PleinAir Podcast 169: Sergio Roffo on Painting Boats, Skies, and More
Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews nautical painter Sergio Roffo on painting boats, sails, skies, and water en plein air, and more.
Listen as Sergio Roffo shares the following:
• His transition from painting with watercolor to painting with oil
• His thoughts on finishing a plein air once starting one
• His process for capturing a mood in a landscape painting
• How to capture the colors of a quickly changing sunset
• Ideas and tips for painting boats, sails, skies, and water en plein air
• Painting with specific colors, including greens
Bonus! Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares advice on the idea of setting out a tip jar while painting in public, and marketing tips for getting into fine art galleries in this Art Marketing Minute Podcast.
Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Sergio Roffo here:
Landscape painting by Sergio Roffo
– Sergio Roffo online: https://www.sergioroffo.com/
– Eric Rhoads on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ericrhoads/
– Eric Rhoads on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eric.rhoads
– Sunday Coffee: https://coffeewitheric.com/
– Plein Air Convention & Expo: https://pleinairconvention.com/
– Plein Air Salon: https://pleinairsalon.com/
– Publisher’s Invitational: https://publishersinvitational.com/
– Value Specs for Artists: https://streamlineartvideo.com/products/paint-by-note-red-glasses
– Paint by Note: https://paintbynote.com/
– The Great Outdoor Painting Challenge TV Show: https://thegreatoutdoorpaintingchallenge.com/casting-call
– Figurative Art Convention & Expo: https://figurativeartconvention.com/
– Fine Art Trip to Russia: https://finearttrip.com/2020
FULL TRANSCRIPT of this PleinAir Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the PleinAir Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
Eric Rhoads 0:00
This is episode number 169. Today we’re featuring Boston artist Sergio rofo.
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 0:56
Thank you Jim Kipping. Welcome everybody to the Plein Air podcast. And thanks for listening. I hope we can get you a little fix of plein air painting in today’s podcast. I’m loving that I have more time than ever to get out and do some plenary painting. But even if I did it every day, twice a day, it’s still not enough. Speaking of every day, twice a day, I have an event I do every June in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, which is some of the most beautiful unspoiled preserved scenery ever. My event is called the publisher’s Invitational because it It used to be by invitation only, but now it’s open to anybody who wants to come. We all stay on campus at this beautiful campus on a lake. We meals together. We paint all day together in different locations, waterfalls, Lake, mountain ranges, you name it, it’s all just beautiful. And then we sit up at night we paint portraits, we play music, we hang out and we sing. It’s a lot of fun. It’s kind of like summer camp for painters who are adults. Anyway, this is a special year, because this is the 10 year anniversary. So I’m planning some extra special things. For instance, one of the things we’re arranging is we’re going to go to the farm of the great illustrator and painter Rockwell Kent. They have graciously agreed to let us paint on the property for a full day. It is probably undoubtably the most beautiful farm you’ve ever seen because it’s got layers and layers and layers of mountains behind it. And it’s gorgeous, but the buildings are beautiful. And we have access to the well preserved Rockwell Kent studio, which is quite a tree. So that’s going to be kind of nice. It’s just one of the things I’m planning and that’ll happen this year only on the 10 year anniversary. And of course there’s more things that I’ll come up with and more things that I’m going to announce but you’ll want to get that book soon. And you can learn more at publishers Invitational calm now in light of the situation, don’t worry about booking if we have to move it will move it and you can get a refund if you need one. But for now we’re planning on June. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll go to July. If that doesn’t work, we’ll keep moving. All right. Also, I just returned from Russia a few weeks ago. And I was there to shoot an art instruction video with a great Russian master Nicholai Blohkin. But I also shot a documentary on Russian art. And I did a site selection trip for a trip that I’m working on for September of 21, where I’m going to take some artists to Russia, Russia is one of those places that you really want to be more comfortable going with somebody who knows it. I’ve been there many times I have friends there, we are going to make you have a great time. The dates are probably I say probably because it’s not firm yet, but the probably going to be the 10th through the 25th of September. It’s about a two week trip. And we’re going to have touring in painting and St. Petersburg seeing some of the beautiful sights of St. Petersburg and Moscow and the great museums, but we’re also going to be visiting and painting in the countryside painting in the cities. And we’re going to be going to Italia refunds or reppin studio and another artist studio that I’ll tell you more about, once we get the information out. Plus, it will be for about 35 to 50 artists at this point, I don’t think we can get any more. It’s gonna depend on the hotels and what we can get. And we’re still working on that. But the people who apply first are going to get the first opportunity. If you go to paint russia.com, you could just put your name in and express your interest, that’s before we ever advertised it any further. And then we will contact you with the information you can then make up your mind. And there’s going to be an application process on this because we have to make sure that you’re a perfect fit for this kind of a trip because we’re going rural. And there’s some areas that you just want to make sure that you’re in good health and we just have to check that out first. Also, if you’re new into plein air painting we have a great ebook for you 240 plein air tips. You can find that at pleinairtips.com and then coming up after the interview I’m going to be answering your art marketing questions and the art marketing minute which now also has a podcast of its own. Let’s first get to the interview with Sergio Roffo. Sergio Roffo, welcome to the plein air podcast.
Podcast Guest 5:24
Thank you so much. Pleasure to be here.
Eric Rhoads 5:27
Thank you for doing this today. Sergio. So for the people who may or may not be familiar with you, you’re obviously very well known in the East Coast and maybe maybe nationally, but for the people who don’t know, kind of explain what it is you do what what kind of paintings you do.
Podcast Guest 5:46
Okay, I am a landscape painter. I’m considered a coastal, nautical painter, you know, being a member of the a fellow member of the American side in Vietnam. I do coastal scenes. I used to paint in Boston, because I lived in Boston for so many years. You can tell by my Boston accent, right? No. But I used to do cityscapes. And then when my daughter was three we moved to situate which is a nautical little village diner, you know, south of Boston. And I started doing Marsh things. You know, I was a watercolor painter, and then I made the transition to oils. Why is that? Well, when I was doing watercolors, you know, I was a part of the New England watercolor society and the most at the time it two things First of all, it was only commanding like a full sheet water full sheet watercolor was only commanding like a few thousand bucks, right? And I said, You know, I said to myself, I can’t make a living doing this and plus the what I was trying to capture online keishon I couldn’t really do it with watercolors the I would I was finding myself being too opaque finding myself putting a lot of whites and colors to sort of achieve certain lighting conditions and and that’s when I said it’s time to make the transition. And I did the best thing I ever did.
Eric Rhoads 7:20
So it was a difficult transition
Podcast Guest 7:24
at first but then you know at first it was but I I paint every day and I painted every day I was fortunate to to do that. That the more you paint the more you get used to it and day after day I got better and better and they’re still developing you know, you never achieve what you’re trying to achieve. It’s a life long thing you know for sure is
Eric Rhoads 7:51
so are were you at that time making your living full time as an artist or was this a part time thing? What did that look like?
Podcast Guest 8:00
While in the beginning, in the beginning, I was a freelance illustrator. That’s what I was doing because I was trained from, you know, my school, I was trained in all aspects of art, but I was, you know, commercial art was the thing in the, you know, late 70s and 80s and that’s what I did. Where’d you go? And then I, I went to Vesper George School of Art. It was in Boston, it was one of the best commercial art schools around. I was competing with the museum school and Butera art school in our rows. And so I was doing that. So, you know, I had an agent in every corner of the country, so I was doing really well. And then in the afternoon, I would go out at the time I had an answering machine, so in the afternoon, I would go out and do watercolors, watercolor paintings of Boston and So I got my money from doing commercial art, I saved some and and then in the meantime I did watercolors joined out associations, and then eventually I made the transition. That’s how it worked out. I was doing it full time.
Eric Rhoads 9:18
There are a lot of really brilliant artists like yourself out there who started out as commercial illustrators. And that that whole business has kind of gone away. And probably isn’t going to be a lot of illustrators breeding artists in the future. But you know, usually the people who who grew up as illustrators really have tremendous skills because they had to be so versatile. What do you think is going to be the impact of that or will there be?
Podcast Guest 9:53
Wow, I think as illustrators in that, that time, I would train to perfect, every medium, we were taught to perfect every medium. And that’s the difference between sort of, you know, I don’t want to say algo Lea, but the more established, you know, artists, and you know, you know, who we are, we, we tend to sort of, you know, try to achieve that with, with the knowledge we have more skills than we try to, to use that all that all that knowledge that we were taught we, you know, at the time, you know, they used to we used to, we were trained in like, type specking and this and that, I don’t know if people understand what type spanking is, but it was an old way, whatever. But, uh, and then we were, we were just trained to perfect our medium. And that’s how we managed to You know, finish the job, you know, the plan is we we tend to finish them really quick on location and we know the values really well because we were taught so well.
Eric Rhoads 11:10
So were you taught plein air in school?
Guest Speaker 11:15
We were taught painting, but I always wanted to paint on location. I think I did. You know, the public garden I would go out to sometimes on weekends and do that a lot. I A lot of times I would go out and paint with one of the painters that that has done videos with you guys know we have we did. Anyway, so that’s, I did paint on location at the time. Uh huh. All right.
Eric Rhoads 11:52
So it’s in terms of how much plein air painting you’re doing right now. What does that look like? Are you still getting out on a pretty regular day basis? Or are you working mostly on studio pieces?
Guest Speaker 12:10
It’s both. In the summertime, I tend to be out more. So but what I do is I paint all day from my studio from the studies I’ve done. And then in the afternoon, I’ll go out and do a plein air, you know, around 334 o’clock, I’ll get out there into the evening light. And then I’ll use some of those studies to if I like them, I’ll bring you know, doing my studio, larger, larger pieces.
Eric Rhoads 12:37
So what are you trying to capture in a study? Are you are you trying to get to the point of a finished painting or just color notes? What What is it for you?
Eric Rhoads 12:47
When I paint on location, I try to capture as much information as possible. I tend to have sort of a realist style and you Usually three to four hours, I’ll capture the whole scene. I usually do a nine by 12, up to a 10 by 20. And people that have seen my work, I mean, when I go away and travel, I’ll have a frame. If I’m working for galleries, I’ll have frames ready my vehicle and I’ll frame them sign them and bring them right to the gallery. Because I finished and right on location at that, you know, every three to four or five hours…I mean, if that’s usually the size I work with some friends that I know they just, I mean, they’ll do a 20 by 24 or some of them do 30 by 40. But they asked to go back a few few times, you know, but I try to finish it right on location a lot prima.
Eric Rhoads 13:54
So there are there are people out there who would would say that’s the Actually plein air right where you finish it on on the spot and you never touch it again. Others say it doesn’t matter. I don’t particularly think there are any rules. But do you have a rule for yourself? I mean, sometimes you bring it back to the studio and work on a more
Guest Speaker 14:18
I’m really don’t want to say it’s a rule, but I just tend to just, you know, once I’m on location, I finish it. And that said, I really do I touch them up in the studio. Because then you start fiddling and doodling and you start going to maybe changing the way that you don’t like this, you don’t like that, and it turns into a different painting, you know, and, and when you’re out there, you’re I’m trying to capture the mood. More so than I’m trying to capture the, the what I’m looking at the image, you know, trying to capture that mood. That’s what I’m after.
Eric Rhoads 14:56
Yeah. So how do you capture mood? what’s the process for if you could give advice to these people who are listening, how do you? How do you capture the mood that is speaking to you?
Podcast Guest 15:12
Well, I’ll go to a certain location. I you know, I’ll think about the light. I’m trying to capture this. It’s a overcast day. If I go out on an overcast day, it makes it a little easier. So you don’t have to fight the light as you know, you don’t have to fight this, the changing shadows and stuff. But anyway, I’ll get to it. I’ll get to an area and if I’m trying to capture the mood, I’ll see what the sky is doing. I’ll see what it’s how it’s reflecting to the marsh or river. And I’ll start with the sky and that’ll set my mood. That’s usually how I start and that, you know, transfers to everything. I’m trying to capture.
Eric Rhoads 16:02
So you said you paint on overcast days. I remember being out with CW Mundy one day and he said, we can’t paint here, there’s no values, you know, there’s no shift in values. He said, If I can’t see about three values, at least, I, you know, it’s just hard for me to do that. So are you? Are you keeping things very close in value? What are you doing in a case like that?
Guest Speaker 16:30
Well, they are close in value. There’s a lot of subtleties in nature. And I do like foggy days, especially. Because it’s a nice mood, but I, I understand what see that CW is saying, but if I if everything is flat, I’ll just create my own life. And I’ll go from there and make things pop, you know, pop up or Wi Fi or whatever, you know, I’ll just work with the values right?
Eric Rhoads 17:00
Well, you know, I remember one time a fellow I studied under in photography, his name was Fred picker and he said, The crummiest weather and the What do you say that the the places that take the most effort to get to typically create the greatest paintings he said, you know, if you’re willing to stand out in the rain, you’re going to get some moods that no other photographer is going to get because they’re not willing to stand in the rain. So same kind of a thing I would say for you in the fog and and on crummy days. Right?
Guest Speaker 17:36
Exactly, exactly. I mean, look at the look of Van Gogh, you know that he wanted to go out in the hurricane who was with him at the time, I forget what hour This was with him. So he was crazy. But yeah, you know, that’s how you capture the best scene sometime. You know, getting up at 5am and watching that sunrise, you know, the best color in the world. You’ll see that sun come up and like, Whoa,
Eric Rhoads 18:02
So how do you do that? How do you capture a sunrise? Because, you know, the one question I get a lot from people is, you know, when I’m painting either sunrise or sunset, mostly sunset, you know that that color is there for about, what, three minutes, four minutes tops. But what do you do to set yourself up so that you can get things right?
Guest Speaker 18:25
Well, I’ll start with an eight by 10 really small, and I’ll just start with that sky. And that’s what I and then as, as the, as the sun rises, things are gonna get brighter and brighter and washed out. But you paint the you know, you paint the middle run of full rock from memory, from what the you know what it was when the sun was rising. it you know, you remember all that, you know, plus the experience from painting so much, you know, right
Eric Rhoads 18:57
to train your brain
Guest Speaker 18:59
Yeah. It’s all in memory. and observation,
Eric Rhoads 19:04
you and I met for the first time. Recently I was in Boston. I think it was last summer, maybe, maybe last summer. And I remember Yes. And I was walking by the gallery, Boston artists and stumbled in and you were having a show. And I knew of you because of social media. But it was the first time we had a chance to meet. That was pretty cool.
Guest Speaker 19:31
I remember that. That was so cool. I was having a solid show and you came in. Even better. I was doing a demo. I was doing a demo at my solo show. I think it was,
Eric Rhoads 19:42
I think you had just wrapped up your demo.
Guest Speaker 19:47
Where you were with your son in New Hampshire or something and you stopped by Boston? Yeah. I thought that that was cool. That was wonderful.
Eric Rhoads 19:55
That was fun for me, too. Oh, it was a fabulous show. And so You’re doing a lot of marine work, that’s still most of everything. Now you’re trying to keep things that are kind of a theme or do you change themes from time to time based on what show you’re creating?
Guest Speaker 20:15
Well, most of most of the galleries that on represented by you know, they want my nautical scenes. And they want my sailing scenes. I do some sailing scenes, also, racing boats and things like that. But occasionally, you know, I have other galleries that are elsewhere in the highlands, the mountains. So occasionally, occasionally, I’ll go to the mountains and do mountain scenes, winter scenes. It’s a it’s a nice break from the flat land. Yeah,
Eric Rhoads 20:48
you’ll have to come up to the Adirondacks.
Guest Speaker 20:50
I want to do that so bad. I love that area.
Eric Rhoads 20:56
It’s beautiful. So the A lot of artists myself included us maybe especially myself, struggle with painting boats, I think are just probably one of the most difficult things to paint and see it seems odd but you know it’s something about those those subtle curves or the perspective or something you have any ideas or tips on what make painting boats any easier?
Guest Speaker 21:26
Well, the boats if you if you do a painting or you’re trying to get into a gallery that a marine gallery they have to be accurate. Let me look at look at you know, the, you know, Don Zimmer is one of the best at it joma girl and we you know, they’re great, they’re great painters. And if they arrive, they’re not sitting right on the water. People are going to know it. You know Chris blas and he’s the best attitude. Did you know Monday, my colleagues were in the same Asmath together. But what I do, you know, I’ve been drawing them so long I even I bought a martial cat just to draw it just to learn the rigging, I took sailing lessons, and I can paint, you know, I can draw and paint that martial cat, with my eyes closed. Those are the things you have to do you have to learn how to draw them. And what I the tip I give to my students. You know, obviously, it’s going to be hard to draw a boat while it’s moving. And, you know, when it’s in moring, it’s much easier obviously, but then the tide in the wind has shifted all the time. So you got to wait till it turns back to, you know, the same way you started but just take a picture of it and take it home and just learn how to draw. Just keep drawing until you get good at it. You know, that’s that’s the best tip
Eric Rhoads 23:00
Do you use photo references a lot for let’s say you’re doing a painting of a, of a sailboat at sea and it’s kind of leaning, you know, with the wind is the only way to grab that to do it from a photo.
Guest Speaker 23:15
Well, if you don’t have a photo, I mean, you can, I can do it with I could deal without a photo, but I do have photos, I do have a library of all the boats and different positions that that I find useful in my library. And if I’m doing a painting that needs a boat, you know, I’ll I’ll go to my reference and draw it in there. If I’m on location, and I see it both roll by, I’ll try to draw a real quick race suggestively but just again, the knowledge of observing and knowing, you know, drawing it all the time, I can do it. I don’t have trouble with it.
Eric Rhoads 23:51
Now a lot of people have also have trouble with painting water. And I’m curious what you would tell us and in turn of how to paint water what to look for?
Guest Speaker 24:04
Well, you have to really study it, you know, just sit it sit at the beach and sit at the ocean and just watch the rolling waves. But I try to keep it simple. Just lay an overall tone of the color that you’re looking at. And then apply the waves, you know, after that dark onto light, you know, paint your dark onto light and keep them in a rhythm where you can tell if they’re wrong. They have a rhythm. You know, up, down, up down horizontal, you know, but keep it simple. simplicity. This way.
Eric Rhoads 24:48
Well, easier said than done.
Guest Speaker 24:53
I know. It is painting is high that painting is not easy. You got to paint every day. So Somebody else we’re all we all struggle with it,
Eric Rhoads 25:02
somebody said to me that painting a wave is kind of like, think of painting a shoe box, where the front of the shoe box is in shadow, the top of the shoe box is in light, you know, you’re not really seeing the back of the shoe box, you’re seeing the next shoe box and so on. And just visualizing that even though it’s not the right shape. The idea is it helps you realize that each of those waves has its own form. And you’ve got to hit the light the way that light would normally hit a form.
Podcast Guest 25:38
That’s That’s true. That’s true. Yeah. And then don’t forget about the reflected light as the wave is turning. It’s reflecting the light that’s in front of it. Right.
Eric Rhoads 25:52
that’s a special skill that you you certainly have been very good at that. So you said you had students Talk to me about some of the things that you try to teach as regular principles. We got a lot of people watching or listening to this podcast who are at different levels. Some are all the way at the pro level, others are all the way at the beginner level and everything in between. What, what would you say? Let’s go to two directions. What would you say to brand new painters what they need to be focusing on? And then what would you say to intermediate painters who are trying to figure out how to get to the next level?
Guest Speaker 26:33
Well, I, when I teach a workshop I, I teach, you know, all kinds of all levels. But I tried, I tell them that the most important thing about painting is your drawing. You have to really learn how to draw and that’s perspective. That’s and you know, composition, but I try to tell them that the most important thing is drawing. You know, you can have a good drawing and you know bad color mixing a penny, but it’s the drawing is good. You can pat you know, can pass or a good painting. But, but I think drawing is the most important I try to teach, you know, teach them how to draw manual dexterity. Observe what you’re what you’re looking at and take your time. That’s what I like to do when I I usually when I do a demo like that, or when I teach it, I’ll do a demo first. And I tell them, that’s the most important thing you know, whether it’s a two hour demo, you know, some people are so anxious to go out and paint but I tell them, hey, listen, just watch this, you know, and they’re taking notes and everything, but you know, I’ll, I’ll start the drawing, usually with charcoal. Some people like to just use the brush and brush in all the elements and shapes. I like to use a charcoal pencil. Stick in just draw my shapes in and show them that I take my time. And I compose it in a balanced manner you know? And they like that and you know, that’s that’s usually what I tell them. Drawing is the most important thing. I try to teach them that
Eric Rhoads 28:19
and when you’re doing plein air work are you also using charcoal going out there and drawing it in first?
Guest Speaker 28:26
I am yes I have. I have, you know, graphite, soft pencils and charcoal sticks. And I try to do that first very, very quickly. Just in terms of shapes. I don’t do the whole drawing because obviously, you just can’t draw the whole thing and you can do that with the brush. But I just do the Alex I’m doing a river I’ll just do the outline the river, the background real quick, you know, just a little sketch and then I go onto it with paint. I started mixing the the paint and now that’s usually how I start
Eric Rhoads 29:00
Do any sketches beforehand?
Guest Speaker 29:02
No, I don’t. But they are helpful to some people I just don’t. I probably should but I just don’t I like to get out there and just get on to it quick.
Eric Rhoads 29:13
Yeah. Well I think everybody’s got their thing you know you have you have a feel for it. And some people need it some people don’t. So what are some of the other things that you find your students are struggling with that perhaps you can give them some ideas or tips that are going to make them kind of get to another level
Guest Speaker 29:37
mixing color I find that they have a really hard time mixing color and find new the right value. It’s so important I, I tell them just practice at home with different colors you know, get a color scale and practice value and, you know, trying to achieve the color that you’re trying to Find you have to just practice eye color mixing I find they have the toughest time so we try to do that together as I’m explaining that as I’m doing my demo, they’re taking notes and and then they try to apply it and and you know and I go around and finished it sometimes I I’m finishing their painting for them, you know the beginners the the more advanced they get it really quicker, you know, they know what you’re doing a little better but but it’s devalues that they’re having a tough time with I think a lot of artists do.
Eric Rhoads 30:41
And what about your palette? Are you using a pretty complex palette or do you have you use a limited what’s what’s your story?
Guest Speaker 30:52
I use, I don’t use a contract. I use all the colors. I start from warm to cool. I mean Do you like me? Would you like me to name them all? I mean, oh, five, six, you know, I use a yellow and orange or red, yellow ochre or sienna burn sienna…, violets, my blues, my greens and whites basically without naming them.
Eric Rhoads 31:22
So you don’t necessarily have a cool and a warm of each of the of the primaries.
Guest Speaker 31:28
Now, well, in the greens i do i got permanent permanent green deep, I got Cadmium Yellow pale. I mean, cadmium green, pale, I mean, sap green, which is tends to be cool. And, you know by violet, I get cobalt violet, Windsor violet. Have a yellow ochre I have turned seanna Yeah. And a couple of yellows, lemon, yellow and yellow, cadmium yellow. So there’s nothing special about some, that’s just my pallete.
Eric Rhoads 32:12
So, I’m gonna do a little bit of a lightning round and I’ll just mention a subject and give us a tip or two about that particular subject. Sounds like a deal
Podcast Guest 32:27
Eric Rhoads 32:32
Podcast Guest 32:35
Painting greens. Greens are tough. I love greens, though. I’ll say I mean, it depends on the light that’s shining on let’s say a marsh or let’s say some beach beach grass. I’ll start out with the darks. And, and then I’ll grade That dark to our light green, which is a green that I use which the green that I use the olive green, which is a great green. It’s sort of a warm green. And it depends on the lighting that’s in the sky. Sometimes I’ll do highlights on the on the on the green grass with yellows and oranges. But, but yeah, basically Sap Green is I start with that with most of my greens.
Eric Rhoads 33:34
So it’s easy. Is it easier to lay a light over a dark than a dark over light?
Podcast Guest 33:43
I find it easier. Yes, it’s definitely I in certain in most cases, it’s definitely easier to do light on top of dark. Well, it’s what I’m painting in certain certain subjects if I’m painting grass You know, I’ll do the darks first and then the little grass of the stippling. And I’ll be glad to go grass blades done with a smaller brush. It goes on easy, easier. But you have to have a lot of pigment on the brush to achieve that.
Eric Rhoads 34:18
All right, next subject is painting sails. You do a lot of sailboats a lot of form in sales. Yeah. Any thoughts on that?
Podcast Guest 34:31
Well, you have to sort of, if it’s in full bellows, it’s on a heel that sail that main sheet is coming around. So it’s the main sheet is coming around. So say it’s facing the sun. I’ll start you know with. I’ll start with the shadow side. And then I’ll stop to where the lights starts on the sale. sits in. It sits in a like a foggy atmosphere. You know, it’ll be just a solid white with maybe a few gradations here and there but all soft edges. What else can I say?
Eric Rhoads 35:20
painting whites. So it related to that subject some sails are white, some are off white, but how do you deal with the shadows of white?
Guest Speaker 35:33
Well, it depends on the sky. If it’s a clear sky you tend to have sort of a bluish violet shadow on the on the on the sale. But if it’s close to the shore, it could be reflecting the light on the shore and it could be sort of a yellow shadow, a cool yellow shadow like a yellow ochre or burnt sienna mixed with a little cobalt violet. tends to be a little more dramatic. I like that when it’s reflecting the shore the light from the shore. This is the shadow, the shadow on the sail.
Eric Rhoads 36:12
Talk to me about painting skies. I’ve been looking at all of your work and you do beautiful sky work. Any any thoughts on things that you’re always watching out for there?
Podcast Guest 36:26
I love the clouds on a sunset sky or sunrise. You know, I’m inspired by Fitz Henry lane. He usually he had some beautiful skies. And also his waters were calm. And I’ve always I’ve always been inspired by him, but his work. And I when I’m doing the skies, I’ll start painting the clear side of the sky. And I’ll sketch out where I want my cloud
Guest Speaker 37:01
And I’ll go around them because it would be hard to paint the dark on top of light. So I leave space to those clouds. And then after my background sky is complete, I’ll go on to the dark clouds. And then I’ll build on the sky on the clouds, different values of the dark clouds. And some of them recede, and some of them, you know, they stand that they’re closer to you on the top of the painting and then darker and more, more color. I hope I am conveying that to you.
Eric Rhoads 37:39
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And the last one in the lightning round, and then we’ll chat about something else. One thing you’re also really good at is creating a sense of distance. A lot of people struggle with that. How do you do it?
Podcast Guest 38:00
I, I tend to in terms of land in the distance, I my favorite, my favorite colors are my let’s, let’s start with ultramarine blue, mixed with titanium white. Okay, adding a little cobalt violet, or even a little Windsor violet, getting the right value on the cooler side on the blue side, more so than the violet side. And that’ll, I’ll start that with a solid brushstroke of that. And then I go, I can go on top of that with my lights, my dark, you know, middle values and dark values, but just subtleties, just subtle values. So they stand back and then as I move forward, it tends to be warmer, I’ll add more, more violet with green Would sap green, but they have to be mixed just perfectly. And that’ll bring my and that’ll create a sense of depth and atmosphere. I guess that’s how I do it.
Eric Rhoads 39:17
So your best overall advice for an artist who wants to get to the next level, they feel like they’re stuck. They feel like they just aren’t growing. What do you recommend?
Guest Speaker 39:31
Well, I recommend what they want to achieve if they want to achieve a certain style a certain you know, if they want to advance their skill, I think they should follow an artist and maybe take their workshops and start painting in that style. That’s the best advice you know. I never did that. And I wish I did. I didn’t know I just kind of did it on my own. By just reading books and practicing and just painting all the time, eventually you’ll get it. But maybe you’ll get it quicker if you if you find the right artist and take some workshops.
Eric Rhoads 40:13
Yeah, what I what I think also to to pile on to that is stick with that either a lot of workshop junkies, you know, they’ll hop from one workshop to the next to the next to the next, which is good for the business. But if you if you don’t apply something and keep practicing it, it won’t stick.
Podcast Guest 40:36
Right, exactly. Well, you know, they just have to keep at it. Just keep following your passion and you just do it. Eventually you’ll get it. If you did it if you did a six by eight every day for a year to get Tell me this and then you look at the first one after a year and you’ll see the incredible improvement. And you know, if I look at one of my paintings that’s hanging in my bathroom, you know, I should just shut the door and just puke in my bathroom. You know? No, that’s how it is. Yeah, we’ve all been there. And it’s just practice, practice practice you know, you just get better and better if I look at my earlier works, you know, when I when I won the Duck Stamp 1994 which is the Massachusetts duck stamp, not the federal you know, we had a painted decoys of a deceased Carver. So it was my first time moving into this neighborhood and one of my friends he was a hunter, he says, sir, do you have competition so I did. And I went on my first try. And then I was so inspired. I started painting waterfowl, a wildlife this I even entered a few federal company. petitions you know, came close to never won them. But uh and i look at those paintings now as is what the hell was I thinking you know that they weren’t that great,
Eric Rhoads 42:10
but they seemed pretty great at the time though, didn’t they?
Podcast Guest 42:13
They did. They did. It’s all relative I guess. Yeah.
Eric Rhoads 42:18
Yeah, that’s that’s the value of hanging on to some of your older paintings so that you have something to look at. And because you know, sometimes we, we’ve we are always focused on on I’m not getting there quickly enough I but if you turn around and look backwards and see where you’ve been, you’ll realize that the distance that you’ve traveled,
Podcast Guest 42:40
correct, so true. So true.
Eric Rhoads 42:46
Sergio, this is this has been absolutely informative, lots of good information, lots of of ideas, things that we can actually practically put to use. You have any any thoughts before we head out
Podcast Guest 43:03
Well, I just want to say I hope I conveyed what I know. To the listeners, I am a simple painter, you know, I am a representational painter and I I paint what I see and you know that that’s what I do. I keep it simple but it’s a great passion and I it’s one of the best lives we can have to be self employed painting.
Eric Rhoads 43:32
It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a little hard sometimes.
Podcast Guest 43:36
it doesn’t get much better. It is hard. trying to you know, sell your work. It’s so challenging, you know, it’s we get older we see the young up and coming stars. And you have to try to keep up with them, you know, stay competitive. Wait. Okay, think, you know, I guess they keep us going. You know?
Eric Rhoads 44:00
Well, I would imagine that, the people that we used to look up to look back and said the same thing, you know, it’s just that you, you have to keep improving, you have to keep growing. And if you don’t, you’re gonna suffer the consequences one way or the other, you know, you if you rest on your laurels, that that just isn’t gonna get you that to the next level. And I think I’ve met so many painters over the years who were like, man, I just, you know, I haven’t sold a painting in a long time now. And it’s because they haven’t, they haven’t kept up, you know, and tapping up is not just painting, but keeping up is technology. You know, being marketing, being on top of your marketing, you know, that people get to a point where they are, you know, they feel like they’ve achieved a certain level of success. They’ve got really good galleries, things are going really well and then all of a sudden, it seems like their careers come to a screeching halt, and it’s because they’re not implementing the same practices that made them what they were, you know, they get comfortable.
Podcast Guest 45:05
Eric Rhoads 45:06
So they stopped marketing and next thing you know, it’s out of sight out of mind. And then you know, the problem is when you lose momentum, it’s hard to get it back.
Podcast Guest 45:18
You said it perfectly. I was just gonna say do not get comfortable. Always stay hungry, you know? Yeah, yeah, you just got to keep going. It’s a whole package. It’s not just painting. It’s a whole package. And you have to try to be good at every and all of it.
Eric Rhoads 45:38
Well, and so many of us want to just paint and what would you say to them? some artists just want to paint. They don’t want to do all the other stuff. What would you say to them?
Podcast Guest 45:53
You know, like we say, you know, we love We love art, but we hate the business of art. But if you don’t do the business of art, you’re not going to make a living at it. Unless they’re, you know, wealthy and, you know, they’re not they won’t. They won’t ever get there. You know, you just have to you have to do the whole package and you know, sell the paintings
Eric Rhoads 46:26
Well, Sergio, this has been terrific. Thank you for being on the Plein Air podcast today.
Podcast Guest 46:33
Oh, thanks so much. I appreciate it. It was fine. It was fine.
Eric Rhoads 46:38
Well, thanks again to Sergio. Are you guys ready for some marketing ideas?
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 46:53
In the marketing minute I try to answer art marketing questions you submitted to me at Eric@artmarketing.com now here’s an anonymous question from a listener and I don’t know the name. It came from social media. It says I paint outside a lot, and I get a lot of compliments. But I’m wondering if it would be okay to set out a hat, much like street musicians where it can collect tips. What do you think?
Eric Rhoads 47:18
Well, I spent a lot of time in the direct marketing world and they have a saying, test everything. I think it’s well worth trying it and testing it. But keep in mind that if you encourage more viewing of your performance, then it might be disruptive. I test it though I put out a hat, throw some money in it to private so to speak, so that no one wants to be first, right? They want to see that social proof that somebody else has put money in. I’d also try a hat with a sign that says something like I make my living as an artist or I’m a starving artist, anything you can do to help any typical help and try it both ways and see which one works. I think it’s worth trying. Why not? And of course if you want to gather people around And have them watched that’s fine too. You could also put on your side you know paintings are available for sale and of course you could put some out that are for sale if you want to do that. There are really no rules. I think everything should be tried and tested if you’re comfortable with it, as long as it’s ethical.
Eric Rhoads 48:16
Now the next question comes from Peter in New York, who says I’d appreciate listening. I appreciate listening to the podcast on YouTube, the as we put it there to any marketing tips for getting into fine art galleries would be interesting. Thank you.
Eric Rhoads 48:30
Well, I’m happy to help Peter. We’ve talked about this a lot. We continue to, you might want to do a couple things. First off, listen to some other art marketing podcasts, and also our marketing minute podcast and also go to artmarketing.com where I’ve got a lot of articles and things about this, but the first thing is to put yourself in the shoes of the gallery. What is it they want? What are they trying to do? What do they need, what will make their job easier. They want artists who are going to sell and sell well Who are going to make money for them who don’t sit and take up valuable wall space without selling? So how can you prove to them you’re that artist. Next ask yourself what their life is like. My friend at a gallery in New York is annoyed by all the email and mail and packages he gets from artists soliciting him. Most of it goes in the trash without ever looking. Now he can find artists on his own and he can get referrals to artists. And this looking at all the emails and packages is a giant time suck. So he just doesn’t do it. He just ignores it. Now most artists don’t do their homework. He says that he doesn’t sell any modern or abstract paintings yet more than half of the artists who send in are sending in modern or abstract painting, so it’s just more of a waste of time. So do your homework. I have a whole volume on getting into galleries in my video series and I touch on it pretty heavily in my book, make more money selling your art, but the best thing to do is to get invited to not push yourself now sometimes you can but it can backfire. on YouTube, so somebody too pushy, somebody doesn’t want to deal with you. You need a strategy to get invited in and I go into depth on that in some of my videos. But the bottom line is how can you get them to invite you without ever calling them without ever emailing them? And without ever mailing them a bunch of stuff to make them aware of you ask yourself that question, how could I get them to invite me in? There’s actually a lot of ways Why don’t you sit down and write down six or seven or eight or 10 or 20 ways that get somebody to invite you in without calling, emailing or or mailing? Now if you can answer that question, you’re going to solve the problem. I’ll let you think about that. Anyway, that’s the art marketing minute.
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com
Eric Rhoads 50:49
if you have not seen my blog, where I talk about art life and so on, check it out. It’s called Sunday coffee and you can get it free by going to coffeewithEric.com and remember, we have plein air tips 240 of them at pleinairtips.com. I want to remind you that the publishers Invitational the Adirondacks is booking up for the 10 year anniversary. I don’t think we’ve lost any cancellations to the to the virus. And so that’s something you want to check out. And also, what else do we want to check out? I forgot what I was going to tell you. Anyway. Oh, the Russian trip. You want to go to paintrussia.com. And that’s where you can learn about that. Well, this is always fun. We’ll do it again. Sometime like next week. I’ll see you then. I’m Eric Rhoads, founder and publisher of plein air magazine. Remember, it’s a big world out there and you need to go paint it. We’ll see you. Bye bye.
This has been plein air podcast with Plein Air magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email 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.
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