Mary Garrish on the PleinAir Podcast
Artist Mary Garrish, featured in the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads, Episode 168

Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews Mary Garrish on painting outdoors, using cold wax, and more.

Listen as Mary Garrish shares the following:
• Her transition from being an ears, nose, and throat surgeon to full-time painter
• Advantages of being in a plein air society
• What it’s like to use cold wax medium for painting landscapes
• Basics of painting en plein air for those new to it, and more

Bonus! Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares insights on using social media for marketing (even if you avoid social media), and networking tips for freelance artists in this Art Marketing Minute Podcast.

Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Mary Garrish here:

Landscape painting outdoors - Mary Garrish art
Mary Garrish, “Cypress Reflections,” 30 x 40

Related Links:
– Mary Garrish online:
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram:
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook:
– Sunday Coffee:
– Plein Air Convention & Expo:
– Plein Air Salon:
– Publisher’s Invitational:
– Value Specs for Artists:
– Paint by Note:
– The Great Outdoor Painting Challenge TV Show:
– Figurative Art Convention & Expo:
– Fine Art Trip to Russia:

FULL TRANSCRIPT of this PleinAir Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the PleinAir Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.

Eric Rhoads 0:00
This is episode number 168. Today we’re featuring artist Mary Garrish.

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

Eric Rhoads 0:55
Thank you Jim Kipping. Welcome everybody to the plein air podcast. I hope you’re making productive use of your time learning and growing as an artist, making yourself a better plein air painter, or maybe you’re trying it for the first time. This is a good time to learn and experiment. If you want to learn more about plein air painting, we put together a book of tips 240 tips as a matter of fact, you can get this book for free at Also, I want to remind you that the plein air convention is taking place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This August. Yes, we moved it from Denver, due to COVID-19. It was supposed to take place in May. This is our first probably only summertime conference. So if you’re a teacher or a student or in a role where you can only get the summertime off, this is your chance. And since we rescheduled it. We’ve already booked over 600 people booked him on the first day so we’re bound To hit our biggest convention yet the hotel is already getting a lot of demand on the rooms. And if you want to come You should book now. Now I know booking in the midst of Coronavirus might be a problem for you. So just know that we stand behind every cancel every registration if you need to cancel or you need to reschedule, we will stick with you on that we offer a full money back guarantee so you can feel safe booking anybody who needed to get out of the main conference, we were able to get them out of it and get their money back. Most people just transferred it to the next conference, which is great. So many experts feel like this is all going to be over by then. But if not, again, we’ll stand behind your registration with a full refund or we’ll transfer it to another one if you want to. But don’t play the wait and see game or you could find yourself without a seat. This thing is already selling fast. So we’ve added Kevin MacPherson for a pre convention workshop. The faculty now listed on the website is the faculty that’s coming and we will be making sure That if we need to supplement that we’ll get some more but we’ve got some rock stars coming and you want to see them. So grab your seat now at I should also mention we are planning on continuing with our publishers Invitational. This is the event I like to do every year. It’s a week of painting, kind of like a reunion of old and new friends. It’s our 10th year and it’s taking place in the Adirondack Mountains and there’s gonna be tons of new people and tons of people coming back. It’s going to be a lot of fun painting all day for a whole week meals together. spectacular scenery, sitting up at night painting, doing portraits still life just playing music and singing and having a lot of fun just chatting and getting to know other people don’t miss this or 10th year anniversary, visit And coming up after the interview, I’ll be answering some art marketing questions in the marketing minute but first we need to get to this very important interview with Mary Garrish Welcome to the plein air podcast.

Podcast Guest 4:03
Hello, Eric, thank you for having me on it.

Eric Rhoads 4:06
Mary, where are you now? Are you home?

Podcast Guest 4:10
I am home in Merritt Island, Florida, which is right near Cocoa Beach since most people don’t know where Merritt Island is. And this space center is on the north tip of the island.

Eric Rhoads 4:21
So do you paint the Rockets when they’re going up?

Unknown Speaker 4:24
No, they’re not that quick. But I actually I have been asked, actually, quite recently, to do a painting of a exia, one of the night launches. So I’m thinking about doing that.

Eric Rhoads 4:40
Well, about the only way you could do it is with a photo, I assume and then try to try to get a couple of brief color samples. I mean, I would imagine that you’ve got about what 15 seconds 20 seconds. Yes,

Unknown Speaker 4:54
Yeah, it would definitely have to be from photographs and memory. You know, we’re lucky enough. My husband’s office is right on the beach. It’s like a condominium on the beach. And so we always go there to watch all the launches, especially the night launches. And so you know, even though they’re all different, you know, you just get a feel for the colors and, and the mood of the painting.

Eric Rhoads 5:20
There’s so exciting to watch. I lived in Florida for a long time and even down south, I was in the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami area. And even down there, you could see it very visibly didn’t last very long. But you could see those, especially the night launches, but even the daytime launches, and it’s just such a thrill to watch that.

Unknown Speaker 5:42
You know, there’s just nothing else like it and just never get tired of it, especially now with SpaceX. And you know how they’re basically landing the solid rocket boosters. And that’s just as exciting almost as a launch.

Eric Rhoads 5:56
So SpaceX is launching from the Kennedy Space Center.

Podcast Guest 6:00
Yes, they’re using their launch pads.

Eric Rhoads 6:03
I didn’t know that. So I guess that’s about all the space talk. We have. I guess we should probably talk about painting now. Hmm.

Podcast Guest 6:11
That sounds good.

Eric Rhoads 6:13
So you haven’t always been in Florida Have you?

Podcast Guest 6:18
Actually I am a native Floridian. Yes. I was born in Miami and lived in Florida my entire life except for five years when I lived in Dallas, as a resident at Parkland as a resident. Yeah. You know, I was a previously a physician before I retired in 2005. To try to pursue a second career in art and so that was where I did my internship and residency.

Eric Rhoads 6:49
had no idea that you were a physician. What did you What was your specialty?

Podcast Guest 6:54
I was ears, nose and throat surgeon.

Eric Rhoads 6:56
Ah, well, I got this hearing. Maybe you can help me with that.

Unknown Speaker 7:02
We, can do a FaceTime after this.

Eric Rhoads 7:06
I want to talk about that you say late in life, you’re not an old person by any stretch. But you At what point while you were working, did you take up painting?

Unknown Speaker 7:20
Well, Eric, it was actually it’s one of those things where I look back, you know, you see these little times in your life where, you know, kind of like a window opens, and I just happened to grab it. So I have three children, and when my oldest daughter was about five, like children will do, she says to me, Mommy, we did draw me a cow. So, you know, I was always very math and science oriented. I never had any exposure to art. So you know, I tried to draw a cow and then she says, Can you draw me a pig? And you know, a giraffe. And so she says to me, why do while your animal look the same. And I’m like, well, because I can’t draw. And so from there, I bought drawing on the right side of the brain and drawing with children. And so when I got drawn on the right side of the brain, that book, it was just like, like light turned on. And I was always very good at geometry. And so you know what that book did, it would take a chair that was, you know, standing properly. And, you know, I would not being an artist or being able to draw, I would look at that and say, Well, I can’t draw that. But then it would, in the book, it would flip the chair over. So now it was a, you know, straight lines, curved lines, you know, angles. And I looked at that, and I’m like, well, that’s just geometry. I can do that. And so I agreed book is yes. And I often asked myself if my daughter had Not asked me to draw those animals. I doubt that I would be an artist now. Really? Yeah, it’s just, I don’t know that I ever would have gone down that path. And it seems just so random.

Eric Rhoads 9:16
Well, where did you start painting?

Unknown Speaker 9:19
Well, so I started taking, you know, a hobby class at the museum, you know, painting, you know, three hours a week, once a week, because, you know, I was working in a position I had young children, and you know, life was crazy. And so, after like, two or three years of doing that the kids got old enough that they were starting to go to summer camp. And so when they would go off to summer camp, I would take some of my vacation time, and I would go start taking workshops. And the more I did that, the more obsessed I became with art. And so you know, I set up a little cubby hole on the house, you know, so that I had an easel up So that even if I had a half an hour, I could go try to paint. And it just turned into an obsession.

Eric Rhoads 10:08
As it does it does have that. And, who are some of the workshops that you took early on?

Unknown Speaker 10:19
Well, I would say, I took a I took to Matt Smith workshops, and he is phenomenal. And then I took a Scott Christensen workshop, and it was the 10 day workshop. And the funny thing was a girlfriend. I didn’t know who Scott was at the time. And a girlfriend of mine showed me Oh, look at this workshop. It looks pretty intense. And it’s 10 days. I could just never do that. And I’m like, Well, I could it’s when the kids are going to be gone and camp or something. And and this was back, probably around 2000 and you had to fill up questionnaire on the internet, because I think he wanted really, you know, pretty full time artists in the class. And I have to say, I might have fibbed a little bit about how many might have fit a little bit about how much I was painting at the time. But that was a life changer because I was in with a lot of great artists. And, you know, I just kind of sat in the back of the class and made sure my easel was in the back. But I looked at all of these people in the workshop, and of course, Scott, and I said, You know, I would really like to be one of these people. And the last day of the workshop, he asked everybody, you know, with your art, where would you like to be? In a week, in a month, in a year in five years? And you know, I was still practicing medicine and everything and I thought, huh and so I When I came back home, I did not tell my husband that I was thinking about, you know, I would like to make a career change. And it took me actually a few years to broach the subject with them. And in those few years I was trying to, you know, get outside do more plein air painting anytime that I could. And he was also a physician who decided to make a career change. And so when he said that, I just piped in, I thought, well, here’s my chance. I said, me too. We do.

Eric Rhoads 12:33
So it worked out. Well, and it was a lot harder back then to try to discover workshops in there quite frankly, there weren’t as many as there are now. You know, everything has exploded because of the internet but also because of the movement. You know, there I you know, when I when I first wanted to learn to paint there wasn’t there wasn’t much and you certainly couldn’t find it. If you if you could find it, you didn’t know what to what to look up, you know, and there’s still a lot of people in that position. So, so you retired and just went, did you would Did you retire with the intent of making a living as an artist or did you retire just knowing that hey, I’m retired and I’m just gonna go play?

Unknown Speaker 13:25
I definitely wanted to make it a second business. You know, I didn’t I think everybody that, you know, like my fellow physician thought, Oh, you know, she’s just gonna go play at this and be a hobby painter and, you know, sit on the couch and eat bonbons, but that’s just not my personality. You know, if I do something, you know, I want to do it Mel, or I really don’t find any satisfaction from it. And, and one of the things that I love about art that drew me to it is actually the intellectual curiosity. that goes along with and, you know, I find that intriguing. So like, you know, every time you do a painting, it’s it’s a totally different thought process. It’s, it’s unique. And I, I, I hope there aren’t a lot of physicians listening to this, but like, you know, I was a physician for 24 years and operated and everything. And, you know, it gets to the point where it’s just rote. You know, you use the same instruments all the time. You know, it’s the same procedure, like the scrub nurse even knows, you know, if she’s worked with you a lot. She even knows what instruments to hand you. And that just gets a little rote. And so the intellectual pursuit of trying to make, you know, a painting to me was much more challenging and still is and, you know, till it’s a career that you can do it Until hopefully you know, you die.

Eric Rhoads 15:03
Yeah, hopefully you probably can’t do it after you die I’m thinking but but your art yours certainly art can be out there after you die. You know, I know a lot of physicians who have told me the exact same thing that they just got completely bored with, with their jobs and and those of us who are not physicians, you know we hold them in high regard and and of course, what you had to go through to be able to learn that into into get licensed and so on residency, etc. And that’s a massive, massive thing, but it’s surprising how many artists are former physicians. Now I met a guy at the face conference, I can’t tell you his name right now because I don’t remember it. But he came up to me and and we started talking. He’s a cardiologist and, and also a painter, and His goal was to get to a point where, you know, he left his cardiologist practice and painted full time. But he said, surprisingly, there are a lot of doctors who paint and that he said the AMA American Medical Association used to have a program for painters, doctors who wanted to paint because they learned that it was such a great relaxation tool for a stressful job. I did not know that before.

Unknown Speaker 16:23
Well, I actually never looked into that I had heard of it. And they actually used to, you could submit your paintings for the cover of like, JAMA, the journal, American Medical Association, and you know, I think that that was part of that whole program that they had. So, you know, it is and again, I think it’s the intellectual curiosity that draws a lot of physicians and especially surgeons, you know, it is a surgery to a certain degree is creative and you know, very tactile and Um, you know, having been in ears, nose and throat surgeon, you know, you think logically, probably I would have gone into portraiture, you know, knowing all the anatomy of the head, neck and everything. But I’ve always been very much attracted to the outdoors hiking, camping, and I love being outside. And I just naturally gravitated to landscape painting, and never actually pursued portraiture, which part of me finds kind of odd.

Eric Rhoads 17:35
Well, there’s still time. You’re intellectually curious. And so you might, you might enjoy it. So the you’re doing landscapes, and did you did you eventually get to the point where you were selling some paintings before you retired? How did that all go?

Unknown Speaker 17:55
Yes, I had pursued some galleries and it was lucky enough to get into some galleries and you know was was, I wouldn’t say selling gangbusters, but I was selling enough to encourage me. And and then when I did retire in 2005, I hadn’t been retired. I don’t think two months, I got a call from the president, then president of the American impression society, and asked me if I was interested in being the next president. She was just down she was one of the founders and she was just down an hour south of me and zero. And when she called me initially I said, Well, let me think about it. And I thought, you know, I don’t really want to do that I just retired so that I could paint full time and but when I thought about it, I thought well, I said, You know, I should do this just, you know, as a way to get back and you know, meet a lot of artists and the the is, was pretty small at that time. And I thought, well, you know, maybe I have something to offer, maybe not, but I thought I’d give it a try. And so I was president for about three and a half years. And that kind of really helped me segue into the art community. And and I think we were CW Monday we really helped to kind of change the path of AI s. And you know, kind of help it grow certainly in numbers and maybe in where the society was going.

Eric Rhoads 19:38
So what is the just for the people who who really don’t understand what this means? You’ve got organizations like AIS and OPA and numerous numerous others, specialty areas like the marine painters, etc. What is the value to an artist of being part of it? organization like that?

Unknown Speaker 20:03
Well, I think there are different levels. You know, it is a community. You know, even though it’s a very loose community, it’s national, you know, if you go to the shows, you know, artists are very friendly, they’re very open. You know, I can’t tell you how many times, people, you know, you meet artists, and they’re like, Oh, I live here. If you’re in the area, come stay with me. And, you know, you just don’t get that in regular society, you know, you meet someone, you know, for, you know, 15-20 minutes, and they say, oh, come stay with me. And they mean it, you know, so it’s a real sense of community. And

Eric Rhoads 20:48
just in general, I mean, organizations are not the one thing that I’ve been in a part of this for, I don’t know 1518 years now. And the People are so genuine and and i don’t know what it is. But I think it’s just because they’re doing what they love and they’re happy. You’re so genuine, they’re the nicest people in the world. And there’s so much fun to be around. And I think that, you know, you’ve hit on something and that’s whether or not it’s this being a part of a society, but being a part of a society like a is then that it links you even more because now it’s member to member friendship, to friendship, it’s it goes a little deeper, don’t you think?

Unknown Speaker 21:30
Oh, absolutely. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s national, you know, so like, I can call people in California, you know, on the other coast and say, Oh, I’m going to be in this area, even if they don’t live there. Have you painted there? Where should I go pink? And you know, everybody’s just so generous with their knowledge.

Eric Rhoads 21:54
Well, I think that absolutely. I’ve just it’s not competitive doesn’t seem like it’s competitive, maybe in some cases, but not very often. So I think that the, there’s there’s value in that. And you know, when you’re, when you’re a new painter and you’re kind of coming into all of this, you have no idea where to go, you don’t know where to look, you don’t know what websites to pursue, what publications to pursue, etc. And you, I’ve had a number of people who come up to my events like the thing I do in the Adirondacks, which you were you came to, and they’re like, well, this is this is where I figure things out. I mean, Charlie Hunter is a really great example of that he was a really accomplished artists, but he wasn’t out there. And he came to the Adirondacks and and everybody embraced what he did. They loved him and he got to know all about the planner world and all about the circuit and the things that he didn’t really understand. He said it it was going to something like that gave him his launch. So that’s where I would think something like AIS or OPA Or, you know, any of these organizations offer value if you can get in is, they really help you get a sense of not just the community, but all the things you need to be doing to become a part of the ecosystem?

Unknown Speaker 23:16
Absolutely. And, you know, even even if you don’t get into a show, you know, I know people a lot of times are hesitant to go out and get in, you know, but it’s not just about that, you know, and it really is, like you said, it’s, you know, meeting other people finding out what they’re doing, just, you know, going to the show, to see the show, and, you know, educate yourself with, you know, the paintings that got into that show, and, you know, taking the workshops that, you know, oftentimes, you know, coordinate with the shows, talking to people about materials, you know, you always find something new

Eric Rhoads 23:59
Yeah. Absolutely

Unknown Speaker 24:00
Yeah, I like to, you know, experiment, you know, play with different things. And, you know, I found cold wax that I’ve been having a lot of fun with, you know, just by, well, I actually found that by talking to Larry Moore. And I’m like, Oh, this is this is fun stuff. And, you know, it’s that that’s how we gather information. You know, I have a huge art library, but you don’t get a lot of those kinds of things, you know, materials from the art books.

Eric Rhoads 24:34
Well, you know, you have to actually read them. You can’t just look at the pictures.

Podcast Guest 24:39
Nobody ever told me that.

Eric Rhoads 24:43
Mary, you know, that’s really true. And, and some of these things just kind of come up in conversation and you and you discover them quite by accident. I had a painter tell me that she had a pretty well known painter Actually, she had been painting and selling paintings for for 20 years. And no one had ever explained to her the idea of values. I mean, she was kind of doing it instinctively but then all of a sudden that came up in a conversation, you know, at a dinner with some other artists and she said, What are you talking about? And, and that’s that, you know, it led her to that which helped her improve and so on. So you just you have to that’s that’s the value of community is whether that community is on the phone or, or in person is just hanging out and, and learning these things. So absolutely. All right. So you’ve got my curiosity because I have never used cold wax. So I want to know all about it. Tell tell us.

Unknown Speaker 25:46
Okay, so actually, I said it was first Larry that turned me on to the actually it was Scott Christiansen, okay. And, and then I just in December, I took up a Larry Moore workshop, and Larry Love to use the cold wax. And his workshop was on abstraction. And so I did that to really try to help my representational art grow, you know, just the idea of, you know, abstract shapes and how they interact and But anyway, the cold wax it just really helps you build up texture. And it’s, it’s like it is wax but it’s very, very soft. And you can mix a lot into your paint. So it’s kind of a cheap way to, you know, really build up paint, but it also changes the texture. So I’ve actually started playing since Larry’s workshop with using it and applying it with the paint on a brayer. And, you know, thinking more about abstract shapes with the brayer so you No, you can’t. I mean, you could use a palette knife, but it’s the breyers different with how, how it lays the paint down, especially with the wax. So you get much more of like a stippled effect. And the The other nice thing about the cold wax is it makes the paint dry quicker. So you get thick, thick texture, and I come back the next morning and it is dry. So you can layer with thick paint very quickly.

Eric Rhoads 27:32
So if I if I have that painting hanging by a window in Austin, Texas when the sun is beating down, is that painting gonna melt?

Unknown Speaker 27:41
I don’t think so. That’s a very good question. We’re living in Austin, Texas, and living in Florida. We have to consider those things. Yes, we do.

Eric Rhoads 27:50
Well, that’s fascinating. I’ll try it I I just remember now that I took a maybe one of my first art lessons ever from a lady by the name of Layla Carmen Olson she studied under odd nerdrum my first attempt at portraits and she used cold wax and I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned it. I’ve never, never tried it since and I don’t think I even tried it, then I just knew about it. So I think what’s going to happen is that everybody’s going to end up going on and buying cold wax today.

Unknown Speaker 28:22
Well, you know, it’s very reasonable, and it’s definitely a way to stretch your paint, but it’s just, it’s just a different feel. And I really like it.

Eric Rhoads 28:33
Very cool. So I’d like to, I’d like to understand a little bit about what would you say is your superpower you are first off you’re, you’re a really accomplished painter, very good painter. I’m fortunate to have one of your paintings hanging here in my office and love you and so I get to look at it a lot. And you just have this remarkable ability. I don’t know how you got there, but I guess just a lot of practice. But what would you say is your superpower? Is there something that you could articulate that would help people understand maybe about how you do things differently?

Unknown Speaker 29:21
Well, I don’t know about how I do things differently, but I will tell you that I think one of my probably my best maybe my only good characteristic is the fact that I’m resilient and so you know, I can go outside and, and paint or paint my studio and just have a day where nothing goes wrong, right. And you know, the paintings of failure a scrape it off, you know, just no success whatsoever. And I wake up the next morning and I go, what am I going to paint today And I don’t let defeat bother me. And I look at, especially some of my friends that, you know, they just don’t have that, you know, they get beaten down by, you know, a painting that doesn’t succeed. And I just don’t let that bother me.

Eric Rhoads 30:21
Well, what do you think about when you think about what you went through before? I mean, if you screwed up when you were doing surgery on somebody, it might mean they lose their hearing or their ability to taste or maybe their life. And so that’s a whole lot different than screwing up a painting, don’t you think?

Unknown Speaker 30:41
Yes, absolutely. The stakes aren’t nearly as high, you know, I mean, so so you throw the canvas out, or you just, you know, scrape it off and start over. And I think maybe it is that, you know, the willingness to take a chance.

Eric Rhoads 30:57
Well, you know, and I think that it’s variable This is a very important discussion for a lot of people to hear, because everyone assumes because you’re a good, accomplished, well known well, selling painter, everyone assumes that everything you do is you’re hitting it not you’re knocking one out of the park. And I think it’s really important to understand that even really great, well known painters have bad days.

Unknown Speaker 31:28
Absolutely. I consider Scott Christiansen my mentor, and he says that all the time, he says, I feel like maybe one out of every 10 paintings works. And I’m like, oh, my goodness, if you feel that way, and you know, he’s a very, very humble guy. But I truly think that he means that when he says that, you know, I might think every one of his paintings are working, but that’s not what he he feels. And so I’m like, okay, But I think that in a way that that’s a good thing. I think that’s what drives us to be better.

Eric Rhoads 32:07
. That’s absolutely right. And I remember going to, to, to Scott’s one time to his studio, what he had a studio in a big studio in Idaho, and flipping through some stuff, and he saw don’t look at that. Don’t look at that. And I’m like, Oh, these are beautiful. This is no, don’t look at that. You know, those are awful. And, and so don’t you think that we get to a point where when we’re at an early stage of painting, where we can’t tell the difference between a painting that that might be a bad Scott Christiansen and one that might be a sophisticated one?

Podcast Guest 32:47

Eric Rhoads 32:49
Sure. You know, it’s about developing, what would you call that taste,

Unknown Speaker 32:56
taste and knowledge you know, it’s some You go back all the time to that Edgar Payne quote that Scott likes to quote all the time. But, you know, knowledge has to precede execution, you know, you can only paint as good as you know. And it’s the same thing for you know, I think, being able to evaluate and critique of painting, you know, and so that’s why I think studying is so important. You know, when I first started out, all I wanted to do was painting painting paint, because, you know, I felt like, you know, I was behind the ball because, you know, I hadn’t started drawing when I was three years old, and, you know, all I wanted to do is go out and, and be productive and paint and paint and paint. And then I realized that really, I need to just slow down and study and you know, less is more.

Eric Rhoads 33:53
Well, I, I remember when I first started painting I would to me Painting needed to look like a photograph. You know, and somebody said something to me recently, you know, meeting well, but they said, Oh, it looks just like a photograph. And of course, for many of us, that’s that’s a huge insult and slide, right, but but how do you get there? I mean, how do you? How do you train your brain to know the difference between an unsophisticated piece of work and a sophisticated piece of work, and there have to be lots of different levels that you accomplish along the way. I remember Scott Christianson and I went to Russia together and after he saw the the paintings in Russia, he said, I don’t know if I can ever paint again because I’ve seen things that have accomplished a level so high I don’t know if I can ever get there. And and he called me one day and he said, I think I I finally figured it out. But it took him months you know, so he pushed himself, but how do we how do we the, you know, the people who are trying to figure this all out? How do we kind of develop our tastes and our understanding? How do we get to the next level? Is there a? Is it just about practice? Is it a process? Is it about looking at art in museums? Is it all of the above? What do you think?

Podcast Guest 35:20
Oh, I definitely think that it’s all of the above. You know, and that’s what I think appeals to me a lot about art is that, you know, it is never ending, you know, like, I was fortunate enough, twice now to be able to go to the Hispanic society where they have all the steroids. And I mean, that that is just a spiritual experience. And it is, even for non artists. My husband came with me, and he was just like, blown away. And you know, you see that kind of beauty And it’s just, it’s so magnificent. And, you know, so as an artist, I feel like, you know, I would never have gone there, probably if I was just a lay person, you know. And so I think it’s that, you know, search for, you know, the way someone else did it, especially that, you know, is just so accomplished, and to just sit there and even, you know, study just a corner of his painting, and why why is that brushstroke there? Why is that value next to the value next to it? And just analyzing paintings like that? I think that that’s how we come to, you know, go to the next level.

Eric Rhoads 36:48
But a lot of times we don’t even know the questions to ask you. You know, you mentioned for instance, a value next to a value and some of us just are not we don’t even know what to look for in some cases. I mean, have you have you ever done master copies? Have you copied paintings of, of other artists?

Unknown Speaker 37:09
Yes, not in the museum’s, you know, you can contact the museum and you know, they’ll give you an easel and you can do one right there. I’ve never done that, but I had just from the books, not like an entire painting, but like a corner, a rock with the ocean around it, you know, foliage, and I think that does make a huge difference. I think also looking at artwork. You know, to me design and competition composition. When I first started out, I’m like, Oh my gosh, where do you start? And I think all those people that were illustrators, you know, they have you know, such a jump on, you know, someone that just jumps into painting without having that background. But for me, like going into a museum or looking at an art book, and then taking those images and putting them in black and white. And it’s just so much easier to see the design there. And, you know, to simplify it, and I think that’s a good tool for, you know, analyzing paintings. Absolutely. You know, when I was in Russia recently, a few weeks ago, and I had the privilege of going to the tradecraft Museum, which is the

Eric Rhoads 38:29
kind of like the National Gallery or something in Washington, it’s like the, the historic gallery for Russia. And I was there to meet with and interview the director on video and I was there on a Monday and everything was closed. And I had the run of the museum to myself, which was really cool, but it was filled with copyists. And I so wanted to just say can we can I have an easel And can I just sit here and copy Because, and the kids that do it are all from the great academies in Russia, and they’re, they’re there and they can only go in on Mondays so they have to work other painting, you know, all day Monday while the light is good, and then, you know, go back the following Monday, but I think that is something that I think you and I need to do that Mary, we just need to find a museum and go go copy at a museum someday, I think it’d be a lot of fun too, because there’s so much difference between the book and between the original

Eric Rhoads 39:34
You’re in. Alright, so I think we’re gonna do it in Russia. I hope that’s okay.

Unknown Speaker 39:40
Absolutely. You know, I love to travel. I’m all in.

Eric Rhoads 39:43
Okay. All right. So I’m taking a group of artists to to Russia in 2021. And I’m only gonna be able to get 30 to 50. I’m not sure yet. And I’ll make arrangements with the museum. And we’ll go do copies one day, we won’t be able to do a complete copy because we’ll be limited by our time but I’ll see if I can arrange it. So we’re there on a Monday and we’ll do copies.

Podcast Guest 40:11
Perfect. I’ll bring the cold wax and the vodka.

Eric Rhoads 40:18
Ah, I don’t think I think there’ll be plenty of vodka. I’ve just, I’m just guessing. So how much teaching do you do?

Unknown Speaker 40:28
Um, I don’t teach a lot. I usually teach a couple workshops a year. And I travel a lot and you know, when you schedule a workshop, you know, to advertise it and everything. You gotta have about nine months in advance, and I’m kind of spoiled by my travel schedule. And so usually just a couple a year. I was supposed to be teaching one at the beginning of May, but of course that’s gotten canceled.

Eric Rhoads 40:57
So you have a You said you You have a busy travel schedule. What are you doing? You’re just traveling to paint.

Unknown Speaker 41:05
Yeah, a lot of traveling to paint. In fact, I was supposed to be in Patagonia. But I, but

Eric Rhoads 41:16
but the virus got in the way of that, huh?

Unknown Speaker 41:19
Well, actually a different virus I had sinusitis. And yeah, and I was in bronchitis and I was coughing and everything, so I had to cancel the day before. And the whole group went, and they’re still there, but I’m hoping that they’re in transit as we speak. So, yeah, and, and we have an RV, my husband and I bought an RV a couple years back. And so we just like to, you know, go camping and every place we go, I can paint. And so we’re, that was kind of always a dream that we wanted an RV. And we finally pulled the trigger two years ago and so this summer, we’re supposed to To go all the way up to Maine from Florida, and back, so I’m hoping that that that happens. Well speaking of artists to it, who just drop everything and invite you to come and stay with them, when you’re on the way Come and visit me in the Adirondacks. You can you can park your RV in our little little driveway and then you can come stay with us and actually get a get a shower in a real shower. Although a really nice shower in your RV. Well, it’s pretty small. We do have a shower, but it’s pretty tiny. But we actually are planning on coming up that way. So be careful what you wish for.

Eric Rhoads 42:40
Oh no, I’d love that. I love it. When my friends come in, we come hang out. We go painting. I know all the great spots. And as you know, I’ve been painting the Adirondacks for 20 years and so I have lots of great, great places to go.

Podcast Guest 42:57
looking forward to it.

Eric Rhoads 42:59
What is like to do is to talk a little bit about some principles of painting that that, you know, oftentimes when I talk to people on the podcast, they’ve they’ve got a maybe a different approach to things or something that people haven’t heard before, or sometimes it’s just a repeat of things that are important principles. What What do you like to focus on when you’re teaching?

Unknown Speaker 43:24
The basics. You know, I don’t know that I have anything unique to teach anybody but, you know, I know that, at least for me. You know, the basics had to be hammered in I had to hear it a number of times to actually really understand it.

Eric Rhoads 43:45
So what would some of those basics be?

Unknown Speaker 43:52
you know, to begin, you know, you basically, you know, art is kind of more or less broken down into six different Things You know, like you have line, shape, value, color, texture and edge. And, you know, especially when you start a plein air painting, you’re outside trying to consider all of those six things at once. It’s just, it’s impossible. And at least for me, and so what I’ve started doing this is a few years ago to just, I was not happy with my plein air paintings and I’m like, Okay. I’m going to take the pressure off of myself and say, Okay, I’m not here to make a painting. I’m here to study. And so in doing that, I started with just line with what I used to do, and I don’t mean like drawing. So I used to start with a Washington with just shapes. And what I realized is that my shapes were kind of clunky and boring. And after that, have you ever heard of Sydney long? He’s an Australian painter. And he, oh my goodness, his. I love his trees. They’re obviously designed. I’m sure that he’s based them off of, you know, something that is out in the landscape, but then he’s kind of, you know, designed them himself. And when I found his book, I’m like, Oh my goodness, I need to spend more time thinking about well wine, which is what defines the shape. And so when I slowed way down, and what I try to do when I go out, is not even pick up a sketchbook is to just sit there and take in what’s out there. You know, look around, you know, look around at the light Where’s the light gonna move? You know, what, what are? What’s the general, you know, color palette of the landscape out there, and you know, just kind of almost in a meditative way, you know, take it in. And then I go to the sketchbook. And then with the sketchbook, what I try to do is, you know, design with line, like, Where’s the AI going to track what is going to be the movement. So that’s one kind of line. And then the next one is kind of like an outline of the shapes. Because if I just go straight to shape without the line, my shapes are not just interesting. So I’m trying to take that step first. And, you know, if you’re doing something more like a city scene or something, you know, things are more organic, but when you’re looking at just you know, Straight landscape, I really feel like I need to get in there and be creative and design more like say, you know, here in Florida, you know, you have these a lot of these lollipop, but palm trees, you know, and so I’m not going to, I’m not going to paint that shape. So how is it that I’m going to break it down to make the contour the line more interesting. And so from from there, once I have that line, and that doesn’t mean I’m going to Pete within the line, but it’s an idea of the line. So then I’ll go in with like, Burnt Sienna and just find my shape, shape and value. So I’m trying to minimize the values to at the most five values. Three would be even better, but you know, it depends on on the landscape in three to five shapes. So it’s Keeping the design simple. And that, to me is one of the best things when you’re teaching students, you know, to just think that way, if you can break down that vast landscape, when you go outside into those components, and if that’s all that you got was a Washington with, you know, great shapes and you got the values, you know, you’re, you’re 80% of the way there.

Eric Rhoads 48:33
And it’s like each of those six things has six things under each of the six. ,

Unknown Speaker 48:38
right. Very complicated. But, but to me, I was always was always about color, color, color, color, color, and like you pointed out before, you know, my values were not good. So now I try to not even think about the color and hit those first three. Things the line the shape and the value and then to me the last three the you know the color, the texture and the edge those kind of just kind of happen along the way.

Eric Rhoads 49:15
Talk to me about color because if I look at your color it looks it looks bright but it’s not in other words that it that you have resisted the temptation to make the Chroma really super high Chroma you know, straight out of the tube yellows and greens and things your your paintings feel colorful, but it feels to me like you’ve developed something that allows you to create the sense of color without being garish. What wrong, I guess was

Podcast Guest 49:53
no perfect word actually. And actually garish is my my Maiden name. And I took that instead of my married name, because I thought it was a much better artists name. So when I first started painting, I was very, very garish. I mean, I started off with pastels. And I mean, I loved color. There was color everywhere. There was no rhyme and reason there was no focal point it was just Ooh, color, color color. And then I grew and I studied and I actually realized that when I go to a museum or to an art show, the paintings that really spoke to me were the more tonal paintings.

Podcast Guest 50:40
And so as I grew,I grew to like beautiful grays. And so on my palette, I have the the sorry Christians and grays, which I love. And you know, I mean, you can mix all of those colors yourself. But there’s such convenience colors. And so, you know, I started out just using those in plain air so that you know, you know was easier to mix them up and quicker and everything. And then I really fell in love with them and so now I have them on my studio palette also. And it’s especially like here in Florida we have so many greens, and I find them very, very helpful for mixing up all different, you know, colors and shades of green.

Eric Rhoads 51:31
How do you train your brain though I was. I’m in love with the some of the great Russian impressionist and the great Russians like Fishkin and Levitan bought a bunch of books in Russia looked studied their paintings, and I realized that there wasn’t anything garish in those paintings. And so I went outdoors to try and accomplish it, but I’m staring at this bright chartreuse green tree and yet, I know that I don’t want to make Get that color, but it’s how do you make that that transition of what you see versus what you know you want to do?

Unknown Speaker 52:08
I think just by painting a lot and experimenting, and you know, for me, when I go out there, you know, if I’m just doing a little word on, I’m not making a painting, then I give myself permission to go for that, put that in. And then you know, it’s hard to tell when you’re outside, and you bring it back to the studio and you go, Ah, you know, not working. And, you know, so you can adjust it. And you know, for the next time, no, I really don’t want to go there. You know, I had failed on my palette for a while, and that never worked out very well for me. So,

Eric Rhoads 52:48
that’s a tough one.

Unknown Speaker 52:49
Yes, yes. verde is much easier to control. But the only time I’d use a little now, if I was going to go out to the west coast or something or to the Caribbean, you know, I’m I might use it on my palette. But yeah, I think it’s, you’ve got to give yourself permission to go ahead and put those loud colors in, and then come back and say, Now I need to rein it in.

Eric Rhoads 53:17
Yeah. So it’s, not necessarily a matter of doing it on the spot, it’s a matter of doing it when you get back and you see that it doesn’t work.

Unknown Speaker 53:27
Right. And you know, if that was if it was just a little bit, it was like, where you wanted to draw the eye. You know, maybe that would work, you know, but, you know, most of the time we get in there. And we’ve got this pretty limey color. And it’s like, oh, let’s put a little bit of this everywhere. And you know how that turns out?

Eric Rhoads 53:48
Yeah, garish. So do you do? Do you said you changed your palette, do you so you use this more muted total as palette when you’re out?

Podcast Guest 53:58
I do.,

Eric Rhoads 54:00
That, you know, prevent you from that prevents you from the, from the temptation of putting a bunch of cad yellow into making a very bright tree or grass.

Unknown Speaker 54:13
Not always. But I would say it does, it does help a lot. And actually, you know, I went from way too much color to I pull back way too much. And I realized, you know, that my paintings weren’t LEED, you know, they didn’t have a feel of sunlight in them. And, you know, I had to readjust so I think it’s always a, you know, a going back and forth, you know, between, you know, too much color, not enough color, and, you know, being able to critique our paintings, when we get back to the studio and say, Okay, what is it that worked? What is it that didn’t work? You know, you You know, what helps me do that actually, is if I take a photograph, you know, just with my iPhone of the painting, you know, it’s just that it’s, I guess on a different surface or something, but you see all your mistakes. Yes, yes. And then if you did turn it upside down, or you know, put it in a black and white mode, then you know that those things help also.

Eric Rhoads 55:26
Well, I’m just you’re just full of tricks.

Podcast Guest 55:30
Just call me Trixie,

Eric Rhoads 55:31
Trixie. So as we wrap up, do you have any final thoughts, ideas or thoughts on painting that might be helpful or just anything in general, for the people who might be listening?

Unknown Speaker 55:48
Well, one of the things I would say is just slow down, slow down and serve. I remember qualm telling this story that He went with a bunch of artists somewhere to somebody’s ranch to paint. It wasn’t like a plein air venerate, but just to paint, and I think he was gone for like four or five days or something. And, you know, everybody was setting up as he painting, yada yada, yada. And he went and just observed the horses. And he went and just observed the horses for days, and I assume he sketched and everything, but as I recall, he did not paint them at all. But then when he got back to studio, I’m sure you’re familiar with his horse paintings. I mean, you know, produce this these incredible course paintings. And, and that was all from observation.

Eric Rhoads 56:46
And there’s a temptation, right, so you’re on it. I remember I took a I didn’t take I went with a group of artists to Scotland. We rented a castle together and and everybody’s out, just seeing As much as they can see and taking as as many photos as they can, and they’re not painting at all because they just want to capture material. And but there was this one artist, and he just set up and he painted the same thing every day. He just said, You know, I want to master this and you know, the temptation of Gee, I’m in Scotland and I want to see everything, versus I want to get one really, really good painting. You know, it’s, it’s, that’s where slowing down really helped him I’m sure.

Unknown Speaker 57:31
Absolutely. And, like, less is more married. You know, what, sorry. It’s like, it’s like Monet doing the haystacks. You know, over and over and over and over again.

Eric Rhoads 57:45
This has been delightful. You are your superstar. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 57:52
Well, thank you so much, and I guess I’ll see you in the Adirondacks.

Eric Rhoads 57:57
Yes, absolutely.

Podcast Guest 58:02
All right, Eric, thank you so much.

Eric Rhoads 58:04
Well, thank you again to Mary Garrish. She’s fascinating. Are you ready for some marketing ideas?

Announcer 58:08
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 58:20
In the marketing minute I answer your art marketing questions. All you got to do is email me, [email protected]. Here’s a question from a YouTube listener who said, I’m a fairly successful artist, I make a good living and I refuse to do social media. For me, it’s a giant waste of time and I’d love to hear your thoughts as to whether or not an artist should engage in any social media at all. Well, it’s not an easy answer because it can be a giant time suck and it’s hard to measure the value unless you do it exactly right, which is something very few people know how to do. Now a lot of people are posting a lot of stuff And posting progress shots and posting their paintings. But I’m not sure that a lot of people are selling a lot of paintings from it once in a while somebody gets a Hey, I want to buy that painting. But there are not very many people who are actually selling a lot of art. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because they’re not doing it properly. I think it can be done properly. I would refine your question a little bit more by asking is not doing it hurting your business, you say you have plenty of business. And if that’s the case, it’s probably not hurting it. But just keep in mind, a lot of people built a business and they have momentum, and then it dries up and it stops suddenly, because they’re not keeping their momentum up. That’s why advertising is important to things like that. But social media can be advertising and there is advertising opportunity there. But it’s a whole different game on social media works very well for things where it’s clicking buy this now, and it’s not necessarily an expensive item. So So clearly, Facebook, Instagram, etc, are mainstream and most people are on it. But does it sell art? Well? Is it gonna get you into more galleries? It might I mean, there are gallery owners who watch and they clearly are paying attention to what people are posting to find out what they, what they’re doing whether or not they’re bringing them in. It’s not automatic, of course. But again, there’s a formula. You know, today, it’s kind of like not being in the phonebook and the old days, you know, when people use phone books, if you weren’t in the phone book or the Yellow Pages, they wouldn’t remember you well. Being on the web is more like being a phone book, of course. And I think having a website is absolutely critical too. And it sends a signal if if you’re not doing it well or if you haven’t updated in 30 years, but anyway, a lot of people will randomly learn about you discover you because someone may have clicked on or commented on your Facebook and then they see that and they you know people pick up on it, but Most artists actually don’t have many collectors following them. Some do. Most of the artists have their friends, fellow artists following which is nice, a nice way to be seen nice way to be social. But it’s not necessarily moving the sales needle, although artists do buy paintings and so that can happen. But you have to know how to do it exactly. And I do hear stories about a few people selling consistently, but not very much. There is one thing to know is there’s a false belief about Facebook, and even Instagram. And that is that we think that everything we post is being seen by all of our followers. Well, on Facebook, only 2% of the people on average, will actually get to see what you post and that’s assuming they see it because they’re scrolling through, they might miss it. If you don’t have good creative, you don’t have good graphics. If you’re not saying something interesting. They might buzz right by it. I do that all the time. I’m flipping through just going fast. So just because it’s somebody’s speed doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be seen. So what you want to do is, of course, if you’re working on business, you want to be in a controlled environment, that’s an environment you control yourself or someone that you know. And trust controls a controlled environment, to some extent would be email, except you can’t control it completely because you might end up on a spam list or you might get no open rates, advertising, you know, things like our magazines, our newsletters, like some of the stuff we produce, obviously controlled environment, it’s, it’s gonna get out to the right people. But you have to, no matter what you’re doing, if you’re using it for marketing, there’s three legs on the marketing stool, and I talked about this in my books in my videos, and that is that you’ve got to have great attention getting content or copy. copywriting is very important headlines are very important. And that’s true on social media too. You’ve got to get people’s attention, you got to have a great graphic. Next, you got to have a great audience. And that is An audience who is the audience that you really need to reach. And then of course, you’ve got to have repetition, any message. In order for people to take action on it usually has to be repeated and seen by that individual eight or 10 times, and sometimes over longer periods of time depending on how much time has passed because we lose memory of certain things when we sleep. And so in a short period of time, you want to be seen 789 10 times in a longer period, it might be 30 4050 times depending on if you’re building a brand or you’re trying to sell something in particular, great content, great copy, great audience and repetition without those things, most marketing will fail. The next question comes from Jan Coby. It does not say where Jan is but she says, I used to paint as a greeting card artists for five years for the leading greeting card company now teach art part time and I’m developing a line of card ideas. I would love to free For other card companies, and share my new ideas, but I don’t know how to proceed. I have a list of greeting card companies and art directors all over the US. And I plan to send them five by seven postcards to my best work for consideration. What’s your best advice for me to find freelance work?

Eric Rhoads 1:04:19
Well, Jan, you must be pretty good. I think that the first thing is to take an inventory of what you already have. You have connections at the big greeting card company. And unless you left on bad terms, maybe they would become your best customer. as a freelancer. Have you thought about that if you open that door? Secondly, you’re probably in touch with a lot of other greeting card designers. And they probably worked for other companies too. And they know former designers they know art directors, maybe ask them the question. Can they make introductions? Can they tell you who they know? My guess that they’re probably not a lot of greeting card companies. I might be wrong, but I don’t think there are hundreds of certainly probably Not thousands. And my guess is that they all have designers on staff or they all use freelancers, one or the other, maybe both. So why would they buy your designs? What’s unique about your designs, you need to come up with a compelling reason to get their attention. This is called strategy. Cease mailing postcards is a tactic, what you put on those postcards and what you’re targeting and who you’re talking to and what your messaging is. That’s strategy, cards or tactics. Now, let’s say there are six to 10 companies and six to 10 art directors. Why send a card? Why not just pick up the phone and call each of them and introduce yourself? It’s only six people. So if you get a no, you can probably ask a couple questions and learn about the likelihood that you would succeed with them long term. And if it were me, I’d start my own card company. Then the key is getting distribution and being able to afford to print your cards but You’re up against some big guns. So why not create something unique and different, like an online greeting card company, make it so that they can order online cards through an app and have them auto mail to the people you want with the messages you want. There are some apps out there that do that kind of thing. I don’t know if they have designs like what you provide, but you could certainly work with apps or you could do it yourself. My rule is that self employed is always better than employed. In other words, you’re controlling your destiny more if you have your own business. So think about that. Now, being a freelancer is having your own business. So that’s a good thing. But you’re also relying on other people. If you can rely only on yourself and your great marketing and your great distribution. Think Big and you can control your own world. Now related to your question about postcards, I love postcards. They’re very effective. Now they’re expensive. They’re not as expensive as other types of mail, but you can probably count on you know, 50 or 50 cents or $1, or card, depending on how many people you’re sending to if you’re sending to 1000. You know, it’s going to cost you 1000 or $2,000 for a mailing. And postcards don’t typically work without what we call repetition. And what I do postcard campaigns, I like to hit people over and over and over again in a few weeks period of time, you know, every week every two weeks twice a week, you will grow on them, people will start paying attention, they won’t respond immediately, but eventually a high percentage of them will respond. Anyway, hope this helps. This has been the art marketing minute.

Announcer 1:07:36
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:07:42
reminder now to get your seat for our only summertime plein air convention. It’s usually in spring this year August in Santa Fe which is stunning weather learn more about it at and remember also to sign up for the publishers Invitational. 10 year anniversary. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and some new and special things And of course I mentioned the 240 plein air tips. There’s a free ebook for you at I hope you remember all these. There’s one more. It’s and that’s where you sign up for my Sunday coffee blog, where I talk about stuff, all kinds of stuff, like live. Anyway, it’s fun to do this. We’ll do it again sometime like next week. I’ll see you then My name is Eric Rhoads. Stay strong. Stay positive, learn something new make good use of your time. I am the publisher and founder of plein air magazine. That’s good. You see your time you could get a subscription and read it or a digital subscription or whatever. Anyway, it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. We’ll see you. Bye bye.

Announcer 1:08:52
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. Cast with your friends, and you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected]. Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.


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