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30 07, 2022

Creating Your Masterpiece


Creating Your Masterpiece

The perfect summer day … warm but not hot, breezy, no bugs, a glass of iced tea, and the sound of laughter from kids in a passing boat as they water-ski into view. That’s what it was like around here most of last week. One of my sons had four of his best friends here for the week, and their joy radiated around the entire lake. One said, “This is the perfect summer camp.” It’s still early, but another perfect lake day is expected today.

I grew up on Lake Wawasee in Indiana. My grandparents had an Airstream in a trailer park across from the lake, and we used to go up for fishing and swimming. My dad did the same thing with his grandparents; we were the third generation on the lake.

Driving Without a License

When we were teens my dad and mom managed to buy their own place, across the lake. They provided the perfect summers for us, filled with barbecues, water-skiing, sailing, hanging out at the sandbar with hundreds of other kids. I remember being able to drive a boat before I got my driver’s license and the freedom of the wind in my hair as I drove it full speed across the lake. It was an idyllic way to grow up. ?

Really Hard Work

I never stopped to think about how much work and struggle my dad had to go through to make enough money to provide us with such a place. Yet when it came my turn, I could not afford it for decades. So, like me, my kids grew up with summers at grandpa’s lake house. That is, until I was able to scrape together enough to get our own so that I could carry on this tradition for my kids.

Masterpiece Created

My grandparents had created a masterpiece. They struggled till they could buy a trailer, put it on a lake, and attract family to hang out for the summer. My dad did the same thing. I’m doing the same for my family. In each case, we knew what we wanted, we focused on it, we envisioned it, and we made it happen. It was not easy, or instant, and involved a lot of sacrifices. But a masterpiece was born.

Spending My Life with Artists

I have the pleasure of being around some of the world’s top artists, who will be the first to tell you that masterpieces are rare. Not every painting is a masterpiece — but some are. Most artists will tell you that their masterpieces are painted in their heads, sometimes over years, before a brush ever meets canvas. Rarely are they accidental. 

I’d dreamed about my own lake place since I was a teen. It took me decades, but my masterpiece eventually got painted. 

A Really BIg Masterpiece?

For the past two years I’ve been working on a large commissioned painting. I’ve scraped it down several times, repainted it, painted over it, and struggled with it. Others have entered my studio and told me, “It’s ready,” or, “It’s good enough,” but to me, it’s not ready to put my name on till it’s the masterpiece I envision. 

You see, the key to every masterpiece is what you envision before you ever create it.

High-Level Performance

I’ve often wondered why some people seem to have success with everything they do, why they perform at a high level most of the time. The answer is that they envision high performance, envision being the best of the best, envision success.

Time for a Spanking

In the 4th grade, Mrs. Bernet sent me to the principal’s office many times for daydreaming. It turns out this should have been encouraged and rewarded, because daydreaming + action can equal excellence.

Signing Your Work

In the movie Seven Days in Utopia, there was a story about a golfer who shouted “Picasso!” after every shot. He explained, “Every shot is a blank canvas and you have a chance to paint a masterpiece. You can paint success or failure. I choose to paint a masterpiece with every shot. After every shot I shout ‘Picasso!’ like signing my name to a painting.”

To this day, before most meetings I envision the masterpiece I want. Things usually go the way I envision them, probably because I’ve rehearsed it in my mind. This is daydreaming.

Bouncing Around

Some go through life like a pinball, ending up in the gutter after bouncing off a few obstacles. Others choose excellence, constantly defining the masterpieces they want to paint in life, envisioning the best possible outcome and working toward that every time. This is why goals and dreams matter.


I’m big on manifesting things. What we think about is often what comes true, which is why it’s important to manage what you focus on. Those who focus on failure tend to get failure. Those who focus on the best possible outcomes tend to get great outcomes. 

But you may be saying, “I had a bad upbringing, I have disadvantages, I didn’t get a college education, I did not grow up with money, I had bad parents, I was abused…” 

And though I am sensitive to what you went through, unless you let go of those excuses and focus on good outcomes, your outcomes will be exactly what you expect.

Can you shift your mindset to masterpiece outcomes?

I believe you can. 

What you expect is usually what you get.  

Expect masterpieces.

Eric Rhoads

PS: As a CEO, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get others to expect masterpieces. Recently we launched something that was less than successful. We needed it to be successful, but when it underperformed, many on the team simply accepted the substandard result. In order to make a point, I called for a redo, suggested some changes, and set our sights on an all-time record. I’m not sure very many on the team believed it could change. In the end, it succeeded and set that all-time record. The point was made. Don’t let up until your masterpiece is accomplished in its best possible form.

Keeping score is important because if you don’t, you don’t know when you’ve hit a goal. You don’t know if you made your masterpiece. That’s why goals need to go with your masterpieces. Try to envision every detail, envision records being broken, envision perfect execution and small details, then communicate that. You’ll be surprised at how your life will change

You may have someone who needs to hear this…. Pass it on.

PS 2: At the moment the media is slamming us with negatives about the economy. I refuse to participate in a bad economy, and I recommend the same for you. Be smart, but don’t assume you can’t succeed because of the economic excuse. While some are whining about how bad business is, others in the same businesses are having record success. The only difference is attitude.

PS 3: People told me that the August after the pandemic was a horrible time to hold an online event like Pastel Live. I decided to not accept the excuse, and as a result attendance is at an all-time high and continues to grow. Be careful of the stories you tell yourself. Set your sights on a masterpiece.

Speaking of masterpieces…. Here are some things we’re working on this week at Streamline.

  1. Pastel Live is coming up online and promises to provide excellent teaching in pastel painting. I’ve fallen head over heels in love with pastel and am very excited. 
  2. Realism Live online is coming up in November, and we’re about to announce some more big names. Stay tuned.
  3. Save the dates of January 26-28 for Watercolor Live.
  4. We’re expecting record crowds for the Plein Air Convention in May. Now would be a good time to guarantee your seat.
  5. Fall Color Week, my fall retreat (this year in Acadia National Park in Maine), is already sold out and has a waiting list. Get on the waitlist; we’re trying to secure more rooms elsewhere because so many want to come.
  6. Painting New Zealand is happening in September for about 10 days. It’s going to be spectacular. We had a cancellation, so you still can get in if you hurry.
Creating Your Masterpiece2022-07-30T08:17:41-04:00
20 06, 2021

Words of Wisdom


Rich, deep blues fill the cloudless sky, surrounded by massive ancient growth cedar and pine trees. The mirror we call Spitfire Lake is a perfect reflection, not a ripple in sight. 

Distant log cabins on the lake are starting to fly their flags, an indicator that people are coming in for the summer. Soon this quiet spot will see an occasional fisherman, some sailboats and water skiers. Signs of summer are upon us.

Not only is the lake reflecting, but I find myself reflecting on my father, with this being the first Father’s Day I’m unable to make a call, send a gift, or see him in person. Not a day has gone by since his passing in March that I haven’t started to e-mail or phone him to share something, only to realize they don’t have e-mail in Heaven. 

My Guest Today

I thought about the best way to honor my dad on this day, and since I’ve talked about him a lot in the past weeks, I asked myself what he would want, or what he would say, if I had asked him to be a guest writer. This, I think, is what he would say to you, as he looked at you with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face:

You Are Special

“I see things in you that you may not see in yourself. I think there are big plans for you that you may not realize, and it seems to me that you are maybe not thinking big enough. I don’t think God has small plans for any of us. I think he expects us to make big plans, and I think he has given us exceptional abilities to do big things.

Curiosity Is a Gift

“I know what you’re thinking … I don’t have the skills, or the money, or the special circumstances or advantages. But part of the gift you have is the curiosity to discover the things you need and find a way to do them. Though you’ll have roadblocks, and moments in your life when you’ll feel there is no hope, I know that you’ll look at them, study them, and make a list of 50 ways to achieve them, and one of those things you think of will do the trick. You just have to know that failure is not an option. You were not made to fail, you were made to win, and you can always find a way to win ethically.

Ethics Rules, Always

“You might be tempted to take shortcuts, but you need to always think in terms of excellence. How can you do things better than anyone on earth? How can you stand out? How can you be the best of the best? Anyone can take shortcuts, anyone can succeed by ignoring ethics, but they can’t look at themselves in the mirror. You want to know that you succeeded without doing things illegally or immorally, or with compromise, or by taking the low road instead of the high road. And don’t be a copycat. Anyone can copy other people’s ideas and make a couple of slight changes. Instead, be original. Copycats are simply unethical thieves who are too lazy to invent their own ideas and want to ride on the coattails of others. 

Whose Dream Will You Chase?

“How do you want to spend your time? Do you want to spend your time living someone else’s dream, or living your own dream? You only have so much time, and it will leave you very quickly. Your time should be spent building a dream you believe in, something that will change the world, something that others cannot do, that only you can do. You’re special. You’re here for a purpose. You should not waste what you’ve been given.

Monitor Your Mind

“You will have doubts. Negative thoughts are normal, but as soon as you realize you are having them, you need to push them out. They don’t serve you well. Remember, if you think you can’t, you are right. If you think you can, you will. Things may seem overwhelming, but when that happens, break them into smaller projects and win them, one small piece at a time. 

All People Are Important

“You will meet a lot of people along your journey. Some will not seem important to you, and you may ignore or dismiss them. This is a mistake. People can see through you if you only spend time and attention on people you need. Every person you meet, no matter what their station in life, has a gift and you can learn something from them, and you can contribute something to make their life better, usually by pointing out things they can’t see in themselves. Everyone can use a cheerleader and someone to give them hope.They have been placed in your path for a reason, so use that to help them. It’s not always about finding others to help you. 

The Gift of Giving

“There is an unwritten law that when you help others, you end up helping yourself. You should not do it for that purpose, but it always turns out that way. When you give of your time, your mind, and your encouragement, you can make a big difference. When you give of your money, you’ll see a return even when not intended. But never talk about your gifts. That’s private. If you’re doing it to brag, it won’t serve you well.


“Life is about quiet elegance. Be the best you can be, but don’t toot your own horn too much. Instead, there is power in knowing what you’ve done and not feeling the need to tell the world. Humility is a great gift. But being a wallflower won’t serve you either. You need to learn to speak up for yourself, and sell your great ideas. If you lack the ability to tell your stories and motivate others, it will be hard to make your dreams a reality. Invest in learning to sell, to speak in public, and to convince others in the face of obstacles. Remember, a sale always starts with a ‘no.’ Don’t give up, don’t give in, but do it in a way that others can see your vision, the benefits to them, and in a way that they can save face. Build others up, not with flattery, but with true belief in their abilities.

The 3-Month Rule

“You can change the outcome of your life, your business, your relationships within 90 days. I’ve seen companies go from zero to being on the road to giant success just with one idea and 90 days to implement the change.

Accept Blame

“If things are not going well, remember, it’s your fault — not someone else’s, not market conditions. Don’t be a blamer. Be a contrarian. Don’t accept the excuses others are using. Great fortunes were made in the Depression. And don’t follow the advice of the masses. Use thinking time, and don’t stop with one idea, keep going till you try new, less obvious ideas. Thinking time will solve even the most challenging problems. If you follow the pack, you’ll go off the cliff with the pack. And don’t cloud your decisions (especially investments) with emotion. Emotion is wrong 50 percent of the time. Facts and data rarely lie.”

Dad would cap everything with his idea of the ticket to Heaven (John 3:16).

It’s hard to wrap a life of Dad’s lessons into a few paragraphs, yet there is power in his words, and I’m honored to share them this Father’s Day.

You can do this. You’ve got this. Now, go for it.

Dads, this is your day!

Eric Rhoads

PS: Yesterday, after a week of painting at my 10th annual painters’ retreat, we all said our goodbyes. My kids say I tear up with goodbyes, and yesterday was no exception. After a year of anticipation, and a lot of quality time from morning till late night, I hate for it to end. It’s truly like a summer camp experience for adults who happen to love painting. We timed it so everyone could get home for Father’s Day. I want to thank everyone for all the hugs and virtual hugs and hand bumps, and for the time we spent together getting closer acquainted. We had a lot of fun. And it feels so right to be together again. 

PS2: I’ve discovered that paintings with the most vibrant colors are pastel. And if you want to learn pastel as a beginner, or want to improve by learning from the world’s leading pastel artists, explore our August Pastel Live event, which will be held online. And more of our virtual art events are coming this year.

PS3: I’m taking a group of art lovers, art collectors, and artists on an European Art Tour. Fine Art Connoisseur editor Peter Trippi and I lead the tour, and this year we’re going to Vienna and Berlin. You’ll experience art like never before. It’s not a painters’ trip (though some paint in their spare time). Check it out. 

PS 4: Fall in the Adirondacks is spectacular. My Fall Color Week painters’ retreat will be here this year only, at a new location, a camp called Saranac Village. It’s a classic old Adirondack great camp that has been converted to a kids’ camp. This is the only time we’ll be able to get in ever, and only because of COVID. Check out the event and join us this fall.

PS5: Making for an even busier fall, I’m taking a group of painters to tour and paint Russia. You can paint the great cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow (plus tour) and the inland villages. It’s a rare trip that is not easy to create. We have 50 seats only, and I’ve just learned that two seats are still available. Because of visas, these need to be locked up soon. 

PS 6: Wanna go with me to New Zealand next March? I’m not 100% sure it will happen, but if you want to join the list to eventually be first to get the info, go to www.paintingnewzealand.com.

Words of Wisdom2021-06-17T16:16:47-04:00