24 01, 2021

How, Exactly, Do You See Yourself?


Tiny little bright green buds are peeking their heads out on the bare branches of the giant trees around me, trying to find out if it’s safe to come out for an early spring — mild temperatures are signaling the beginning of spring here in Texas. The old screen door makes a creaky sound amplified by rusty springs, the door slams behind me, and I’m finally back on the long porch that goes the distance of this old Texas farmhouse. Sadly, my neighbor moved and took his cattle, but the view is pretty terrific just the same. 

Spring in the Air

Growing up in the Midwest with cold, snowy winters, spring was always a welcome sight. Spring fever would have us out without coats on a sunny day, even though it was still 30 degrees. We simply could not wait for the arrival of spring. And, like the feeling of a first love, spring is about seeing things through fresh eyes and having something new to look forward to. And about the time we get used to it, we’re looking forward to summer, then fall, and even winter. We’re a fickle bunch, we humans.

When we lived in Florida, we could still get a sense of the seasons because some months were hotter or cooler or rainier, but for the most part we missed the seasons, and would often try to visit other places where we could experience them more deeply.

Seasons of Life

I’m amazed at the perfection of life as it compares to seasons, though we really never know if we’re going to be one of the trees that turns red early or one that stays more colorful while the other trees are bare. Each season is a blessing, and, like the seasons of nature, we need to look forward to and embrace each season of our lives, because each brings new experiences worth embracing. And just like the mud in spring thaw or early swarms of summer mosquitoes, there are parts of a season that may not be to our liking, but challenges always come with the good.

I once met a doctor at a cocktail party who specializes in severe, life-altering diseases. I’ve never forgotten what he told me. “The minute I tell a patient of their cancer, I can pretty much tell if they have a chance of survival by how they react. Though no one ever welcomes the news, if they are challenged and tell themselves they intend to beat it, they have a chance. But the ones who absorb it and look at it as if life is over — they rarely survive.” He told me people who changed their attitude after a few days of processing the bad news usually made it through.

How Do YOU See You?

From time to time someone will ask me for advice about life or business or success, and I always start the discussion with the critical importance of what we place in our minds. Science even supports it. How we see ourselves impacts how our life turns out. If we blame others, if things are always someone else’s fault, things never seem to go as well. If, however, we accept responsibility for how things go, and we align our attitude to our desires, they’ll go much better.

How you see yourself matters most. Experts tell me you need to actually see yourself in the exact role you want to be in. Instead of “I’m gonna” it should be “I am.” After a lifetime of daydreaming, the things I dreamed came true. The things I was a little unsure about did not.

Labels and Boxes

Our society hands us labels and boxes. Earlier today I read a story where the headline said “Elderly Woman” …  and when I read the story, the woman was 50. Clearly the story was written by someone very young. I for one look back on 50 and remember how young I was. And I don’t look at myself as old. In fact, I scold friends who use those terms because I believe they trigger something in your head to make your life start to wind down.

My dad, who turned 94 on Inauguration Day, sometimes scolds me for mentioning his age because to him, age is not relevant. I can remember that when he turned 70, I thought he was old, and silly for starting a new business when everyone else was retired. But alas, when I called him for his birthday, he was talking about yet another business he was going to work on for the next 20-plus years. And, mark my words, he will do it. By the way, he started something new about 10 years ago, works 15-hour days, and it’s thriving. 

Good Genes?

You may say he is lucky to have good genes, but I guess that doesn’t explain other family members with the same or similar genes who checked out early. Maybe luck plays a role, but I suspect it’s the brain that makes that luck happen. A friend told us at 55 that he was preparing for death and winding down because he was getting old. My prediction that he would be dead in five years came true. 

I’ve mentioned this before, but my acquaintance John Kluge, who was at one time the richest man in the world, told me he did not really start making his success till he was over 70. “My friends all gave up and retired. I kept pitching and became a billionaire.”

A Year to Live

Clearly there are circumstances beyond our control. There can be bad luck, but how you play the cards you are dealt matters. My friend Glen tells me his wife was given a year to live and he was determined to help her beat that, so he quit his job, became a student of healing, and she is alive and healthy 16 years later. He refused to accept the status quo. He refused to accept what they were told. He sought and found alternatives.

You can be young and in spring and tell yourself you’re too old to do something, or you can be in winter and tell yourself you’ve got decades left. And, if you manage your thinking, accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives, you can make it happen.

Remember, whatever you think … you’re right.

Where is your head?

What lies are you buying that don’t have to be true?

What are you telling yourself is about to happen?

What are you telling yourself that will happen?

If we were taught how to push out the negatives, focus on the positives, and see ourselves in the places we want to be, our world would be a different place.

You and I can’t change the minds of others, we can only change our own minds. And perhaps, when others see what’s possible, they too will change. 

It starts with you.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Next week is a big one! We are conducting the world’s largest art conference, called Watercolor Live. Join us, it’s a lot of fun. We have over 38 countries attending and at this point almost 1,700 people. We even have a Beginner’s Day. Check it out at WatercolorLive.com. (Price increase is tonight at midnight. You can save $300.)
How, Exactly, Do You See Yourself?2021-01-22T16:00:02-05:00
17 01, 2021

Suspending Belief


A blanket of quiet has covered the sky, which is dropping flakes of white powder softly on the ground. The branches are sagging with the extra weight, and the creaking tree limbs are decorated in white lace. Our yard has become a magical winter wonderland.

Last Sunday was such a day, when this normally temperate part of Texas was coated in snow. Soon after I wrote to you, we started out with rain, which was quickly transformed to little balls of sleet, and then the sky opened up with sheets of snow. Three inches rapidly accumulated, and I did what any self-respecting child would do. I started a snowball fight with the kids upon arrival at the church parking lot, and when I got home, I went painting in the snow. How fun!!

When it snows here, once every two or three years, it takes us by surprise. It’s simply something we don’t expect. Writers often talk about “suspending disbelief” when watching or reading a work of fiction. But sometimes we have to suspend what we’ve believed and accept what is. 

Life can be filled with moments of suspended belief.

Words I Did Not Expect

As a child, I never heard my parents swear. And if someone would have told me they sometimes did, I would never have believed them. It was something we did not do. Yet one day, when I was about 13, we were on our little boat docked at Lake Erie. My dad was on the floor with the engine all torn apart, trying to get it to work again. Suddenly, I see him struggling with getting a nut off, trying to turn the wrench with all his weight behind it. Crack! The wrench slipped, pinched his fingers, and he shouted “Dammit!”

I was mortified. 

I had heard other kids say their parents swore, but mine never did, and I had just witnessed it. I did not know how to handle it. I can remember being very uncomfortable. I never said a word to anyone about it, as if I was holding a big dirty secret. And for the record, I don’t think I ever heard him swear again. Ever. All I could do was accept what I did not want to believe. 

There’s a Name for It

The term is “cognitive dissonance” — when we hold one belief and suddenly have evidence that our belief was wrong. It’s a conflict between what we hold on to and what we now know. And people often try to minimize those feelings of conflict, refusing to recognize them and even avoiding new information. In my case, I was embarrassed, ashamed, and feeling a little guilty.

Have you ever experienced it?

Jolted in Disbelief

One time I was sitting in my office when my trusted colleague, who ran accounting, came in and sat down. “I need to talk to you,” he said. He went on to tell me that in his former job, he did something he thought was legal that turned out not to be. He told me he was giving his two-week notice because he was heading to prison for a year. 

At that moment, my beliefs were suspended. I had known this guy for a couple of years. He was straight as an arrow, a nice man, and totally trustworthy. He was an integral part of my team. Suddenly, I had to deal with what he told me, and I could not believe it. Of all things, the man running my accounting was going to jail for something he did at another company. How could it be? Did he steal from me? How could I be so blind? At first I thought it was a prank. I really struggled with it and felt betrayed and confused.

Have you ever thought one thing about a person, only to find out something unbelievable?

Beyond Belief

When living in Salt Lake, our offices shared the floor with two other businesses and we got very acquainted with our neighbors. One day the police came in and dragged one of our neighbors out. This nice, quiet, friendly guy, it turns out, had been kidnapping and killing children and burying them in his yard. We were all horrified because our own kids had been around from time to time. He was one of the people we said hello to every day. He came to our parties. Again, I had to suspend my own beliefs. I was sure the police had to be wrong, and the court would find out it was someone else. But the evidence was strong, and he was convicted.

Letting Go

One of the most difficult things any of us can face is needing to let go of our beliefs when they are no longer right. Human nature is to hold on to and defend them, and when someone brings us absolute proof that we were wrong, we often continue to fight for what we believe, or, at least, we struggle with accepting the change. We want proof. And when we see proof we were wrong, we are often skeptical (which is generally a good thing). Maybe we think someone made it up, edited it, Photoshopped it, etc.

Suspending belief is like a roller coaster ride. It can be difficult, or it can be a fun show to watch and experience and one of the best parts about our personal growth. 

Life has been filled with surprises where I’ve had to adjust my belief systems. People were often not what or who they said they were. Technology that wasn’t possible became possible. People I believed to be solid turned out to be disturbing. 

Getting Uncomfortable

If you ever want to have an uncomfortable day, write down everything you believe and don’t believe in your life. What you believe about the people you believe in. And don’t forget the people or things you don’t believe in.

Then ask yourself, in each case, why you believe what you do. “What was my original source? Is my belief still valid?” (Something like a simple online search might reveal new science.)

It’s also good to ask yourself, “Do I believe it because I want it to be true?

Chicken or Egg

For me, eggs are a great example. I don’t eat them, because my lifelong belief is that they are filled with fat and cholesterol. But that has been disproven. Turns out eggs are a good fat we need, and though they do have cholesterol, it’s not dangerous in moderation. Yet I still tend to cling to that past belief because I held it so long. It’s intellectually foolish but emotionally comforting.


Just because you think something is true isn’t evidence enough. Maybe it even used to be true, but no longer is. Maybe the voices we’ve trusted to tell us the truth (teachers, preachers, parents, friends, books, TV, radio, social media, celebrities) just keep saying things, either because they still believe them and never bothered to find out for themselves, or they are holding on to old information that has changed.

Thinking Ahead

Five years ago my dad said to me, “What would happen if you could never hold any in-person events again? Could your business withstand it?” I told him that could never happen. Yet with COVID, it did. I had to suspend my beliefs and adopt new ones to survive.

What about you? What are you believing? 

Are your beliefs serving you, or would different beliefs serve you better?

How have 2020 and early 2021 changed your beliefs?

What are you clinging to because you want to believe it?

What do you believe that is no longer true?

Try, if you can, to suspend your beliefs about everything. 

Don’t accept the word of anyone else. Question every expert.

And if you find you’ve been believing something that is wrong, don’t beat up on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.

Find out for yourself. Be curious. It will serve you well.

Eric Rhoads

PS: As strange as this may sound, I was never a big believer in watercolor. I suppose because it’s something we all did when we were kids. But then I saw the watercolor work of John Singer Sargent, I had to suspend my beliefs. In the past few years, I’ve been taking some watercolors with me in my carry-on bag so I can paint on business trips if I have time to kill. But, I’ve failed miserably. I was believing I simply could not do it.
But, once I started putting together our virtual watercolor conference, Watercolor Live, I’ve committed to getting good for those times when watercolor is my best option. I’m excited because, for the first time in history, we’ve put the world’s finest on our virtual stage to teach. It’s pretty special and I’m excited.
If you want to try watercolor, we have a beginners’ day. Or you can stay for all four days. And if you don’t love it by the end of your first day, you can get a full refund. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If you sign up this week before Inauguration Day, you can save $300. Visit WatercolorLive.com.
Suspending Belief2021-01-15T16:24:29-05:00
10 01, 2021

The Storm Is Upon Us


The house is rattling as though bombs were going off nearby. Flashes of light are frequent and get more in sync with the thunder as the storm closes in. Pellets fall upon the tin roof above the old porch, making a deafening sound, and water streams everywhere around me except for this one dry spot.

Lightning Strikes

When I was about 8, I visited Tennessee with my grandparents, and we were at Aunt Maxine’s farmhouse. Staring out the window at a storm, I heard a loud CRACK that shook the ground, and I could not believe my wide eyes. The thick old oak in front of the house was instantly split in half, just a few feet from my window. For perhaps the first time, I had a realization of the power of storms, and just how fleeting life can be.

Tornado Alley

I can remember being afraid of storms as a child. Growing up in Indiana, tornadoes were a fact of life, and their devastation was beyond anything I could fully comprehend. As a child I was a worrier; I had ulcers because I worried so much, and I was totally afraid I was going to be a tornado magnet. Every time I’d hear the alerts on WOWO radio, we would all go to a corner of the house, or in later days to the basement, awaiting our destruction. It was frightening. 

Then one day, for some reason, as clarity came, I realized just how silly my fear of storms was. I had moved out of the tornado zone, and though I was not going to walk in the wide-open spaces waiting for lightning to hit, in one moment in time, my perspective switched and my fear went away.

Today, sitting here in the midst of a fierce storm, I have the strength and perspective to respect it but not fear it. Instead of fear, I am comforted by the loud rumbling of thunder, and I am encouraged by the nourishment the buckets of rain bring. And often storms blow away the pollen and bring cleaner air.

Once my fear went away, I could enjoy the show.

Storms Serve a Great Purpose

I’ve found that in life, and in business, there is a need for storms. I learned a good lesson a couple of decades ago. In the radio industry, a new leader came into an organization that promotes radio. Though I liked him very much, and got to be friends with him, others thought he was brash, somewhat arrogant and obnoxious, and a little harsh.

Because I was always writing about people like him for my radio magazine, I asked him about it. His reply made me realize his true importance and his perspective.

Straight Shooter

He told me he made his living as a hired gun. He was hired by the board to clean up a mess that had been built up over decades of management problems. The organization had become filled with people who expected to be paid yet did little. There were too many staff members for the mission of the organization, and there was a lot of legacy of “the way we do things around here” and not a lot of innovation. The organization was fat, tired, lazy, and set in its ways. His job, he told me, was to clean things up.


At first, I could not understand why they hired this guy. He was a bit of an embarrassment to the organization when he spoke at conferences and events. He did not have the gentle, presidential feel other leaders had had. Instead he was brash, loud, and boisterous.

Saving the Day

But the role he played saved the organization. Once he had done his job, he moved on. He told me, “I’m here to do one thing. I have no intention to stay on to operate things. Once I’ve got things cleaned up and I do all the unpopular things no one else wants to do, once I have the team rebuilt and the money under control, I’ll be gone.”

And that is exactly what happened. It took him several years to get things under control, get rid of the deadwood and hire stronger and better people, and get things back to normal. He was the storm.

Storms Are Everywhere

Over my career I’ve seen storms come into companies, into churches, into politics and other organizations. Their role is to clean things up and get things under control, and do a great reset.

How Storms Work

Cleanup people start with a learning period. They come in to get to know the people, to know the organization, and to understand things in depth. That takes time. Then, in spite of the friendships they’ve made, they start trimming trees and removing the dead wood. Firings occur, and retirements are implemented. Then these people move into a reinvention phase. They start to train those who are keepable and willing to learn and grow, and they bring new people in. They clean up the books, stop the reckless spending, and refocus the organization on its core mission. And once everything is under control and proven to be operating well, the storm clears out, the air is fresh and clean, there’s no more thunder, and the sun returns.

An Insider’s Perspective

Had I not gotten to know this guy, I’d not have understood the storm in advance. I had no idea how screwed up things were. I only knew how things appeared from the outside. Once I understood, it made perfect sense. There are people to this day who think this man was a loud, obnoxious, clumsy hack, never seeing that he saved the organization and its future.

That’s why I’m always talking about being willing to embrace adversity — because there is always a silver lining to every storm. 

Storms come into our lives in many ways. Sometimes there are phases in our lives where we have to become our own storm. Sometimes others can’t do it for us, but we can. 

Cleaning House

I can recall moments in my life where things were not going as well as I hoped. I had friends who were not good for me, who did things that were not up to my standards of ethics, yet I continued to hang out with them because they were friends. But there came a point when I realized (with the help of my wife in many cases) that these were people who did not contribute to my life. Instead, like branches that needed to be pruned, they took too much energy. They were not healthy relationships.

Not “You’re Fired”

Did I pick up the phone and say, “You’re out of my life”? No, I’d never be that unkind. I simply called less and less and then we grew apart and I disappeared. Though I was drawn to them, maybe because it was exciting or because they did things I would never do, I came to a point where I knew they were not good for me. And though I loved them, I knew if I kept talking to them or spending time with them, it would continue to be toxic. So I just had to go cold turkey and discontinue.

Do you need storms in your life?

Do you see the need for storms in your family, in your work or business, or in your community?

Are there storm-makers you’ve seen, and you never before understood that their purpose was to blow out the dead wood and do a reset?

As a child afraid of storms, I did not have the balance to understand just how important storms are to the earth. Once I flipped the switch in my mind and embraced storms instead of fearing them, I started to enjoy them.

What switches do you need to flip?

What things frighten or bother you?

What would happen if you changed your perspective and tried to imagine why storms could be good for you?

Being human, I tend to cling to my old ways. I’m stubborn, and I often don’t see how changing my perspective is not giving up my identity. Yet flipping the switch to see things differently always serves me well, and takes away the fear. 

The Switch Is On

There are times when I can’t flip a switch, when I can’t seem to find another perspective, when things look dark and frightening, and in those cases I simply have to tell myself that God is in control. What’s the worst that can happen then? It seems to make everything better.

2020 was a storm. It blew through and changed everything. Your world changed. Your circumstances and possibly your income changed. It was hugely frightening. Yet, in many ways, it made our lives better. There may be some more storms in 2021, but soon, it will have blown through, and the light will emerge from the dark and ominous clouds. 

Have faith. Embrace storms.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Without the storm of COVID and needing to survive, I never would have come up with my daily broadcasts at noon and 3 p.m. Eastern. We’ve been at it nonstop since March, and as of Friday, celebrating 289 days. (I’m on every weekday at noon Eastern and can be found on Facebook and YouTube (@StreamlineArtVideo) with rebroadcasts on other platforms. And at 3 p.m. daily, seven days a week, we’re putting up one-hour segments of the art instruction videos we’ve released over the past three decades. Join us.

Had it not been for the COVID storm, we would never have created our live online teaching events like Watercolor Live, which is coming up in late January. It’s four days of the world’s leading watercolor artists teaching and a chance to learn from the best. We have a Beginner’s Day if you’re new, and three more days of the best in the world teaching online. The price goes up January 20. You can learn more at www.watercolorlive.com.

The Storm Is Upon Us2021-01-07T10:25:09-05:00
3 01, 2021

How to Get Through Life with Joy


There is magic in mornings like this. The house is still and quiet as I walk barefooted on the old wooden floors to the porch that surrounds this Texas ranch house. The sky right before sunrise is misty, and filled with pastel-colored light. Soft purples and blues can be seen in the distant hills, which have lost all detail as they stand silhouetted against the pink and yellow sky. Moments later, the top of the mountain is a glowing yellow, and gradually, the entire mountain is engulfed in light. I love the moment where the light meets the shadow and the tip of the mountain glows, creating a middle color between the bright sky and the dark shadow. To me, as a painter, it’s one of the hardest things to capture, but so pleasing when I get it right.

Dreams and Ideas

Though I cannot tell you the cause exactly, vivid dreams have been filling my head since the week of Christmas to today. Each day I awaken energized with new ideas, new concepts, and new ways to change the world … or at least my little world. I’m recalling experiences with others that never occurred, and recognizing the people in my dreams. And when I awaken, I have a sense of clarity, a new hope, so much so that I’m more enthusiastic about my days than I can remember. There is no better feeling.

Wondering Why

Nothing has changed in my diet or my regimen of vitamins and supplements, though I suspect my recent increased level of exercise has something to do with it. I had been going to the gym daily, five days a week, but that stopped with COVID quarantines. As I gained my “COVID 10,” it was clear I needed to take action, but unfortunately, a gym environment wasn’t making me feel secure. So I splurged for a machine, which so far is getting almost daily use. I’m hopeful it won’t become a coat rack like others in the past.

Letting Go

Though I believe the exercise contributes, I think it’s the peace of mind that everything is going to be OK. In spite of the turmoil, the news, the insanity of 2020 and all that has come with it — including a clear understanding that no one source can be relied upon for accurate information, and that will create confusion — it ultimately comes down to one thing. God is in control. There is that old saying, “Let go and let God.” I think I finally got there. There is something very freeing about letting go and holding perfect balance.

A Clean Slate

After a couple of days of celebration, the whiteboard of 2020 has been wiped clean. Standing before us is an empty slate, and we have the gift of a new year, knowing that we get to start over. I’m going to draw a big smiley face on the board, based on my expectations.

Hippies Everywhere

As a child of the ’60s, I can remember when the smiley face came out. It was everywhere — on stickers, on patches, on black light posters with psychedelic fluorescent colors. I wore an old army jacket with a giant smiley face patch on the back, about the size of a dinner plate. Unlike so many of my friends who were protesting everything, like the Vietnam War and other social issues (which I too felt were problems, though I think I was too young to understand just how much), I was making a statement, and it was, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Overwhelming Moments

Like most, I’ve had moments in my life where things seemed pretty overwhelming —

moments of depression over lost loves, lost businesses, and sad situations. Yet that patch on my back has always been there, long after the old army jacket was lost. And this idea of trusting that everything is going to be OK, that there is a silver lining to all those dark clouds, and of seeking the good in the midst of all evil has worked. It’s like the line from some past presidential speech about the shining city on a hill. Darkness may be consuming, but as long as there is a light of hope, that light will always prevail.

I’ve spent a good bit of my life being criticized for that patch on my back. And it’s hard to explain why hope prevails in certain dire situations when others are hurting. But I know we all need the hope that that light, that smiley face, will return. 

Maybe I’m a little too glib for some. Frankly, it just makes some people mad. There are people who, like me, have decided to wear a patch on their back, but instead of seeking light, they are seeking darkness. I don’t think it’s intentional; it just happens to them. Or so they would say.

Rose-Colored Glasses

If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that we have a choice on the processing we use, the filter through which we look. You and I cannot control the horrific things that get laid upon our shoulders, often so heavy a burden that it feels like it’s going to crush us. I’ve had so many of those moments when I felt there was no way out, and many times it consumed me. Yet I would always somehow find that one tiny spot of light, and soon it would get bigger and bigger. I think the difference is that I’m looking for it.

A Mentor Walking with You

I read something in a book called Jesus Calling, which is a daily devotional Laurie reads out loud most mornings. It says that problems are there to teach us important lessons, like a mentor who walks side by side with us through life. And that as soon as we stop looking at problems as problems and look at them as lessons, that mentor can walk peacefully with us through our lives, and those problems won’t drag us down.  

Knowing that problems are lessons we can embrace somehow makes them easier to bear. And when I’m looking through problems, I’m seeking the light. What am I supposed to learn from this? 

This all boils down to the lens, the filter, the attitude we select. You can reach up to the shelf and grab a dark filter or a light filter. 

Which will you choose for 2021?

We are a country that has been divided. There are those who are wondering why we’re having the outcomes we’re having. Why would God let this happen? Why can’t I get my way? I wonder the same things, and often allow myself to get worked up and manipulated by the news. But once I let go, understand that there is a reason I may not understand, and seek the light, I am given peace to trust the plan.

What about you? Can you trust the plan?

What is the symbol you’ll wear on your jacket? You have a choice.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I don’t ask much, but there is someone in your life who needs to read this. Pass it on.

Briefly, I want to tell you something that made a change in my heart. A brief story. I was a pretty hard-driving business guy, pushing for meaning through my business, trying hard to make money. But, for some reason I cannot explain, it never was a suit that fully fit. Something was missing.

When I was about 39, I wandered into an art store while waiting for my wife to complete an appointment. Remembering fun at the table with my mom growing up, painting side by side, I walked out with a bag of art supplies and a little tabletop easel. 

I came home and set up a studio in a little space at the very top of the stairs, and I tried to copy photographs. But it was not going well. I could not get the globby paint to perform, and I was unable to make what was in my head show up on the canvas. I tried for weeks, but nothing was working. So I did what any self-respecting person does when they hit the wall of frustration in art.

I told myself I did not have any talent. And I gave up. I put everything in a box in the closet and resigned myself to the fact that I did not get the gene for painting.

Soon thereafter, on my 40th, Laurie bought me an art lesson at the Armory in West Palm Beach. I showed up all enthusiastic, but when I got in the class, the instructor told me to express myself and throw the paint on the canvas. My heart wasn’t in it, so I told him I wanted to learn how to paint real things, like flowers or a bottle, a face, or people (I didn’t even know the terms for still life or portrait).

He discouraged me, saying, “No one does that anymore. That’s old school.” 

Heartbroken, I tried to like what he was teaching, but after three Saturdays, I gave up again.

Soon after, I was in Miami visiting a friend. We had been to lunch in his car. He dropped me at my own car and took off. When I reached in my pocket for my keys, I realized they had fallen out in his car. I couldn’t reach him, and I didn’t think to call a locksmith, so I called a cab. This turned out to be the cab ride that changed my life forever.

With an hour and a half drive, I struck up a conversation with the driver, who turned out to be an artist supplementing his income. I told him my story, and he told me about a fellow in West Palm Beach, at the same art center, who taught classical painting. He was in the lineage of the Old Masters (he’d studied with people who studied with people, all the way back to the masters).

It took me a year to get up the courage to visit, because I had that thought rattling around in my head: that I lacked talent.

The day I arrived, I sat in the car in the parking lot for a while. I got in and out of the car. Should I go in or not? My palms were sweating. But finally, I went in.

As I entered, I could see several people painting, and their paintings, all copies of Old Masters, were way beyond anything I could see myself doing. So I did an about face and started to leave.

Thankfully this little man, Jack Jackson, called me back and asked if he could help me. Little did I know he was an angel sent from God to change my life that day.

I told him my story, and he told me I could do it, no talent required, because he taught a system. “If you can type,” he said, “you can do this.” It didn’t even require drawing skill (though it’s a good idea to learn it, he said). 

He said to give him 18 months and I could be doing work like the paintings I saw. Then he pulled me in and gave me a small project that taught me something right away. I worked on that project for a couple of hours while listening to him with the others. Then I came back again and again, and soon, I was painting at the level of the others. It did not even take 18 months.

One day, after a year or more, I was on a business trip and visited the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, a museum at the top of the hill by the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s where I saw my first Bouguereau painting. I stood in front of it and could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It was the first time I teared up over a painting, but it was because the artist had accomplished such mastery. I teared up because I now understood what he must have gone through to reach such a high level. I can remember seeing the veins under the skin, strands of hair, and toenails that looked perfectly real.

At that moment I declared that I was going to spend the rest of my life in art. 

I did not know what I was going to do, or how, but it was because of Jack Jackson and how he opened my eyes.

That was over 20 years ago. Since then I’ve been driven to help others who, just like me, believed they could not do it because they had self-doubt and the belief that talent was required.

A couple of years ago I set a goal of teaching a million people to paint. My belief is that learning art changes your heart. I thought this would be the best way I could make an impact on the world. There are not many unhappy painters. And though there is constant frustration because we all want faster growth to the next level, we’re having fun and growing while doing it.

Since that “Bouguereau moment,” my life has been mostly devoted to art. We’ve reached a lot of people, taught tens of thousands of people to paint, and given encouragement to thousands more.

I want you to know I believe in you, and I believe you can do it, even though you don’t believe you can. I guarantee you can become an artist who is accomplished enough to be happy with your artwork. 

I know this is hard for you to believe. I was that way, the guy who could not draw a stick figure. Yet today, I’m in three galleries. Am I the best painter in the world? Far from it. But I’m living a dream, and you can too. It can be a dream of painting for pleasure, or taking it further to income. We teach it all.

Where do you start? 

I’d start at PaintByNote.com. I decided that painting is like music. If you can learn a few music notes, you can play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Chopsticks.” Then, those same notes eventually lead you to Beethoven. A few simple notes, ranging from black to white, can teach you. It’s the system my mentor taught me, and it will help you learn painting foundations before you ever try color. And if you follow it, you can do it without learning to draw (which you eventually will want to do). There is a guidebook with free lessons in it, and if you want, there are some other things you could buy, but you don’t need to. 

The key to learning is just jumping in and putting your negative filters aside.

Next I want to tell you we have a watercolor event online later this month. Already over 1,300 people from around the world are coming. It’s inexpensive and has the world’s best watercolor artists teaching, and we even have a Beginner’s Day you can attend without registering for the whole thing. WatercolorLive.com

We do so much, I can’t list it all here, but it’s all available at StreamlinePublishing.com/Everything.

You can do this. You can make a resolution that you’ll give it a year. It could be the best, most satisfying thing you’ve ever done.

How to Get Through Life with Joy2021-01-02T16:20:42-05:00