Eric Rhoads and Scott Christensen painting in St. Petersburg, Russia in August 2010.
In 2001 when my wife discovered she was pregnant with triplets she asked me to get the smell of paint out of the house. I had been working on portraits and copies of old master works.
I dragged my studio easel and boxes of stuff out on to the golf course and tried painting on-location out-of-doors. At that moment I realized how different and difficult it is from the controlled studio environment. At an art show (Martinez Scene on the Strait) I fell in love with the work of Kevin Courter, who told me the key to learning plein air was to paint 100 one hour paintings. I took his advice, which helped. Of course learning is an on-going process.
I soon learned of the budding plein air movement and started to attend workshops. My first were Ken Auster and Ned Muller. As I discovered the events, the painters, the collectors it was clear to me that this movement needed it’s own magazine. I started working on it and promoting it in 2003 and launched in August 2004. We published for about two years but soon realized the economics would not work with our high expense structure and aggressive publishing schedule. Ultimately we changed the name to FINE ART CONNOISSEUR, changed the focus and it has become (knock wood) a success.
Of course the moment we changed we began hearing from readers who wanted us to continue to publish PleinAir. Since it is part of my passion as a painter and a publisher I was resolved to find ways to return it. Back issues of PleinAir were always available on the FineArtConnoisseur website and many sold every month to this day. (Most issues are sold out now.) Not a month has gone by when I did not encounter many people requesting the return of the publication. Of course I needed to focus on FineArtConnoisseur to make it successful as well. Soon, as time permitted we began a survey at the website of plein air magazine and thousands of people responded and requested its return. Of course about that time the economy got tough, which made a launch more difficult because of the large expense associated with creating a magazine.
This past summer I went painting with Steve Doherty who was phasing out as editor of AMERICAN ARTIST after 31 years of commuting into New York for three hours a day. I told him of my vision for the magazine and my desire to bring it back. A couple months later I heard from Steve who reminded me of our discussion. He could not get it out of his mind and decided that editing this magazine was his dream, because he too is a plein air painter. The rest, as they say, is history.
Years have passed and PleinAir has been a deep part of my soul. I am thrilled to announce that we will again publish the magazine and that we are now offering subscriptions to the 2011 version of plein air. Same logo, but a fresh design. Same content, but more new features including a section on studio painting. (After all, most great studio works are based on plein air studies.) And like before we will serve two audiences; the collector and the artist. Unlike other art magazines where they don’t fit in the same magazine they fit together here because collectors of plein air tend to attend events, shows, paint-outs where they can experience the paintings being produced. In the world of plein air the collector and artist are like hand-in-glove.
To that end, one of my dreams has been to create the ultimate plein air convention, which would be a gathering of artists and collectors to paint, to learn, to discuss our direction. You will soon see an announcement of our first PleinAir Convention. We’re announcing it over a year in advance so everyone can make plans to be there. We’re holding it just outside Las Vegas at Red Rocks Casio & Resort so we can paint in the Red Rocks Park. It’s going to be a great time.
This is an important milestone in my life and it was a great lesson. Never give up on something, in which you’re passionate about and committed to doing. My company mantra is that we only do business in areas we love. We refuse to spend our time on subjects and projects just for revenue alone. We love art. We love figurative work. We love doing PleinAir magazine.
B. Eric Rhoads
Publisher/Chairman Streamline Publishing, Inc