PleinAir Podcast 212: The Future of the Plein Air Movement

Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads – rated the #1 painting podcast in Feedspot’s 2021 list.

Because of COVID, our world has changed. How will that affect your ability to sell paintings? How will that affect the hundreds of plein air events? Is the future bright or dreary?

I assembled a panel of experts on the PleinAir Magazine team for a webinar / podcast called “The Future of the Plein Air Movement.”

Experts included:
Kelly Kane, Editor-in-Chief, PleinAir Magazine
Cherie Dawn Haas, Editor, Plein Air Today
Anne Weiler Brown, Associate Publisher, PleinAir Magazine

Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads, Kelly Kane, Anne Weiler Brown, and Cherie Dawn Haas here:

Related Links:
– Pastel Live: http://pastellive.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/
– Plein Air Magazine: https://pleinairmagazine.com
– Plein Air Today newsletter: pleinairtoday.com
– 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.

Announcer 0:18
This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher and painter, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads 0:55
I’d like to introduce to you our for our three panelists. Cherie Dawn Haas is the editor of plein air Today, our weekly newsletter, she’s also the editor of Fine Art today. And realism today. So she’s very busy. Next, Can you say hi to everybody so they can see. Sorry. Thanks,

Cherie Dawn Haas 1:33
Eric. Hi, everybody.

Eric Rhoads 1:35
And Cherie is in Kentucky. She lives on a farm. And and her vineyards froze. Is that right?

Cherie Dawn Haas 1:44
Well, they have frozen in the past this year, they caught on fire. Fire. That’s what it was.

Eric Rhoads 1:50
I didn’t know. That’s on fire. Next we have Anne Brown. Anne Brown is the Associate publisher. She basically runs things. And she’s responsible for all things related to advertising and marketing for for artists. And would you say hello.

Anne Weiler Brown 2:11
Hello, everyone. This is so exciting. I tried to go through all 14 pages to see you all. And those of you are looking really good that I got a chance to see. Please ask questions.

Eric Rhoads 2:26
That’s what we’re here for in the chat. Absolutely. And if we have time, we’ll open it up. We’re also on Facebook Live. And so Hello, everybody. Next we have Kelly Kane, we’re very proud to say as the editor in chief of plein air magazine, and she’s also the editor of American watercolor or watercolor newsletter because she came to us from watercolor magazine. How many years now? Kelly three?

Kelly Kane 2:54
It’s I was just doing the math before we came on. I think it’s close to three and a half years now.

Eric Rhoads 2:59
Yeah, yeah. And you’re doing a rockstar job. Thank you so much. You’re, you’ve really made a lot of changes for the better. And so that’s awesome. So what we wanted to do here is to talk about what we’re learning, we were on a call the other day and comparing notes about some things that we think will be helpful to you. You can put questions in the chat that go by real quickly, but we’ll kind of watch for him. But what I’d like to do first before we kind of open up to the panel is I want to go through just briefly This won’t take too long, but a little brief agenda and also some research that we’ve we’ve discovered, and also some research that we’ve done. First off, what we’re going to talk about today is some of the research, the impacts positive and negative of COVID. And as it relates to shows, galleries and individual artists. We’re going to talk about the outlook for the plein air movement. What you need to be doing now and your backup plan in case of new lockdowns first research. This is a research study that sunshine artists did it’s a magazine for those who do a lot of events and you know street fairs and things like that. That’s not necessarily plein air shows, but I thought it was interesting. daring. COVID 13% of the people surveyed did not do any virtual shows. They did of course no in person shows 41% tried one or two virtual shows, and 46 participated in three or more virtual shows. The result is that 70% say the artists the artists say that the virtual show sales had been bad 24 said it had been so so and 6% only 6% so that sales were pretty good. Most said that online shows are more work than they’re worth doing that the rewards are not working The effort that using online event sales tools that they employed or they participated in some of the online events, they still had little or no sales. And that what’s working for them is that their newsletters and emails, communicating with existing customers have helped but cannot compare to the in person sales of events. I pulled some quotes from some of the research said what we miss most is customer interaction and watching customers reacting to their work. The lack of shows who has reduced new customer, and leads new customers and leads as you know, we all collect business cards at events and we get it we sell things and then we can follow up with those customers and sell them more things. newsletters and emails with existing customers have helped, but they still don’t compare to the in person sales. And online sales are stronger with previous customers. But overall, we’re not very strong. Here’s some we did a survey of the people who run plein air shows. And we asked him a few basic questions. If you run a plein air show will your show go forward in 2021. I was actually surprised to see this the 80 over 80% say that they will continue to go forward in 2021. But about looks like about 18%. So they say their shows will not go forward. And we’ll we’ll get into that with the panel in a minute and find out why that is the next thing. If I can get it to move, there we go. If you run a plein air show, did you do a virtual show as a replacement this year? And about 83 85% said they did not and only a small percentage about 15% 18%. So they did, we heard some pretty good reports from some of the people who did virtual shows and again, we’ll talk about that. If you run a plane or ship show ups. It’s where sales lower equal or better. Pretty much everybody said they’re lower sum. So they’re equal sum. So they’re better. Nobody said they’re much better. Once we’re allowed out in person and the virus has passed, do you think attendance will be lower, equal better, or much better? Pretty much 50% say it’s going to be better or much better. which we’ve we found very encouraging.

Eric Rhoads 7:42
67% better or much better? Now the other thing once we’re allowed out in person, the virus has passed Do you think sales will be and Whoops, I got double percentage signs there on my slides. I apologize over 33% said, Well, I think I got that wrong number it’s, it’s, let’s see 30 6070 bucks, 73% say equal or better forgive my typo there. So that’s encouraging. Now, the other thing I did is I just wanted to find out what the media was saying just to kind of get a feel for things. And I was curious about travel and what was going to be happening with travel. And I found some articles. And a couple of thoughts here. First off this person who who works or runs Royal Caribbean cruises says some of the things we thought were going to happen or not happening, they’re better than we thought. He said that specifically pointing to the age of people booking trips, we really thought older people would be more cautious. And it turns out they want to get out of the house too. So I think that’s very encouraging news. And I’m sure you know of all things that I think a lot of us say we’re not going to book it’s a cruise line because the whole COVID spread kinda began with the cruise lines if you remember those stories, and so the left sounds like they’re having some bookings and they’re having some bookings by older people. Jim Cramer at CNBC says it’s gonna be a boom here in this country and I don’t think people are ready for it. And the boom he was talking about was specifically about a travel boom, he said that the the airlines even though the airlines and the travel industry has been hurting, he said that those stocks are about to soar because what they’re learning is there’s a lot of pent up desire to travel, no secret. Now this, these two quotes once this is under control, there will be a huge need to travel not just far away, but local and regional travel. We want to move and reconnect with people. So Samantha brown does a show on PBS, and increased interest in local travel for those who normally go to Greece New Yorkers will make their way to Nantucket or the Gula islands instead. And I and I think that’s kind of what I’m hearing Is that a lot of people are kind of waiting for the International to open up, but they know it might not open up real soon, or they might be fearful that they’re gonna get stuck in another country. You know if there’s another lockdown, but they are planning on traveling throughout the United States. So now we’re gonna go to the panel discussion and brown. Can you tell me what your thoughts are on what you’re seeing in terms of plein air shows.

Anne Weiler Brown 10:27
So I just returned about two hours ago from a two week camping trip, because I had to get out of the house, and I needed to start seeing people, which made me feel extremely good. So I guess I’m in that percentage can’t wait to get out. And I already did. Um, but I think what I’m hearing, particularly from those organizations that are much more aggressive in their marketing, and I don’t mind pointing out some of them like the Laguna plein air painters, they and Olmstead no around the country, there have been a number of very aggressively marketed plein air events that were virtual, with, in some cases a component of live. But I think, and they’ve done well, they’ve done well, financially, they’ve done well in terms of keeping their membership. excited and engaged. And, and so I believe that plein air events who take that extra effort, and I know that so many plein air event organizers are volunteers, so asking them to, to make a double commitment, as it were to do a virtual event of some sort along with an in person event, if that’s possible. takes like, sometimes 10 times more, because they don’t have the technical, logical infrastructure to allow that to just happen. They have to find people to do those things. Well, actually,

Eric Rhoads 12:24
it’s by the way, it’s enormously expensive to pull that off is, as you know, from our own internal situation, we had to pivot to plein air live, which we did shortly after the, we realized we weren’t going to be able to do any live events. And, you know, it takes about 13 people to put that thing together. And maybe more than that. So it’s not easy for we’re in the video business. And so it’s easier for us. But even for us it was a stretch. So it’s got to be tough for organizations, outs that are not in that industry.

Anne Weiler Brown 13:01
Yes, but I think one thing, a group, as excited as you all are to get on tonight, and listen, that you’re in the perfect position to volunteer with whatever organization you belong to our organizations multiple, but even in your own local community, helping, you know, we all want to be able to just get out there and paint. But the reality is that the back end of this has got to be just as much a part of your sphere of thinking as the actual painting. It’s just like marketing your own self is just as important as painting. There’s so many other aspects, besides the part that’s gratifying the painting.

Eric Rhoads 13:53
Yeah, absolutely. Well, and I’d like to hear what Kelly and Cherie have to say.

Kelly Kane 14:01
Just to add on to what Anne said, I think, you know, a lot of the events were worried and I think we were all worried is, you know, if you cancel completely for a year, you do sort of lose that momentum and that kind of connection that you have with the community where you hold these events. And so I think that was a big worry. And I think it’s what drove a lot of events to do some sort of at least some sort of virtual event or some hybrid of some in person, some virtual. And I think those events that did well with it, had to really get creative, you know, and doing drive by art displays or, you know, their comp, they took their competitions and put them on zoom and made it online and then did their auctions and sales online, you know, to whatever degree of effectiveness but there was a lot of creative thinking going on. And I think you know, the events that I’ve talked to even Those that are moving towards getting back to mostly live for this year. Even though, you know, maybe in smaller venues, you know, still still with safety precautions, I think that a lot of events have learned. You know that, that it’s good to be that creative and that diversified. And they’re thinking about how they’re engaging their audience and their communities and their artists, and that they’ve learned, and they’re going to start incorporating some of those things going forward. Even so, I think it’s been an interesting time. I think there’s events that, you know, did well, or looking forward to, you know, coming back strong. So I’m encouraged hope, I’m hopeful and encouraged.

Cherie Dawn Haas 15:48
so I agree with Anne, and Kelly to with everything that they’ve said, and I think, you know, we can look at some of the silver linings. And that’s that, in this past year, we figured out new ways to communicate with each other and create new bonds that we would have never had, without, you know, the challenges that we had to face. So I think the it’ll be interesting to see if some of these continue, like the zoom meetings and the zoom critiques, and the zoom shows and things like that, because I think it just gives us more opportunity to connect with people that we otherwise otherwise would miss.

Eric Rhoads 16:23
I think I think to that point, we we made a conscious decision here at streamline that some of these events that we’ve been doing online like plein air live realism live, just announced pastel live, and what am I missing watercolor live, we’re going to continue to do those in spite of the fact that we’ll do our live conventions. Again, as soon as we are allowed, we had to cancel our plein air convention for May because it was just too soon. And it looks like we’re, we’re likely to have to still cancel our our fall face conference, though we don’t have confirmation on that. And, but we do think that things will start changing rapidly as we seek more people getting out. And and so I think that a lot of these things will continue, no matter what, you know, we learned from people, some of you may be even watching, we learned from people who said things to us, like, you know, I like my situation. I just could never, never go to something live like the plein air convention, because I’m caring for someone, I’ve got family members to take care of it, it’s too expensive to spend, you know, a few $1,000 on hotel and airfare and, and so on. And so we kind of took that as a clue that things will will continue to go on. And we so we’ll be curious about how that works out, I can tell you in my own case, something changed after being at home for a year. And though we I think all of us were working harder in our particular case, and probably in most of your cases, we you know, I’m more reluctant to get on an airplane that I have been for a while, not so much because of the safety concerns, but because I’ve just really enjoyed not being on an airplane 40 weeks a year. And so I think that when someone offers up a virtual event before I would, you know, I pay a couple $1,000 to go to an event I’d get on an airplane, I’d buy a hotel room, I’d stay there for three or four days, sometimes just to see one or two or three speakers. And now I’m hoping that those events will continue virtually because I’m less likely to get on an airplane for all of them. There are some of them, I’m just gonna say no matter what I’m going, you know, certainly our own events and going. But the idea is that I’d much rather be able to work from my office, and, you know, to tune in to the speakers that I want to hear. And it’s for me, it’s worth spending the price of the conference to learn what I need to learn from from the right people. So and I’m curious again, let’s kind of go back to you because there’s been some casualties and all of this. Tell me about the casualties. And are there plein air shows that just will never return? and talk to me about the art gallery world?

Anne Weiler Brown 19:28
Well, I think there’s always going to be Unfortunately, some Fallout to any, anything that as pandemic as nationwide, well global as this is. And so yes, there’ll be plein air events, certainly that aren’t going to go forward. But on the other hand on that note I’m hearing because we try to whenever we can feed these stories To Kelly and Cherie about organizations that are kind of cropping up almost organically in your community, both local and regional, people painting together, because they feel comfort, you know, comfortable being out in on the trail at a park, whatever, you know, with five or six other painters or even 10 or 12, or whatever. And so maybe some organically grown plein air events will come from that I know, in Utah, the Moab plein air event, which is probably in it’s I don’t know, whatever, 20th year or so, you know, started that way, I was just an organic thing of a group of artists, it were as many events have started that way. So maybe, with the fallout of some they’ll be come more new ones, lots of new ones throughout the country. Um, galleries are a different situation. For those of you that are in galleries, I’m sure that at least one, if you have three galleries, I’m sure one no longer exists. I mean, the fallout of galleries is huge. But they’re primarily very long standing brick and mortar galleries, you know, 40 years old, 50 years old, in major urban areas, you know, in Chicago, in New York, where people have not been able to come in and actually do any, in person purchasing of art. And those galleries have done so well as brick and mortar. They haven’t wanted to, just like some events move into the virtual world. But the galleries that either have the resources or have enough young people who are technologically astute working with them have have made just had fabulous years. I mean, I’ve talked to so many galleries as have other people on our team that had the best year they’ve ever had in 2020, because they moved very quickly into a virtual realm, and have created fascinating ways to explain who their artists are, what they’re doing, doing virtual workshops, whatever. And those galleries I mean, even galleries that have started new in 2020, which I think takes a lot of guts, but people have done it. It there is definitely going to be a change. We’ve taught we’ve heard about consigliere galleries where they will represent your work but take it out to the homes rather than anticipating someone’s going to come to their gallery. No, there’s just a lot of new innovative ways that they’ve that galleries are working,

Eric Rhoads 23:23
you know, to just want to expand on that, if I might. If you look at the idea of pivoting, in our case, we pivoted we thought we thought very much like we were going to be out of business these these people all saw their salaries decreased, we saw people get laid off and we were really scared. Honestly, we pivoted and came up with this other idea and went went full and and the team team recovered. And we’re not back to normal, but we’re stronger than we were. And, you know, in 2008 when we had the big recession, there was there was two things that were happening. It was a perfect storm, it was kind of the convergence of a recession, plus the beginnings of where online selling was taking place a lot more than it ever had. And there were probably 234 100 galleries that went out of business in that period of time. And because they they didn’t pivot, you know, they said, you know, we like the way we do things and we’re blockbuster and we’re not going to change. Meanwhile Netflix came along and and you know, changed everything. There was a gallery and in Fredericksburg, Texas, I was just there this weekend. And this gallery started up right at the beginning of the recession, and I questioned him about that because they became very successful very fast. And he said he had studied these things because he was a consultant. And he said that when you know to Zig when everybody else sags, he said, You know during the recession, everybody does the stupidest thing. possible, which is a stop communicating to their customers, they, you know, they stopped doing the things that made them great, they stopped doing the shows the cocktail parties, they stopped advertising, they’d stay stopped getting out there. And then they were out of sight out of mind. Meanwhile, he came along and doubled down on his advertising started doing more things. And he took 1015 20% of the customers away from his five or six top competitors, and became very successful overnight. And this is kind of a similar situation, even though this is not a recession based thing. It’s a COVID based thing. We’re seeing kind of similar situations, the people who are surviving are the ones who pivoted, they said, I have to get more aggressive with my marketing, not less aggressive. And, and as answered, we’ve we’ve heard from galleries and artists who have had the best year they’ve ever had in their history. And I can tell you that pretty much every other day throughout the entire COVID time because I talked to lots of artists as we all do. One artists would tell me he or she is having the best year they’ve ever had the worst year they’ve ever had. And probably the difference is that the one just got overly aggressive and just said, You know, I can’t afford to die, I’m just going to work work like crazy on it. And maybe the other one just didn’t do that. I can’t be sure about that. Kelly, Cherie, any thoughts?

Kelly Kane 26:28
I was thinking about the… We’ve talked a lot about plein air events, and guys have all had to pivot is the word we’ve been using, and, you know, kind of innovative in how they’re staying connected to their, their customers and their communities. And I think the artists who have fared the best done the same, you know, they’re the ones who are, you know, everybody’s been spending a lot more time in their studio and painting. But these are the artists who have also gotten really aggressive on Instagram and made sure that they’re always posting to work and, and keeping their work out in front of their customers, their collectors, and even just, you know, art loving people who are on Instagram, making sure that their website is up to date and engaging and really good shape. So kind of taking care of buildings, and I’m watching the chat. And a lot of people are talking about, you know, instructors who have started to do virtual workshops and things in place of in person. So so I think that is the lesson kind of across the board is that the people and the events, the galleries that have done well are the ones who have put in the work, got creative and stayed engaged.

Eric Rhoads 27:51
And you said something the other day when we were talking preparing for this, you said something the other day about what you’re finding in terms of websites.

Anne Weiler Brown 28:02
So my biggest beef in life… Besides the puppy that we have? Well, I think all of us have been in the art business long enough to have been watching websites evolve over 30 some years at least, maybe longer. But then I’ve lost track of the last 20 I think my biggest beef is how people project themselves on their websites. Every single collector, I know whether they’re buying $1,000 painting or a million dollar painting, there is so much research that goes into what someone purchases. And if they’re standing in a gallery, if they’re standing at a live art show, if they’re just perusing the web looking for something. If they get on your website, you literally have 10 seconds, think about how long 10 seconds is really short. You have 10 seconds to tell them about you. And if you knew how atrociously ugly I would say 50% of the websites that I look at are they’re out of date. They don’t have the very best work that the artist does on the homepage. They don’t change it regularly. They don’t update you know the awards and exhibits and organizations they belong to et cetera et cetera et I could go on forever.

Eric Rhoads 29:49
But one thing one more thing related to that is they don’t mobile optimized 80 to 90%. Now viewing is taking place on a cell phone and and a lot of people are you know you You have to kind of move your finger around to see things, you’re gonna just you’re gonna leave.

Anne Weiler Brown 30:06
But in this next issue of plein air, Cherie’s writing an article about website. Now you can take care of your own websites. But what I always suggest to artists, and we all do this is that everyone lives near a high school, everyone that I am aware of, and I just came through some really very few people on the face of the earth that you can see places, but everybody has a high school and they all have kids who are super smart and need the encouragement of creating, hire somebody out of the high school, and and have them help you with your website, if you’re not savvy on your computer. Take advantage of the fact that we have a huge population of young people who are 10 times more brilliant than anybody that I know, on the computer, and and it’s it’s a win win. But it’s so important. It’s so so important.

Eric Rhoads 31:17
You know, part of that issue is some some people have great website tools. You know, there are a lot of companies that make website tools and make it easy for you to do it. But there’s they’re still ignoring. So in some cases, you need to build something new, you need to find somebody who’s tech savvy, or use a website service, but you got to pay attention to these things. First off, you think that Google will find you, you know, somebody, somebody contacted me a couple years ago, and they said, You know, I spent all this money and I put up a website, I’m sitting here waiting, and I haven’t had any customers or any sales. Well, I went to the website and found a lot of problems. But the first problem is, if you don’t change your website, pretty frequently, Google will ignore you, because Google’s looking for fresh content. And if you just take the same content all the time, and just leave it up, they’re just gonna skip right over you, you’re gonna end up 30 or 40, down on the page, rather than number one or two. So you need to look for ways to refresh your content and always, always be out there. So Kelly, any any thoughts on this? Well, as you’re an editor, you’re looking at websites all the time.

Kelly Kane 32:30
Yeah, you’re talking about pet peeves, and mine is in which what we’re talking about websites is, please put your contact information on your website make it easy to find. So that’s what is going through my head, you know, as an editor when I when I’m looking for, for people to feature and I see a great piece of art, and then I go to their website and can’t figure out how to contact them or you know, they’ve got one of those forms, but don’t ever check it and I never hear back from them. It’s a real missed opportunity, though. Yeah.

Cherie Dawn Haas 33:14
That’s fine. I’m, I’m interested in hearing what everyone else has to say. I have too many thoughts about websites. In fact, when Kelly and I talked about this article that’s coming out, she gave me a word count. And I think I quadruple that by the time I finished putting everything down. But it doesn’t have to be too complicated. So and I’d like to back up just a little bit. Eric, you use the phrase, doubling down how people have doubled down over the past year. And if I can, I just like to remind people that it’s not too late to do that at this point, too. So even if you had sort of a slow year, or you didn’t, you know, you didn’t go, you know, above and beyond like, like some people did, because we all handle the suit differently. It’s not too late to start now. Because I really am optimistic about the near future, even for artists and creatives. And so there are lots of ways to learn how to, you know, just step up the game a little bit and just stay inspired and motivated.

Eric Rhoads 34:15
You know, it only my dad always says it only takes 90 days to change the trajectory of your life or your business 90 days. And, you know, I was reading about Elon Musk, and he talked about he he wanted to learn something. And he would just spend 90 days doing nothing but learning that one thing, and in 90 days he could become proficient when I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to learn more about a couple of different things. One of them was Instagram marketing. One of them was YouTube marketing. And I read four books. I took an online course, I’m not an expert, but I’m a whole lot more informed now than I was. And so those are things that you can do and figure out you know, where do you need to go and what what should I be doing? I want to shift gears here, because I don’t want to keep everybody on too long. But what is this? What? What is the future of the plein air movement?

Anne Weiler Brown 35:16
Well, I, obviously I’m the chatty one here. But I think one thing I’m seeing is a lot more museums getting in the getting into plein air. Because they’ve had the worst year in the history of any museum. No matter how creative they were, it was a very sad, your 20 2020 was very sad year for museum. And so we’ve had a number of new museums. Sorry, new events come out because there’s the museums are seeing them as a fundraising situation for them. So like the Oceanside Museum in California is doing their first plein air event, I think that’s, you know, that’s something that is really exciting, particularly those events that are open that anybody can, can go to and, and paint in, which is fabulous, whether you’re a beginner or you’re a 20 year season plein air event participant, going to events when you can go to an event is such a great experience, because you’ll learn from everybody around you. So whenever you have the ability to go to an event that’s open, I think that’s very important, And organizations, that’s the only other thing I want to say, join organizations,

Kelly Kane 37:02
I was just going to add, you know, a lot of those events, even though they’re invitationals, they’ll have some sort of quick paint or Quick Draw element. And it’s a lot of it’s open to anyone to join and, you know, you’re painting right along with kind of the big dogs at the events and and like Eric said, you can really learn a lot and it’s great exposure, and I was just talking to Kathy Hoke with Door County, and at least at their event, they I think it’s the winner of their quick paint gets an automatic invitation to the event for the next year. So it’s a great experience. And I think I think that you’re right, and you know, I think getting involved locally. And, you know, just kind of getting out there. I think that a lot of people who may have been too intimidated to do it before, you know, everybody’s looking for a chance to get out and to reconnect and, you know, to have that companionship. So it’s, I think it could be a real boom year, you know, whether or not you’re at that level that you’re getting invited to these invitations, get involved with them, because there’s lots of opportunities to be involved with those events, big and small, locally, and larger.

Eric Rhoads 38:12
So if somebody were watching now, and they said, you know, I’m a museum, or I’m a local charity, or city organization or something, and I want to start a plein air event, where do you begin? How do you do that?

Anne Weiler Brown 38:33
Well, I started the Zion National Park plein air event. Now 10 years ago, I think or maybe 11 or 12? I don’t remember. Anyway. Well, actually, it was longer than that, why age myself. Anyway, I think what you need is just a couple of people who are willing to put the time in, get a grant from your Tourism Bureau, whether it’s local, state, regional, whatever, because you bring in collectors, that means you bring in heads in beds, as they say. So, you know, it may take a year to get enough going that you can get actual funding. But you know, the idea of just getting a group together, painting together and then having that evolve into an event. And starting out as an open event where anyone can come and paint with you, is certainly gonna grow your number of people that participate and then it just kind of to…

Eric Rhoads 39:48
I’ve seen events get really, really bad reputations very fast because of the quality of the art in the sense that and don’t take this wrong, please because I’m sure somebody will be offended. By this, but the idea that we want to engage and and make sure we support our local arts community. And sometimes they’re jurying in people who really shouldn’t be jury jury it in and and we want to be inclusive, we want everybody to be able to participate. Yeah, how do you walk that fine line because you want to you want to become known as having really good people. So people will come back year after year, I remember watching an event, I won’t say which one, but watching an event going from having reputation as a premier event, dropping down to having a very poor reputation in about two years time. Because they shifted their thinking and they lowered their quality standards.

Anne Weiler Brown 40:48
Well, I think, you know, one of one of the easiest ways down the road to create an event that successful is to have an open event, a juried portion, an Invitational portion, those are the three major areas of most events and, and, you know, if you keep those always excelling in terms of the people in it. In your and your I just read somebody wrote jury manager. I believe that there, it’s really important to have a variety of jurors, that you combine collectors and artists, and you’re going to have favoritism no matter what, but if you have a diverse committee, and I know a lot of the people on our sales team have been well, and Kelly and Cherie, for sure, have been on selection committees. Where there is a you know, obviously, a lot of it can be blind doesn’t have to have names on paintings, there’s a whole variety of ways to to get away from gerrymandering, but but your,

Eric Rhoads 42:23
your the people on your team can walk people through, right, all your people are trained in how to…

Anne Weiler Brown 42:28
absolutely, absolutely, they’ve all been involved in this in one capacity or another. But also, it’s important to have an open part of any plein air event because the only way a person is going to excel in the plein air movement as it as a professional artist certainly, is to go through that process of painting in front of people. Having people say, Oh, your work is shit, you know, to happen to me. You know, it just happens. And you know, that’s how you that’s how you survive in the plein air event world you have to be able to take criticism you have to take be able to take rejection because on the flip side there’s always gonna be somebody who just loves what you do. And and people who will give you appropriate critique. It’s It’s such a extraordinary experience.

Eric Rhoads 43:27
My mother loved all my paintings. So, plein air boom or bust? If you had to say what’s the next 12 months look like Cherie, boom or bust?

Cherie Dawn Haas 43:43
A 100% I believe it’s going to be a boom. And I think that’s the case no matter where you are. I’ve been watching everybody’s comments come through and everybody’s experiences are a little bit different based on what they can do at this time and things like that. But I think people are gonna make it work even if it’s on micro local level. I think it’s gonna I think it’s gonna do really well for everyone as long as we stay, you know, stay motivated, stay educated, and just help each other get through this. It’s gonna be great.

Eric Rhoads 44:12
Kelly,

Kelly Kane 44:14
no question.

Anne Weiler Brown 44:18
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I have to tell you all who we are very thankful who read our magazines and read our newsletters and do all the participatory events etc. I can I can see, and I’ve been with the company 10 years and I can see how she really and and look at what did you see that long, blonde haired person and now look what happened to me. But it’s so exciting when I I just got an email from somebody on the org coast, who there’s about 30 of them, they get together at various places along the Oregon coast every year. And it’s a very loosely organized, very informal situation. And they couldn’t do it last year, while a couple of them did, but as a group, very informal, it’s so exciting to, to hear from this person, that they’re getting together and planning this summer trips in a little different fashion than they have but but everybody wants to get out and, and paint, and it’s so it’s definitely a boom.

Eric Rhoads 45:41
Yeah, I’m glad to hear you all say that. I think that I think the same thing is happening. First off, we have this, this, we all have this desire to get out, not just painters, all of us, everybody, you know that we just want to get out. But the thing that’s been missing is that ability to hang with other people. I mentioned I was in Fredericksburg, Texas over the weekend, Lori and I took our motorhome down and camped out for the weekend. And I was driving out through the hills and there was this open air bar. And there had to be 20,000 people there I kid you not I mean, it was massive. Nobody summer merit wearing masks, and some are not but they’re like, we’re tired of this, we’re you know, we’re gonna party and where they were going to be with other people. And I was a little shocked to see it and went a little reluctant to go in myself. But the and I did not. But the the idea is that I think we’re all really ready. And as long as we’re getting to the point where we feel secure and safe. You know, we’re going forward with our European fine art collectors trip, we’re going forward with our Russia trip, we’re going forward forward with the Adirondack event in the fall color week. And but we’re not going forward with plein air, because May was just too soon to know whether or not it was going to be safe. And and we’re having some issues, you know, even about in the state we’re in with whether or not we can hold the face conference. But I think by next year, assuming this thing doesn’t come back and haunt us again, I think you know, everything’s gonna be booming. I believe that those of you who do workshops or hold workshops, you’re gonna be packed. And I’m hearing from people who say, I’m going to I’m just going to do everything, I saved a lot of money, because we already know, you know, we weren’t traveling. You know, so some, some people got hit financially, some people have extra spend expendable income. And I think that for the next two or three years, our travel guy told us that, you know, we’re doing a trip to Russia in September, which is sold out. And he said that the word got out that the Russian border was opening April 15. At first to, to Africa, of all things in a million trips, were booked from Africa into Russia, a million trips in about a three or four day time. So I think that this is just going to boom, we’re told that the airlines are going to get really expensive to try to make up for some of the losses. But people will do it anyway. Because they want to get out. So I think if you have workshops, you know, you’re going to be successful, but you got to make sure people know about. And I think that the plein air events, those that those that were on ice, I think if you bring them back, you’re going to have good success. And I think those who closed them down permanently need to take a second look at that and say, you know, can we bring it back? And can we make it better? And I think that will have a huge impact. So the other thing that I think is important and and and and I kind of had this dialogue Well, we all did the other day. And that is that everything is about elevating your quality, everything’s about getting better. If you’re participating in anything as a professional what whether it’s participating in a an outdoor event or paying too long or or you’re going to you know, to a higher level. It’s it’s got to be about making sure that you’re the best you can possibly be because what you’re up against, is there a lot of painters probably yourself included, who got more brush time in the last year than they’ve gotten in the last five years combined. I’ve had more painters tell me they had breakthroughs. CW Monday and I have been communicating because he’s on on plein air live. He had major breakthroughs, the stuff he’s sending me and we all know he was already a master. But he’s having major breakthroughs because he’s spent so much time because we you know you don’t have the temptation to go out and do other things. So your competition if you look at it as competition is stronger, and you need to be looking for ways that you can develop yourself and get stronger who wants to talk about that? Because I know that editors you’re always running against this and and you have strong feelings about it as well.

Cherie Dawn Haas 50:22
I can go first this time to mix it up. One of the ways that I I’d like to share this, if you’re not signed up yet for the plein air today newsletter that’s actually, if I don’t say so myself, it’s a pretty darn good resource for plan air painting tips, and instruction and step by step demos and those freebies, excerpts, all kinds of things. I’ve really tried to pepper it with definitive how-to’s so that when you read it, you’d walk away with something that you can apply. So yeah, I would say, take advantage of the resources that are available to you. Because that’s why we do what we do, and we love to do it.

Eric Rhoads 51:10
So let me ask how you sign up for the newsletter?

Cherie Dawn Haas 51:13
Thanks for asking. You can go to outdoorpainter.com. And you’ll see a link there for the plein air today newsletter.

Eric Rhoads 51:24
Kelly?

Kelly Kane 51:28
Well, I think like you said, a lot of artists have been spending a lot more time in their studios over the past 12 months. And so, you know, presumably, they’re, they’ve gotten better, and they’ve got a whole slew of work that is sitting there that they need to share. And, you know, I hope that they’re doing that through their social media channels, and, you know, getting in touch with and, and, you know, and let Cherie and I know, what’s been going on? Who are the artists that are exciting you or what have you learned over the past 12 months, because those are great stories.

Anne Weiler Brown 52:09
There, there is so much going on right now. With all the different organizations that you can belong to, which you can learn about through both magazine, and that newsletters, you know, the, the one thing that’s really nice when you’re reading an article is that both cheering Kelly, always know, like, what kind of organizations these artists belong to, and, and look into those, you know, a lot of them are juried memberships, but if you don’t apply, you won’t get accepted. And and that goes for shows, too. You know, a lot of times, I think we’re hard on ourselves in terms of, Oh, I can’t apply to that show. I’m not good enough. Well, I mean, so frequently, shows will will give you feedback, you know, when whether you’re accepted or denied. You know, there’s nothing wrong with asking, Well, why. And a lot of organizations have, you know, different levels of membership. So you can start out and maybe as an affiliate, but you can, you know, you’ll rise to different levels, signature, blah, blah, whatever the the different levels are. But it’s important that you put yourself out there. Because let’s face it, you painted a vacuum. And that’s the best part about plein air is getting out and painting with other people.

Eric Rhoads 53:59
You know, so I’ve had people say I didn’t come to the plein air convention, because I didn’t think it was good enough because they were embarrassed to paint in front of other people. Probably not understanding that, you know, we have mentors there to work with everybody. Well, do you want to open it up to a couple questions before we we move on? I’ve got a couple other things I’m going to share with people before we go but any first off Why don’t we do Round Robin, any final thoughts of anything else that we may maybe should have talked about?

Anne Weiler Brown 54:32
The only thing I was going to do is answer someone’s question about what is mobilization. That means you can read it on your cell phone, because if your website is not mobilized, which is with a lot of better, easier to use website, templates, it would automatically mobilize it, but that’s when you can always tell If you get on your phone, look at a website, and you can’t see everything, it is not mobilized.

Eric Rhoads 55:07
Yeah, well, all of those things are really important. You got it, you got to if you’re going to be in the game be in the game. The other thing I want to just mention to people is, in my, I teach art marketing at the plein air convention. I don’t do it anywhere else other than, you know, we have some videos and things. And one of the key principles that I teach, which I think is really important that there’s a really, really important recent example. And that is that oftentimes, we think that we have one thing that will be our marketing channel. And whatever that one thing is, it’s just one thing you might be thinking that one thing is Facebook, or that one thing is Instagram, or, you know, or advertising or doing shows, or otherwise. And yeah, it’s really important not to be completely reliant on one thing, and this is kind of what got some of the galleries in trouble is because they kind of operate it. And this is how we do things. This is the one way we we market ourselves or we wait, we’re relying on people walking in the door. Well, that one thing stopped instantly with COVID. And so a lot of people have figured out that they have to be even more aggressive. But there was a recent example. Apple just changed all their privacy settings. And there’s a massive amount of Facebook marketing that used to get through to people that no longer gets through to people because this one massive change, which is resulted in a huge reduction in spend for for Facebook ads. And it’s also resulted in 1000s and 1000s of companies who can’t get through to people they used to be able to get through to they can still get through to people on androids, and some of the things still get through on on on certain social media ads, but some of the retargeting and other things do not. So you want to make sure that you have multiple ways of approaching your audience and staying visible. You know, these two women, Cherie and Kelly, I guarantee you that every single week, they’re sweating bullets over what story Am I going to come up with for this newsletter for these pages of the magazine? You know, you you have to not just assume that they’re going to find you some of the best articles that we’ve we’ve written have been somebody who out of the blue said, Hey, by the way, did you know that I’m riding a bicycle around the world and, and I’m going to paint shop and pay every you know, every 24 miles you know, those those make great stories and we don’t know about them unless you tell us about them. So comments on that.

Anne Weiler Brown 57:54
I have to put up in because each of you out there has someone that works with you, or should be working with you. If you’re interested in marketing yourselves. We have a team of incredible people around the country that work with people at all levels of their career to help help them market themselves better. And if you don’t know the person that you work with, then you can email me just because my phone numbers in the magazine please don’t call me I can’t do any phone calls. But email me it’s a brown so simple at streamline publishing calm and I will put you in touch with the right person on our team to work with you.

Eric Rhoads 58:51
But don’t get in so people can have it. Okay, well I think I’m going to share a couple of things in a minute but I think that we really do have a big boom ahead and I think that this is the time to take advantage of it. If COVID returns it’ll be different this time. First off, I think in some places people are just not going to allow themselves to be locked down like they were before I certainly know that’s true and in the two states that I spend a lot of time in which are Texas and Florida both of which are operating pretty much like normal and in Texas the cases are going down not up the if there is a lockdown the thing that’s really critical is to know that first off you know keep keep some some cash handy, so that you can make it through it. Right and that means if you’re a gallery you know try to keep some cash handy so that you know maybe you have to cut your expenses a little bit but focus put your put your time and energy into promotion. Because we heard from so many people who said you know We sold her people randomly found us because they were looking at an ad in the magazine or a website or an Instagram page or something else. And people were staring at their walls. And we’re sick of staring at their walls and started painting their walls and making changes in their furniture and putting up paintings. And so you want to make sure that you look for an opportunity to stay visible. First off, make sure that you have a good relationship and ongoing with your existing customer base, meaning people who have bought paintings from you in the past, if you’re selling paintings, some of you are not, and make sure you have regular frequency of communication, you know, newsletters and other things. And by the way, it’s okay to ask for help. I mean, we did we said, we’re almost out of business. I you know, when we were really scared I mentioned before, when we first started this, our advertising dropped by 50%. Our art shows our live shows dropped by 100% and came up with something and ended up getting 250,000 readers and fine art connoisseur. And we had the biggest issue in the history of of our however many years 1415 years. And so stay visible keep keep yourself up there and be ready because I think you’re you want to you know, a lot of you have got inventory because you’re painted a lot. Be ready for that get that stuff framed up and get ready to take it to some some galleries some shows. This is I think things are gonna explode. Kelly real quickly. 30 seconds on the anniversary, because you’ve just done an anniversary issue.

Kelly Kane 1:01:39
Yeah, well, we’re celebrating all year because figure we all need something to celebrate, don’t wait. So it’s the 10 year anniversary. And as we’ve tried to explain a couple of times, it’s sort of like 10 years plus two, because the magazine launched, went away for a couple years. And it’s been back. And we’ve just really been having a great time. You know, I’ve been dipping into the archives and checking in with some of those artists who appear to this first issues to see what they’re what they’re doing now. And in the next issue that I’m working on. Now we’re going to talk to 10 of the top plein air painters from around the world. So we’re really playing with the 10 ID and having a great time. And it’s really brought out some really cool stories. So I hope everybody’s been enjoying it.

Eric Rhoads 1:02:29
Anne, and Kelly, and Cherie, thank you for being on today. Hopefully, you will know there’s a boom ahead. And it’s an exciting time, I think the plein air movement will remain strong. And you know, the thing that’s really important about this movement is that we have to keep bringing people in, you each have a responsibility to teach other people to you know, if somebody stops you on the street and they wonder what you’re doing, tell them, tell them what you’re doing and encourage them that they can do it. Maybe even give him a quick little mini lesson. Tell him where they can learn. Because we need to bring more people in, we need to bring more younger people in as well. And spread the word because, you know, 20 years ago this, this movement didn’t really exist. There were just very few events and very few people doing this. And today. I mean, the plein air podcast has had over a million downloads. It’s you know, plein air magazine has been number one for a few years now at Barnes and Noble number one art magazine in America. And that’s because of this pointer movement. So let’s keep it strong. Keep it going. And thank you all for your time. And thank you Cherie and Kelly, Anne, and thank you for tuning in.

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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.


1 COMMENT

  1. I think of far greater risk To the “movement” is age of artists and demographics. During covid It’s been interesting to notice that many of my elderly Art friends have felt that it’s been horrible for the arts. My guess is because of limited Internet know how. Whereas if you ask Internet savvy Artists or galleries they will say sales during the last year were some of the highest they have ever experienced. I don’t see plein air competitions as having much to do with the strength of plein air paintings in the sales market. But I do see the fact that increasingly it doesn’t seem appealing for young artists to call themselves plein air artists as the biggest hurdle. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault but I think on Instagram and in many platforms when younger artists who paint landscapes see the Movement they can’t help but be aware that it’s mostly retired older white folks. So right off the batt it just doesn’t seem like something For them. That’s been the biggest issue I have had and one of the reasons I don’t use the label Anymore myself.

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