This is episode number 240 of the Plein Air Podcast with California artist Rich Gallego. Listen as they discuss:
– Being a plein air painter instead of being a rendering device
– The beauty of meeting other artists with this shared passion of painting outdoors
– The spiritual component of painting and the value of being outside
– Knowing yourself, your strengths, and who you want to be
– The close calls Rich has had with nature and humans
Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares advice on how to build a body of work; and thoughts on paying to advertise on Facebook.
Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Rich Gallego here:
– Rich Gallego online: https://www.richgallego.com/
– Plein Air Live: http://pleinairlive.com/
– Plein Air Magazine: https://pleinairmagazine.com/
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericrhoads/
– Plein Air Today newsletter: https://www.outdoorpainter.com/plein-air-today-newsletter/
– Submit Art Marketing Questions: artmarketing.com/questions
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FULL TRANSCRIPT of this Plein Air Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Plein Air Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
This is episode number 240 with California artist Rich Gallego.
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.
Thank you Jim Kipping and welcome everybody to the plein air podcast. My name is Eric Rhoads, publisher of plein air magazine and I am thrilled to be here. I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day Mrs. Rhoads and I went out we had a great time, but we never go out on the actual night. We always go out on one of the bumper nights we went out the night before just to avoid the crowds. Anyway, hope it was fun for you. I made a hand painted Valentine’s card that was a big hit. And it was a one of the few chances I got to do some painting, although I’ve got to start tuning up because spring is already starting to come around here here in Texas. We’re gonna get the Blue Bonnet fields of bluebonnets we’re gonna get wildflowers we’re gonna get all the blossom trees and it’s time for me to get out and start practicing. Get my spring training and speaking of which, spring training, a great place to get it as our next giant online conference. When I say giant, I mean, potentially 1000s of people. We have people from all usually 3040 countries attending people watching in different timezone. Sometimes they’re watching replays. Anyway, it’s called plein air live and I handpicked 30 Top masters to teach, including having an essentials day for those of us who need reminders or those of us who want to learn from scratch. And this is easy because there’s no travel No no no expensive hotel rooms, no airplanes, you can watch from home watch the replays if you can’t do it live if you have to work, work. What’s that anyway, this is the best possible way to get to be part of the plein air community to learn the whole plein air lifestyle, and I’ve got a brand new video up at plein air live.com on the plein air lifestyle, you want to go there and check that out anyway. Even if you’re somebody who doesn’t go outside to paint, but you want to be a better landscape painter you’re gonna hear and see the instruction from all these great painters and it’s a great place for to go. And you know, we were doing so one of the one of the attendees did some calculations the other day from our watercolor live event and she she figured out that it was costing about 15 bucks per demos. And you got a lot of variety. It’s a really great way to do it. By the way speaking of another opportunity for you, this may in Denver, the big 10 year anniversary of the plein air convention, this is the place to be in the plein air world and it’s in person. We have about 80 top instructors coming five stages, big screens so that you see every detail. And if you want to get really really up close, we also have VIP programs. Anyway, this is going to be potentially the biggest in our history because Denver was like one minute away from being sold out when we had to cancel for COVID And so a lot of those people are coming back and signing up and and but this is something you want to do. Anyway. It’s five days of instruction. We go painting every day. You’re watching on the stages. There’s so much fun. It’s really a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite times. We have a TV star Jane Seymour is going to be joining us that week and we also have CW Mundy is coming in and a load a load of top artists too many to mention here today but check it out at pleinairconvention.com Now my guest today is a rockstar painter. His name is Rich Gallego. He has been painting the landscape since 1996. His love of nature and wild places has taken him from Arizona has Kenyan to che to beaches of Hawaii, from the rivers and gorges and Adobes in New Mexico to the glaciers of Alaska. And so many places in between all in search of the Great next painting, right and I love his work. He’s getting a lot of attention in the plein air world and he’s got lots of workshops. And you know, he’s one of those people who’s on fire right now. And he’s also one of the world’s nicest guys. So I recorded this interview earlier at my Austin soundstage. We’re gonna go there now and get started. And our guest today, the great landscape artist Richard Gallego, welcome.
Rich Gallego 5:26
Thank you very much. Happy to be here.
Eric Rhoads 5:28
Thank you. So where did this journey begin for you? Have you always been an artist?
Rich Gallego 5:33
No, I haven’t. About 24 years ago, I guess. I started working with a friend of mine who did sculpture fabrication at a place in Burbank, California. What does that mean sculpture? Well, when you have artists that did monumental size sculptures that didn’t fit in their studios, they would bring it to a fabrication place and give them the specs, and then that that company would build a piece for them. And the artists, of course, still gets credit. It was their concept and their, you know, their specifications. So I was working there with a friend part time. And on the weekends, we go out to sculpture gardens and kind of refurbish things as they needed. And it just was kind of an introduction to the art world for me. And sort of shortly after that, I started drawing and doing a little sculpting myself. And I found that it didn’t offer the immediate gratification that I guess I wanted at the time. So I did more drawing and painting. And it kind of evolved from there.
Eric Rhoads 6:29
So drawing and painting, was this something that you were just kind of being self taught? Or did you get some instruction?
Rich Gallego 6:35
No, at that point, it was all self taught, you know, and the more interested I got in it, the more I sought out resources, like books and magazines, and that sort of thing. And unfortunately, at that time, there wasn’t, you know, a streamlined publishing available to look at all their resources. But yeah, I just started doing things on my own and found that I really enjoyed it. And little while later when I met my, like, my wife to be weren’t married then at that point, but
Eric Rhoads 7:04
nobody ever is when they first Yeah, true.
Rich Gallego 7:07
Yes. So no, she she said to me one day, you know, you seem to really like painting. And, and I know that you like being out in the wilderness, you know, like backpacking and all that kind of stuff. She said, You should do like those people that go outside and paint there. And I didn’t even know what she was talking about this smart woman. Yeah, she’s proven that many times over actually. But um, yeah, so I said, Oh, yeah, that would be fine. You know, do that, I guess? Well, I had a birthday coming up a couple of weeks later. And she surprised me by buying me a French easel. And in truth, you know, I kind of blew it off a little bit. I wasn’t planning on going outside to paint. But then she gets me this easel. I got to put it to use or she’s going to be offended or hurt, you know. So at that point, I took a day off work. And I went out to Malibu Creek State Park, and I set this thing up. And I started doing an absolutely horrendous painting. And about 1015 minutes into it. I stepped back and I just was overcome with this feeling of this is the best thing ever. Yeah, I mean, it literally hit me that hard that quickly. And I was absolutely hooked from that point on.
Eric Rhoads 8:16
Well, let’s talk about plein air painting for a minute. And then we’ll get back into your history. But it does have that impact. And of course, it’s a huge movement. Now it’s grown tremendously. Why do you think that is? What is it about plein air painting that just makes the experience so much richer? Well,
Rich Gallego 8:38
I mean, like, I suppose that the things that attract me to it are true for at least some of the other folks that are involved. But I can speak for myself and say, I do love being outdoors. I do love experiencing nature firsthand. And when you’re out doors painting, you’re getting a complete sensory experience, right? You get through engaging all yourself completely. Yeah, you see, you’re seeing the sights, you’re smelling the sense. You’re, you’re hearing the sounds and and you know, all of that together. And then I think a lot of us just naturally have something of a creative urge. Yeah. And if you give it an opportunity to manifest itself, you know, this is kind of thing that happens, I suppose. So there
Eric Rhoads 9:21
are a lot of other benefits to plein air painting. Oh, yeah. Talk about those.
Rich Gallego 9:27
So for me, it’s been a really interesting journey in that I find a lot of metaphors for other parts of my life. Okay. In having observational powers, you know, they say that, that learning to paint is really learning to see right. And that’s helped me in other parts of my life in the sense that I recognize that if I’m not seeing things clearly, I can’t react appropriately to them. And by going out to paint, one of the first things I learned is, I have to be able to observe things clearly. And then you have to be able to sort through what It’s important and what’s not important? Well, there’s a lot of situations in my life where I use those same skills to make a better decision.
Eric Rhoads 10:08
Let’s talk about that for a second. Because I think that’s an important point, you know, when you go outside to paint, which, of course we both do. You, you pick your scene, whatever your scene is, and you’re overwhelmed with data. Right? I mean, there’s, you know, there’s details and leaves and rocks and sunshine and clouds and shadows, and, you know, all this data coming at you. Yeah. How do you deal with that?
Rich Gallego 10:38
So, for me, I, somewhere along the line, and I’m sure it’s from reading, you know, interviews and books about other artists that I admire, you start to realize that the important thing is, what is your response to the scene, and what is the essence of the scene, because, you know, it’s very rare that we have a scene laid out in front of us, it’s, it’s perfect to paint it exactly as it is. Although, you know, early in the process, that’s what most of us tried to do. We’re just trying to render everything so that it looks like what it looks like. But over time, you realize that there are some things that are extraneous, and you need to edit them out. And and I’ve come to realize that there’s a big difference between simple and simplistic because simplistic means I haven’t taken the time to edit out the extraneous. And simple means I have done that. And what I’m left with is the essential, and that’s when I’m able to get the essence of a scene. And again, it’s a metaphor for life as well, right? You get rid of all the garbage that just gets in the way.
Eric Rhoads 11:42
Well, this is a natural reaction. I think most people when they start painting, they’re trying to make it look like photographs are, and not that there’s anything wrong with that everybody’s got their own direction, their own thing. That certainly was my case. And what happens then is, once we kind of learn the, the core root techniques, and you’ve got it to the point where you can produce something that looks almost photographic in nature, then all of a sudden, it doesn’t seem to be as satisfying. And that’s when all of a sudden you start becoming an artist, instead of a render or Yeah, is that a word?
Rich Gallego 12:26
Well, it can be just a recording device, right? Yeah. You know, there’s a continuum, obviously, from absolute beginner to I suppose at some point, if you’re fortunate enough to master and, and somewhere on that continuum, you start to realize that things don’t. People might say, they don’t look quite right, I think it’s almost more of a feeling. They don’t feel quite right. And, again, what I, what I figured out, at least for me, it works. I have a scientific approach to a lot of things, okay. And so I start thinking, Okay, why is this painting not not feeling right, and it’s, this is the sort of thing you’re talking about, where there’s, it’s almost photographic, because I’ve looked at, you know, something over the far left of my composition, and I’ve rendered it in detail, and then it moved to somewhere else. And I’ve done the same thing. And it’s the same level of detail all across the panel, right. And you end up with something that it’s not really the way we experience the world as human beings. If I can digress for a moment, we’re hunter gatherers, okay? And we are hardwired to look at something focus on it. And everything in our peripheral vision at that point, we can still see things but not with the same level of detail. Okay. So whatever we happen to be looking at, that’s our focal point, well, if you’re going to show somebody a picture, a painting, where there’s one thing that’s supposed to be your focal point, you can’t have the same level of detail everywhere. And if you do it that way, and this is why painting from a photograph can be a little bit of a trap, if you’re not aware, what happens is you start the viewer sees the painting, and they’re experiencing the world, as if it’s a photograph, they’re not experiencing it, as a human being would experience it. So knowing the difference, you know, you can pay from a photograph, but you got to go back and make those adjustments. And make sure that you know, the highest level of detail, more Chroma harder edges, whatever it may be, is reserved for the focal area, not the periphery.
Eric Rhoads 14:21
So there’s a great debate about this. And, and I can I won’t mention names. There are artists out there very well known very prominent, who believe the opposite and that is that you want to represent nature, like someone would experience. In other words, you look there that’s in focus, you look there that’s in focus. And then the other side of that argument is I want to control the experience that they get. I want that to be in focus, because that’s the thing that I love. That’s the thing that really turns me on. And I want everything else to kind of blend so it feels like peripheral vision
Rich Gallego 14:59
and I I would say to that person, you’re right. And that’s why you might do four or five different paintings of the same scene. Because in one of them, that rock is your focus. And another that tree is your focus. And another relationship with these other two shapes is your focus, right? So you can make anything to focus. But if you try to make everything that focus, and we all have different artistic sensibilities, for me, it becomes confusing, distracting. So if I have an idea, that’s clear, in my own mind about what I want to say about a scene, I want to make sure that I get that across, you know, without any, any confusion. And so for me to paint everything with the same, like photographic level of detail, just doesn’t work. And you know, there are people that paint from photographs and make lovely paintings really wonderful work. I think it’s important to know how your own brain works. My brain has been hard wired for science for a long time, I had a previous career that were quite a bit about that. Yeah. And, and so I realized that if I start getting too detailed about things, it can get way out of hand really quickly. So you,
Eric Rhoads 16:03
there are also other benefits to painting outdoors. And I want to touch on those because some of the people who are listening to this might not be aware of those. There is the how can I say this? The impact or the change on how you paint? Versus how you would paint in the studio? What are those things?
Rich Gallego 16:28
Well, I think, again, speaking for myself, and knowing how things work in my own head, I just know that I, I tend to do better paintings, I believe, when I’m painting outdoors, do you ever use photos, I will use them from time to time. But I have to be very, very careful about I mean, it’s only if I’m someplace that’s absolutely, you know, stunning, and I don’t have time to paint, right. But frequently, what I’ll do is I’ll do a plein air piece, and they’ll use that as my reference and not photos. Because again, I’m wired in such a way that if I if I have the photograph there, it’s really easy for me to start going too much towards photo realism. And when I say too much, look, if you like photo realism, we I guess there is no too much. Yeah. But for my personal aesthetic. That’s that’s not what I want to do. Yeah. So I have to, you know, know myself and know what my limitations are. And I find that I do better work. If I’m at least getting my references out outdoors. People tell
Eric Rhoads 17:28
me that people who have painted in the studio their whole lives, oftentimes painting from photographs who have never painted outdoors, from a reference, they tell me it changes their work. Why is that?
Rich Gallego 17:44
Well, I suppose it’s got to have an effect. If you go from a controlled environment, the latest control, the sound is controlled, there are no wild animals approaching you, whatever it may be right. And then suddenly, you put yourself out in the middle of nature. And there’s so many other things to contend with, right? Over time, when you learn to deal with those things, I think you realize that you’ve got to at least start quickly, because you’ve got to get your light and shadow patterns nailed before they change, right? So there’s that. And then I think, the way we perceive color, in reality, when we’re out in the middle of it is different than the way a camera records it. You don’t get a lot of bounced light in a camera. Well, I’m not a photographer, maybe it’s just that I don’t know how to photograph things well. But when I look at photographs, I don’t see a lot of reflected light in the shadows. But when I’m outside, I can certainly see that well photographs
Eric Rhoads 18:36
lie. So photograph it, at least a typical photograph lies, right, right. There are photographers who know how to overcome this. But most of us if we take our phone and we take a shot of something, it’s going to blow out the sky. It’s going to darken the shadows you’re not going to see the color or detail in the shadows are the reflected light. And the other thing is that it changes form. Yeah, so you see four form differently when you’re when when the subject is in front of you. And that’s because you’re using to orrible what would be the word to two eyes two round eyes and camera lenses using one and so it’s it’s distorting things ever so slightly. Yeah. Now, I think one of the things that’s been really exciting for me, I discovered plein air painting. I don’t know 2020 ish years ago, probably. My My wife was pregnant. She couldn’t stand the smell of the paint. I was painting in the back bedroom. I had to go outdoors. I didn’t know anybody did that. Like your wife pointed out to you. One of the benefits that I have found is that you make a lot of friends. Oh, absolutely. And to me that’s been a a lifesaver?
Rich Gallego 20:01
Yeah. No. It’s interesting that you say that because I’ll sometimes joke with some of my students that, you know, the fact that I teach plein air painting, and I do it quite a lot. It’s really just a ploy to get more friends, because almost all of them become good friends. Some of them, in fact, have become like my biggest champions in the art world. Yeah, that’s definitely a benefit. Because you’re doing something, you’ve got a shared passion for something that it doesn’t matter. If you have nothing else in common with these people. If you have that. It’s something that you can I’ve got friendships over 15 years at this point that are based just on our love of plein air painting.
Eric Rhoads 20:40
You remember you I was we were at the plein air convention together. And I went on stage and said, It’s the new golf. Because you’re outdoors, you’re with friends, you’re challenged. Yep. You’re in nature. Well, you’re outdoors, you’re in nature, you’re being creative. But you’re also you get all these other benefits that you don’t get in golf, you know, golf, you’re getting, you’re getting frustrated, we get frustrated and painting. But you know, it’s not about a score. I just think it’s a, it’s a tremendous lifestyle.
Rich Gallego 21:10
I completely agree. I mean, it’s it’s allowed me to travel to places that I you know, some of which I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to see. And for me one of the biggest benefits. There are times when somebody will say something really generous, like, oh, this, you’re painting this, oh, you have a gift. And I smile, and I tried to be gracious about it. Because, you know, first of all, I know that there are plenty of painters out there that do phenomenal work. Okay, but, but when someone says something like that, I always think, yeah, I do have a gift. But you don’t quite know what it is. And what it is, from my perspective is, in order to do this, reasonably well, you have to be able to see nature, on a level that most people don’t, right. I mean, most people, they’re driving down the street, they see this vertical brown cylinder with a bunch of green things around and say, Oh, that’s a tree, don’t drive into it. Survival Mode says, that’s all the information I need. Avoid driving into that. But if you’re gonna paint it, you’ve got to see all the different positive and negative shapes, you have to see the color and temperature and value transitions. And so you start looking at the world differently all the time, I see things now. I’ll be out just driving. And I’ll look at a scene and I’ll see it in paint. Now, I’ve tried to do that sometimes, but sometimes it just happens. And I can imagine what it would look like and paint. And the gift is I get to see the world at a level that most people don’t. And it’s just from painting. That’s it.
Eric Rhoads 22:36
And that that’s your everyday world. Yeah, yeah, you’re driving down the road and you’re experiencing, you’re seeing things that other people don’t even notice. You know, you’re they’re seeing a sunset, you’re seeing the variation of colors in that sun, you’re seeing so much more depth. I think that that’s a real benefit, you know, the eyes of an artist. And that’s true whether you’re a plein air painting or not, but it’s enhanced, given your plein air painting. So I don’t know why I’m asking this question. But my sense is that for you, there’s a spiritual component.
Rich Gallego 23:15
Yeah. Several years ago, I was doing a demo outside of a gallery that represented me and, and there was a park right across the street. So I was doing a demo there. And this little girl came walking by with her mother. And at one point, she says to me, why do you paint? And at that point, honestly, it’s not a question that I had considered right. But she made me consider it. And I don’t know, I don’t remember what I said to her at that time. I’m sure it wasn’t anything too profound, right? But if I could see that girl today, I would say to her, thank you very much, because you caused me to think about things. And so here’s my answer to your question. Yes, I enjoy it. I love being outside. I like creating, I love the process. But I see my job as I take pictures that are scenes that are beautiful. And I try and point that out to the general public to anybody that will see my paintings. My belief is that life can be full of challenges. There’s all kinds of hardships that everybody deals with, you know, we all have our own things going on. And if we don’t appreciate the beauty that’s in our world, it makes it that much harder to deal with those challenges. I know for a fact that when I go out and paint and I get to see some stream and an overhanging oak tree or whatever, and I get to spend the morning, you know, kind of communing with that. Just experiencing that. It puts me in a better frame of mind. I’m more appreciative because I know that there’s there’s beauty and wonder in our world and that just puts me in a better state of mind to handle whatever problems I’m dealing with. I believe beauty enhances our lives greatly. If we let it
Eric Rhoads 24:58
in Japan, there’s a concept called for was bathing, there’s a Japanese term I don’t know. And the idea is that people who are living in city areas are, you know, they’re living this constant stress of noise and activity and everything going on around them. And they’re finding that if people will get into nature, go take two weeks and walk through the woods, it has a profound impact. And yet, you’re doing that on a kind of daily basis. You know, that’s why
Rich Gallego 25:30
become an addict. That’s the thing, get it?
Eric Rhoads 25:33
Well, that’s, that’s the thing is you just you get to a point where you want to be outdoors, I always talk about when I was a photographer, before it was a painter, I would fly around the world to different locations, to see these beautiful spots. And I’d walk up, I’d frame a shot, I’d click the button, and I’d move on. Yeah. And I always used to think, Oh, these people are picnicking, here, how silly What a waste of time. And now, when you’re standing there in front of a scene for an hour, two hours, three hours, four hours, whatever, you’re seeing things in that scene you would never see in the first hour.
Rich Gallego 26:12
Yeah. So things reveal themselves to you over time. Yeah, this is something that happens to me, literally, every time I go out to paint, whether I’m teaching a class, or I’m just painting for myself, I’ll show up at a place, I’ll find the scene that I’m interested in painting. And I’ll get started and, you know, 2030 minutes into the process, I’ll look up and I’ll see something that I didn’t notice before. Now, maybe it’s because something else was more compelling at the time. Usually, it’s because the lights changed a little bit. And it’s revealed something that wasn’t quite as apparent. But you start to realize that in every scene, there are multiple opportunities to do a very good painting. You know, nature’s that way. And you talked about the spiritual component to this, you know, I’m not gonna get preachy on anybody. But for me, personally, you know, God’s given me a particular set of skills. It made me work for him, that’s for sure. But I figure, I got to do something with them, I got to do something beneficial with them. And if pointing out the beauty that’s in our world to other people, is what I can do that I’m going to do it because as I said, I think the appreciation of beauty has a profound effect on the way we live our lives. Absolutely.
Eric Rhoads 27:24
So what’s your best pitch to somebody who’s watching to give it a try? Because it’s kind of overwhelming? Sure. Would you say that? There’s a this is a question before you answer that one. If you were going to recommend to somebody to take up plein air painting, would you say just go outside and learn to paint? Or would you say learn to paint and then go outside?
Rich Gallego 27:51
Well, I probably tell them to go outside and learn to paint. And the reason for that is that’s kind of that’s kind of what happened to me. You know, I was painting a bit before my wife gave me the easel and said, Go outside, right, but not to any great degree, I wasn’t learning anything much. I was just kind of experimenting, pushing the paint around. And I have the benefit of learning most of what I learned while doing it outside. And the reason I say it’s a benefit is because I’ve had students come to workshops, who have said to me, Well, I’ve been painting in the studio for 20 years, I sell in galleries, I do this, I do that. And then within two days of the workshop, they’re in tears, because they can’t make sense of what’s in front of them. When you learn to to organize a composition out of all that chaos, when you learn that early on, I just think it’s an easier route to get to successful paintings. Well,
Eric Rhoads 28:44
I wonder about, I certainly don’t disagree with you. But I wonder I’m always telling people go outdoors and learn to paint. And I think you’re, you’re there in nature you’re getting, you’re getting the perfect model in front of you. Whereas if you’re painting from a photograph, you’re not getting a perfect model, but I wonder about little simple things, like learning to mix colors or learning to use a brush, you know, some of those things. Because if you’re trying to figure those out, when you’re outdoors, and you’re also dealing with the blowing wind and the sun and all of those things, I wonder if if they might be a little less frustrated and more likely to continue if they at least kind of get those things down. But yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong.
Rich Gallego 29:31
Yeah, and it might vary from one individual to another, you know, our, our brains work different ways. And so there might not be one perfect recipe. But yeah, there is obviously some some logic to learning how to paint a sphere and a cylinder and that sort of thing. And, you know, I’m starting from point of having done some drawing, you know, and understanding shape and form and that sort of thing. So that was long before ever picked up.
Eric Rhoads 29:58
By the way that sculpting is One of the best ways to learn to paint
Rich Gallego 30:01
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I took I took some classes at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California great school. Yeah. Yeah. And for for some reasons that people might not think of actually too, but I had an instructor there who, you know, he saw me one day we were we were drawing a model. And he saw me, you know, doing this little little stuff, right? And he says, and at the time I was, I was something of a bodybuilder and I was bigger, more impressive physical specimen. And he says to me, what are you doing? I said, Me, what am I doing with drawing the model? Rich, You’re a big guy. Stand back, do it from the arm or from the shoulder, not from the wrist, make big, broad sculptural strokes with the side of the pencil. And he started telling me to kind of use my own physicality and bring that to bear because he could see that this was not my nature.
Eric Rhoads 30:55
Yeah. rattling. Yeah. Who was the instructor? His name’s
Rich Gallego 30:59
Mark Strickland. Okay. Yeah, really good guy and good painter. So, I kept that in my head, you know, and it’s, it’s been very helpful. So when I’m outdoors painting Well, or in the studio, I’m, you know, it’s from the shoulder, it’s not from the wrist. And,
Eric Rhoads 31:14
you know, that’s a hard habit to give up. Because we learn these things from metal, you know, and, you know, a lot of people starting out will take that paintbrush and like a pencil, and they’ll just sit there and, and because you have control, but you’re, you’re gonna get more freedom. If you hold the end of that brush and use your arm. And, and that’s a hard habit to break.
Rich Gallego 31:39
Yeah, you’re right, when from the time we’re very, very young, we pick up a crown. And that’s what we do. What’s your best advice to break it? Try and think of it in different terms, like when you said, doing that you have more control, right? When you said that, I thought, Yeah, but you’re limiting yourself. Because when you’re, first of all, you’ll learn to control it, painting from the shoulder, right? But second, it’s all your perspective, you can say, well, I have more control for this fine stuff. But if you start to understand that you’ll have more freedom, and it’s liberating to be sculptural and physical within, if that’s your nature, and it is mine, you know, then I think knowing thyself is kind of an important concept. And all this, you know, there are things that people talk about all the time, you know, how do you mix greens and all that, and all this stuff is important. But I really think that there’s some other things that, that maybe don’t have anything to do specifically with painting that you have to be aware, you know, you said something at the first plein air convention that that stuck with me all these years, you can remember that far back? Absolutely. Yeah. It was the first morning and you had everybody close their eyes. And you said, think about what is the most important thing in your life. And I’m like, What is he, I thought you were gonna say, Well, if it’s not painting, then you’re in the wrong place. But what you said was, and I’m, I suspect, you remember this, whatever that most important thing is, make sure that it’s taken care of make sure that it’s good. Because if you’re worrying about that, you’re not going to be able to do this well, or words to that effect. And of course, the first thing that came to my mind was my wife and my kids, my family. And I suspect that was the case for a lot of people. I’ve never forgotten that. But the reason I bring that up is because there are other outside factors that come to bear if you’re if your most important business isn’t taken care of. It’s hard to concentrate enough to do this. Well. And there are things like, like I said, knowing thyself, right? What kind of person are you? Are you the person who’s going to do well doing this little new lingo a lot of fine detail stuff? Or are you somebody who, because of your nature, you need to do something more expressive? Yeah,
Eric Rhoads 33:52
who do you want to be? Yeah, I find myself struggling with who I want to be even 2025 years later. And, you know, because I love all kinds of art. I see. You know, I’ll look at something as CW Monday post, it’s very abstract and palette knife he and and, Mike, I want to do that. And I’ll also look at something that Joma girl posts which is the polar opposite of right, you know, tightly rendered but just beautifully executed. And I’ll go I want to do that and then I’ll look at something that that Kathy Odom posts are you poster you know and Slyke I’m schizophrenic. Yeah. And do you find yourself trying at all do you do you find yourself experimenting? What What’s that look like for you?
Rich Gallego 34:45
Yeah, so all of the above right? We all go through that. One of the things that I I really revere about Lynch meal, yeah. So good. Yeah, he’s, he’s other worldly good. But now he’s had a certain level of success, right? But every once in a while he’ll do a painting that I look at. And I kind of go, what’s going on here? And I had an opportunity to speak to him at a masters the American West show a couple years ago. And he’ll experiment. Yeah. Right. And the thing about experiments is that some of them work, and some of them don’t. But I think you have to be willing to go out on that, that ledge and try something different. And as far as the schizophrenic part of it, I have the same experience, I see those same artists and think, Wow, that’s amazing. Or I’ll look at a friend’s climb piece, which is completely different from anything I do, right. But I see something that I like whether it’s a color combination, or textural thing or something. But the best advice I ever got was from a friend of mine that I was taking a class with Carl demp. Wolf, back in 100 years ago, and my friend Paul, he said to me, he’d been at it a little while longer than I had. And he said, we’re talking about, you know, what about style kind of get everybody wants to get loose, right? And he said, rich, just paint like you paint and work on doing that as well as you possibly can. And your style will appear. And I said, but what if I don’t like my style? He said, rich, paint like you paint. You can’t be anybody other than who you are. And I took his advice to heart. And for a while, I thought, No, my stuff is too tight. It’s not impressionistic enough and but over time, it turns out, he’s right.
Eric Rhoads 36:33
Well, it’s when you crack that little smile, and you go, Hey, I think I finally got something I like, you know, and it feels right to you. Yeah. You know, everybody always talks about how do I get my style your style finds you? Yep. You instead of chasing his style? Just do what you love. Yeah, that’s really, really great. So you were talking earlier about, you know, an animal when you’re out painting or something like that. There are experiences that you’ve experienced when you’ve been outdoors painting. Do any of them come to mind? I love to ask this question, because everybody has different moments.
Rich Gallego 37:15
Sure. Sure. Yeah. The first couple that come to mind are there was I was doing a painting was a commissioned piece in Florida. And I was up near Cape Canaveral. And there’s a wildlife refuge there. Merritt Island, I believe, you know that. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So I’m at Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve, and I’d gotten there early in the morning, it was pretty cool outside. And as the as the day warmed up, I’m painting this scene and it’s going, okay, and I start hearing the sound off to my my left side. And it sounds like this puffiness. And like, an eye turn. And there’s, there’s like a six foot long alligator sunning itself on the bank. I kid you not. And it’s maybe 30 feet away from me. And, okay. But he doesn’t look like he cares that I’m here. He’s, you know, he’s not up on his feet or anything. He’s just kind of laying there flat looks like he’s trying to warm up in the sun. And I got a painting to do. And so I just kept painting and looking over at the alligator. And so instead of looking at my scene, and looking at my panel, looking at my scene, it was panel scene, alligator panel scene alligator, and never moved. It didn’t bother. And how far away was it? He was about 20, 30 feet away?
Eric Rhoads 38:32
Yeah, they can move about 20, 30 35 seconds. I know.
Rich Gallego 38:36
Believe me, I know. So there was that one. And then there was a there was a time out in Southern California where not too far from my home, actually, where a friend of mine and I had pulled off the side of a road. And it’s out in a rural area. And we set up to, to paint this scene and, and there’s a fence that, you know, there’s an easement from the side of the road is about 15 feet wider. So that’s where we were. We’re not crossing the fence and it was posted private property. But we’re not on the private property. And we’re painting away having a really good time. And rather suddenly this pickup truck comes racing up this dirt road and comes up to where we are. And there’s a man and a woman in it. Gentleman gets out and he is hot. He’s mad. He wants us out of there. We have no right to be there. He’s yelling and screaming. And we’re like, Well, what’s your problem, pal? We’re not doing anything but painting, you know? Well, turns out he had had some kids that were partying on his property, on weekends and at night, right? And they’re leaving beer bottles and all this sort of stuff or whatever. He’s just fed up. And he didn’t bother to stop and ask what are we doing? Or who are we he just assumed that we were the people that had been doing this stuff. So after a few minutes of talking to him and his wife, thankfully was more of a voice of reason. She’s saying, oh, wait a minute. You don’t know who these people are? Well, my friend and I were doing paintings for a joint show that we were going to be participating in right now. So we ended up inviting the couple to the show. And it got turned around and everything was fine. But for a minute there you wondering, is this guy gonna lose his mind? Because it was so out of?
Eric Rhoads 40:11
Yeah. Have you ever you know, you’re a big guy, strong guy, but have you ever felt unsafe out there?
Rich Gallego 40:18
Not the only time it was ever anything like that. You know, a lot of times when I’m out painting, I’m teaching the class. And a lot of my students are women. Yeah. And anytime I have students at all, but particularly women with me, I always assume that it’s my responsibility to make sure that they’re safe. Yeah, that’s just, you know, I’m liberal fashion, maybe I can. I cannot confirm or deny any of that. I’m making sure that I can take care of who I need to take care of. Yeah. And we were at a place where there was a park nearby. And it happened that there were some people that look somewhat nefarious, probably gang members. And at a certain point in time, a couple of them approached us. And I didn’t know what their attention was. So I kind of got out in front of my group and said hello to them, you know. And once they asked what we were doing, and once I told them what we were doing, their mood changed completely. And then as it happened, there was a hill there that had a cross up at the top of it. And I wasn’t painting that, but I did see it. And the one of the guys said, you see that cross up there and said, Yeah, he said, You had my friends, and I brought it up there, you know, he had a friend that passed away at me hiked up there, and drag gave me the whole story of the so it started as being somewhat tense, it ended up being diffused, because I listened to them, tell me about how they brought this cross up there and planted it up there. And that’s been about it, you know, in 20 years or so doing this. Most of my interactions with with people or animals have been overwhelmingly positive.
Eric Rhoads 42:00
But I think it’s really interesting is that there’s 100 stories. And, you know, we’re all kind of in our little life, and we, you know, we do, we do, we have our routines, and we kind of stay within our circles, whatever our circles are. But when you’re out plein air painting, inevitably, somebody will walk up to start talking to you. And, you know, sometimes you don’t want to talk because you’re painting, but sometimes you you’re engaging, and you’ll meet people and hear great stories and hear and learn things that you just never would have learned before, which I think is one of the great benefits of going outdoors. So before we wrap up, I I want to get back to something that we talked about earlier, because we never really finished your story. But you said something about having you think think of things scientifically, yeah. Tell me about that.
Rich Gallego 42:58
So before I started painting, I might kind of 30 almost 31 years that I worked in a an immunology lab, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. And, you know, my education was in biology. And you learn to think about things very precisely. And by the way that does translate into your painting. At some point, it was really a challenge for me not to paint every blade of grass and every little pebble. Because of the way I
Eric Rhoads 43:31
became one of these guys that understands how light is how light is reflecting. And
Rich Gallego 43:40
yeah, and that’s one of the great things about about teaching, actually. I have students that come out and they’re thinking, I’m gonna learn to plein air paint. And I’ll teach them what I know. What they don’t realize is in the process, they’re also going to learn about the physics of light. Yeah, they’re going to learn about Immanuel Kant’s treatise on beauty and aesthetics, they’re going to learn about peak shifting and asymmetrical rhythms and all these different things, neuroscience and art, because these are the things that I continue to study. And it’s all I suppose, has its root in my scientific background. But to me, if there’s something that I can find, it’s going to make more of my paintings more engaging. I want to know what it is I want to implement it. And so there’s, there’s all these, you know, videos out there by neurologists and neuroscientists that talk about the connection in the brain between neuroscience and art and how things work. And so, this is the kind of stuff I listened to. And I realized along the way, you know, art is is a language, it’s a way of communicating, right. And that being the case, I’d like to have something interesting, hopefully even profound to say. And in order to do that, I need to find every possible way that that’s available to me. And I realized also that One of the things people don’t do sometimes is they don’t do things to sort of elasticized their brains. If I can do things to challenge my brain on a regular basis, I believe what happens is, I’ll start to see opportunities that I wouldn’t have seen before. And I’ve seen this happen, I’ve driven by a scene or walk past a scene, and I say, Okay, that’s a possible painting right there. And then over time, because I keep making things, you know, putting things in my head that challenge my thinking, then I’ll see something else in that same place that I never saw before, maybe it’s a pattern that I didn’t recognize, I just believe that if you if you want to avail yourself of all the opportunities are there, you have to be open to them. And in order to do that, you can’t have a very narrow view of the world. I think just like I said, I’ll tell people, you know, anybody can paint but not everybody can paint well. And in my experience, when I look at the painters whose work I really love, whether they’re contemporary painters or historical painters, you read about them, you listen to interviews, you read books about them. Most of the painters that that I really revere turns out, they’re pretty deep, folks. Right? That pretty intelligent. There’s not a lot of really great painters out there, who you hear him talking to go, wow, that guy’s a bit of a dim bulb, but it just doesn’t happen. So for me, challenging my brain by reading things that are that are harder for me to understand and, and just wrestling with it. It keeps my brain active, it opens up possibilities to paintings.
Eric Rhoads 46:27
Yeah, I think it was very true. And I, I would say that, it’s really important to get out of your box. Yeah, absolutely. Right. So I, you know, I take courses all the time, on things that have nothing to do with painting, and things that, you know, I’ll see something will pop up online, and I’ll go, Well, why would I ever do that? And then I’ll try that I’ll just, you know, spend the money and take it. And it expands your brain? Yep. And, you know, am I ever going to use neurolinguistic programming or, you know, some of the things that courses, you know, no, I don’t intend to, but you know, it influences everything, and it opens up a different viewpoint on everything.
Rich Gallego 47:12
Yeah. And if you could look at things from as many different perspectives as possible, I just think that you’re gonna have more possibilities exposed to you so
Eric Rhoads 47:21
well, you’re a pretty deep guy. And this has been a real pleasure. And I’m honored to be able to have the time to spend with you today and to, to get to know you and help everybody else get to know you. And congratulations, you’re doing a beautiful job and your your work.
Rich Gallego 47:36
Thank you very much, Eric. The pleasure and the honor is mine. Really, I really appreciate this and what you do in general for the art community.
Eric Rhoads 47:42
Thank you. I appreciate that. Richard, really a deep guy and I really appreciate you sharing your life and your experience in your plein air painting with us today. Thanks for being on the plein air podcast.
Rich Gallego 47:52
Oh, it’s been my pleasure and my honor.
Eric Rhoads 47:56
Well, I love that guy. That’s Rich Gallego. Thank you again rich for doing this. Okay, are you guys ready to improve your art sales for 2023. It is time for the art marketing minute.
This is the marketing minute with Eric Rhoades, author of the number one Amazon bestseller make more money selling your art, proven techniques to turn your passion into profit.
Eric Rhoads 48:20
Art marketing minute I answer your art marketing questions. You can email your questions to me Eric@artmarketing.com. Or there’s other ways you can do it too. Now, I gotta tell you, we have the art Marketing Podcast separated so it tags the end of the plein air podcast, but it has its own podcast as well. If you’re somebody who’s not into plein air, that’s a way you can get it. Alright, Amandine, my producer. What is the first question?
The first question is from Gary from Minnesota. I’m head down and neck deep working on my 2023 goals. One of the first goals is to build a body of work by the end of q1. I’m obsessed with plein air painting and working with a well known local artist under a mentorship program he’s helping with is helping me with my journey in finding my voice. So right now, my body of work is pretty much studies in a bit all over the place. That being said, I do feel some are worthy for show. And so my questions to you are, what is your take, take on building a body of work? Do you start with a formal plan a theme or style or let the style just evolve and come through as I go? Lastly, how many pieces is considered a body of work?
Eric Rhoads 49:44
Well, there’s a lot of questions in all of that and I’ll try to answering the best I possibly can. Gary. I’m glad that you’re obsessed with plein air painting. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a lot of fun. More people are doing it every day, Gary You know, you have to make some decisions about what you want to do with your life. If you have the intention of selling artwork, then you’ve got to start thinking like a business person. And let’s say that I was, let’s say, I decided I was going to start selling Scissors, scissors at the farmers market. And so what do I have to do before I go to the farmers market and sell scissors? I gotta make scissors. And I got to anticipate how many scissors I need to sell to cover my cost of the farmers market. I also need to say, Okay, how much profit do I need to make. So let’s say the Farmers Market, I’m using a silly analogy, of course, but let’s say the Farmers Market table cost you 100 bucks, and your scissors are 10 bucks each, you’ve got to cover 10 pair of scissors just to cover your cost, right? But covering your cost is of no value. Because your if you go to the farmers market and you sell 10 pair of scissors, and you cover your cost, you haven’t really got any value of that time. Now you’ve got to ask yourself, what is my time worth in making the scissors? What is my time worth and putting them in packages? And what is my time worth for standing at the booth for 10 hours on a weekend or 20 hours on a weekend? And then okay, now what’s my time worth? Now you add that to your costs, because that’s really a cost? And then on top of that, you’ve got to say, Okay, well, how much money should I make? Now, when you’re selling something, there’s a thing called a cost of sale. A cost of sale could be involved in your marketing costs. So in your particular case, if you’re at the farmers market, right, the cost of sale is the cost of paying for the farmers market paying for everything else, that you know your time there, it’s not going to include your cost of the scissors, but but you need to keep that in consideration. So if you want to make money as an artist, you got to start thinking about those kinds of things. No matter what you’re going to do. Now, you’re not likely to be selling at the farmers market, but you might be selling at an art show a tent show as I call them. Or you might decide you’re going to sell in a gallery or or otherwise. Now, you might say, Okay, I’m going to do only originals. And you might say I’m going to do originals plushy clay prints, or other kinds of prints. You know, people who do art short shows, like to have something that people could buy for 50 or $100. And so they have print bins, and they’ll have prints of a big hanging painting. And maybe they never sell the original. Maybe their intent isn’t to sell the original, but they you know, they have those prints handy. You got to kind of decide what’s right for you. I’m going to talk galleries today, because it kind of relates to your question. If you want to get into a gallery, then a body of work is critical. Most anybody can do one good painting, you know, I see a lot of people who show a painting that they did. And it turns out that they didn’t really do most of it because the workshop instructor did most of it. But there’s their signatures on it, right? But and galleries know this, but can you provide them with dozens of consistently good painting, see, galleries want to know that you’re consistent that you’ve got a body of work, and they also want to bring you on knowing that you can provide consistent work and provide enough inventory to sell because they’re in business to sell product, right, and you are the product. So yeah, you need a body of work, but not just for galleries, you also need a body of work for yourself, if you plan to sell in any way, whether you’re selling direct online, whether you’re selling art shows, whatever your method of selling is, you have to have some inventory. Because if you go to an art show, and you you know, you don’t take enough paintings, you don’t cover your expenses, you got to go to the art show with more paintings than you think you’re going to sell. And what have you sell out all of those. So it’s always better to have some more in your truck, right? Same thing with your, your warehouse, if you’re selling online, you know, you’ve got to have some paintings tucked away so that you you know, so I start by doing projections, I start by saying how much money do I need to cover my expenses? How much money do I need to make now, you know, you could say $100 million dollars, and that’s fine, except it’s not likely to happen, at least not right off the top right, you got to kind of take it in steps. So if you’ve never sold a painting before, you’ve got to get used to selling a painting, you’ve got to probably start out at a lower price point, establish a collector base, etc and get to where you want to be. And so you’re really I don’t want to be crass about this but you’re really selling inventory. You’re creating inventory to sell your scissors right your inventory Uh, your earlier living is dependent on your inventory. And so if you want to make, let’s just I’m gonna use round numbers or not real numbers, but let’s say you wanted to make $50,000. And let’s say you sell your paintings for $1,000. Well, you just need to sell 50 paintings. And by the way, if that’s $50,000 net that you need after taxes, then you got to sell, you know more than that, because taxes are pretty high, depending on your bracket. So, and you also need to know that not every one of the 50 paintings is going to sell. So you need to do more than the 50 paintings. So I’d start there, in terms of a formal plan or theme or style. I’m kind of a shoot from the hip kind of a guy, I’m not big on spreadsheets, I use them all the time, I have to use them in business. But I don’t know that you have to have a completely formal plan. But it is a good idea to have some goals and try to hit those goals. Because if you don’t have any goals, you don’t know what you’re aiming for. But let’s say you want to get into a gallery in three months. Well, that’s a whole nother topic getting into a gallery, I’m not going to address that now. But let’s say that you have a plan and you have somebody who’s going to look at your work in three months, they want to see your body of work, then you’re gonna have to do 20 to 30 Good paintings. Now, a gallery might say, Oh, I only want five paintings, but they might also say, hey, I want to do a show, I got a contact from a gallery, they want to do a show. And I’m like, No. And they said, why I said, because I don’t want to do 50 paintings. I don’t have that much time. So I turned down the show. But I think that you know if you have that opportunity, and you can do it, do it. But let’s say they want to see 2030 Good paintings, and you have to do 10 a month for three months. That’s not likely, because that puts you under a lot of pressure. Most of us can’t paint 10 Good paintings in a month. Some people can, especially if you’re a plein air guy, and you’re really really fast. And your plein air work is sufficient. But determine how many you can do and then set a goal Oh, and let’s say your goal is in the year 2023. I want to have a body of work that I don’t touch that I’m going to offer to a gallery or to and I want to have 30 paintings, 30 good paintings by the end of the year, then set that goal and then you say to yourself, Okay, how many do I have to do once a month. Now, my friend artists, tiny Hertwig once told me, you can’t make money at painting unless you learn to paint fast. So you might keep that in mind. But don’t don’t sacrifice quality for speed, you know, you’re learning you’re growing, you know, maybe some point you’ll get there. But take it take it appropriately at the pace you need to. But produce what you need by setting up a body of work. Now. You also asked about theme, you know, some artists will do a theme for a show. You know, maybe they’ll do a theme on Volkswagens or something I don’t know, I had Rusty Humphries. I gave him an idea. He did a theme on 3030 on 30 of us 3030 bards on 30, or something like that. It was a gimmick, but it was it worked. It was effective, it got attention. So you might want to think about that. But the one thing that I think is important is and this is a question that comes up a lot. And that is that you want to be known for one thing and doing one thing really, really well. This is very important to a gallery. I had a friend who did this gallery show, and he had not shown The Gallerist what he was doing beforehand. And he decided to change everything he painted, he changed his subject completely. And he put it up at the show and it bombed because he was known as a landscape artist and he was doing figures or portraits or something. So you got to get buy in from your gallery. But you got to become known for one thing and doing it well. Let’s say it’s because you’re a plein air guy or you want to do landscape painting, then be really known for your landscape painting. Don’t throw portraits in don’t throw other things in. After you get established. You can do that a little bit, maybe a lot more. But right now you got to be known for one thing, because if you’re not, it’s gonna hurt you. Just pick one thing and do it really well master it. Okay, I’m gonna do and what’s our next question?
The next question is from Anthony from Metro Detroit, Michigan. I’ve been paying for Facebook ads for months now with no sales, and I believe I’ve tried just about every method you could think of. I have spent well over $2,000 with no sales. A year and a half ago, an online art gallery reached reached out to me and I signed with them to sell my art. They take 50% of all sales. They’ve sold four of my paintings, including my most expensive piece at a time for $5,000. My question is she Should I just stop paying for ads myself, and just rely on the online gallery to sell my work? Or keep paying for ads until I figure it out?
Eric Rhoads 1:00:09
Anthony Anthony Anthony Anthony, I’ve got lots of things to tell you on this. There’s a lot of questions in your question. Where do I begin? Well, first off, you might think your advertising is not working. But how are you measuring? What’s working? Are you measuring the number of people that are visiting your Facebook page? Are you measuring the number of people visiting your website? Are you do you have a method of capturing people, once they visit your website, do you do know that they’re, you know, you, you’re, you’re measuring it purely on sales. So you know, they’re not buying. And so it’s not working from that standpoint, but it might be working in another way. And you may just need to tweak things a little bit. The other thing is that social media and all advertising, quite frankly, ads don’t work until they work. And what I mean by that is, you know, we have, we do lots of ads, 1000s, probably 10s of 1000s of ads in a year, in terms of placement, but we do lots of different creative, and we will test everything we’ll put, we’ll put an ad up on Facebook, we’ll see how many responses we get, or how many click throughs, we get, because the first thing you’re selling, your whole goal is to sell a click, the only reason to do an ad is to sell a click. Now, if you’re trying to get them to buy a painting, from a click, it’s not likely to happen, it’s just not likely to happen. So you’ve got to take people through a process in the process is sell a click, get them to you know, so you’ve got to entice them with something on that click, and then you’ve got to once a click, then they’ve got to see something that’s going to sell them the next piece of the process. You know, Facebook is kind of known as a five to $25 medium, meaning you’re not likely to sell anything over $25 In a Facebook environment. But if you’re, if you’re buying a lead, and then you can develop that lead. So think about this, I look at all of this, like fishing, I’m not a big sportsman. But fishing so right you, you throw your line in the water and you pull the thing back and you you hope to catch a fish. Well, what you everybody wants a big fish, right. And a big fish takes bigger bait. In that case, bigger bait is more money, better creative, etc. But really, what you really want to do is you want to catch a lot of minnows, right, because if you can take a net and scoop up 1000 memo men mid minnows, then you can put them in your own fish tank, and then that fish tank, you feed them and you grow them. So what I’m saying is if you can pull leads in and and then get them on your newsletter, and then you develop them by sending your newsletter or telling them what’s going on in your life and showing them I’ve got a whole thing on newsletters in my book, showing them your latest artworks, and so on getting them more familiar with you, then that’s a very good thing to do. Now, you don’t want just anybody you want to write your ads so that they repel people as much as they attract people. Because you don’t want to pay to get people first off, you’re paying per click usually. But you don’t want to pay to get people who are never going to buy a thing from you, you know, you don’t want 12 year olds coming in. And even though it might be a nice ego thing to have somebody looking at your art, you know, you only want people who are gonna buy your art in your particular case if you’re trying to sell art. So there’s a whole lot of different things here. But you know, one One strategy is to offer something for free like an ebook. And then that you know, ebook and my 50 Best paintings, and then that they get that ebook, you get their email address, you say, you know, I’m sending you the book and I’m adding you to my newsletter list. And then you send them your, your newsletter, and then maybe you send them some promotions from time to time. If they leave you you have to stop sending him stuff legally. So that’s one thing. The other thing is, I try as I mentioned, lots of different copy testing is everything, test everything, you know, test two different versions of your ad two different images or two different headlines and see which one pulls them in better and then that’s what you call your control. Once you get a good control that’s working then you always try to beat that right so test everything. I have probably spent more than a million dollars on Facebook alone and I’m not an ad spurt, I employ experts. And I talk to them all the time. And I know a lot about selling on Facebook and Instagram and other things. But you know, the big issue here is that you are you might be fishing in a pond that doesn’t have any warm fish. What I mean by that? Well, there are two types of audiences there are warm audiences and they’re cold audiences warm means that they are they know you real warm, they know you and they like you. And they trust you, you know, the warmer they are, the better they are for you, and the better or more likely, they will become a customer for you. So it’s kind of hard to get warm audiences in Facebook, now you can get them, you can retarget people who follow your Facebook page. But you don’t know if they’re buyers or not. You can retarget people who visit your website, if there’s a certain you have to have a certain number to be able to do that. And then then you’re being able to warm them up. And so you put things in front of them. And sometimes a strategy for advertising, by the way is you don’t want clicks. And so for instance, if you, you just want to put artwork in front of them, so they’re seeing your latest artwork. And you’re warming them, you put artwork on there, but you don’t put a call to action on there, because then you’re not paying for the click, but you’re getting the exposure, right. But Facebook is onto this. And they know that if they’re if you’re not getting clicks, they don’t want to put you in front of people, if you’re getting a lot of clicks, they’re gonna put you in front of a lot of other people. So there’s a different strategy there. You know, there, the key to warm audiences are you want warm audiences who like and trust you. But secondly, you want people who already want to own your work or they love your work, they’re going to be likely to buy your work. And the way to do that is to look for places that are more likely to advertise where you’re more likely to advertise where there are warm audiences. And so like, you know, I have this magazine called Fine Art connoisseur, I have all these art collectors really, really, really, really rich art collectors in many cases. And so what you do is you go in there, and you expose yourself to them, maybe the wrong term, but you you give yourself exposure. And then what you do is you you just stay visible all the time. Because here’s what happens is, if you’re advertising to sell a painting, that should not be your primary goal, your advertising should be to brand yourself, and to brand yourself so that you can get a higher price you see, branding, gets them aware of you. And people go through this process of awareness. I’m not aware. And then I’m aware now I’m interested. Now I’m interested enough to consider buying now I’m interested enough to buy, right, so you got to take him through that process. And some people that take seven impressions, some people it takes 10 impressions, some people it takes 30 impressions, everybody’s different. But you gotta that’s why you got to stay there constantly and be in front of them constantly. We have a lot of artists who do branding, who have built their names and reputations. And when you do branding, you’re also appealing to the emotions of the of the people you see because emotions are what sell products. And so status is an emotion, right? How do I compare, you know, to my neighbor, if I own a you know, George Carlson painting, that’s a big deal, right? So everybody’s like, wow, you want to George Carlson painting you feel good, you can beat your chest. And so that’s status and status comes from branding, you know, George Carlson’s brand was built up over lots of successful wins that art shows and successful sales and things like that, you know, that’s, that all builds brand. And so you want to take that as a process. Now, it takes time to build a brand, it doesn’t happen overnight, you can still sell paintings through that process. But if you you get a good brand, you get more money for your paintings, you get more demand, you get invited to more things. There’s a lot of other things going on. So this is very complicated. I recommend you read my book as a starting point. Don’t think of advertising as making a sale. Think of it as getting leads. You’ve got to track your numbers develop a cost per lead strategy, you know, what percentage of your painting sold? Are you willing to give up for advertising? Well, it should be somewhere about 10 to 20% In the beginning, maybe even more in the beginning. Because you have to establish yourself, you know, like some people will pay half of the ad that a gallery runs and that way you know you’re you’re branding yourself with that made You’re a gallery you go to that gallery and say, Listen, you’re you know, you’re I’m on your, I’m in your gallery anyway. And I’ll pay for half of the ad. And the gallery gets the attention, but they’re promoting you that makes you look better. They had helps them sell, that helps them brand and you know, it’s a win win deal. So there’s a lot of things you can do, you know, choose cold or warm audiences, but I always try to go for warm Facebook targeting is probably not enough. Facebook isn’t selling a lot of art for a lot of people, but it is selling probably the place that’s selling the most is people who follow your actual page. You know, here’s the latest painting I’ve done. You know, a lot of artists buy paintings and a lot of collectors buy paintings. The key is how do you get collectors, real collectors to know you and follow you on Facebook. And the way to do that is to go on LinkedIn, to collectors groups, and start commenting on posts. Don’t ever promote yourself just comment do smart things. Then they start looking for you. They look you up on LinkedIn or they look you up on Facebook or Instagram. They follow you and the next thing you know they’re buying paintings. There’s a lot to all of this. You paid a high cost of marketing for that online gallery 50% But that’s what we all pay for galleries, you know, most of us pay 50% for our galleries on consignment. And that’s that’s worth doing. So I recommend you keep your online gallery try to get a couple more galleries look for other ways. You don’t ever want to have all your eggs in one basket because sometimes people drop eggs right? So galleries go out of business. Things change for online galleries, you know, there’s a lot of things but try to spread your risk. Anyway, that is today’s art marketing minute.
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com.
Eric Rhoads 1:11:52
Well, I hope you will join us at the plein air convention in 2023. Go to pleinairconvention.com. But sooner than that, I hope you will join us for plein air live coming up in March. That’s pleinairlive.com. It’s worldwide and this is a chance for those of you have never been able to come to the plein air convention. It’s pretty cool. We’ve got a massive number of people coming already. So we hope that you’ll join us. And please consider Subscribing to our magazine. Plein Air magazine. It’s at pleinairmagazine.com If you’ve not seen my blog where I talked about life and stuff and things, you know stuff and things highly technical terms. Check it out. It’s coffeewitheric.com you can get it for free comes on Sundays. It’s called Sunday Coffee Coffeewitheric.com. And I’m on the air daily on Facebook. My show is called Art School live always have visiting artists, hundreds of artists doing demonstrations you can find them all on YouTube at art school alive and you should subscribe there we just passed 100,000 subscribers that’s kind of fun. noon Eastern every weekday. Every weekday we started with COVID We went seven months, seven days a week. And since then it’s been every weekday since then, hit the subscribe button when you go. All right. Thank you for doing that. Follow me please on Instagram. It’s @EricRhoads. Also Facebook. Tiktok, you know all those things. And anyway, thanks for tuning in today. I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher, founder of plein air magazine. Thank you for your time today. Appreciate it. I’m honored. It is a big world out there. Let’s go paint it. We’ll see you bye bye.
This has been the plein air podcast with PleinAir 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 Eric@pleinairmagazine.com. Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at pleinairtips.com. Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.