Shawn Dell Joyce, artist
Shawn Dell Joyce, featured in the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads, Episode 211

Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads – rated the #1 painting podcast in Feedspot’s 2021 list. In this episode Eric interviews Shawn Dell Joyce, founder of the Wallkill River School in Hudson Valley, New York.

Listen as they discuss:

  • Using plein air as a tool for social change
  • How plein air painters are auctioning their rural landscape paintings, and giving the proceeds to sustainable agriculture programs and farmers
  • Painting farms and collaborating with the farmers
  • The importance of elevating the level of your work
  • How to help grow the plein air movement and educate others
  • Tips for painting Fall colors

Great Quotes:

  • “As an artist, I feel that it is my solemn duty to be the chronicler of this time in this place. There will never be this moment in time again.”
  • “And artists and creative people are the ones who create culture. So who better to lead the call to create to preserve the beauty of any place and the people who can most appreciate it?”

Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, answers the questions: “Is it okay to sell paintings at a higher price than other artists,” and “What are some ways I should be networking in my local community?”

Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Shawn Dell Joyce here:

Painting of a storm
“Racing the Storm” by Shawn Dell Joyce

Related Links:
– Shawn Dell Joyce online:
– Plein Air Live:
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram:
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook:
– Sunday Coffee:
– Plein Air Salon:
– Plein Air Magazine:
– Plein Air Today newsletter:
– Submit Marketing Questions: [email protected]

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 211 featuring Shawn Dell Joyce an artist making change through plein air painting. You don’t want to miss this.

Announcer 0:27
This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher and painter, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads 1:05
Thank you Jim Kipping. And welcome to the plein air podcast, everybody. It’s been a beautiful, beautiful spring here in Austin, Texas actually starting to get hotter already. I have been painting fields of bluebonnets fields of blue. It’s absolutely spectacular this year. And pretty exciting. But of course now I have to go back to work right so today is the start of our virtual conference plein air live we have a lot more people than we had the last time we did it at the beginning of COVID. And today we start if you’re listening today, if you if you’re listening the day we release this if you’re not well, all bets are off. But today starts our beginner’s day. And that walks through all the beginner things that everybody needs to know if you’re going to take up plein air painting and you can still sign up for it. If you’re listening. Just go to, and then you can hang out and sign up for or you could do both hang out for the entire week, which is three more days with some incredible artists. One of the things and one of the big things that was pretty amazing is that we got Clyde Aspvig, one of the greatest artists of all time, hard guy to get really brilliant, and you’re gonna want to watch that. So just if you haven’t done it, join plein air live. Just understand that if you go and you don’t feel like you got your money’s worth in the first day, let us know by the end of the first day we’ll refund 100% of your money, you can’t go wrong, but you’re gonna get so much out of it and you can’t make the dates before Saturday night, go there and just sign up and that way you can get the replays and you can get different levels of replay and so on. So just go to Did you know this is pretty cool. The plein air podcast has been rated number one in feed spots 2021 Top 15 painting podcasts list number one. Thank you. Thanks for making it happen. Something cool happening in May. It is our second soar workshop we develop these online workshops that are different from all the other things that are out there because we wanted to make sure you’re able to retain things and learn things. So we went and learned about and talked to experts on learning and we incorporated that in these systems that we’re using and people are retaining more and happier and they’re getting a lot out of it. While we’ve got the great watercolours Thomas Schaller for the second soar workshop. And this is all about speeding up your learning. Check it out at soar not like a sore in your hand but soar like a rocket. And if you want to hang out with me and hundreds of friends maybe not hundreds but over 100 hundreds of friends painting this June my publishers Invitational painting retreat is going to be taking place in the beautiful Adirondacks are painting waterfalls and a lot of other things will be together of course we’re dealing with socially distancing, and all the safety issues that we need to if we need to buy then, but you’re gonna you don’t even need an invitation used to have an invitation but not anymore. You just need to go and sign up and grab a seat. It’s gonna be a special year we’re doing special things and visit In the current issue of plein air magazine, we’ve got an article by Richie Vios about putting the focus on the focal point. It’s good he’s watercolors but it really applies to everybody. Check it out. And remember to sign up for our free plein air today newsletter for weekly painting tips, art news and more. at or just go to and sign up they got a lot of things to remember right. Also coming up after the interview. I’m going to be answering art marketing questions in the marketing minute but let’s get right to our interview. This is really, really interesting stuff was Shawn Dell Joyce, a change agent using plein air for change. She’s also the founder of the Wallkill River school in Hudson Valley, New York. So let’s get right to that interview with Shawn Dell Joyce. Welcome to the plein air podcast.

Shawn Dell Joyce 5:00
Thank you so much. It’s nice to be here.

Eric Rhoads 5:02
I invited you on the podcast because you’re doing some very interesting things with social change using plein air as a tool for social change, and I want to delve into that, but we’re gonna get into that in a minute. First off, I want to know a little bit more about you tell me what you would tell somebody if they said, you know, who are you and what do you do? Tell me your story.

Shawn Dell Joyce 5:26
Okay, Eric, well, I am an artist who is the daughter of a farmer. And so that means farming is in my blood. I grew up on citrus plantation down in Brownsville, Texas, I fully expected to take over the farm, that we had an unseasonable freeze in the 80s. And it killed off all of our trees. And when that happened, it kind of freed me up to go to art school I had always painted. So it was second nature. I wound up moving up north, since we lost the farm and became influenced by the transcendentalist movement. What does that mean Hudson River will transcend. mentalism is a formal word that describes a simple idea, it basically means that the world is bigger than what we can just see. So there’s more than what we put in the painting. There’s also some ideas behind it. So it’s not just a tree that split in the middle. It’s the spirit of nature that succumbing to the hand of man.

Eric Rhoads 6:40
Okay, let’s stop there for a second. I want to talk about this, because I’ve been studying a lot about George Ennis. And I believe that he followed by a little bit of this idea, and I know a lot of the Hudson River school painters were focusing on their paintings were to glorify God or to if they didn’t believe in God, which I think they did, but to glorify nature, if you will, is that kind of what you’re talking about?

Shawn Dell Joyce 7:09
Oh, it is exactly. the Hudson River school believed that God was eminent in all things. That means that you could see God in a hill in the play of light on the river, and so forth. In a lecture on American scenery, Cole, who is one of my big inspirations that I cannot but express my sorrow that much of the beauty of our landscape is quickly passing away at the ravages of the hand of man. So what they tried to do was to capture this world, this moment in time, where they live and painted for future generations

Eric Rhoads 7:51
well, and they did a beautiful job of maybe you go to some of the, I went to the Thomas Cole house, which you’ve probably been there but she has a small farm on the fairly near the Hudson River. And I went there for the first time. The last, I think it was last year, the year before pre COVID. Anyway, and it was a beautiful little farm and I and it was just surrounded by city, not not a big city, but surrounded by city and you know, there was a gas station down the street. And I thought, you know, when I looked at this farm, I thought when he Cole looked out his window, he probably saw, you know, typically most farms were 88 acres. He probably saw 88 acres of his land, and then he probably saw his neighbor’s land and his neighbor’s farmhouse, and so on. But it was just a little pocket, less than and it probably an acre and everything else was citified.

Shawn Dell Joyce 8:52
And up the street from Cole’s house, is a Latina, which is the ancestral home of church. And it sits on top of the hill in Hudson, New York overlooking the Hudson River in Kingston. With Kingston was the capital of New York back then. And they could see all kinds of traffic coming up and down the Hudson. And they were very deeply concerned about the steamship and the denuding of the hills in the Hudson for iron ore mill. So they were, in fact, America’s first environmentalists.

Eric Rhoads 9:32
Interesting. So how does that relate to today? What did you do with that information?

Shawn Dell Joyce 9:40
Well, I was mostly inspired by that information. And I founded a nonprofit leader school back in 2001. When we didn’t use the word plein air. It was called landscapes on location, and we hosted outdoor painting classes. Oh, Over the Hudson Valley, and attracted people who were mostly visitors or happen to have a second home in the Hudson and didn’t really understand the history or importance of this region. And in the process, people became stakeholders, they became connected, they saw that the land was worth preserving that small farms were worth keeping for the views. And before long, we started a movement. And that movement began with a handful of artists. And then at some classes, we started having 50 people show up editing time. And from that 50 people, we hired other artists, and they became demonstrators and instructors, much like you do at plein air, allies and other events. And then before long, we wound up having so many classes and events that we partnered with schools, nonprofit farms, etc. And we brought artists and painters out to different farms. And there’s nothing better than standing on the land that sustains you. You feel viscerally connected when you’re painting a farm, versus when you happen to see it through the car window.

Eric Rhoads 11:24
That’s absolutely true. I can, I can testify to that because I’ve done that so many times.

Shawn Dell Joyce 11:33
So the Hudson River school had a whole set of challenges ahead of them during their time. And the way they handled it is they designed parks, including park by my house and Newburgh as well as Central Park. Now the challenges facing artists today are a lot different. We face the loss of small family farms, like my own families, as well as the livelihood and community that built up around these funds. We also feel the pressure of buildings being put up in fields and and so forth, all of all of the progress that humanity has made nature has paid at all.

Eric Rhoads 12:24
Right. So you were What are you doing with this? Now? You’re you you did your school? Is that is that school still going on?

Shawn Dell Joyce 12:33
It is still going strong. And you can actually see an ad in this message of plein air magazine on page 39.

Eric Rhoads 12:42
Thank you for that

Shawn Dell Joyce 12:43
the school is in good hands. And it’s being run by a like minded person, and still offers classes in planning and in person. What we did with that school is we develop the relationship between Oregon agriculture. So my philosophy is bloom where you’re planted. And what that means literally, is you’re grateful for what’s around you, you take stock of what’s around you. So I found myself in the Hudson Valley. It’s a stunningly beautiful place. There were lots of farms, there were not a lot of economic opportunities for artists. So the task before me was how to create these opportunities. So I wrote a grant for the National Endowment for the Arts, and offered to set up meetings between farmers, elected elected officials, plein air artists, and performers, etc. And we did. We had these meetings, we have long discussions about how to create cultural tourism, how to bring customers directly to the fund, how the forums help feed the arts and so forth. And from these meetings, we brainstormed a whole bunch of ideas and those ideas became the programatic mission of the willow kill river school. So some of the ideas that came out of that were do cash Tour, which is really fun. The artists painted do caches and hid them. So we basically used high tech equipment to find little bits of Tupperware out on farms. And people came in droves to the Hudson Valley to go on these geocache tours. We were targeting families, young people to get them more in touch with a history with a farm and so forth and it worked well. Later, we developed a local foods cookbook, where we went to different restaurants that use local produce. We asked them for their best recipes, and we compiled them in a cookbook set up by I season. So when you go pick up a bunch of vegetables from CSA and you have no idea what to do with it, you can look at the recipe by season and make something delicious. And we illustrated this cookbook with our paintings and sold the cookbook, it’s a benefit for the school. In other examples, we were far more direct. So there were several farms that offered Community Supported Agriculture programs and educational programs. So we brought our wood painters out to the farm, and we painted, you know, and at first it was a little weird, you would have pallets looking over your shoulder, and farmers on tractors pulling up to you going Hey, you, Missy, what are you doing in my fields, and, you know, it was kind of funny, but then after a while the farmers were get down off the tractors and come and paint with us. And we would bring extra materials. And before alone, we had a whole bunch of people out painting, and we would often auction these paintings off and give the proceeds to sustainable agriculture.

Eric Rhoads 16:13
Fascinating and, and I you know, there are probably a lot of groups out there I know of a few who are doing this today in their communities I have the one that comes to mind is Dan Pinkham artist out near Los Angeles is part of a group that has decided to preserve the the, the beauty of the hills that are getting littered with tiny little houses, you know, 1000s and 1000s, of tiny little houses. And over the course of 20 years, they’ve documented the lands on the outside outskirts of Los Angeles, to be able to show what it once was, I’d love to hear from, I’d love to hear from other people. If you’re listening to this, and you’ve done something like this, I’d love to hear from you and find out your story. But, but I think this is just so critically important. I live in Austin, Texas. And here in Austin, Texas, when I moved here, people when when I moved here, people were saying, Yeah, everything has changed so much. But it to me, it was still it was a town with character, you know, because you drive down the road, and you would see, you would see, you know, old neon signs and old chalky kind of buildings and things like that. And now today, 10 years, 11 years later, since I moved here, a lot of that stuff has been torn down and, and has become, you know, high rise apartment buildings or otherwise. And it just as it has pretty much changed the nature of the community. And, and so, you know, having paintings of these classic buildings, it’s not the same as nature, but it’s the same spirit. And that is, this is what we want spore.

Shawn Dell Joyce 17:59
What you’re talking about is local flavor. So just like local colors shows you the color of the object you’re painting, not in light, not in shadow. local flavor gives you a taste or a feel for the place that makes it different than every other exit off the highway. And that’s what we’re missing these days, we lose a lot of our local flavor to development.

Eric Rhoads 18:23
You know, one thing I’d like to see, this would be a cool thing to do nationally or worldwide. I was at trying to think what community was it was in France, St. Paul divots, France, France and and Suzanne’s house near there. They had mounted these signs. And they were in battle. And they took sussan paintings and they said okay, this is the scene that Suzanne painted in 18, whatever. And so they had those paintings. But if you looked out at that view, you saw the high rises, and you saw the other buildings, and you saw how much the view changed. And so it’d be really cool if we could figure out how to do that in communities all over all over America all around the world and have some kind of a nonprofit, I think this is a good project for you, Shawn.

Shawn Dell Joyce 19:14
I don’t know if anyone can do it. I think you could. So and your writer, artist should lead. And these projects these projects are creative placemaking projects. And artists and creative people are the ones who create culture. So who better to lead the call to create to preserve the beauty of any place and the people who can most appreciate it? You know, we stand to lose the viewsheds the beauty what attracts us to a place. So what can we do to preserve it? That’s, that’s the big question before it.

Eric Rhoads 19:54
There’s two issues. One is preserving it. The other is remember Bring it. So you know what, what this group in Los Angeles is doing is they’re creating paintings so people can remember it. And they do shows that maybe I’m not sure maybe they even show the contrast. Maybe they paint it before and after. But the idea of this is what you’re doing to the land, do you really want to be doing this? And then on the other hand, you know, can you use this as a means of preventing something from completely being destroyed by housing?

Shawn Dell Joyce 20:33
Good. Housing is a necessity and development will happen. But there are ways that we can still preserve the character of our communities. And people will look at a painting and study a painting and understand it deeply, far more than they’ll read a newspaper article. So art has the power to change minds and hearts.

Eric Rhoads 20:58
So what what is a model that you could offer to our listeners, that they might be able to do something on their own no matter where they are listening?

Shawn Dell Joyce 21:11
Okay, well, as you have pointed out, many times, success happens in clusters. We artists need each other. So the first thing is to reach out and find another group of people to play with paint with. It’s not hard to find plein air painters anymore. When you started the first incarnation of your magazine, I doubt there were that many groups around the country. I remember you had reporters that were based on space. Since that time, the movement has bloomed. And now it’s hard to find a city that doesn’t have a Plein Air Group. Where I live in the Tampa area of Florida. There are several plein air groups, I lead one called plein air adventure. And that’s on my website, And plein air adventure is a very supportive group of artists that visits old Florida type places. These are by us and areas that are not touristy, they’re off the beaten path. Every community has these they’re they’re what you think of when you think of a Florida, you know, falling down shacks and stilt houses and fishermen and pink flamingos and, and things like that. So take stock of what’s in your community, right where you are bloom where you’re planted. And if you happen to be in Austin, Texas, then you’re lucky enough to have Sixth Street, University of Texas hippie hollow out at Lake Travis

Eric Rhoads 22:50
painting number photographing them since they’re bathing in the nude.

Shawn Dell Joyce 22:55
Maybe not. But hey, you have some models ready. But you know, wherever you are, there’s something that you can work with. And where I was in the Hudson Valley, it was agrarian, it was mostly agricultural dairy farms and so forth that were transitioning. So you know, take stock of what’s their what’s the low hanging fruit, and then build upon it, start forging relationships. One thing I learned from your book was that you have to stand where the money flows. So in a community, there may not be art institutions, galleries, museums and so forth. Where I was in Orange County, there really wasn’t much there is now. But 20 years ago, there wasn’t much. And so we had to create these opportunities. We had to make a school for artists to teach and make a space to show our work. We had to turn farmers into art collectors and educate them about the importance of buying local art and why local art is just as important as local agriculture. You know, and at first, we were very wary bedfellows. The artists kind of looked askance at the farmers and the farmers kind of look askance at the artist because we’re, we’re from different, vastly different backgrounds. But it was a natural relationship and wherever people find themselves, there are others who want to create that kind of economic opportunity. You know, especially if you happen to be in a touristy area like I am. We have people who travel from all over the world who come here for the natural beauty for the wildlife, for the bird watching, and so forth. So it’s an easy next step to get them out there plein air painting.

Eric Rhoads 24:57
makes sense to me

Shawn Dell Joyce 24:58
personally. Yeah. I have had the good fortune of painting plein air classes now for more than 20 years on a weekly basis. And we started on Sunday mornings in New York. And I continue the tradition here in Florida on Wednesday morning. And we meet religiously and paint in different conditions, mainly because as an artist, it’s challenging to paint the scene in different weather. And you see beauty in dark storm clouds just as much as as sunny days.

Eric Rhoads 25:40
Well, I think one thing to that point, you know, I started out in photography before I ever, ever picked up a paintbrush. And while I did as a kid, but one of the mentors that I had said to me, he said, you know, the best photographs come to the guy or the gal who gets up the earliest hikes the furthest, and waits the longest. And he told a story about a famous photo he did of Easter Island and he set up his camera but he wasn’t inspired but he knew something would happen and he waited like six hours had a sandwich and all of a sudden clouds came in the sun beamed through the clouds and just as they beam through the clouds these wild horses ran across and click he did that with a shutter that now we don’t have that kind of speed although we certainly can use our memory painting to do that but the idea of you know waiting, we tend to be Fairweather painters sometimes and and I like to get out and and paint in very unusual circumstances paint in the rain and you know what’s not good for watercolor, but it’s okay for oil if you do it right. And I painted in the rain, I’ve painted the clouds and painted in the snow and and it’s invigorating to me, not fun sometimes, but invigorating. And I think that we can all paint in a really pretty scenes. But can we can we document things a little bit more effectively, you know, artists like Joe Paquette, for instance, what a brilliant artist is documenting the old steel mills and the industrial the, you know, Rusty, grimy stuff that is part of the American culture, you know, part of the surrounding areas of Minneapolis, you’re doing farms, other people are doing neons I mean, I think what’s nice about is it’s documenting the world.

Shawn Dell Joyce 27:40
Yeah. And you know, the concept of Transcendentalism is allegory, it’s being able to read into that. So when you see a storm in a painting, you know, that storm stands for something, it’s more than just paint and dark clouds on canvas. You know, it’s the the coming changes that are happening in the environment. It’s, you know, what lies ahead. Kohl’s, for example, had some really powerful words about his waterfall paintings. And he he painted kaaterskill Falls quite often. And he said, this object at once presents to the mind a beautiful idea fixedness and motion, a single existence where we perceive unceasing change and everlasting duration. Now, I’ve looked at his painting of kaaterskill fall with 100 times and would not have thought that until I heard those words, but now that I hear it, I see so much more into it. You know, we painters don’t often think about the content of our paintings. But just as dope a kid chooses to focus on the recipe and discarded, those things are steadily vaulted up to beautiful and worth preserving. So what you as an artist focus your artistic eye on suddenly becomes important to the viewer. So what are you doing to say, you know, what are you leaving behind and you’re painting? What will people seven generations from now, read into your work? And those are the people I want to paint for. I want to be the kathakali

Eric Rhoads 29:30
Say that again, you want to get away, you want to be the one

Shawn Dell Joyce 29:33
to follow it. She was a German expressionist, and her figures are twisted and painful. But when you look at them, you see a certain beauty of beauty in the working people, the working hands and so forth. Just like we see beauty in the fields and the nice rows of plowed fields or the rest of the tractor or even the the wires through the trees, from the telephone poles, we can find beauty in the mundane.

Eric Rhoads 30:07
It’s, you know, if you look at the history, this is gonna sound like a completely crazy diversion. But you look at the history of violins and which I know nothing about but stratovarius strike Stradivarius violin was the way they looked for wood is they looked for the most tortured trees, the trees that have been through the most the gnarliest the most torture, there’s a world famous tree that people like to make guitars out of the guy who found it, it was he hauled it out, and it was underwater for 100 years. And he hauled it out and had it cut up and made guitars out of it. And they make the most beautiful sounds because it’s that, that torture, that hard life, that difficulty that forms things and makes things and that’s why it’s, it’s really okay to be painting those things and telling the stories that are with them. You know, you talked about Cole and his stories, and the piece that I think is oftentimes missing. And I talked about this in my book, which you just mentioned. And that is that, if we tell the stories along with it, you know, I have right here, I actually was just writing the story of a painting I’m sending off to one of my galleries and and I like to tell them the story. So that maybe I’ll put it on the card next to the painting and put it I’ll put it on the back of the painting. And they’ll You know, it will have a life that that so when someone looks at the painting, they’re gonna see one thing, and then you can give them a new sense of depth. You know, when you’re hearing the words that Cole spoke about that particular place, so you’re, you know, you’re talking about what you’ve learned in the place or what it feels like to you or why it inspired you. And so that’s now giving the art a little bit of an extension, I want them to see it first and find something in it for themselves. But then when they read that, it helps it all come alive. And of course it also helps people buy things because people attach their lives to stories.

Shawn Dell Joyce 32:11
Oh, yeah, you’re touching people’s hearts and minds. And people buy paintings because they have an emotional connection to the place or to the artists. So we as artists can make that emotional connection happened.

Eric Rhoads 32:28
Well, I think that I think that we need to just appoint you the the plein air magazine, transcendentalist. And that you need to coordinate groups all around the world who are going to preserve, we need people like you to do things like this, you probably don’t want to do it. But the idea is that somebody’s putting all of that together and saying okay, every every plein air chapter head in America should be saying, Okay, now let’s, I mean, I don’t want to show it on you, you might want to think that this is a possibility for you, could you take plein air Austin and turn it into not only a chance to be a community of people together and have a chance to get together and paint and tell stories and be friends, but also to take 25% of your time together and say, Okay, today we’re going to preserve this area, because we know the bulldozers are coming in, and then have shows and things like that, that will draw attention to these things in the community. Because you know, we don’t necessarily stop and think about that. But I know when I go back to my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I drive through the fields that I used to play in and the fields that I used to, to, you know, just enjoy, and I look around me, and I just barely recognize them, and only because of the street names, but they’re filled with houses. And I would love to be able to find paintings of those places of my childhood and remember them as they once were.

Shawn Dell Joyce 34:03
Well, we’re the ones who are making those paintings for the next generation. And there are many artists who are doing what I do. This is not a novel idea. It’s been around for generations, even right now as we speak in the Adirondacks. And in the Hudson Valley, this Hudson Valley plein air Festival, which is coming up in October. Part of the mission of that festival is to bring cultural tourism to places that need it like nuber one of the sites for the festival is a farm that’s being converted to a public park. So you’re seeing farmland reverting back to its natural state. And it’s a site where I’ll be teaching a workshop in habit how to do a quick draw how to make a painting in two hours or less and then frame it. The plein air festival is October 11 through the 16th in the workshop. On October 11,

Eric Rhoads 35:01
well, you know, I’m gonna be up there somewhere around that time because my fall color week is for the first time ever gonna be in the Adirondacks. And I don’t know if I can make it but we’ll have to look at the dates and see what that looks like. Well, I think those things are absolutely wonderful and the great opportunities and when you think about it, Shawn, we have such an incredible opportunity as part of this plein air movement, we the people of plein air, we have an opportunity to touch lives. You know, when when we started this magazine there probably we’re not more than three, maybe five plein air events in America. They’re probably, you know, they’re probably some people who painted plein air that we didn’t know about. But there probably weren’t more than three, four or 500 people that that were outdoors painting. Today, there’s, you know, 100,000 of them outdoors painting, there’s a million people listening to this podcast, there’s a you know, plein air magazine is number one art magazine in America at Barnes and Noble. There’s something going on here. And I think it’s because it’s resonating with people about what it is we do. You know, I’ve said on stage at the convention, plein air is new golf, because golf gets you outdoors, it gets you challenged, it’s a social opportunity. You know, there’s I don’t want to, I don’t want to offend anybody by saying that, because it could be offensive to some people too. But the idea is that there those of us who don’t want to play golf, we don’t we want to be outdoors, we need something to do we want to be creative, we want to be able to contribute to the world. And what better way to contribute to the world than to preserve the images of the lands through the eyes of the artists, you think about the neurological connection, going through your eyes, Shaun, down through your heart over into your shoulder into your hand and where you’re controlling that brush. And I mean, think about how neurological a painting is and how tied to the land it really is because of because you’re standing there.

Shawn Dell Joyce 37:07
Yes, I think part of the success of the plein air movement is it shows in our paintings, people relate to it, the freshness, the immediacy, you’re really getting a sense of this moment in time and this place. As an artist, I feel that it is my solemn duty to be the chronicler of this time in this place. There will never be this moment in time again. But if I paint it and capture it, then you can feel that sense a majesty that I feel standing in the pumpkin field looking at the sunlight trickling through the fall foliage and the trees or the wind blowing the sea grasses around the palm meadows. Your you sent it viscerally you feel it and and that’s my goal as a painter, I want to connect with people’s emotions, pull them into this moment, and have them experienced this landscape through my eyes to see the way an artist sees.

Eric Rhoads 38:08
And you think about historically, you know, the Durand painting. I don’t know how many years ago this was sold for $75 million to the, to the museum in Bentonville. The Crystal Bridges, Alice Walton, who I need to meet. And that painting why why did that painting sell for $75 million. It it represents something. It stands for something in reality, it’s just a piece of canvas with a frame on it in some some globs of paint. But because it went through that, that soul of that artists, that interpretation of that artist, someone who spent their life getting better and better till they could paint something that fabulous. And it just shows that, you know, I don’t think those guys really set out to be in museums and that their goal was to was to make it all about museums. I think they really were about about showing people the land. I know that a lot of the painters like bierstadt were they were you know, they went out west when nobody could get out west and and they painted these scenic beauties like is somebody and then they brought them back to New York and theaters. This is how they made their livings and they showed and told the stories. But what a fabulous thing to be connected to all of this to do what you do is absolutely undo what the people who were part of this movement do is absolutely critically important to the world.

Shawn Dell Joyce 39:36
Yes, it is. And it’s also critically important that we maintain a level of artistic excellence in our work so that it will be cherished and remember, one of the things I appreciate about plein air over the past 10 years has been that the bar the quality has been raised so much higher. You know See museum quality plein air pieces. Were artists in the past would use these as sketches for pieces they would do in their studios later. Now the plein air pieces have taken on a life of their own a uniqueness of freshness. That’s a beautiful thing we see plein air painting starting to set record levels at auction.

Eric Rhoads 40:23
Well, I think I’d like you to talk about that just a little bit more. That, and you’re so right. I mean, this is this is really changed. There are, you know, we look back to some of the painters of the past, you know, you go back to France, or you go back to you know, later than that, you know, Laguna California when there you know, there was big plein air movement there and, and Brown County, Indiana, and some of these places where there were these movements, and these painters were absolutely fabulous. But today, there are hundreds of painters who parallel their work, and some who transcend their work. Talk to us about the importance even if you’re hobbyist, even if you’re not about making a living as an artist, talk to us about the importance of constantly working towards elevating your work.

Shawn Dell Joyce 41:13
When of the good things about painting with a group of artists, is you have peers, and we learn from each other. I learned as much from other artists as I do from workshop instructors and classes. I ran a plein air school for 20 years. So I had the opportunity to listen in on a lot of classes to teach classes myself, and have been heavily influenced by other artists. But the person you’re standing next to is going to influence your painting and vice versa. So who you surround yourself with his key. I always look for people to challenge me. You know, I want to grow each painting, I approach as if I live and die. With that painting, I really want to pour my heart and soul into it and make it the best painting I can. It’s not always about the formal aspects of capturing the play of light on that particular subject. As it is the allegory of why that subject is important. Why did he capture my attention? What’s the focal point? What message Am I trying to say. And then from that, when when I do a plein air class, we have a group critique where we get together informally with lighting the paintings up against the wall. And we talk about what’s working, and what we can improve what we can approach differently. And when you see how other artists have approached a similar subject, you learn by what they do. I learned by my own mistakes. So some of the takeaways I get from plein air painting, which is a little different than when you’re painting in studio. And the materials you use can inform your techniques as well. I’m a pastel with. So I can layer light in a way that you can’t do with oil paint or any paint because the paint mixes it’s a liquid pastel it’s a solid, so it reacts similarly to light. So I can scumble right on top of dark without the two of them mixing I can create effects in the sky that are similar to a sunset. So when I paint, I tend to paint from the back to the front instead of from dark to light, which you would probably paint in oil or acrylic. So back to front, the inside painting was furthest away, I’m painting the sun or the sky and then the trees and then the river and then the bird. So you have to think in terms of layers. It’s similar with watercolor because with watercolor you’re in reverse you’re working from light to dark so you’re preserving wet areas you’re gonna keep this white paper and you’re building upon it in layers. I also think of light logic, you know as the sunset the light illuminates different parts of the landscape differently. The light has its own color temperature. Surya was a big influence on me there you know his figures he would see such beautiful warms and cools in the shadows depending on the quality of light. And then you can layer in pastel to build that quality of light and texture. texture is big when you’re using pastel. You can’t get texture with a palette knife like you can with paint. Instead you create texture by your stroke. So you use hard tape to mark make you use the whole side of the this Stick to stumble and create smoother textures. you blend to get seamless gradations in the sky, and so forth. So if I were telling somebody who’s new to painting, you know, three ways to create the illusion of perspective or depth in a painting, I would say first, study color temperature. Think about how warm colors come forward. cool colors reseed. Second, I would think about texture, how do you make your foreground a different texture than your middle ground and make that separate from the background? And then the third would be value, how can you use value so that the lighter colors recede in the distance, the darker colors come forward. If you have doors in the distance, it tends to flatten the painting. So sometimes, we as artists have to transcend the camera, we have to go above what we see what we see in nature, and make it a beautiful painting while keeping the spirit of the land in the painting.

Eric Rhoads 46:14
Nice. So I want to ask you a couple other questions. We’ve talked a lot about the the idea of change. You have had the unique opportunity of using that change to pull a lot of people into plein air painting. What is your best advice? I’m gonna ask two questions. First one relates to bringing people in the second one relates to teaching them that so what is your best advice in terms of how do you pull people in and create interest in plein air painting because my my role in this whole plein air thing is to try and get you guys all of you guys. And I say guys, I mean guys, all of you folks to pull other people into it because you know, plein air painting changed my life and absolutely changed me forever. It changed my heart painting changed my heart pet plein air painting, went to took it to the next level. And my goal is to get a million people plein air painting, not so that we can have a million people out there selling paintings, but they should if they want to. But the idea is that, you know, back in England in the 1800s, they had the Sunday painters people would just go watercolor painting, they’d sit in the park, and they’d watercolor paint, everybody did it. That’s what I want to see here. I want to see people picking it up because it it’s transformational to your heart. And when your heart transforms that everything else transforms. And I just think that I just know what happens to people. Somebody said to me, they went to the plein air convention, and they said, there are no mean people here, you know? And I said no, because these are people who are doing what they love. They’re outdoors. They’re painting, they’re being creative, they’re with friends and new friends. And you know, what could be better? So how did you pull people in? How do you inform people about even what plein air painting is? Let’s do that. And then the second thing is going to be what’s the process that you know, if I’m teaching somebody, what’s the most important thing I need to get in the in the head in the hands of that new person so that they don’t abandon it too quickly?

Shawn Dell Joyce 48:27
Okay, that’s a great question. So the first, in terms of bringing people into plein air painting, every class I teach, there’s always new people, as well as some of the soul words, older people and some professionals, we try to make it as user friendly as possible, which means not intimidating, people don’t have to have an easel for their first class, you can sit at a park bench, and sketch and, and that’s the easiest way, the most important thing is to be able to see the landscape in terms of values to be able to simplify to break it down to see it the way an artist sees. So when you look at a landscape, you don’t look at every little detail at the same time. Instead, you look at it in a diffused way you figure out what your focal point is, what’s the most important thing and focus on that. So we’re going to paint the tractor and we’re going to leave the cows out of this one where we’re going to paint the beach scene but not all of the people in the water this time. You know what I mean? Once you’ve chosen that focal point, make a quick value sketch showing five values at least five is a good basic number. If you can show five values you can create the illusion of realism. Even three values will give you three dimensionality. Most artists will go for 10 so that’s took a while to work up to later. But start off with just five basic values, some darker light, then you have a plan once you’ve made that little sketch, and it can be no bigger than two or three inches, a thumbnail sketch, then that’s the basis for the painting. light changes every two hours when you’re painting outdoors. So it’s good to have a plan. Otherwise, you could stand there and paint the shadows as they move across the canvas all day, I tried to warn people against that I’ve done it, it’s not pretty. So once you have your plan, then you paint, starting off with the most important part and working your way. From there. The biggest problem I found with beginners is perfectionism, this idea that they should walk up to a canvas and immediately paint a masterpiece. And instead, I tried to get people to look at each painting as a step in the right direction. We’re learning how to play scale. We’re learning how to write a paragraph of prose. You know, this is the beginning part, every great master had their beginning where they learned that stuff. And this is our beginning. So we’re learning the basics. And we don’t put the pressure of making a finished polished painting from the first one. Instead, you tend to grow more if you’re playing or having fun with it. Or if you’re really struggling and challenged by it. No flower ever blooms when you stand over it shouting, Bloom, Bloom bloom. Instead, it really takes time and nurturance for it to grow. So you know, I encourage people, don’t let this be the only time you paint. Coming out here. Try it was build upon the success of that first experience and keep going. And then for your second question, you know, when it comes to success, success isn’t always measured in sales or awards. It’s also measured in impact. And history. I mean, just asking Google, you know, there’s somebody that really didn’t see any sales that talk about impacting history. So we as artists have that power, it is our innate ability to focus people’s attention on what we see. So let’s use this moment, well, and focus people’s attention on what’s important to us. What’s the emotional connection we have, to this place? What concept are we trying to communicate to them? And that’s what we want the painting to be about. We focus people’s attention on it, and they cannot help but to have a relationship with it. That’s what will move people to go from viewers to collectors.

Eric Rhoads 53:00
And how do you how do you move people from? To to even explore painting? How do you how do you pull people in?

Shawn Dell Joyce 53:09
Well, I’m certainly not above arm twisting. But people catch me painting all the time and are intrigued. I have people come up to me at every class and say, Wow, that’s so neat to see you here. I wish I could do this. And my responses. Of course, you can do this. You can always do this here. I happen to have some extra material. Why don’t you give it a quick sketch and see what you think. And if you’d like it, come out and join us next week. So I keep some extra materials on hand. People stumble upon plein air painters all the time. Questions I usually get are did you just do that? Or how did how long have you been standing here painting and so forth? With pastel, I can do a painting in an hour or less, you know, the process goes a lot smoother when you’ve made a value sketch and you know what your plan is for the painting. So it may look like it goes fast. But it did take me a good 20 years to be able to get to the point where I could take this right.

Eric Rhoads 54:19
the classic line. How long did it take you to paint that? Well, it took me 20 minutes and 20 years.

Shawn Dell Joyce 54:24
Yes, exactly. So I tried to educate people to that point, you know, nobody is instantly good.

Eric Rhoads 54:30
But what if somebody say set you that person you encounter? You know, they’re they come up to you and they’re 70 years old? And they look at themselves and they say, Well, you know, maybe I’m not going to have time to get good. So what do you tell them?

Shawn Dell Joyce 54:47
What else do you have to do today? I mean, what can be more important than painting and the truth is, you know none of us And anything that’s more important than learning how to paint if you’re an artist, you have to paint it’s in your blood. So it’s sort of like being a pirate. We have no choice we have to square with that….You have to square with that, it’s in your blood.

Eric Rhoads 55:24
Yeah. What’s the? What’s the Pirate’s favorite letter? R

Shawn Dell Joyce 55:32
So, you know, I wouldn’t be happy if I’m not painting. I can’t understand boredom. I have never been bored a day in my life. I’m always painting in my mind.

Eric Rhoads 55:44
Well, Shawn, this has been absolutely fabulous. Tell us again your website so people can check out your classes and your work and some of your your thoughts and ideals.

Shawn Dell Joyce 55:55
Okay, wonderful. My personal website is and you can catch me at the Hudson Valley plein air festival and there’s still time to enter that. And also you can catch me at Alona I teach plein air pastel life at all on September 14 through October 6 through Alona. I do too. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to paint. I teach studio classes and then eaten at the Demeter Fine Arts Center, including pastel techniques. And I will be teaching a fall foliage workshop at Alanna. And at the Beverly street studio school in Stanton, Virginia, September 11, and 12.

Eric Rhoads 56:47
All right, you got a lot going on. And I’m sure that’s all on your website, Right. So what’s the key? Is it just quickly what’s the key to to painting fall color effectively because I I do fall color week because I wanted to practice painting fall color because I don’t live where we get a lot of it. What’s, how would you boil it down?

Shawn Dell Joyce 57:11
Okay, a Chinese painter taught me how to use complimentary color. So using a complimentary palette to paint fall colors will give you the pop, you’re looking for, human eyes are geared towards the compliment, they make your eyes dance along the edge. So the compliments in this case would be red and green. Or you could go with orange and blue. Using those colors and playing it up. And making sure that every other color when the composition is genetically related, like a warmer or cooler version of those colors will make your painting have color harmony and pop. One of the things that has been river school taught me is neutral, you want to neutralize with a compliment. So that tiny sliver of orange sunlight really stands out against the dark landscape.

Eric Rhoads 58:08
Great advice. Well, hopefully we’ll get a chance to paint together. You’re going to be in the Adirondack area. I’m going to be up there all summer starting June 1. And so got a big event coming up in June 12, the 10th anniversary of the publishers Invitational. So come up, hang out with us. Thank you so much. You know, you’ve inspired me and I think that you’ve probably you’ve inspired a lot of people, I would encourage people if you’re listening to this, to really consider that this is one thing you can do. You know, people are always saying, I don’t know what I can do to help the world. Well, this is one thing you can do.

Shawn Dell Joyce 58:49
You can make the world a better planet.

Eric Rhoads 58:51
Definitely organize your group. If you don’t have a group in your town, create one because people will come to you and organize and say okay, we’re going to take some of our time and we’re going to do something to preserve the the history of the lands and I think that was fabulous. Well, Shawn, thank you.

Shawn Dell Joyce 59:10
Check out the Wallkill River school whenever you’re in the Hudson Valley.

Eric Rhoads 59:15
I’ll do that. I’ll do that. Thank you, Shawn. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Shawn Dell Joyce 59:21
Thanks so much, Eric. Thanks for inspiring me.

Eric Rhoads 59:25
Well, thanks again to Shawn Dell Joyce what a really terrific lady and what great ideas.

Announcer 59:30
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 59:41
In the marketing minute I answer your art marketing questions you can email them to me [email protected], I hope you’ll do that. Here’s one from Jen in Ohio who says I’ve recently decided to sell my art congratulations. And I’ve been doing research on pricing structures for my paintings. I know it’s important to research the market. But a lot of other paintings, I find her price fairly low, going between five and $800. I don’t understand how they can possibly make a living off their paintings. Even if they sold all of them the price point that I found in order to make reasonable salary seems to be in the two to $7,000 range for moderate sized paintings. Is it okay to sell paintings at a higher price than other artists? Well, there’s a whole lot of stuff in there, Jen. And let’s just kind of go through them one thing at a time. First off, every artist has to start somewhere now. You can. There’s a lot of stories. I remember asking George Carlson how he got his prices so high. So he said, Well, I don’t know, ask my wife. And I asked her and she said, Well, I just took the amount of time that he puts in how much we needed, and divided that by the number of paintings. And so that’s how they did it. But George was already famous as an artist as a sculptor. So he had a big brand, your brand matters, the more that people know, you respect you trust you, and understand who you are, the more your price goes up. I mean, think about Hollywood, right? There’s, you know, Brad Pitt, he’s probably getting top dollar or George Clooney top dollar. And then there’s, you know, some upstart, young and young upstart artist or, or what am I looking for actor who, you know, they’re just kind of getting internet, so they’re getting union scale. So you just have to understand that you’re gonna have to ratchet it up. Now, I do have some interesting feelings about that. And, and, you know, you know, that there are people out there who are selling too low. And you know, you’re you can’t help that you can’t worry about what other people are going to do. You know, people might compare or they might not, it depends on the environment. So environment is everything, if you’re in a really great gallery, a great gallery, that st, selling for fairly high prices, and then you’re likely to be able to get a higher price in a gallery like that. But that gallerist is going to give you advice, a gallery knows their market better than anybody. And they’ll say, well, maybe we’re going to start you out at this price. And then we’re going to ratchet you up over five years to this price, and this price, and so on. Now, you could just, you could say, Alright, I want to make a certain amount of money a year, but you got to be practical about that. And this may or may not work for you. Because again, it’s about advertising and building your brand and being known and so on. That stuff really matters. But let’s just say you took you said alright, I, I want to quit my job. And I’m making $50,000 a year, and I need to make $50,000 a year as an artist, well, then you got to ask yourself, right? How many paintings? Can I paint and be good quality? How many can I do per month? And if you say, Well, I can only do two per month, and you know that you’ve got to have $4,000 a month, then, you know, well, you got to have $2,000 a painting, right? Well, the problem with that is that you don’t really know that because if you’re if you’re selling a direct, then you get to keep both of those $1,000. Right? If you’re selling it through a gallery, then you only get to keep half of it. So that means you probably need four paintings. But I you know, I turn to my galleries for pricing, because I don’t know, I mean, I would love to get high prices. And I think high prices, send signals. And I’ve got a whole lot of stuff about that in my book. But the idea here is that they know their market. So if I I just recently sent a painting to my gallery, and I said, What should I charge for it? And he sent me a note, I sent a painting to my other gallery I said, What did you charge for that same painting size? Because I I had forgotten or didn’t know. And, and she sent me the exact same number. So when I heard two people say, well, that’s the number. Well, that’s pretty good. Now, I’m not the best artist in the gallery. And there are artists in the gallery that have the same size painting, and they’re getting, you know, twice, three, four times what I’m getting, because maybe I’m not as famous as they are, or not as accomplished as they are. So there’s a lot of factors into it. So you know, if you if a reasonable salary seems to me a two to $7,000 range for moderate sized paintings, you know, if you’re taking a nine by 12, and saying you want $7,000 for that painting, it might be difficult, especially when you’re starting up. But if you get established, it might be a too low. So take it easy, take it slow. Now if you have a job, I have a video out that talks about how to I don’t even remember what its title is we’ll have to look that up. But it’s an art marketing bootcamp series. And it’s how to quit your job and become a successful full time artist. And and it basically talks about a system for ratcheting up and getting you know, you don’t want to just go cold turkey, you want to get some experience and you want to get out there and try selling some things before you just quit your job right because you want to get to the point where you’re making enough money with your art that you can quit your job. Anyway, I hope that helps.

Eric Rhoads 1:04:50
The next question comes from Aryana Husselink in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m from Indiana. And hustling sounds like a good German Name, that’s a good Indiana thing. Aryana says, I know it’s important to be online. But what are some ways that I should be networking in my local community? I think that’s a great question. The first thing to understand, and I think everybody needs to understand this. And that is that if all of your marketing is dependent on a single thing, and that single thing no longer works, then you’re in trouble, right? So a single thing might be if you’re selling all your paintings through one gallery, and that gallery closes down, you’re in trouble. So you got to have two or three galleries, ideally, to have some balance, but what if all the gallery business dries up? You know, and so alright, so you’re doing some social media strategy. And by the way, there’s a whole lot of misunderstanding about that. I talked a lot about that in my book. And so you want to have other things like, you know, you’re networking, you can sell a lot of paintings through networking, and networking in your local community is really a good thing to do. So what what are some of the ways? Well, I have in I think, in my book, I, somewhere I wrote, I think it’s in there a whole chapter on this kind of thing, and networking and taking charity work to the next level, and so on. I like to do things like I like to donate paintings to charities, for silent auctions, I will do that from time to time, I don’t have very many paintings anymore, because I don’t have a lot of time, but I have done it. But when I do it, I say look, I’m going to give you I’m not just going to give you a small painting, I’m going to give you a big one, that’s worth a lot of money, so you can advertise it. And so let’s say I’ll get my painting worth $10,000. And they can put, I’ll say, Look, I’ll give you this painting on the condition that you put me as a highlighted, you put my painting on the postcards, you send out the top of your website, you put my name on it, you introduce me at the event, and maybe even have me say something for five minutes, because I want to get something out of that. Because if I say something, all of a sudden, I’m a magnet in the room. And I have all these people that will talk to me otherwise, you know, it’s harder to do that. But I you know, I think charity events are good. There’s all kinds of events, there’s school events. What you want to do, though, is you want to stand in the river where the money is flowing as my saying and and I think the idea is that the river where the money is flowing is where people have money to spend, right? So if you’re doing a silent auction in, in something that’s just, you know, let’s say it’s to raise $300, for the kindergarten, you’re not going to make any money on that. Now that’s okay, you might get visible if it’s a, if it’s a school where there’s a lot of high end people, and it can’t hurt and it’s good experience to try. But you know, I want to go if you know there are charities trying to raise big money. They’re trying to get all the wealthy people in town together, I want to be in that auction because I want those people to get to know my name. And I want to do 10 or 20 or 30 of those auctions, you know, some cities like Palm Beach, for instance, big auction town, they have lots of lots of events going on in the wintertime. So people go to an event every night. So if you had if they saw your name at event after event after event after event and at high prices, all of a sudden you’ve packaged yourself as a high price person and then that affects your pricing to the previous question that that might help. Anyway, I hope that kind of gives you an indication but yes, absolutely. Look for different ways you can network in your community and remember to stand in the river where the money is flowing.

Eric Rhoads 1:08:34
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at Don’t forget you still have time to sign up for plein air live if you’re listening to this about the time I’ve published it. Just go now and visit also check out the Thomas Schaller soar workshop soAR and last, you got to come to the 10 year anniversary of the publishers Invitational retreats is going to happen this year in the Adirondacks is going to be one of the first times we get to be out we’re going to be safe about it. Go to and sign up. There aren’t going to be a lot more seats but get one it’s gonna be a lot of fun. If you’ve not seen my blog every Sunday I talk about life and art and lots of other things. Got a lot of readers I mean, a couple 100,000 so check it out. It’s called Sunday coffee and to find it just go to my website for that blog. It’s Hit the button to subscribe a little hard to find sometimes but just find it and hit subscribe. And that way it’ll come to you every week and you might like it. You might not well anyway, this is fun. 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. You can find us online at 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 Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.


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