PleinAir Podcast - Susan Blackwood Howard Friedland
Susan Blackwood and Howard Friedland, featured in the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads, Episode 167

Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews the artist couple Susan Blackwood and Howard Friedland.

Listen as Susan and Howard share the following:
• The romantic story of how, during an art event, their easels kept moving closer together (“Don’t buy me diamonds,” Susan told Howard, “buy me art supplies.”)
• How they’ve seen the plein air movement change over the past several decades
• Thoughts on painting on location versus painting from photographs; and more

Bonus! Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares how to use marketing to make your art stand out from the rest, and ways to protect your art when it’s being sold through a gallery in this Art Marketing Minute Podcast.

Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Susan Blackwood and Howard Friedland here:

Susan Blackwood, "Over the Land," 48 x 36 in.
Susan Blackwood, “Over the Land,” 48 x 36 in.
Howard Friedland, "Morning in Giverny," 24 x 30 in.
Howard Friedland, “Morning in Giverny,” 24 x 30 in.

Bonus: “Preparing Your Image,” a video by Susan Blackwood >

Related Links:
– Susan Blackwood:
– Howard Friedland:
– 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 167. Today we’re featuring Susan Blackwood and Howard Friedland.

Announcer 0:19
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 0:57
Thank you Jim kipping and welcome to the plein air podcast. I hope everybody is safe and well quarantined. These are interesting times. I have a few housekeeping announcements for you. First off due to Corona virus. The plenn air convention has been moved, moved to August 11 through 14 and it’s moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Good news, because this is our first summer plein air convention. And so people who normally can’t go because it’s not in the summer, they can come and I’m a proud I’m a proud I’m proud to announce that Kevin MacPherson is going to step in and do the pre convention workshop. We have some more announcements coming up as we kind of get our act together. This is all kind of very sudden Of course, the best thing though is that we can we end is the beginning of Indian market, which is the big event the big summer event in Santa Fe, it draws thousands it’s going to be a really great time to be there. So you might want to extend your stay Of course it’s the best time of year to pay. You can learn more at Also, the Plein Air salon usually gives its award at the plein air convention, the $23,000 in cash awards. So we’ve extended the competition. We’re going to be doing more competitions, we’re going to do one a month to catch up. So we’ll be doing an April and May and a June. I guess that’s not for more, it’s three more. And then we will have the final judging before the convention so you have an opportunity before the end of the month to get your entries in more chances to win. And it’s now a monthly so check it out at I should mention, we’ve been doing free videos of art instruction on the streamline art video Facebook account, just go to Facebook, streamline art video and follow those will pop up for you. And then while you’re in quarantine, you can watch some of the videos that we’ve been putting out there for free. I’ve also posted a lot of other helpful things like art, marketing things and so on. Speaking of art, Marketing. I’ll have art marketing questions in the marketing minute after the interview and the marketing minute now has its own podcast as well in case you can’t listen to this one, you can listen to that one. Tell your friends. Let’s get right to our interview with the lovebirds. Susan Blackwood and Howard Friedland, Susan Blackwood and Howard Friedland, welcome to the plein air podcast.

Podcast Guest 3:24
Thank you. It’s great to be here with you.

Eric Rhoads 3:27
Well, thank you. It’s great to be here with you too. I I this is unusual, because typically a podcast is an interview with a single individual, but because the two of you are melded together as one, we’re going to do both of you at once.

Podcast Guest 3:43
A good idea.

Unknown Speaker 3:46
So I’m going to start out by telling everybody how we met because it was good. Maybe you could tell them

Podcast Guest 3:56
Well, I think the first time that we met we were at greenhouse gas. Every one of the there’s those that they used to have to get exactly what they call this, but you are the guest speaker on this salon is That’s right. And you are the guest speaker. And after your your speech, we got to chat a little bit actually shared an elevator. We made that connection. And then, more importantly, we got an invitation to your first foray into plein air events. It was even before the pace it was in Austin. It was at the wizard Academy and with a group of wonderful artists that we had such a great time. I think you’re just dipping your toe into the idea of having these events. Well, yeah, we were very fortunate to be invited.

Unknown Speaker 4:51
I was very fortunate to have you if you remember the concept originally this was this was a group of of artists who just got together to paint. There was no fee attached to it there was, I don’t think there was maybe there was, but it I guess we had to pay for food. But the the idea was that we as artists, more folks like you than me, because I’m not on the professional circuit. But the idea was that when we were out at events, I remember being at the Carmel plein air thing and sitting around a table with some of the artists and they said, you know, we can’t paint next to each other because we’re trying each trying to sell our painting. So we don’t want the same scenes and we don’t get to spend any time together. This is the one time when we you know, we’re together for drinks and I thought wouldn’t it be fun to have everybody together and paint for a week? And so I kind of put the word out I think you guys got the word and and then I met who did we have on that trip to remember?

Unknown Speaker 5:56
Well, Jeff leg was there. And I believe I think Luna sets DeVito was there he was. Carolyn Anderson was there. Marilyn Anderson? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 6:07
But she got sick and spent the entire time in her in her room.

Podcast Guest 6:13
Yeah. And it was john Lasseter there, I think. Yes, john Lanza and Todd William. Peter Miller

Podcast Guest 6:22
likes good writers and Peter Miller. Good group. CW CW Monday was sorry, Barry. He might have been there. Yeah. And Barry Barry. Oh, yeah.

Podcast Guest 6:37
Yeah. Genie.

Podcast Guest 6:40

Unknown Speaker 6:42
I don’t want to leave anybody out now. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 6:44
Well, there were.

Eric Rhoads 6:46
I think Originally there were seven people invited and I was getting phone calls of Hey, how about this person coming along, and because it at the time, there was nothing like that there. Nobody had ever really done in a plein air retreats so to speak. Now everybody’s doing them but so that was the first publishers Invitational i think is what I called it. And then now this year in the Adirondacks, we’re celebrating 10 years in the Adirondacks. So actually, we’ve been doing it 11 years.

Podcast Guest 7:19
Wow, now that we live in Arkansas, maybe we can make it out for that.

Eric Rhoads 7:23
I’d like that very much. I don’t know about you guys, but my hair is maybe a little bit different color than it used to be back then.

Podcast Guest 7:34
Silver streaks or whatever they highlight.

Eric Rhoads 7:38
I have a painting hanging in the world famous artists cabin that I did that week. It was an old Texaco station to remember that.

Speaker 2 7:46

Podcast Guest 7:46
we Okay, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 7:50

Unknown Speaker 7:51
that is great.

Eric Rhoads 7:53
So, let’s, for the benefit of everybody listening. Why don’t we kind of start out with your Stories, because you guys are one of the successful couples that do this together. And there are quite a few of them. But you you guys kind of did it early on let’s let’s kind of figure out how you got together. How did this begin?

Unknown Speaker 8:19
Well, let’s see.

Unknown Speaker 8:23
I was living in Taos, New Mexico at the time. Well that Susan and I met my neighbor across the way from my house, had to leave to go he’s uh, he was one of the house Indians, one of the natives there. And he was an actor, and he was cast to be to play touch Tango, in the Moby Dick version with Patrick Stewart and they were filming it in Australia, so he and his wife and little girl had to leave for the summer. I asked me if I would take, you know, watch their house. And they said, if you want to have some of your artist friends come you have them stay at our place. And that’d be great. So I started inviting a lot of artists that I knew come paint with me in Taos. And I was good friends with Karen Vance. Wonderful Colorado artists, I call her and I said, how would you like to come and paint with me and tell us and bring your husband Jim and she said, Well, Jim has to work What if I bring my sister Susan who’s a wonderful artists I said, Sure. Bring season. And so

Unknown Speaker 9:39
the time came.

Unknown Speaker 9:42
Everybody got together and Susan and I hit it off right away. I don’t want to go into too much detail about, you know, all the details about it. Let’s get

Eric Rhoads 9:51
into the juicy details. All right. Let’s see. Let’s turn the planner podcast into an X rated

Podcast Guest 9:59
those five days You’re so focused and so excited about the art and talking art that Howard and I would slip away for walks and about the most passionate we got to holding hands. Yeah, but my juices f4 Yeah. After five days of painting, she noticed that our easel has been getting closer and closer together. In the last day, we were standing on a mesa. And we couldn’t stop talking to each other. So our shoulders were touching, even facing one way I was facing another. And and we were doing our last painting, but that was the beginning of the romance train there.

Unknown Speaker 10:38
The thing was that she lives in Bozeman, Montana. I was in Taos, New Mexico. And in those days, this is going back 1997 and email and the internet and Skype and all that kind of stuff was yet to come.

Eric Rhoads 10:55
Just phone calls, right.

Podcast Guest 10:57
Yeah, a long time. Phone call we got the

Unknown Speaker 11:03
phone card from caspo for two cents a minute. So anyways after me while we were in house we got to we painted at Worldcon skis wonderful compound and the Taos church and I introduce them to Laura Robin all the terrific Taos artists and we we just hit it off and then she had scheduled a workshop in France. Well actually it was in England a couple of weeks after we met, and so she was going to be gone for the next seven weeks. And so

Unknown Speaker 11:40
we’re gonna have to put that little romance on hold.

Podcast Guest 11:43
But I got but I was in New York, I think if the gate ready to board my international flights, and they used to have some booths right at the gate. So I’m sitting there thinking seven weeks, man, and then I thought, you know what I should test drive them and see If he likes to travel, I called him up and I said, Can you get an airline ticket? Can you get a passport? Can you meet me in three weeks, I’ll be done with my workshops in three weeks, and we can tour Europe.

Unknown Speaker 12:15
So my sister will work for British air at the time, and she was able to tap into some terrific prices on airfare over to London. So she got me a really good ticket and I was ready to go. I started studying my timing because I knew we were going to be going to Venice. He said language is really fast. And so by the time he got over there, and we got to Italy, he was able to say little short sentences and I was amazed. Very impressed anyway, so we went, I went over and finished a workshop. As soon as I got over my jetlag, we we headed off to Venice, and from there, we went to actually went to France first Because Susan’s friend who was putting on workshops in France wanted us to teach a workshop. And he saw that coming April so was actually showing us or no, no as a woman, Sunday really Oh yeah. And

Podcast Guest 13:18
he did phenomenal sunny life say she was sunny reason but she lives say and she has international tours and she did that for about 30 years and in France, and this was way before everybody else was doing it. So

Unknown Speaker 13:33
in the Provence area. So we

Podcast Guest 13:35
interviewed with her and she showed us some sights and we really liked everything and then off we went to Venice.

Eric Rhoads 13:43
And the rest is they say is history.

Unknown Speaker 13:47
Yeah, it is art history. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 13:51
So had had had had you guys been single before married before? Doesn’t matter.

Podcast Guest 13:58
Um, I have been married before and been single for about seven years and decided you know what? Maybe I’m just fine being single. I’m outgoing and I have a lot of friends and I’m happy and then here comes Howard. And it was like, oh

Speaker 2 14:17
well i think i really like

Podcast Guest 14:21
and Howard has never been married before. So some close calls

Unknown Speaker 14:27
never ever actually tried to not so and at that time neither one of us were seeing anybody so fortunately didn’t one of us out children

Podcast Guest 14:38
Yeah, so we sent like a lot of the mean that was, you know, when you’re with another artists who speak the same language, you thinking the same direction. I said, one of the criteria is I had to like an artist style if I was going to be married to him. Well, the interesting thing is that when I would go to my sister Karen Vance’s house and be with her for a few I’d wander the house looking at all of the paintings that she would buy from other artists. And I kept picking up these paintings and shouting at Karen who did this painting to say that that guy Howard Friedland, okay. So I fell in love with the brushstrokes before I fell in love with him.

Unknown Speaker 15:19
One of the things I think you’ll get, you’ll appreciate this. One of my pickup lines was when we were in Taos on these walks, even though you live in, in Bozeman rather than house we should stay in touch because we can start marketing together.

Podcast Guest 15:35
And that really he hit

Unknown Speaker 15:37
Dallas Dallas fellas, pick up

Podcast Guest 15:38
that was the sweet spot for me because

Podcast Guest 15:42
he’s talking to Hardee’s that’s coming on to me. And now I find out because it’s the pickup line, you know?

Eric Rhoads 15:51
So, yeah, that was that was a 97 right?

Unknown Speaker 15:54
Yeah. 97 we got married 98. So eventually decided I would move up to Bozeman. And I think it was how long two weeks after I got there could pose. Yeah.

Speaker 2 16:08

Unknown Speaker 16:09
Day. And then how many months after that?

Podcast Guest 16:12
Well, we got married in a month and a half, two months later. And it was a pretty quick Daily News. We just knew, you know, when you’ve lived that long. You kind of know what fits and what doesn’t. And yeah, we took a chance, but it’s been phenomenal. And we have marketed oh my gosh, having that support and encouragement and someone cheering you on. One of the things that we found is a couple really,

Unknown Speaker 16:45
very, very important is there’s no competition between us. If one gets into the show, the other one doesn’t feel left out or abused or ignored. we cheer each other on because we feel like we both won. And that’s really important with couples and I think artists in general, you just can’t be competitive with each other. One of the important things that we did in the very beginning, I think it was on the drive home from we got married in Denver, actually. So on the drive home, actually, we cut our honeymoon short because she wanted to do a carol Anderson washed out. And that that date was so we ended up going to Butte instead of going home from from our honeymoon, and took a workshop in Toronto. And then one of the things we did on that drive was we decided we were going to make a paradigm, which is really nothing more than what how we saw our lives at that moment and how we wanted to see our lives in five years in 10 years. And we made a list of things about getting into certain galleries, getting into shows, getting awards, what how many awards we wanted to get and how You know, all these different things. We were just playing and making up dreams that we wanted to see turn into reality in five years, 10 years, 20 years. And we really put it out there. We threw it way out, like fly fishing, and not knowing exactly how some of these things would become real. We just started noticing over the years, that Check, check, check. All these things that we we just threw out there were happening.

Podcast Guest 18:40
Yeah, even now. 22 years we’re about to our anniversary is next next month on the 19th 19th. Yeah. And even now after 22 years of marriage, some of those paradigm things that are happening still And it’s, it’s like, part of our consciousness is working towards the heart of that maybe that we’re working toward it. But it’s just, I think it’s so important to put down goals and dreams and throw it out there way beyond what you think is possible.

Eric Rhoads 19:18
Yeah. You really do need to, to, to do that and to and to manifest it and to read it off into think about it often and, but it tends to just kind of happen. I mean, you, you know, you, you’re kind of re you know, knowing those things, you’re in the back of your mind you’re kind of rearranging things in your life to to try to gear towards those things. But it’s sometimes it happens on an unconscious level.

Unknown Speaker 19:45
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We in the field never would have guessed in a million years. How far we had come from the day we broke those things down, you know, in a very short time, five years. Whoa,

Podcast Guest 20:00
whoa, we start seeing things right away for a year or two. But that was the easy thing, you know that we could Oh, we can accomplish that. And then that just got bigger and bigger and bigger. And you know, the thing of it is, I think it’s really important to look at the paradigms periodically. We’ve talked about that since we moved to Arkansas. This was a huge change for us go up coming from Montana, down to Arkansas, leaving behind the local that had been so supportive the regional artists and local collectors and coming to an area that some people know us on a national level, but basically, we’re just one of the crowd here and then slowly getting recognized again and becoming useful in the art community down here. But for us, we realized that now that last boxes are have been unpacked and our studios are set up. Now’s the time that we really need to pull up a 10 year time. reevaluate and add to it. You know what I’m gonna do in the next two years, five years 10 years?

Eric Rhoads 21:07
Well, I want to I want to get into I want to get into talking about painting and some some some very specific things about plein air. But before we do that, I’m curious you what I remember a time when you guys either showed me I think you showed me your studios being built that your ultimate studios, I think I saw pictures of them in construction and then later when when they were built, I think this was kind of almost all before Facebook. And so you were pretty committed to Bozeman. What what prompted the change to move to Arkansas? Was that because Jeff moved there now?

Unknown Speaker 21:47
Yeah, we, by the way, that studio, that we ultimately was, number one, a tremendous source of income because we would have not only ourselves classes and workshops there but every summer we invited the top plein air go life and figurative artists to come every August for a workshop and we would fill up two weeks of workshops with the same teacher to different groups every year, and we we’ve had all the not all but you know, a lot of the top well known painters come teach there and including Jeff, Jeff locos Carolyn and Carolyn insulin that Smith you know, all in all the known artists. So that’s studio it was big it paid for itself, but the thing was, we’re getting a little bit older and the snow is still flying in Bozeman as we speak, so, shoveling driveways every day was getting a little muddy. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 23:01
we love We love that area to death. But

Eric Rhoads 23:05
it was time we just,

Unknown Speaker 23:07
we just thought it’s time to look for a little bit more moderate climate and a lot of our artists friends, were finding terrific deals. Real estate in Bozeman is getting pretty high so we’re able to get a really good price and we saw your

Unknown Speaker 23:24
mark Hanson move

Unknown Speaker 23:26
just like moved south, a few of our other artists were moving to areas where the real estate market was really, you know, very affordable, favorable. favorable. Yeah. Let’s, let’s start looking, you know, and so we visited Jeff and and looked around some houses. We came a few times lobby area, the Ozarks are just gorgeous, especially in the fall. Unbelievable. You came in October.

Podcast Guest 23:59
Oh, Time ring right now. So beautiful

Unknown Speaker 24:02
flowers are starting to come out already and trees.

Unknown Speaker 24:06
So and it’s it’s kind of a hub in a sense because the state’s surrounding where we live. We live in the northwest corner where Bentonville is that’s a Walmart or Walmart is and so they have a fabulous museum called the Crystal Bridges museum. All the listeners should look it up online. Alice was one of the Walmart errs started with her fine collection of American early American art and they have you know, all kinds of wonderful

Eric Rhoads 24:44
Yeah, it’s a fabulous museum a friend of mine is Director there and Alice has just done so much far and and I love Alice Alice has been a subscriber to our magazine for a long time. I’ve done better, not better. I’m Looking forward to that. So let’s talk about painting because you know that’s why people ask me this and and First off, give you guys have both been around as artists for quite a while and you have had

Eric Rhoads 25:15
you’ve had it.

Eric Rhoads 25:18
You’ve had things the way they were before this plein air movement kind of started and now it’s, it’s blossomed pretty heavily. Talk about the contrast what what, what was it like? What what are the pros and cons? How are you feeling about that all today?

Podcast Guest 25:38
Well, I started as a little girl, my dad and mom were artists and my dad would take us out and we would put our little watercolor tablets on the picnic table and some lake and we would paint and it was a solitary experience. I remember as I grew up In college I hit one summer I had a teacher that forced us to paint outside. For me most of most of us was a studio until Phil Austin came to visit have fabulous watercolors. He’s no longer living but he came to visit for a couple days. And he says, grab your brushes, let’s go out and paint and I thought what? And I sat right behind him and I watched how he applied it and the things he thought about we talked about his painting and I painted I painted something different but but that experience brought back all the memories of when I was a child and I thought I got to do this. So I devoted one day a week for an entire summer. Man No, I think I did it for an entire year I had a girlfriend would sit in the car would turn the heater on to paint. And that was a solitary thing. It was really hard to find somebody to do it. And there wasn’t the equipment. You know, the build Frenchy though was about that was heavier than can be and so hiking around with that was really crazy. What I see is that the equipment is available now is unbelievable kids just so great. And of course we buy every single thing that comes.

Eric Rhoads 27:21
And you should and and the vendors. Yeah, the vendors appreciate it, you know, and it’s, I think, to that point, it’s really important to do that I do the same thing and I and I spent far too much money and my wife will well let’s just say that it’s probably something I shouldn’t be doing but but you know, you’re always looking to get the next best thing to see is this one gonna be a little better for me and, and then you stabilize and that really works and everybody keeps coming up with these innovations. So we need to encourage these people and help them

Podcast Guest 27:56
I say to Howard, don’t buy me diamonds by marketplace.

Eric Rhoads 28:01
Well, it just if you had diamonds, they just get paint on them anyway.

Unknown Speaker 28:07
But for me it was when I started out I came from a commercial art background. I was an art director on Madison Avenue for years and then I moved down to Miami, Florida and worked in advertising there. But when I moved down I decided I, I went to originally I was at the High School of Music and Art, which is a fantastic High School in New York and we had everything from painting in oils, watercolor, tempera graphic design, and so I went into the graphics and this thing in college. And then but when I moved down to Miami, that that itch to get back into fine art started to hit me and I started with the who was a school called the Miami Art Center, and I did night classes while I was working in advertising. And so most of what I did in the beginning of my My Painting Experience was studio work I did figurative and still life, I didn’t do much landscape, because the Florida landscape didn’t really appear to me appealed to me that much. But at a certain point back in 82, I moved to I used to get all the art magazines and I would see galleries that were showing the kind of art that I like fashion and some other things and they were a lot of New Mexico the same gallery and, and, and so I decided to take a car trip with my then girlfriend out to New Mexico and check out what was going on there. And I saw from the galleries were representing artists that did representational painting. And I said someday I’m gonna move here and get into galleries. And so I finally did move out there. And I didn’t really have much experience with plein air or landscape painting at all. I went into the waited gallery and started seeing Wolfgang ski and God global and all those towns painters that were painting such beautiful vibrant landscapes and it just knocked me over it said, I gotta start getting out there and practicing landscapes. But I, I had my my equipment and I would drive around, just get my car and drive around and I had no clue about what would make a good landscape painting none at all. So I’d look for things that seem like it would be something like wolf Gump, or God globalizes as a sort of subject matter. And I would say I’m going to try my hand at paying this and I use them kind of as a model as to the style that I I felt most comfortable with the loose kind of impressionistic, painterly style, juicy, best juicy bacillus and I just started doing it until I started to get an eye for The landscape the exquisite landscape and what appealed to me more than what I thought other artists would be painting. And slowly I started to build up my confidence and at that time I was a pure plein air purist, I I painted from photos was a was a no no, I just didn’t think that that was the way to go at all. So for the first 10 years, at least of of my my landscape painting was strictly going out and painting different little New Mexico towns and with with some other artists that I had met in that area, Robert Schuster, Jeff Otis, and some of the other painters we’d get together and go to these little Hispanic little towns and the churches and, and the Adobe’s and all that kind of stuff was fantastic. And that’s really how I learned to to paint plain hair. Eventually, I started to realize once I started getting into some galleries that they wanted bigger work, and so I had to teach myself how to interpret photographs. As if actually I was painting plein air. So I would use my studies and I would with the photographs, I would start working on some bigger pieces. And then the plein air events weren’t really happening much when I was

Eric Rhoads 32:38
doing mostly plein air. There there really weren’t any I mean, I I started planning magazine three Yeah, you know, 300 years ago there were Yeah, there were. I think there were maybe two maybe three plein air events in the entire United States scene now there’s over 300 of them.

Unknown Speaker 32:57
Yeah, I this was the early you know to mid 80s, that I’m talking about, and then we started getting into the 90s. That’s when I started working in studio more and from photographs. But yeah, that’s exactly right. Yeah. Now, they’re all over the place unfortunate. Doing doing these events, you know, these week long events.

Unknown Speaker 33:26
My age, it really takes a lot out of

Eric Rhoads 33:29
you. So let’s talk about that. There’s actually there’s two or three things you talked about, I want to probe into and then Susan had started to say something I, I think first off is what do you tell people? You said you had to learn? How to translate your studies and then photos into studio paintings? What do you tell people in terms of how they can learn to do that? Is there a method to it? Because

Unknown Speaker 33:57
it’s absolutely okay. What is

Unknown Speaker 34:01
Well, first you have to scale whatever you’re doing, make sure that you’re doing apples to apples with with

Unknown Speaker 34:09
what you’re doing. Also, you have photos.

Unknown Speaker 34:13
Sometimes, you know, you want to eliminate you want to make, make, make it a painting, not just copy a photocopy. You have to eliminate things. You have to translate things photos, everybody knows that they don’t really capture a full range of color. For instance, if you’re photographing something, say, well, I’ll give you an example. Some of my students in a class will be working from a photo and they’ll tell you, let’s say, a green bush in the photo and the shadows of that green bush all kind of this there’s no detail or there’s they’re kind of black, they go black, or purple or whatever the printer decides it wants to make them or whatever you Your screen says it wants to make it, you have to realize that it’s really a green bush. So the shadows got to be green. It can’t be black or purple. You have to think, yeah, but let me back up my painting outdoors a lot. Your eye sees thousands of times more than what a photo can reproduce. So when you’re looking at something with your own eyes, especially outdoors, there’s a scintillating energy that goes into your brain through your eyes. And this is a kind of an energy and electrical force almost. When you translate that into a flat photograph, that’s gone. That all you all you have is some sort of facsimile of, of what you actually saw how many times especially when we were photographing with film, you take rolls and rolls and rolls of film. That’s something that you love. That was breathtakingly exciting. And then you look at the photos and you say, Why did I photograph this you know, you have to be able to recall what that energy was when when you actually saw and by doing these little painting studies with plein air studies, color studies, and rely on those, not the photo for more accurate color and rely on some sketches and some notes that you might take about what excited you about that particular scene because it it may or may not be there. It’s it’s a skill that has to be developed over time, trusting your memory, trusting your your in about what’s what’s in your brain, what’s left in your brain from that experience of that

Unknown Speaker 37:01
And make it your own.

Unknown Speaker 37:04
Do whatever you have to do to get that color to harmonize to get that, that light to be as brilliant as you remember being or, or whatever that mood was. It’s an overcast, dull mood, you have to know enough about your palate, in order to be able to push and pull it to give you back what, what you actually felt when you saw that thing. So I don’t know if that answers your question. It does. Susan, you

Eric Rhoads 37:32
started you started. Susan, you started to say something about that?

Podcast Guest 37:36
Well, when I first started, not start because I’ve been doing this on my own my whole life. But when I started teaching this, I told my students at first we would just go out and take photographs. And then the next week we’d come back to the photograph and work from the painting and I had realized the same problem that Howard was having and Again living in Bozeman was when I really got my classes going. And that was 30 years ago. I mean, if you had a few weeks in the summer, literally a few that you could go out and paint in the ladies that I had in my class and sit didn’t want to go out and snow suits and big boots and paint in the snow. So I would have them take photographs, but I got them into the habit of taking two photographs, one was overexposed. And one was underexposed, or three actually, and then one was just the way the camera was because if they needed any detail in the shadow, they would get it or if they needed more color in the light by underexposing it you would get it but that wasn’t you know, that was just a bandaid on the issue. And so I kept wanting to take people outside and I would as much as I could in the summer. But one year I broke my toe I was doing portraits and then on a full remodel and I was barefoot paint this and I ran around the trend of the easel caught my toe broke my big toe, laying in bed with this cast on my toe wrapped around that relate cast, but you know, couldn’t walk in and I’m thinking, Okay, I’m 45 years old. What is it that I haven’t done that I really, really want to do with painting. And my heart’s desire was to go back to Europe and paint, but I didn’t want to go by myself. So that was how I decided I was going to start taking artists to Europe, and so I could paint with them. And that was oh my gosh, it was in at Nope, so 94 I think I broke my toe. And that became such an experience to be able to paint every day in a beautiful place. And of course, here we can paint almost year round now outside, but the experience was when we first when I first Got these people going over there? I didn’t even want to take anything. I wasn’t really doing oils. I had dabbled with it but I took my watercolors because that was really easy. You could just sit with a watercolor in your lap and hold your is your palette and the way you went. So when I when Howard and I got married and we started going outside, I was doing watercolors all the time. And he was doing oils, I would get them faster than he did. But that was because watercolor and then five years later I just had to find out who I would be in oil so I switched and started doing all my plein air and all my studio work in oils and found as as much as watercolors expresses the light values and mid tone values. The oil you can get so rich in your dark so which medium became The treasure to paid out flag that answered the question.

Eric Rhoads 41:05
I don’t remember what the question was. You know?

Podcast Guest 41:11
Go. Go ahead, please.

Speaker 2 41:13
Well, the way the premier has changed

Podcast Guest 41:17
from many, many years ago, I was always amazed that the reason that the Impressionists got started, one of the reasons was the invention of the tube because with a portable tube, they could carry their paint outside instead of having to have a system that was mixing their paints while they were painting, or a little bag of pink skin that carried the pigments in them. And that was one of the reasons why they could go outside and I only thought, what a gratitude we have for that.

Eric Rhoads 41:53
Absolutely. Well, you know, there’s some some of the lessons in this for people who might be new to this or listening is that Number one is you got to paint outside a lot before you can paint from photographs. Because if you if you don’t, you’re never going to be able to capture what feels real. And I’ve said this on the podcast many times, but I was actually when I was in Russia a couple weeks ago I was with Nicola bovie, who is a Russian master at the Surkov Institute, and, and we walked into this art gallery, and in the lobby of the art gallery, they had paintings from local people that were for sale. And I walked up to three of them and I said, I think those three were definitely done from photographs. He says, Yes, absolutely. And then we ask and that yes, they were, you can tell and, and because they, they just, they lie there, they look flat. So your best advice for painting from photographs other than getting outdoors and painting is what is there something that you try not to do or something you try to do?

Unknown Speaker 42:58
One of the things

Unknown Speaker 43:01
I tell my students, you can paint a painting from life that looks like it was painted from a photograph. Or you could paint a painting from a photograph that looks like it was painted from life. So a lot of it has to do with

Eric Rhoads 43:18

Unknown Speaker 43:20
Yeah, experience and confidence and just doing it a lot just getting out there and, you know, putting in putting in the hours, but the key is really enjoying being out there really loving the experience of listening to the birds listening to, you know, seeing wildlife close to me, it’s not a grizzly,

Unknown Speaker 43:45
which I could tell you stories about. Well, let’s

Eric Rhoads 43:47
hear it. Let’s hear the grizzly story. Wait,

Podcast Guest 43:50
before we go on, I want to say that one of the things that I find all the time when I paint outside there’s a completely different experience emotionally for me Because of the wind, the like Howard said the bird singing the sun how it’s moving while we’re painting and, and when we’re painting outside. I when I look at my paintings I’ve been applied, I remember all those experiences and I’m missing that when I’m working from a photograph and I, I try to translate that into a photograph Howard hands with one of the

Unknown Speaker 44:25
not normally just listening to the birds, but when when you travel overseas like painting in Venice, you’re set up on the street, and all of a sudden you smell something coming out of the window and somebody’s making a wonderful lunch and then they put on opera and you smell the smell of one of their wonderful cooking and listen to what they have on the radio. The scowl on the church bells going and the gondoliers coming down the canal going to their their customers. Oh I mean that’s what life is all about. They Being in it, standing around it and people who are standing in the same place, like for a couple of hours like we do when we’re when we’re painting in and focusing and concentrating on a particular painting that we’re working on. See, so many things go by, whereas the average person just walking down the street that you know, they’re missing out on so much he just see lights go by, and hopefully you’re concentrating on what you’re painting but the things that go on while you’re painting around you are amazing.

Podcast Guest 45:31
Yeah, and I think the key is to to,

Podcast Guest 45:36
for me, I’m more of an emotional theater. I want to put my emotion in my painting. So I try when I’m looking at painting outside or anything really, I try to ask myself first, what emotion Am I feeling and then according to that emotion, those are going to be the colors I choose the even the sharpness of the edges, or the softness or the Do I tend to make things more curved or more angular? I mean, if I’m feeling the wind and it’s rough, make me make the viewer feel what I’m feeling in that painting. And there’s so much passion when you’re painting at

Unknown Speaker 46:17
work this grizzly bear story you wanted to hear

Unknown Speaker 46:21
to my artists friends and I went up to glacier to paint. Coming was he’s a painter from grateful Montana and another friend of mine. We were up in Glacier and we decided to go to many glacier. That’s an area of glacier that’s renowned for having lots of Grizzlies. So we went by this creek and we were setting up we set up to paint this mountain across the other side of this creek and I was about 10 feet back in the other two hours. We’re right on the bank of the creek and We just set up and we’re starting to block in our paintings. And my friend Tom says he thinks he sees a dog, but then he realizes they’re there. And it’s a grizzly. And it’s coming down the creek towards us. And it got to about, I’d say about 20 feet away from us, and kind of looked at us and sniffed a little bit. I got I had bear spray, got my bear spray out, and my other friend got his bear spray up. Tom got his camera out, started photographing this bear that was about 15 feet away phone, and the bear just missed out a little bit and then decided he would just keep moseying down the creek. Fortunately, the creek turned away from us. And he just kept going, but my heart just stopped because he could have been on us in second there. So and this is a fairly young one. It was like an adolescent. I think this is just the way it looked. And the other ones that have dangerous because they’re the ones that big bears kick kick out, you know, they just get out of here. So they have a chip on this roller But anyway, so Tom had these great photos of this bear. And if you go on my website you’ll see a painting that I did from this photo of this bear and the story about this is on my website,

Podcast Guest 48:21
I have a interesting observation about painting outside and wildlife especially bears. And that is if you go back, I don’t ever ever ever remember hearing or reading about it. And talking to my dad who was a painter to reading about a plein air painter that standing there so still not if you’re walking on the trail, it’s something else. But if you’ve got your painful out and you solvents and everything, and you’re painting I’ve never heard and I could be proven wrong but I I asked a lot of people and never read of of any planner artists getting hurt by a bear. And I think my theory is that the solvents and the paint fumes their smelling ability is I forget 10,000 stronger than ours is like a dog of 1000 times stronger or something like that. It’s just really, really strong. And I think that if you’re not showing any aggressive aggression, and you’re standing still, or I’ve been sitting sometimes on the ground when I was doing watercolors, that the smell of what we’re working with, even if we can’t smell it

Podcast Guest 49:36
is enough that they’re not interested.

Podcast Guest 49:40
And I don’t know if that’s a good thing to tell people to be aware of. I think it’s always a good idea to carry bear spray. And I don’t think that women This is my old fashioned thing, but I just don’t think women should paint along. You know, get a buddy being a buddy system and be sure that you have yourself on to it. Do I love painting plein air? That’s probably my strongest passion is being outside and capturing the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the city or

Unknown Speaker 50:16
landscape, waterfall ice, it doesn’t matter what season water. It just was another experience I had painting alone. When I was in New Mexico, we used as groups go out to the little small towns. When I had this one painting that I liked it I want to continue and nobody was available. So I went out alone to pay and I was on this hillside. So I get up on this hillside, set up my stuff and I’m painting away these two guys right up on horseback, and they start rearing the horses up and shooting guns, live ammo up in the air, hooting and hollering like you see in the western movies. And where was I going to go out all my stuff was all set up like I was there, you know, I wasn’t going anywhere. So I just kind of smiled and say How you doing? And they just wrote off, you know, they just wanted to, you know, scare the hell out.

Eric Rhoads 51:12
You never know. You know, I was I was in a I was out on a road by myself, I don’t remember where it was and, and a truckload of look like, you know, 20 year olds. And they’re three or four of them in the back of a pickup truck. And they drove by me. And as they drove my way, they yelled out some pretty derogatory stuff. And, and then I kind of looked and I got down the road a little bit and the brake lights came on, I thought, you know, they’re just gonna come back and beat the crap out of me. So, I just, I literally opened up the hatch and threw everything in and took off and they chased me. Fortunately, they eventually stopped, but I thought, you know, sometimes it’s probably best to be careful about where you’re painting and painting. Guys, this is this is so much fun and I love just kind of chatting about painting. And we’re going to run out of time before we know it. So one of the things I’d like to touch on are essential things that you try to put in the brains of your students because you both do a lot of teaching or have certainly one of the, if I were to go to one of your workshops, what’s going to be different what what am I going to learn from you, Susan, and then from you, Howard.

Podcast Guest 52:32
Um, one of the things that I’ve been concentrating on the last few years is gradation concepts. I even wrote the notes to do a book but and I have it all scaled out, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I don’t know for

Eric Rhoads 52:46
a long time you know, it’s okay.

Podcast Guest 52:52
Okay, well, um, so this gradation concept is thinking beyond. It always organizes your composition, your colors, remember the whole thing, but thinking in a big concept first, in other words, look at your painting is would it be better if you organize the values to go from dark to light toward the focal point or large shapes to small shapes or muted colors to bright colors right as the focal point and I’ve got about 42 different concepts, and it blows people’s mind. My biggest problem with workshops now is I want to give them all of it and they can’t absorb it. It’s like handing them a fire hydrant and saying, Would you like a cup of water? You know, it just gets so but it’s very exciting to us in paintings and I’m a real traditional, both of us have been trained classically and in color theory and composition and repetition of form and and all of this, but this whole concept that I’m calling gradation theory. gradiation concepts for your paintings is so exciting and it changes a painting that is okay, too.

Eric Rhoads 54:08
So can you so you try and articulate it a little bit more I know there’s so so so much to it, but give me you touched on it but give me a little bit more depth behind that so so the people listening can understand some part of it.

Podcast Guest 54:26
Okay, so let’s just take large shapes to small shapes when I’m saying large shapes, I’m talking about everything that’s away from the focal point. And then small shapes we’re building we’re getting smaller and smaller and smaller and then we get to the focal point. So if you’re doing plein air and you’re standing outside and you would be your everything is small shapes out there because you’re standing at a distance or across the road looking at a senior something, throw some trees closer to some great good Trees so that you go from large shapes. And the clouds could be big at the top of the painting and then get smaller to little wisps down at the horizon. That’s where your focal point is. Or if it’s like does

Eric Rhoads 55:13
is it that just perspective?

Podcast Guest 55:16
No, because when you’re standing there, it’s not handling. So it’s about design. It’s about creating a no, it doesn’t even have to be about perspective because let’s say it’s something in the foreground that you want to emphasize. So you’ve got you keep your your background in big, simple shapes, and then as you get towards this font in the foreground, you start getting your shapes smaller, smaller. What happens is the viewers eye is excited by changing of gradation, whether it’s going from blue to orange in the transition, or larger shapes smaller, smaller, smaller, small shapes, or dark to light or

Unknown Speaker 55:59
one thing.

Podcast Guest 56:01
Yeah, well, you don’t even have to you can take several of these concepts. And it’s so fun to challenge yourself with these. So I think it’s because I have spent my entire life around art and artists that I see this as a way of the ultimate way of getting really involved with my painting. And it’s not just seeing what’s out there and trying to copy it, but it’s the ultimate way of designing for me. And so that’s that’s what I’ve been all about lately.

Eric Rhoads 56:35
That’s interesting. You know, it’s it’s very rare that I hear a new concept that I’ve never heard or understood before.

Podcast Guest 56:42
I had so I want to write the book and as well, I want to do this book. I have it all down.

Unknown Speaker 56:47
Yeah. Talk

Podcast Guest 56:50
ating Yeah, okay. But there are Katie’s it’s fun to think of one concept like dark light, and then start looking at paintings go. Oh my gosh, they use them. Oh my gosh, they do that.

Eric Rhoads 57:02
What do you think they do you think people have done it intentionally is a sub. Now, if you’ve looked at historic paintings, it’s just something that kind of happened. In some cases.

Podcast Guest 57:10
I think it’s intuitive. I think they like it because it’s a more powerful painting. But I don’t think they’ve consciously done it. And my whole goal is to bring it up to the consciousness of other artists. so that it becomes subconscious and we do it naturally, which is what’s been happening forever. And I just am really excited to be able to point it out.

Eric Rhoads 57:34
Okay, Howard, how do you top that?

Unknown Speaker 57:37
I don’t try.

Unknown Speaker 57:41
22. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 57:45
well, I guess what I want a lot of my students, a lot of them know the fundamentals. I that I really try to hammer home the importance of continuing to develop those skills the Continental Congress. additional skills, being able to assess values accurately. Color Theory stores understanding how to make the colors, edges and all that because I feel if somebody strengthen so skill the drawing skills for strengthen you strengthen all those fundamental skills constantly entertaining looking, looking to each painting to to strengthen those skills, then you have a vocabulary that you can translate the visual universal bit, whatever you see out there, whether it’s the lights, landscape figure to you, you have tools to be able to work out It’s nothing new. It’s it’s the same, same old thing you know, but

Eric Rhoads 58:59
so A lot of people are not doing it,

Unknown Speaker 59:02
especially people who think they have it now want to make a pretty painting? Oh, want to make a, you know, just and they have some image in their head of you know what a good painting is. And then they try like, I guess when I was when I was first starting out. I was I, my mentor man named Bill Schultz, William Schultz. He was the guy who started the impressionist society. So he was he was my first painting mentor. And I remember being in a workshop with him. And I was painting a spell like, and at the time, I was reading books on

Unknown Speaker 59:48

Unknown Speaker 59:51
Ramon Kelly, I was enamored with his work and a bunch of the other artists and I love their style. So what I was trying to do in this workshop is trying to replicate Their style and I was, you know, kind of fumbling around. And then he came over and he had his way of approaching teaching. It was a step by step procedure, which was, I think, very helpful to people who are just beginning. But I was kind of going off the reservation, so to speak with what he was teaching and then trying to do some of this stuff that I was enjoying and some of these other books, and, and I, he said, What are you doing, you know? And I said, Well, I’m just experimenting, and he said, experiment on your own. You know, so basically, what he was saying is pay attention to what’s in front of you, and don’t try to make a picture out of it. You know what I mean? Just interpret what’s right in front of you, using these fundamental tools and you know, you will learn how to see. So basically what I guess by that story, what I’m trying to say is Be honest with With your subject, try to be as accurate as you can be. But as far as style, your style will find you. If you’re trying to paint in a particular style, you’re missing the point you’re missing what’s in front of you. Your style is like your handwriting, you can’t help but think like yourself, if you just,

Unknown Speaker 1:01:26
you know, kind of

Unknown Speaker 1:01:29
the pay attention and observe what’s in front of you. It’ll come out like you, you know, and trying to paint like other people. Well, I’m getting off on a tangent here. What you’re saying is, what do I focus on in my workshops, just the fundamentals, you know, getting active, you know, being able to see values is the key. If you can see the values you can paint a black and white version of, of what it is you’re painting it Could be powerful, it can be extremely powerful if you’re nailing those values correctly.

Eric Rhoads 1:02:05
Well, I think what you’ve done is you said something that I thought was extremely valuable because this question comes up all the time. How do you find your style? And the idea that your style finds you is quite frankly, so, so much of a relief? Because Yeah, I I’m not so sure I’ve ever found mine and and of course, part of my problem is I’m seduced by so many different approaches. You know, one day I want to paint tight, another day, I want to paint loose. And you know,

Unknown Speaker 1:02:38
that’s you. That’s okay. Because that’s what you you don’t have to worry, call it.

Podcast Guest 1:02:46
compartmentalize, you don’t have to just push yourself. I mean, to me what the what I tell my students is studying how somebody does lose steady health, nobody does type. Every time you study that it becomes a tool and you’re toolbox. And you may have a painting that starts out loose, and then there’s another one, and then goes to a tight area in the painting. And because you studied these other artists, all that’s really good, and like Howard was saying that the fact that you can do it means that you have a lot of tools in your toolbox. And that’s who you are. One of the things I have my video that I have currently is how to paint loosely but accurately paint you know, so loosely doesn’t mean that you’re drawing itself, it just means that you’re drawing. You can have accurate drawing, and apply the paint in a free and loose application. So

Unknown Speaker 1:03:46
it’s as far as style is concerned. If you’re thinking about style that’s going to influence your painting. If you just forget about it. Well, let me go back when when I first got started. Like I said, I was trying to emulate a lot of artists. And I was trying to paint just like, like them. Because that’s, you know, sort of the landscape. That’s the only reference I had. And then I started seeing other artists who are, you know, quite as big, who is our neighbor in Montana, and Scott Christiansen and Matt Smith and some of these other artists, some influence everybody’s influence, but it’s still going to come out like you, you can take workshops, and try to try to paint just like the instructor. But when you get back to the studio, you’re going to revert back to who you are, and that’s a good thing. So the thing I think, is mostly about building some confidence in the way you see things the way what you like to paint and the way you like to paint it. Once I started to realize that I was good at up, and I was getting some awards and accolades and people were saying they liked my work. And it freed me up a lot to just not worry about being having a quality, professional. Look, I just hate the way I want to paint. Yeah, one of the things is going to museums, you look at some of the masters and you realize that none of them paint like any of the other ones. They’re all they all have their own thing and I’ve looked at some master paintings, and some of the chances that they took and it has to be fun, you have to make it fun and you have to take chances and you have to, not all of them are going to come out. Somebody’s going to be dogs, you know, and we all have taxable. All we see in the magazines and online are the successes So you just have to give yourself a little bit of a break a lot of times, and I used to pull my hair out and be very, very upset with myself that’s a pain was going south. As I got older, I realized that it’s all good. You know, it all counts. Ultimately. You can if, if you, when you, when you start out you have more failures than successes, many, many more therapies that you can get one painting, you want to train. That’s great. And while you’re on maybe there’s a few more and as you as you start, the more you do it, the better the numbers can get. And, you know, but you never get to everything is going to be trainable. Yeah. And that’s a good thing because if it is, that means you’re not trying. You’re not looking.

Unknown Speaker 1:06:53
giving yourself the chance to fail or just make a breakthrough. You got to push yourself So,

Podcast Guest 1:07:01
yeah, another thing that I tell my students is you got to decide fairly early. But you know, after you get the basics down, but decide what kind of artists are you and I read, I use the analogy of Are you a reporter? Do you just get in the fact down the backs of x, you know, this is a tree This is a little, quite often how we start you feel successful that looks like a tree? Or are you a novelist, where you tell a lot of stuff, there’s just all kinds of stuff going on in your picture. And you finally get to the climax of the picture the drama of the teller, and but this is a lot going on, or are you a poet, and that is that you’ve got enough mystery you say enough in there that a person can project their own emotions in their own feelings into it and then you tell him a little bit, and I I’d even challenge if I say try to be a high coupon Only says a few things and believe it. And then I tell people to be artists of mystery. Because I think when we first get started, we’re trying to make sure that everybody knows we’re an artist. And we prove it to ourself by painting every single thing that’s in front of us. And I think the wisdom comes when we realize that we can say more by painting less. And with each individual person. That’s how much you want to say or how little you want to say, but don’t try to be so factual. Were you telling everything?

Eric Rhoads 1:08:34
Well, that’s a that’s a great stopping point, because that’s great, great advice. I think that we’re at some point in the future going to have to have a part two or Part Three because there’s, there’s so much wisdom the two of you have to offer. I really appreciate the both of you being on the podcast today.

Unknown Speaker 1:08:54
We appreciate it initiating apps and you and all you’re doing for what we love doing

Unknown Speaker 1:09:01
We can’t wait to get together with you again sometime and paint together, what

Podcast Guest 1:09:06
you’ve been doing for the whole art community and it stretches out way outside of the borders of the United States, obviously, you’re going into these other countries, but this has been a huge movement that you have created in history. And, you know, we’re all benefactors of this, and we just thank you and cheering me on.

Eric Rhoads 1:09:31
I didn’t create anything. I’m just kind of reflecting it. But that’s very sweet.

Podcast Guest 1:09:34
I know you, you are a guy with vision. You have visions that are unbelievably out there, and then you make them happen and return. Yes.

Eric Rhoads 1:09:47
Great. Thank you. I appreciate you guys both being on the podcast. Maybe I’ll come to the Adirondacks or something and oh,

Podcast Guest 1:09:56
that’d be great. That’d be fun. Okay. Thanks a lot.

Eric Rhoads 1:10:00
Thank you again to Susan and Howard and they’re really great people I’ve really spent a lot of time with them in the past but not so much recently Susan painted my portrait on stage at the plein air convention one year I haven’t seen it and a long time I think she’s still probably has it. Anyway you’re ready for some marketing ideas.

Announcer 1:10:16
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 1:10:27
in the marketing minute I answer your marketing questions and all you got to do is email them to me Eric at that’s also a great resource for blogs and marketing ideas but email me [email protected]. Here’s a question from Justin and Eclair Wisconsin who says how do I stand out? Other than with the quality of my art? How do I get folks excited and enticed to buy my work when there are so many others to choose from? Clearly art marketing success goes away. Beyond the art itself. I’ve sent out announcements to past collectors and their response is non existent?

Eric Rhoads 1:11:06
Well, Justin, there’s a you know, there’s a lot to all of these things. But first off, there’s lots of lots of lots of questions in what you’re saying, I’ll drill down here first, I’m a big quality guy, quality should matter. But sometimes quality is a matter of opinion, right? We’ve all seen paintings that we never understand why they sell or why they get a recognition or why they’re, they’re famous. I won’t mention any names, but I saw a painting by a famous artist the other day, and I thought this is like third grade work, but that’s their thing anyway, so we can’t necessarily understand it. But we do want to do the best quality we know how to do and try to always elevate our quality and try to always learn and get better painting sell because they create emotional responses. Sometimes they stimulate a memory of a childhood or a thought or a place of just fond memories, creating emotional sponses about having an emotional response when you paint it, paint the emotion that you feel and that will help people connect with you. So if you love it, somebody else probably will too. And of course, in my first art marketing video, I talked about the importance of telling stories, and how to tell them stories will help sell paintings. I’ve often attach stories to the backs of my paintings. Give them to the galleries so the galleries can tell the stories, and it helps people connect. There’s four different personality types and some types can see things and will buy immediately. Others need to be nudged. They need a little reassurance or they need stories to help them connect. That’s why salespeople train salespeople are really important because salespeople know how to read customers, get them engaged, ask them questions, talk to them about things without being pushy, you want to be ethical and not pushy. And and they oftentimes will tell stories, but there is a crafting of stories that takes place part reality part fantasy, which I go into in that video, but you start with stories And people will help connect. It’s also true people have lots to choose from. But there could be 1000 paintings in a gallery you could walk in and one will stand out and you are emotionally stuck on it. Now the key then is getting that person who’s emotionally stuck on it to buy it. That’s where some sales training comes in. But quite frankly, it’s just a matter of engaging people getting them to talk about it. Don’t talk to them so much don’t give them a bunch of spiel that makes them want to walk away ask him questions, ask him whether you seem to be interested in that painting. Tell me about it. What what are you seeing in there? Is it stimulating a memory or a thought and get them talking about it that can help and then also good salespeople can direct people to buy our PR marketing success does go beyond art itself. The key to marketing is to create desire is to create exposure sometimes need people need to see things time and time and time again. They need to know you they need to know your brand. They have to feel comfortable with you. All of that ties into it. You’ve got to draw attention to your art to yourself, marketing can be about making it feel important or special or exclusive to. So, announcements oftentimes fall flat, you mentioned announcements, they fall flat, they usually don’t work because usually they’re dull and they’re boring. And they’re all about you. They’re not about the reader. But also you got to keep in mind that you got to find different ways to get these announcements in people’s heads so they can see them, you know, frequency sells things. Repetition sells things. And you want to have the ability to remind people you know, if you send something out a month in advance, and then you know, you get no response, you send it out again and again. I developed a program that I call art marketing in a box, and it’s designed for artists who want to want to become kind of like local superstars and to sell locally, and it has a lot of repetition instruments in it to give you opportunities to be in front of people on a regular basis. Hope that helps.

Eric Rhoads 1:14:53
The next question is from an anonymous reader, understanding why here the person says I’m going through a crazy stressful situation with a gallery not sending my art back to me. They’ve represented me for 19 months without a sale, not come through on their promises and have not sent my art to me when I’ve asked them over a month ago, they have over $20,000 worth of art.

Eric Rhoads 1:15:14
Well, to anonymous, I’d say I’m sorry. I’ve had it happen. I once had my photography in a gallery in Seattle. And the gallery disappeared. I didn’t live in town. I didn’t even know it for a long time. And I lost all my artwork. Interestingly, I was at a cocktail party somewhere, not even in Seattle, and the guy said, you know your name sounds familiar. Were you in a gallery in Seattle? I said, Yeah, a lot years ago, 20 years ago, he said all my brother on that gallery he was looking for you. He said, Give me your address. I’ll get all your artwork back and I got it all back, surprisingly. So sometimes things are misunderstandings. But anyway, to this particular question, there’s a lot to it. But first, I always recommend you have to have a gallery agreement, which states things like what happens if they go back to What happens if you want your artwork back? Who pays for shipping? Who does what? And how is it framed? My gallery has, you know, it has to have, it has to have hooks on the back, it has to be ready, you know that kind of a thing? Secondly, you say you’ve been 19 months without a sale, but do you really know that maybe they sold some and they kept the money and haven’t paid you. Oftentimes galleries will get into the situation where they don’t really know how to manage their money. And so they get some money in they pay their light bill and then they realize, Oh, I can’t pay you and they’re intending to pay you, they get some other money. And then they’ve got their advertising bill. So reputable. reputable. Experienced galleries typically don’t do that. But sometimes new galleries do and they’re well meaning they just get themselves in trouble. They don’t know how to handle their money. So you got to work with them. But you could have somebody Secret Shop to see if your work is hanging. Or you can go on the website and find out that you know, maybe, maybe you can find out if it’s sold, but most importantly is don’t be sneaky, I don’t think you have to be sneaky. there probably was not a sale, but maybe they’re just ignoring you. It’s hard to know. The best is not to sneak around just give it some more time call him a few more times, don’t be angry just mentioned that you feel like things aren’t working out and you’d like to pull out how can we arrange that Don’t be a jerk. Because if you’re a jerk, they won’t want to talk to you. And they might, you might even say, look, if you’ve sold my work and you’re just weren’t able to pay me for whatever reason, we can work something out. But let’s just get this worked out. I want to get the rest of my work out of there. And maybe they’ll talk to you, maybe they don’t. If that doesn’t work, if you’ve gone to the website, your stuffs still up there. They’re still in business. you’ve verified that. You can send a registered letter, maybe having an attorney politely ask them to respond within so many days and don’t make threats. It’s not necessary, but they’ll get the point. And then if that doesn’t work, you can you can go in and make a threat I suppose. That’s why contracts matter. You want to have something in writing You know, if you sue for your work, if you don’t have a contract, you’re not likely to get it. Especially if there’s a bankruptcy. So, got to have a contract. I think that’s the best thing. There’s no reason to be nasty or unbusinesslike you have a reputation to uphold, even if they don’t. So be nice, be civilized. Also, you could drop in and simply say, I’m here to pick up my work. I had a client who owed me $18,000 one time, they wouldn’t pay me they wouldn’t take my calls. I try it and try it and try it. So I got on an airplane, I flew to them. And I went in at eight o’clock in the morning, I said, Hey, I’m here to pick up my $18,000. They said, Well, we don’t have it. I said, Well, I’ve been calling it’s past due. You’ve been, you know, I’m not a bank. I’ve got my payroll, I can’t make and, and I need you to pay me. They said, Well, we can’t. I said, Well, I’m gonna just sit here quietly, and I’ll just wait till you bring me a check. And they said, we’re not bringing you a check. I said, Well, I’ll I’ll sit here all day if I need to. So I sat there all day, till five or six o’clock at night. They’re closing up the office. They said, Sir, you need to leave? I said, I’m sorry. I can’t. They said, well, we’re closing the office. I said, that’s fine. I’ll sleep here. And they said, No, you can’t. I said, Well, why don’t you call the police. And then you can have me removed. And so they got angry, and they went in, they cut the check. And they said, we’ll never do business with you. Again, I said, I understand that. But quite frankly, I don’t want to do business with people who do business this way and don’t pay me. So I got my money. And sometimes that’s what it takes. I’m not suggesting that but sometimes you have to be firm. But be professional where you can be nice, be civilized, you don’t want to do something you’ll later regret. Anyway, that’s the marketing minute. I hope you enjoyed it.

Announcer 1:19:37
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads, you can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:19:43
a reminder to sign up for the rescheduled plein air convention at August in Santa Fe. Just go to also to enter the extended plein air salon art competition, your chance to win the cover of plein air magazine and $15,000 in Cash for the main prize and there’s other cash prizes. That’s at plein air I’ve got this blog gets a lot of readers. I do it on Sunday morning and it’s just kind of life and philosophy. It’s called Sunday coffee. Sometimes it’s about art. And you can find it at This is always fun and interesting for me. Let’s do it again sometime like next week. I will see you then God willing, I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of plein air magazine. Remember, it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. But don’t put yourself at risk. Bye bye.

Announcer 1:20:38
This has been the plein air podcast with Plein Air magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email [email protected] Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.


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