Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews artist, author, and teacher Kevin Macpherson on his upcoming demonstrations for Plein Air Live (which includes a live Q&A), and much more.
Listen as Kevin Macpherson shares the following:
• The value of being a part of the international art community
• What it was like to publish a book about art
• Why he often paints with only four colors
• Painting as a full-time career
Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Kevin Macpherson here:
– Kevin Macpherson online: https://www.kevinmacpherson.com/
– Plein Air Live: pleinairlive.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 Salon: https://pleinairsalon.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 180. Today we’re featuring plein air painting legend Kevin Macpherson and this is his second appearance on the plein air podcast.
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 1:07
Thank you Jim Kipping. For those of you who don’t know Jim Kipping my announcer is world famous. You may not know his name, but you may have heard his voice on many national radio and television commercials. So thank you Jim for being the announcer of the plein air podcast. Happy July everybody it is probably the strangest July on record in our lifetime. I don’t know about you, but fireworks were canceled around here. So I don’t know what the fourth is going to look like but we’re going to make our own noise even if it takes pots and pans. I am trying and I know you are to to make this the best summer ever doing lots of painting and taking advantage of the quarantine time with family. And I hope that you are doing the same get out there and do some painting. I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first? Well, first the bad news. I had to make a difficult decision to camp The plein air convention for 2020 in Santa Fe, and not reschedule it. I just don’t want to put anybody at risk. And everybody’s worried about what’s happening with a virus. And so we’re just gonna take our time and do it right. But we will have a convention in 2021, it will continue to be the ninth annual, the 21 convention is going to take place in Denver, Colorado, and we will have information about that soon. Most of the faculty have already signed on so far. So that’s a really good thing. And Denver was going to be our largest convention ever. We don’t know what it’s going to look like in 21 in May of 21. But just know that even if we have to socially distance if you want to get one of the tickets, you want to be one of the early ones to get in there. And you’ll learn more about that at pleinairconvention.com. I’m not sure there’s going to be anything new up there yet when you check but we’ll find something soon. Now the good news, the good news is we have an event starting July 15 that we created in anticipation of probably having to cancel, and knowing that some people couldn’t come to the convention because of quarantine concerns. It’s called PLEIN AIR LIVE. And it’s an incredible lineup of teachers, top artists, speakers, roundtables and more. And rather than coming to the convention and dropping 3000 bucks on convention seats, air hotel rental car expenses, you can do it in your own home safely. And from your TV, your screen, your iPad, whatever for about a 10th of the price. It’s four days, four days of content with a fifth beginner’s day, which actually starts the day before, and best of all the world can attend. So we’ve got people signed up from Egypt, Iran, France, England, Russia, South America, Brazil, Norway, Germany, Italy, lots and lots of other places and we’d like you to sign up wherever you’re listening. This will be the first time the entire world of plein air has gotten together in together on a broadcast like this and you’re going to be able to interact and get to know each other We’re expecting people from every state in America to so you can watch this, view it from your home but it’s not just watching you actually get a chance to interact with other painters make new friends just like the plein air convention, interact with faculty and we’ll even be painting beautiful places together using our new system which we’ve developed which has never been done before. And there is an incredible lineup of speakers I’m just gonna go in alphabetical order but then probably haven’t got them all here yet but Susie Baker Lynn Boyle Jill Carver Kim Casebeer Scott Christiansen Carrie Curran Laurel Daniel Andy Evanson, Albert Handell Mike Hernandez Leon Holmes Quang Ho Kathleen Hutson Jane hunt, Charlie hunter Nancy King Mertz Paul kratter, John McDonald, Kevin MacPherson, Sherry McGraw, Joe Paquette and, john Pototschnik, Jean stern and Haidee Jo Summers at Jim Woodark and I probably forgot somebody in there. But we have teachers from England, from France, from Holland and also from what am I forgetting is someplace else anyway, we got people from all over the world and it’s going to be very cool. Oh, Australia. So you don’t want to miss the PLEIN AIR LIVE event. So don’t forget get that signed up. So what do you say we get right to our interview with Kevin MacPherson. And please understand he was in Mexico when I recorded this. We had a little bit of a difficulty with the phone connection and I had some noise in the background because I’m up at the lake and there was this flagpole banging into the wind. And so you might hear some of that noise. So I apologize for all of that in advance. So let’s get right to our interview with Kevin MacPherson. Kevin MacPherson. Welcome again a repeat performance at the plein air podcast. It’s number two for you. We’ve done one very early when we first started the podcast. Welcome back.
Kevin Macpherson 6:07
Thank you, Eric. Good to hear your voice. I’m down in Mexico, in my home in Loretto, Mexico and actually, it’s very quiet down here. So it’s nice to hear a friendly voice.
Eric Rhoads 6:19
Probably nice to hear any voice. I would imagine. I know the voices down there are very friendly, but it’s been a little quiet these days in quarantine, right?
Kevin Macpherson 6:29
Yeah, actually, though, I like it. You know, you kind of get used to it a little bit. Taking advantage of using that time to reflect in it’s actually I think, a very helpful thing for for artists.
Eric Rhoads 6:45
So tell me what has been the best part about this whole COVID quarantine thing for you.
Kevin Macpherson 6:53
You know, it’s in many ways as an artist. I’d be so much traveling and my schedule, this year was like, every year, I literally have my suitcases packed and I don’t even take them out of the room and I just pick the dirty clothes out, put the new clothes in and kind of go on to the next trip. And there’s many times when I travel, which I love to do, and I go to some exciting places, and I get such great reference material and inspiration from the places I’ve been. And when I come back home to my studio, in house or for down here in Mexico, what I often don’t have time to really work with that material. So you know, many parts might go on a trip for two weeks and then be home for a year and then you have ample time to digest what you saw and work it into your new work that you made correct. Create that so often. You know I do one, one trip and then I get home and Packing up to the next person. And then years later, I never really get to that reference material. So in that respect, having time to be in one place for a long time has given me just more of a temple to be thinking about things I’m doing.
Eric Rhoads 8:20
Has it had an impact on how you’re looking at travel. Now, I was living the same life I was keeping the suitcase packed and, though I love to travel, I remember having moments when it was like, oh, man, I wish I didn’t have to go this week. It’d be nice just to have a week at home. And then you know, you suck it up and you get on the airplane and you go and you do what you got to do. But I remember going doing the same thing. We have these annual art trips that we do. And I would go on a plein air trip before these art trips and and I get all this material and all these photographs and all these studies and You know, I’m so enthusiastic about what I saw, and then I go back and then it’s time to go out again. So it is kind of nice to be able to have to digest that.
Kevin Macpherson 9:07
So Wanda and I traveled through the last 40 years of our marriage to over 35 countries. We used to probably be on the road six months out of the year, ending trips and Teaching Tips. And just for pleasure, too. So she, in recent years, it came to the feeling that she’s not so enamored with the travel and the difficulties of travel, but I still got the bug and you know, being here isolated, I feel that the traveling will be allowed because I do find great inspiration in it. And I love sharing the art spirits, whether I’m painting or teaching or meeting artists all around the world, and I really find that to be invigorating and rewarding part of my lifestyle. So let’s hope The world doesn’t change that much. We can’t do that. Although, my places out my place in Mexico are great places to be. And so when I’m home, and when I’m here, it’s very fortunate place for an artist to be.
Eric Rhoads 10:16
You know, I think that while you’re on this subject, you and I were talking offline a little bit before we started recording this and I’d like to talk about the the value of getting out and being a part of other communities and other places and, you know, getting to know the artists in local places around the world. Can you tell me about that? Because I sense that you. You really get pretty well connected when you go to a place.
Kevin Macpherson 10:45
Yeah, I like getting involved personally with the people and whether I’m going into very primitive rural locations or high end places, meaning artists of all walks of life. unsolved cases what? I think it’s great what you’re doing with the virtual plein air events that we’re about to have this next couple of weeks. It is a way that we can connect with all our world friends. You know, my books that are out there for the last 20 years, I’ve sold books to so many different artists in all the different countries and it’s translated into different languages. So when I go to a place often no my work is known and so I I have opportunities to meet people and other artists probably easier than someone without that representation behind them. So, so that opens a lot of doors to me. But I think with what you’re doing with the technology of today where we can share these videos and have this conference that makes it easier for people not to travel and be out of their home gives them opportunity to connect with all these artists friends around the world. And so I think a lot of people are going to benefit from that. So I think that’s a great thing, but to just put together, and I’m working on my video that I’ll be presenting right now. So that’s what I’ve been doing last week or so.
Eric Rhoads 12:21
Well, I like the idea of, you know, it’s nice to be able to know people in other places when I’m out other countries, I don’t usually call and say, Hey, can I you know, do you have a spare bed, but I oftentimes will call and say, Hey, you know, I’m gonna be in Switzerland, and you know, let’s go painting together. And it’s nice to be able to have that connection. So on the plein air live event, we actually have these breakout rooms where we’re putting people together with different painters, and it’s painters around the world. It’s painters in the US. And so you know, the one thing that people always tell me about the plein air conventions, which has now been canceled for this year. The plein air conventions made People make friends and they and they get together and they get to know each other and then they become oftentimes lifelong friends. So this is an opportunity to kind of replace that. I mean, nothing’s nothing’s replacement for live, but it might be the way we have to do things for a while. And so we might as well take advantage of it and get the most out of it. I want to ask you something else, too, Kevin. And you said something about, you know, you’ve had your book out now for would you say 20 years?
Kevin Macpherson 13:29
Yeah, the first one was out in 96. So longer than that.
Eric Rhoads 13:33
So what happened to you? When when you when you first published a book, how did that change your life? I’m just curious from a marketing perspective, because I talk about these kind of things for credibility building and so on. What what happened when you got your first book?
Kevin Macpherson 13:54
Interesting, you know, a lot of times people think, you know, you get an article in a magazine on Gonna be famous right after that, we’ll have an exhibition, oh, then, you know, my art career will be made. But, you know, even a book, you know, it’s a lot of effort a lot of time. And when it comes out I don’t think it’s something that you know, overnight success, you know, but in the long run, it gives you credibility. And it gives you an avenue to touch a lot of people that you never would your words and your methods and, you know, is going on for generations. So please, you know, inspire other people. So, monetarily, it’s, I don’t think it’s a great thing to say, where you’re going to make a lot of money by making a book. You know, it’s not like a novel or one of these political books to come out. You make millions of dollars on the bestsellers list, but it definitely gives a sense of credibility and what it also does with teaching or making a video or writing a book or an article makes one think about what they really believe in, and how to present that and communicate it with others, make myself for instance, have to understand the methods, the techniques, and the reason why I’m doing the painting to be able to communicate it to others. So even if you don’t write a book, if you kind of write down what you truly believe about your art and try to communicate that to yourself on paper, I think it could help someone become more convicted and in more trusting of their own voice.
Eric Rhoads 15:44
And do you still trust the voice that you had 20 years ago when you wrote that book?
Kevin Macpherson 15:50
Yeah, my, my first book, you know, I, I get organized and simplify the method and, I stand firm Everything in that book in the other books, kind of were stepping stones with the same information and building on new ways to communicate it. And from the years of experience teaching a lot of other people and finding different methods of communication, you know, everybody has a different way of grasping something. So, I find different ways to, to try to communicate to different people coming from different walks of life. So, with all that information, I still feel very proud of, you know, what I presented in those books. But it’s not to say that my own evolution as an artist, you know, I feel just excited about doing my art form, whether it’s oil painting, or trying portraits or trying watercolor. Now, I’ve been doing little sculptures. You know, I feel like a kid. You’re just being playful and I think that’s an important part to be in an hour. As humans and remain playful and curious, and I literally wake up every morning, live in a beautiful place, both here in Mexico and in New Mexico. And soon as I opened my eyes to look at the sunrise, I jumped out of bed and I take pictures of the sunrise every morning. You know, I hate to hate getting up but it forces me to do it.
Eric Rhoads 17:25
And are you doing any plein air painting of sunrises? Or is that just something that it’s so fleeting that it’s just not worth doing?
Kevin Macpherson 17:34
Recently, I just been doing photographs of just right here. Yeah, I haven’t been doing a I have sunrises and sunsets, which are very fleeting and very kind of exciting, challenging things to do. But recently I have not been painting the sunrises.
Eric Rhoads 17:53
So, you have promoted for many, many years. The idea of basically A four color palette you know, white in three colors. Would you explain why you really landed on that? You landed on it many many years ago and this is something that I know instinctively I’m going to get better color harmony when I do that. But you know, I’m such a color theme that I keep adding more and more colors to my stuff and I’m not so sure that’s healthy. You want to talk about the, you know, the positive side of doing the four color thing.
Kevin Macpherson 18:30
Yeah, I use it pretty much since college days. And when I started oil painting, I might have used 12 or 16 colors. You know, I remember the very first oil painting class I think we used the john sandin. Mixing pre mixed colors. Were a lot of browns and flesh tones and all that. You know I can I think I still have some of those in my bins.
Eric Rhoads 19:00
Have them yeah.
Kevin Macpherson 19:02
Yeah and so you know, I just find it mixing with resellers. It’s given me great results and great results to all my students because, for one, you only have three choices, you know you’re not searching and also it makes you mixtapes become intermixed, which creates harmony. So red, yellow and blue are primaries that there is no harmony in those three colors. So it has, they have to be mixed to make a harmonious painting, and then the proportions of that so that’s kind of a good starting getting Armine, when you’re using those three, they become more closely related and more livable. So when we have a lot of colors on a pallet, sometimes we’ll see something that looks yellow ochre, for instance. So we grab a dab of yellow color, but perhaps that yellow color needed to be a little bit more yellow, one value lighter, but I think we often get lazy. So, you know, there’s so many beautiful paintings done with very limited coloring. That’s not to say that a limited palette would make the painting ever feel muted or, or different deficient in color. I can make the most garish paintings with three colors. So, you know, it’s something that works for me and, and it worked for all my students when I worked with them. One of my favorite painters was Gonski. He works with many others, but he’s a master and how he does it any, any controller, but I think in in the hands of someone who’s not as experienced, having too many colors, I think, usually give you more problems.
Eric Rhoads 20:51
Yeah, and I think that’s what tends to happen is when we begin, we end up you know, we go buy a tube of color for every color we think we’re going to need and I know in my own particular case, you know, every time I get seduced by a color, now I’m adding it to everything else. And it’s almost like I need to go out and do new color charts all over again, because that one color just messes everything up. And so I really find it now trying not to add more stuff because of that, that very reason. Do you find that your taste has changed at all? Do you find that your taste has changed over the years? I mean, are you now going towards things that you didn’t that didn’t appeal to you when you were, you know, 2030 years ago?
Eric Rhoads 21:37
Yeah, I think that probably happens.
Kevin Macpherson 21:41
To most artists, you know, the longer you live, the more more you work, you know, many times even stylistically things we like, early on and dislike, you know, 10 years from the years, you may totally reverse that. Thank you. So you have to be careful how much you say you hate a certain Part form perhaps because you may end up going that direction. I love the combination of abstraction and realism together. Impressionism together. When I started out, I was very realistic. I love doing hyper realistic. Black and white pencil drives. You know, I evolved in a much more impressionistic, blurry vision. You know, I’ve evolved into enjoying doing portraits. Now I’m enjoying watercolors. So there’s definitely going to be an evolution and also the coloring. You know, sometimes I go into phases and I push the color in and it might actually get starting to be garish in color too colorful, and then I’ll sit Sensex and then I’ll pull it way back. Maybe then as I’m reversing the pendulum, I am painting to gray So it’s always evolving in something different IoT and lower key. But that’s kind of what keeps us motivated. I think it’s important to kind of keep on pushing different parameters, finding things that are working for you and pushing. If you’re working for you to easily change it, jump into something else to see how it inspires you. I often ask my students, what’s their favorite color on this house. And I say write it down like the ultramarine, blue, green, lizard and crimson, whatever it might be. So then I tell them, okay, let’s remove that from your palette. You could use everything else but you can’t use that color because we often get relying on a certain color. So when you were saying that Added sorry, dad, take another one away. be playful. I think that’s the important thing.
Eric Rhoads 24:07
Absolutely. You know, does. What I was about to say is speaking of being inspired. You were very gracious had me and a few people over to your house. We were in New Mexico painting. And you showed me the work that you had been doing in China, the portrait work, which is pretty extensive, probably enough that you could do a book. But I fell in love with some of the portraits you were doing. They were to me, they were some of the best portraits I’ve ever seen. There’s one, one portrait that I can’t get out of my head. It’s an Asian man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth or in his hand or something. And that had more feeling than almost any portrait that I’d ever seen. So tell me, tell me about this portrait thing that you’re doing? And how you make that happen. You know, how do you how do you get these people to sit for you? Maybe you can kind of weave that into your whole China adventure in what you’ve been doing over there.
Kevin Macpherson 25:04
Well, that kind of evolved from bringing some classes over there first and then I set up for want to go over there, learn Chinese because I enjoyed the people I met. And then I just started traveling and and I literally went over there one time by myself I didn’t know where to Chinese didn’t know a person and I went to a place and I asked met someone I said, Would you post for me, and it kind of went from that and and then I kept them. You know, wherever I go, the art is a nice way to get to know somebody. And so I’ll ask somebody to pose for me. And we have conversations in different languages and you know, it’s good practice to me and I get to meet the person and practice my painting and practice my Chinese lessons or whatever it might be of what I liked about doing that in particularly, I went over there nobody A new word was nobody knew that I was an artist of any merit. And there was no expectations. On the end, there was no expectations on my output of what I did, because I was painting something that was something that wasn’t normal. You know, so I was exploring and experimenting and struggling with painting and portraits. And so I didn’t get upset if it wasn’t a great thing. They didn’t get upset because they didn’t know what to expect. So that made it kind of fun and exciting. And it just, you know, over the years of probably hundreds of you saw a bunch of them there. That one in particular. Yeah, that was a great thing. And I like trying to mix a little bit more abstraction a little bit more of some of the feelings of the Asian influence that I picked up from the calligraphy over there and the different types of thinking and To just cultural differences, so I’m having fun with it and also doing it for no purpose no end game of having a, an exhibition. You know, sometimes when we, when we’re working towards a certain thing, it actually hinders our artistic thought process where we feel maybe we need to stay in the box a little bit more. So this is doing it for myself so I can take some chances.
Eric Rhoads 27:32
So you don’t have that pressure of will it sell or am I am I gonna sell everything that’s on the wall in this exhibition? You’re just doing it because you want to do it. So if that’s the case, how do you make a living?
Kevin Macpherson 27:47
Well, that’s always a struggle, I guess, you know, Wanda and I, we don’t have children. So that’s makes it a little easier. You have three kids who are putting to college right? So definitely, there’s a difference. Some responsibilities that you have to send to them. We do it for that case. But, we’ve worked hard our whole life and, you know, I’ve been self motivated and fortunate to have sold my paintings along the way. And, you know, in really, in the last 15 years, the market has been so strange and you know, it’s changed drastically, you know, you change your lifestyle a bit to, to adjust for that, you know, when I’m when you have a job, for instance, sometimes I have some of my students that are employees, and they’re thinking, well, maybe I just want to become an artist. I said, Well, you know, it takes a long time. If you can keep your job and still have enough time to do your painting. It gives you that freedom and it takes the pressure off, that you don’t have to. So like I was at a face in my life, you know, I guess financially and selling enough paintings. You know? Just continue to do what I did, it gave me the opportunity to continue doing things that I never intended to sell. So I, like I said, I have hundreds of these courses, I did have an exhibition in Sedona a little while back. And that was the first time I ever really exposed them to the public. And that was really fun. You know, finding that balance of, you know, how much you have to make. So you can still do your painting, you know, that’s always a tricky one for every artist.
Eric Rhoads 29:31
I think that’s pretty good advice, though. The idea you know, I had some people coming up to one of these events that I do, and I offered some free marketing advice. And I had a couple of guys that I sat down with and, and they wanted to know about marketing and you know, what they should be doing? And I said, Why do you want to know this? Why is this important to you? And they said, Well, you know, I think I should be selling something I said, Well, do you need the money and they said, No, I don’t need the money. I’ve got retirement are happy. job or, you know, I’ve got plenty of foot away. And I said, well then don’t necessarily make it a, you know, this is what you’re supposed to be doing. Just enjoy the fact that you can paint and you don’t have the pressure of having to show up every day and try to figure out how to make a living because it’s not easy.
Kevin Macpherson 30:17
No, it’s definitely not easy. You know, I said, unfortunately, I really feel that way. So I came up, you know, grew up with very little and went to college. After college, my first monthly payment was seven, or income was 700 a month as an illustrator, you know, so started at the ground zero and just kind of worked. You know, having my income and living within my means pretty much my whole life. And at the same time, that to paint my whole life, so I’m very lucky at that, but actually doing things you don’t need to make money at it. Just truly take the risk. fun with it. And it’s amazing when one does that will be people knocking at your door wanting to buy them any, you know, just it’s almost like a natural progression. If you’re doing it for the right reason I believe that people are gonna take interest in what you’re doing.
Eric Rhoads 31:18
It’s, you know, there’s so much freedom associated with that. And there’s so many people that I hear from who like, I can’t wait to get out of my career. And if you change the perspective and say, Hey, your career allows you to paint and then you know that that just changes everything and makes makes them feel better about things.
Kevin Macpherson 31:35
Yeah, well, just to reiterate what you said, when you have that pressure, that you have to make the income, you know, it really sick and hinder and you just stress up and you won’t even do anything. So take advantage of the opportunities and take advantage of investing in yourself to improve. You know, that’s the main thing you know, like doing the workshops or the conferences. You know, studying What’s going on? Did you know that investment forum will be well worth it? That’s, that’s a form of advertising. I think that is, well.
Eric Rhoads 32:10
So speaking of that, we’re gonna be doing this online virtual conference, which basically, you know, anybody can attend from the comfort of their home. And we’ve asked you to put something together. What are you going to do with the conference? What’s your plan?
Kevin Macpherson 32:26
What’s the I, I’ve been working on this last week, and I’m basically inviting people into my home here in Laredo, Mexico, and I’m giving them kind of a feeling of what I do here. And how I get inspired, how I keep them inspired and what some of the things you know, the different type of work that I do that keeps my artistic fire alive. And I’m going to be showing lots of different demonstrations in from Step by step by actual painting, but also a lot of I’m doing, showing people how I see. And I’m giving them actually through the video showing them looking at certain shapes and things and the environment around myself, and explaining what I look for, and how I analyze and break down what I’m seeing, so that when I do the painting, you know, I have that knowledge. So the seeing is so important, and the understanding of how to see and break the code of three dimension into two dimensions that will teach us how to paint. So I mentioned in the video that I’m doing, I could teach you more about painting by just walking around with you, and looking at all different things and analyzing what the light is doing to this surface. What is doing to that tree, what are the shapes that I’m looking at here that are going to help me make a painting and why do I I choose this over this spot here. So I’m kind of given a real lot of information in this 90 minute video. It would be in a week’s worth of information or more. So I think I think it’s gonna be a good way to do it. It’s a little different probably than other people are doing. But I feel really good how it’s coming together so far.
Eric Rhoads 34:21
Well, you always do things differently, which is what makes you Kevin MacPherson. rare. That’s what makes you stand out. Right? So would you give us a sense, we’re just kind of on the topic of learning. There are a lot of people listening to this who are trying to either get to the next level or they’re certainly trying to learn. Can you give us a couple of thoughts or tips on the things the practices that they maybe should consider? That will help them learn the fastest or the most?
Kevin Macpherson 34:54
Well, I think in the beginning, patience is important. I think what I’ll be talking about in this video a lot is about light and shadow. And so the number one thing that I find with all the students that I’ve worked with, and even reflecting way back my early career, when I was first were that one of the most important aspects of painting in realistic terms and freshness, or whatever it is. We need to understand what light is and what shadow and I see so many university students, for instance, taking four years of drawing and drawing from the cast, and they come out. After all that work, they still don’t understand what is like what is shadow. So if we can take time I worked with a lot of students that never painted in their life. Simply if they learn this one aspect, all the other things fall into. It’s like the suitcase of lightened setup. And then everything else values and color and edges, and composition can all come into play much easier when we understand this one concept. I mentioned patients because often even these students that very quickly, I’ve never seen it before, but follow this method that I teach them, then they get so excited, and they want to advance to making a painting too quickly. And then they start developing developing bad habits. So we can make it really simple. And even the professional artists that I work with, I usually end up bringing them back to this fundamental and then then they quickly get back on the right path again.
Eric Rhoads 37:00
Well, and we’re gonna have a live q&a opportunity to so you’re going to be able to answer some questions for some people and, and I think that’ll, that’ll be a lot of fun. So what are your thoughts on this whole COVID thing from the standpoint of art? How do you think that’s going to affect our lives as artists? Do you have any, any predictions or thoughts or feelings about all of this?
Kevin Macpherson 37:26
Yeah, it’s definitely throwing everybody for time to reflect and, and guess and hope and, and wonder what’s happening, myself included, you know, perhaps myself at my age comparative with younger artists, you know, it’s a different type of thing, but it’s, you know, what it has done, going to do to the galleries. You know, I think that definitely that’s going to change that pattern of how we used to work with galleries, people. been in the business a long time might find this a time to step away from it. And at the same time, you know, like your virtual conference that you’re doing, it may just change the way we represent our work. And maybe people accept it that much more. So maybe, maybe the way artists sell their work out was starting to be more through social media and direct contact with the artists maybe that will happen even quicker because it is so kind of hard to tell if it would be a benefit to the artist or, you know, definitely a change in more difficult but I think people also will reflect on these are necessary for their lives. And many might say, well, that’s the least thing I want in my life. But then other people will say, Well, I’m home more and in my environment, and I’m starting to look at these blank walls and I appreciate nature and the paintings and art form And I want to see that so maybe it will be good for our sales in the future. It’s just hard to tell, I really don’t know. I think if we really, you know, some of the things we’ve commented on already, if we do it for ourselves, for the right person, I think we can use this time to really grow. And even if we just say, okay, for the next year or next six months, we can’t go out. We can’t worry about selling, but let’s just focus on improving my work, you know, do the study, I need to do take some risks, and just have fun with without any end game. So there’s a lot of ways it can go positive for us. And I think I was just thinking about how people are reacting now in, you know, in the big scheme of this world, people I know who are uplifting, positive, happy people are still that people who are angry and unhappy with their lives. You know, this Candidate exaggerating that factor their personality so well I think if you have the right motivations you’ll, you’ll find a way that you keep art in your life, you’ll find a way that you can keep selling enough to keep it in.
Eric Rhoads 40:15
Well, you know, when bad things happen to people, some people interpret them as bad and others interpret them as lessons or opportunities. I look at this now and say, you know, you may look back in two years or five years or whenever this is all settled and say, you know, I had a, I had a year or six months or eight months to really focus on my art and you know, otherwise I’m just like, busy, busy, busy all the time. And, you know, when you’re when your brain is in that, you know, go-go-go mindset, it changes how you paint and when you’re in a more relaxed mindset, it’s also going to change how you paint so I think there’s probably some really great things to come from it.
Kevin Macpherson 40:57
Yeah, let’s look at it in a positive way.
Eric Rhoads 41:02
Well, Kevin, I really want to thank you for coming on the podcast today and for sharing some feelings. I wanted to touch base with you again, we haven’t done this for a while and also kind of get a feel for what you’re going to do at plein air live. And any final thoughts before we wrap up?
Kevin Macpherson 41:21
Well, I appreciate you asking me to sometimes, you know, when we don’t have the opportunity to share with others, you know, it does get lonely and that’s something that’s always been a rewarding part of my life by teaching and being with people and having fun, making them laugh offers learning. So I think, you know, finding these ways, like virtual live and I think is a good way to keep us in everybody’s thoughts and minds and us feeling connected. And it is a shame that we have to cancel the Plein Air Convention when that was going to be in Santa Fe. But I think this gives other people an opportunity maybe to jump on a safe bandwagon and keep motivated and keep our inspiration in life.
Eric Rhoads 42:11
Well, I would like to acknowledge you I just you know, you have done so much for I don’t like the term industry because I don’t think we’re really an industry but you’ve done so much for the plein air community you’ve given us so much hope so much inspiration, so much entertainment, you have built so many different things throughout the years. You know, you’ve done TV shows you did this, you did this in plein air masters thing, the castle in France, you’ve done videos, you’ve done books, you know, stage appearances you have done so much for our industry, or our family, if you will. I just want to acknowledge that and just say thank you. You are a real hero in my book.
Kevin Macpherson 42:55
Thank you, Eric. Good luck with what you’re doing. Yeah, you’re inspiring a lot. People to in keeping yourself motivated every day and motivating others. So let’s keep that going and let’s hope everybody stays safe and all these worldly features settle down and we can enjoy each other’s company again.
Eric Rhoads 43:16
Absolutely. We’ll be on the other side of this sometime soon and I will see you live on Plein Air Live, coming up July 15 through 18th
Kevin Macpherson 43:29
All righty thank you so much and do my best.
Eric Rhoads 43:34
Well thanks again to Kevin MacPherson. I truly mean what I said. He’s an icon, a leader and inspiration to us all and I feel honored to know Him and He will be historically remembered as one of the great painters of our time. Let’s hope he sticks around for a long, long time. We love Kevin MacPherson. Anyway 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 44:06
All right, well in the marketing minute I try to answer your questions and you can email me anytime [email protected] By the way, that’s a great resource. Lots of articles there. Also go to YouTube and search streamline art video, I’ve been doing marketing videos every day at noon live and you can listen through the announcements and then get to the meat of it. There’s a lot of good stuff there. Lots and lots of new stuff that I’ve never published before or talked about before. So here is a question and this question comes from Tony in Newport, Rhode Island who says we hear a lot about building brand and I don’t think most artists consider themselves a brand. Why is that really important? Well, ask yourself this question quickly. Tony, who is the top actor in Hollywood who’s the top Female Actor in Hollywood? Now ask yourself who’s the top actor, male actor You know who’s the top leading man? You’re probably coming up with just one or two or three names, right? I’m guessing Brad Pitt or maybe George Clooney, you know, something like that. Right? So now let me ask you this, who’s the top guitarist in the world? Or who’s the top blues guitarists in the world are Who do you think of as the best motivational speaker on earth? You know who gets big crowds and motivational speaking? When I asked you about a TV to host who teaches cooking? Who do you think you see professionals in various categories have become brands, not only is McDonald’s or Coca Cola, or subway a brand so as Tony Robbins or Eric Clapton or Martha Stewart or Brad Pitt, you know some of these kind of people, and you see people become brands even without trying. Now most of the brands have been built by excellent marketing and excellent professionals. Most of these Hollywood people have really terrific marketing people behind them. A And so on who worked with marketing people, but you get known as a brand, whether you like it or not you, you need to be able to control that brand so that you are controlling how people think of you, hopefully. And of course, a lot of that depends on your work. But it also depends on your behavior. It depends on your comments on Facebook and your you know, all the different things. And I see artists making that mistake all the time, destroying their reputations because of things they’re saying on social media. And so you got to be careful about that brand is about trust, it’s about standing for something, it can be standing against something, you know, your brand might be, you know, you’re very political and you want to be talking about politics all the time. Well, you can do that. And that will become your brand and that’s standing against something but you also have to know that that could hurt your brand. And so people who do branding tend to stay away from polarizing topics because they don’t want to hurt any they don’t want to lose business. But I guarantee you if the great artist Howard Terpening, the western An artist who sells for you know, million dollar paintings. If he painted something, signed a different name onto it, put it into an auction, it would sell for a fraction of the price of the work with his name on it. You see, quality doesn’t always rise to the top alone. Quality is important and I want to re emphasize that, but you become known for your quality and then your name helps sell. Now Jeremy Lipkin, for instance, is one of those names. He is the john Singer Sargent of our times. He’s incredible. And I know artists who paint almost equally as good as Jeremy. They copy his style, they copy his work, they even copy his signature, but their work doesn’t sell for a fraction of the price. Why is that? If I can get a painting that’s almost equally as good. Well, it’s not as good because it’s not a lip King. It’s just the same as if somebody says to you Well, I you know, I can give you a car that looks exactly like a Rolls Royce or Mercedes Benz But it’s not a Rolls Royce. It’s the name the brand matters. It’s It’s It’s about quality, but it’s also about status. Smart artists understand that if you don’t let others control your brand, it will be controlled for you. You’ve got to take control and make sure that you’re known. build your brand. And it impacts everything about you impacts where you get invited, what shows you’re in, your collectability your value, the articles, you get the prices, you get, all of those things contribute to your brand. So you’ve got to be thinking about your brand is simply not paying attention to just the way that artists sold. I you’ve got to think in terms of how my brand impacts my sales. You know, I know lots of brilliant artists who are absolutely completely unknown and they can’t sell anything and they don’t understand why and I keep telling them, you got to build a brand you got to get known. You know, there are people who will buy quality, but they like to buy quality that’s associated with a big name. So have your name become Your brand. I also know brilliant artists who sell well, because of their branding ability in their art isn’t necessarily as good. But the best combination, of course, is to be a brilliant artist with a brilliant brand. And then that’s the best thing of all. Hope that helps.
Eric Rhoads 49:15
The next question is from Sarah in Salt Lake. Sara says my sales have been slow recently. Is there any reason anything special I should be doing? Sarah? Let’s assume you go to the doctor and you say, Doc, I’ve been having headaches lately? Is there anything special I should be doing? A good doctor is going to ask you a series of questions to get to the root of the problem the cause, she wouldn’t just say, well, you’re having headaches, you must be smoking too many cigarettes. Or she might say you’re eating too many minutes? No, she’s gonna find out what’s causing the headaches because there could be 1000 different answers to that question. So when I hear a question like that, I know it can be a lot of things and you have to ask yourself questions and dig into your So you’ve got to ask yourself what is what has changed? What am I doing differently? You know lately because of COVID you know COVID has suppressed art sales and some people and made it bigger and others it might be related to that you know so what am I doing differently? What am I not doing that I was doing? Am I promoting or advertising how I stopped doing that was a you know, what did I have articles and now I don’t have them has my presentation or my work changes? My painting is good. Am I overworking things are under working things. If I change styles, I watched an artist who was known for a particular type of painting, he decided he didn’t want to do that anymore. He did this big art show and nothing sold. So because people were used to kind of what he became now he ultimately overcame that but you have to understand sometimes you’re going to go backwards before you go forwards especially if you’re changing things up. If you don’t put gas in your car, it will eventually sputter and then it will stop if you not putting gas in your marketing. It too will sputter and stop your sales will stop as an artist you have to adopt a lifetime of marketing. You know that as long as I’m here to sell paintings, I’m here to do marketing. It’s a reality you may not like it, but it is a reality. And I know that as long as I’m in business, if I’m not telling people about my events like the plein air convention or plein air live, or the figurative art convention, or my magazines, planner magazine, or Fine Art connoisseur magazine or my newsletters, you know, fine art today or plein air today or realism today, or American watercolor are my videos you know from lilla dollar streamline, or creative catalysts, then they will stop selling it’s a constant game of putting it out there repeating it telling people about it, never backing off, always continuing to keep it out there and you always have to look for new and creative ways to get noticed because people get used to the same things all the time. So if I need to speed something and sell more than I have to add more gas to the fire. The same is true marketing is pretty easy when you think about it. It’s about making the invisible visible. And it’s about keeping it visible most artists, and I don’t like to categorize anybody in any way, but most artists tend to think, you know, they put themselves out there one time and that’s enough. Well, you know, having one show isn’t usually enough, you got to do a lot of things. You got to build a lot of awareness. You got to invite a lot of people, you got to stay in front of them all the time. Always ask yourself questions. The answers are always in your questions. Anyway. I hope that this has been helpful.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads, you can learn more at artmarketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 52:45
Okay, a reminder to get on board today and sign up for PLEIN AIR LIVE, you will not regret it. This is the first worldwide plein air event in history. And you can become a part of it and remember for those of you who are just joining flooring plein air beginners are wanting to learn more about it. We’ve got a plein air beginner’s day, it’s gonna save you two years of frustration. People around the world plan to be a part of it, you need to plan as well. You can watch replays. If the timing doesn’t work, some others are going to sit up late. Some people are doing plein air live parties with their friends, hopefully with their masks. Some are getting up early to watch it depending on their timezone. But we got people all over the world and you want to be part of this. This is a historic event, it’s an opportunity to kind of get your plein air itch scratched. And now especially since the convention is not going to be going on this year, you need to sign up now at PleinAirLive.com remember, it’s coming up in July 15 through 18th with the beginner’s day on the 14th so you need to get it done and get it done fast. That’s PleinAirLive.com. Make a note to yourself right now pick up a pen, write it down pleinairlive.com I need to go and then just go do it. Alright. Right, it’s a fraction of what you would spend to attend a convention. Now if you’ve not seen my blog where I talk about art and life and and all kinds of other things, check it out. It’s called Sunday coffee and you can find it at CoffeeWithEric.com. I love doing the Plein Air podcast. We’ll do it again sometime like next week. I will see you then I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air magazine. Remember, it’s a great big world out there. Go paint it. We’ll see you and see you at PLEIN AIR LIVE.
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.
- Click here to subscribe to the free newsletter, Plein Air Today
- And click here to subscribe to PleinAir Magazine so you never miss an issue!