender. She was a painter. She’s an artist. But she’s a bartender, she’s an artist, but she wasn’t making her living. So a person can be a very passionate I don’t know, hobbyist, I don’t mean that as a put down, they can be very passionate about it meaning and where they don’t want to, they just want to I do know we had a man take courses of ours and was very successful. Two of them. One had been the original attorney for Apple when they started. So he left with a boatload of money. And he just wanted to learn how to paint. He didn’t ever care if he sold. He wanted to be able to travel the world and paint and which is fine. How many of those aren’t there? There’s a very few of those. Most of us are like me, where you don’t have I had no financial backing. When I graduated, I had nothing. I had to go out and make it. Most of us are like that. And you can be a great artist and starve. Or you could be even, not even a great artist, or just a pretty good artist mediocre and do exceptionally well. The difference is marketing. Now I tell you an interesting story to the individual that you know, he’s no longer with us Thomas kincade. Tom actually had been a student of mine at Art Center, where he was in class. He and Jay James Gurney, were in class and Tom went out and did you know he was a decent student, he painted really good still lifes I remember that. And he went out and became this, you know, mega wealthy artist, through marketing, he found a niche got into it and marketed the hell out of it. Well, when I first started the Academy, another instructor and myself walked down to Market Street and he had his own gallery there one of those galleries. And we walked in and looked around and the guy showed us and talk to him how he said, Well, here’s, here’s his new addition that’s going to be coming out. So while we’re not, he said, Well, let me show you what he’s doing. And he, he had a plan where he would come up with a series and that would call lamplighter, lane, lamplighter walkway, lamplighter cottage, all these and he would hook people into that first one, and then they want the second, the third and the fourth. And I remember walking out and the instructor said to me, that work gives me a stomachache. And I said to him, I says, good work can be marketed to. And that’s where I left it. Well, that led us to developing a course if we only have one, we need more of this stuff with of course we call Senior Portfolio professional practices. And in that we try we make the students at a senior level, junior senior level, go out and make two gallery contacts, enter at least two shows, put together a website, come up with what they consider a five year market four year four or five year marketing plan. And it’s worked pretty well. A lot of the students don’t want to take it, they’ll come in, and it’s one of those classes that we won’t waive. You have to take it. But really, you know, I’m not an expert marketer. I know a little bit about it because I marketed myself as a commercial artist as an illustrator. And they need so much more. I have two friends that are exceptionally talented artists right now that are both doing very, very well paint totally different directions. They both Tell me, one of them was a teacher. And he quit of maybe 10 years ago. And he said, I said, it’s Gil Dillinger, by the way it was a guy. And I said, Gil, I saw you doing these. I’m doing better than I’ve ever done financially. I said, Really, Gil, that’s great. He says, You know what it is marketing. I spend time marketing, which I was never able to do when I was teaching. When I got those words run through to me, because that’s kind of a situation that I’m in in the same way where I don’t have the opportunity to market and that the other friend of mine lives in Seattle, James Dietz, and he basically paints nostalgia, military things from World War Two. And he’s got collectors all over several museums. And Jim spends he says, He takes every Friday is his business day. He’s that organized. He does, if you need supplies, if he needs to contact people, if he needs to write letters if he needs to deal with website, if any has to do with anything, he does that on Friday. So in both cases, both of these guys, besides being super talented artists, they’ve done exceptionally well because they’ve marketed themselves so I use that as a catalyst when I have a chance to talk to students.
Eric Rhoads 37:40
Well, I think it’s critical and thank you for doing that. And , you know, I I teach take one day a week and and focus on your marketing and nobody wants to do it, but when they do it, they see just that one day a week they can see a substantial increase. So I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to cover in a fairly short amount of time. So I’d like to talk about plein air painting, specifically because you do it so beautifully. And I know you do workshops, what are the things that you really think are the essentials that people need to be focusing on when they’re learning to paint or, or quite frankly, when they’re trying to get to the next level? Because we’ve got people who were in both categories here, you’ve got, you know, you’ve got people all over the world listening to this, who are they’re beginners, they’ve never plein air painted before you got some that are somewhere in between. You’ve got all the way up to pros, and yet everybody can learn something. What are the things that you really want to leave us with today that are really critical skills and how do we get there on those skills?
Craig Nelson 38:47
Okay, I, I’ve broken this down several times. I’ve talked about it to five different basic things and the first is drawing and if you’re, if you’re not gonna do Figure work that don’t worry about that. I mean, it’s great to practice it because it trains your eye. But drawing and drawing, I break it down into three basic areas. Number one perspective. You know, so we’re dealing with perspective, both linear, we can talk about atmospheric in a second. The second is proportion. proportion, how one length how one size relates to another. And the third if you’re dealing with this only deals with figures gesture, and that’s the gesture, the movement, the angles. The second thing that’s first you have to kind of get that down. The second is value, which is if somebody says what’s the most important value? That’s my personal opinion and I’ve heard this other people too. It’s it is I always there’s a great line. I don’t even know where I heard it. Value doesn’t work color gets the credit. That’s a great line. I love it because value is what is how we make things, how we receive things. Think of black and white photographs. For example, before we had color, black and white, we saw things in value. So value becomes the next most important thing. The third is color, color, you think think of color as seasoning or something, or color gives something, the intensity of the color. The decision of the palette, whether it’s a limited palette, whether it’s an analogous palette was someone’s going to be a tonal palette, or whether someone’s going to you know, do a full blown palette using you know, relatively the spectrum of colors. The composition composition in plain air to me is one of the most important things to tell you a mistake I made when I was originally starting planar painting. I picked my subjects are when I was going to paint because I loved a subject. I love the texture in that tree. I love the paint peeling off the side of that building. I love the rusty wheelbarrow. Well, that’s fine. But I’ve kind of grown from that and realize that I look at design, spatial breakup. And the way that I do that when I’m on location is by closing one eye, so I lose the stereoscopic vision. And then I squint with the other eye, and I lose detail and you begin to see shapes and designs, spatial breakup value, relationships, light and dark. So that becomes very important. The last one that everyone’s going to struggle with forever, myself included, is your technical approach your technique. Your technique has a lot to do with what I like to refer to as intent. You have to begin your piece with an intention. You have to am I going to do a painterly piece. And like, is this piece going to be more refined? Is this piece going to have thick paint in it? Am I going to use thin to thick. And so that’s something that we all work on forever. You can get past the first two or three stages, but that the technical side is something that we that we work on. And then to throw a little additional thing in there, your choice what it is you’re going to paint. If you’re starting, don’t pick something tremendously complicated. Start simple. In fact, I tell people to start when there’s learning plein air to start practicing, still lives at home. It’s gonna be painting for life. The light doesn’t move. So if you do that, but if you go out that the technical side your technique, your style, like some people like to call it That happens over a period of time. As you become more familiar with the way the paint goes down as to certain characteristics that it has when you put what paint into wet paint, when you put how you lay a light over dark, all these things are technical things that people need to learn. And some of that is, is paint consistency. Some of it is brush pressure. Some of it is the choice of the pressure use. Some of it might even be the surface you’re painting on. So there’s so many factors and this is the great thing about art and painting, I think is you’ll never learn at all. Just just I had a teacher that used to say I love their teacher of mine used to say your mindful state five years ahead of your ability and I love that mind because If you think about it, you’re striving to get to this one level, and you finally reach it. But at that point, you’ve already started looking at other levels beyond where you’re at. And you’re shooting for those levels. And I think all great artists, great painters do that constantly.
Eric Rhoads 44:17
So how do you have breakthroughs? Because I remember one time I was on a trip with Scott Christianson, we went to Russia together. And we looked at the great Russian masters in the Russian museum and he came over to me he almost had tears in his eyes. He said, Eric, I don’t, I thought I had accomplished something. And I don’t know that I can ever get to a level anywhere close to this. This is so humbling. And then he called me when he got home. He said, I can’t paint anymore. I this is this is just, it’s ruined to me. And I said, Scott, just stick with it. You’ll break through it. And then he called me about, I don’t know six months or a year later, he says I finally had a breakthrough. But but is Is there something that you can tell us That helps us have those breakthroughs or is it just having that moment where you have that sinking feeling in your heart like I don’t know if I can ever pull this off?
Craig Nelson 45:10
You know, I it’s hard to say Giacomo suffered. Otto has done that with me. I looked at I go, man, am I an Anders Zorn, I look at my work and I go, I am so unambitious. These guys did things that were…just blew me away. And so I understand what Scott was referring to in that regard. I don’t go through that like he does. Great work that work is way beyond mine inspires the crap out of me. It just makes me want to work. And that may just have to do with different people and different personalities. But it does the opposite. It goes I want to do that. I want to I want to be that and the only way I know how to do it is to keep going after it. Perseverance is You know, persistence and perseverance are the two most important factors in the growth of any artist. I think if you don’t have that, if you don’t have that perseverance, and persistence, you’re not going to grow. And we’re all going to go through hills and valleys as I like to call them. hills, meaning the peaks where we really, we hit that, and then the valleys where we kind of feel like, you know, we’re still producing work, but it just isn’t hitting those peaks we want. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t go through that. Everybody I know goes through that every now and then. Students asked me Well, tell me about when you do a really good painting. I said, You know what, here’s my, this may be true or not true, but it’s what I’ve come up with. Maybe once every three years. I do a painting that, to me is a breakthrough. Maybe once three once every five. Maybe I do three paintings a year that I think are really, really strong. The rest of them fine, it’s fine once or a few stinkers that I try and hide and never show. But what happens is our bad paintings aren’t as bad, they get better. And we don’t we think of them as bad because we’ve already gone through. It’s like, What? What My teacher said is your mind stays five years ahead of your ability. It’s what? It’s what you just described, that Scott went through, he looked at that knew Oh, my God, but persevere, persist. And God knows if we’re ever going to reach that, that level that that our heroes hit, you know, that we also have regrets about that. We have a lot more distractions nowadays, and many of them did. However, I look at Rembrandt and I say, this guy did not have incandescent light bulbs. He had worked in certain in a certain period of time and in Holland, it gets in the winter, it gets dark pretty early. So you know, I looked at all there, but they didn’t have For some of the they didn’t movie theaters, right now, we don’t have those either. But they didn’t have movie theaters, they didn’t have automobiles, so they could just take off and do things. So it was really different if you start to look back at some of these guys, and they had more, it’s like the guys, it’s like, I went to Egypt once. They said the way they built the pyramids, these people had time to get, you know, 6000 people across the Nile and they’ve got time on their hands. So our time nowadays in today’s society is pretty limited. We’re, torn with this. We’re torn and if you have a family, you know, we got it. I have take my kids to basketball, I coached basketball, you know, and then then you want to kind of stay healthy. I heard you earlier talking about riding the bike. And I try and run and it’s the same thing. So we’re working with all these different levels. And, you know, when I get it in my studio when I get outside and paint, either one I’m in My own realm, I made my own thing. And, you know, sometimes I just want to do, I paint a lot, by the way, I paint a whole lot. And if I am when I come home, if I teach all day, sometimes I’ll come up in the studio and go into my studio for two hours and say, I’m gonna do a little two hour study here. And I do it and then we’ll come down and have dinner and feel fine. It’s like, it’s who you are. Somebody I think, a painter is, it’s just ingrained in you. It’s just who you are. It’s like we do these workshops in Europe now. And it’s, you know, the people that come with us, just love it because we get up. We’re experiencing the country, we’re experiencing the culture. And at the same time, we’re, we’re painting and people are coming up and talking to us and asking us questions, and it’s just, it’s exhilarating. It’s just wonderful.
Eric Rhoads 49:58
Well, I was reading a book yesterday. It’s so the studies of Frederick Church, came out of the National Gallery and, and there are these paintings of icebergs and I love painting icebergs. I’ve been up to Newfoundland painting icebergs. I’m going to take a group up there one day, but I thought about, you know, what did Frederick church have to go through? You know, he first off, he had to take a horse and buggy probably maybe a train down to New York City. And then he had to catch a ship going up. And you know, that ship was probably several days and then they had to hike in London. You know, what you think about the the paintings that these people did, you know, the the VISTAs, the Hudson River school paintings, and they, I read, Duran wrote a story about he had taken a carton buggy all the way up as far as he could on this dirt road. And then he and one of his helpers, basically lugged up a studio is on a ground is paints on location to any He camped up there for five days to do this big painting. So it was more than just a study. I mean, he was doing a studio workout tours. And and that makes me feel like a wimp. You know, this morning as the sun came up, I thought I think I’ll get up and do a painting. Now I’m gonna sleep in a little bit.
Craig Nelson 51:19
Like, I know the feeling Exactly. It’s and that’s one of the nice things about being with other artists at times because there’s times that I want to be alone and painting and there’s times it’s great to be with other artists and and kind of feed off their inspiration and they feed off of yours so it works great. Where I live up here that Han great friend of mine move by a mile away so we get to see each other pretty often.
Eric Rhoads 51:49
Well and you know what’s nice about workshops like what you’re doing in Europe is that you know, a lot of people won’t do in their normal life with them, even if they have the time which they usually don’t When they go to a workshop like yours, they’re out there doing it twice, three times a day. You know, they’re they’re painting sunrise or painting sunset. And so that really helps people do things that they otherwise would do.
Craig Nelson 52:12
So absolutely. So, by the way, just so you know, you inspired me to do a workshop in Holland, because I saw a lot of posts that you did from Holland. And I had been there several times. I hadn’t really thought about it. And I went, I got to do and we did a workshop over there about three years ago. And everybody said, Well, I wasn’t sure about Holland, but I went along with you. I am so glad it was so great.
Eric Rhoads 52:38
Well, you know, it’s just wonderful. Painting windmills isn’t actually easy, is it?
Craig Nelson 52:44
Not at all. Well, that’s where that drawing part comes in. Really important there.
Eric Rhoads 52:49
Yeah, it really does. And so spectacular and of course, the light there and the and the clouds and the grays. It’s just really magnificent.
Craig Nelson 52:58
Yeah, absolutely. Almost every placement. We’ve been…has been like that. And then even here, right here I find inspiration in the venue. It’s right around me.
Eric Rhoads 53:08
Oh, yeah, well, you live in a great area to paint. You’ve got great people to paint with. So, one thing I’m curious about, I was going to ask you earlier is, I hear a lot of people will walk up to me when I’m outdoors painting. And they and you’ve had this 1000 times, you know, they’ll say, Oh, you know, my aunt Mabel paints or my and my grandfather was a painter, and I wish I could do it. But I don’t have any talent. I can’t draw a stick figure. What? Do you believe that there is such a thing as natural, inborn talent? Is it something that you believe anybody can learn? Where are you on that spectrum?
Craig Nelson 53:47
I’m on the latter part of that. I think there is inborn something. I mean, it depends on what you mean is talent. I think there’s inborn interest Interest develops talent is my feeling. You know, I got a feeling if you took two kindergarteners, and you give them a pencil, and you put something in front of them, I think I don’t know how much of a difference that would be in the quality of the drawing of whatever they did. I don’t really don’t think it’s that, I think with, I remember myself and I was in second grade, and I got enamored with Disney characters, and I learned that I could draw Dumbo. And I liked it. It was fun. And other people liked it. They looked at it and they liked it. And I think that was the beginning of what some people would refer to as talent. I think anybody can learn to paint pretty well. It’s like I tell students, I can teach you to paint. Good. I can’t teach you to paint. Great. I can’t Because that’s inside you, right? I can teach you to paint well. And I think there are a lot of people that just enjoy it. And they’re not necessarily looking to be the world’s greatest artists. I think what they what they do is they just love the process and they want their paintings to look good. But I think I think people can be taught I really believe that I believe it with with everything in my soul, really, I think, like I say, I, I don’t know that we can teach them to be really, really good painters. But we can teach them to paint a relatively simple landscape or relate to relatively simple still life pretty well. Where they take that is a lot of it is that persistence and perseverance. That’s where I think the talent comes. I mean, I don’t know because you hear stories about young people sitting down at the piano for the first time and being able to Play. I don’t know anybody that’s done that I’ve heard stories about it. But I know there can be a lineage, if you look at the whites, you know, Andrew Wyatt, or NC Wyeth and her wife, Jamie, when you look at the whites, and there’s a lineage, so there may be something in that. Well, it’s all most it’s osmosis.
Eric Rhoads 56:20
I think about exactly right. So Jamie grew up around his grandfather and his father and it was, you know, they were always painting my kids are growing up around me. And, you know, they don’t have any interest in it right now. But they they’re being exposed. You know, we’ve got all these artists who come over to the house, I’m always painting I’ve always got a model, you know, and, and that will rub off on them in some way. Just like when I grew up, my dad was doing business meetings on the phone, and I was sitting there listening in, not, you know, not hearing both sides of the conversation. But some of those things came more naturally because I was comfortable with them because that’s what I was around the whole time. And I think that’s, that’s the way I would refer to as osmosis.
Craig Nelson 57:02
Yeah. My mom was a dance teacher and a dancer. My dad basically both my parents were pretty good. My mother could do watercolor. She didn’t do them too often. She just did them for fun. on my father’s side, his mother My grandmother was a costume designer for the ice Polly’s and things like that. So I saw a lot of that growing up. Now, my kids, none of them went into a well, I should say that in our youngest is a filmmaker, he does documentary stuff. He’s just 30. And you know, he’s been in a few film festivals and won an award. And he’s making it not making it big but making it our daughter. Every one of our kids was good and art everyone. None of them really pursued it and it’s because my wife paints I paying between that i think i think they saw how hard I worked. I think they saw that it was working day and night because I was illustrating when they were first born, and that had lots to do with it. But I remember being the first workshop I ever did in I didn’t cortona Italy. And our kids came. And my daughter said, can I try? she was a teenager at the time. And I said, Sure, I had an extra little pink box with being said of it. She sat next to no other artists. She finished it and she came over to me and she says, This is really hard. I just started laughing. I just started laughing. I thought it was funny. She’s really never done anything since but I just thought it was interesting that I kind of inside it when I had the opposite realized it’s hard. It’s not something you just sit down and you do really well the first time.
Eric Rhoads 58:48
I had the opposite story. I bought my daughter a little make your own ukulele kit for Christmas one year and this year, she decided to put a painting on it and so she asked if she could borrow some of my acrylic paints and So she did and she brings this thing out and it is absolutely beautiful. Perfect. I mean, it’s a it’s a plein air painting that I would have put on my wall anytime It was just that good. I mean, she had edges. She had values, she had everything down. And she’s only I think she took one art lesson in her life because I took her up to studio and communality with me one day, but I mean it she blew me away, but I think it’s because she’s, you know, she’ll sit out in the studio and watch me sometimes. And she doesn’t want to paint but she’s taken it in. So it’s interesting how our kids take it. And you know, I also think you know, your kids one day when they turn 40 or 50 or 60, or whatever, one day they may go, you know what I’m going back to this, this is something that, you know, I have I have a feel for because I grew up with it.
Craig Nelson 59:51
Our youngest son during this, this kind of staying in quarantine, he called me up. He lives about a mile from us, he said 70 pastels I can. I said yeah, I’ve got two or three boxes. I’ll give you one. And so I thought I was really impressed. He came over, got us set a pastels, went on and started doing some landscapes.
Eric Rhoads 1:00:12
Craig Nelson 1:00:13
So, in between editing film stuff, that’s cool. So who knows? You’re absolutely right. This is one of these great professions. It’s, it was a cartoon that I saw a friend of mine sent me or I think it may have saw on the internet, I don’t know. And it was for cartoons of an artist painting on a board kind of leaning over. And the first one was pre pandemic. And then it says, maybe it was, it was for I forget what for, during pandemic, after pandemic, it was the same pose. For we’re all we’re doing what we do, right so it’s really been fortunate to a degree for for many of us artists. It’s it hasn’t curtailed us other than the social side of it. That it has but we can still work
Eric Rhoads 1:01:03
Well it’s just made us concentrate harder and we have literally exposed art to hundreds of thousands of people during this pandemic because, you know, a lot of people are discovering these free samples we’ve been putting online and, and absolutely and I’ve had stories from people have said, You know, I did it 30 years ago and I gave it up and you inspired me to come back. I’ve had people say, I’ve never done it and I watched I realized I could do it. You know, so, to me, that’s a good day if somebody picks it up. That’s a good day. Well, Craig, this has been absolutely fascinating. I think we could go on for hours and hours and unfortunately we don’t have those hours. Do you have any final thoughts that you want to leave with people about plein air painting or or just thoughts in general?
Craig Nelson 1:01:50
Honestly, I could think of is, is do it. Just go out and do it and you know, grab some videos if you’re not sure about process, there’s so many great videos out there. You know if you can link up with another artist, I know I’ve been doing these Friday, free demos online every Friday for an hour and a half. And I’ve had people do the same thing. I’ve had students contact me and things of that nature. My feeling really is just do it. I don’t know. It’s like one of my teacher said, you get better. You learn how to paint and learn how to get better by painting. Do it. It’s fun. Don’t get upset. You know, use that line for every artist needs to make frustration your friend use that line. And enjoy a line that I use. Enjoy the process because you won’t always enjoy the results.
Eric Rhoads 1:02:53
It’s so true.
Craig Nelson 1:02:56
…Have fun. I mean, we all got into this because it was fun. We didn’t get into it. That’s why I got into it. Yeah. And then I tried to figure out how to make a living out of it. But I got into it because it was just fun.
Eric Rhoads 1:03:07
Absolutely, it still is. Well, Craig, thank you so much for being on the Plein Air podcast today.
Craig Nelson 1:03:12
You’re more than welcome. Thank you, Eric. And thanks. Thanks for all the marketing advice you’ve given to everybody. It’s been inspiration for myself too.
Eric Rhoads 1:03:22
Well, thanks again to Craig Nelson. I think he’s very impressive, don’t you? I think he’s a great painter, a great instructor and he’s a walking library of wisdom about art. I mean, imagine painting and teaching for as long as he has. Well, you guys ready for some marketing ideas?
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 1:03:49
All righty. Well, in the marketing minute I try to answer your questions. There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers and those would be coming from me anyway. Just to Tell me your name and your town and submit it by email [email protected] All right. Here’s a question from Katrina Gorman, from San Antonio, Texas who asks What advice can you give to help follow up conversations with a collector or a potential buyer? If somebody is interested in your work? And they say they need to think about it. When should you follow up with them? And how many times are too many to follow up without feeling like you’re bugging them? If you can’t reach them? Well, Katrina, you’re not gonna love what I have to say here. I’m sorry, I’m you kind of hit a nerve. I know that you’re This is going to hurt but when some when you’re approached by somebody, let’s say you’re in a store and somebody approaches you and says, Can I help you? What do you say? Just looking? So what do you say when you want to not buy something? You say? I need to think about it. That is a story. Doc term, we all use it, I need to think about it. You don’t want to lie to somebody, you don’t want to hurt their feelings. And so you say, I need to think about it. Well, those words are the kiss of death. When you hear those words, you are almost dead in the water. I say almost because I’m going to teach you some moves. But anyway, if they need to think about it, they’re probably not interested. Now, they might be but maybe they don’t want to be pressured. Maybe they do want to think about it. But usually, it’s a way to escape. Now, I’m going to show you a couple of things that are effective. It’s going to take some courage you ready for this? Katrina? Well, first off, you say this, then I’m going to give you a little roleplay here. So it’s you, you say, Are you interested in this piece of art? And they say, Well, I don’t know. I need to think about it. And then you say, Well, tell me about it. Tell me about it. And what are you thinking? And they’ll say something, all right. So the idea is just say when they say I need to Think about it. So well, they’ll tell me about it. And and that’s a tool you can use. And by the way, you keep somebody talking for an hour by that you can say, you know, tell me about it. Tell me more. So they say, you know, let’s say, I need to think about it. You say, tell me about, well, I’m not exactly sure you know where I would hang it on, you can say, hang it, tell me more. And they go, Well, you know, it’s kind of thinking about, should I hang it in the living room or the bedroom and you go, Well, what do you think? Well, I don’t I kind of think it’d be best in the bedroom. Okay, why do you think that? Well, because I’d like to wake up in the morning every morning and look at that, because it’s such a beautiful painting. It’s such a beautiful view. And then you can say beautiful view. Oh, yeah, I love the view. And I would really love to have that. What happens when you do that is that you don’t have to pressure anybody. But what you do is you keep them talking and then you find that you’re able to kind of lead them along so that they take themselves Next thing you know this, like, you know what, I think that is a beautiful view, I think I would like to look at it in my bedroom every morning, and I think I will buy it. That’s one thing. Now, you can also ask them for feedback. You know, tell me more. Tell me more about that. And you’re peeling back the onion. And eventually most people will give you the real truth. And usually the real truth is, I don’t like it or I don’t love it or the price is too high or something like that. Now you can, you can say this one, this one takes a little bit more courage. They say I want to think about it. You can say, you know, forgive me for saying this. But when most people tell me they want to think about it, but they really mean is that they’re not interested but they don’t really want to hurt my feelings. If that’s the case, I’m okay with it. Believe me. I don’t believe in pressure. But the problem is if you tell me what to think about it, and you’re not really interested, I’m probably going to be following up with you. I’m going to call you and you’re going to be hiding out not taking my calls and I’m just gonna keep calling And you’re gonna keep finding messages from me. And you know, I don’t want to really waste your time. And I know you don’t want to waste mine. So if if you’re really not interested in it, just go ahead and tell me that you’re not going to hurt my feelings. And so which is it? Are you simply not interested? Or do you really truly need to think about it? Well, if they say, No, I’m simply not interested. That’s cool. You say, Well, thank you for your honesty, I really appreciate that. And I hope we can do business sometime in the future and then let it go. But if they say, No, no, I truly do need to think about it. And then you can say, Well, what exactly do you need to think about? Maybe I can help you answer some questions, or you can use those moves I told you about before. And then don’t say anything. Just Just be quiet and listen. Now another thing you can do when they say they need some time to think about it, you can say that’s terrific. How much time do you need and when should I follow up with you? Because I don’t want to be a pest. And then they’ll tell you well, you know, you can text me and text me by Thursday, I’ll have an answer. Now, whenever somebody escapes, you’re not going to sell them. Most people who leave Don’t Come back and buy. But then you can try to do some things to keep them coming back or thinking thinking about them. But you could say something like to try to get them into say, you know, what, what could we do today? What if What could we do to make this happen today? Because I know quite frankly, you know, if you walk out the door, the chance of you ever owning my painting, I’d really love to see you own it. You know, you love it, you think it’s cool. So what could we do to make this happen today? And then sometimes they’ll say, Well, I don’t know, you know, maybe if you, you know, knock a few bucks off the price or you do something, you know, maybe they could do that. Or you could you could, you know, try something and if you get a sale, it’s better than not getting a sale. Now, regarding your question about how many times do you follow up most people give up too soon. I have had if I have something important pending, I’ll usually never stop. I will try lots of interesting ways to get their attention. I’ll call them I’ll text him. I’ll email him. I’ll FedEx him. I’ll send him something in the mail, send notes or whatever. Usually, if somebody really doesn’t want to be dogged, then they’re going to eventually step up and say, Listen, I’m really not interested. I just said I was thinking about it. And they’ll tell you the truth, finally. So that’s why you don’t, you know, really want to go through that. But sometimes I have breakthroughs. I follow up with somebody, and they come through, and I ended up selling them something and I won’t chase something, unless it’s really a big sale, I won’t chase something for small amounts of money, because it’s not worth the time. It might be worth the time in your case, because a small amount of money might be a big amount of money to you. But the other thing is never really let somebody leave without giving you something and returned. So you can here’s here’s a move you can make, for instance, say, you know, you’ll, I know you’ll love that painting, and I know you’re probably not likely to buy it. And that’s okay, by the way to say something like that, because that might push them the opposite direction. There’s a whole theory about that. Maybe I’ll talk about that someday. Anyway, you say, listen, can I take a picture of this painting and text it to you? And they say, Sure, you know, and You can say, Well, I’ll tell you well, let me take your picture in front of it. And so you take their picture in front of it, then you say, Okay, give me your text number and you text it to them. Now you have their text. Now they have a reminder. And you can in the text, you can say, by the way, you know, here’s this is the name of the painting, and this is the price etc. Now, there’s another tool. This is oftentimes misused, and I don’t want to see you misuse it. But this tool is called urgency. I never suggest lying or even insinuating something. But if you truly have somebody else who’s interested, you can tell them that now they might not believe you, they might believe this is false urgency. But you know, you might, you might be able to say that, for instance, hey, you know, I know you’re interested in this. I know this sounds like a game but there was a guy in here earlier today and he was kind of interested. He said he might come back quite frankly, I don’t know if he will. But you know, all of a sudden, this kind of creates a little different chemical reaction. They’re like, mmm, maybe I ought to do something about this. If I’m truly serious about some people that has a negative effect. The other thing is if you sense that somebody is going to be interested in something, say that before you get to that point. So, you know, somebody says, Hey, I liked this painting, I said, you could say, well, you know, it seems to be the thing going on today, there was a guy in here earlier, I don’t know if he’s going to come back and get it or not, but he likes it too. So you’re just kind of planting that seed and then all of a sudden, it’s like, you know, it’s like when you walk into a car dealer and you like the purple car, and they say, well, we only got one purple, and we can’t get any more purple for six more months. And by the way, there’s somebody in here looking at this today, all of a sudden, you’re like, maybe I need to get my purple car. I don’t have a purple car. I’m just saying, you know, okay, so anyway, that’s one of the moves you can make.
Eric Rhoads 1:12:39
Now, here’s the next question. And that’s from Paige in St. Louis. Paige, who says I’m an artist, I know nothing about marketing. Where do I start? Where do I learn? What do I do? Paige? I love St. Louis. I love the old train station. That’s now hotel I can’t think of the name of it. And of course, there’s a great Blues Club downtown near the arch. Anyway. Love St. Louis, you should know Paige that you’re not alone. Most artists have no idea where to start, and most don’t even want to do marketing. But before I tell you where to start, I want to reiterate that marketing is the difference between having gas in a car or not having any gas, the more gas you have, the longer you can go. And you don’t like to go to the gas station. I don’t either. I hate pumping gas, I hate the inconvenience, I’d rather not have to stop. But it’s a fact of life, I know I have to stop at the gas station and put gas in the car. And if I don’t, I’m gonna run out of gas and then I got a problem. So just like that you’ve got to adopt a must do attitude about marketing. In other words, I’m going to put gas in my car every week, and I’m going to start learning and learning how to do it and I’m going to adjust to it. So remember that marketing is not a single event or a one time thing. It’s something that you will have to adopt for the rest of your life as long as you’re trying to sell artwork or whatever you’re trying to sell. It’s a fact of life. As an artist, so those of us who choose to develop muscles and marketing will thrive and those who don’t typically will not the idea of if you build it, they will come. It’s just not true. You know, just because you’re a great painter or a great sculptor, or great, whatever. Just know that you’re not necessarily going to get discovered. I mean, sometimes people do, but it’s rare. So, where to begin? Well, first off, there’s a ton of information in the market, lots of people including me, offering books, courses, videos, etc. They’re probably all pretty good. Most people who teach this stuff are probably pretty good. My stuff is based on real life and building businesses. There’s no theory in what I do. So mine is as tested. I can’t tell you about the others. But this is a little self serving, but for 25 bucks, you can get my book, it’s called make more money selling your art and it’s a good foundation for you know, for learning marketing. It’s a good start. Most people wrongly start with what I call tactics, things like ads, things like flying wires, you know, social media stuff, etc. But to be effective, you can’t start with tactics, you have to start with strategy. In order to get strategy, you got to define your goals and to get your goals, you got to think about your dreams from that your strategy comes and then you know you once you have your strategy, you got to ask yourself, you know, who am I going after? Who’s my target? What’s their age group? How do I talk to them? What do they need to hear what’s important to them? What buttons do they need pushed from that? Then you can focus on the tactics and the tactics might be do I buy this ad? Do I do this flyer? Do I do a postcard? Do I do a website you know, all of those kinds of things. It’s all very overwhelming. You know, my best advice is to take Friday’s or one day a week, any day a week, Mondays would probably be a good day too. But take one day a week and say you know what, for the full day, every week, no matter what I’m going to work on my marketing one day out of 520 percent right. Don’t count the weekends. Work on your marketing might be reading it. My be watching a video it might be working on your website might be taking a course it might be working on social media. But if you devote one day to marketing and you don’t avoid it ever you will start to develop muscles and it’s like going to the gym you know you don’t you don’t get any action early but before you know it you got these big old honkin muscles on your arms. Maybe you don’t. Anyway, you may not love it, but I don’t love going to the gym but I do it because it’s good for me. Right? And that’s what you got to think about. So Friday marketing is a really great idea. Second thing is dream your dreams Dream Big Dreams determine your goals, but each goal has to have clarity and exactness. For instance, if you can’t just say I want to get rich. And by the way, it’s not always about money, right? But you can’t just say I want to get rich. You might say well, I want to make $100,000 to me that’s rich. Or you might say $10,000 you might say whatever your number is, you’ve got to have something that’s measurable so you can see how you’re doing you know, so you break Get into steps you reverse it. So let’s say you want to make $100,000 you say how much is that a month? How much is that a week? How many paintings Do I have to sell to make that? How many paintings Do I have to make to be able to sell that many? How do I market that? How much do I have to spend on marketing? every dollar that you spend on marketing is more likely to make you money than to cost you money, but most people think of it as a cost. I think of it as a necessity and I spend a huge amount of money in marketing every year and it just pays off. Now sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I mess it up. Sometimes it doesn’t work. You know, there you’re gonna have to learn and experiment. But do one thing, pick one thing and read my book, pick one thing and don’t try to do 10 things. Just pick one project and work on that and work on it towards hitting your goals. Do it just keep learning from it, make adjustments. Everything you do is going to help it might be slower, but don’t be in a hurry. Just take your time. Don’t spend a lot of money in the beginning. Just Ultimately, take some time and learn and do something. It’s better to do something than to get locked up about, you know, there are 10 things I could do, what should I do? You can’t do all 10 things right away. You have to develop your muscles and so do one thing and just do one thing really, really well. Ultimately, we learn by doing read a lot if it’s painful, go to seminars or events. I teach art marketing at my conferences, plein air convention, figurative art convention, and so on. So, in sometimes I consult people or do marketing talks or podcast recordings at my events. So, you know, pick something and learn it and do it well. Anyway, I hope this has been helpful for you.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads, you can learn more at art marketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 1:18:47
Okay, well, a reminder to sign up for the world’s first global plein air experience. It’s called Plein Air Live, it’s virtual meaning you participate from home and all of you around the world listening and they’re like 67 80 countries listening to this right now you can all participate. If you’re new to plein air there’s a basic beginners day and you’re gonna love this is going to have a lot of fun for you. It’s gonna have a chance there’s no airfare, no high expenses. Anyway, go to pleinairlive.com and get signed up. It’s coming up in July 15 and the beginner day the 14th so get on it. pleinairlive.com. A reminder to get your best paintings in before the end of the month for plein air salon art competition. Okay, that ends on the 30th and to win a seat to the plein air convention to the figurative art convention got to get that in by the 30th as well and just go to streamlinegiveaway.com. And that if you win, we’ll contact you. All right. If you’ve not seen my blog where I talk about art and life and other things, check it out. It’s called Sunday coffee and you can find it at coffeewithEric.com. This is always fun. We’ll do it again sometime like next week. I’ll see you then I’m Eric Rhoads publisher. and founder of plein air magazine, remember, it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. We’ll see you. Bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with Plein Air 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.
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