Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode, we welcome landscape oil painter Chuck Waldman, who was a family practitioner before he became a full-time artist.
Listen as Chuck Waldman shares the following:
• His physical experience with certain art materials, why he shied away from them, and what’s changed since then
• How he went from being a family practitioner for 20 years and then left the medical field, unsure of what he would do
• The art materials he uses now and his thoughts on toning canvases, as well as painting lights, darks, and mid-tones
• His favorite books on painting for today’s artists
• And more!
Bonus: This week’s PleinAir Podcast includes a Marketing Minute!
Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, explains:
• Advice for licensing your images to sell more art
• If collectors care if you have a “day job” and ideas for at least finding a job in an industry you love
Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Chuck Waldman here:
– Chuck Waldman online: http://www.cwaldman.com/
– The Great Outdoor Painting Challenge TV Show: https://thegreatoutdoorpaintingchallenge.com/casting-call
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Ask your art marketing questions: [email protected]
FULL TRANSCRIPT of PleinAir Podcast 156:
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, Eric Rhoads, Chuck Waldman
Eric Rhoads 00:00
This is episode number 156. Today we’re featuring an artist you need to know he was early into plein air painting and has some surprising information. You probably don’t know his name is Chuck Waldman.
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 plein 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 01:03
Thank you Jim kipping. And welcome to the plein air podcast. My name is Eric and I’m thrilled to have you here with me today. Whether you’re listening while walking in the gym, in the car at home in the studio. I’m honored. Thank you. It’s nice. You would spend time with me and I’m loving spending time with you. Thank you again. Hope your January is going well. It’s a new year. And of course, lots of new things happening around here. Big thing that we’re working on been working on for two years quietly is our new national TV show on plein air painting, we’re going to drive a lot more interest in plein air painting. And you could be part of it. It’s going to be seen nationally by over 20 million people per episode. And you can apply to be on the cast to do so. Need to get it done because we’re going to start casting soon I understand. To do so. Visit la great outdoor painting. Challenge calm law. great outdoor painting challenge calm, you can watch the video there and fill out your application prove that you can paint and you got to do a little video on your own to prove that you have a personality because gotta be on TV, you got a personality. This is going to be a great year to attend the plein air convention. I was just in Denver doing some site selection, some work for painting locations tromping around in the snow, which hopefully will be gone by the time we get there. It’ll be on the tops of the mountains, which is going to be beautiful painting. Anyway, we’re going to produce some beautiful killer paintings together. And of course, we have an unbelievably strong faculty, some of the best ever and an incredible pre convention workshop with the amazing Scott Christiansen and a pre convention watercolor workshop. With one of the best watercolor artists in the world. His name is Thomas shallower and you can learn more at plein air convention.com coming up after the interview I’ll be answering some art marketing questions. In the marketing minute, let’s get right to the interview with Chuck Waldman. Chuck Waldman, welcome to the plein air podcast.
Chuck Waldman 03:08
I’m glad to be here honored.
Eric Rhoads 03:10
You and I got to know each other a long, long time ago when I was first talking about launching Plein Air magazine.
Chuck Waldman 03:17
I remember that Washington Street in Sonora, we’re doing a plein air event with the volt gallery and I think I tried to talk you out of it. Well, maybe that would have been a good idea. I don’t know I spent some time with Steve Doherty and part of the planet Hagen haggen Museum things and and he was saying boy, just hard to make any money. But now thanks to you and a lot of others. It’s like you say there’s plenty of people out there is exciting.
Eric Rhoads 03:57
Well, I just know I didn’t I wasn’t the one that said that.
Chuck Waldman 04:03
Steve Doherty I think I quoted him it, it didn’t slow you down thank goodness.
Eric Rhoads 04:07
Well, you know, it’s been it’s been a fun journey so you and I have not spent a lot of time together since those days but one of the things that I want to talk about today which we’ll get into in a bit is art materials because of your background but why don’t we kind of just for the benefit of people who might might not yet know you? Why don’t you tell them a little bit about yourself from from the standpoint of what it is what is it you do as a painter and what’s your what’s your superpower so to speak? Yeah.
Chuck Waldman 04:39
What I painting Outdoors is really my, muse, and and think I can thank Clyde aspic for that I was starting to paint in the late 80s and a friend of mine got me started indoors for a year as I started making paintings but saw paintings that were done outdoors. I didn’t know anything about him or Almost a the new planar painters is you know, late 80s or wasn’t too many of them yet. The Western art was still sort of de rigueur and I saw some of his stuff and said Man, I gotta find more about this guy and luckily got into a workshop out in Colorado Springs and or not sorry it’s in Colorado, and they got me started painting outdoors. It was a it was a shock. But but a great challenge. I’ve loved it ever since and it’s a really you know, when the galleries were busier, I painted as an you know, during the gallery world, painted indoors from studies but now I just paint completely outdoors and no desire to paint indoors. Step maybe in the winter when the letters horrible, just love going out and being part of the scene, seeing what happens discover it’s a discovery thing and Discover connections that you didn’t know were there and discover places that looked somewhat mundane or maybe caught your eye somehow came to describe it till you painted it, I think is just a constant learning discovery process I find it outdoors so challenging. Still after 30 years there are no easy painting still
Eric Rhoads 06:29
gets easy. No, it’s always that it’s
Chuck Waldman 06:32
that’s the part of it. You know, you never never It’s never easy. It’s never done. You know, you’re
Eric Rhoads 06:37
fun trying, that’s for sure. Oh, yeah,
Chuck Waldman 06:39
that’s the thing. I said next time, I will
Eric Rhoads 06:43
forget what you told yourself. Well, it’s so good for our brains to to have that constant challenge. So Chuck, you tell us a little bit about your your previous background, I guess. I think that’s kind of interesting.
Chuck Waldman 06:56
Yeah. Well, I went to school Davis and I ended up in Being a family practitioner for 25 years or so. And it was in the town were still in Sonora. And the foothills of the Sierra is a small town. And I was lucky to practice medicine and sort of the way it used to be done for about 20 years. And then it changed. And I didn’t say so I left and I left medicine in 1999. Not 100% sure what I was going to do at that one might take a year off. I’ll just paint and see what happens. And it’s 20 some odd years later, 20 years later, I’m still it was an honor to be a doctor be part of people’s lives. I think in the same way it’s an honor to be an artist in India and people find some benefit in what to them. That is Let’s see what I’m painting and fulfill something and that’s also satisfying. So it’s. So I’ve been honored in both areas.
Eric Rhoads 08:09
So when when you and I first met, I remember you telling me that you were shying away from certain materials and so on. And without mentioning brands or anything, can you Oh, yeah, Can Can we have a dialogue about your, you know, do you still have those feelings? And why? And then what’s changed maybe since that time?
Chuck Waldman 08:33
Well, that was the early 90s. And I had only been painting a couple years and I got extremely sick after an indoor painting session. Using you know, paint thinners and standard oil paints. I’m going to almost drove off the road on the way home from friends place that we’re doing still lifes all day and in a closed room and big room but I thought I was just tired because I’m always tired was you know, being a gentle breakfast or always delivering babies and what have you and so almost went off the road and I realized you’re not tired you’re intoxicated. The centers that had really you know made me really ill so I had to get out of the car and walk around for a while and made her home and okay I’ve got to figure out how to I want to keep painting I gotta figure how to do this without without the thinners and so I’ve used oils to clean brushes for a couple years and painting tried to paint with a knife and eventually the these kind of paint come he started developing his is a water soluble paints then clean with water. Well, it’s not exactly so but it took after a few years of trying to figure out a way to make them work and have never gone back. And thankfully now almost every major paint company has it water soluble brand that you can you can take if you like but they’re not completely water soluble, so I had to learn to use a little bit of a soap in the water. You know a little bit of a different And just a little bit for a cup of water because the water they don’t it’s oil is still oil pain it doesn’t really thin with oil and water don’t mix really, even though they haven’t put additives in the paints to help along that line but it’s a little bit of a found a little bit of a detergent helps night and I use the same wash cup for everything for Megan washes for cleaning my brushes or for everything. So it’s simplified to carry any centers with me or you know, when I’m traveling I don’t have to deal with centers evaporating off the paintings in your hotel room in Paris or driving around on a car full of paintings or whatever so it’s, it’s made painting possible for me whereas before I really couldn’t be around the vendors or made me sick.
Eric Rhoads 10:46
And I seem to remember and maybe I got this wrong but it seems like you were you were kind of on the warpath towards certain certain types of paint as well. cadmium are heavy metals.
Chuck Waldman 11:01
Well I think those are harder to find now i think that’s also getting real I think just the EPA has made those you know the lead white gone the CAD becomes I think there’s other other replacement pigments now they’re equally as strong or strong enough they can live without the cadmium I think now which is which is good. I mean, we don’t know what needs cadmium or labs or snakes or any other things that traditionally ice you know, I still paint with with cadmium colors and with LEDs and so on. What’s the what’s the, from your perspective, from your background perspective, what’s the problem with that? Well, cadmium xeno through the skin when it when things absorbs for the skin, they bypassed the great cleaner wrapper on her body which is the liver and the Right to the brain and right daily other organs there’s the if you eat something that goes into the gut and then deliver and then it gets clean you know gets detoxify then but if stuffs coming on through your hands or vapors, it goes directly to everywhere. Brain included. So I think there’s a number of artists have had leukemias and things. These are cancer causing agents and and we don’t need them really. I mean, I think the chemists have found I think replacement pigments that are there are good enough and that’s and I think that are as an artist you can the old adage of poor workman blames or tools if you can’t paint with it. With some replacement pigment, you’re probably not looking properly, not paying attention, you can learn to loser use your tools. Well and wisely so is there is from your perspective is there a safe way to do it you know, I talked to an artist recently who said you know he tried some of the cadmium free colors and they just didn’t have the pop the pop that he wanted and so he was sticking with them but you know there may be Is it is it getting it on your hands is it you know is it getting into the air is on the air it’s the centers are in the air but the on your hands so you could wear gloves? I don’t I just I just choose not to be around them in the first place in the first place and are using real spring land. I’m not a messy painter. I don’t get paint or try to keep it on the canvas.
Eric Rhoads 13:43
Well clearly the way you have to one thing you have to avoid is is sanding. You know if you’re saying yes LEDs don’t work or with cadmium or something and you’re breathing that air that can be a problem.
Chuck Waldman 13:54
Yeah, I’m cheap but I don’t sand canvases. I’ll paint over them, but I don’t sand them. I won’t say no man. So it’s uh yeah, I think yeah avoid just simple. Try to avoid contact. If the sinners are a problem avoid sinners but I think a lot of vibrancy of paint is is is brush handling. Again the poor workman blames are tools. I think you can you can you can ruin a good cadmium paint by just touching it too much. You know and and how you how you pick the paint up off your palette and how you apply it. You’re taught your light touch for those finish strokes is I think a bigger part of vibrancy and a pain, especially the oil paint the texture and the shyness and the sort of jewel like the sets that happen with the brush strokes. I love all that stuff. And I think that’s more brush handling that then than actual materials from you know, I mean you want a good quality paint but I think a lot of us up to the craftsmanship been handling.
Eric Rhoads 15:07
you strike me as someone who studies painting much like you used to study medicine you know always keeping up on it you you also teach what are you learning what what are some of the things that you’ve learned throughout your career that you want to share with other people that you think would be valuable in terms of painting what you’ve learned from other painters what you’ve learned from history etc
Chuck Waldman 15:33
what I think having a enough history enough concepts your head when you go out to paint so you’re not you’re not confounded by the molded into the chaos essentially you’re looking at if you’re out painting outside or, or painting from a person across a studio or anything, it just there’s so much stuff. So having a you know, some sort of way of having a procedure least A bare bones kind of structure to follow. And I think using this language of painting, I use a concept composition value color edges. That’s only things I remember some of these. My favorite quotes again, that surgeon quote, and I shared with you earlier that started with middle values, like Hawthorns book is you know, the painting begins and ends with this careful study of the big spots of color in relationship to one another. And it’s so true. The details, that’s what makes the painting and then you know, big spots big, big darks, a big lights, you know, the warm versus cools pure versus Gray’s and getting past the business of things and seeing a structure of the startup painting and be able to have the confidence to be outside maybe on public streets of Paris and starting and painting and it looks pretty hideous to start with. There’s a big smash Arabic smooth there and whether you’re happy whether or not people looking at it, like what the heck is he doing? You know?
Eric Rhoads 17:06
I had I was painting right outside of Notre DOM, on the corner at the bridge. Yeah. And a group of teenagers congregated around me and and they said, they said, Sir, you should give up painting. That’s an awful painting.
Chuck Waldman 17:23
I’ve had the opposite experience in France I’ve had as a group system. The first is a long time ago is my first trip to France and midnight early, mid 90s. And I wouldn’t been painting outdoors that much and ever painted in cities. There’s plenty on the block plus devotion. bunch of kids must been after school. They’re out there playing around prisoners, about dozen or more of them behind me. They stayed there for like 20 or 30 minutes. This little nugget a brushstroke and a little Plaza. It was it was it wasn’t that great a painting I think they, I think they’re a little more sophisticated audience in general except refuting this again, this was 20 plus years ago. I may not so much now, but I think they’ve had the teaching. They’ve been the museums. I sat in the flow in the muted Musee d’Orsay with a guide or a teacher going through paintings, and I think they have a little better. I found a little better appreciation of painting process. American kids, but
Eric Rhoads 18:28
Well, that’s that’s a whole that’s a whole discussion at some point. You know, this. Yeah, this lack of exposure to the arts has, has a long term impact on older. So Chuck, you do a lot of teaching.
Chuck Waldman 18:43
Not so much now. Once a year, maybe.
Eric Rhoads 18:47
All right. So you teach once a year what what are the principles that you try to really instill in terms of the approach I remember seeing something that you, you kind of start from middle tones You talk about that.
Chuck Waldman 19:01
Yeah, I think you have to start somewhere and and and and get outside and senior where you know where do you start a painting and we do this senior like a battle is already materials that up and and i think i think this idea of fight seeing seeing is so learning to see is the biggest part of painting and learning to see abstract simple shapes and and maybe and you know for me the mid same the mid tones of a whole forest or a whole Bank of buildings and shadow Bank of buildings and light helps me get started without having to get bogged down and in details of either one and I think that’s and I saw that quote. I was reading this the greater journey Americans in Paris and this is buried away and in the middle of a bunch of stuff and is like will James Henry James As a son as you know, Sergeant so what the heck did you learn from Carlos Duran? You know, you’re you’re implying that you know Sergeant had gone on to become much a better painter than his teacher. And it says look, Carl Lou said start with the middle tones you know I always always look to look for the middle tones look for the middle tones and and is that if I begin with the middle tone work up towards the dark so you deal last with your highest lights and darks you avoid false accents. That’s what Curlew taught me. And I think that just struck me like kind of embrace you know, you look you look at Sergeant see the flourishes as he has finished strokes. You don’t realize that really? that middle tone structure of his paintings like like a lady Agnew and you on the cover of somebody’s books, you know, that’s what that’s what makes that work is that midtone that he’s putting those finish strokes on is that there’s just the right Difference in value between the mid tone to is highlight that there’s, it’s not harsh, it’s not glaring, is there’s no dark so stick out and punch each other over and the darks are not glaring at your lights or anything, it’s just opening comes together I think based on the good start. Do you try to and it’s it’s a hard concept because you know, people want to paint a painting and there’s they’re looking at the branches on the trees and the window on the shutters and light posts and things and cities and it’s hard to look past that and see the abstract midtone structure of that. And I try to get that across.
Eric Rhoads 21:40
So do you tone your canvases to more of a middle tone to start from there?
Chuck Waldman 21:47
Not really…I do because I’m using water soluble paints they have to, I have to wet the canvas a little bit with some, you know, dirty, oily brush water to make the paints flow better, but And there’s a slight tone sort of Allah but Ted Gerstner would do it put some stuff on off the bell and wipe it off and claim that was a secret bill his paintings but it’s it makes the thing stay fresher i think but but no it’s not really a tone I want yeah you want to have that light on the canvas to come through where you know to get some of the powerful lights sometimes need devil light ground you know so so it’s not heavily toned. It’s barely toned. But but but mostly seeing that is like like Hawthorne said the careful study of the Big Spot seeing this, this shadow underneath this road under the awnings in this building versus the shadows underneath a row of awnings and the other building or the big group of oak trees. Out in the near the golden fields of California and July under the tremendous difference but there’s a within the dark Leo, there’s a mid tone and within the grasses, it’s not just all yellow, there’s a mid tone and you can get that And it can kind of come towards the light was towards dark and get some structure and depth and you know the prospect distance perspective from a bit and so we usually if you get if they get that right to get that middle tone right the rest of painting moves along so nicely it’s but that that’s the trick is seeing and and experimenting and discovering you know what you know what you’re seeing and how you mix on your palate hell and ends up on the canvas it’s it’s brutal learning processes lifelong so let’s never forget never a given but but it’s I think it’s a great it’s a great hunt to be on the trying to look at the essence of things in terms of middle towns and and helps me construct paintings that you know like you know busy street scenes in Paris or even just anything you know, the stream scene and the Sierra fields and it was just simple. Just a bunch of dry grass and oak trees. You know, it’s it. There’s a lot of subtlety to those if you don’t get Right You missed the point and I think those learning the middle tones helps you get the subtleties of the light of the dark areas and the lighter is that is I think that’s that’s basically painting like dark rest and arrangements of those
Eric Rhoads 24:17
So talk to me about some of the other key things that you’ve discovered that really make a painting come together
Chuck Waldman 24:24
once again the light and dark is it you know like just told us let loose you know everything for painting the effect of light and everything so learning to see the light and dark shapes that’s essentially your your your the whole structure of your composition is light and dark arranging arrangements of light and dark sun and learning to keep your all your light values and the light family all your darks in the dark navy and stable saw you do it over and over again. But it’s so easy to as you’re painting the get some dark shapes and light shapes establish and then start fielding with them and my Eyes him down towards the middle. And you wonder where the painting went when you’re done. Yeah, well you got a lovely little little mud.
Eric Rhoads 25:07
Yeah, it’s easy to get mud … Yeah, you’ve been painting for 30 years. Maybe it’ll eventually come.
Chuck Waldman 25:09
and it’s easy to lose a dark value. And so that’s one of the things I’ve I’m still learning to this day is I’m pretty good at squinting to start with to see the big dark, you know, the sun the glide, you know, beat into us a splint squints wind so you know, or use a little pinhole things like of McPherson mentions that just to see the values. But then as a painting goes along, you’re getting you know, pretty confident day there’s paintings going on pretty well. And you start staring at things you know, staring underneath the awning staring into a dark set of trees and, and more you stare at things your pupils get bigger, you start seeing more things in that dark, and that dark area and you stop seeing everything in real relation to everything in the whole painting. You’re looking at the prism, you start adding lights that dark prison dark It was dark anymore and therefore the power If the darks, if the darks go away the lights next what become weaker and the whole paintings, you know, the whole structure of the painting starts going away just because you’re you’ve stopped squinting, you started staring at things and and i think that happens good to get engrossed in them in the scene and you’re trying to figure out how to make it work and you’re in your settings, and you’re thinking yourself getting if the painting is, is going along, well, you start getting a little too clever for your own good. And I can have the list in here a little something, I’ll add some worms and tools in this dark area, make it next and then process of basically destroyed the dark, or weaken the dark area in which and then the lights get weakened. Everything’s relative, all the spots are relative to each other. So I think that’s the stuff that I have to keep kicking myself and reminding myself to do and, live long enough to learn that Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 27:06
So talk to me about composition and and also help me understand I get it that you’re laying in your middle tones first but art when you’re out in front of a subject Are you are you going through your head? Okay, what’s my composition going to be? Are you saying okay well I see five things there I want to paint which 1am I going to focus on? What What is kind of going through your head at the time you you kind of lay in front of your your subject and say, Okay, I’m about to go here. What do you do?
Chuck Waldman 27:35
Yeah, well, first I think you trust her instincts that you stopped at this spot for whatever reason, you know he’s at and it might be a really conscious effort. You know, I love the way this these red awnings against the green, you know, green umbrellas or, or just snow patches versus dark shadows, atmosphere, things like that. But I think just trust I think a lot a lot of concepts. If you like it, it’s probably right. Yes. And if it isn’t, during the process or painting you’ll discover what you liked or didn’t like about this egg repaints book was helpful in a way but a lot of a lot of ways it wasn’t because you went through all these different possibilities, compositions and, and after reading us it not really is deaf to another grid but just need to trust when I like it, I like it, you know, and it’s my paintings, not someone else’s. So I have a concept I want to folk feature on feature a group of people or a group of rocks or the or the, you know, the big scene that the grand the grand, the grand scene, Grand View and then then start composing nailed it and try to if you see five spots, maybe there’s only three that’s really important. You know, try to simplify it further to make it and I’m still am I still making my point. So as I think arranging you know some odd number of shapes around Composition if it ends up in a building section fine if it doesn’t find I think looking for you know I think a little triangle a little dynamic shapes to lead you lead the viewers eye into this composition that will triangles of you know like looking down road streams there’s all kinds of triangles and dynamic shapes in nature if you start seeing them in time, but mostly focusing on those mid tones which are middle tones, by definition are midway between something so I usually make some notes in my darkest darks and brightest brights, somewhere touch here touch there. Whereas before you know before I really focused on mid tones, I was trying to chase those all the darks on the painting and all the brightest bright, the brightest brights and it just it was just little too scattered. So I think but making a note of that I mean you have to make a note mentally or on the canvas so know where the darks are, and where your mid tone darks are in your mid tone lights are relative to those that are dark and light is light. So I think then set those aside for a bit and then so in a few minutes you can get a painting done you know some you know eight by 10 nine by 12 1216 in the mid tones all arranged and and cannot get an idea whether this I did this this concept ahead is is worth is going to work or not if it doesn’t it’s easy to look at it from that point and scrape things off start over again or rearrange stuff and then you know if your values are right your sponsor right it shapes all the other shapes will come together and and form images. The edges will happen. Certainly think about edges are so much to start with, I think when you’re but the big the big value safe middle tones applies not only just simple values, monitor but an color too so you have to really be aware of when you’re mixing colors if you pay attention to the value of that color and not to get carried away by the coloring so I think it’s that’s something was took a while to to figure out the basic values inherent in a color wheel you know the dark colors the light colors and how to use them to your advantage I think Ted bursters at a workshop with him one time and that was he helped me understand the color wheel or suppose Clive is more not like you have to figure out the answers are out there you just look you’ll you’ll see just makes colors to get one that looks right to and but values and colors you know Hawthorne doesn’t talk about so much color and valued as a color spots which means when it when the color spot is right the values right the damage is right the colors right everything you know so it’s so it’s it’s a juggling act, but it’s fascinating to me, and I love to keep doing it.
Eric Rhoads 32:05
You keep mentioning things from books that you’ve read, do you have some recommendations for our audience and things that you think maybe would be helpful to read?
Chuck Waldman 32:15
I think, again, the books, the modern books written in modern language, like Kevin MacPherson are tremendous. Even David Curtis, the British painter, tremendously helpful and they, they distill and, you know, my late 20th century language, a lot of it was written by Hawthorne and onry, and Carlson things like that are written in 1920s and 30s. And sometimes a little hard to, you know, hard to come by yarda they’re hard to come by and and also the language is different than what you know, it’s a different length English was different little bit, and the writing styles, but but I think Yeah, I do like Hawthorne A lot of people don’t I met a fellow in Paris who was studying it is going to live every day and go into one of the classical painting sessions and you know, doing the drawing from casts and all that and just after my while I’ve just he just talks about spots it says we painted together a day morning by the opera and a struggle to get a drawing done in an hour and a half, I was able to finish the painting just because I was able to distill it down and get started with this for these so called spot, useless spots of color. They come together, they forget him, forget the values, right of these spots, they come together and make form you know, and create the shapes and then so a lot of people find that too simplistic and in a problem if I just read Hawthorne, I’d probably feel the same way but I think when, you know reading pain and Hawthorne and Carlson was a bit drive for me, but an I’ve only had classes from couple workshops with Clyde works out with Ted Gerstner. Everything else has been we’re just looking at going to museums, painting with other artists. Just thinking, what the heck am I doing?
Eric Rhoads 34:16
So what is what is your recommended path? And for somebody who’s just kind of tuning into this whole plein air thing and wants to either learn how to paint or learn how to go outdoors and paint, what’s your, what would you do differently from what you did? And or would you?
Chuck Waldman 34:33
Yeah, no, I think I wouldn’t do I think work finding artists that you admire and taking works workshops with them, or at least looking at their demos, things like that. I think is a great way to go. I didn’t go to art school, so I can’t really talk about art school, but I’ve seen people who, who struggle least outdoors even though they’ve had years of experience of you know, color theory on various things, academic level. And so I think just getting into it, and making a complete fool of yourself like we all do. And then learning from that, you know, being critical, you’re, you know, looking at what you’re doing and trying to think what’s what someone else doing that could help me with this and then eventually learning but you’re you so you’re going to do it like you’re going to do even though you’ve handle eventually will become yourself, which is part of the whole, the whole journey of being an artist, because, you know, the not only the discovery of the things are pending, but a self discovery of who you are. And, and coming together and being okay with that same you know, I’m not going to be a surgeon, I’m not a you know, so Roy, I’m not a, you know, anybody. I’m not myself. So I think, you know, getting it for, for me, I’m a more of a self learner. I think That’s that’s my name so you learn and I knew that kind of already so I think for me a route of just enough instruction to get me out and make tons of mistakes and try to figure it out and touching bases again with with you know being able to paint with one or two hours at a time and and just mostly just being your own critic and kind of going back to like conferences it begins and editing begins and ends of the study that big spots you know, what do I do well, what do I do wrong? What can I do next time constant constant challenging yourself and going and going and trying to go out and especially early on looking at good as some Clyde said, you know, go and look at art but don’t look at look at good stuff. So what’s a good stuff? So he was a he was kind of nobody sort of stewardess toward people X ray is Arne and and Some of the Russian painters getting some recognition
Eric Rhoads 37:09
Well, I, every time I go to a museum, it’s overwhelming … opening.
Chuck Waldman 37:17
It’s overwhelming I can let it go the order say I, you know, go over there, you travel to Paris you get to find a day we’re going to the museum today. And I get there for about an hour I’m just just buzzing and then now I just crash it just over overload. I’ve got to, you know, go to the cafe and have something to eat and settle down and go back and see you see a few places again, it’s my brain just it’s just too full. I have to go out and and luckily I’m there for a month I go out walk around pain again and you know, try it out. Try to get your brain spinning and go out and have some practical experience on the street. Go back to the streets, you know? Yeah, it’s To me, it’s So exciting but it is more it’s almost for a very long time.
Eric Rhoads 38:04
You know, I think you know what you what you’ve talked about. I’ve never really thought about it but it would be a really great experience the idea of going to a museum study, go out and paint go back to the museum go out and paint do that every day for a month. I would imagine that would have to inform your work it would have to have a huge impact.
Chuck Waldman 38:26
Exactly. And especially starting I’d be up a painting and I get looking at a painting as it how they love that you know, like Thomas hill or you know, the local museum or the crockers my that you know, you know, for the Barbizon kind of delivery kind of look but you know, but but it was just it was freshly I was over. It was amazing to me and say looking as long as his pictures of Yosemite and little oaks perched on the rocks and then that just underneath that oak tree, just just a spirit of kind of a raw sienna birds and kind of mix them Just a dash of some, you know and you know they weren’t vivid colors so you know tone down Sap Green or kind of another it wasn’t a colorist it’s more of a tonal type look and but it was just so simple but it’s under painting and a couple things. That’s it. That’s the kind of stuff and you’re out there on your own. You’re trying to do every little thing as it were beginning you’re trying to paint everything and you go back to the city. You don’t have to paint your linger. Look at Cecilia bow that picture of his like her nephew there they get the dandy on the white suit holding us this orangish yellow cat you know, it’s a great painter, like a woman sergeant. Yeah. Boston dangerous. And the cat is just a smear of some raw sienna with a couple little you know, Naples Yellow, mid, mid, mid oranges, mixed. couple little brushstrokes, flicks, and the other knows, you know, eyes nose. That’s it and And it’s just fresh and you know black letter it is from from from a few steps back and it’s but I love fresh brushstrokes. I love things that are the I love the brushwork and the color you get and I mentioned earlier to keep paint fresh, you have to you can’t overwork it, you got to keep the beauty of the pain and exchange a little bit of duty for accuracy.
Eric Rhoads 40:25
So I think it’s Deborah Hughes who says, when you lay it down leave it alone what what’s your philosophy do you do you kind of paint in your your mid tones you’re under painting and then preserve your brushstrokes from that point forward? Do you do it from from the very beginning? What what’s your process? How thick Do you paint?
Chuck Waldman 40:48
Yeah, usually that’s the mid tones are thin and manageable. you scrub man or because I do, I’m not using thinners on having to get sin paint by, by heavy brush, no pressure, and you’re like a Bhutan’s dig in here to scrub and stuff on keeping it keeping an inner energetic that sin and, and then when you’re putting your strokes over, that’s a light, very light touch and you’re holding the brush and a balance point where you’re not like the baton stick anymore is loading the tip of the brush with hit with a good mixture of paint, putting it on one, maybe two strokes, believe it and then if you want need if there’s an edge that forms the process as irritating, maybe address it now maybe ignore it now go back and address it later. You can you can knock down it is later the suit. If it’s if it’s painting ends up too edgy but keep it fresh and do less you put the paint on where you want it. This is wonder Middletown you’ve you’ve modified your middle tone, you’ve added some darks to it which are definitely thinner. You’re starting to model this flat middle tone into three dimensional rendering and the lights generally go on laughs are other times where you just, you see something like, you know, sail on a boat or over the side of a White House and just, that’s going to be thick paint right from the first stroke, keep it fresh, you know, but if that I’m I might, I might come back a step meal, make it a little bit less than I want little, little dark, shade darker, a little warmer, and then add another color to it, just lightly over the top of it. But still very keep it very fresh. And then work around it, you know, don’t don’t go back and touch it. You can, you can take those shapes and cut around them and create the images of God was paint, like upside of a building, I’d come back from the shadows, the dark sides and cut into it and make make make, you know, a pretty well defined format if you want that. But generally, in most, there’s no there’s no one set format for all this stuff. Generally it’s going to be to try to get the whole panel Going all the big columns each other and in the middle middle tones and start rendering those towards the darks into the highlights. Do it again like Sarge says avoid those false accents because when I try to do is just paint all the darks all lights, he come back and bring a painting in or you look at it, you stand back and look at it. Or look at the mirror and you say, Oh, I got dark to stick it out like a sore thumb or a big, lighter and it’s way too light way, way too high key compared to his neighbor.
Eric Rhoads 43:33
Sometimes you got to get away from it. So always,
Chuck Waldman 43:36
always a path always a pathway between backs back from your painting, you know.
Eric Rhoads 43:46
I was I was very proud of a painting I did the other day I sent it off to the gallery and had a picture of it night. I was visiting a friend and an art gallery and I said you want to see hot new artists, he said sure. So I pulled up this painting Tell him it was mine and, and he started pointing out because he didn’t know it was mine, he started pointing out all the problems. And actually, I learned a good technique because, you know, I’m always trying to get honesty out of people, and it’s hard to get them to be honest. Oh, and he said, You know, he did this wrong and look at that dark, it’s misplaced. And, you know, it’s like, Wow, this is great feedback. But it also is, you know, sometimes you can’t see it through your own eyes. I think sometimes. It’s good to have somebody else Look, do you ever do that?
Chuck Waldman 44:36
Oh, yeah, I think I’ve been lucky. I’m pretty isolated here in the foothills of California. But uh, you know, Ray Roberts lives not too far away. And, and Kathleen Dunphy a little bit closer, I’d say. We paint more often than not far as honesty. I think she’s a little too kind to me off and I tell her that Oh, that’s great the jury’s still out in my mind always as artists are always pretty critical least I am.
Eric Rhoads 45:11
She’s pretty encouraging person anyway.
Chuck Waldman 45:14
Yeah, yeah so so I know that so I have to take everything any anything praiseworthy with a grain of salt but, but appreciate as nice to get the back end of our problems you know we both are I think we’ve tried to solve it you know try to be as honest, you know, non mean way in a friendly way, critiquing not critical. So that helps. That’s incredibly helpful to find someone that you can paint with and it’s not a crowd. The crowds are hard to paint with. There’s always dynamics on the ground that I think are distract, at least to me are distracting. So I enjoy going out paying with one or two other artists are on my
Eric Rhoads 46:00
So do you ever this happens to me all the time I’m curious if it ever happens to you I you know, I’ll be painting something and I’ll take a break you know, I gotta get away from my canvas and I’ll look at what one of my fellow painters is doing and then I’ll come back and start changing things based on something they saw that I didn’t see. And of course every time I do it it screws up my painting yeah you ever find yourself influenced by what others are doing?
Chuck Waldman 46:27
Less so now just because I’m coming to grips that I am who I am I can’t paint like anybody else even though it you know of course early on I wanted to paint like all kinds of you know, famous painters and I realized that they were they are and I going I am who I am and realized that anyone painting you can only do so much so I’ll look around theater be able to do so. Well, I’ve, I’ve kind of carved a concept of follow. I have to follow this out to its end and see where it goes. Now I’ll put that what I’ve seen other painters in the back of my head and said, you know, either Next time I will, that’s a good way to look at thing I’ve not seen this scene from that perspective with that emphasis before you know so so appreciate that but I try not to you know, when painting gig only do so much.
Eric Rhoads 47:20
That’s right. So we’ve been painting 30 years do you ever get bored
Chuck Waldman 47:25
you know, I really don’t especially now. Right now the you know, I’m not there’s really no almost down to no galleries left and that’s so and I’m getting older son, you know, I have so security, a lot of sort of things. And I like just going out to paint once a week, maybe twice a week. If I’m traveling, I’ll paint several paintings a day still and getting an area that while you’re there you have to you know, like in Paris you don’t. You don’t just sit back for another. You know, I’m tired today. I want to go sit in the cafe and drink and I want to know your exciting to me I have always have a mental list of places I want to be in certain times a day I wouldn’t be there when I went to places like the same thing in this era when when a pack trip you know, you don’t just zip back to place it you know meals and you know a lot of planning to get into a high country place. See the way there is immerse yourself completely invading and I love it. But generally around here I’ll go out maybe once a week or sometimes
Eric Rhoads 48:31
a pack trip is one of my bucket list items is getting up to temple Craig or some of the places that paint,
Chuck Waldman 48:37
Oh Exactly. Yeah, that was that early on the for the first time I didn’t use a packed trip. I just packed into myself as a surgeon friend of mine. Was must have been mid 90s or something.
Eric Rhoads 48:53
So it was good to have a doctor with you.
Chuck Waldman 48:55
Yeah, it’s a heck of a lot. Yes, it’s good walk up there. What’s up, we’re back new everybody camped at the old the old Hubbard glacier lodge side or that ridge above the fourth lake. And a great panoramic view of the Palisades glacier and mount sill and Thunderbird, thunder bolt peak and you know, North palisade Robinson kind of frames things on there right. And hold the big laser he has a big palace, a glacier, that’s very impressive. And staying there this guy comes up the trail and his breath. It’s got this came from Chicago. This best place in this era and it is about you know, isn’t late September so as the light was getting short and I was trying to get a little painting started so I didn’t want to pay much attention to them but so what Where do you want to go so as you said, the guidebooks editor here a bishop pass and I have some fun with the city slicker for a while Bishop has awfully nice you know, but it’s, it’s over the you know, it’s a direct, you know, really difficult route to go over the cross country. From here over there, you have to go back down drive around up through Bishop and come in, you know through South Lake and all that and he looked kind of crestfallen and he looks at a friend sitting on a rock Who’s that guys is my assistant bring him up he sets up camp for me cooks meals you know I just all i the way I can just paint and I’m just barely started this painting and it just it just, you know, just you know washes of something looks at me and says, You a professional painter? I guess, yeah. Anyway, turn it around this sort of puzzled walks down the trail about 50 feet, racing back up. Does I hate to tell you, but I don’t see that much purple out there. Best place in Sierra and too much purple rose and my favorite.
Eric Rhoads 51:02
He’s getting you back for screwing with him.
Chuck Waldman 51:05
Yeah, yeah. Instant Karma.
Eric Rhoads 51:10
Chuck, this has been an absolute delight. We’re kind of up to the edge of our time. Now. Is there anything you want to share with people that perhaps we haven’t touched on before we go?
Chuck Waldman 51:22
Oh, no, I think just just, you know, trust your instincts. Try to find something that you think value is but enjoy it and just keep, just keep, just keep getting out and painting. I think that’s it. And it’s a wonderful discovery. It’s a great way to spend a life. To me, it’s added all kinds of experiences that we haven’t had time to talk about, but, but it’s it’s enrich my life in ways I never expected when I first started painting. It’s not just the paint, it’s not the paintings. It’s the painting that’s in Richmond, Virginia.
Eric Rhoads 51:58
The painting and the people
Chuck Waldman 51:59
that People Yeah, the people that didn’t fit experiences I’ve run into over the years artists and other people like, Matt would never happened if I wasn’t painting. So,
Eric Rhoads 52:11
you know, that’s, that’s why I don’t sell my studies. Typically, I just broke that rule and I’m regretting it. But yeah, you know, I look at those studies and every one of them, I can tell you who I was painting with, what happened that day, you know, what animal came into the scene or what person?
Chuck Waldman 52:29
Yeah, yeah, it’s a wonderful and it’s so I think that’s that time element. You spent time in that place, you know, that place now. It’s part of you now you’ve had that you’ve had that deep conversation that place now it’s, as opposed to, you know, walking by taking a couple of pictures, you know, and, and, and, and by the painting, really, it’s enriching to the artist, the artist is we gained so much by spending that time and I think, I think viewers I think see that it or subconsciously understand that there’s some time involves taking time to take taking a pause to enjoy life and I think that’s part of what the value of a painting to a purchaser is. Is that time?
Eric Rhoads 53:18
I think, you know, I think that’s something that we’ve not talked about on the podcast before and it’s kind of an under discussed topic underrated, but you know, I really think of that movie vacation was Chevy Chase, and you know, they drive all across the country and they have all these experiences, they get to the spot and they look at the spot for 10 seconds and they turn around and leave.
Chuck Waldman 53:41
Eric Rhoads 53:42
And I when I was a photographer, I was that way I would just, you know, I it was just about getting a picture and then moving on to the next spot, and I’d see people picnicking and things and thinking, you know, maybe I should spend some time but I never thought I’d get anything out of it. But then then painting and spending 234 hours longer. Yeah, you’re coming
Chuck Waldman 54:01
back day after day.
Eric Rhoads 54:03
But you see things you just never would see in that first three minutes.
Chuck Waldman 54:08
Exactly. And I think it’s so enriching and I, I think that comes out on the paintings that you do on location. Is that hidden life value? Absolutely hard, harder to find. But it’s there. And I think that’s it. I think that’s what to me is if there’s any value to the pains that we leave behind is that like that little little snippets of life?
Eric Rhoads 54:29
So Chuck, where can people see your work?
Chuck Waldman 54:34
right now it’s mostly in my studio. Do you have a website? I have a website. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 54:40
Most people aren’t gonna come to Senora. I’m sorry.
Chuck Waldman 54:43
I know. They’re welcome. But yeah, there’s, it’s it’s, I’m the world’s worst marketer as of I’ve not taken any of your marketing advice to heart.
Eric Rhoads 54:56
A little bit on the PleinAir podcast. So this is the beginning.
Chuck Waldman 54:59
I know I was I was shocked when I first emailed me I thought it was a mistake. I’m glad to be here. I’m honored. I love to talk about branding. It’s nice to talk to you again Eric. But I do have it yeah cwaltman.com
Eric Rhoads 55:19
Cwaltman.com. All right. Excellent. Well, Chuck, thank you for being on the PleinAir podcast today.
Chuck Waldman 55:25
Yeah, All the best to you.
Eric Rhoads 55:28
Thank you again to chuck Waldman. I found it to be very interesting. I think his perspective as a doctor also wonderful at art materials. So how about we get into some marketing ideas?
This is the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the number one Amazon bestseller Make More Money Selling Your Art: proven techniques to turn your passion into profit.
Eric Rhoads 55:49
In the marketing minute I try to answer art marketing questions you can email your questions to me [email protected] This question comes from Jay In Truckee, California who says I have a question about art licensing? She says I was contacted last week by a company that’s interested in licensing licensing a collection of my artwork, as a wholesaler of G clays. I currently sell my originals, Angie clays, my artwork to two small galleries here in Tahoe and Truckee. After thinking about it, I’ve decided the only way I could do it is to create a new collection of paintings only for the purpose of licensing the images and keep it entirely separate from my other work. I don’t want to get any static from my current collectors. Do you know anything about licensing? And what do you think I should do? Do artists commonly do this? Will it hurt or help? Well, first off, I’m not so sure you need to worry about static from your collectors. I think it’s going to be an honor if they own the original and you’re doing g clays are the original and selling them into thousands and thousands of places. I think they’re gonna feel pretty special about that because they own the original. And the people who own the G plays that you have. Those are personalized numbered, so they’re going to be a lot different. So licensing is a really good opportunity, Jane, and it’s an honor to be invited in. Imagine what could happen to your career. If your paintings are on mouse pads and mugs and calendars and shirts and all kinds of things. It’s a big deal to be invited in. I have some friends that did licensing, and it really made their careers I think it’s a huge deal. And if you’re getting invited in that’s good. The thing is that they’re asking you to license the images they’ve seen, they might not like the new series, but if they like these, give it a shot. What have you got to lose really get a good attorney to represent you and get you a good licensing contract get you the best deal, but also, it can be steady income for years. In fact, next week, I’ve got an attorney on the podcast that can help you with some clues about this. Anyway, I have friends who do it, they love it. They make lots of money. Not not always a ton, but some years it’s lean some years it’s extra money. Some years it’s big money, you just never know. But it’s an honor to be invited. And I would, quite frankly, I’d consider going for it. Next question comes from Annie in Nashville, Tennessee who says, Is it okay to get a day job to help pay my bills, I worry that this might make me seem like an amateur, instead of a pro. Annie, I’m not so sure anybody cares if you’re an amateur or Pro. I’m not so sure everybody’s going to know they care about your paintings and what you’re producing and they’ll see you on your website. You don’t have to say anything about having a job. We all have to pay the bills and do whatever it takes. many well known artists quietly have other jobs to pay the bills. There’s no shame. No one needs to know frankly, nobody cares. We all have to make a living. We all have to do what we do to make ends meet. Why not get a job doing love what you love, though, if You could get a job working with paintings being around, you know, somebody who prints g plays or somebody like a gallery work in a gallery, and you’ll learn about how art sells inform your work, find out what people want. I mean, there you might as well try to stay in the industry. And I think that, you know, I’ve always had this philosophy that if you have to work, do something that you love. If you have to work, do something that is in the range of what you love. So for instance, I have a friend who needed to make some extra money. He actually did a painting for another artist who was a pretty well known artist who needed somebody who could copy his style and he’s not ashamed of it at all because he copied his style. He sold them he got paid a salary and he didn’t put his own name on them and then but they were not in his style and he was at least he was painting he was getting better hand eye coordination he was painting was get every painting you do is going to make you better. And so you know if you can be painting for a living and making some money on it. Why not? I think it’s okay. Don’t worry about what other people think. Stop worrying about what other people think. As a matter of fact, hope this helps. This has been the art marketing minute.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com
Eric Rhoads 60:17
a reminder to book your seat for the plein air convention. And also if you want to apply to be at our TV show, the casting call is going on now you’re going to reach millions and your career is going to be on fire. Visit thegreatoutdoorpaintingchallenge.com, and if you’ve not seen my blog, where I talk about art, life, philosophy, etc, etc. Check it out. It’s called Sunday Coffee comes every Sunday morning early and you can have coffee with it. But the way to find it is coffeewithEric.com. You go there, you subscribe for free, and then it starts showing up. It’s always fun doing this. We’ll do it again sometime soon. Like next week. I’ll see you then My name is Eric Rhoads. And I’m the publisher and I’m the founder of Plein Air magazine, which is a really great gig. I love plein air painting. Remember, it’s a big world out there, so you need to 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 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at pleinairtips.com. Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening
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