Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews representational painter Kyle Ma, who shares how he balances college life with plein air painting, and much more.
Listen as Kyle Ma shares the following:
• How he got started painting en plein air
• How he plans to integrate geology (his current area of study in Austin) and painting.
“I think painting and geology, or a lot of different sciences for that matter, really go hand in hand because they all are based on observation.”
• The ways his painting experience has informed his understanding of calculus
• His process for painting a landscape, start to finish, and more.
Bonus! Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares the best way to stay out of debt as an artist, and helpful info on how galleries find artists to represent, in this Art Marketing Minute Podcast.
Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Kyle Ma here:
– Kyle Ma online: https://www.kylemafineart.com/
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericrhoads/
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eric.rhoads
– Sunday Coffee: https://coffeewitheric.com/
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Plein Air Salon: https://pleinairsalon.com/
– Publisher’s Invitational: https://publishersinvitational.com/
– Value Specs for Artists: https://streamlineartvideo.com/products/paint-by-note-red-glasses
– Paint by Note: https://paintbynote.com/
– The Great Outdoor Painting Challenge TV Show: https://thegreatoutdoorpaintingchallenge.com/casting-call
– Figurative Art Convention & Expo: https://figurativeartconvention.com/
– Fine Art Trip to Russia: https://finearttrip.com/2020
FULL TRANSCRIPT of PleinAir Podcast 165:
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the PleinAir Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
Eric Rhoads 00:00
This is episode number 165. Today we’re featuring artist Kyle Ma.
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 00:56
Thank you Jim Kipping and welcome to the plein air podcast. Well, what can I say it’s probably the strangest time any of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. coronavirus has lots of us on lockdown or staying home. I want you to know I hope you’re safe and you stay safe that you’re keeping your immune system strong. Take your vitamin C or d3. I’m told drink lots of water. Keep your throat moist at all times. I’m told exercise a lot. I’m not going to the gym. I’m doing yoga and exercise at home. canceled Spring Break plans for this week. Sad to say but it’s best to err on the side of caution. And I’m doing a little work too, like this. It’s a great time to do the things that you’ve been wanting to get done, but haven’t had the time. I’m going to clean the garage for instance. And it’s a great time to improve your drawing and painting skills or even learning to paint. Now I have some free lessons online for those of you who are beginners. It’s At paintbynote.com. Think of it like a music note. Think of it like paint by number but in music note paintbynote.com. Check that out. You’ve got time maybe. Also, if you’re a little bit more further along I’ve got tons of videos, art tutorials and things like that available for you at LilliArtvideo.com. That’s Liliedahl is the company, LiliArtvideo.com. Lots of questions about what happens with the plein air convention. First, we don’t know what’s going to happen by May lots of people talking about all kinds of scenarios. Things might calm by May, they might not. So we have continued to decide to hold it because it’s a ways out yet, but we also have a backup alternative date lined up with the hotel if we have to cancel. In any case your registration is safe. You will receive a full credit. If for some reason with your health or you’re not comfortable, you will be able to cancel. We want you to be safe. But let’s hope for the best in the meantime, just don’t everybody rush and cancel yet because we probably have a rescheduled date or it might be completely safe for you to go. We’re not going to hold it if it’s not. Anyway, today, you’re going to meet a very strong painter and learn about somebody who’s got a lot of little surprises. And it’s a bit of a phenomenon I think, artist Kyle Ma, let’s get right to the interview. Kyle, Ma. Welcome to the plein air podcast.
Kyle Ma 03:36
Hi, Eric. Thanks for having me.
Eric Rhoads 03:38
Yeah. So you have the distinction. You’re probably getting sick of hearing this but you have the distinction of being the youngest person to ever be on the plein air podcast.
Kyle Ma 03:52
Eric Rhoads 03:53
at this point in time, Kyle, what age are you
Kyle Ma 03:59
I am 19 I’m turning 20 in about two weeks. ,
Eric Rhoads 04:05
well, Happy birthday.
Kyle Ma 04:07
Eric Rhoads 04:09
How’s it feel to be a wunderkind?
Kyle Ma 04:14
Well, it’s kind of…I appreciate I’m getting a lot of support. A lot of attention on on my art. I do feel like sometimes some of his attention is for maybe not quite the right reason because I think if I wanted to get recognized, I definitely want to be recognized for a skill and I think it isn’t important that I am able to be mentioned without having to prefaced with the idea of me being young.
Eric Rhoads 04:58
Well, I get it. I totally get it. Well, yeah, I think I think the reason that happens if I might step in and just say so I think it happens because it’s unusual. You know, to to have somebody who has reached a level of skill, like yours. I mean, your level of skill is tremendous. And even if you were 40 years old people would be marveling at your level of skill. So because it’s unusual, because you’re 19-20 years old. It’s a unique thing. So embrace it for what it is, but understand that your skill is there no matter what.
Kyle Ma 05:42
Eric Rhoads 05:44
So Kyle, let’s kind of talk about this because there are a lot of people listening all over the world. And there are a lot of people who are your age or younger listening all over the world. And I think quite frankly for anybody, if somebody wants to learn how to paint you certainly have shown the world that you know how to do this that you know how to create a sense of excellence in your paintings a sense of of style and and movement in form and, I’m curious about how that all happened it’s not just about natural inborn talent is it or did you automatically have natural inborn talent as a kid
Kyle Ma 06:37
depends on how you want to look at talent because how I look at it is I may not have necessarily have any skill that’s or it wasn’t it wasn’t super easy for me to learn painting but then I I’ve always had a lot of passion for it. And so I was always willing to work very hard for it. And also, I think a major part of learning how to paint starts from observation. And so when I was a little kid I was fascinated and I still am fascinated by nature. And I remember, something I would do is I would go around the city, I was living in Taipei at the time, and then looking at all the trees, and I would buy books, and then look at learning how to identify each type of tree and learning about the environment that they live in. And then I would go home and draw them out with crayon and kind of design my own landscape.
Eric Rhoads 07:59
so, it really is passion driven? And Did you have a natural drawing skill? Or was it something that you really had to develop by practicing and education?
Kyle Ma 08:15
Definitely, it took a lot of practice and education. Because when I was…, I went to quite quite a few art classes. When I started painting, there was a kind of a period of time for about a year where I just had no idea what I was doing. And then I was doing bad paintings over and over again. And then so I realized I really needed to find a mentor. And I took classes with a teacher she’s named Elizabeth Locke, and she really started from The basics and I went in and started with charcoal drawing, learning how to do proportions, learning how to measure angles and slowly go over values then going into color. And so that was when I got my first when I first, got introduced to the fundamentals of painting and and then after that, I’ve actually had to revisit a lot of this fundamentals over and over. So it’s always a constant process of making sure that my fundamentals are very solid.
Eric Rhoads 09:47
So tell me about some of the people that you studied under from that point. You studied, did you say it was Elizabeth? So from from that point, and where is Elizabeth
Kyle Ma 10:00
She’s in Austin. I don’t believe she teaches anymore
Eric Rhoads 10:04
. And then and then where did you go from there? .
Kyle Ma 10:11
So, after I took her classes, I spent some time just feeding a lot of books such as Richard Schmidt’s alla prima, Carlson’s guide to landscape painting. And then I took workshops. So, I was able to study with Changwon (sp?) for a little bit of he happened to live fairly close to me. And when I, went to study with him, he made me revisit my drawing once more and I did some cast drawings and he really did emphasize the important stuff, getting really solid skill from there. And then I also took work workshops with Scott Christensen and Quang Ho, just name a few.
Eric Rhoads 11:11
Well, you named a couple of good ones.
Kyle Ma 11:13
Eric Rhoads 11:15
So if you were, if you’re going to recommend a path to somebody and say, all right, you’re starting painting today. Here’s the path I want you to take, based on what I’ve discovered that I either should have done sooner or didn’t do at all or would do differently this time. What would that path be?
Well, the first thing to do is you have to learn how to draw. And so by drawing I mean you have to learn to be able to see shapes properly, and then translated either on canvas or on paper, and so on. Start by using geometric objects learning to draw spheres, cubes cylinders. And so that’s going to give you an idea of how perspective works. And then also learn how to take measurements. And then slowly you move into going into the values and so doing black and white paintings or, or drawings that are a little more developed in that you actually have to take values into account rather than just line. And then after that is when when you start thinking about adding color and then gradually also thinking about edges.
Eric Rhoads 12:54
So, you know, one of the things that I remember a friend of mine took some art lessons and they said started her out with cubes and spheres and cones and things. And she got she was so turned off by it because she you know, it’s kind of like when they sit you down at the piano, you don’t want to just do scales you want to you want to play a song, you want to learn a song. So how do you get beyond that? That the part about hating that exercise?
Well, I will say that that was one of one of my major struggles when they’re learning to paint is not being able to get through that hurdle also it It took me multiple tries to I feel to actually really get a good grasp of how to do these fundamental things. But I would say what I would recommend is to not lose track of why you started to learn how to paint and a good way to do it is to look at the masters, or just go around and observe things more carefully and try and apply whatever you’ve learned into your own observations. For instance, you might walk, around a city, and then you look at the buildings and now you connect back to what you learned about drawing and think about, okay, this is how this perspective works. And you can see it in the real world. And I think by applying it to your everyday life, it’s going to make this process a lot more interesting.
Eric Rhoads 14:43
So talk to me about plein air painting. When did that start for you?
It started pretty early when I was studying under Elizabeth because she really emphasized the importance of of having to work from life because a photograph will never capture anywhere close to all the values and colors that you can see in reality. And so when, I did projects at her class and I would come home and come try to practice. And so one time I brought in a couple of landscapes that I did at home. And so she pointed out exactly which ones I did from a photograph and which ones I did from life.
Eric Rhoads 15:44
that’s very frustrating, isn’t it? Because, yeah, you think you fool them.
Yeah. And so that’s when I realized, okay, painting, I really need to, if I want to get good at landscape painting You actually go outside and paint?
Eric Rhoads 16:03
Right. Okay, so how long have you been plein air of painting now?
I would say it’s been about seven or eight years since I’ve started plein air painting.
Eric Rhoads 16:23
Well, you also had the distinction of what was that? I think a couple of years ago, you were on the faculty of the plein air convention. So you were probably, what 17 years old. 18 years old.
Kyle Ma 16:37
Yeah, that sounds about right. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 16:39
You also have done a video with us on painting roses. So that’s, a lot of accomplishment, for your accumulated years. So what what’s the big plan for you? What do you think you’re going to be doing for the next 20? And then after that, Do you have a vision for your career.
well, I will mention, I am also currently studying geology at UT Austin. And so I think it would be good to find a way to integrate geology and painting going forwards. And a lot of people have asked me, which one are you going to pursue. But going back to my to what I said earlier about studying the trees, going home and drawing them I think painting in geology or a lot of different sciences, for that matter really go hand in hand because they all are based on observation. And then you have to use that observation to turn them into understanding
Eric Rhoads 18:01
So it sounds like that. Probably you already have that part of it in geology that probably a lot of other students don’t have when they go into it because you’ve already learned the art of observation.
Kyle Ma 18:16
Um, that might be true.
Eric Rhoads 18:18
And are you finding your studies in geology informing your painting in any way? Is it having an impact on on your work either positive or negative?
Kyle Ma 18:30
I think it definitely has a positive impact in my work. And actually, when I was taking one of my math classes, that’s required for my major. That’s calculus one, we learned about derivatives that really made me understand something about drawing because when you when you ask a lot of people Techniques when it comes to drawing, they say, you have to use straight lines to find angles. And I realized that’s almost exactly what you do. In that part of calculus where you take the idea of a derivative is you take a curve, and then you you break break it down into these instantaneous slope in order to describe that curve. And I thought, wow, this is exactly the same thing that you do in drying. And so that’s really it’s comforting because like, very complex things, such as when you’re, maybe you’re drawing a figure and you aren’t able to break something down into into some simple geometric shapes like cones, cubes. You’re, you still are able to describe the curves with precision.
Eric Rhoads 20:09
Not easy to do?
Kyle Ma 20:12
Right. Takes a bit of practice
Eric Rhoads 20:18
you’re obviously you’re in school now and you have you’re carrying a probably a full load or how are you finding any time to paint at all?
Kyle Ma 20:29
It is very challenging. One of the things I think is very helpful is planning. So, I would plan for each assignment, what I need to accomplish by each day. And I would, give myself a certain amount of time to complete a given task and then When I am in that certain amount of time, I will try and focus solely on completing the task at hand. And so afterwards I am able to free up time for painting and during the painting time I do the same thing I will forget about what I need to get done at school temporarily and just focus on the painting
Eric Rhoads 21:29
Well, that’s pretty organized. I’m not sure I’m quite that organized. You’re doing a good job.
Kyle Ma 21:37
I try my best doesn’t always happen
Eric Rhoads 21:42
well do you do you get sidetracked by video games or other distractions, girls, you know, things like that.
I don’t play video games, I guess. Sometimes social media. So I just have to give myself deadlines because I will procrastinate if I don’t give myself these deadlines. And so when I have these deadlines, these bigger tasks become more manageable, so I’m, more likely to start working on them. And so that really worked out.
Eric Rhoads 22:23
So what I’d like to do is to talk a little bit about teaching. I think I remember hearing that you’re doing a little bit of teaching now. Is that right? You did a workshop this summer?
Kyle Ma 22:37
No, I plan on doing a workshop this summer
Eric Rhoads 22:40
Okay, so you haven’t Have you have not been doing any teaching yet?
Other than your convention and the DVD. No, I have not.
Eric Rhoads 22:50
Yeah. Okay. Well, those are both pretty good, good places to begin teaching. And so you’re going to start doing some summer workshops. Is that right?
Kyle Ma 22:58
Eric Rhoads 23:00
So how do you think you’re going to approach things When you teach? Obviously, when you were on stage at the convention, when you were doing the DVD, these are things that you start when you teach you learn about yourself and about your painting. tell everybody, if you’re painting a landscape? Walk me through the process, what is your start to finish? You know, what are you thinking about first, what’s next etc.
I will say that the process that I go about physically painting is very different for every piece. I always have the same, process of thinking and it’s starting. Number one is fixed shape. And number two is the big forms and then number three is to details and so in step one I Think about everything two dimensionally. So, I will screen out my subjects and then break it down into a couple of main shapes that are most important to this painting. And then afterwards I will transition into thinking more three dimensionally and then start to make some small adjustments to values and color temperature in order to get my overall forms to read accurately, and then lastly, is I go in, add in the smaller shapes and model the some of the more minor forms that I see. And then I just Figure out, I just take a step back think about okay now what does this painting mean? Maybe add more details in certain areas take away details in certain areas and then I finish
Eric Rhoads 25:16
So, when you talk about the difference between a big shape and a big form Can you articulate that for people who might not understand the difference?
Kyle Ma 25:26
Yeah, so shape that is just thinking about everything, only in two dimensions. So it doesn’t really matter to me on , whether some something is turning towards me turning away from me or it’s laying flat or it’s upright. I just think very abstractly about if I were to translate what I see directly on my surface, where are things going to lie? And what are their colors? And then when I talk about big forms, that is when I, it starts to matter how, how things are turning. And so for instance, I might, start to say, Okay, I’m so on. So this mountain is figured out the Certain Way this mountain mist is turning, and then I would do some smaller adjustments to value, temperature and edges. And so now everything starts to look three dimensional. Does that make sense?
Eric Rhoads 26:47
Yep. makes sense to me. Now talk to me about composition, because that’s one thing. You didn’t really talk about. Do you notes or notans or sketches or thumbnails before you enter into a painting, or are you just starting out on the canvas and hoping it comes out?
Kyle Ma 27:15
I do both. Sometimes I will take a much smaller canvas and then figure out where I’m going to place every everything in a color study and usually with composition. I have to just go back to my concept. And so the concept is why am I painting certain subjects and, and concepts? they don’t they don’t have to be anything symbolic but it it does have to Have some visual meaning. For instance, I might say, on this painting, I really want to focus on this mountain range. And then now I have a clear idea of my concept and I can just translate it over to say, okay, so if I want this mountain to be my focus, I might need to make this mountain a big part of the painting and, and other things I see in the landscape. I’m, I may need to either take them out or make them less important in this competition.
Eric Rhoads 28:40
makes sense to me. Good. So I noticed you’re in according to your website. It’s like four or five galleries. That’s a pretty remarkable feat for any artist. What kind of things are you concentrating on for the galleries, you’re doing studio paintings.
Kyle Ma 29:06
in terms of landscape wise, most of what you will see in my galleries would be my studio work. But then other subjects some of them would be painting from life and then others from photographs. Because when I when I do plein air paintings, I I never go out with the intention of bringing in a painting that is worthy of a gallery. And because life changes fast and we’ll have to think about what is going to be the best use of my time. If I have, say, two hours of fairly consistent light in I think it’s Time better spent for me to capture things like color nodes, just things that aren’t going to translate onto a photograph that I can bring home. And I will have time in the studio to do more refinements and make and turn something into a more gallery ready painting.
Eric Rhoads 30:31
So, why don’t we do this? Let’s do a, let’s call it a lightning round. So I’m going to mention something and I want you to talk, maybe an idea or two about technique. creating distance. In other words like this mountain or distance in a scene.
Kyle Ma 31:01
Yeah, so the main thing to think about here is perspective. And so there’s linear perspective and aerial perspective. So linear perspective is a lot of what I’ve been talking about earlier is the basic idea is things get appear smaller when when they are far away. And so, the whole idea of it is to apply this concept to all your shapes and angles in the scene. And then aerial perspective that has has to do with changing colors and values to create the effect of distance. And usually, but not always, there are exceptions is that in the distance, colors get cooler. And then the value contrast is going to decrease.
Eric Rhoads 32:06
So explain these terms because there are people who aren’t going to know what those two terms mean. So first, talk about the the value contrast. What does that mean?
Well, value contrast First of all, value just means light and dark. And value contrast would just be how light are your lights? how dark are your darks and how far they are in between.
Eric Rhoads 32:36
So can you give an example of creating value contrast? Let’s use trees. Let’s say you got a big tree in the front, big tree in the middle, a big tree in the back. And you’re trying to create that sense of value contrast. How are you doing that?
So for because I’m talking and you can’t see what I’m doing I will use a value scale and so I will use one being white and 10 being black. And for a for a foreground tree I’m I might say to delight at a at a two and then my shadows at a nine. And then when when you go go back I gradually make the lights darker and I move move into the three or four range and then like my shadows, I am going to bring bring it down to maybe like the five or six range. I will mention that when you have very strong direct light, the effect of decreasing value contrast. You get you can see the dark or shadows getting lighter more easily then then the lights getting darker just because of how strong the sunlight really is.
Eric Rhoads 34:12
Okay, so and then the other perspective is obviously the top the big the front tree is going to be taller than the middle tree is going to be taller than the the tree in the back.
Kyle Ma 34:23
Eric Rhoads 34:24
Okay. All right. So lightning round continues: painting water.
Kyle Ma 34:33
So painting water. So you have to consider what’s at the surface, what is reflecting on the surface, and then what what is beneath the surface. So when you are, so what water that’s close to you, is more easy to see what what is beneath the surface. The water and so that’s why you look at a lot of events painting you’ll see a lot of indication of the rocks or lives in the foreground of the lake and then gradually with with distance you start to show more of the more of the reflections from what’s above the water and then yeah and so things on on top of the water will should be fairly consistent throughout
Eric Rhoads 35:39
okay talk to me about painting roses. You did a video on painting roses. What are the keys because I still find flowers to be one of the most difficult things to paint. How do you make it look right?
Kyle Ma 35:57
I think probably the main challenge when painting flowers is to not get lost. Yeah. And so I would say, go back to that idea i said earlier of big shapes first. And so in that part you just have divided up into a light shape and a shadow shape. And then not and then once you’ve divided that up, and you will now think think about Okay, for maybe this whole, this whole rose, you can generalize the form into some kind of shape, maybe some rounded shape, and then you you will adjust your colors and edges accordingly. So the main thing to think about here is what planes are facing towards the light and what planes are facing away from the light and then the one Once you get that established you go in and and and you start to indicate in details maybe individual pedals at this point it’s more up to personal tastes how far you want to take it, but just always whenever he played in the detail just keep referring back to the big shape and big form that you’ve established earlier.
Eric Rhoads 37:31
So the temptation oftentimes when I’ve tried to paint roses is to over render and you have such beautiful edges talk to me about creating the edges when you’re painting flowers.
Kyle Ma 37:48
So edges, there are a couple of factors that I take into consideration. Firstly, thing is the form. So when, when when the form is rounded The edge, the edge that between the light and shadow is, is going to be soft. If it’s a great additional turn and if it’s a sharp turn, you’re going to get a mark much sharper edge. And then the second thing is would be the image quality of, of the subject that you’re painting. And so you can think about what are what’s the texture like for this particular flower and and adjust your edges accordingly. And last thing would be how much attention you want to draw to a certain area. So if you you have a rose that say more Towards your focal area you will want to have some more sharp edges than a rose that’s in the periphery.
Kyle Ma 39:12
Because you want to drive attention to it right sharp edges draw the eye..
Eric Rhoads 39:18
Eric Rhoads 39:19
Talk to me about color temperature.
Kyle Ma 39:24
So color temperature, it’s this idea of warm versus cool. And so I think there seems to be the people who say, you shouldn’t worry about color temperature and you should just not try and match all your colors accurately and you’ll be fine. But to me, that idea seems limiting because color tell you each light source will have its own color to temperature. And so if you are able to match the color temperature of the light source, and so if you have a cooler light, you know, the shadow is going to be relatively warm. And you want to keep concepts like this in mind. So when when you’re painting, you are actually free to adjust the actual hue of the color that you want it but then still be accurate with the, with this color temperature relationships and it will still look correct.
Eric Rhoads 40:44
I think it’s one of the hardest things to learn is to get color temperature right and the ability to use it to turn form.
Kyle Ma 40:52
Right. I think a rule of thumb is I try and always use our color temperature shift to turn to four when whenever possible rather than a value shift, because usually a value shift is going to constitute the change into into a different shape. And when I have been put into too many smaller and unnecessary shapes, the pain becomes broken. And so then if I just keep the color temperature of the light in mind that the effects the cool lights, and I need to turn the form, I might not even have to change the value I, if I just make make a portion of the of what I’m painting slightly warmer, then you can start to see the form turning.
Eric Rhoads 41:50
So you’re keeping this to explain what you’re saying. I just want to make sure for everybody’s purpose. Let’s say it’s a ball Then you’re trying to turn the form on the ball, instead of making it darker. from one point to the next, you’re using the same value, but changing the temperature. So it creates a sense of form. Is that right?
Kyle Ma 42:14
Yes, that’s exactly right.
Eric Rhoads 42:16
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s a that’s hard stuff to learn. I think I was had a struggle with it anyway. So Kyle, if, you could only do – this is just a silly question. But if you could only do like one kind of thing, the rest of your life as an artist, what is the one thing that you just love doing more than anything else, is it landscapes or flowers? Or it’s probably not a really good question, is it?
Kyle Ma 42:48
Well, I’m not really sure how to answer this question because to me, every subject’s the same, it’s just you’re just applying These bigger principles of drawing values color edges into a different scenario. And so, yeah, when I go in and paint, I paint paint a flower or I paint paint landscapes, I pretty much always think about the same things when I’m doing either one. So I really can’t say like, can take any favorites in terms of subject matter wise.
Eric Rhoads 43:42
Yeah, well, it makes sense. It was kind of a silly question anyway. I can’t imagine any of us wanting to get stuck doing one thing it’d be, you’d be bored out of our minds. Yeah, I think your approach is right is that everything boils down to composition, big shapes, values, and So, make sense. So what kind of projects you’re working on now other than school? Are you working on any shows or anything?
Yeah, I am working. I’m working on this show I have in June at Wilcox gallery. So, for that show, I’m trying to be a little more experimental than some of the previous shows I’ve done. something that I’ve that I’m doing is superimposing a color harmony onto a painting. And so I hear this a lot is some with like values and colors. It’s not about copying nature because a lot a lot of what you see out there It’s simply impossible to copy on onto canvas. But you want to capture the correct relationships. And so I’m just taking that idea and saying, Okay, now as I paint a very green painting and but then I keep my keep the relationships that I see accurate and seeing what that painting is going to look like.
Eric Rhoads 45:37
That’s sounds like a challenge.
Yeah, because part of the challenge is you have to keep, reminding yourself to transpose what you what you see out there into their color harmony that I want. And so if you You went once you lose track of that, and you and you paint, paint something that you actually see out there, it’s going to go, it’s not going to be the right relationship. Right.
Eric Rhoads 46:12
Right. Makes sense. Well, Kyle, do you have any final thoughts for our listeners, anything you want to share about painting or about your, your journey?
Kyle Ma 46:24
Yeah, I just wanted to say I think it’s good for artists to put themselves out there because when I first started out painting, I believed I was doing it alone. And there were no longer any great representational artists out there. But then, now I know that this is completely false. And so I just think of all the other people who may be getting the impression that they actually want to pursue representational art, but they are discouraged because they believe there is not much market for representational art. And they end up not pursuing it. And so, I do believe that as artists, we have to let other people know what we’re doing and spread the word, so that other people know that it is something that they can pursue and pursue it seriously.
Eric Rhoads 47:39
Okay, terrific. Well, Kyle, this has been a pleasure having you on the Plein Air podcast today. I should mention that I have a Wednesday night paint group and where I bring a model in and Kyle has been a part of that group when he’s not in school. So it’s been fun getting to know you on that level. One thing we didn’t talk about is is Painting portraits or figures, but Kyle is also very good at that. And I sat up next to him last time we painted and he just blew me away. It was your your very talented, deserving guy. Congratulations.
Kyle Ma 48:17
Well, thanks for taking the time to interview me, Eric. I really enjoyed talking to you.
Eric Rhoads 48:24
Well, it’s been great having you on the plein air podcast. Kyle. great talking to you. Thanks again to Kyle Ma. Are you ready for some marketing ideas?
This is the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the number one Amazon bestseller make more money selling your art proven techniques to turn your passion into profit.
Eric Rhoads 48:46
In the marketing minute I try to answer art marketing questions from you. email your questions to me, [email protected] This question comes from Bill who says what’s the best way to To stay out of debt as an artist, are these are their costs I can avoid or ways to save money.
Eric Rhoads 49:07
While bill I not sure this is a marketing question, it’s a business question, but I teach that too. I’ll try to help you a little bit but not knowing your exact circumstances. It’s a little hard. I highly recommend reading books by Dave Ramsey’s radio talk show host, he has a great radio show. He’s down on debt down on credit cards, cut up your credit cards, lock them up for emergencies, pay off your debt before spending and create an emergency fund. Bottom line. I’ve watched a lot of people change their lives through his thinking. Because he’s basically saying, Look, don’t buy things on credit If you can’t afford them. There’s just no need. I mean about the only thing to buy on credit is ideally your house. He’s saying don’t even buy a car on credit. He’s saying go out there. Buy a Junker get through it until you have the money. It’s hard enough to run a small business and run Running as an artist is a small business, and getting into debt just makes it harder. Because now you’re paying interest. You just never get caught up high rates of interest. There are a lot of things that you might be telling yourself you need, but you probably don’t really need a lot of those things. I went through this as a young man and I got into horrible debt. And it took me years to get out of that debt as I also got into IRS debt, and up to the course of huge amount of money a quarter million dollars, and I spent 10 years paying that off. I had to do without everything for 10 years and take that extra money every year to pay it off, but I got it paid off. So you know, you don’t need a new car. You might need a car, but it doesn’t have to be a new one. I i’ve drove the same car for 17 years until two weeks ago when I bought a new car and I didn’t even buy a new one. I bought a used one because I wanted to find the best deal and I didn’t want Have the car lose value off the showroom floor. So it’s important to just kind of study this stuff. I used to have a lot of debt, it weighed me down, it killed my credit. It costs me money. Now I only have a home mortgage, I don’t have any debt. And I’m really happy about that. And I try to tell my kids don’t get into debt. They’re like, well, credit cards, we can buy anything we want. Yeah, you’re gonna pay for it. You’re gonna pay a lot more for it than it’s really worth. At the end of the day, you know, you wake up and that stuff’s not worth much to you. So if you’re not good at this kind of thing, you can find somebody to coach you. I’m sure there’s probably even people in government agencies who can coach you. You don’t need to hire somebody to do that. You can find a friend or somebody who knows it really well just coach you through it. That’s the best I’ve got right now.
Eric Rhoads 51:47
Next question comes from Peter, who asked us a question from our YouTube page. Peter wants to know more about getting into galleries with warm introductions as opposed as opposed to cold calling and the How and who to network with.
Eric Rhoads 52:03
Peter, it’s a good question. It’s exactly the right question galleries get too many cold calls, unexpected calls and it’s annoying. The last thing they want is you dropping in or sending emails or sending them stuff they get. They get thousands of those. That’s annoying to them. Yet every gallery I know is always asking me. Are you seeing any hot artist who’s selling? What are you hearing about? Any artist, you know, is there somebody out there fresh and new. So they always have their eyes open. And remember, their goal is to sell art. That’s their only goal. Now they want to keep it to their level of quality. Try to figure out who the galleries are talking to, you know, they’re talking to me. They’re talking to editors, they’re talking to people like me, publishers. They also talk to the artists on their roster. Then they talk to other galleries. A word of caution, don’t just pick a name and call for an introduction. Now what I would do is I would look at The artists who they represent, call it look at it and say, okay, there’s a list of 20 artists here. Do I know any of them? No. Do I know anybody who knows any of them? Yeah. Well, then you call that person say, Hey, would you make an introduction to this person? And then when you get to know them, don’t just ask for something right away, get to know them truly be interested. Find out about them find out about the gallery say, you know, you can tell them look, I’m interested in this gallery, but I don’t know if it’s any good. Should I you know, do they pay their bills? Should I consider it you know, etc, etc. If they offer to make an introduction, that’s great. But don’t ask for it yet. It’s too soon. And they might look you up and they want to know your work first. And they’re not going to offer to tell them about you until they think your work. But another thing you can do is you can just simply say, Hey, would you be willing to critique my work? And if they see your work, they look at it, they might say, hey, you’re pretty good. I might recommend you or they might not even say that but They might do it on their own. I always talk about the hundred dollar bill thing, and that is you meet somebody at a party. You call them the next day and you say, hey, by the way, I need 100 bucks, would you be willing to loan me 100 bucks? Well, they’re gonna say no. But if you get to know them, you take them to lunch every time they trust you. And then you know, a few months later, or a year or two later, or something, if you actually needed some money, you could probably call and say, Hey, I’m in a jam. Could you spot me 100 bucks for 24 hours? They probably do it. You know, there’s a dating process. Well, the same is true with everybody you meet. So that’s true for galleries and others as well. So ask yourself also what a galleries wants so many artists approach galleries. I was with a gallery in New York. He said, I can’t believe how many artists don’t do their homework. They send me random packages of their artwork, but they don’t even see the kind of artwork we carry. We don’t carry this kind of artwork. You know, he was a classical, kind of our classical realist gallery and people are saying abstract work, he’s just wasting his time. So show that you care by doing your homework. And remember, they want somebody who’s gonna sell they want somebody who’s proven to sell. Can you prove that to have every wall space is valuable and they need it to perform and sell just like n dial caps at grocery stores it has to perform. How can you prove that you’re going to sell? How can you let others know why you’re artists selling so they suggest you? What are you doing different? What are you doing new, you know, think about the things they’re going to ask you. Anyway, hope that’s helpful.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com
Eric Rhoads 55:43
if you’ve not seen my blog, where I talk about life and art and other things, check it out. It’s called Sunday coffee and you can find it at coffeewithEric.com and you can subscribe free comes every week. It’s always fun to do this. We’ll do it again sometime like next week, God willing. In the meantime, we’ll see you then. But stay strong. Keep your hands washed. Don’t touch those doorknobs. And remember all of this will pass. We will get through it. It’s not going to be pretty, but we will get through it. I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of plein air magazine. Remember, it’s a big beautiful world out there and you need to go paint it and if you have time, study paint, learn, grow. Use this opportunity to take advantage of some things you’ve wanted to do. Take care of yourself. Bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with Plein Air magazine’s Eric Rhoads . You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected] Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at pleinairtips.com. Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.
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