24 06, 2018

Your Unintended Influence on Others


If you listen closely, everything has a rhythm. This morning I hear the up-and-down rub of a boat tied to a dock, the lapping of the water, the high-pitched tweeting of distant birds, and the rumble of a float plane flying over, seeking a place to land … all to the same beat.

Minutes ago, I glanced up to see a bald eagle, wings spread wide, claws down, swooping in to catch her fishy breakfast, which was flopping its tail trying to escape.

The distant mountain is mostly covered in shadow cast by the yellow ochre and Payne’s gray clouds above it, showing little spots of brightness where the sun seeps through. The island of pine trees is being blasted with pink morning light as the pines stand tall at attention.

Here at the lake, the dock I greet you from this morning is the center of activity. It’s where neighbors are greeted when they tie up their boats, it’s the first place people walk to when they arrive by car, it’s where we sit for morning coffee and evening cocktails, and it’s where all the kids play. We feel blessed to have one more summer in this special place.

Standing Under Waterfalls

Pondering my week of catching up after a week of painting at the Publisher’s Invitational paint camp, I have to admit it was hard to get back into the rhythm of work after spending those days standing before incredible scenery, climbing over giant rocks, and sitting alongside rushing waterfalls with my brush in hand. I completed 16 paintings for the week, most of which will be headed off to the galleries, though some will be framed in birch bark frames and hang in our little cabin.  

It was also a special time because my son Brady painted beside me the entire week and my other son and daughter helped with setup and registration. One attendee said to Brady, “When you get older, you’ll realize just how special it is to have time with your dad.” I hope he feels this way, I certainly do. I hope it sticks with him for his lifetime. I keep telling the kids that many of the people they are meeting are famous or soon-to-be famous artists, and that one day they may look back and realize what a great opportunity they had. Brady was out painting and joking with everyone, which I loved to see.

I often try to be very deliberate with my kids and the lessons I’m teaching, but there is so much that occurs through their own observation. Though I did not try to be different in any way when around my 83 artist friends last week, it crossed my mind that my interaction with others is unintentional training for my kids.

Yes, Your Thoughts Matter

When I was a kid my dad used to make me put on a suit, go to trade shows, shake hands and greet people, tell them about his products, and he even had me attend meetings. Instead of sending a message of “sit quietly in the meeting,” several times in every meeting he would turn to me and say, “What do you think?” Not only did it make me feel special, it made me pay attention so I did not get busted and have to say, “Uh, Dad I wasn’t listening.” And I learned a lot.

Following in Family Footsteps

The influence of those around us makes such a huge impression that we often pick things up by osmosis, it seems. Why do the daughters and sons of a police officer or firefighter often follow in Mom’s or Dad’s footsteps? First, their parents are their heros. Second, it is what their parents talk about and love. Third, they interact with their parents’ co-workers. When it comes time to make up their minds in their own lives, it’s pretty easy to choose what they know, what they’re comfortable with — as it is for all of us.

Though my brothers and I all had opportunities to follow in our father’s footsteps and go into his business, we all did our own thing, which means we’d been taught to follow our own muse, be curious about things we were interested in, and do what we loved. We all worked full-time in his company every summer, yet we each chose a different path.

No Fear

Dad’s influence trained me to have confidence in business. I probably never had as much fear as most people who have stepped out to start a business because I had been around his meetings and business calls and tough decisions my whole life. I became an entrepreneur like my dad and an artist like my mom. Her influence was equally strong.

Guess Who’s Watching

Last week, when I was with my kids around the other artists, it struck me that my behavior will become their behavior. It’s not what I say, it’s how I act. It’s the way I look someone in the eye when they are talking, the big smile and hugs when I see someone for the first time in a long time. It’s the respect and time I give others, it’s the way I react to a joke or someone saying something inappropriate. These are all signals of who I really am, knowing my kids are watching. Guess where I learned them? Like it or not, our behavior gets passed along, whether it’s good or bad.

Someone Else’s Hero

But it’s not just our own kids who learn from us. Sometimes you and I are someone else’s hero. The ways we behave with others in our jobs are often being picked up and implanted in people we are unknowingly influencing. I was often influenced by or learned from the moms or dads of friends I spent a lot of time with. What about you?

This may not work for you, but my goal in life is to help others see things in themselves that they do not see. I want to help them see their strengths, and if I’m pointing out weaknesses (which is rarely productive), I try to do it with love.

Just like the deliberate lessons for kids, we need to be deliberate about helping others see what they cannot see in themselves.

Why I’m Down on Facebook

Facebook has made me very disappointed in much of the human race because there is so much negativity. So many people will say things in a post that they wouldn’t say to your face.

What if you and I did a little experiment?

What if, instead of piling on with hurtful comments, you and I looked for opportunities to build others up? We may not agree with their stance on issues, but we can still find something good to say. Maybe they are throwing negative darts because no one ever compliments them.

What would be the impact if you, me, and the 100,000 people reading this today said three nice things to other people, in person or online, each day for a week — building up instead of tearing down?

A funny thing happens when someone says something nice. It changes our demeanor. And it feels so good that we sometimes want to pass it on.

Do the math.

Three positive comments a day to three different people: 7 days x 3 positive comments = 21 positive comments in a week. 21 x 100,000 readers = 2.1 million positive comments. That’s just one week.

What if you did it for a whole year? 21 comments x 52 weeks = 1,092 x 100,000 readers = 109 million positive comments.

And if each person reading this forwarded this to just three people who did the same thing, we would impact a group of people as large as the entire population of the United States.

And a little secret: You’ll feel better if you compliment someone sincerely three times every day.

Appreciated, Not Angered

I’m convinced more than ever that Facebook could become the downfall of society, bringing out our worst, not our best. People in our world need to be appreciated instead of angered. If we each found something positive and meaningful to say each day to three people, you and I alone could improve our world because people who feel appreciated are happier people.

I appreciate you.

Have a great Sunday.


Eric Rhoads

PS: Someone reading this has been telling a lot of people about my new book. I want to thank you. Turns out that people who own small businesses and big ones, people in all walks of life who make their living with their businesses, have been reading it and implementing it. Even though the book is about marketing art, the marketing principles apply to every business. I want to thank you for making it soar. I owe you one.

Your Unintended Influence on Others2018-06-21T09:35:40-04:00
17 06, 2018

Perfect and Imperfect Fathers


The morning is still. Glass-like reflections of the yellow sky, the purple clouds, and the distant gray mountain are perfect, not so much as a ripple in the water. Crisp, fresh air, so pure there is no description, fills my lungs. Coffee on the dock at this Adirondack lake is among my favorite things.


One of my other favorite things is to take my beautiful handmade maple acoustic guitar out to the dock and quietly pluck the strings to make a soundtrack of the morning. A single strum, followed by silence, allows me to hear the sound travel across the lake and back again in a millisecond. I choose to do it this time of year, before residents visit their lake homes, so as not to disturb them.

I took up the guitar as a teen but dropped it along the way, then found it again when my daughter was too shy to take lessons on her own, so we shared a lesson each week — and it got me hooked. I even built my own guitar, with a coach, on my birthday almost four years ago.

This was one of the gifts of fatherhood. My intent was not to take up guitar, but just to be there to reassure my daughter. Yet I ended up receiving a gift of a new passion and a new way to challenge myself and stimulate my brain.

Late to the Party

Having kids was always high on my list, but it did not happen until I was 47. I vividly recall the first blood test with high levels and my sister-in-law, a medical professional, telling us that was an indicator of multiples, and probably not just twins. I had a big smile on my face because I grew up with twin cousins and always imagined myself having twins.

The first ultrasound revealed four, three of whom were large and healthy, while one, we were told, would dissipate and not be viable.

This Should Never Happen

A couple of months into the process, a doctor sat with us and strongly suggested that there was not enough nourishment for three, which could result in one being less than healthy. Termination of one was suggested, and heavy pressure was put on us that we could not fully understand. Did they know something they weren’t telling us? It sucked the joy out of an otherwise wonderful time.

“Go home and think about it, but we need to get this done soon,” we were told. “No, we already know the answer. We’re taking what we were given and we will live with the consequences, whatever they may be.” Pressure continued. Our strong resolve protected us.

Evil Purpose

Months later we learned, quite by accident, that the pressure was not for medical reasons at all. It was because the teaching hospital that provided the in vitro would lose funding if their averages showed consistent levels of multiples more than two.

Today, three healthy and amazing 16-year-olds, each providing us with hours of entertainment, love, challenge, and laughter. What we would have missed. Which of the three would not be there for us? I cannot imagine having lived our life with these precious gifts, wondering what the third would have been like.


A wise friend, Roy Williams, taught me an important lesson many years ago. If you define who you are, what you want, what you don’t want, what you are willing to do, and what you are not willing to do, and what is non-negotiable, no matter what hits you in life, these things will give you answers without angst. Being unsure of what we were not willing to do at a time when we were weak, fragile, confused, and frightened could have allowed us to be swayed. Because we knew our non-negotiable, we did not even have to think about it.

Being There

In my early 30s, I was convinced I could happily go through life without kids, as many of my friends have. Thankfully, my “all about me” mindset changed. It may not be right for everyone, but it’s been the best gift I’ve received. Yet I know I’m merely a caretaker. I know that though they will leave the nest before long, my duties as a dad never end. My own dad, now in his 90s, is still there for me, still coaching me, still giving me brilliant ideas, and still challenging me. Same with my mom. Thank God for great genes.

Being Deliberate

I once wrote about being deliberate with the kids, and my goal this summer is to quietly work from a list of lessons that I hope to find the right moment to entrench, to help my little birds fly. We never know which summer will be our last with the kids as a family, knowing their friends take precedence, and college and life and jobs and relationships will potentially take them away.

Attracting Visits

I learned an important lesson from my own father (Happy Father’s Day, Dad), which is to make everyone want to be with you so they’ll return naturally. It started by treating us with respect when we were young, making sure we did things that were fun, and continuing those traditions. The dock I sit on is his, not mine, and because of this family home, much of our family gathers here naturally each summer, allowing us to reconnect. Though it’s a lot of work and expense, I can think of no better investment than a place that allows family to reconnect all summer every summer, or just to be there as much time as possible. I fear that when that is gone, our summer gatherings will be replaced by each of us going our separate ways. Then it will become my job to find a new way to get the kids, and hopefully grandkids one day, to look forward to our times together, wherever they may be.

Investing in the Future

There is, in my opinion, nothing more important than the relationship with our kids and their eventual families. Time invested in making them want to come back, want to spend time, is the best time we can spend. One of my saddest moments was being estranged from a family member over something I said, and one of my happiest was allowing time to pass and wounds to be healed, allowing us to be together again. Estrangement from my kids in any way would be devastating, which is why investing in them at every moment is important. That of course does not mean letting them do things that will harm themselves or their future, so correction is part of love.

Showing Up

Today, we celebrate our dads. Being a dad has helped me understand just what a great job my dad has done for me, and how he’s given me a role model for my own kids. My goal is to keep the good things, skip the things that were not productive (though I can’t think of any at the moment), and keep showing up, as he does for me still. A father’s work is never done.

Painful Memories

I don’t mean to cause pain to those who don’t have memories of a father, or whose memories are not good. I have friends who have horrible fathers who did horrific things, selfish things. I know others who did not know their dads, who grew up without a father. Though I cannot relate to what that must be like, I can say that the only thing you can do at this point is to be the parent you wish you’d had. And for those who don’t want to have kids, just know that pain provides lessons, and have confidence that you won’t repeat the mistakes of others.

Passing It On

Evil does exist in the world, but most bad dads don’t intend to be evil. Sadly, many have been the victim of a pass-it-on game pushed from father to child for generations. I recently saw a program where a famous actor looked into his ancestors, and his research indicated that the problems he had with an abusive father stemmed from his great-great-grandfather’s losing a wife at a young age, becoming an alcoholic, and beating his kids. He beat his kids, thus his son learned to beat his kids, and so on. All because of an unresolved wound three generations before.

A Football Metaphor

Years ago I took a time management course with Charles Hobbs. In the class he had a white football and a black one. He threw the white football and encouraged us to pass it on. It passed from one person to the next to the next. Then he threw the black football, but said to ground it and not pass it on. His point, of course, was to pass on the positives and not pass the negatives. I think that is true with our parents. Pass on the positive traits, ground the negative traits. Otherwise the negatives can be passed along for generations.

Choose What to Pass On

Often we don’t even recognize our own negative traits and are unwilling to listen when others try to let us know. But once we do realize them and accept that they are not productive, it’s time to ground the football. Pass the good, ground the bad. It’s never too late — even if your kids are adults, they are passing on your habits and traits, good and bad. If you realize you’ve passed something along that you regret, it’s time to apologize and encourage them not to pass that on.

Getting Unstuck Sooner

Life is full of lessons and corrections. Thankfully, we continue to evolve, learn, and make changes. Or at least, we should. Being stuck isn’t a good place to be. I know because I get stuck a lot, and then I have an “I should have had a V8” moment when I slap my head and wonder why I didn’t realize it and get unstuck sooner.

Can You Forgive?

My guess is that most fathers mean well, even though we may be clinging to some bad decision they made years ago. Forgive if you can, and move on. Not forgiving doesn’t hurt them as much as it eats away at you.

Why let anger fester inside you for a lifetime? See someone, talk to someone, try to resolve it, and even if your dad won’t apologize, you still can forgive.

I’m Grateful for You

I’d like to say something else this morning, which is that I’m grateful that you are opening these little Sunday morning moments. Sometimes I hear from people who agree, others who disagree, some who think I’ve gone too far, others who think I’ve not gone far enough. I’m not out to be an affront, or to change anyone, or even to instill my beliefs in anyone. I write because I have to get my thoughts written down, and I happened to share them with a couple of friends who encouraged me to share with others. We are all so busy, so consumed with life, with social media, with negative thoughts about politics and celebrities, I like being able to just stop and think about something I’ve not thought about before. So I hope, in some little way, this serves that purpose for you.


For me, every day I can pick up the phone and talk to mom or dad is a perfect day. A friend I once played golf with told me he would give up all his riches for just one more day with either of his parents. Yet busy lives, and the fact that it seems like our parents will always be there, tend to make us less attentive. Thus today is a reminder that I should call and visit more often.

Today let us rejoice in our fathers, their perfections and imperfections, knowing that we too are imperfect, and we too will make mistakes with our kids.


Eric Rhoads

PS: In a moment I’ll leave the dock and go over to the local college, where about 83 painters who have been with me for a week at my Publisher’s Invitational will be having breakfast, followed by my farewell announcements, followed by lots of people who got close during the week saying tearful goodbyes. Like past years, some will say goodbye and never return because of health issues or worse, others just won’t come back because of circumstances, and still others will return next year as they have for the past eight. These people are like my painting family, and I cherish them. Our next time gathering will be in the Canadian Rockies and again in Africa. It’s a hard day for me because, like a wedding, I plan it all year, then it’s here and gone in a moment. I hate goodbyes, and my kids will tell you, “Dad is crying again.” But that’s just who I am. I cherish those in my painting family, and today, when everyone checks out, I get to be with all three of my kids and my bride for a perfect Father’s Day. I hope your day is perfect as well.

Perfect and Imperfect Fathers2018-06-12T15:54:04-04:00
10 06, 2018

A Bountiful Harvest


A deep breath fills my lungs with the smell of pine. As I sit on the dock in a bright red Adirondack chair, the water is perfectly still and reflecting the puffy pink clouds above, the distant purple mountain, and the rich greens.

The water acts like a giant reflector; sounds from across the lake are amplified perfectly. Silence is supplemented by the splash of canoe paddles from a distant couple having a morning chat as they cut across the water in the distance.

This is the moment I look forward to all year. A lake I’ve called home for summers past. And it brings instant stress reduction and recharges my batteries to 100 percent.

Red Letter Days

My grandmother Luella used to call these “red letter days.” Something to celebrate, a day packed with memories. Not only is it my first Sunday here since we left in August last, today begins one of my favorite weeks of my insanely busy year.

Play Time With Friends

Listening started this special week. My ears perked up when painter friends lamented their busy lives on the painters’ event circuit, unable to spend time with their friends at events, unable to paint side by side, because they were in competition to sell paintings. Wouldn’t it be nice if just once a year, we could paint with friends without the pressures of an event? Nothing to sell, no banquets to attend, just play, just painting, just fellowship.

Best Week of My Life

“I could arrange that,” I thought, and a year later, we held the first “Publisher’s Invitational” (so called because I make my living as a publisher and because attendance was by invitation only). Ten were invited, but 17 appeared when requests from the 10 came in to bring their friends. We painted all day, cooked our meals together, sat up late at night laughing, storytelling, and sipping adult beverages. “The best week of my life” was the common thread heard at the end of the week we did not want to end.

A Thousand Paintings

Though exclusivity is nice, so is inclusion, and in following years I removed the invitational aspect. Anyone who wants to come can come, and it was invitational in name only. The event grew from 10 to about 125, and evolved to a campus just a few minutes from here in the Adirondacks where we painted amazing waterfalls, stunning lakes, majestic mountains, and over a hundred shades of green. Attendees created their own traditions, including music and portraits in the evenings and bringing our paintings into a giant room for all to see — we end up with over 1,000 paintings by the end of each week.

Over time I decided more than 100 people was too many and trimmed it back to keep it manageable at about 80, because it’s an event I do all by myself, with only the help of a local painter, Sandra Hildreth, who takes half the group to different paint spots than my group.

Personal Growth

There are reasons this is a favorite week. First, I get to be with old and new friends. I love being with other people. Second, my busy life rarely lets me find time for outdoor painting, and when I do, it’s random and last-minute. But this event allows me to do two or three paintings a day every day for a week. Not only am I painting with friends, I’m painting a lot, and the result is growth as a painter. I usually start the week with my worst work and end the week with my best. Everyone seems to experience the same thing because it’s rare anyone, even pros, gets to do a week of painting all day every day.

Just Me

I also pride myself on doing the entire week by myself. Most of my other events, like the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) in April (next year it’s in San Francisco) or the Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) in Miami in November require lots of my team members to be around me. Though I love them, when they are there I’m in the role of leader or boss, and it’s hard for them or me to relax. At this event, though the workload of hosting 80 painters, feeding them three meals a day, dealing with the issues on campus and their needs can have its stress-filled moments, I still love that it’s just me.

Well, it’s not really just me, because my kids come in the day before, stuff the bags with goodies, brochures, magazines, art samples, etc., and they help with registration when people show up. Usually one of them will come along and paint with us, which makes the event friends and family. It does not get any better than that.

Now you can understand why today is a red letter day. After I leave the dock, possibly take a quick dip in the lake, today at noon I’ll greet my guests, and give them orientation tonight, dinner and drinks, and a week of 6 a.m. to midnight.


When you become a painter, like I did, painting is like oxygen. You have to paint to survive. Plus, there is magic in looking forward to something all year. Because I need to paint, I need to do this a few times a year in some form or another. So I’ll have an event again this fall in the Canadian Rockies, and I’ll do an international trip to Africa this fall, and I have my art collectors’ trip to Italy in autumn as well. It’s a busy time, especially because the FACE convention is also this fall, as is my radio Forecast event.

Fifteen-Hour Days

Reflecting on life as it used to be makes me realize how important it is for all of us to have things we can look forward to, something to allow us to get through stress-filled weeks and life’s issues and challenges. Too many years were spent jamming so hard that there was no time for myself or my wife. Years without vacations, summers when I could not get even a week off for a lake visit. Looking back, I probably spent my 30s and most of my 40s working 15-hour days. My life was filled with stress, I was driven to make money, and I had nothing other than work in my life. Though I’ve always loved my work, it was not till my 40th birthday that I discovered painting, and it changed the way I look at life. It’s one of the reasons I’m so driven to teach a million people to paint in the next 10 years, and it’s one of the reasons I offer free lessons to anyone who wants to try it.


Looking back, I realize King David was right (as was Pete Seeger) when he wrote “to everything there is a season.” A time to sow, a time to reap. Life has perfect design, and there is perfect timing for everything, if we’re just willing to listen for that timing.

Had I discovered painting earlier, I may not have been ready, and I certainly would not have had the experience of starting magazines under my belt, so these events probably would never have occurred.

I used to put myself under tremendous pressure to achieve things, to make money, and to work like crazy. Though I’m busier than ever, it’s more balanced. I don’t work 15-hour days and work for years without vacations. I’m more disciplined, more measured, more patient. This is a different season.

Your Seasons

Though there is nothing wrong with putting yourself under pressure and working like a dog to make certain things happen, there is also nothing wrong with allowing God’s perfect timing to work its way in your life. That does not mean drifting, because activity is as important as quiet time. We just have to understand that if we’re frustrated or if things are not going as we wish, we’re each in a season, and there is a purpose, a lesson in it. And if we listen, and ask for help, a new season will emerge and everything will make perfect sense.

Someone recently said to me, “Eric, I want your life.” But be careful what you ask for, or you might end up with two decades of toil to prepare the soil for the harvest.

Be thankful for the life you have been given, the lessons you have had to learn, and the lessons to come. Be thankful for the hard times, which give contrast to the good times and make appreciation sweeter.

The Time to Understand

Be patient, because the less than perfect, whatever seems less than ideal, is indeed as it should be and will lead you to perfect if you listen. If you allow God’s plan to flow over you, it will prepare your mind for the steps you won’t understand until you’re ready to understand them.

When Your Seeds Grow

No matter what you are going through at this moment, be patient and know that even the most horrific and difficult time has a sunrise to follow. Look for it, listen for it, and know that each life has a grand plan you may not grasp right now. And understand that the grand plan is probably not something you’ve ever imagined, and may, at the moment, seem like something you don’t want. If you had asked me 25 years ago if I’d be publishing art magazines, doing events for artists and collectors and being a painter, I’d have told you it was insane and could never happen, yet I finally found my purpose and home. You will too.

I’m not sure there is any way to speed up the necessary process. I used to believe in shortcuts, but there are times your food needs to have nutrients of disaster added, much as a forest fire can make the soil stronger.

Silence Is Golden

Perhaps there is one thing I’ve discovered that I never took time for before, and that is quiet time. Prayer, meditation, sitting quietly on the dock or the porch just one hour a week (and more if you can), eyes closed, allowing your mind to wander. Don’t spend it asking, spend it listening. It brings peace, clarity, and sometimes ideas creep in that don’t seem to fit. Listen, take action, and don’t just follow what you want, but listen for the universal call toward something that does not seem like it fits.


Being a control freak, I believe I can control the outcome of anything. It’s taken me a lot of years to understand that I can’t control plans for my life that I don’t know exist. Finally understanding this has given me peace. Now I try to listen more, wait more, and have patience. That does not mean we stop taking action — we need movement as much as we need stillness.

Four Seasons

Your angst and frustration may seem difficult, your pain may seem unbearable. Your worry about others is natural. It may seem endless, and it may have been going on for years, but there is strength in knowing there is a season ahead that’s different from the season you’re in now. Fall and winter are always followed by spring and summer.

Somehow knowing this makes it easier. And though it’s hard to understand sometimes why bad or difficult things happen to good people, have confidence that there is a grand plan, and that fire hardens steel. It may seem overwhelming at the moment, but asking why won’t have as much impact as asking what you are supposed to learn, knowing the soil is being prepared for a bountiful harvest.


Eric Rhoads

A Bountiful Harvest2018-06-06T07:38:22-04:00
3 06, 2018

How Dreams Come True


Walking in my pajamas from the nice cool house outside to the porch, the heat unexpectedly smacks my face. The buzz of the overworked air conditioner compressor drowns out the sounds of birds, yet the bugs’ buzzing is drowning out the compressor. In the distance, the rap of a hammer — someone is up early, working on their dream home.

Building a dream home has never been high on my bucket list, yet every home, every building you pass, was at one time or another someone’s dream.

I often look at old, crumbling buildings, often near the point of being condemned or razed, and think that building was someone’s dream at one point. Someone spent their life coming up with the money, working diligently over the plans, working with the builders (or building it themselves) over months or years, spending endless amounts of time working on their dream. If walls could talk, they’d reveal what took place within those buildings and the outcome of those dreams.

Old Vs. New

Though headaches can abound with old buildings, if given a personal choice of a brand-spanking-new home or building versus something old with character and great design, I’d choose the old. Maybe I’m an old soul, mentally living in another era. I like old paintings, old buildings, old houses, old boats, and old books.

Pinch Me

Though I sometimes fantasize about living in historical times and hanging out in the cafes with painters like Monet or Van Gogh, thinking how magical it would be, in some ways I feel as though I’m living that life today, and that people will look back on these times, wishing they could have been a part of the art movement today. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize a great artist is staying in our world famous artist’s cabin.

Artists Discovered

I feel extremely blessed to spend time with the greatest painters of our day, some of whom will come to my event in the Adirondacks next week, and some of whom will be discovered there once I see them paint and end up doing articles on them. I can think of several unknown painters, now famous, whose careers were given birth by attending that event and others.

Two Special Movements

Though it’s fun looking at other times as romantic and a place we would love to be, we need to realize that the time we are living in is one of those special times in history. If you’re reading this and are not an artist, there are two movements going on at the present moment that will go down in history as two of the most important in the history of art. I feel fortunate to be able to play a small role in each of those movements.

Cocktail Party Stories

A little piece of art history for your next cocktail party … today’s plein air painting movement (“plein air” is a French term for “outdoors,” as I explain on my podcast) is the largest movement of any kind in the history of art. There are more people going outside to paint, more events, more shows, and more participants than at any time in history. Art historian Jean Stern of the Irvine Museum says this is the largest movement in the history of art. Of course, I also call it “the new golf,” because people love the challenge, the social aspects, and the lifestyle.

A Youth Movement

The other movement is what I call the modern realism movement, which is led by droves of young people who are moving away from their parents’ and grandparents’ modernist roots and, like generations before them, shedding the old for the new. The new, in their eyes, means realistic painting practices perfected by the Old Masters 400 years before them, whose techniques were almost lost after the modern movement was launched in the early 1900s.

These artists are painting works at levels of quality that match some of the great masters of the past, though their subjects reflect modern sensibilities. Our little role in this was to start a magazine focused on this movement about 15 years ago, when we saw some early signs, and today we try to fuel that movement with a training event and convention and the magazine.


In both cases, those who have the gift of owning paintings from these eras may end up with the high-auction pieces that fund future generations of your family, just as if you had owned a Monet or a Raphael. But what’s most important isn’t the money, it’s the pleasure of having these works on your walls, enriching your life.

One never knows how history will treat one’s own times, but I believe historians will look back on these moments as rare and special, and look upon the artists as part of a special time in history, especially when there are two major movements happening simultaneously.

Living in Special Times

Each of us is living in a special time, when special things are going on. I remember my grandmother talking about inventions created in her lifetime that she could barely believe; they seemed to her beyond science fiction. I’ve since realized that you and I will be telling our grandkids about things we’ve seen that once seemed impossible. The rate of innovation in our lives today is greater than the rate of innovation at any time in history, impacting everything around us, including our health.

I Can’t Believe I’m Here

During the dot-com boom of the 1990s, I was an outsider looking in. I heard stories about “idea people” who ended up changing the world and sometimes making billions. Some stories became legendary. One day I woke up and told myself, “I don’t want to be an outsider, I want to be an insider. I want to be one of those people trying to change the world through technology.”

So I went to Silicon Valley with an idea, raised a bunch of money, started a company, hired employees, and changed the world of Internet audio forever. The people I was encountering in my daily life were all with the young startups that had not yet changed the world. For instance, I met two young guys at a party who had just started a company called Google. I met the young man who started Napster, which changed the music world forever. I met with the founders of startups called PayPal and Ebay, and hundreds of other tech giants.

Insert Yourself Here

Though I was late to the party, once I realized there was a major movement going on, I made a decision to find a way to insert myself so I could be part of the dialogue. Rather than telling my grandkids about seeing things happen in my life, I’ll be able to tell them that I was able to play a small role in those things.

The gift of life may be brief, but why not look at that gift and try to be part of something bigger, something that will change the world, something that will allow you to influence the outcome?

Insecurities and Hangups

Though you may not feel deserving, you have things inside of you that can make a major difference in the world. Your perspective, your lifetime of wisdom, is of great value, and it’s something others need to hear. In fact, most of the people I’ve met in the world of change are no different than we are. They have their insecurities and hangups, they lack confidence in many areas, they have doubts and negative thoughts too. The only difference is that they move forward anyway because their dreams are bigger than their doubts.

No Regrets

You have something inside you right this minute. You may not even know what it is. You may be questioning what to do with your life, or you may have an idea that you’ve lacked the confidence to pursue. Do you want to go to your deathbed with regrets because you did not try? I’m not sure who said it, but it’s better to try and fail than never to try at all.

There are so many things on my bucket list that I’ll need a couple of lifetimes to get them done. Some are old, some are new, but I’m very focused on making them happen.

An Old Bucket List Item

I can only think of one thing on my old bucket list that I’ve not done yet, a dream I’ve had since I was a teen, which is to play a role as an actor in a major motion picture. I’m not sure why the dream is there or what drives it, but I fully intend to check that off my list. Knowing the itch that has to be scratched is half the battle, because you’ll tell your brain about your need and your subconscious mind will make it happen.

Building a Museum

Though this is important to me, there are new bucket list items that hold more importance. For instance, Isabella Stewart Gardner inspired me to create a modern-day museum, just as she did, to reflect the two major art movements and the great artists of our time. I want to create a museum of plein air and one of modern realism. I simply need a major donor to create an endowment. This needs to be done so these two movements are given proper recognition in a major city, so they live on for generations. It’s too important to let the moment pass.

There are many other bucket list items, like teaching a million people to paint. It’s a modest goal, and one I hope to blow past one day, but it’s important because painting changes souls and opens eyes. It remakes us so we have the eyes of an artist, and that is life-changing.

Giving Ideas Attention

I suspect you too have a bucket list. Some are just fun things you want to get done, which may involve travel. Others may be about creating memories for your family, while others may be ideas that will change the world. They are all important, and if you give them enough time and attention, you’ll overcome all the obstacles in the way, including money. I certainly don’t have the money to start an important museum, but someone out there who has the ability may share the vision to make it happen.

What are your big dreams?
What is on your bucket list?
What do you feel you need to accomplish in your lifetime?

Perfect Timing

Some people start fast, others start slowly. Most of the good things I’ve done in my life happened after 50. Don’t tell yourself there isn’t time, or that’s it’s too late, or you’re too young or too old or too poor or that your circumstances prevent it. Passion overcomes everything. It simply starts with belief.

Mind Blocking

The world has been blessed with amazing things that would not exist had some woman or man allowed their dreams to be prevented by their negative mindset. We have incredible buildings, institutions, museums, even cities that happened because of the single dream of one person. Most of those people started with no money and no special advantages, but their passion drove their minds to find a way.

Make Your List

You’ve been blessed with a great mind, great ideas, and great passion. You have what it takes. I hope that today, you’ll find some quiet time to make a list, and decide which items are at the top of the list, so you’ll remind yourself every day. Before long, what seems out of reach will start getting into your subconscious mind, which then will find a way to drive it home.

I have confidence in you, no matter what things are going on in your life that may be preventing you from living that dream. Most, if not all, of these things will pass and you’ll find God’s perfect timing. Have confidence, and don’t let go of those dreams.

How Dreams Come True2018-05-31T13:40:58-04:00