Cool breezes and the sounds of distant birds flow through my open windows as I awaken, looking out the window at the orange sun splashing the twisted oaks. Late October here is what I always refer to as “California Weather,” meaning darned near perfect. Early Sunday mornings are a gift, as few are on the roads and the quiet is refreshing. All I hear is the sputter of a small airplane overhead.

I love airplanes. I suppose it goes back to when I was a small child. My mom would take us to Baer Field to watch airplanes land or take off, usually when my dad was traveling. We always went to the airport to see him off.

Dad became a pilot at 14 and would take us kids to airports to hang out with his pilot friends, so I have a special feeling when I go to small airports.

Up in the Sky All Alone

Following in my dad’s footsteps, I learned to fly and did my first solos at age 19, but I had a mild mishap on landing one time. I was coming in for a landing when the wind shifted direction by 180 degrees and started forcing me down. My instinct was to push on the gas to get back up in the air, but on that airplane, pushing in meant reducing the gas, so I killed the engine 40 feet in the air and experienced a hard landing and cracked the leg of the airplane. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared.

My Crash

As soon as I landed, the instructor ran out to the aircraft, got me out, put me in another airplane, and sent me back up. I guess that’s what they call “getting back on the horse” when you get bucked off. I can remember being 5,000 feet above the ground, by myself, thinking, “What am I doing here? I have no business being up here.” So the next landing was my last as a pilot.

Rainy Day Painting

A couple of weeks ago, during Fall Color Week, me and a couple of friends were looking for a place to paint, but it was raining pretty hard that afternoon. I spotted the Lake Placid Airport, so we arranged to paint under the overhang of the hangar, looking out at a stunningly beautiful scene.

Flying the Fall Color

While we were there, a plane took people up for a scenic flight of the fall color, and next thing you know, one of my fellow painters had booked us on a flight for the following day. I got to sit in the front, and we flew the mountain ranges, flew over our lake house, and even saw a moose from the air. It was a special day, and it made me regret that I never really got back on the horse to get my license and fly. I then reminded myself that it’s never too late.

The reason that instructor wanted me back in the airplane was to prevent me from getting scared and giving up. The mistake I made was not returning again and again, and the mistake he made was not talking me down from my fear and helping me gain the confidence I needed. I had allowed fear to get in the way of my success.

Though I’m not one to look back, I can’t help but think about how much fun I missed out on because I gave in to my fear.

What horse did you not get back on?

Fear of failure is a powerful emotion, and one that prevents us from living as fully and beautifully as we could. 

Do we want to be on our deathbed, looking over our life and saying, “If only I had tried a little harder. If only I had tried at all”?

My son told me the other day that he wants to be rich and famous, wants to be an actor. I said, “Terrific, what are you doing about it?” His answer was, “Dad, it’s hard.” My answer was that “everything’s hard, but people overcome hard things every day.”

If we focus on why something is important to us, the why often overcomes the how. In reality, everything worth doing is hard. Pursuing dreams is hard. 

Since when is something being hard a reason not to pursue it?

Showing up here every Sunday is hard. Doing my daily Art School Life Facebook show is hard. Running my business and dealing with my team members is hard. Being a dad of triplets is hard. But the rewards overcome the difficulty.

Ask yourself about your own unrealized dreams.

Why were they unrealized?

Maybe you told yourself they were too hard. Maybe you tried once or twice and failed and stopped trying. Maybe your interests and passions changed, or maybe you told yourself they changed. That’s what I did with flying. I told myself, “It’s not all that important to me,” and I told myself I was really doing it for my father, not myself. But if I’m honest with myself, that’s not true.

What dreams would you still like to make happen?

What’s in your way?

What are you telling yourself are the reasons you can’t do it?
Are they real?

I started to tell myself that I’m probably too old to get my pilot’s license. But I doubt that’s true.

And I’ve come up with a dozen other excuses. But if it’s really important enough to me, I need to do it.

What about you?
What do you need to do?

Most limitations and excuses are not real. They are simply sharks swimming around inside your head. 

Don’t let the negative thoughts and excuses win.

Don’t spend the rest of your life in regret.

Don’t allow fear to own you.

Instead, realize that if you’re breathing, there is a way. And though you may have to alter the dream to fit your current circumstances, dreams are meant to be lived.

Get back on that horse.

Go, now, and live your dream.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Happy Halloween! I’ll be out tonight, costume on, begging for candy. Maybe someone will mistake me for a large overgrown kid pretending to be an ancient being from another time 🙂

I thought it would be nice to bring you up to date on my world and all the things we’re working on. 

  • I’m doing a PAPIPA … Paint a Pumpkin in Plein Air challenge online. Paint a pumpkin from life  … any style, carved or not, and post it on your social media with the hashtag #PAPIPA and tag @EricRhoads. The winner will get a full ticket to our REALISM LIVE online virtual conference, which is coming up a week from Wednesday. The second and third runners-up will get their choice of any video we’ve produced at Streamline.Art.
  • Last week we released a new video by Mary Garrish, called The 6 Elements of Design. She is very impressive and a great landscape teacher. She’s simplified things to six elements, and it really makes painting easier to understand.
  • TODAY (October 31) is the last day to enter your paintings into the monthly PleinAir Salon. You can win $15,000 and the cover of PleinAir Magazine, and there are $33,000 in annual prizes. Our esteemed Judge is Patricia Terwilliger, co-owner of Jones & Terwilliger Gallery.
  • This Tuesday, November 1, Is the last day to get the pre-release price on the new Camille Przewodek video, A Colorist’s Guide to Painting. As you know, I studied with Camille, and she changed my life when it came to understanding color.
  • Speaking of Realism Live, there’s $750 in bonus gifts if you get signed up by November 7. Oh, and I do an “If You Don’t Love the First Day, You Don’t Pay Guarantee.” The lineup is amazing, including Quang Ho, Jacob Collins, and dozens of others.
  • I’m always signing artists who are hot. In fact, we don’t sign anyone unless they are the best of the best, or if they are a hot up-and-comer. This upcoming weekend we’ll be releasing a new video from Kyle Buckland. Keep an eye out for that.

Have a great Halloween.