Plein Air Podcast 239: Don Demers on Layering the Landscape and More

Plein Air Podcast 239: Don Demers on Layering the Landscape and More

Plein Air Podcast - Eric Rhoads - Don Demers

This is episode number 239 of the Plein Air Podcast with the incredible plein air and landscape master Don Demers.

Listen and watch as they discuss:
– How your two intelligence centers (your heart and your mind) inform your plein air paintings
– Thoughts on illustrators versus fine artists
– The importance of layering
– And much more

Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares thoughts on how to balance the practice of making and selling art; and what it means to have a “title” as an artist.

Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Don Demers here:


Related Links:
– Don Demers online:
– Plein Air Magazine:
– Watercolor Live:
– Plein Air Convention & Expo:
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram:
– Plein Air Today newsletter:
– Submit Art Marketing Questions:

The Plein Air Podcast has been named the #1 Painting Podcast by FeedSpot for two years in a row.

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.

Eric Rhoads:
This is episode number 239 with the incredible plein air and landscape master Don Demers.

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 0:00
Thank you, Jim Kipping. And welcome to the Plein Air Podcast. I’m Eric and I am so excited. I’m like, I’m reinvigorated. So last week, last Saturday, we ended watercolor live our international conference about watercolor it was four days it had a first day, which is a beginner’s Day, which we’ve now renamed to essential stay. But it started with that day. And then three solid days and long days, like 12, eight or 12 hour days, there were long days. And we had like 30, top watercolor masters everybody really great that you can imagine. And we had 31 countries attending 1000s of people attending and every state in America attending and that was really, really cool. The best part about it, though, is not just the watercolor education, it is the life changing transformations that were taking place. You could see people would post their work, oftentimes they’d paint along or they paint the picture that someone else was was, you know, a master was teaching. You could see at the beginning of the week, how their work was and then by the end of the week, you could see the same people how their work had dramatically increased and improved I mean dramatically. And it’s because all of these little tips and techniques and ideas got implanted into their brains got implanted into mind to I’m really excited about it. I am not primarily a watercolorist but it’s something I’m doing more of than that ever. And because I’ve been watching and I can’t watch the whole thing because I’m hosting there’s stuff going on behind the scenes in the background. But you know, I’m even seeing personal improvement so I’m excited about that in and I have not done much plein air watercolor yet. I’ve done a little I did actually I did quite a bit of New Zealand as matter of fact, I did oil and then you know if I needed to to kill another quick hour or something, I do a watercolor and I had some really good ones so I’m really happy with so anyway, might give it a try. But just it was it was really a lot of fun. So, Sunday after church, Sunday was my day off because I was done with watercolor live and after church I I really wanted to go painting but I was just so exhausted. I think I went back to bed or laid down or something. didn’t do any painting at all. But last night I was able to get out into my studio anyway, I didn’t get any plein air painting. And by the way here in Austin, we’re having a nice storm. I think most of America is getting it. And so no plein air painting for me today. But anyway, I’m working on this 30 by 40 piece that I did in the Adirondacks from a study and I’m getting ready to send it off to the gallery. I will I put it away for a couple of weeks. I’m working on it again, I see some flaws, then I’ll put it away for a couple more weeks and work on it again. And hopefully it’ll be kind of ready to go. And I’m excited about that. Speaking of excited, man, it’s always nice when you get recognition, right, you work hard to get recognition. We are humbled to announce that we’re number one in the Feedspot list of painting podcast for a second year in a row. Thank you for that. Thank you for listening to plein air podcasts, like 90 countries. 120 countries that listen. We’ve had millions of downloads. It’s pretty cool. Pretty cool. Thank you for that. Our next big online conference is perfect for you. It’s perfect for you because if you have not yet learned about the plein air lifestyle, maybe you’re listening to this but you haven’t got outdoors to paint. It is different. It It’s different than painting indoors. Now you know, color mixing is the same and things like that. But you know, when you’re painting outdoors, you’re dealing with a lot of other things and you got to learn how to deal with them outdoors. I like the idea of learning to paint first indoors, and then going outdoors because just makes it a little easier. But the event coming up in March is plein air live. It’s an online conference, there’ll be 1000s of people attending from around the world. 30 top instructors, and it’s kind of like spring training for painters. Now the plein air convention coming up is also that but spring training for people who can’t make it to the plein air convention. And it’s three days plus essentials day and you can learn so much and that’s coming up at plein air Make sure you check that out. And you can attend from anywhere you can watch in the comfort of your home, no matter where you are. We actually had people in other countries sitting up at two, three o’clock in the morning because they were so excited to be there live because there’s something about being on live when you can because you get that interaction with everybody. You get to ask questions of the faculty members in the chat. You know, you get to chat with people, you get the breakout rooms, everybody made a lot of friends. It’s matter of fact, I was putting people together like I found people that lived in the same area. But they didn’t know each other and they needed people to paint with. So I’d like put them all on a zoom call together and get them acquainted. And I did that a few times. That was kind of fun. Speaking of fun, plein air convention, it’s got to be fun. And you probably heard this already. But we announced that Jane Seymour, the actress, Golden Globe winning has committed to come to the plein air convention, we decided it would be fun to do something different this year because we’re celebrating our 10th year. So we’re gonna do some stuff. I’ve got a planning meeting later today. As a matter of fact, we’re going to come up with some birthday stuff. And then it’ll be a good year to come if you’re going to come in a year come this year, especially because we’re going to be a Denver, we’re going to be painting around Colorado, some of the most incredible places in the world. And we all paint together every day. But we also learn together with five stages. And those five stages will allow you to you know, if you don’t like one stage, you can go to another Yeah, we have a watercolor stage, we have a pastel stage, we have a main stage, which is all the main speakers and all the mostly oil painting, although we do have some watercolor Alvero Castagnet is going to be on the main stage this year, cuz he’s such a big deal. And, and then we have all these other stages we have stage, it’s a couple stages we call demo stages, which was just different kinds of demos going on all the time. And people are setting up in the halls and painting portraits and, and they’re in the expo hall by at art materials at deep discounts and they’re partying and having a lot of fun. It’s just it’s a ball. And if you could ever make it, it’d be great. Nothing like being in person. Okay, anyway, come out and see it. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. Today, my guest is Don Demers. Don and I have known each other for, oh, probably, probably at least 20 years, maybe longer. He’s a brilliant painter. He was born in 1956. In a small rural community of Lundberg, Massachusetts, he had an interest in painting marine subjects. At an early age, he spent his summers on the coast of Maine in near Boothbay Harbor, where he lives now, part of the time anyway, after finishing high school art programs, he furthered his education in the School of Western art museum and Worcester mass, and then the Mass College of Fine Art in Boston. His maritime experience came about as crew members aboard a traditional sailing vessel, many I guess, including schooners, and square riggers and continues to be an avid saver. Sailor, as you know, are you maybe you don’t know people who paint ships know the rigging, right? And people who buy paintings of people who paint chips, they know that if the rigging is wrong, and so I think that’s really important. Don’s really a terrific guy, a great human being a really, really, really sweet, friendly, giving. Generous wants to wants to help other people. Now this is a little unusual today because the podcast, I had the chance to record him in our soundstage on the set when he was here, filming a new video which is going to be coming out soon. He’s also got one out now called mastering a nautical scene that you can get at But we took advantage of that time in the studio together. So we just sat down in the, in the chairs in the studio and did the interview there. So for those of you who are watching, we’re not on the set of the plein air podcast at the moment, but it’s the same content. It’s just a different set. Let’s get to that right now. Our guest today on the plein air podcast is Don Demers. Don Welcome to the plein air podcast. Thanks

Don Demers 9:56
so much Eric. It is great to be here and to be with you again.

Eric Rhoads 10:00
Now I’m trying to think about when we first met. And I, I’m not sure it was back east somewhere. And it may have been. It may have been at a workshop or something and plein air painters of America put on

Don Demers 10:19
it. Gosh, I wish I could remember exactly when it occurred. It was what it was 20 years ago. Yeah, at least it was some time ago. Yeah. I became a member of plein air painters of America around 2004. Somewhere in there, I honestly don’t remember the last. I do remember being with plein air painters of America in Mount desert up in Acadia with you. We had a good week up there. Maybe that’s where we really got to know each other. We got to know each other there we’d met prior to that. I was in Monterey with you at the second convention. That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. With John Stobart’s class. Yeah. That was fun. Well,

Eric Rhoads 11:03
you have had a really terrific career. And I want to kind of dig into that. But let’s first go back to the very, very beginning because I like to understand the roots. I recently read something that psychiatrists say that pretty much anything that happens before you’re 10 years old, kind of determines your track in life, or at least how you how you interpret the world or your lens. Tell me a little bit about growing up and where you grew up. And when you kind of first started thinking about art.

Don Demers 11:44
By the way, thanks for having me. You’re very, very flattering and humbling when you’re asked about your life and what you’re doing with it. So I’m very appreciative of that. And I want to thank you for it. I grew up in central Massachusetts in a farm town and a big old white farmhouse. My dad was a bricklayer and had four brothers. So it was a rough and tumble household. We got to go on vacation to Boothbay Harbor, Maine for two weeks every summer because my grandparents had a little cottage up there. And I started drawing. And what when I was so young, I barely remember it, but I do remember this, my mother and father had an in home office, basically a desk and a filing cabinet. My mom kept the books for my dad’s masonry business. And I used to sneak in there and steal the paper and even envelopes to do drawings on and I I remember my mother and my father both scolding me, Donnie, that’s not what that paper is for. So I just started drawing, it was kind of a second language for me, I had some inexplicable want in need to draw things. And of course, I was a little kid. So they were jet planes and trains and trucks and superheroes and monsters and all that kind of stuff that from being in the early 60s, anything that was inspiring me from the television or from the Batmobile I drew many times from every angle, all that stuff. So it was always just part of my way of communicating. And it never occurred to me not to do it. And it wasn’t long before I was eight or nine or 10 years old. And my family referred to me Oh, Donna, he’s the artist. So it just stuck.

Eric Rhoads 13:36
So that’s that’s kind of how your your how would they say that that became your self worth or your it gave you confidence you identified as an artist,

Don Demers 13:46
very much so very much. So it was something that my other brothers couldn’t do. And of course, we all played sports. We beat each other up. We built tree houses we ran ran through the woods, in the orchards and all that so I did all of that with them. But that was my thing. And

Eric Rhoads 14:01
we’re sort of farming involved. You said you lived on a farm in a farmhouse

Don Demers 14:04
there apple orchards everywhere. We didn’t operate one but there was one across the street and there was one just down the road a little bit. So we we volunteered to every harvest season. Everybody in the neighborhood we all picked apples and the teenagers got to use the ladders runs like me had to pick the pick the drops off the ground and put them in the wooden boxes and my father drove a big trailer truck and everybody lined him up. And it was it was great. What a great childhood. It was. It was wonderful. Wonderful. So

Eric Rhoads 14:32
what happened? How did your art progress you? You go into school, high school, did you take art classes or anything like that? Well,

Don Demers 14:42
there was something that happened prior to that. And that was my mom was an amateur painter. And and my aunt Jean her sister was also an amateur painter, but they were good my aunt particularly she’s still paint. She’s 92 And she’s still painting away. Fabulous. Yeah, it’s great. And so I was around the oil paints And so I saw the materials. I remember a big coffee table book that came. My art had heard of Andrew Wyeth paintings. And that was that. And I started to stare at that. And because we were in Boothbay in the summer, it was very young, I don’t remember exactly what ah, 10 ish, somewhere in there, and went to the Farnsworth, my aunt took me there. And I saw why it’s paintings for the first time, and that planted the seed. And then when I was in the sixth grade, I was given a paint by number for boring you with this, but paint by number for Christmas from some odd that I’ve can’t even remember who it was. It was of two Cocker Spaniels and I couldn’t wait to get that thing done. And then I thought, well, that looks kind of stupid. I’m going to blend the edges. So So I turned it into a much more realistic picture of just by blending the edges from this spaces, and then I had a lot of paint leftover. So I put the cocker spaniels aside and I painted a seascape

Eric Rhoads 16:01
still have that painting.

Don Demers 16:03
It may be in the attic of the old house because my youngest brother still lives in the house might be up there somewhere. So I just I was just oriented toward the materials that you

Eric Rhoads 16:12
need to get that because it’s gonna go on the Smithsonian

Don Demers 16:17
maybe in some pet museum somewhere. So then, yes, high school, and I had the greatest benefit of having an absolutely wonderful high school art teacher. Her name was Nelly drum. And she was a taskmaster. And I spent every spare minute in, I was either shooting street hockey balls in the gymnasium with my brothers because we all played ice hockey, or I was in the art room. And I spent an ordinate amount of time with her and they

Eric Rhoads 16:45
ended Did you were you kind of like the star student? Yes. You had a lot of Yep, experienced drawing.

Don Demers 16:52
I worked the hardest. I loved it the most. I was in there constantly. So I had a key to the art room. I said I bought the supplies for the high school art program and she stuck up for me and stood by my side gave me pretty much free rein through a my four years of high school

Eric Rhoads 17:11
and what what do you think you were you remember what you were doing? Were you painting? Are you doing a little bit of everything?

Don Demers 17:18
I was kind of a snob. You know, we had, you had to do some jewelry classes, some in some sculpture activities to fulfill the requirements of the class. And I just look at Mrs. Trump, she says just go paint. So she said, I know you don’t want to do those other things, just do what you’re interested in doing. So I was painting outside, I was doing outdoor landscape, we’re really I go up behind the high school into the woods and paint. And I also did a lot of steel lives. Some work from photographs, you know, peeling stuff out of National Geographic and all that kind of thing. Doing figures in the paintings and anything I could get my hands on a lot of a lot of sporting art, lot of hockey saints.

Eric Rhoads 18:04
So that’s interesting that you went outdoors. had was this a, you know, an idea that you had on your own? Or had you seen an example of somebody going outdoors that gave you the idea, you know, not that I would choose a Monet or something and

Don Demers 18:19
no, I just did it on my own. I loved being outside, we grew up with a German Shepherds and my one favorite German Shepherd is Marco. And so I take my paint box, and I take Marco and we go into the woods for the whole day. And I still have some of those paintings through. Yeah. And I just set up I was a very contemplative Kid, Part of me was active and social and gregarious. But I had a very contemplative side to me, I want it to be by myself. And I go out into those woods and set up my paint box and walk around and sit by my side. And I paint. Yeah, exactly. Lots of that.

Eric Rhoads 18:55
So if you learned the lesson about door painting at a young age, you know, this is an issue that I have, there’s not a right or wrong, but you know, there are people who have spent their entire life painting from photographs or painting in the studio, and never have gone outside to paint in the light. Yeah. And that changes everything.

Don Demers 19:20
Everything changes. Absolutely everything changes. There’s such a barrier, and I don’t want to criticize or diminish anyone who chooses to work from photography. The beautiful thing about the creative endeavors is every one of them is custom fit to whoever that person is. But for I became aware of the fact that, you know, we’re we’re multi sensory beings, and we’re buying ocular and we’re bipeds and we live in a spherical world. And we’re walking into that world with all of these influences and these, this I was saying in my room Isn’t video that people look at the sea and they think of waves? Well, what they missing is the fact that it’s an invisible energy source that has a frequency and an oscillation that’s moving the water. At the same time we walk outside the sound waves and light waves that are coming at us, there’s energy coming to us. And if you experience it in its full dimension, by being in it, it completely changes your, your perceptions. So I’ve never

Eric Rhoads 20:29
heard it articulated in that way. I never really thought about that. But it you know, the essence of what you’re saying is so important because and of course, I experienced it. And of course, I published plein air magazine, which is all about going outdoors, but that the idea of capturing that essence, you know, that that vibration of light. And, and also the senses, you know, everything’s about a sensory experience. And to have the, you know, the wind blowing and the birds singing and the dogs barking or whatever, it just all informs kind of the essence of the scene.

Don Demers 21:09
It absolutely does in the summertime, when you hear that, that crickets chirping, if any of that is affecting your fingertips. Yeah. And it’s coming in here, you have to, you have to intelligence centers, your heart and your mind. And it’s traveling down there, it’s informing it. And I’ve said to my students, if they’re working from photographs, be careful of that, because that’s like kissing through a screen door. You’re damn close, you’re not there. You just have that little obstruction that’s keeping you from being in the full thing.

Eric Rhoads 21:43
That’s a really great analogy. Well, that’s, that’s kind of interesting to think about that I you know, I, I never really, I never could articulate the difference between a photograph and painting outdoors, but you just said it perfect.

Don Demers 22:01
Well, I’ve done both as an illustrator, I had to rely on photography, you know, and, and. And if you’re have a sense of, if you can cultivate a sense of your own presence, boy, you can feel it. It’s just so different when you’re out side with the full experience instead of a truncated or an abbreviated experience.

Eric Rhoads 22:25
So you, you go to high school, you’re the star pupil, what happens?

Don Demers 22:30
I won the high school art award, I got 600 bucks. Wow, that was a big deal. It was a big deal. Deal. 7419 74.

Eric Rhoads 22:37
Yeah, yeah, that’s six 600 bucks is a lot

Don Demers 22:41
meant a lot. That was a lot of gasoline from my Impala. You had an Impala? 1966.

Eric Rhoads 22:48
I have a 68.

Don Demers 22:52
In common? Yeah. A 306. Got around being cool.

Eric Rhoads 22:58
I got it. So. So you win the 600 bucks, you are now empowered, you know, you now have this extra bolt of confidence. What happens?

Don Demers 23:09
I went to art school in Worcester, Massachusetts, the School of the Western art museum. The best thing about that school was it was physically institutionally linked to the Western Art Museum, which is a wonderful museum, exceptional collection for a museum of that size. And it didn’t go well. The culture of art education at that time, was to be socially conscious conceptual, avant garde, there was no craft taught or very little. I was not happy at all. I was

Eric Rhoads 23:44
schools at that time, were almost anti craft

Don Demers 23:47
the Absolutely. I was actually told by one of my instructors in front of the class. Well, we have someone in the class who had who was handicapped. And I knew he was speaking about me, because I had just had a consultation with him the day before, and he was quite specific about it. So he saw me as being pretty inadequate and actually flawed. Because I was interested in classic portrayal.

Eric Rhoads 24:12
That’s interesting. Me I had a very similar experience. I, I didn’t start painting till I was 40. But my wife bought me an art lesson at the local art center. And I went in and the guy is saying, you know, just express yourself through the paint on the canvas. And I said, Well, you know, can you teach me I want to learn like how to paint a bottle or a flower or any should Oh, nobody does that anymore. That’s been done.

Don Demers 24:36
Yeah. I faced the exact same thing. It was made worse because the cast of instructors that I faced, had their own personal agendas. So they were trying to make you a minion or an acolyte of what they were doing instead of recognizing your individuality. So I didn’t last very long in that school. I liked lasted a year and a half, I did get to play some college hockey, which was great because they were associated with Clark University. So I played college hockey for Clark. And then I eventually I had a little interim time. And then I ended up at the Massachusetts College of Art as a painting major. I was a triple major, I worked very hard, very hard over your major painting, illustration and graphic design. And I fought that faculty like crazy to allow me to have all I said, I’ll do the work if you let me do it. And again, not to sound like being a little bit too negative here. But the administration said, you can’t be a painting and an illustration major, they have nothing to do with each other. So even then, by then I knew who Rockwell was and who Dean Cornwell was and who NC Wyeth was. So let’s

Eric Rhoads 25:53
talk about that. Because there was there when I first started publishing Fine Art kind of serve. Somebody said to me, Well, don’t ever cover somebody like Rockwell. And I said, why? And they said, Well, he’s not a fine artist. He’s an illustrator. Yeah. But he was a fine artist, of course. So where did this all come from?

Don Demers 26:16
Well, if they want to go all the way back, they can say that Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were illustrators, because they were being told what to paint. That’s what an illustrator is. Yeah,

Eric Rhoads 26:27
I guess that’s a really good point. So it’s really but But you you can tell I, we talked to dinner last night about me going to a Cornwall and Rockwell exhibit. And those guys could paint circles around anybody. Absolutely. You know, the subject matter was commercialized, you know, for a cover of a magazine or something, but they were really fine painters,

Don Demers 26:49
brilliant painters, and my opinion of of painting is it is not an art, it is a craft. It’s it can become an art if the practitioner is sufficiently qualified. So what what’s the difference? There isn’t one, if you if I had to give a difference, it would be well, of course, illustration embodies a wide variety of media, you know that you can work and airbrush and pen and ink and mixed media and all that. So that can convolute the definition. But really, the only distinction between illustration and quote, fine art, is that in illustration, you’re being directed and instructed by an exterior source, in fine art, in its essence, you’re by yourself, and you come up with your own ideas. So I thought

Eric Rhoads 27:37
you were you were talking about the difference between there’s a difference between being a proficient painter and being an artist?

Don Demers 27:45
Well, I am so different. Let me let me clarify. The two become, I consider artists to be a level of achievement, almost a ranking, if you will. There are days when I’ve been an artist, there are days when I’ve been a Picture Maker. And there’s difference, there’s a difference. So

Eric Rhoads 28:04
you know, when you’re an artist versus when you’re a picture,

Don Demers 28:07
you can spot it when you’re involved in it. And when you’re finished, when I when I am surprised by what it is I’ve accomplished, that’s those that they say I’m an artist. When I already know the outcome at the beginning of the day, then I’m filling up a canvas. But to be clear, I consider painting to be a craft. And when you’re when you’re accomplished enough at your craft, you gives you the opportunity to create art that gives you the platform. The difference between being a painter and an illustrator. Another separate question is that as an illustrator, somebody else is giving you your motivation. When you’re fine, quote, fine artists.

Eric Rhoads 28:48
Well, to some extent, somebody in that even in that environment, to some extent, there’s this essence or the sense that somebody is giving you that because, you know, if you’re making your living in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, I have to sell this. And so that influences the way you are can influence the way that you pay be absolutely you know if especially if you’re desperate to make a living. You know, I have someone in my family who is an artist who has never sold a piece has never wanted to sell a piece and is afraid to sell a piece because he doesn’t want it to influence his art.

Don Demers 29:33
Yeah. Well, that you ask very insightful poignant questions and pose positions that are really have been on the present in my consciousness for the last 40 something years that I’ve been doing this. There’s a difference between being a painter and making a living as a painter. And in the criteria changes, and our dear friend Joe I’m a girl, he and I have talked about this because we’re such dear friends and our kids grew up together. And we always talked about the fact that we were we’re making a living doing this, and some people will agree with what I’m about to say. And some people will be ashamed of me for what I’m about to say. But there are internal motives and external motives. And if you’ve got the, the discipline to compartmentalize those two and recognize them, in what and to what degree they’re influencing you, you can rest well at night, and you can paint paintings that are not designed for an audience, but that you may know will have a greater appeal.

Eric Rhoads 30:40
So the differences is the difference. That’s good enough, send it off

Don Demers 30:45
to a subject matter. It’s never quality of paint. The quality of paint has to be high. Every time Well, that’s

Eric Rhoads 30:52
what I mean. Yeah, because but, you know, one, one, if one is a machine, you know, trying to trying to generate revenue. One could say, well, you know, it’s good enough, I could send it out the door. From my perspective. It’s like, I can’t send it out the door. It’s not it just there’s something wrong with it. It’s not right. Yeah.

Don Demers 31:17
As far as the integrity of the craft that was never once compromised by me. In Overwatch, no. Well, if if perhaps it was, but it was unintentional. was by mistake. I was too tired, or I missed something and that kind of thing. So

Eric Rhoads 31:34
you never had a gallery say to you know, we could sell those sailboat paintings all day long. You know, the ones sitting next to the little red barn? Could you do me 30 Of those, you would never do that?

Don Demers 31:45
Oh, no, no, no, what I’m talking about is that the quality of the craft quality or the quality of the craft was never compromised. If I wanted to do a painting of an old abandoned cement truck, versus a cat boat sailing through a marsh. When my kids were little, and I had a mortgage to pay. I painted the cat boat sailing through the marsh beach cleaning toilets. It does be cleaning toilets. And there’s not that there’s anything wrong. No, there isn’t. And I think it was hot. The one or one of the great American existentialists simply said, There’s honor in work. And I always had that. That tenant in my mind. And it just so happened. I love sailboats. And I love marshes. So it wasn’t a big deal for me.

Eric Rhoads 32:25
And you’re painting. And I’m painting. I mean, it can’t be a bad day. If you’re painting. It was not even if you’re painting badly. Yeah,

Don Demers 32:31
yeah. Yeah, exactly. So yeah. Did I paint for a market? Yeah, I love the subject. But I my works were, were greedily consumed by a market down in Cape Cod, and Connecticut. And I was just so fortunate that I, I happen to love sailing ships, and I love the water. And I love the shoreline. And there was an audience waiting for those pictures. So I was just lucky.

Eric Rhoads 32:55
And that’s very worthy. It’s very actually, it’s very noble in the sense that you’re doing something that people love. They want to own it. They want to hang it on their walls and look at it, look at it every day. What can be wrong with it?

Don Demers 33:08
I didn’t really see a negative any negatives I got were from some colleagues or acquaintances that I had this thought that I was a sellout or wasn’t a purist or any of that. And I said, Listen, I’m doing what I want to do. And I’m raising kids. Poke at me if you want, but it’s not a bug in me.

Eric Rhoads 33:28
So you mentioned purist so I’m gonna go down this road. Because I published plein air magazine, I will hear from people who say, a plein air painting is not pure unless it’s been done outdoors only a plein air painting is not done. Not pure if it’s done in more than one session. You know, it’s not it’s not It can’t even be a good painting if it’s done from a photograph. You know, you hear a lot of these ideas that people have about what’s right or what’s wrong. Yeah. Does it any of that matter?

Don Demers 34:09
To me, no. And yet, and so now we can’t talk about religion politics or plein air painting.

Eric Rhoads 34:16
We can talk about religion you want to go there? Sure. Alright. So Well, from my perspective is, you know, the goal is to do a beautiful piece of artwork. Yes. And you know, Bouguereau back in the the French Academy was using photographs. But he did beautiful paintings. Yeah. Yeah. And I would imagine there’s been a lot of photographs used over the years, but it’s, it’s about knowing the craft and knowing what to do and how to do it right.

Don Demers 34:51
So Theodore Robinson, Albert Bierstadt. Thomas Aikens photography was resin all of their studios. So my personal position is that if the work has been inspired and motivated by being outside on location, and you’re dedicated to that experience, I don’t really need to dissect it any further than that. I practice and teach observation and invention, those two things go together. Visual veracity, you have to develop your observation skills to the point where you can really see accurately outdoors. And you’ve got a craft that will follow suit. So that you’ve got the skill to say, I know what this looked like out here. I know what this is. Then you have the freedom and also the obligation to have your artistic intellect and your artistic intuition and instinct, influence what it is you’ve seen, that’s the inventive part, that inventive part can be back in your studio. And that inventive part can have the aid of a photograph.

Eric Rhoads 36:09
But that inventive part can also be moving a tree to make a better composition. Absolutely.

Don Demers 36:13
Yeah, yeah, I mean, you’re given with freedom comes responsibility. We’ve all heard that. So the same, this certainly applies to painting. So you, you have to know your craft. And you have to have your point of view and your perceptions. So the only time I really think that I would be a purist is, and I’ve participated in a number of them, the plein air events, the competitions, you know. So working outside all day, you’re given a host family or hotel room, going back in your room to me and tweaking a little edge here and finessing the thing a little bit. I don’t consider that to be illegitimate.

Eric Rhoads 36:56
No, as a matter of fact, we talked earlier, before we started the interview about getting away from your work, you know, that you, you, you gotta have some perspective, if you can put a piece of work down for two weeks and then look at it again, you’re gonna see it completely differently. When you’re working on something intensely for 234 hours outdoors, you can’t see it anymore. No, you can’t. And also, you can’t see if your values are right, because you’re outdoors, get it indoors, and you might see oh, you know, the sky needs to be you know, it’s too bright or too dark or something, you know, or, you know, just tweaking it. So I don’t see anything wrong with that, either.

Don Demers 37:40
Yeah, I say, you know, you take that you take the five days of a competition and you and gather it together so that it’s one event and say, Okay, I’m here with my equipment, I just got off the plane, and I got four days to do this stuff. Look at the event in its entirety. And what can I do this week, you know, what you don’t want to do is start snapping pictures like crazy and putting them up on your monitor and working on your paintings at night in your hotel room. That’s not cool. But everybody has to live according to their own conscience. But to have the the reconsideration of passages in a painting that you just worked your tail off, you know, on two or three paintings that day back in the room to say, oh, yeah, that’s that that is perfectly legitimate practice. And to further that conversation, I obviously focus on landscape, seascape marine work, although and go into any museum and who can’t be captivated by brilliant figure work and portraiture and all that. But if, let’s say focused on on landscape painting, you pick any museum on the planet. I’ve been to many, not nearly enough. You look at those landscape paintings. They were not done in one session. You know, there’s, you look at a meal Carlson’s landscapes. I mean, they’re, they’re just so genius. There’s so poetic, you could the names could go on and on and on. And on the old line school. You look at Redfield, look at Willow. Willard Metcalf, you know, anywhere you go. That work is considered and reconsidered and addressed in the studio. So,

Eric Rhoads 39:21
well. You know, these guys that you mentioned, they get some incredible texture that can only come from layering. Absolutely. And are glazing or they’re, you know, they’re managing to get some, you know, some darks in the crevices between the brushstrokes that you know, just make it come alive.

Don Demers 39:41
Exactly. Yes. Yeah. Yep, that patina that gets built with scumbling and layer after layer after layer. It’s just so many painters we could pull out I mean, Joma girl does it a lot, you know, that layering and layering that he gets and then wiping out a layer and letting those darks stay in the crevices and just as you described Yeah, there’s

Eric Rhoads 40:01
so you mentioned a number of artists you mentioned Theodore Robinson, who does not get a lot of notice or credit. Yeah, most people don’t even know who he is. He was, he studied with Monet. He came he he was one of the people who supposedly brought plein air painting back to America. Although I think plein air painting was taking place. I think that, you know, the Hudson River guys. Were doing some sketching on location, but they probably weren’t doing much paint. Although I think Duran in his he had a magazine called the crown. Yeah. I had heard that I think he talked about he had, he had servants. That helped him get his studio easel and his stuff to the top of the hill up in the Catskills or adirondacks or something. And he talked about grinding his pigments on location. So he did do some painting on location. Yeah. But is there somebody out there that that you really love that really inspired you? That is not not the ones that we hear about all the time? You know, we always hear about Sargent and Sariah. You know, those those heroes? Yep. Are there any heroes that you have that people might not know?

Don Demers 41:21
Perhaps there are indeed, in the field sketches by the way of Thomas Hill. Oh, wow. He was a different personality in the studio. But if you look at his fieldwork, it was so poetic, so simple, so straightforward. No adornments just beautiful truth in his work, Frederick Church’s field studies with that way, but I can bring up a couple of names. James Smiley. He was a post impressionist, brilliant painter. His brother George Smiley was an ECIR. So he used to take his brother’s paintings and translate them into etchings for newspapers and magazines. Worthington, which bridge the road to the sea. What a painting. William lamping Snell. Absolutely brilliant, brilliant. landscape painter, studied in Europe worked extensively in in in New England. Where else can I go? Motion Blur. If I can’t spell his name, I shouldn’t use it in the end. I saw his work at the gallery at the museum in Stockton, California. So hey, Geoghegan just knocked me over. But now we’ll go these names are probably well known but an artists that absolutely utterly to that utterly changed my life. Dennis Miller bunker and Arthur Streeton.

Eric Rhoads 42:54
Really? Why Street?

Don Demers 42:57
Well, I’ll tell you when first, I was with Joma girl and Bill Davis. The three of us were the three amigos there for a while painting together constantly. And we got caught in a deluge of rain in Connecticut. So we went to the Hartford Athenaeum, and there was an exhibition of American painters and Australian painters together. And the American painters were the one that you expected to see sanfur Gifford can sit the whole, I mean, not to diminish them. They were my heroes in the study. But I turned a corner and there was an Arthur Street and painting five feet square or so. And it literally took the air out of my chest. I couldn’t believe that sight. It pushed me backwards. It was a painting of a river valley in an arid, arid Australian heat. And I just couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was alive. It was it was an inanimate object. It was so beautifully. And this is a funny word, but contemporarily done it. Look, I couldn’t paint it that day. It had a modern look to it. And it did away with all the superfluous it exalted, all the essential, and it said everything that landscape painting needs to say, and I just couldn’t believe it. In McCubbin this was in that show and a lot of the other Australian paints and I was just dumbstruck by that

Eric Rhoads 44:20
we don’t even see him in America. No, you can’t see. No we I had a book in the world famous artists cabin where you stayed on the Austro.

Don Demers 44:28
Vader’s we, yeah. We pored over that tacular in the evenings we had here.

Eric Rhoads 44:38
So how do you how do you interpret these influences into your own work? You know, you mentioned several but are you when you’re painting are you thinking about you know, this is something that that I learned from this artist or that artist or is it just kind of a that you know, all of it informs who you because

Don Demers 45:01
it’s the latter. Yeah, when I was younger, I was so heavily well, by the way, I’m not nearly my favorite painter. You know, I’m, I’m so much more I want to be self, I wanted to have some self respect here. I’m, I’m just so inspired by some painters that I see that I, I want to invite their influence into my process into my, into my work. So it is the latter. I’m very fortunate, I was not a particularly good student, except for a couple of topics. And two of my favorite topics on Earth are boats and painting. So if it’s something that I’ve been presented with, or, or exposed to, it sticks. So I’ve got a pretty good running Rolodex of images of paintings by pick Nell, and it wouldn’t bet Catherine to throw his name in there. And so as I’m painting, I’m reminded of the paintings that I’ve seen,

Eric Rhoads 46:03
so I see a problem. You go, Oh, you’re recalling something?

Don Demers 46:07
Yep, absolutely, um, somebody? Yep. It’s, I used to when I was younger, less mature as a painter, I had more to prove to myself. So I was actually a little bit restrictive according to my doctrine and my method, even though I still work and what some people can say I hate to say tight or detailed i that gets assigned to me a lot, and I don’t care for it. My paintings have a lot of information in them, because, as Andrew Wyeth said, one of my all time heroes, he said, I want to wring it out like a sponge. I remember seeing that in the film of him. And I love the way He twisted his hands. And that’s what I do. I don’t want to abbreviate anything I love to I love to be fully satiated when I’m finished with a subject.

Eric Rhoads 46:53
You know, we’re living in a very interesting time. There are more high quality painters alive today than any time in history. And that may be an overstatement because there may be lots of them that we didn’t know about that we’re painting that never got any notoriety but because of in America because of the plein air movement. You know, we have we have developed some statistics that we don’t over are completely accurate, but they’re the 150 200,000 people painting and plein air in America. Good heavens, no, a lot of them are Sunday painters are hobbyists, and that nothing wrong with it all are welcome. Yeah, yeah, but but the quality of work. And maybe it’s because maybe it was there, but we’re seeing it because we can see it on Instagram or Facebook. I am just blown away by the quality there that people like you like my girl, who are the leaders, you have become almost the you know that the senior senators, if you will,

Don Demers 48:04
with the senior party.

Eric Rhoads 48:06
But you know that, you know, people are people are looking up to you guys, but I’m seeing 20 year olds that are knocking it out of the park that it just, it blows me away. The The only thing that I I wish we could figure out how to do is to get more people seeing art in person. Yeah, because when you’re looking at a painting on Instagram, you can’t see the little crevices of paint in the way the lights hitting it, you know, from natural light and so on. And it’s it’s so different. And that’s one thing I don’t know how to change. But it is a really interesting time. You have any idea why that is? Why we’re having this. This resurgence of such great painters.

Don Demers 48:58
I could sort of walk through it a little bit, I would say at the at the risk of sounding a bit fawning, you’ve been a big part of it. The way you’ve opened up the venue of, of landscape painting to people that it’s it’s available, it’s accessible. It’s not just a passive activity. It’s a lifestyle that a lot of dimensions to it. There’s a community of colleagues and friends and acquaintances. There’s a network of destinations. There’s a lot of components in what you’ve created, and it should be recognized and honored and celebrated. So that was part of it. And thank

Eric Rhoads 49:39
you I didn’t create it. The plein air where you had a pretty good panel the plein air painters of America created it.

Don Demers 49:47
I shouldn’t say we I am one of them. We were there at the at the at the beginning the burgeoning stages of celebrating researchers. The resurgence of it yeah and I’m revitalization of the act. So that’s one component. There are a lot more people on the planet now. So just by numbers of practitioners. There’s a big, there’s a big part of it that I simply don’t know the resurgence the presentation of ateliers and the traditional forms of study that wasn’t around when I was in my teens and 20s.

Eric Rhoads 50:32
It was at base. It wasn’t even around when I started the magazines. There were basically three or four big until yeas. And now there are 400 of them. Yeah. Because students spread students who’ve read students.

Don Demers 50:47
Yes, exactly. So I think that propagation of that exponential growth of what exactly what you just described, I think, is probably the primary answer to it. The ratio between audience and practitioner used to be audiences here and practitioners here. What’s that? What’s like that?

Eric Rhoads 51:09
Well, that’s interesting. You say that, because I was talking to some folks from one of the big plein air events. And they said, This is an event back east that has a lot of people attending for 1020 years. And they said, We have noticed that the people who would attend year after year after year after year, have now become painters. Exactly. So that’s that’s a great example of the audience has become the entertainer, if you will,

Don Demers 51:39
I had this old grouch friend of mine, you have friends me I’ll let’s use the term loosely, shall. But undoubtedly a card carrying grouch. And he said, Why are you why are you? Why are you teaching all these people to paint? They’re just gonna grow up to compete with you. I said, I’m not living with that much fear. All right. And so what if they do?

Eric Rhoads 52:05
Well, you have to live with a spirit of abundance.

Don Demers 52:08
Yes. All boats rise with the tide. That’s right. Yeah. Don’t Don’t be stingy, about anything about your knowledge about your energy, about your commitment about your dedication to others. And in don’t don’t protect things don’t covet things. This, there’s nothing. There’s no need to be proprietary about anything in life, but especially in our profession.

Eric Rhoads 52:28
So what is your best advice? Somebody watching this? Who is an artist, or a beginner artist? What they’re trying, they’re just trying to figure it all out? They’re trying to figure out how do I start? How do I get better? What would you say to them?

Don Demers 52:47
Yeah, a few things. And I’ve loved that this has been posed by people in interviews in the past, what would you say to a 12 year old Don demurrers? Or what would you say to a 16 year old Don drummers? I don’t like speaking in the third person, because famous athletes do it all the time. I find it obnoxious. But what I what I share with my students when I have them is that where we don’t necessarily have to answer the question of why we want to do this. That’s inexplicable. I personally for me think that I don’t want to get too esoteric here. But for me my work because I did it. So intuitively as a young boy, it gave me a sense of connection. It once you were a separate entity on this earth, I think we can have a degree of homesickness because we’re not in communion with the universe. And so it was a vehicle for me to overcome my homesickness. So that’s my most profound, if you will, your very profound definition of why I do what I do. It’s a vehicle from which I can alleviate my homesickness and my separation. So, so don’t you don’t have to overthink why you do it. But from a practical standpoint, it’s the how and the why we do this love the how love you tools, love your pencils, your crayons, your oil paints,

Eric Rhoads 54:20
okay, good enough, and

Don Demers 54:22
I can’t get enough of it at all you do. And in have that be your private world. I mean, I’ve as I’ve said to people, plein air painting is doing the most private thing you can think of in a public place. And that’s a big leap. You got people bugging it buzzing around you and you’re trying to be private and solitary. So just love the materials and love the process of it. If and when you can have your motives be internal, not external. Don’t hide your paper because somebody can see it. Your drawings not coming out. So well. Just try to have the internal confidence to be dedicated to yours. Self in your work and ask yourself questions all the time, what is it I want to draw or paint and why? To some degree, but have your own internal world and when you’re comfortable and when you want to, then you make the choice of presenting it, publicly show it to somebody, we all want to that’s where we put frames on this stuff and walk them across the threshold out into the public. But so, back to the practicality. Don’t expect miracles. Don’t expect shortcuts, don’t expect tricks. Don’t expect any of that stuff. There’s no magic brush, magic paint. And just simply accept the fact that you’re going to do it wrong. A lot of times before you do it, right. Embrace the struggle, embrace the struggle most most everything I know about painting I know because I’ve done it wrong way too many times. Until I finally said, Oh, that’s it. I landed the plane in the woods one time, then I landed the plane on the building. And finally I hit the runway.

Eric Rhoads 56:01
So you’re driving down the road, you got your easel in the trunk, you’re looking for something that inspires you so you can pull over and do a quick study. Yep. You see something you slam on the brakes, you get out? What do you do next?

Don Demers 56:20
Change your mind and stop looking at it as identifiable objects. We have this duality. It’s like being in Harry Potter’s world where there are models and there are models or whatever those definitions were and we coexist. There’s an artistic world that is suspended upon the prosaic world. And we see it in the prosaic world, we see it as a bus, a building a tree, a parking lot, a hill, a mountain, in the artistic world, we see it as a light, a shadow, a pattern of rhythm, a texture, you change your mind, you cheat you, you change your dialect, and start speaking in another language, you start speaking in artistry instead of familiarity. And that’s what will open up a painting, really, that maybe that makes the trash can a worthy subject.

Eric Rhoads 57:09
I’ve often thought that a great, great workshop exercise would be to take everybody to a back alley and say, Okay, you can’t step more than 50 feet from here. Excellent. Find something to paint get beautiful.

Don Demers 57:21
That’s it. And I remember Clyde Aspevig saying when he first started that he would get in the car and drive for miles and miles and miles and he’d come back at the end of the day. I think yeah, I’m certain it was quite the said this, Clyde, forgive me if I have some inaccuracies here. And he come back and not have made a painting. But once his eyes opened, and I always thought a great name for a kid show would be made you look. Because once you look, you never look back. The world changes. So he said, Now I can walk into my backyard and see clothes on a clothesline or a pile of laundry or something. And there’s a painting right there. So Roy taught us that. That painting by Sargent, I wish I could remember the title of it. It’s in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It’s his painting friends sitting at one end of the bed, and the beds all unmade, and the sheets are all in a big pile. You know some people Oh, that’s a that’s a chore. I gotta go watch those sheets. There wasn’t a sergeant or wife did the same thing. Yep, all the time. Just just everyday made beauty out of everyday prosaic to profound that’s what that’s what. So that that’s my motive. When I pull over it now was the same. I used to I mean, I’ve lived spent my summers on the coast of Maine, I used to walk around and not be able to see a painting. Like what happened?

Eric Rhoads 58:38
So what 100 150 300 500 years from now, assuming you’re not around?

Don Demers 58:48
Well, I am on a strong vitamin regimen.

Eric Rhoads 58:50
Oh, that’s good. What would you hope? What would you hope that people think about you or know about you? That it’s important for you to share to them

Don Demers 59:07
that I was able to recognize beauty in the world. I was a dedicated observer to the world. I celebrated the places I found that I thought that exalted beauty. So I think I said Beauty three times. And I mean it literally and I mean it figuratively as well, that I had a certain filter in my perceptions as I wandered around on this world of things that manosphere manifests that unaesthetic and also, I think about this now all the time, I’m interested in the poignant balance between humans and the land they live on in that red house there It’s very humble. It’s very beautiful in its proportions. It doesn’t mean to be it just is. I don’t think the people that built that we’re, we’re, we’re heavily weighed by architectural design, and where it’s positioned on that shore where it has a relationship to the water. There’s a there’s a humble elegance in those simple things. And I, I find myself seeking those subjects out all the time. It’s one of the reasons I love sailing vessels. They’re a symbol of this beautiful symbiosis between the human made object and how it can utilize natural forces and how gracious it is, and its presence there. So those would be the themes I’d like them to look at.

Eric Rhoads 1:00:46
Well, Don, thank you so much for being on the plein air podcast.

Don Demers 1:00:49
It has been my honor and pleasure to be with you, both as friends and his colleagues, and I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with you and with the audience.

Eric Rhoads 1:01:03
Appreciate it. Well, thank you, Don, that was fabulous. You know, I just can’t say enough good things about you. You’re such a great guy, and I’m looking forward to spending some time with you. Maybe the summer, maybe come up and go painting in the Adirondacks or I’ll come up to Boothbay. Okay, are you guys ready to improve your art sales for 2023 This is going to be a great year, you may hear all this stuff about the economy. It’s gonna be a great year, but it’s up to you. You have to make it a great year so it’s time for the marketing minute.

Announcer 1:01:32
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 1:01:45
In the art marketing minute, my goal is to answer your art marketing questions you can send them in or upload a video question art Or you can email it to me Eric at art Most people email them. And my producer Amandine, who is French, has the questions for us. Amandine?

Amandine 1:02:05
The first question is from TJ Pruitt from Virginia. If your primary purpose with your art is not monetizing, how best do you showcase art that you want to reach people, but are not primarily concerned in selling? For me, I enjoy when my art brings joy to others. So I want you to give it the best possible exposure for that cause.

Eric Rhoads 1:02:29
All right, TJ, I’m gonna tell you a story. Great question. I hold these week long retreats. I do one in the Adirondacks every June although I think I’m going to stop doing it pretty soon because I you know, this is like the summer will be like the 12th one and I’m kind of sick of doing it. I want to go somewhere different. I don’t know if I’ll stop or not. But I might. Anyway, I hold these retreats to do another one a fall color week and one time we did fall color week and in Canada ask us Park Banff Lake Louise in Canada, and we had an unseasonably early snow and a massive snowstorm. And a lot of people didn’t want to go out. So we were painting out looking out the windows and painting indoors. Some of us went out and painted part of the time. But I offered some personal coaching to people because I teach marketing. And a bunch of people took me up on it. And this one guy wanted some time and we started talking about him wanting to sell his art. And he was asking how to do it. And I could sense that his heart wasn’t really into it. So I just said, you know, why do you want to sell your art? And he said, Well, I guess because I thought I was supposed to and I said well, there’s no supposed to Why do you really want to sell art? He says, I don’t know. I said do you need the money? No, I don’t need the money. I retired at a great job. I don’t need the money. I said then why do you want to sell your art? He says Well, I guess I don’t really want to sell it. He says I what we finally figured out is I asked him a bunch of questions. And we figured out that his need was that he wanted to contribute somehow. He wanted some recognition. For his art. It’s always nice to be validated that somebody else likes your art, which is not always the case. You know, sometimes I’ll give a painting to a family member and they’ll go Oh, thanks, you know, with gritted teeth. Because you know our it’s a personal thing, sometimes, you know, they’re not going to like it so we crafted a plan for him to market his art but not to sell it. At the end we determined that he wanted to leverage his art to help organizations and charities that he loved. So we worked on a plan to get him involved in those charities in auctions and we find ways to help his art help others and we left he was on fire with a mission now. I go into a lot of that stuff in my book. There’s a lot of different things you can do to get involved but essentially, if your charities local, then you need to become famous locally. And you have to follow a marketing plan to become famous locally because they want your art and in your art will raise more money. If you’re putting A piece of garbage art into an auction, it’s not going to sell, that’s going to be embarrassing. So you got to be good, you got to make sure that you’re you’re living up to it, you know, and, and I did that one time, when I wasn’t very good, I put a piece of art in, in a auction for the kids, elementary school, and nobody bought it. And so that just reflected badly on me. So you know, now I’m really, really careful, I had a moment, one time, it was really a great moment, when I had this great big painting, I did it just because I loved it, it was one of my better ones at the time. And I just gave it to this charity auction, and it ended up you know, it was the number one fundraiser for that auction, they had me stand up, you know, they’re holding it up, and I got a lot of recognition, it was kind of cool. And, and at the same time, the charity made a lot of money. So that was really the goal. So find a cause, find a cause or two. And there’s no rule about a painting has to make you money. You know, painting is about bringing you joy. Most people don’t start painting because they want to make a living becoming a painter painter, most people want to paint because they love painting, they want to get good at it. And then a lot of them say, you know, I kind of like to make a living at it. And a lot of that goes back to the recognition. But a lot of it is about, hey, I don’t want to work in this crummy job anymore. I want to I’d rather paint all day. And if I can paint and make my living, that’s even better. So you might consider depending on the quality of your work to explore, leaving a few select pieces to sub select museums, you might not get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the LA or Chicago museums. But unless you’re really already famous, and even then probably not. But you know, there’s hundreds of small local community museums that need art and art donations. And I’m actually working on a lifetime plan to build a museum of plein air and of realism. Because those are two areas that I’m really, really, really excited about all I need. All I need is somebody with a lot of money to fund it. I need a building in a major city. And I have all the art and some of the art I need to get yet but anyway, that’s the kind of thing you can do is, is donate art. And you have to put some stipulations whenever you donate anything, you got to put stipulations. Now there’s a guy by the name of Alphonse mukha, great painter, was really known for his art nouveau work. But he was a brilliant painter, he did this thing, this series of paintings called the Czech epic, or the Slav Epic, or something like that. And I’ve seen them, but they have been in hiding, because he gave them to the city of Budapest, and said that they must show them but he never said when or how long. So they sat in a warehouse for 100 years before they were shown. Now they’re starting to get shown a little bit, but you want to make sure you stipulate, you know, here’s what to do. You can’t sell my paintings, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Next question Amandine.

Amandine 1:08:07
The next question is from Eugene Fama. Why does striving for titles from from one’s peer group create unnecessary stress? Does it distract from the essence and joy of painting for pleasure? Are there any benefits to a title? What are the negatives, I see people spending a lot of money chasing the dream of a title.

Eric Rhoads 1:08:30
Now Eugene, because you didn’t specify what kind of title I’m gonna have to guess I’m not sure what you mean by titles, I can think of a couple of things. One is to have a title in a local art club, you know, like President or treasurer, but I don’t think that’s what you mean. I think what you probably mean is a title from an organization. For instance, there’s one called the oil painters of America, there’s the one called the American impressionist society, there’s lots of them. If you mean a title from one of those, let’s explore the pros and cons. Now, these titles are typically not political. They can be but usually not, you get them from winning a certain number of awards annually. And if you win a certain number of awards annually and so many years in a row, and you get to accumulate a certain number of awards, that adds up to getting voted in and getting a title. Oftentimes, it’s a master title or a signature member title. And that way you can sign your paintings with that, that master title so for instance, for the oil painters of America Opa, you sign your painting, you know, Eric Rhoads comma op, an OP AMR OPM, and the idea is that you are an OPA master, right? And so, that means you’ve earned that title. Now there is prestige to that huge prestige among painters who know how hard you work to get there. And they know that the standard is high that you don’t get those awards. And when those awards by putting together crummy paintings, you get a good standard. And but you have to enter a lot of paintings until you get to the point where you’ve elevated yourself. Now among some collectors and some galleries that is also very prestigious. So that’s a pretty big deal. So keep that in mind. Now, the reality is there are big names out there brilliant masters, who we all know and love, who don’t have any titles. And there are some who have them, but they don’t use them. It just depends on on what you want to do. The process of getting a title takes a lot of commitment and time. And hopefully it elevates your standard of work. And when you don’t, when you learn, you grow, you try harder next time. And you keep trying more and more to win. Now, competitions of any kind make you stronger. In our own plein air salon competition, which is monthly by the way. It’s not by though it’s also not all plein air, it’s all kinds of painting portraits, figures, everything. But because it’s sponsored by plein air magazine, that’s, that’s why it’s called that. But anyway, I’ve seen the quality increase over the years because the people who enter get better and better and better and better and better. And so and by the way, there are top artists who enter their new artists who enter their new artists who win their top artists who win, you know, there’s no rhyme or reason. But when you compete, you get better. And the same is true when you enter these organizations. If you’re a member first you got to belong. I, California art club does this too. They have I don’t think they have titles. So I’m not sure anyway. I’ve never tried to get a title, I’m not so sure that I have the time to try to get a title because it’s not really all that important to me. But I don’t have to make my living selling my work. And I think I could make a living selling my work without a title. But it might be come important. At some point in my life. If I ever decide to paint full time or something which I don’t think I’ll do. But you never know. We all have to make our own art journey about our own goals, our own interests, our own time, not somebody else’s desires for us. I paint because I love to paint, you probably paint because you love to paint, I don’t send the galleries a lot of work. Because I don’t do a lot of work. I don’t want the pressure I don’t I turn down shows. Because I don’t want to pressure creating shows, I just want to paint I want to have fun. And if I get some good ones, I’ll send them off to the galleries. I don’t even care if they sell but they do sometimes. And sometimes they don’t. If I were making my living full time, I would care a lot more, right. But I make my living publishing art magazines and conferences and things like that. So it’s not about that. I love that I can just paint without pressure. And that might be you. You might want to just paint without pressure. Nothing else matters to me. I don’t need awards. I don’t need titles. I don’t care what happens. I just want to paint because I enjoy it. And you know, and I like to paint so I can hang out with my friends and I want to be good enough so that I don’t completely embarrass myself. But do what you want to do. Follow what you want to do. Don’t follow up Pied Piper. All right, that is today’s art marketing minute.

Announcer 1:13:23
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:13:31
And I also want to remind you to join me at plein air live coming up in March. Join me at the plein air convention. You know the it’s which is coming up in May. And if you’re not already a subscriber to plein air magazine, man, you will love it. You really will love it. I know I am not being humble about that. But I hear so many so many people just say they can’t wait. You know, some people have had it for 10 years. They just can’t wait for it to come in. I hope that would be the case for you. And if you don’t love it, you can cancel but nobody ever does. Well. There was that one guy one time. If you’ve not seen my blog where I talk about art and life and stuff and things, it’s called Sunday coffee, you can get it for free weekly at We got a big, big, big audience on that. I don’t know how many but I know it’s big. People keep forwarding it. That’s nice. Also, I’m on the air daily on Facebook shows called Art School live where hundreds of artists do demonstrations and talks one every day five days a week I’m on noon Eastern every weekday mostly live sometimes replay. You can subscribe on YouTube by searching streamline art and hit the subscribe button. Also, please follow me Eric Rhoads on Instagram and Facebook and by the way, I don’t have it here to show you. But I got my Instagram. I’m not my Instagram. I got my YouTube plaques. designating they’ve got 100,000 followers. That’s a pretty big deal for me. It’s a plaque, you know, it hangs up somewhere and gets dust but it’s kind of nice to get recognition. Anyway, it’s a, it’s a great thing to, to see a lot of people get something out of it. Anyway, I’m Eric Rhodes. I’m the publisher and founder of plein air magazine, among others. Thank you for tuning in today. And remember, it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. 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 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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