PleinAir Podcast 170: Iain Stewart on Painting with Watercolor and More
Welcome to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. In this episode Eric interviews Scottish artist Iain Stewart on watercolor techniques, his path as an artist, and more.
Listen as Iain Stewart shares the following:
• Thoughts on selling watercolor paintings in galleries vs oil paintings
• Traveling with watercolor
• The importance of learning how to draw to improve your watercolor painting skills
• Elements such as composition, tension, and connecting shapes, and more
Bonus! Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, shares advice on how to get your website and social media presence noticed; and how to know when it’s time to find an art dealer (and how to do so) in this Art Marketing Minute Podcast.
Listen to the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Iain Stewart here:
Watercolor landscape painting by Iain Stewart
– Iain Stewart online: http://stewartwatercolors.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 170. Well today we’re featuring Scottish artist Iain Stewart.
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 0:55
Thank you Jim Kipping and welcome everybody to the Plein Air podcast. I’m Eric Rhoads and I want to thank you for listening listening levels are through the roof lately. I really appreciate it. It means a lot we’ve been hearing from people literally all over the world. I hope you’re getting some painting done, whether it’s in the studio or outside or maybe through the window. Hmm. I wonder if plein air painting is officially plein air painting if you’re looking out the window, I guess so I’m not sure who would be the one to make up those rules. Anyway, I was just talking to Kevin MacPherson, one of the world’s most well known and respected plein air masters and we were discussing what he has planned for the plein air convention pre convention workshop that he’s doing for us. In New Mexico. I can’t really tell you what he’s up to yet, but I think you’re going to enjoy it. If you’re registered for the Plein Air Convention, of course, you can register for our pre convention workshops like that one or the plein air basics course which I highly recommend. If you’re new to plein air painting, if you’re somebody who’s been little listening to this you’ve never plein air painted, or you want to kind of learn all the ropes about it, what kind of gear to use and how to do demos and how things are different outdoors. We have a plein air basics course, which has demos in oil, watercolor, acrylic pastel and the instructors that are there will work with you all week so that you’re not alone. When you’re outdoors. You don’t have to choose that. We do have instructors, we call field painters who are out there working with people throughout the place, but they beginners kind of stick together and they like to paint together. So that’s an option for you if you want to. It’s really great help. And I figured it would save you a couple of years of figuring things out maybe more I know I went through all kinds of stuff trying to learn that and I created this course, so that you didn’t have to go through all that you could learn more about all this stuff at the Plein Air Convention website, which is pleinairconvention.com Also, if you’re trying to pick up some tips on painting, we have one called 240 plein air tips. It’s a book It’s by the top painters and it’s free. You can find it at pleinairtips.com. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether or not my publishers Invitational painters retreat in the Adirondacks is going to happen. Yep, it’s still on. We’ve been talking to the college and as long as it’s legal and it’s safe, and the state has said we can do it, we’ll be there. And a lot of people are coming. It’s the 10 year anniversary. So it’s a special time and we’ve got special things going on. I’m reaching out to some others to come up with some other special things. It’s coming up in June and we’re going to be painting outdoors together every day hanging out you get a lot of painting done, but the best part about it quite frankly, is you make a lot of friends and these friends become kind of like lifelong friends. So this is 10 years for a lot of us and a lot of new people are coming to so it’s gonna be fun, but you get to know each other over meals painting together, we sit up evenings we paint portraits or still life or we play music or we just sit around in the Are are saying it’s a lot of fun anyway. It should take place as planned but if not, we’ve got a backup date already anyway information about the event is at publishersinvitational.com and there is no invitation required. This is your invitation so they’re coming up after the interview I’m going to be answering your art marketing questions in the marketing minute art marketing minute but let’s first get right to the interview with a fascinating Iain Stuart. Iain Stuart, welcome to the Plein Air podcast.
Podcast Guest 4:31
Thank you very much.
Eric Rhoads 4:37
So even for the people who might not yet know you, tell us a little bit about what it is your superpower is
Podcast Guest 4:47
my superpower. That’s an interesting one. I enjoy what I do, I suppose and and I love it very much and so then Being able to make a living doing that I would, I would suppose that’s a superpower.
Eric Rhoads 5:07
Well, why don’t you tell people what it is you do for those who might not know?
Podcast Guest 5:11
Okay? I I make a living as a painter and I and I’ve been doing so for many years maybe 20 something years I’ve been saying 14 for the last while but realizing that I’ve just been reading an old bio but yet being able to work for myself and support a family for the last 20 years. Has it’s really a…I’m very grateful for it.
Eric Rhoads 5:46
Well, that’s a big feat, by the way, and and so, explain a little bit about your medium and your style.
Podcast Guest 5:54
Okay, well I’m a watercolors and so that Comes with, certain rules and different ways that you approach it from other mediums but the the main thing is you have to if you can see the, the impact of the painting as clearly as possible before you begin it because it’s not very forgiving in the ways that it will, you can alter things and maybe scrape off and stuff like that so it’s the more I equated to chess, I suppose is, the more steps you see it had the better off you are. So going in blindly, maybe you get lucky. But you know, that luck is going to run out eventually.
Eric Rhoads 6:52
So, I am not a water colorist, although I have dabbled really with watercolor you You kind of have to when you say Think it through in advance, you really almost have to do it backwards. Because you have to, you have to preserve your whites.
Podcast Guest 7:10
Yes. And it’s so that’s the thing you you’re presented with a big white piece of paper. And you’re glows there from the beginning. So it’s, you know, by adding deeper values, you create the glow, but it’s there to protect and that’s so for any watercolors, it doesn’t matter if you’re using mask or anything like that you have to be conscious of delight from the start. And so, that leads in the process, which is, I do a lot of thumbnail studies and things like that working out composition, but I’m also really trying to figure out, okay, because this the first watch is the one that at least in my work, really sets the mood for the painting and if I don’t if I don’t have those lashes saved, or the whites saved, then, it’s I know right from the beginning if I’m going to fail or not.
Eric Rhoads 8:14
yeah, that makes sense. So how did this all begin for you? What was your first entry into the world of art?
Podcast Guest 8:21
I Well, my father has been a watercolor artist. And there’s been a studio in the house my whole life. He’s not really big on our hasn’t been very big on, you know, direct lessons. Maybe I’ve had five or something like that, but he is an incredibly truthful and brutally honest he can critique my work in ways that that cut to the bone as flows and so bad just living and growing up with that. And seeing the joy he took from creating these wonderful paintings that just translated into me. So I’ve been dabbling all my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. And, but I’ve been in his shadow for most of my life as well. So for the last 10-15 years have been trying to get out of that.
Eric Rhoads 9:28
Well, please, tell tell me why.
Podcast Guest 9:32
Oh, it’s well, he’s very good. And he, he was actually, when we were in high school, he decided we were he was an instructor at Auburn University at the architecture department. And he decided to go solo and, and be a gallery artist. And so as a teenager, I witness that To the sort of ups and downs involved with that, there were some very lean times. But he’s the change in him when he’s painting well, and the change in the family dynamic when he’s painting well and happy. That’s something that’s sort of ingrained in me. And it’s, that’s transferred, into my family as well as if I’m, if I’m happy and I’m working, then the rest of the house is calm. It’s not that I’m a tyrant or anything like that. It’s just being able to do what I do. And and I have a home studio so it’s you know, there’s a bit of juggling with that and then, seeing if, if my work supersedes whatever else is going on in the house at the time,
Eric Rhoads 10:56
so did you ever go through those periods of time when you were a kid growing up that You did not want to be an artist. Were there things about it that, like you said lean times. Were there things times when you told yourself I’m not going to put my family through this? Or, you know, I don’t want to follow in his footsteps?
Podcast Guest 11:16
No, I don’t think so. It was…I always knew it was going to be a part of my life. And, in fact, I went to architecture school, thinking that I’d be an architect. But, I found myself gravitating towards the presentation side. So, honestly, I didn’t know exactly how that would, come about, but I, I knew it would play a role.
Eric Rhoads 11:52
Well, there’s a lot of people who will say things about watercolor that some people believe are true. I don’t necessarily do believe that but I wonder…they’re things like you know it’s tougher to sell watercolor in galleries or tougher to put them in the right kind of frames because of the glass or maybe because of some people don’t value watercolors is highly obviously that people disproven these things but what are your thoughts on all of that?
Podcast Guest 12:25
It’s a mixed bag. It’s so I find it in the states particularly, it does have that…there’s the generalized idea that oil is king and watercolor is more of a hobbyist pursuit and that can that can rankle people a bit especially those of us that are quite serious about it. there as far as the discipline involved I don’t see any difference and valuation. Certainly there is a gap between that and and actually we’re, I have a group of friends that I talked to about that and trying to figure out, just how to navigate the the pricing of watercolor in galleries and that sort of thing. And then as for mounting and putting it behind glass. There are a lot of people working on ways to do that without, to varnish or cold wax the paper itself so that it’s all you have to do is put it in a frame. This is not new, but it’s really gaining a lot of steam now. My friend Matthew birds, really doing a lot of experimentation with And then we’re working with manufacturers to to find ways to make that process a little more uniform and and just permanent in a way that is that you just don’t need to require glass because I don’t know what it is but somehow somebody sees glass they think okay that’s gonna break and there’s it’s a pain to frame things but you know if you have good archival glass and and everything’s matted well that works protected.
Eric Rhoads 14:42
Absolutely and you know people people frame other things that are of value to them all the time and so I think this idea of, of materials being fleeting has has kind of left I mean, they, that it used to be that there were a lot of the colors would fade, but the main manufacturers have really changed that considerably from my understanding. So those are no longer issues. And if you look at what’s happening with watercolor in, well, let’s say in China and China water is the number one medium it is the most revered it is. It’s getting very high prices. They have I was supposed to be over there. So I’ve done some research on this. They have massive numbers of plein air events in watercolor and the… this is this is considered the medium over there, certainly with a huge number of people that are following some watercolor massive and then you have you have some of the Australian masters like buck pitch and and Costa net and so on and they’re getting massive prices for their paintings even in the United States.
Podcast Guest 15:51
Yes. And that so I again…it depends on where in the world You are as far as the amount of attention watercolor is going to get. And certainly Asia is a market that is emerging in a very big way I was supposed to be there myself this summer. So it’s the, it’s just hard to explain it’s…if you look at England and the British Isles where I’m from, I’m actually Scottish but an adult sound like that. I know I’ve been here a while. But there’s a it has more of a draw, as well there. So it really depends on the country that you’re looking at.
Eric Rhoads 16:50
That’s right. watercolor is definitely more revered in in the United Kingdom. So a lot of people I’m hearing from our pictures watercolor who are oil painters, and are using that for their international travel and falling in love with it because of the simplicity, the ease. And of course, there’s the hybrid which is squash, which paints a little bit more like oil and yet is water based and of course they’re also the water based oils but what do you think is driving this trend is because I am seeing a lot more people picking up watercolor.
Podcast Guest 17:33
It’s as far as I can tell, and I’ve been doing this a while now. It’s if you’re traveling, it’s so much easier set up and taking down is so much quicker. You’re working with, once you your painting is dried, you don’t have to worry about protecting it. Now. You can stick it back in the sleeve, and then put your bag together and go on to the next subject. So and then it’s, I think a little less expensive. Overall I mean the initial you know, the initial cost setup is going to be similar across the board in any medium. But watercolor itself once you you’re up and running I guess it’s like golf or something like that, you have to buy a bunch of clubs and stuff, but once you have them, then there’s just the green fees. And it’s it’s portability. It’s I mean, it’s, I do a lot of traveling and and I get a lot of questions from people on Airbnb ease and things like that. Especially when they go and research me and say you’re a painter, you planning on doing anything inside here because we don’t allow painting We don’t want to, getting stuff on the, on the furniture and I listened to that I’ve heard it a million times. And I say, well, it’s watercolor, so I can just wipe it off. It’s it’s easy. And it’s the, the ease of use, I believe. I don’t know, it’s, it’s a tough one. That’s a hard question. But I do think it’s a combination of that. And then the people that I teach, they seem as well to enjoy. I don’t know what it’s like, sorry to switch gears there, but I don’t know what it’s like at the end of an oil workshop. But the end of a watercolor workshop, especially if you’re somewhere like California, you know, the day To the end, and literally 30 minutes later, the whole place is empty, because everybody just throws their stuff back in their boxes and go. So it’s portability is a serious issue.
Eric Rhoads 20:12
Yeah. So talk to me about teaching you have. You have first off you have a stellar reputation as a teacher but also as an artist. You have done the Plein Air convention very popular sessions. what are you able to teach the rest of us What can you tell us about verbally? I know showing people something is one thing but can you can you offer some suggestions about things that if someone is considering watercolor wants to try it out? Or maybe they’re a watercolorist? Now? can you offer some ideas on how you approach process that maybe is or isn’t different than others but is the way that you think we need to learn
Podcast Guest 20:59
well I’m asked that question quite a lot. And the first thing I, I typically say is, learn to draw. And I think that that in itself is extremely important. You know, you can hang a decent painting on a really good drawing, but the opposite is never the case. The other thing that I see and this is across the board is the desire and a workshop to create a masterpiece. And it’s just not the not the place where that’s meant to happen, or even the desire to make a Mac masterpiece. If you put that kind of pressure on yourself to do something spectacular before you make the first mark, that painting is more likely, more than likely are ruined. So it’s Give yourself a break, allow yourself the kind of time that you that you really need to learn and work through those struggles. So that’s one of the things that I really try to stress in my, in my workshops on day one. And that seems to work. The other would be play just for the sake of plays every time you pick up a brush. Why do you have to, is there any reason that that needs to turn into a painting that’s meanings, see how the colors mingle, see how your pigments work with one another. Try out effects. Don’t test things on a painting that matters to you because you won’t be, you’ll be protective of it and you won’t go for some big moves when maybe that’s what’s called for hesitancy kills a patient. Hmm.
Eric Rhoads 23:03
So you’re, encouraging courage, boldness, experimentation. What are you saying?
Podcast Guest 23:13
and patience. I mean, I often equate it to learning an instrument and particularly the violin because it’s such a screechie thing to hear someone practicing that particular instrument and it’s, I get it, man, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s painful to want to do something very well and not have the ability to do it. But with practice, you know, eventually the screeching of the violin will, there’ll be scales, and from those scales they’ll be melodies and and that that analogy I think works very well with learning to paint it see Everybody wants something, or a lot of people want things immediately, and they’re not ready to go through the full process of learning to achieve that, you have to have some technical ability in order to, to pull off a decent painting and not getting down on yourself to the it really is is very painful. I do it, when I ruin one, it’s it hurts. But you’ve got to ruin them to learn.
Eric Rhoads 24:36
So one thing about your work is that and this really applies across all mediums is that there’s something about your work where you have just these really excellent compositions. You managed to lead draw the eye you managed to, to leave out what’s not important. Can you talk a little bit about composition because that that applies Everybody no matter what medium they’re using.
Podcast Guest 25:03
Sure. So I, as I said, I have a background in architecture didn’t go to art school. And I see that as being, you know, architecture as being sort of the grandfather of the umbrella of all the arts. It’s an excellent education. And so my design sense is derived from what I was taught there. Which is, your big ideas like balance and tension, resolution, connection of shape. And it It also comes down to the fact here’s, one of the first things you learn in architecture school is okay, the first solution is right, when is the right one So we do what’s called onion scanning, where you take a pace a piece of basically tracing paper, and you start to work out your design and you do a layover and you work on that, and change things. And then when you think you’re done, you sort of call the professor over. And they come and take a look at it and go, okay, solve it a completely different way. So that’s my mindset is, my, it’s very rare for me to see the painting, you know, immediately in my head, I have to work out these little thumbnail, maybe two by three little value studies, and maybe do a couple of them before I get something that I think works.
Eric Rhoads 26:46
So talk to me about you mentioned a couple of terms. One was tension, the other was connecting shapes. Yeah, both very important principles, but they don’t get talked about a lot on the plenty of podcasts. So now it’s your turn to talk about them.
Podcast Guest 27:00
That’s a wonderful…so I don’t see objects or I tried not to. And if I am in seriously very consciously I am trying to drive that the idea of I am painting a certain object out of my head. So as I come down maybe the side of a building and that connects to the sidewalk to a car, people, whatever, that just shapes, and if that’s on the shade side of the street, then that’s all going to become one shape that if you use it correctly, that’ll say enough, you don’t have to explain everything, at least in the way I paint. And then so you getting from dark and then finding a way to get across st and connect back into the rest of the painting. So if I start to see things lining up, you know, a little horizontally, I’m immediately going to start looking for verticals that begin to tie planes together. And then tension, it can work well for you,
Eric Rhoads 28:30
there’s somebody out there listening right now, that doesn’t even understand the concept of tension. Can you articulate what that is?
Podcast Guest 28:37
Okay. Well, it’s, I mean, there’s so many different ways to think about it. But if you say you have a couple of objects in close proximity, and there is a slight gap between them. I would call that an area of tension within the piece. Now how that’s resolved is, there are, I couldn’t even begin to list the ways that you would…,
Eric Rhoads 29:07
are you suggesting then that tension is a bad thing or can it be also a good thing.
Podcast Guest 29:14
So, that’s depends on what you want people to feel about your work. Not all painting should be beautiful or serene. If you want to draw an emotion, those are those are, you know, techniques that you need to have in your back pocket to use to, to create a sense of feeling within your work. So you’re right. Sometimes you would allow that sort of…It’s a feeling of unease, I suppose. If just to use layman’s terms Maybe you don’t know what it is maybe it’s something you can’t describe about a particular painting but it doesn’t make you feel nice and, and happy and joyful, but it still does evoke a mood. And so it can be useful. you’ve got to you’ve got to be in control of that to an understanding it to be able to utilize it the right way. Otherwise, you risk taking something that you’re wanting to convey some sort of, you know, some sort of peaceful feeling and if there is a lot of tension in the painting. Without that being resolved, then you know, you’re not going to get that feeling.
Eric Rhoads 31:01
so what are the other concepts related to composition that are important to you talked about connecting shapes tension, is there anything else?
Podcast Guest 31:10
There’s, so many different ideas about what makes good composition. I mean, the rule of thirds, that one’s sort of thrown out there all the time, the golden ratio. That’s, that’s something we were, that was beaten into our heads in, in architecture is understanding, that principle and how it, how it works in nature and then how it’s pleasing to the human eye. And, down to when you’re designing a building, what shape your windows and is that, why are they shaped way and every detail in, you know, in design in architecture can be when you’re when you’re coming through school that can be torn apart by jurors. I mean that’s that’s how we’re graded or where is the jury system where you sit down with five, architects and maybe a couple of your teachers and they’re out for blood. And if you say I did it because I like it, then you just jump the waters. So you had to be able to explain every every decision, even if it wasn’t right you had to be able to say something.
Eric Rhoads 32:43
So you really were encouraged to follow very specific principles in architecture, not just be quote unquote artistic.
Podcast Guest 32:53
Oh, absolutely. It’s one of the most humbling and best RSA things in the world to stand up in front of all of your peers. And then a group of people, back in the 90s, when I went through school, they were still allowed to sort of pounce on you. That’s not so much the case nowadays. And we’d all be sitting there watching, you know, as a classmate sort of walked up to the gallows, so to speak. And if someone started crying, just like oh, no, you’re, they’re gonna, they’re gonna eat you alive now. And it was that I think there’s a good way of, of teaching and preparing you for the real world. In the moment, it was terrifying.
Eric Rhoads 33:52
Well, of course, but I think that leads to a really interesting discussion, something really I never really have talked about on the podcast, and that is that this idea of a trophy for every child. You know, I remember one of my first art instructors was brutal. It was he was Yeah, not disrespectful. He was not mean. But he was brutal. Yeah. And he he warned us upfront you need to do exactly what I tell you to do and you need to do it in the right way or I’m going to come and scrape your painting and make you start over or make you start that passage over and he was tough and he would walk up to someone say okay, let’s look at this. Tell me about this. They tell him and then he said okay, this is wrong and they may be something they’d worked on for for days or weeks and he took the palette knife and scrape it down or whatever it takes some some color and cover it completely and then make them redo it is sometimes he’d show us but but it and I watched one woman it felt like she went insane at that particular moment. She went off crying And she never came back and, and it was horrible. But at the same time, I looked at that, and I hated it when he did it to me. But I also looked at it and said, You know what, I learned more from him doing that than him not doing that. So, is this idea of being kinder, gentler, more tolerant of mistakes? Is that going to produce architects or artists or whatever, that are not as good or is it just another approach?
Podcast Guest 35:34
the jury’s out on that one, but I do teach at Auburn occasionally in the architecture department. So I teach watercolor. But quite often, I end up teaching drawing, because the computer has made its way through and these students are very sensitive about the drawing ability or lack thereof. If that’s the case, I tend to be of this, the mind that if you can’t communicate visually, then you don’t need to be in a visual field. I know that may sound a little harsh, but it’s, you know, this is a language that we’re speaking
Eric Rhoads 36:23
well, and drawing in architecture, drawing is so important still, because, you’re, let’s say you’re building houses or building anything, you’re going to be over and you’re going to bring the blueprints over and and or you’re going to be saying, you know, Okay, tell me what you want. And then you kind of sketch something out and you say, is this kind of what you have in mind? And if you can’t do that, you can’t necessarily pull out the computer and do it at that moment in time. Maybe you can, but is, I would think that’s a really important skill.
Podcast Guest 36:54
Yeah, so that’s it. That’s what I would call a professional hiccup. the dialogue needs to be seamless. And I think that translates into the art profession as well is if you’ve got someone’s attention, and they’re engaged and you are, selling something or you’re, you’re pitching an idea, if you have to say, hold on, let me, boot up my laptop, you just broke that magic moment. So, the I, the old adage of, I sold the whole design on a napkin at a bar, you know, being able to draw and communicate your ideas. Is is at the heart of all of this. I would think. It certainly plays, the biggest role in what Do and it’s, getting something from, that sort of sparked of an idea into physical form if your only way of doing that is moving to a computer now I’m not knocking computer art or artists, but good ones tend to be able to draw by hand as well. So the four Did you say that sort of trophies for everybody?
Eric Rhoads 38:31
Well, in other words not harming anybody not hurting any feelings? It’s the idea of you grow. You grow from anxiety you grow from criticism.
Podcast Guest 38:44
Yeah. I think that’s important, I think being young know, we learn the big ideas. By making very painful mistakes, and if you take away, you know, that sort of consequence, then I’m not sure that you’re, you’re treating, or you’re, you’re preparing your students for the real world because that’s not the case out there.
Eric Rhoads 39:22
So, let’s let’s bring this in for a landing than in this particular topic because I think now, you know, this is a great time to say, Okay, if you’re starting out in whatever form of art, here are the things I recommend that you do, what would those things be?
Podcast Guest 39:43
Unless you love it, get out on it.
Eric Rhoads 39:47
There’s a period of time just to challenge that for a second I first off I don’t think anybody gets into it because they don’t love the idea of it. but the the thing that’s frustrating for me is watching students who get turned off easily by I equate it to the idea of, when I was a kid, I didn’t want to sit there and draw cones and squares or play scales. I wanted to paint a picture or I wanted to play a song. Right. So I think that there’s a large number of number of people who give up too soon or get frustrated, or maybe they’re, you know, the teachers are not engaging them to get them to a point where they’re gonna stick with it. So sometimes I think they love it, but they they don’t think it’s for them because they don’t feel like they can make any progress.
Podcast Guest 40:46
Mm hmm. Well, that’s the thing is, is if, if you create an environment where Creative play is essential at the beginning. And then and this is a way again that I work when my workshops we start every morning with the what I call the morning warm up which is basically just making very thick pools of whatever colors are in your palette and beginning put those down in a variegated wash which is just a wash that you know doesn’t have any found that is where the paint goes into the, the other pigment or one pigment goes into the other seamlessly and those gray areas between so that’s, that’s beginning to teach two important lessons a How does your palette work? And you know what colors work well together, what colors will receive more, which ones invade but setting the stage for being calm. But presenting big ideas in a way that’s not intimidating. And that’s so from there, then we begin to talk about different wash techniques and things like that, but it’s, I really tried not to get into the big ideas until later. It’s creating an environment where people are, are happy to, to learn, and that’s, that’s incredibly difficult, especially if you’re looking at, 20 different people and different skill levels, you know, first day of workshops, always getting to know the class and, and the way that the dynamic MCs are and, and how to move forward for the next three days or five days, whatever it is.
Eric Rhoads 43:08
Yeah makes a lot of sense. So Iain, tell people where they can find out more about your workshops more about your work. I assume you have a website?
Podcast Guest 43:19
I do. It’s a Stuartwatercolors.com. I have a fairly large presence on social media, Facebook, Instagram that kind of thing. And then, I’m tinkering around with with some video stuff now and, playing with a little of that. So my studio looks. It always does the right now especially it looks like Frankenstein is rigging booms and things like that. It’s fine, I don’t like it. As soon as I start to feel too comfortable with what I’m doing. I know that I’m about to have to start climbing again. So I look at my work as these sort of plateaus and then a long slog up. And so I always know when I start to ruin a lot of paintings I’ve got, I’m climbing it in. And it’s such a nice way to do it. I don’t want to go back to painting the way I did 10-15 years ago, it was, you know, I was an architectural Illustrator. And that, I mean, you talk about precision. And, it’s always got to present the project in an alliance That makes the, showcases design the best that can I still do those?
Podcast Guest 45:07
It’s now it’s kind of I was talking with a friend of mine, I’m sure you are acquainted with I think he was at your cabin a few days ago or a few weeks ago. And we both accepted a couple of illustrations slightly and it was like a kind of like a warm blanket, as you just saw, I’m so used to that. And it’s been so long since I’ve done one. And it was it was actually really enjoyable.
Eric Rhoads 45:39
Yeah, it’s enjoyable. It’s not enjoyable.
Podcast Guest 45:43
Eric Rhoads 45:48
Yeah, well, Iain this has been a delight having you on the Plein Air Podcast today. And I wish we had more time but i i think, the idea is that people can get to know you They can visit your website and and learn more but you know you’re a fascinating guy and you have a terrific just a terrific style your your watercolors are just beautiful. I was browsing the website a little bit while we were chatting and yeah man it made me want to go back to Scotland and and just create such you really represented the beauty of that country and the countryside and the cities and and I encourage everybody to go and take a look and and obviously to check out your your workshops and everything. So thank you so much for being on the Plein Air Podcast.
Podcast Guest 46:40
Thank you, Eric. It’s been a pleasure. I can’t believe it seemed like 20 minutes so I know it goes fast.
Eric Rhoads 46:51
Thanks again to Iain Stewart. What a nice man What an amazing painter. What a pleasure to talk to him. Are you ready for some art 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 47:10
in the art marketing minute I answer your art marketing questions art marketing will help you get your career on track so you can email me Eric at art marketing comm it’s also a good place art marketing comm a good place to see a lot of articles I’ve written on marketing. Here is a question from Ginger box. I don’t know where ginger is from it says ginger says I have no idea how to get people to see my paintings on my website or on Instagram. I see some people with thousands of followers but I have no idea how to reach that many. How can I get my art noticed on my website and Instagram? Well, ginger, I have a saying and the saying is tactics without strategy fall on deaf ears. What that means is that unless you have a clear purpose and maybe you do a clear purpose or clear direction for your messaging Everything will be cloudy and your response rates will go down, you won’t get the followers you want. So I’d like to ask you why now you’re not here to answer the question. But why do you want them to see your paintings? What actions do you want them to take? Are you trying to sell paintings? Are you trying to get them to friend you? Do you want them to join your blog? Do you want them to visit your website so you can capture their email address? Each of those would be a different strategy. And you want to have one clear strategy that you want to accomplish with whatever it is you’re trying to do, whether it’s instagram or facebook or something else, because the strategy you use will be more on track? depending the answer to your question varies depending on the strategy. So if you want to sell paintings, a great strategy would be to get them to come to your website, of course, not just to see paintings, but more importantly, so you can communicate with them about other things that you’re doing. And that’s why you want to get their email address and so you got to get them to give you their email address and you got to create something and incentivize people To get them to come there, we use things like 240 plein air tips, and people come and get those. And that way we have their information so we can contact them and tell them about all the cool stuff we’re doing. All success is based on repetition. And so people need to hear your message seven to 10 times and Whatever method you know, sometimes it’s on Instagram or Facebook, sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s something else. But you want to get seven to 10 impressions in a fairly short period of time. And most people will visit a website one time and they’ll never return again. Once they’ve looked around. They’re thinking, well, I’ve seen it they don’t think like well, I’ll go back and see what’s new. You got to kind of get them to do that by other things. So what you can do is once you get them to your website, get their email, then you can ask them if they want to opt in for your newsletter or for something else you’re going to do and if you can get them to provide that or even a mail address that You can send them, a free ebook, you can send them a free book it send them different things. And it’s that repetition that really sells product if that’s what you’re trying to do. Now, my art marketing at a box product does this. It’s very effective. And it really forces repetition. It’s all done for you. It’s all pre written. It’s all scheduled. And so you have something to do every single month. And if you follow the strategy that really works effectively, people tell me they’re doubling and tripling their sales from it. So I think that the idea of repetition is really important. And you’ve got to define first what your specific tactics are. We use an Instagram guy, and, and this Instagram guy tells us certain things we need to do and don’t need to do and one of the things you need to post something every single day, what you post needs to fit within what people are there for. And so, like he said that people’s response rates go down and they unfriend you or unfollow you very fast. If, for instance, you’re a person who posts a historic painting every day, and then you post a picture of your dog, the minute you post, picture your dog, people go away and they go away forever. So you got to be consistent with whatever it is and make sure that you’re talking about that particular thing. If the goal is to get them to the website, focus on images that create curiosity, get them to want to see the whole image by visiting the website that’s a very effective but rarely use strategy I’ve seen used very effectively.
Eric Rhoads 51:31
Next question comes from an anonymous person who says…By the way, we don’t make these up. I don’t know who sent this but… says I tend to be overly shy I find myself unable to reach out and make sales. I work full time. And it’s my lifelong dream to be able to make a living as a full time artist, I entered juried shows and Plein Air Convention or competitions, and I’m a member of a couple of prominent art societies. I know I must persist and that it’s my own self holding holding me back. My questions are at what point is it more beneficial to find an art dealer to sell your work rather than going it alone? And how do you know what to look for an art dealer to find a reputable one, so as to not be taken advantage of, well, it’s a, I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff here for you, my friend. And the first thing is, this is kind of like one of those. I don’t know how to describe this. It’s like you, it’s a lot harder to get an art dealer if you’re not famous. And it’s like, how do I get famous if I don’t have an art dealer, it’s kind of one of those endless loop kind of thing, there, there will be come a time in your career that once you’re selling it off and your work is, is selling well that you’re going to want an art dealer. But getting one early on isn’t easy. Now I talk a lot about how to get them in my various products, my videos and so on. But, it’s not easy. Then. Here’s the Another thing I’d like to say, and you’re not gonna like my answer, I’m sorry. And I don’t want to offend anybody. But artists should not typically shift the responsibility their career to somebody else, like a gallery. The reason is that you have no control. And if they fail, you fail. Now, I’m fine with having art galleries. And in some cases, I’m fine with even in exclusivity with an art gallery, if the relationship is fruitful enough, and if you have somebody who is really truly a professional, that’s not likely to be going out of business, but every business no matter how good they are, has fluctuations of good and bad weeks or months or years. And it it’s fluctuations of local economies or national economies or, maybe they’re a Hawaii gallery, and all of a sudden traffic to Hawaii stops for some reason. So if you’ve got mouths to feed, including your own, you want to have control. So the part you don’t want to hear is you’ve got to get beyond your limiting beliefs. You said you You yourself said you know you have them, you’ve got to get stronger. Now think about this, if we have back troubles, we need to fix the problem. So maybe we go to a doctor or a chiropractor or we say, my back problems are persisting because I need to strengthen my core. So you have to develop those muscles in your core, maybe you’re getting a trainer, maybe you go to the gym and you’re working on it. If you’re in business, including selling art, which is a business, then you have to always be developing new muscles, if you’re in business, you have to have an accounting muscle. You have to sit you have a sales, muscle and marketing muscle, shipping muscle, those kinds of things. And so you got to get really good at a lot of things. That doesn’t change who you are, you’re still an artist at heart. And but, for that moment, you’re flexing that muscle or putting on that hat, for that moment, you have to track your, your financial stuff, you got to do that. You can’t expect somebody else to do that. You can get help. You got to have control, you have a weakness, and you’ve got to overcome it. And if it’s about selling because you’re shy, then you have to overcome that shyness. Don’t let yourself off the hook and give yourself an excuse because you’re shy, step up and overcome it. Even if you, you know, it’s gonna be tough. If you think it’s hurting you, you’ve got to overcome it. And I’m not trying to be rude or insensitive, but shyness is based on lacking confidence. And confidence is about getting better control over your state of mind. Now, I can say this because I used to be painfully shy. I couldn’t stand and talk in front of three people. I would look down at my feet, I’d speak quietly, I did not believe any else. Anyone else wanted to hear anything from me. I now I became a radio DJ at the age of 14. How did I do that? Well, I was talking to a microphone in an empty room. But the minute there were other people in the room. I couldn’t do it. And so I had this alter ego, this other persona. And so I was I knew it was in me, but I couldn’t do it in front of other people. And so one day my mentor said, Look, if you want to accomplish your dreams, you’ve got to overcome your shyness, and he recommended Toastmasters. So I joined. And I hated it. I had to stand and speak in front of 30 people every week, and I was horrified. But every week it got easier and easier and easier. And soon I quit. And I was fairly comfortable. And then one day, I had an opportunity and I had to speak in front of a crowd of thousands of people. And I was so petrified, My hands were sweating, and I was wanted to vomit, and I was, didn’t want to come out and it was really scary. But I got out there and I knew my material, because if you know your material, you have confidence. I knew my material. I had rehearsed it, and I pulled it off. And I want to tell you that I do art marketing bootcamp at the Plein Air Convention every year in front of 1000 or more people and I’m up there for three mornings. in a row for an hour and 15 minutes or something, I rehearse that in my room the night before, I want to make sure I’m confident I don’t want to go in there and wing it. A professional never wings that a professional is always on top of things. So you just have to learn how to be professional, how to be prepared for sales and how to understand it takes some training, get beyond all of this, you can do it. Your real issue here is that you’re getting in your own way. And anytime any of us are getting in our own way, we cannot buy that excuse. , if you’re you’ve put on too much weight and you can’t do something because you’re you put on too much weight. You have no one else to rely on, but yourself to solve that problem. If you have a knee problem or a back problem, it’s your responsibility to go resolve that you know you don’t, you’ve got to find somebody to help you with. In this case, you got to find somebody to help you. I wouldn’t want anyone else making decisions for me in my country. In my my career and and controlling my life and my family, because if your gallery goes under, and you have nothing else going on, you’ve got a problem. But if you have galleries, two or three of them, and you also have some other things going on that is done appropriately for the galleries, so they’re not feeling like you’re undercutting them or doing something sneaky behind their back. Then you have a business and everybody needs a business. You don’t ever want your business relying on a single pillar. Being in one gallery is a single pillar. Think of the Parthenon with one pillar holding it up. That pillar goes down, that top part goes down, right? You need multiple pillars, so you got to learn these things, develop your muscles, and you got to trust me on that. Anyway, hope this is helpful. That’s today’s art marketing minute.
This has been a marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at artmarketing.com
Eric Rhoads 58:58
If you’ve not seen my blog, where talk about art and life and just kind of random stuff, mostly not about art actually but it’s up to I don’t know a quarter million readers or something it’s really cool it’s a it’s called Sunday coffee you can find it at coffeewithEric.com and that’s where you subscribe for free. Thank you and I appreciate it when you share it with people to a lot of people tell me they discovered it because somebody shared it. always find doing the plein air podcast. We’ll do it again sometime like next week. I will see you then keep your head in the game. Continue to be excited and and stay positive. I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air magazine. Remember, it’s a big world out there. Go paint it. Bye bye.
This has been the Plein Air podcast with Plein Air magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you Every week, and you can even reach Eric by email 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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