22 04, 2022

Seeds That Grow Into Oaks


Giant oak tree branches are swaying gracefully like ballet dancers, but fiercely, as spring comes roaring in like a lion. As I open the old screen door, the springs squeak like fingers on a chalkboard. Then there’s a loud, abrupt slam behind me, amplified by the wind. 

Green specks of pollen have covered every square inch of the newly painted back deck and the old wicker couch. I dust off the couch, making for a cloud of green and a quick sneeze, and sit here observing dancing-tree entertainment during this gray overcast day in hopes of some sprinkles to feed the wildflowers, which are hiding their beautiful heads just under the blades of grass, waiting for nourishment to come.

Spring always excites me as it leads to summer, my favorite time of year.

One of the great joys of my life was spending lots of the summer at my grandparents’ old clapboard house at 317 West Wildwood Street back home in Indiana. It too had a squeaky screen door that would slam loudly.

Because I grew up in a single-story ranch house, it was a lot of fun to stay at my grandparents’ home. They had two stories, a basement, and stairs, so I used to slide down the banister or run from the top of the stairs down to the basement and back. I’d bang on the keys of the antique Packard piano, then I’d slip into the small kitchen to watch “Mema” making sugar cookies with pink icing flowers and green leaves. I can still taste their sweet flavor.

Hot Indiana summer nights were brutal, but sleeping in the middle bedroom with a fan in the window somehow made it tolerable. I loved the humming sound of that old 1940s fan; it was very soothing and is a sound I’ll never forget. Combined with the sound of cicadas outside the window, it was the perfect noise to induce sleep.

Great Taste

Though it was never spoken of, my grandparents must have had a great love of art because their house was filled with art prints, mostly from the 18th century. In fact, one of the first Old Master copies I painted was a self-portrait by Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun (1755–1842) with her daughter. I never knew why I loved that painting so much, yet decades later, cleaning out my grandparents’ storage unit, I found the prints that were hanging in their house during my youth. One was a print of that very painting. It’s no wonder I was drawn to it.

Real Art

Depending on which cousins or brothers and sisters were staying at the house, I’d sometimes get moved to the front bedroom. There between the windows was a beautiful original oil painting of a deer by a stream. I used to stare at it as I went to sleep, it was so soothing. As an adult, I found out that my grandmother’s sister, Aunt Ruth Goad, was the artist. Suddenly finding out there was an artist in our family filled me with joy. It also might explain why my mother was so drawn to painting.

A Plein Air Pioneer?

I’m told my aunt set up her paints on location at that stream to paint the scene, which, if true, would make her a plein air painter like me. Maybe at some subconscious level, that’s why I became a plein air (outdoor) painter.  

One of the jewels found among the prints and other curios in my grandparents’ storage unit was my aunt’s painting, which probably hung in the front bedroom for more than 50 years — and since I discovered it, has been hanging in my house for more than 25 years. I consider it a family treasure.

Planting a Garden

Whether intentionally or not, my grandparents planted seeds that impacted my mother, me, and probably my brother who became an artist. Art around the house planted seeds. The piano planted interest in music.

The seeds they planted run deep. Family stories, important life lessons, family recipes, how to grow incredible tomatoes, and more.

At Easter dinner last week, I told my family about my great-grandfather Joseph Samuel (Sam)  Garrett. As a small boy I used to visit him and my great-grandmother Lucinda Range Garrett at their farm in Armathwaite, Tennessee, near Jamestown. 

At 8, I’d have to clean chicken coops, shuck corn, and sometimes milk their cow. My grandparents lived in a home they built themselves (my grandfather and his cousin helped as boys). I can remember my grandfather had an old shack on the property, and the inside was filled with canaries in cages, which I assume he raised to supplement his income as a preacher. I can remember the deafening but pleasing sound of a thousand canaries while I watched him care for them.

A Country Preacher

Grandpa Garrett preached down the road at Mount Helen Baptist Church, a tiny white country church. A plaque on the wall with his portrait, painted by Aunt Ruth (his daughter), said that he had gone all over the region on his horse, preaching the Gospel and starting churches. I don’t recall how many, but it was impressive. Maybe 12 or 16 churches, which is no easy task. He is buried near Mount Helen Baptist. 

Sharing Lessons

Over Easter dinner I told my kids about the impact of that one man. Today, my family, my kids, my cousins, their kids, distant cousins and their kids, our families, are Christ followers because of this man. But more impressively, hundreds of lives were changed by those churches he founded and the revivals he held. Now, five or more generations later, the work of a single individual has impacted thousands of lives. 

I reminded my kids that they too can impact thousands of lives, in their own way. 

Our world is filled with stories of people who made a difference. Some became leaders of countries, others wrote books, music, or movies impacting millions of lives, and others made heroic efforts that made a difference. Some simply made their impact by being great parents.I wanted them to know that they should never consider themselves too small to make a difference. That everyone has a contribution to make if they are willing to step out and make it.


Thirty years ago, while in the radio industry, I decided some other opinions needed to be expressed about how the industry should operate. So I started a magazine, started editorializing in every issue, and after about a year of being seen, started to see the weight of my words affecting an entire industry. I was not sanctioned or appointed, I simply decided I had something to say that might make a difference and became a self-appointed publisher.

Leaders do not wait to be appointed or noticed, they simply step in at a time when they believe they can make an impact or be helpful. If they wait to be noticed or invited, nothing great will ever happen. We have to learn to speak up for ourselves and share our passions.

Count the ways you have made a difference in other lives.

In what ways have your roles, your ideas, or your contributions made a difference?


People need to know that they don’t need permission or an invitation to step up. When they see a need, they need to fill it. When they see an injustice, they need to point it out. When they see an opportunity, they need to grab it.For some of us, it’s simply making a difference in how we train our kids. For others it might be starting a church or an organization. For others, it means changing the world.

Chance favors only the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur

Though we may not set out with specific intentions, there are rare moments that present themselves. A prepared mind may not have a plan, but a prepared mind is always looking at everything as an opportunity to make a difference. So they leap out and grab the golden ring of opportunity when it presents itself. 

Split-Second Opportunity

While consulting a radio station in Utah, the owner and I were discussing the renewal of my contract. The owner said he didn’t think he would renew because he was going to sell the station. I said, “I’m so confident that I can make this station a success, I’ll buy it from you. Name your price.” Though I was bluffing, he called my bluff, and I ended up raising the money and buying the station. 

How Did THAT Happen?

While visiting the editor of a radio industry trade magazine to complain about my lack of advertising success for my Giant Boom Box mobile studios, the editor confided in me that he was not mailing out the number of issues promised because the owner was no longer committed to the magazine. So I went across the hall and requested a meeting with the owner. When the owner told me he wasn’t committed because the magazine was losing money, I told him I’d buy it from him if he would let me make payments based on profitability. I walked out of the meeting with a handshake to buy, and I’ve owned that magazine for over 30 years this year.

None of these things were planned. I never had a plan to go into radio ownership, till I grabbed it. I never had a plan to start a radio industry business publication, till it presented itself in a split second. I never intended to get into the art world or become an artist, until an opportunity was exposed. Yet by always being on the lookout for opportunity, and always listening carefully, I boldly grabbed opportunities, not knowing where they would take me. That’s the key to having a prepared mind.

Where will you carry your influence? 

In what ways will you change the world or those around you?

Are you prepared to grab unplanned opportunity?

I have confidence in you.

Eric Rhoads

P.S. My dad died a year ago this past week. Looking back on the very busy last year, I realize I used the need to be busy to deal with my grief. There is nothing quite like sorting things, moving boxes, and emptying houses and garages to keep your mind off grief. But last week on the anniversary, it hit me like a Steinway dropping out of a sixth-story window. I miss him terribly. I miss his great advice and his great stories. I realize I’m very much the man I have become because of him. I’m sure the same was true of him and his parents and grandparents. It was he who taught me how to be alert for opportunity because I watched him grab it all the time. I’m thankful for such a great mentor.

Dad read Sunday Coffee every week and would call me with ideas on how to expand on what I had written. He was encouraging and told me to never stop because my job is to encourage others and help them gain confidence in themselves. It’s what he did for me.

I also learned to be prepared for the best and the worst. I’ve avoided a lot of freight trains running over me and my business because of his training. The only reason I’ve survived the negative impacts of the pandemic is because he taught me how to change on a moment’s notice and come up with creative solutions fast. He would always say, “You can’t take a lot of time to make decisions in a crisis.” He would tell me, “Make a decision and move fast.”

Coming up on May 17 I’m holding my first live convention in two years. I had to cancel two Plein Air Conventions and one Figurative Art Convention and a few artist retreats and trips. So I am grateful we can hold the convention in person. And lots of people are coming.

But I’ve also heard from lots of people who want to be there but cannot come because of their circumstances. So last week I announced that you can attend the convention online. We will broadcast our main stage and offer it at a reduced price. Already people are signing up. This is a great example of pivoting at the last minute. I hope you can join us at www.pleinairconvention.com.

I should also mention that I announced a New Zealand painters’ trip, and it’s already half sold out. If you want to go this fall (springtime in NZ), visit paintingnewzealand.com.

Here’s what else is going on….

We’ve just launched our 12th Annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition. Head over to PleinAirSalon.com to see how you can win $15,000 for your art.

Our next virtual event, 
Pastel Live, is happening in August. About 40% of the people who attended PleinAir Live have already signed up. It’s going to be fun, fun, fun! Check it out at PastelLive.com.

Seeds That Grow Into Oaks2022-04-22T13:30:21-04:00
17 04, 2022

Getting Small?


The scent is heavenly. I breathe deeply and take in the perfume of spring. After a couple of days of light rain, the roadsides and fields are filled with blue and orange wildflowers. My own property is filled with little white flowers and spring greens. Bees are buzzing with delight, preparing the sweetest honey you can find. Spring is so welcome after a tough winter. 

Speaking of inhaling, on Saturday Night Live back in the ‘70s comedian Steve Martin used to say “Let’s get small,” which was code for getting high. We all snickered.


During the early coverage of the travesty in Ukraine, I felt small and helpless. Though giving money was an option, I felt like money alone was not enough. But I could not think of anything else I could do to make a difference. And the things I did think of required someone with more connections, more money and clout than I had on my own. 

Unfortunately, I was thinking, “I’m too small to make a difference.”

Do you ever think too small? 

I’m too small to take on this project.

I’m too small to make big things happen.

I’m too small, so important people don’t care what I have to say.

Our culture tends to idolize people who are big … big CEOs, celebrities, sports figures, pundits, musicians, actors, etc. When they speak or issue a press release, everyone pays attention. 

Therefore we assume that big things are left for them to do.

As I was pondering what I could do as someone who was small, I started thinking big. “What if I could write a song and call attention to Ukraine?” I asked myself. 

The battle inside my mind was ugly. 

One side of my brain was telling me all the reasons it would fail. The other side was offering me possibilities. I had to make a split-second decision. Would I be small, or would I think big?

The outcome was a song title, “Tears for Ukraine,” and some lyrics. But what do I do next?

I sent it to one of the few recording artists I know personally, someone who is known regionally but may not be a national name.

“See if you can do anything with this,” I said. “Maybe we can help a lot of people by keeping this at the top of everyone’s mind.”

Of course I’ve spoken of this before, but so much has happened since. Within 24 hours Bill Craig and a friend, Mark Jacobson, revised my lyrics, recorded a scratch track to see if I liked the direction of the song, and then recorded a full studio recording with the group Elsie Binx. (You can hear it here.)

That was about three weeks ago. For two weeks, it was the number one download by radio stations for most of that time. And it started receiving airplay on radio stations across the U.S. 

That was cool. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. But what more could we do with it?People Who Know People

So I reached out to some people who knew people who knew people. “Let’s re-record it, like ‘We Are the World,’ and get a bunch of stars together to do it.” Keep in mind, I don’t roll in those circles. The next thing I know, it’s catching on. One big star started reaching out to other stars. And, as of today, there is a big possibility this will happen and be recorded by a bunch of big artists.

Going Latino Too

Then I thought we should record a Spanish version for the Latino audience, and one introduction led to another, and we have been in dialogue with a major Latino star. A discussion began about getting a bunch of top Hispanic stars to record it together. 

I don’t know what will happen, but the progress made has been much more than if I had told myself to stay small and not think big.

Big Stars

I’ve been watching two documentaries this weekend, one on David Geffen, the billionaire media mogul, and one on Frank Sinatra. I learned a lot from both, but the one thing that we don’t think about is that they too were small, unknown, and went for years without any success. But because of their hard work and tenacity, and thinking big, they became giants.

A Choice

In the two documentaries, each of the men had a moment where they had to make a choice. Be small or think big. Both thought big, and pursued their idea with all of their might. It changed their lives and careers forever. And when they got to one level, they kept thinking bigger, which resulted in getting to another level.

No one who ever got big had it happen by accident. In fact, the bigger you think, the bigger your results will be. I’m picturing supplies and help going to tens of thousands of people who need help, because of this song. (We made a pact not to personally accept ANY money on this project.)

The Battle in My Brain

My small-thinking, negative brain told me, “You’re not a songwriter. Why are you wasting time on this?” It told me I was not qualified, it told me that I needed to stick to what I know, it told me I was too old, it told me people would mock me. But my positive brain said, “Go for it, take action now, see what happens.” 

The Movie That Never Was

When I was a teen I always wanted to be a film actor, but I never pursued it. One day about 15 years ago I was browsing Craigslist and saw tryouts for a student film. I told my wife I was going to go and try out. She suggested there were probably better things I could do with my time. Upon arriving, with a line of people around the block, all trying out for three parts, I started to think I was a bit out of touch myself.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

When I arrived at the desk, a lady handed me a script and said, “Memorize these parts, and come up when we call your name.” Here I am competing with a couple of hundred professional actors who know how to do auditions. Suddenly my name is called. I read the lines in front of the producer, director, and all the other actors staring at me like, “What’s this guy doing here?”

“Thanks, we’ll call you if there is interest. Next?”

Impossible. How Could This Be?

Just as I’m getting ready to leave, a lady taps me on the shoulder. “We need you to read for a different part. It will just take a minute.” I read the lines, and they took me aside and said, “You’ve got one of the three parts.” A week later, I was filming a short film for three nights, all night. 

As I mentioned, it was a student film, but it was being supported by a major director trying to help serious film students, and it was he who insisted they give me the part. The film never got released, but I learned a lot about myself and about acting. And I learned that you can’t listen to your negative brain, no matter what you’re up against.

I love to read biographies about exceptional people with exceptional lives, and they always talk about the negative brain and how it almost kept them from success. These are not people with special advantages. They all started small, and had struggles, but they thought big to pull themselves to the next level.

Are you getting small or are you thinking big?

The bigger you think, the more unrealistic it all seems, yet big dreams conquer worlds. What world will you conquer? How will you change the world?

We all have negative thoughts and doubts. Push them aside and start thinking big. 

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Eric Rhoads

PS: I’m thrilled to hear stories of families and friends getting together for Easter for the first time in two years. I hope this is a special Easter filled with love and hope. And though bunnies and eggs and chocolate are part of the way we celebrate, especially with kids, it is the resurrection of Christ that is celebrated on this day. 

Here’s what’s happening in Eric’s world these days…

No Restrictions for the Plein Air Convention

We received great news this week. The state of New Mexico and our hotel, Buffalo Thunder, are no longer restricting attendance at the Plein Air Convention & Expo and no longer requiring masking or distancing. We had been told to limit to 50 percent attendance, but now we can return to normal. Though it’s only a month away, you still have time to grab a ticket and a room. We intend to celebrate especially well this time as we get the family of painters together for the first time in over two years. You can register at PleinAirConvention.com.

Painting Together in Mid-June

I’ve got about 30 seats left for my Adirondack painting event this June. It’s a week of painting with old and new friends, for beginners or experienced pros. No workshops, just painting the stunning 6 million preserved acres of the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York. You can learn more at PaintAdirondacks.com.

Join Me in New Zealand

I’m taking 50 people to New Zealand in September to paint and tour. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So far 20 seats are sold. Visit PaintingNewZealand.com.

Bold Colors

My fall retreat in Maine is starting to fill up. We can accommodate just 100 people. We will paint in Acadia National Park and in the entire Bar Harbor area. Our lobster dinner is legendary!

Learn more at FallColorWeek.com.

Getting Small?2022-04-15T15:49:21-04:00
8 04, 2022

How Will You Accept This Challenge?


I feel like I’m living a scene from a James Dean movie … it’s so hot that everyone has stripped down to the bare minimum, they are fanning themselves, and sweat is rolling down their hot red sunburned faces. Texas heat isn’t for the faint of heart. Our springs are short here, jumping right into the heat of an early summer. The ice in my cup has melted and the outside of the glass is sweating and my sticky fingers keep slipping off the keyboard. 

Have you tried to buy a bag of ice lately? A bag of ice has doubled in price. And it seems like the cost of everything is rushing out of control due to scarcity, supply chain issues, and just plain inflation.

Child Labor

I remember the stories my dad would tell me about the Great Depression. He was just a child, but he had to work to help support the family, and they had to rent out the home they owned in order to survive. They moved to my Great-Grandfather Rhoads’s farm out on Illinois Road, which was 88 acres. Even though they grew much of their food, they barely survived.

Inflation is not necessarily an indicator of a coming depression, but it is having a serious impact on the cost of goods, making living more difficult for all of us.

I hear a lot of chatter about these things lately, and part of that chatter is people giving themselves excuses to fail. 

Not-So-Great Expectations

I’ve already heard people telling me they expect the current situation to have a negative impact on their business or on their lives. I’ve encountered artists and galleries who tell me they are expecting this to be a bad year. Meanwhile, I’m hearing from others who tell me that business has never been better.

There are facts we cannot change, but there are attitudes we can change. The attitude needs to be: “I’ll succeed and thrive no matter what outside circumstances exist.”

The Worst in My Lifetime

2008 was a pretty dire situation. The economy had crashed, big companies like AIG and Lehman Brothers had failed, and spending had slowed. During that time in the art world, I watched businesses react negatively, leading to their demise. Simultaneously, I watched others double down on spending, building their businesses bigger, especially when their competitors were not spending on advertising. I even saw a new gallery launch and quickly grow, taking away the customers the others would have had if they had not operated with a shrinking mindset.

The New King

During the Great Depression, there was a giant shift in a lot of categories. Post was the dominant cereal brand, with something like an 80 percent market share. When business got bad, the board decided to stop all advertising. Suddenly a new startup called the Kellogg Company came on the scene. They went after Post, promoted heavily, and spent big ad dollars. To Post, this was a gnat they thought they could swipe away. Kellogg would never touch them, because they were too big to fail … they thought. So they did not react and didn’t keep their ads going, because they wanted to save money. 

By the end of the Depression, Kellogg had taken the lion’s share of the market and become the leading cereal company. Post became number two, and to this day has never regained its dominance.

Mindset made the difference.

The Kellogg Company could have said, “Bad time to start up. Let’s hold back.” Or they could have said, “Let’s start out small and see what happens. if we grow a little, we can spend a little more money.” Instead they went full speed ahead. It took courage and confidence and a “never say die” attitude. It worked.

How is the current economy impacting your mindset?

Are you planning to succeed no matter what, or will you shrink yourself to failure?

Mindset is the starting point. Courage is important, as are creativity and willingness to find a way, and willingness to work harder than ever. Often others stop working as hard because they think working harder won’t make a difference. 

Time for Change

A little-known fact is that there were many businesses that thrived during the Depression. Many of those companies chased new opportunities when they saw dominant players lay low and stop promoting. They had to be creative and find new and different ways to promote their businesses, and they had to step up and do some things that were frightening (like spending on advertising). But many survived, and many thrived.The key is to have a Churchill mindset … “Never, ever, ever give up.”

And it starts by making up your mind, by telling yourself, “No matter what is happening in the world around me, I will find a way to survive and thrive.”

What will you do? 

How will you respond?

Eric Rhoads

PS: Feeling like a caged animal, unable to leave home for two years, I am thrilled to be free and able to hold my Plein Air Convention this May. In fact, we just got BREAKING NEWS that the State of New Mexico has lifted all restrictions, so we are no longer being told to limit attendance. And there is no longer social distancing or masking required (you can still wear a mask if you wish). This is great news, and may result in a massive number of people signing up. I’ve even decided to NOT raise the price on April 17 as planned and will wait to raise it on May 12, allowing everyone a chance to get the low price. You can sign up at www.pleinairconvention.com.

One person who is coming told me, “I am not going to let gas prices or travel costs or anything get in my way of getting out. I’ve missed this, and I don’t know if they will lock us down again.”

Here’s what’s happening at my company Streamline at the moment…

Our 9th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo is quickly approaching and we’ve just learned that ALL restrictions have been lifted and more seats have opened up! So sign up now to gather with your fellow artists in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for our first in-person event in two years! Study with the plein air masters, get discounts on art supplies in the Expo Hall and paint with over 500 of your fellow plein air enthusiasts. Sign up now at PleinAirConvention.com.

We’ve just launched our 12th Annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition. Head over to PleinAirSalon.com to see how you can win $15,000 for your art.

We are going to New Zealand again! Our last trip in 2017 was a huge success so we’re doing it again. Join me and 45 other artists in painting some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. PaintingNewZealand.com

Our next virtual event, 
Pastel Live, is happening in August. About 40% of the people who attended PleinAir Live have already signed up. It’s going to be fun, fun, fun! Check it out at PastelLive.com.

How Will You Accept This Challenge?2022-04-08T12:19:44-04:00
2 04, 2022

Letting Go


The scent of concord grape soda fills the air as purple Texas mountain laurel trees are in full blossom. Bare twisted live oaks with thousands of tiny twigs are starting to sprout little brilliant green buds. Following a brisk wind, the air is fresh as I deeply fill my lungs to enjoy the arrival of spring and the sound of songbirds. I keep filling up the bird feeders to support my local bird choir (and a few dozen random squirrels). A small aircraft flies overhead — the view of the blossoms from the air must be a beautiful sight.

Any pilot will tell you that when flying a small airplane, if you get into a spiral dive, you don’t even really know it. You can’t feel it, and can only tell from your instruments. If you try to control the airplane at that point, you won’t be able to, and holding on to the controls only makes things worse. A Death Dive

When I was a child, my dad went into such a dive, and in spite of all his training, he wanted to control the aircraft. But in the back of his mind he remembered something he had read in a classic book called Stick and Rudder that said when this happens, simply let go.

Imagine spinning out of control, in a steep dive, only a few seconds to make decisions before you slam into the ground, and having to give up control. But let go he did, and the plane corrected itself just seconds before he would have crashed. Once the plane was corrected, his altitude was less than 200 feet. His life was saved by doing the opposite of instinct and letting go. And I’m thankful he did, because I had my dad my entire life until last year.

No Control

Last week while we were in church, our pastor said something that reminded me of my dad’s death dive. He was talking about things we cannot control, saying that sometimes we simply have to trust God to resolve things. He talked about how hard it is to let go, but that sometimes our attempts at control only worsen the problem.

Control Freak

Being a control freak, which is a natural direction when you build and own a business, letting go is the hardest thing to do. Yet people cannot grow when you “mansplain” every answer. The same is true with kids. If they don’t suffer a little, if they don’t have to figure things out, if you rescue them at every turn, they leave the house unprepared. 

What are you trying to control that isn’t working?

Those of us who think we’re in control need to understand that we are not, not really. We simply cannot solve every problem. And sometimes the best solution to a problem is to let go and let it work itself out. Like letting go of the controls in a plane, this is counterintuitive, but it often provides the best possible result.

No one likes to be controlled. Especially me.

Mr. Big Shot

When I was 25, I bought my first radio station. The day we closed on the station and I took over, I walked into the big beautiful manager’s office and thought, “What have I got myself into?” I had no idea what to do or even how to behave. So I did what I had seen from some of my mentors and what I had seen from “typical bosses” on TV. I became a control freak. I started barking orders, being demanding, and trying to show who was boss. I even fired a couple of people on the spot for insubordination, humiliating them in front of others. I did not listen — I knew all the answers.

A Sad Day

One day we faced a tragedy, when a fellow employee died suddenly. It hit me and everyone hard, but because one of the managers had been engaged to this employee, and another manager had been overly demanding the day this person died, there was a lot of anger and guilt. Within 12 hours of this person’s passing, those two managers resigned and got all of their people to resign. Suddenly I had only two employees left. In hindsight, I realized I got no loyalty because I tried to control everything. It wasn’t working.


I’m lucky to have learned that lesson early. I had to learn the proper way to manage people, which is to pull and inspire, not to push and fire. There are legends about people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, who are said to be screamers. I think people will put up with more when working for a brilliant visionary. The rest of us mere mortals need to manage by inspiration, and I had to learn how to stop controlling every little thing and let go.

Perfection Is the Enemy

There is a saying I learned when running my tech company, RadioCentral, in Silicon Valley. “Perfection is the enemy of greatness.” In other words, deliver — and don’t wait till something is perfect to deliver it. You can always make adjustments and changes after you launch. My mentor Keith Cunningham disputes the idea that “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” He insists that it should be “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly” because we won’t do things if we’re waiting for perfection. We have to learn to do things, and we’re going to make mistakes along the way, which is OK. What he is talking about is letting go.

In what ways is control getting in the way of your success in your family or work?

What’s the worst that would happen if you let go?

In what ways is controlling hurting yourself, and your relationships?

How would you feel if you could just let go and wait to see what happens?

It took a lot of mistakes for me to discover this. It’s why I’m calm, why I tend not to stress or worry much, and why I believe everything will work out. Maybe it will work out now, maybe later, maybe years from now, or maybe I have to wait for eternity for correction. But things are out of my hands and in God’s hands. Knowing that gives me peace and reduces my need to control everything.

Like anyone, I play “what if” games in my head. What if this fails, what if this doesn’t work out, what if the kids don’t turn out OK?

Let go. 

Eric Rhoads

PS: I have to admit I had a few tense moments after receiving a call from the people who run our convention hotel for the Plein Air Convention in Santa Fe. “I’m sorry, but we can’t let you have more than 750 people. We’ll be required to spread out the seats in the auditorium.” 

After two years of cancellations and no income from my most important income source, I was hoping to get something coming in again. Prior to COVID we had 1,200 people attending. And though they may change their minds at the last minute, for now, I’m only allowed 750 people. So I have only about 97 seats left. 

If you are planning to come to this festival-like celebration of plein air painting, the world’s largest paint-out, and four stages of lessons over four days from the top landscape artists in the world, I’d recommend you book one of those 97 seats this week. May is coming up fast.

I know you’re eager to be back with people again. I know I am. I hope to see you there. 

Wanna come and paint?

Spring and fall are my busiest times of year. Soon after the Plein Air Convention I’ll head to the Adirondacks for the summer, and I’ll hold my Publisher’s Invitational artist retreat for a week up there. It’s a week of just painting, and one price includes your room, meals, and the event. It’s a blast, and all levels of painters from beginners to pros paint together. We play a lot, have music, paint portraits at night (optional), and it’s summer camp for painters of all ages. I’ve become very close to lots of people who attend. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

Let’s go paint in New Zealand

Clearly my Russia painting trip had to be canceled, so we replaced it with a 50-person trip to New Zealand. It’s a premium trip, and it will be amazing. And we hit NZ in springtime, when it’s green and flowering. Of the 50, I have 30 seats left. Come join us.

Here’s what’s happening at my company Streamline at the moment…

We’ve just launched our 12th Annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition. Head over to PleinAirSalon.com to see how you can win $15,000 for your art. 

We are going to New Zealand again! Our last trip in 2017 was a huge success so we’re doing it again. Join me and 45 other artists in painting some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. PaintingNewZealand.com

Our 9th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo is quickly approaching. We’ve only got 97 seats left so sign up now to gather with your fellow artists in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for our first in-person event in two years! Study with the plein air masters, get discounts on art supplies in the Expo Hall and paint with over 500 of your fellow plein air enthusiasts. Sign up now at PleinAirConvention.com

Our next virtual event, Pastel Live, is happening in August. About 40% of the people who attended PleinAir Live have already signed up. It’s going to be fun, fun, fun! Check it out at PastelLive.com

Letting Go2022-04-02T09:39:20-04:00