Droplets fall patiently, one at a time, slowly and methodically, thundering loudly like a stick on a snare on the metal roof above my little brown clapboard studio. Wet decaying fall leaves cover the ground as bright, twinkling blades of springtime fight to take over the ground cover as if to say ‘My turn now. You can come back next fall.”
As I gaze at the walls inside my studio, my equivalent of a man cave, with paintings instead of posters, and model lights inside of neon beer signs, my life flashes before me with each painting a memory of a time and place in history. A little brown church with a glowing red door, surrounded by fall color which I painted beside friends Don Edic, Rick Wilson, and Frances Pampayen.
Painting in Bruges
Another memory of painting quaint canal-facing homes in Bruges which I painted beside Rick Dickensian, Michelle Jung, Roger Rossi. I remember when a local newspaper reporter talked to me, took my picture and it appeared on their website.
Friends painting together
A distant foggy mountain peak painted at my Adirondack event has been hanging here for nine years, a scene I’ve painted over and over with hundreds of friends over the years. And another of a gushing waterfall painted under umbrellas in a roaring rainstorm with Erik Koeppel, Terryl Gable, Kim Hoerster and Rick Wilson.
Who Needs Gold?
Life is rich for me. My life with artists and painting is more valuable to me than chasing bars of gold. I’m not a financially wealthy guy but my wealth is made up of friendships and painting memories, which are far more valuable and things I’d never trade for financial wealth.
If you were to have asked me to envision such a life surrounded by art and painter friends in exotic locations with a paintbrush in hand, I never would have believed it.
A No Talent Hack
I’m the guy who believed I had no talent, not even the ability to draw a stick figure. You simply could not have convinced me that it was possible to come true. Yet it did come true. But for it to come true others had to help convince me that it was possible and I had to start believing them.
What Do You No Longer Believe?
Look back on your life and ask yourself how many things you believed impossible or improbable that you would have never imagined that now seem very much a part of who you are. To adopt new things in our lives we have to make constant adjustments to our belief systems, we have to challenge our own beliefs, and we have to trust that others sometimes see things we need that we cannot see in ourselves.
Can you think about something you resisted, were opposed to, or did not believe that was introduced to you by someone else? I guarantee you it did not happen instantly. It’s something you resisted until you adjusted your own mindset and started to believe what they believed. I can think of many things I disbelieved before believing them.
Changing our minds isn’t easy.
We grow up with the ideals or views of our parents, grandparents, teachers and professors; we usually believe what we’ve been told. Repetition has that effect. Yet we have to start thinking for ourselves. We have to question everything, never assume that even those we love the most were right. We may find out they were right, but we also may find out their thinking was flawed.
Throughout my life I’ve watched transformations. I’ve seen my own transformation on many occasions, and I’ve watched friends morph into butterflies and sometimes piranha.
Determination Overcomes All
When people want something badly enough they become driven by their passion or desire. That’s when the impossible becomes possible. There is no force greater than human determination, which explains why average people end up doing extraordinary things. But it can cut both ways. An obsession with something unhealthy can drive people as well. Thankfully, we each get to decide what’s right for us. I’ve never been willing to make the sacrifices to gain massive wealth, but I have friends with jets and choppers and a half dozen homes who are good at it.
It all boils down to our priorities and our personal belief systems.
Can You Change, Really?
Things really get interesting, though, when you try to change your belief systems. A business colleague in radio fell deeply in love with a woman, so much so that he ignored the fact that they had extremely opposite political views. Though I would have never believed it, he started thinking that maybe those views were worth considering. Yet he was die-hard in his beliefs until he had motivation to challenge his own beliefs.
Most of us are stuck in our ways and almost nothing will change our minds.
Imagine for a moment that you belong to a cult and practiced it with vigor for decades. Then a video was found where the cult leader was talking about how none of it was true and he was manipulating people for their money? There would still be people who would cling to that cult, unable to change their minds even if there was solid proof. They would find a rational way to tell themselves that it was counterfeit or that he was told to say it at gunpoint.
This Can’t Be True
Decades ago I got to know all of the people on the floor of the office building in Salt Lake City. One really nice man turned out to be revealed as a serial killer with dozens of bodies found under his house. It was frightening, and at first no one could believe it was true because he was such a nice guy. But the evidence was convincing.
There is a term called Cognitive Dissonance, which occurs when a person holds two or more beliefs that contradict each other. That’s when my belief systems clash with new evidence that cannot be ignored, such as indisputable evidence. It’s a discomfort where we try to find a way to resolve our discomfort. Most of us eventually come around.
I Was Wrong
Because of Coronavirus I experienced Cognitive Dissonance. For instance: I had a mistaken belief that our modern medicine was so good that we would never have a Pandemic like those of a hundred years ago. I also believed that nothing could put our country into another financial crisis equal to the Great Depression, yet both came true. I had to wrestle my own belief systems to the ground to resolve a new set of beliefs.
Now I’m wondering how many more times I’ll be proven wrong and will need to change my belief systems.
Am I clinging to the idea that things will get back to normal because I’m an optimist? They might, or we may never shake hands or hug friends again, and we may be conducting life as we know it with facemasks and gloves.
I’m guessing that as we get on the other side of this quarantine, we will learn things about ourselves and we will have to adopt new belief systems.
I guarantee that we could be given an “all clear” and no chance of infection, and there will be people who won’t get on an airplane for five years. They simply will not be convinced that it’s safe.
Expect Dramatic Change
My assumption is that our lives will change dramatically. Each of us will end up adopting new beliefs and shedding old beliefs because a new normal will be revealed as a result of these past few weeks of virus. I can’t possibly predict in what ways we will see change, but I guarantee we will.
What do you think will change?
What do you think will be revealed?
None of Us Could Have Believed This
No matter how open-minded I think I am, my mind is closed to certain ideas. Yet I’ll be proven wrong in the next year or two, because of new evidence that forces me to let go of my beliefs. You may want to consider that it could happen to you, too. None of us would have ever believed that the entire world would be in quarantine lockdown, that no restaurants and stores would be open, and that we would experience weeks or months of staying at home.
Grieving The Loss of Beliefs
With new evidence and disbelief comes grief. We grieve over the death of our beliefs. Loving someone only to find out they were an axe murder is a tough pill to swallow. We still want to cling to the good things we liked about them. And although it’s always best to look at the positives, we cannot ignore truth or evidence. Still, there is a loss when that evidence erodes truth.
You and I are on the edge of this virus. Soon, maybe today or tomorrow, maybe another month or two from now, we’ll be introduced to the need to adopt new beliefs. Are you ready?
I for one am excited about the future. I’m curious what it will look like and I’m ready to take it on.
PS: Though it sounds strange, I’ll be sad when this forced quarantine is over. In some ways, I don’t want to get back to life as normal. I don’t want my kids to leave home. I don’t know if I want to spend my life on an airplane anymore. I like being able to have time for deeper connections and conversations.
You and I have learned things about ourselves, which we must capture in order to reshape our lives. This is the time to make sure that we redesign our lives to be more in line with the things we’ve learned about ourselves.
And, be grateful for this time. Use what’s left of it wisely. Make your list of what you need to get done (there will never be a better time), projects that you’ve been meaning to finish and new things you want to do to learn and grow. I’m taking online lessons in things I’ve always wanted to learn. I’m reading more, and I’m using my time to do what I love, thus I’m learning to sculpt and do paintings I’ve always wanted to do.
I hope you’ll consider doing the same. I’ve listed a ton of online art instruction segments we’ve posted in the past month or longer.
A message for my artist friends (or wannabe artists):
If you’ve done paintings, drawings, sculptures, or art related to Coronavirus, post it and use the hashtag #covidart, so others can find it and see what you have done.
If you are a gallery or artist, post your website or work and use the hashtag #buyartnow so others can use that as a search term to find your art, so they can buy it.
I’m trying to encourage everyone to do a self-portrait during this time, even if you have never done one. Post it and tag #realismtoday and #stayhomeselfie so others can see it, and so we can find it for possible stories.
If you want to see the art survival webinar I did last Thursday, you can find a replay here.
I’m doing a daily art update at 12n (ET) on my Facebook (EricRhoads) and (EricRhoads, Publisher) and on Instagram (Eric Rhoads).
If you’re a wannabe painter, take free lessons at www.paintbynote.com
The following is a list of all the free art instruction video segments and other videos we have produced since this quarantine began. Enjoy, these are free:
- Lee Milteer: Managing Your Mindset
- Stephanie Few: What you need to know about government assistance for artists, galleries, and small businesses.
- Stephanie Few: Financial help for artists and galleries
- Jay Abraham: Survival for artists and galleries.
- Jean Stern: Artist Survival Strategies
- Free Painting Lessons for Beginners: www. PaintByNote.com
- Gallery Profile: Rehs Gallery
- Daniel Greene, N.A. Memorium (1934-2020) FACE 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
- I’ve recorded over 200 artist interviews in my plein air podcast. You can find them here.
- Free daily art instructional video segments via Facebook Live
- Learning From Home Video Collections
Odd that you inserted an anecdote about a serial killer in the middle of this. Even more odd is that fact that you fabricated the story.
No such event “dozens of bodies found under his house” ever occurred in Salt Lake City. It’s the 21st Century. We all have Google.
Good job fact checking! We can’t always believe what we hear. It’s so odd to make something like that up…
It seems to be a pattern. There was a story he wrote last year about freezing his tongue to a pole in the winter which was obviously lifted straight from the “A Christmas Story” film. I understand embellishment for the sake of marketing, but complete fabrication or appropriation, in an attempt to seem empathetic towards others, is not an ethical marketing angle.
Reminds me of Trump
Well said. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
Hi Eric. I was so surprised and thrilled to see the memory of us painting that little church during Fall Colors Week. That was an unforgettable time. I still have that painting too. I was standing behind you while painting it. Thanks once again for your encouraging letters and videos. I’m enjoying having the time to watch the videos and learn new things. Love and prayers from Frances
Thank you for your thoughts and reflections, Eric. You provide a lot of ideas for re-election plus tons of encouragement and resources. Stay well and happy.
When you mentioned Brugges it reminded me of when we walked along the canals. The women would pull out their chairs and their pillows where they made their lace. And how everyone was so quiet and respectful as if they were in church. We’d stand there as these women would make their lace with the spools of thread flying across the pillow making this beautiful lace. If you stood there quietly you could hear the song of the lace as the spools clacked together as they past each other. And how the song if the lace would change as the women would change the pattern of the lace. It was magic.
thanks, Eric. I love reading your thoughts. I’ve always enjoyed Plein Aire Magazine, but now it’s a bonus to find that you have the same struggles we all have and that you are able to inspire and help so many people through this very paralyzing situation.
I look forward to your Sunday Coffee Emails.
Eric, I always enjoy reading your article, every Sunday I wait for it to read it. Bruges is a wonderful Midieval city, it is a piece of art, I enjoyed it so much in the summer of 2018 when I took a 2 weeks oil painting workshop with Max Ginsberg. It is a very lovely city. I feel very sad of the loss of one of the greatest artist of our time, and my teacher, Daniel Greene, it is a huge loss, may he Rest In Peace
Hello Eric. I know we are going through a phase of no kissing, hugging or physical closeness of whatever type especially in public. However, in the past there have been pandemics a lot more lethal because no suitable medication was then available. Yet the human race did get back to normal patterns of affectionate behaviour and public life. I remain, with every reservation as has been advocated, positive.
Now, about being more creative, yes. I’ve managed to wed charmless archaeological two dimensional designs with groundplans of Greco-Roman theatres, a subject at the heart of what I do. I can a lot better fathom how these looked even though there is still a lot more to learn. The jewel in this love affair of mine is observing the mosaics that adorned so much of what these people did, without the quarantine the activity would have been unimaginable.
Thank you Eric for such an inspiring letter.
I too find that I love the peace and quiet of this time. Walking outside when there is no traffic, enjoying the scene when Spring is trying it’s best to come in for a while before Summer comes. It is comforting to listen to the birds, watch the squirrels scamper through the trees( and into my Bird feeders) I haven’t done any painting yet. I have been able to read, listen to and watch many Pastors, teachers, etc. that I didn’t have time for before. I believe God has given us this time to reflect upon HIs word and to redirect our priorities for each day. I am blessed to have four children,
10 grandsons and 7 great grandsons. My youngest daughter grocery shops for me because at my age (88) she doesn’t want me to be exposed. Such a blessing she is to me. What could be more important than to be there for your children no matter what age they are, or where they live. I am so grateful to Yahovah for my health, my children, my faith, my abilities, and people like you! Rosie
You walk your talk! I am so incredibly thankful that through the wireless plane we have connected. I have been painting more and working on myself as you have suggested. I want to meet you face to face and give you a hug of appreciation! Blessings to you and family and know you are a blessing to me
Thank you Eric, for your thoughts. I read your Sunday Morning musings and share them sometimes with my husband. This morning (4/26) really resonated. For one, I’m one of those who thought I couldn’t draw a stick figure. I retired from nursing in 2014 at age 60 though, and began painting and I love it! My family says I have talent and they love getting the vignettes I send them. My goal is to paint my memories (another thing that resonated in your writing was you saying your “shed” was full of your painted memories!). I don’t have any desire to sell, just to paint.
But another thing you said really resonated today. It was the change in beliefs. We used to be very conservative Christians. I still consider myself a believer, but my belief system has been deconstructed to the point of unreconizability. Two of our four daughters revealed to us that they were gay years ago. Talk about a paradigm shift! We really had to examine our beliefs then! Are we right? Are we wrong? And if we were wrong (after so, so, so much soul searching!) then what else were we wrong about??? But what we saw and knew in them: good human people who just wanted what everyone else did, life, liberty, pursuit of their dreams, helping others, giving to others, etc., did not match up to what the “church” taught us of “people like them”. It was cognitive dissonance for sure. But we are all happier, more peaceful, and found out God doesn’t fit in “our” box any longer. He fits in his own box just as he should.
Wow! Not sure where all that came from! But there it is! Maybe chalk it up to Covid! Lol! Thank you for all you do!
Now as the weather is improving I am organizing a small group of plein air painter friends – some of them are newbies, others are new to plein air (illustrators), teachers, etc I have gone plein air painting with friends twice to different locations, we keep social distancing – which is easy since we usually pick different perspectives, Some friends come, other do not but it seems I get a different small group of 3 or 4 each time . It really has been fun seeing friends even though we cannot get close but we can still chat. see someone different and share our experiences. Everyone is enjoying our outings. Hopefully we can do more of them since April in MA was such a rainy month. I am not a professional painter, I do sell my work and am represented in 1 gallery locally which also represents many local illustrators. I do have a passion for plein air painting and during this difficult time I find it is a great way to connect with others and reduce isolation safely. The plan is to keep the group in very small numbers.
Love your thoughts and learning about your early life. I, like you, hope that some of the way we now live with the virus will stay with us.
I, too, had a career that lasted 22 years and drew stick people. Now I have been painting for18 years and I feel it is the best thing I have ever done.
MAKE A WISH and go forward a new way of life is ahead of us all.
Artists will lead the way.
Stay well everyone a big job is head of all of us, anew way of doing things and thinking.
I’m happy to see you letting go of the illusion of control and encouraging others to do the same.
“Though it sounds strange, I’ll be sad when this forced quarantine is over. In some ways I don’t want to get back to life as normal”.
I think many of us share this view. Perhaps we had drifted into a ‘life as normal’ routine without truly examining it. Was it really fully satisfying?
With this enforced time to analyze and think about that ‘normal’ life, we may appreciate the introspective time that this more solitary life has afforded us. Thanks for your thoughts about it.
For some people in this country, nothing much has changed. Personally, I still work two jobs, both in the essential category. And I go in to work seven days a week, because the perception is I must be there to do my work. Precautions are taken, but there I sit at my desk, quoting construction projects. When this work could easily be done from home. It is great to not lose my income, yet I certainly envy those who are staying home, working on personal projects and their artwork. My own time is still very limited for such things. I am very selective of which of your videos to watch because of this, when I really would like to watch all of them!
Virtual employment is one of the best things that could come from this pandemic, for now Americans could live anywhere (read this as where they WANT to live, instead of being FORCED to live because of business location) and still do their work. This should be eye-opening for American businesses – happier employees and a larger talent pool. Better for both parties. And we could spread out again into small- and medium-sized towns and cities across this great land, instead of congregating in larger population clusters in major metro areas. Healthier for everyone. And more opportunities for plein air painting.
I want to commend you for your efforts to keep in front of your community. The sharing of the videos, your marketing presentation (which I bought – thank you for that special offer), and your convention being moved will hopefully keep your business alive for the years to come. You bring much to the art world and to artists. Thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart.
simply——-face it and embrace it——-
——————greiving what is lost as part of a courageous examination of this new ecology—————–
——————accepting and owning responsibility for making it ours again———————————–