31 05, 2020

A New Chapter


Drinking in the beauty of Austin, Texas, with its deep green cedar trees and gnarled oaks, I’m staring out over the yard one last time. No more will I sit on this porch in my red wicker couch on the long covered porch with the tin roof that rings like a metal drum with each raindrop. No more will I cuddle with the dogs here as I write. I’ll miss the deer in the yard and the neighbors’  Longhorn cattle, but alas, now that the kids have graduated high school, summer calls us to an old cabin on the lake where I’ll be reaching out to you for the balance of the summer. It’s good for us, our family, our kids, and even the family who stays in our Austin home each summer, who get a change of scenery.


But when we return, our secure little nest will be silent. No more slamming doors, teen drama, setting the table for five, no more arguments, but also no more hanging out on the couch with a day-to-day debriefing. Thankfully, two of our triplets remain in the state, only a couple of hours away, and one in a neighboring state about a day’s drive away. 

Years ago the stress of parenting made us eager for these stress-filled, high-drama days to be replaced by quiet moments, but as we approach the runway for takeoff, we’re getting sad. It’s the start of a new chapter.


Over dinner the other night we were reminiscing about school with the kids, how they were so stressed about moving to a new city and a new school. They were stressed about elementary school, then stressed about the transition to middle school, then high school. As parents we knew how short and insignificant it would all one day feel. Yet no matter how much we told them everything would be OK, their stress levels were high until they’d had time to adjust.

All New to Us

Now the tables are turned. Our anxiety about kids in college is probably as bad as theirs, as is our anxiety about moving to the next chapter. This new chapter will be a trial run, kids away from home, us being alone together and having to get to know one another all over again. Yet we’ll still be coaching kids in school and reminding them occasionally of life choices they need to be making. And after college, if there is no grad school, it will be graduation to life, a new chapter for them and for us. We don’t know what it will bring, but chances are our little family of five will grow, with new personalities injected into our lives, and hopefully one day some little ones who can call me Gramps. 

Perhaps I’m a late bloomer, or maybe I just delayed things as long as possible. My cousin, one year younger, just retired this week and already has grandkids who will soon provide great-grandkids. Me, I’m still putting in 15-hour days with no intention to retire, and my kids are just now leaving the nest.

As we turn the page to a new chapter, or click the remote to a new episode, I for one am in love with the idea of change. I used to fight it, now I crave it. 

Tolstoy said, “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Roy Bennett said it this way: “If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.”

Breaking the Rules

Though I’m not critical of the mold for how we’re supposed to act or be when our hair turns white, I feel like this chapter brings many new possibilities. I’ve passed on hundreds of invitations to paint at events or speak at colleges and events, and skipped all-expenses-paid trips to foreign lands because I wanted to be home as much as possible. Now, I’m free to go, and my wife is willing to go along. And, for the first time, she is free and has ideas for which I must be the one to tag along. It’s only fair.

The winter pastor at our old church in Florida, author John Maxwell, says, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

As I watch friends who have lived this chapter before me, I’ve seen some become stagnant ponds, and others become waterfalls. Movement creates movement and energy. Stillness creates more stillness. There is a time for each, yet too much still water breeds mental bacteria.

The Edge of the Earth

Each of us is in a different place. Your life may be ahead of you. My friends with young kids don’t yet realize it passes in the click of your fingers. I never believed it, yet here I am. Some of you are at the edge of the earth, about to jump off for the next planet. Like changing seasons, we each move from chapter to chapter, often clinging to the past only to be dragged into the future. Then when we get comfortable, we get dragged out of that comfort zone again.

I for one am enthusiastically looking forward to being uncomfortable. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. 

“The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” – Brian Tracy

Where are you?

Are you so comfortable you don’t want to be ripped out of your easy chair? Or are you waiting for the next chapter to begin?

I for one am excited. 

Eric Rhoads

PS: We’ve all been ripped out of our comfort zone. Each day when we shop for groceries, we wonder if we’re the next victim of COVID-19. But, if you dig deeply, you’ll find this time has been a gift. Look for it.

My gift for my art-loving friends has been almost 70 days of art instruction video samples. But, like all good things, they are soon to go away. People have asked me to keep them up a little longer so they can catch up … so to find them, follow these steps.

  1. Go to YouTube.
  2. Search Streamline Art Video
  3. Click “Subscribe.” You’ll have access to everything for a while after we make them disappear from the public page. Please do so today, so you don’t forget.

PS 2: Big news. Sometimes bad things lead to good things. My summer painting retreat in the Adirondacks was postponed, then canceled because the college we normally stay in has closed for the summer. But a place I’ve always wanted to hold the event has opened up because they had to cancel their summer camps. For our 10- year anniversary, we are staying in one of the GREAT CAMPS of the ADIRONDACKS, which was built in 1901 for 2.5 million ($70 million in today’s dollars). It’s a classic, on a different, more beautiful lake. If you’re interested, we’re still accepting people, and we have a 100% money back guarantee if we or you have to cancel. 

A New Chapter2020-05-29T12:26:10-04:00
24 05, 2020

The Absence of Ceremony


Each morning during self-isolation I’ve been without my normal routine. Normally, pre-COVID-19, I’d awaken early, make breakfast for the kids, see them off to school, head to the gym or yoga, come home to get ready, and then go to my office.

Now, I’m staying up late, usually until midnight, sometimes one or two, and there is no routine to awaken for. My kids have been sleeping in on days when there are no Zoom classes, or getting up two minutes before class, which they can attend in their pajamas. No breakfast to make, no gym available to visit. The only thing consistent is my “go to the office” routine, which has been at home since the kids were born.

Sleeping In

Frankly, I like sleeping till I awaken and not having to deal with an alarm, but I do miss those morning routines with the kids. And this week one of my triplets graduated with a Zoom call, and the other two are officially graduating next week. 

Leaving the Nest

My wife and I are mourning because we’ve looked forward to this day for years, watching our little birds released from school and ready to move to more self-sufficiency in college. But in spite of the school’s best efforts, a Zoom call graduation was somehow so anticlimactic. There were relatives watching the call, but no gatherings of family flying in, no party, no graduation dinner, and not even a chance to see all the kids our children grew up with one last time. 

Beaming Faces

This moment has made me realize that the absence of ceremony is a casualty of this “hidden enemy.” Though I typically dread moments when I need to put on a suit and tie and sit through hours of mind-numbing content, I’m actually missing it. It would be an absolute joy to see these faces beaming at the prospect of their accomplishments in school and in anticipation of their future. And what a joy to see the faces of kids from Scouts, the playground, from playdates, from band outings, from Halloween and school plays, and so much more. And what a disappointment that we don’t get that closure, knowing we won’t see most of them ever again. 

Missing Touch

Last week we opened our soundstage for the first time for me to shoot an interview with an artist who came in for the shoot, and the ceremony of a handshake, a hug, or even a high five was missing. It somehow felt less meaningful; it does not feel like an actual connection without that touch. The ceremony of the touch is missing. And for the first time, I’ve realized that I can’t really get a feel for someone by just looking into their eyes. That touch somehow makes the connection so much more complete. I’ve also missed it with a couple of visiting friends, where we sit masked, several feet apart, trying to catch up. It feels forced.

Closure is missing in so many areas right now. Closure of one week to the next by starting the week in communion with neighbors in our churches or synagogues and getting fed some inspiration and knowledge. Saying Goodbye

Sadly, families are unable to gather for memorial services for loved ones lost. I cannot imagine the incomplete cycle of life without that closure to say goodbye, to celebrate a life well lived, to laugh and cry together, and to see remaining family members, some of whom we see only for funerals. It’s very empty, and I feel so sad for families who could do nothing at this time.

Sharing Energy

Frankly, I’m missing the ceremony of spreading energy with friends in our events like the Plein Air Convention or the Publisher’s Invitational art retreats, which have had to be rescheduled for later dates. It makes me understand just how important these people are in my life, and how much I miss them, even if I see them just once or twice a year. Video calls are barely a good alternative.


The result of these times is that we’ve all been forced to reinvent. We can’t allow restrictions to prevent our celebrations and our closure. Couples are moving forward with online weddings, there are social gatherings with online cocktail calls and other virtual events. These don’t fill the void of human contact, but they are better than nothing.

Making Better Use of Moments

No one knows what our lives look like a few months in the future, though many are predicting the worst and the best. It’s simply impossible to know yet. But the sooner we can replace normal, the better off we all will be. I can’t wait for parties, having friends over, events, conventions, meetings, handshakes, and hugs. And when the “all clear” signal is transmitted, I plan to go all in and be more social than ever. I’ll make a point to spend more time, and quality time, with friends, and no longer take those special moments for granted.

We all have pent-up demand. And I suspect, if we can, we’ll do more things, be more social, travel more to see family or just to take trips, and it will be like the pleasure of eating an orange for the first time after years of being unable to take a bite.

Now is the time to plan what’s next for each of us. 

What will you do first?

Who do you most want to see?

How will you look at the value of your time together differently?

What do you most want to do?

Some are striking fear by telling us this will return in the fall, or that we may have sudden quarantine weeks for the rest of our lives. Others are saying this never ends. Ever.

I don’t want to believe any of them.

But what if it were true? Or what if you only had the next few months to do everything in your life you’ve always wanted to do? What if you have three months to see everyone you’ve wanted to see in person?

What if you could hold certain people only one last time?

Savor the possibilities, and make your plan.

My guess is that there will come a time when everything is back to the way it was before. Hugs and handshakes included. Even blowing out birthday candles on a cake we later eat. I’m counting on it.

Yet, it’s clear there are no guarantees in life. Therefore, I plan to be ready to pounce. I’m making my list of every event I want to attend, every person I want to see, every conversation I want to have in person, because I don’t want to ever look back in regret. What about you?

Eric Rhoads

PS: In spite of the difficulty of this time in history, each of us has discovered something about ourselves. Most of us have innovated in new ways, reinvented in some ways, and often reinvented the ways we live and work. For some, those new ways make us better and will stick. Others will return to the old ways. Yet I think there have been blessings to come from this, even if nothing more than the appreciation of the freedom we once had and have lost. I now know more than ever just how important freedom of movement is. I also know the power of fear for the first time in my life.

Before you go back to your definition of normal, consider embracing the new you. Do you really want to commute for two hours a day? Do you really want to spend your life in a car or an airplane? Do you really want to go back to all parts of the way things were?

I’d be nervous if I owned office buildings, because a lot of us will no longer want to go to an office. Working from home works. Companies can save money and have found they can survive and in some ways be more efficient.

Make your list of the parts of life you like from quarantine and the things you are no longer willing to do. Quality of life matters more than ever. Focus on quality.

Lots of people have returned or come to art for the first time in their lives. We’ve seen millions of hours streamed of our instruction videos and have had hundreds of thousands discover what we do. We’ve been doing free video samples daily at 3 p.m. (ET) (Facebook or YouTube @StreamlineArtVideo) and I’ve been live daily at 12 noon (ET) (@ericrhoads on Facebook) to try and keep everyone upbeat.

We’re about to discontinue these daily instructional videos, but for now they are still up and you can find them all here.

I should also mention that on June 1 we’re giving away a lovely Joseph McGurl painting to celebrate the anticipated end to quarantine in most areas. You can enter to win at paintgiveaway.com.

And for those who think you have no talent but really wish you could learn to paint, I have made beginner videos for you free at www.paintbynote.com.

The Absence of Ceremony2020-05-23T21:49:26-04:00
17 05, 2020

Sifting Our Personal Sand


A glowing, dark yellow sky, along with a stillness in the eerie calm of recently blowing trees and distant thunder and flashes of light, reminds me of my childhood in Indiana’s Tornado Alley. Warnings were issued today, but thankfully we’re hearing none of those sirens we used to fear as children. We knew if one went off, it was time to take shelter.

Storms come in all forms, and we’ve been living in a storm for around 60 days, a storm that ripped up the green trees of our economy, destroyed everything in its path, and leveled households. There was no warning, and no one before has experienced a storm quite like this, the mother of all storms.

How will we rebuild? How will we survive? We feel helpless.

For each of us, life has brought frightening moments and problems that seemed insurmountable, impossible to get over. Yet we got through them somehow.

A Giant Rock

Much like the frustrated rock climber at the bottom of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, it seems impossible from the bottom, but everything seems much easier once you’re at the top. 

 A mountain cannot be conquered in one leap, unless you have a copter, a parachute, or a jet pack, and climbers know that the climb goes literally one rock at a time to the top. Focusing on the top is less important than focusing on the quality of each individual step. It’s the steps that can bring our downfall.

Footing Is Everything

It will be no different for us. We may not see the instant success we hope for, or the return to normal, but if we pace ourselves and keep our footing, we will accomplish the impossible. We simply have to have faith that we can get through whatever challenge we’re handed.

In a time like this, one wonders where to start. Especially when the old ways no longer work. 


If you’re feeling helpless or alone, that’s a very normal reaction. But surprisingly, you don’t have to go through this alone, even if the responsibility seems to fall on your shoulders. 

Instead of running for the mountain head-on, run in the opposite direction. The further you step back, the more you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll connect with your support team, those who love you the most, to help you make a step-by-step plan. 

Rocket Fuel

The best way to stop feeling alone is to surround yourself with others who believe in you — the people who can help you see the possibilities, and those who can encourage you that any mountain, no matter how hard, can be climbed.

By day two of quarantine, seeing the impact of the virus on my business and my income, I was visibly shaken. 

I was afraid. I was concerned I’d not be able to feed my family or the families of my employees.

Worst Case Scenarios

Knowing my kids were about to graduate high school, my mind raced through scenarios of not being able to send them to college, they’re not having a proper graduation, and they’re having to live their lives like masked bandits. 

Dominating My Thought

Yet after seeking the perspective of friends and family, I realized there was a different narrative than the one dominating my thoughts. Once others pointed out ideas and opportunity, it sparked new life, new confidence, and removed all my worry. It set me on a path, knowing I’d get through it, knowing I’d be stronger on the other side, and believing I was up for the task.

I was no longer being controlled by my fear and self-pity.

Learning to Fly

When I was 19, I learned to fly an airplane. Having grown up with a father who flew, I had heard the stories of the importance of letting go. Your mind is telling you a story that you are flying straight, but your gauges are telling you your speed is increasing, you’re in a spin, and your plane is headed for the ground. Pilots die when they don’t read the gauges and react as they were trained. They die when they allow their emotions to cloud their judgment. They die when they try to correct the plane based on their gut instead of following the checklist.

Spiral Dive to the Death

I recall a story my dad tells of being in a spin toward the ground, the plane shaking, knowing that he was probably in the last two minutes of his life. His controls were not correcting things, but his training kicked in. “Just let go and let the plane correct itself.” It’s not an easy thing to do, but the plane corrected and pulled itself out of the spin, and when he emerged from the clouds, he knew he had been just a couple of hundred feet from slamming into the dirt. His ability to let go saved him. And here he is, with us, with decades of memories, because he made the split-second decision to let go.


There are times in our lives when we need to take control, but there are times when something is so much bigger than us, we have to let go. We have to trust that we’ll be OK. There are things we simply cannot control. We do what we can do, but otherwise, we have to wait for the diving plane to correct itself. 

Trusting isn’t ever easy. Trusting our leaders. Trusting doctors. Trusting media. Trusting different opinions and stories. Trusting data. Trusting governments. Trusting God. 

My Hopeless List

If I’m feeling helpless and out of control, I make a list of everything that is bothering me. Then I go through the list and prioritize them. Which is going to make me feel the best if I can change it? Which thing on the list scares me the most?

After that, I mark the things I can control, the things where I can take some action, and the things I cannot control. Then I take massive, rapid action toward the things I can change, and I have to accept the other things I cannot control and get on my knees for the rest. 

What is bothering you that you can’t control?

What can you control and where can you take action?

Do what you can for the things you can control, and trust the rest, because if you could control it, you would.

Many Versions of One Idea

There is a well-known prayer called the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer was written by American theologian Reingold Niebuhr (1892–1971) in 1932. 

His full original version:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Before Niebuhr, there were others.

Greek philosopher Epictetus (50-135 AD) wrote: 

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions — in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.

The 8th-century Indian Buddhist monk and scholar Shantideva said: 

If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes, 

What reason is there for dejection?

And if there is no help for it,

What use is there in being glum?

The 11th-century Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol wrote: 

At the head of all understanding — is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.

Philosopher W. W. Bartley (1934-1990) made this rhyme:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

And last, in 1801, Friedrich Schiller said, 

Blessed is he, who has learned to bear what he cannot change, and to give up with dignity, what he cannot save.

My best advice for personal peace at this strange time? Let go and trust what you cannot control.

There will be an end, and we will look back on these times in disbelief, and with some fondness, because in spite of the pain and angst, we will have grown, sifted our sand into a more refined form, and will be better off. It’s hard to see it now, but it’s around the corner. 

The sun always sets and always returns. 

Fall always comes, then winter, then spring and summer.

Patience, my friends.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I like the one that says “bear what he cannot change, and to give up with dignity, what he cannot save.”

I’ve been through four recessions in my career. Each was awful, and I did not think I could get through them. The pain of disrupting families and laying them off is beyond horrible. Yet I was left with no alternative and ate from the remaining crumbs after I paid everyone else. One time I cut from 50 people to four and barely survived. And sadly, all the progress I’d made, I had to give up with dignity.

I cannot predict where this will lead me. Though I’ve built what felt like a solid business with lots of pieces, I suspect I’ll have to let go of some of those pieces with dignity. I’ll fight tooth and nail to save every piece and every job, but it depends entirely on things out of my control. I’m controlling what I can. 

I could surely use some help so I can keep people employed, so I ask that you keep me, my team, and my family in your prayers. And if there was something we offer that you were going to someday buy anyway, if you’re in a position, consider doing it now. Even a little subscription can help.

I’ve always resisted using this platform to sell. I often talk about what we’re doing, but I never sell, and I won’t do it now. I will, however, list some of our offerings, and if something feels right, we would appreciate your support. And join me LIVE on Facebook or Instagram (ericrhoads) daily at noon Eastern, and at 3 p.m. Eastern (Streamline Art Video on Facebook or YouTube
) for free video samples throughout the quarantine.

Magazine Subscriptions:

Events (We offer a quarantine money-back guarantee)

Art Instruction Videos and Books

Sifting Our Personal Sand2020-05-16T23:04:44-04:00
10 05, 2020

The Secret Motherhood Club


A pinkish mist fills the sky and the distant mountain is glowing a vibrant purple. The twisty trees with umbrella-like tops are silhouetted against the eerie light, making them feel like a Sydney Long painting; the only things missing are flute-playing nymphs. 

Looming Overhead

No matter how lovely the scene, a giant dark cloud hovers overhead this morning, a cloud that will be here each Mother’s Day forever. This past week was the one-year anniversary of my mother’s graduation to a better place. Though it’s a week we remember her, celebrate her rich life and her new home, the dark cloud of sadness will never completely lift.

Landing on “Go to Heaven”

I like to think of it as a graduation — life provided the lessons needed here to move to the next level. Some learn the lessons at young ages; others, like my mother, absorb them over 93 years. She would have been 94 on April 8. Life, like a big game board, lands us in a better place once we land on the right square.

Unknown Depths

With a year to think about my mom, to relive special memories of our lives together, and as a parent who understands the depth of sacrifice a mother makes — and as a parent who is about to have three little birdies fly from the nest to college, then life — I can appreciate the sadness and the joy, bundled in a single package of polar opposites, of preparing them to leave.

The Secret Code

No matter how much I think I’ve done as a father, no matter how involved I’ve been, no matter how much I’ve contributed to financial support, my role is a fraction of that of a mother. It’s a special club, with a secret code and a level of intuition that is not given to men. (Though clearly there are men who have to assume that role, and who do so with great dedication.)

Guess How Many

During our first ultrasound, where we saw four babies for the first time (the doctor said the fourth was tiny and would “dissipate”), my wife wondered how she could possibly handle triplets. Yet, in hindsight, she was highly prepared and selected for this role because of it. She had the strength, the guts, the persistence, the organizational skills, and the resolve to pull it off, a task few others could have done so beautifully. 

Little Worms

Not only have these kids been raised with grace and beauty, their tiny beaks have been fed little worms of wisdom to prepare them for the day they fly. Like a fry cook in a busy diner, juggling hundreds of orders a day, it has been intense, a bit hectic at moments, but in the end, everyone got the lessons they needed.

Superhuman Ability

Raising triplets (or more) may be difficult, yet all moms have a task that is beyond anything most men can comprehend. No matter how good we are, moms really do have eyes in the back of their heads and extra arms behind their back. Somehow they can be in 60 places at one time. In fact, science has proven that women have 10 times more neural connectors in their brains, giving them that special intuition. Sorry, men, we can never catch up; they are always a hundred steps ahead of us while we’re still trying to figure out how to do one single thing.


I tried for a moment to think of all the lessons I’ve learned from my mother, but it was an impossible task. They were implanted in me so deeply — like a hard drive was plugged in and downloaded. That’s the gift of motherhood: the download. The moment-by-moment repetition of a thousand different things. It may feel like nagging at times to those who don’t seem to be getting the lessons, but in fact, it’s simply part of the process of imprinting instructions for survival.

Imprinted Deeply

When we’re in the midst of the daily battle to keep them fed, dressed, and learning their lessons, I know many moms who eagerly (yet still reluctantly) look forward to the day they and their children gain their independence. But the role of a mom never stops. And I’ve realized in this past year that my own mom’s role has continued even beyond her death. Just yesterday I spelled out “MISS-I-SS-I-PPI,” and flashed back to the kitchen table where my mom was teaching me how to remember the word. Her encouragement, her big smile, and the moments of every possible lesson flash back to me. Her imprint is here forever. Though she is physically gone, her spirit and her lessons live on.

There Is No Equal

As a husband or as a father, there is no way I can fathom the depth of a mother’s role or her impact. I’ll never be a member of that secret club, will never learn the secret handshake, never know the special code to enter the club. And, like having a secret society keeping things quietly “handled” in the background, I’m OK with that. I’m thankful it exists because I know no matter how good I am, I can never equal the abilities of a mother.


Each of us is in a different place this morning. For me, it’s looking back on the memory of my mom. For some, mom has been gone for decades. For others, she is still with you. In all cases, all she wants is a little acknowledgment, a little appreciation. 

As kids, we cannot understand and appreciate the depth of a mother. As adults, we understand it more fully, but it’s not till they are gone that we wish we could have just one more of those warm hugs and loving looks.

If you’ve still got your mom, give her time and attention like it’s the last time you’ll ever see her, because one day, it will be. 

Eric Rhoads

PS: I started writing Sunday Coffee a couple of years ago as a tool to impart life lessons to my kids, who will be leaving the nest soon. It spread after I sent a copy to a friend, who suggested others might also benefit. If you think someone will benefit or enjoy it, pass it on. If you’ve received it from a friend, you can get it in your e-mail inbox weekly by signing up at www.coffeewitheric.com. It’s my gift to you.

Sometimes you’ll see a reference to art, artists, or radio. I make my living as the founder of a little company that produces magazines for the radio and the art industries. You can see everything we do in art by clicking here, or you can go to EricRhoads.com

During the quarantine, I’ve been on Facebook (Streamline Art Video) live every day at noon ET to offer encouragement, ideas, and things to keep you growing, entertained, and learning something new. Those updates will continue until the quarantine has been lifted across most of America. (To receive them, click this link and hit subscribe.)

Also, each day at 3 p.m. ET, I’m offering segments of the over 400 art instruction videos we’ve produced. We’ve had over 2 million views. If you love art, want to know how art is made, or know someone who might enjoy it, forward this to them. To gain access to these each day at 3 p.m. ET (during quarantine) go to Facebook, search Streamline Art Video, and hit subscribe (or use this link), or do the same on YouTube (this link). If you’d like to see all the ones we’ve done, you can find them here.

I have a goal of teaching 1 million people to paint, because painting deepens your appreciation for life and beauty. I have free lessons for beginners; just go to www.paintbynote.com and get the free guidebook (which has eight free lessons).

The Secret Motherhood Club2020-05-08T16:39:16-04:00
3 05, 2020

When Sparks Fly


Bright green backlit leaves are glowing high in the sky as the warm sun filters through them and projects little leaf-shaped shadows on the spring grass. As I breathe deeply, the scent of wildflowers and roses reminds me of my grandmother’s garden. The day is perfect for all my senses. Even Mozart would be inspired by the songbirds singing from every direction. Though the old night owl is safely in his “owl box” atop one of our trees, his occasional question interrupts the songbird symphony as if to say, “Who, who is making all that noise while I’m trying to sleep?”


Last night the warm spring weather inspired me to fire up the grill. I walk across the deck with the lighter in hand, turn on the gas on the grill and click the lighter, sparking a small flame. Suddenly, “Whoosh!” The sound of the gas igniting fills my ears.

Small Spark, Big Result

No matter the size of the container … a small grill, or a gas-filled building … it takes only one small spark to set it off. Our cars operate only because of a small spark in the cylinder. But what do sparks have to do with our lives, our careers?

We are surrounded by sparks.

You Wanna Be a Star, Kid?

As a young boy of 14, I visited my first radio station to watch my friend Charlie Willer do his radio show. I was hooked, and his encouragement and the spark from that day resulted in a 50-year career in and around the radio industry. 

A Giant Painting

Seeing a painting of pirates sword fighting when I was 12 and on a family vacation was a spark that created a lifetime interest in art, and at age 40, the spark of an art lesson as a birthday gift set me on the path to becoming an artist. That spark resulted in my career in the art world. 

We never know when sparks will fly and ignite a new passion, which is why it’s so important to try new things, read everything we can get our hands on, and visit places NOT on our radar, to spark curiosity. 

It’s also important to be a spark, to help others find and ignite their passion.

Not only can we ignite others or be ignited, we can often seek sparks. My dad always tells me, “Son, you can change everything about your life or your business in just 90 days. You can go from being broke to rich, go from unsuccessful to successful. All it usually takes is one small change.” 

Comfort Is the Enemy

All too often we get stuck and set in our ways, and we end up repeating Groundhog Day over and over, never seeing ways to change things up to keep them interesting, or to make what we have to offer ourselves more appealing. Yet listening to others may give you the one small spark you need. It usually takes removing yourself from your comfort zone, yet it can be so invigorating to try something new.

Think Big

My friend and mentor Jay Abraham was talking one day and I asked his advice on how I can teach a million people to paint, my biggest goal. He told me that the best way to get big fast was to get on national TV with a show (more about that later). He suggested that a TV show could be the spark to reach millions and hit the goal fast. 

Where do you need a spark?

Where can you be a spark?

Gas On

The longer I’m alive, the more I understand that the best things that happened in my life and my career came from accidental sparks I never would have followed on my own. But I also discovered that to ignite at the very second the spark hits, the gas has got to be on. You have to be constantly on the lookout for sparks, and when you feel them, they won’t ignite without your instant pursuit. 

Create Your Spark

And, though accidental sparks will happen through random moments, the longer you’re around, the more established you become, the more it’s critical to create your own sparks. I have to help those on my team find their sparks, I have to push and pull to get people out of their comfort zone to move to a higher level, or else we’ll never do anything new. And I have to get others to step up and offer ideas, and be willing to listen to them. It’s not easy.

What have been the sparks in your life that were accidental but ignited your passion?

In what ways can you ignite a spark in others?

Listen, be aware, and know sparks are always flying, but often go unnoticed. If you’re on the lookout for them, you can change anything in your life, your work, your family, your business, in just an instant.

In an Instant

I received a lovely e-mail from an artist friend this week who said this … “I was stuck … I was one of those people that could do anything well I set my mind to, yet I tamped down my potential with alcohol and fear of success.  Eleven years ago, I said no more. I stopped self-destructing … simply made up my mind and never looked back. I shifted my own paradigm. It was then that I decided I was going to not talk about chasing a dream, but I was going to LIVE the dream of moving through the rest of my life as an artist.  Embrace the hard years of choosing between electricity or food or gas and strive and improve until I could find the other side. What I learned was that the moment I made the decision internally, with no room for inner argument, I became.”

The magic of a spark is that the moment it ignites your passion, you become. It takes a split second.

The split second I was exposed to radio by my friend, I became radio. The split second I was really exposed to painting, I became an artist. Though there were a long and often painful few years to follow, passion overcomes pain because your head has moved to a new place.

Seek to spark and be a spark.

Blessings and Lessons

We’re in a new normal. There have been blessings and lessons learned from these strange times. We might look at the sparks that happened to us over the past few weeks and ask which ones we no longer want to ignite, and which ones we need to pursue and change. 

I’ve had over 2 million views of our samples of art instruction videos over the past few weeks, and an average of 59,000 viewers per video. It has sparked a new path for us, all because we were trying to be a spark to entertain, educate, and inspire others during this pandemic. It will change everything.


I’ve learned I don’t want to return to the adrenaline-driven life of being so busy, spending life on a plane, and being separated from my family.  I want to be home more, I want to have more time, and to not always be doing something to keep me busy, and I want to learn new and interesting things. So I’ll be shedding some of my skin for a new, reinvented me.

What about you?
What lessons, what new normal, will come out of this for you?

What has sparked you?

Eric Rhoads

PS: My initiative to teach a million people to paint is driving me to do a national TV show on a very large TV network. The topic is a plein air painting reality show called The Great Outdoor Painting Challenge. It will reach over 20 million people per episode. I hope it will teach millions to paint or challenge them to explore painting. I’m in the funding process now (seeking big donors) and hope to have it on the air in about a year.

Last week I listed all the things we’re doing, all the videos created. I’m reposting that updated list here so you too can find something to spark you.

When Sparks Fly2020-05-02T22:28:59-04:00