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Home2024-01-11T11:45:21-05:00

What Are You Not Hearing?

I’m chuckling to myself as I sit here baking in the summer sun. This summer we had record rain and cool temperatures, with exactly five total “sunny warm lake days.” Now that all the lake residents are gone, summer has finally arrived. The best is about to come as fall color begins to peek out of the green forests. I’m getting ready for a glorious fall. Soon I’ll experience color so vibrant it makes my eyes hurt and the crunch of leaves under my feet, the smells of apple cider and fields of pumpkins. Fall is my favorite time here in the Adirondacks. Fresh Eyes I love seeing things through the eyes of others, especially fresh eyes. This week I’ve had an artist visiting from Australia (Colley Whisson) who had no previous knowledge of the area, its beauty, and its unique architecture. I loved the wonder in his eyes seeing the area for the first time, as he often points out things I no longer notice.  Things Leap Out Any time we can walk in the perspective of others, we see things we can change or correct, and it helps us appreciate what we have. If I have a guest,

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Worried About Worry

As I walk out of my cozy waterfront cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks, the old screen door slams behind me. It’s a sound that brings back memories from childhood. Entering the kitchen, the smell of coffee brewing seduces me to pour a cup of my own. I then walk across the creaky wooden floors to the old screened-in octagon-shaped porch overlooking the water and plop myself down in the same wicker chair as generations before me.  There is little as soothing as the water, the movement of pine forests swaying in the distance, and the occasional canoe passing by. It’s where I sit in the mornings to follow my morning routine, and where we sit in the evenings to catch up on one another’s day.  Farewell to Summer Summer, here on the lake, ends tomorrow, when most residents return home. Overnight, things will get silent and a boat will be a rare sight for the few remaining stragglers who stay on to experience the fall colors, which are beyond spectacular. Our final event will be a gathering of lake residents to hand out sailing trophies and say farewell till next year.  Pretending People post about all the things

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What If the Worst Happens?

My hands were burning as they hit the steering wheel yesterday afternoon after the car had been baking in the 110-degree Texas heat. The ground is dry, and the grass caramel-colored as if slightly scorched. The car is like a visit to a sauna until the air conditioning cools it down. Even the nights are in the upper 90s. When we moved to Texas, we did so knowing our summers would be spent in the high-altitude cool summers of the Adirondacks. Though it was always hot when we returned to get the kids into school, we never endured the entire summer, and the heat usually ends by late September. But this week I had the pleasure of waking up in the Texas heat because I came back to host my online Pastel Live event. A Moment of Silence for Maui I rarely comment on current events, but like you, I’m devastated to hear of the tragedy in Maui, one of the biggest tragedies in our country’s history. And like you, I’m feeling helpless, wishing there was more I could do to help. We’re working with a few art initiatives to help raise money, but somehow it does not seem sufficient.

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Appreciation

When something is taken away, or about to go away, we want it more. After living at the lake since early June, I have to leave the cool weather, high altitude, and beautiful green forests for the excessive temperatures of Texas. I’m clinging to every last moment, sitting here on the dock and filling my lungs with air so pure it cannot be described.  I close my eyes and listen to the lapping of water against the dock, the wings of eagles as they swoop overhead (yes, you can actually hear them because it’s so quiet here), and the frantic call of the loons to warn their families about the winged threat overhead.  What’s new becomes routine, barely noticed, until the threat of disappearance.  The Threat of Loss This week our little dog Chewy had to “go under” for a necessary but minimal procedure, yet we were warned that there was a slight chance he might not come out of the anesthesia. Though he already gets lots of attention, the night before we were all treating him like we might never see him again. The fear of loss made us pay attention to how meaningful he is to us. He

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Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Dark bags of vaporized water float overhead, ready to dump storms upon us. The sky is purple-gray, but the morning sun is hitting one particular billowing cloud with intense orange light, as if to offer hope that the looming storm will pass.  After two months of solitude on this lake, the August season is upon us, and activity has increased tenfold. Most of the summer residents come only for August, then hibernate the rest of the year. When that happens, it will be silent once more as we enter the season of color.  Though I love to see lake friends and the joy on the faces of kids as they learn to sail or water-ski, the silence is special. My Checklist We spend the entire year looking forward to our time here, yet it passes so rapidly, and my list of summer activities doesn’t yet have everything checked off. I’ve painted my boat several times. Check.  I’ve done evening sunset cruises in our old wooden speedboat most nights. Check.  I’ve visited the Adirondack Museum and seen their glorious new art wing. Check.  I’ve gone to the farmer’s market most Saturdays. Check. I’ve used a fair amount of time for my

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Finding Your True Self

 “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to face only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods Last week I mentioned that this home in the woods was built of trees from the property. We are the caretakers of this property, which has passed through the hands of several families since it was constructed. Little has changed other than the addition of plumbing. In fact, I sit in the same wicker chair that has been on this porch since the beginning. Breathe Deep The home’s purpose then, as now, was to disconnect from the frenetic life of the city, breathe deeply of the clean, pine-scented air, and reconnect with family and friends. But it was even deeper than that. The original builders, a wealthy family from New York, wanted to escape their gilded palace and hectic social schedule for a dose of reality by roughing it.  This property, along with most of

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The Power of Pain

If I inhale deeply, my lungs are filled with the freshest air I’ve ever experienced, along with the scent of pine. This forest, hundreds of acres behind my Adirondack home, is old growth, much of it never cut, with trees that two of us cannot join our hands around, some exceeding 600 years of age. Twigs snap as I walk through the trail, and I hit an occasional patch of mud from the rains, making my way carefully across, jumping from logs to moss-covered rocks. Forest Bathing In Japan, they encourage people to take time off work to go “forest bathing.” The combination of fresh air and the visual of dark woods, deep greens along with fresh spring greens, pine needles, peeling bark on soft, worn pathways, is deeply good for our souls. Our home, built in 1894, was built from these trees, and sits on a patch of land between the forest and the lake. Our summer life feels ideal. Fresh air, fresh water, playtime, and family around us. Our bath of forest and lake time lasts through the summer and fall, and the rejuvenation I receive lasts me through the tough winter months of life.  A Spoiled Child

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Success and Happiness

Loon calls and the slosh of water are interrupted by a distant deep rumble. No, it’s not that thunder we’ve been hearing, but a classic 1930s wooden Chris-Craft jetting across the lake, its engine roaring and echoing. Though I’m not a fan of noise in the midst of silence, there is nothing quite like a classic boat, its sleek design, graceful lines, shiny high-gloss finish, and trademark rumble. Our lake is filled with wooden boats.  Somehow wooden boats in a lake surrounded by deep green forests make me feel like I’m living in another era. If someone from this lake went into a coma in 1920 and awoke today, it would be virtually the same, other than one or two newer boathouses and some ski boats. But things here are mostly unchanged, which is why we love it.  Have you seen the meme floating around social media asking, “If someone went into a coma in 1986 and awoke today, what would be the biggest shock?”   Repeating Life I often wonder how life would be if I were just starting out now. Was it better when I started my career, or would it be better now?  Years of Struggle The

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The Secret to Getting Things Done

P.S. It’s almost like magic when you make up your mind to learn something. Years ago, my dad wanted to learn about a certain type of investing, so he found the world’s leading expert, befriended him, and invited him to visit him at the lake. They cooked something up, and the guy moved in for the summer and they worked together every day for three months. Within three months, my dad was also one of the leading experts in that topic.  That concept led me to the idea of teaching people to paint with the world’s leading experts. At my Adirondack event, two people painted well right out of the box, though they had never done it before. I learned that in both cases, they had watched a lot of my videos over and over. Though they were not learning in person, video can have the same impact. That’s why I’m so driven to capture the biggest names: so the world can have their minds forever and they can train more people than they ever could in person.  If you want to learn anything, make up your mind, devote the time, and you’ll master it.  The other way we’re doing

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How Many Summers?

The sun streams through the window waking me. At first I’m feeling lost, out of my routine, until my brain catches up and realizes I’m not home, but away in a strange bed. A glance out the window treats my eyes to billowing clouds, streaks of sunlight and distant snow capped mountains. I’m desperately searching for a coffee maker, and will probably have to get dressed and go to the lobby. My family and I  landed here in Colorado last night, and today is the culmination of two years of preparation by dozens of people on my team. It’s the beginning of a five day learning, painting and friendship adventure, called the plein air convention. Yesterday was the start of a two day Lori Putnam workshop, which continues today, and today is an essential day for plein air beginners. Then at 4 pm, the big show opens and it will be my busiest week of the year.  Why I Dislike Weddings When I was a wedding photographer, I discovered a thing I called Wedding Letdown. Brides would spend a year or more in preparation for their big day, and then in a few short hours it was all over. They

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How to Be an “A” Player

The sun streams through the window waking me. At first I’m feeling lost, out of my routine, until my brain catches up and realizes I’m not home, but away in a strange bed. A glance out the window treats my eyes to billowing clouds, streaks of sunlight and distant snow capped mountains. I’m desperately searching for a coffee maker, and will probably have to get dressed and go to the lobby. My family and I  landed here in Colorado last night, and today is the culmination of two years of preparation by dozens of people on my team. It’s the beginning of a five day learning, painting and friendship adventure, called the plein air convention. Yesterday was the start of a two day Lori Putnam workshop, which continues today, and today is an essential day for plein air beginners. Then at 4 pm, the big show opens and it will be my busiest week of the year.  Why I Dislike Weddings When I was a wedding photographer, I discovered a thing I called Wedding Letdown. Brides would spend a year or more in preparation for their big day, and then in a few short hours it was all over. They

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Thought Love

The sky is glowing an iridescent blue like a Maxfield Parrish painting, with twisty silhouettes of tree branches reaching high to patches of leaves. A slight swaying in the trees draws my eye to the distant gay mountain, where a few stars glow in the still-darkened sky. Morning has broken. In my junior year of high school, I was somewhat lost and confused. I had one interest only, being a DJ on a local college station with no listeners, populated by nerds like me who loved the idea of being on the radio even though we were talking to the wall. Grades were never my strong suit, and college wasn’t on my radar because a career in radio was already my plan. I loved the attention, and stardom, in the form of radio, was what I was looking for.  But Carolyn Parsons had a different vision for me. She was my Humanities teacher, in a class that I struggled with. She was as hard on me as anyone ever was. “Get your act together, Rhoads, you’re better than this,” she would say. Though my star may have been shining among my friends, nothing I could do would please “Mrs. P.,”

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The Seasons of Living

Massive thunderstorms pounded our metal farmhouse roof. The rattling sound was overwhelming, but this morning the sky is clearer than usual, the birds are happy after their bath, and it’s a stunning day filled with wildflowers and the scent of beauty in the air. There is a big debate in my mind whether spring is my favorite season. What I love about spring is the rejuvenation, the beauty that comes after the harsh cold. And I love spring fever, when we’re all eager to wear shorts, flip flops, and sunscreen.  I flash back to winters in Indiana that I thought would never end, times when we struggled with the ice, the cold, the dark gray days, dead car batteries, cars sliding off the road and getting stuck in snowdrifts. I could never get warm, and we couldn’t wait for spring to appear. Experiencing Winter Recently I’ve watched friends and family experience their own personal winter. Tough times of fighting disease, unexpected tragedy, family trials, addictions, financial or legal troubles, and losing cherished family members. I often feel guilty that I’m experiencing spring when they are suffering. But we all tend to cycle in and out of good and tough times.

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Do You See What I See?

Do you pay attention to light? This morning I woke up a little after sunrise, and the sun was slamming the sides of the trees outside my window with colorful warm light in the early glow. Parts of the tree were in shadow, while little spots were illuminated with color. Little twigs and leaves popped out against the dark purplish distant background and lit up like little firecracker explosions.   In the distance I see the silhouettes of trees in front of a brightly lit pasture of glowing greens and slight reds against the fog. The morning dew reflects little moisture bombs on every blade of grass, making them glow with light. Golden Hour Years ago I was attending a broadcast convention, walking down the streets of Boston with friends, when the golden hour approached and illuminated the sides of the brick buildings with a pink-orange glow. The clouds above were gleaming with yellow. I stood and marveled at the light, but when I pointed it out to my friends, they just said, “What is it we’re supposed to look at?” At that point I realized I had been given the eyes of an artist, and that my friends weren’t likely

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