I’m here at the Austin airport and I’m looking out the window. The sun is blinding me as it reflects off of the chrome trim. Instead of breathing the fresh pine-scented air, the smell of jet fuel fills the air. I can’t wait to be back at the lake late tonight.
After a week of my virtual art summit, PleinAir Live, and being on camera late into the evening each day, I’m ready to sit on the dock in an Adirondack chair and have time to think.
I’m grateful for over 1,500 folks who joined us for the world’s first virtual art summit to learn and grow over the past five days. It’s also been a great lesson in pivoting. As my business collapsed around me, this survival mode was met with resistance and fear (some from my own brain and some from others). I almost did not do it, because I kept thinking of all the limitations and not understanding how to do it. But, instead of cowering away from something I did not understand, I faced it, mastered it, and had a successful event.
Is Fear Driving You?
In these strange COVID times, I’ve been watching others make a race for the bottom. Though I’ve done a little discounting out of fear, I’ve seen numerous others drop their prices by half or more because their minds are telling them they cannot survive these times. Yet I’m learning that many businesses are thriving and having some of their best success ever, in spite of it being counterintuitive for the times.
The Mental Basement
My friend Lyn Boyer said it best when she told me, “I had to make a choice. I could either race for the bottom by giving in or pull myself out of the basement mentally.”
I often say we tend to tell ourselves stories that we assume are true. But unless you follow the data, what you think is true may not be.
What are the stories you’re telling yourself about these COVID times?
Are those stories really true?
Rather than cowering in the corner out of fear of the unknown, is it possible to walk up the stairs and get out of that mental basement?
Challenges and problems make us stronger. I had a choice … give up and hope things returned to normal, or pivot, ignore my fears, and find a way to survive. And thankfully, the pivots are taking me to new places — places from which I’m learning new and wonderful things.
What about you?
We have no idea what we face, what this all looks like in a day, a month, a year, or longer.
We can’t assume it will get better and we can’t assume it will get worse. We simply have to adjust to the moment and do the best we can at the moment. Usually, the best we can do is a surprise, even to ourselves.
Can you pivot?
No matter how bad things seem, know that there is growth from pain, and know that a pivot can change your life. I discovered my virtual conference reached more people than the live events I do, and people want more (which you’ll soon learn about). And I never would have known if I’d given up and not tried the things I feared.
Hello Eric, “For Such A Time as This!” As in the book of Esther, I believe God put you here in this very time and place…..just as He did with Esther. God guided every step in her life, grooming her for one very important moment in time. And that is what I strongly believe about you. All your training, drive, success, failures has driven you to this point. A time where you are so giving of your time, your knowledge, your faith as you help a vast amount of people survive this unpresidential time in all our lives. I believe God has orchestrated every step in your life ….”For Such A Time AsThis.” I am so grateful for you.
Eric, you conquered the nearly unimaginable, and it gives me hope that we can all do the same. We just need some of your genius inside of us. I loved the Virtual conference and have a quiet week ahead where I can watch it all again. What a gift! Thank you!!!
This was one of the most inspirational Sunday Coffee emails.
I was going down the stairs to the basement. After I read this Sunday’s article, I turned around and went back up.
Thanks for sharing.
PleinAirLive was the BEST experience I’ve ever had in my search for becoming a better artist! Day One was worth the price of the whole four days, and then it kept getting better and better. I’ve re-watched many of the demos, and Jean Stern..such a treat. Thank you, Eric, for providing such a wonderful outlet during these hard times. I’ve signed up for RealismLive, and can’t wait!!! By the way, I actually cried watching Kevin Macpherson paint his incredible piece. It was so wonderful, it actually affected me emotionally!!
Thanks Eric for today’s Sunday Coffee. I always appreciate your thoughts. Just wanted to say thanks so much for Plein Air Live 2020. It was great, and I enjoyed it, profited from it, and had a great time. Thanks to you and all the Streamline Crew and Faculty. It was a great experience. Onward and upward, pivot, and no drama. Enjoy the lake, and the smell of the pines. Thanks again!
I just wanted to mention I have followed your career, over the years. I am an Illustrator with a background in marketing and advertising and I marvel at your wisdom and passion for what you do. I think to me PleinAir Live truly wouldn’t have been as insightful or engaging with anyone else at the helm.
Thank you Eric.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer in the beautiful Adirondacks painting and Chillin 😎
Cheers from Ontario,Canada
P.S Looking forward to Realism Live !
Dear Eric, I wish to personally Thank you for what you have been doing for the art world. You have been a blessing and inspiration during this trying times. It has being a trying time for all of us and not much fun in our lives. I have been able to enjoy all the free videos and your daily talks. It has filled the start of my day on a positive note. I have always been very active and seeing you continue push on each day has kept me and I’m sure many others too going forward with good notes.
May the blue bird of happiness shine on you and your family always,
With much affection, Lorry Carroll
P,S. I’m 87, painter, teacher (had to drop classes) bike rider, yes I still ride my bike, was a long distance rider, but only do 20 plus miles..
Thank you Eric for being a continuing inspiration! It was an incredible privilege to be able to see first hand what ‘fear not’ looks like in action as you and your team chose to march upward and create something incredible that brought joy, new ideas and inspiration to so many people. I was truly touched as I saw folks literally lighting back up and feeling connected again. There indeed is light at the top of the stairs! 🙂
I’m so glad that things worked out! My wife was able to attend the beginners class, which she had wanted to do for a few years, and this gave her the opportunity to do so. Although a virtual event will never fully replace live events, it opens the door to many who because of time or money constraints would never otherwise attend. It’s a great way to get to your million painters!
I am also glad to see you are considering this for realism as well.
Thank you for this past week. It was brilliant, fun and very well done. I’m so grateful to have participated. I don’t say that lightly either. As COVID rampaged across the country, I shattered both my shoulder and knee. I could never attended a live event. But thanks to you I had the “best” seat in the house and I was so inspired by everyone – the teachers and other participants. Thank you so much for stepping out on a limb. You created an amazing experience for all of us.
It is hard to come up with things to say about the PleinAir Live event that have not already been said. It was so very FABULOUS! I feel so blessed to have gotten to experience it!
I just want to thank you for being obedient to share your God-given talents of creativity, organization, encouragement, friendship and love with the art community! May the Lord bless your time with family and His beautiful creation this summer. Looking for ward to October!
Nana Midcap, Houston
Dear Eric, so glad you posted about your experience and that it turned out well. Most of us think negative in our first thoughts. How inspirational to learn that you faced your fear and it was successful.
Congratulations and thank you for your honesty.
Eric it was an amazing event… Genius! I didn’t exactly know what to expect but it went well beyond anyting I though …I never did get into any of the chat rooms because I always had to either get dinner on the table or walk the dog and I didn’t paint at night because I was just too darn tired…I’m a Dawn riser! I did go to sleep one night with the Adirondack waterfall and it’s constant loop giving me sweet dreams.
Having been to two different conventions this was so different and there were a lot of things about it that I liked better and one of them was feeling more up close and personal with each teacher/demo. Everyone had their own personal touches to their zoom It was a lot more personal watching it in my favorite chair On my iPad with my sketchpad and notepad handy!! I got the biggest kick out of all the international people that were part of this..so from Hague on Lake George Welcome back to the Adirondacks and your most deserved rest .!
Eric, Thank you so much for the wonderful inspiring Plein Air Live! I’ve been sick in bed this week but looked forward to each day of the event! Bravo!
I want to thank you for all you have done for us artists near and far. With all that you’ve been through, including those difficult days with your son’s illness, and with all lthat’s going on now, with your businesses in peril, you still found ways to give and serve. I am proud to know you. Like so many, I’ve also felt like giving up, wondering what purpose my work could possibly serve in these times. I had to leave all of my work, and most of my supplies, behind when I left Uruguay to come to Mexico, and don’t know if any of it will be worth salvaging when I finally get enough money together to reclaim it. I am still grieving, but know that giving up is not the answer. It’s time to make some new stuff…work that reflects where I am now, and who I am now. We are all in this together, and we will triumph together. These are times to let our light, however small a flame it seems to be, shine brightly so that others may find their way. Your light shines brightly! Be well, be safe, keep painting and looking for the beauty that is still there to be found, if we have eyes to see it.
I want to thank you during this time of being stationary, I have made progress in my painting. I have been following your daily talks and following up with the free videos. I have seen in these videos a method of preparation by various artists, that they all follow to some extent or another. It reminds me of my training in the 60’s at The Art Center College of Design, then in Los Angeles. My teacher John LaGotta, who I adored, taught in his figure painting class, some of these procedures. He approved our drawings, our gray green backgrounds and tranfering the drawing onto to the surface. We had to paint the most predominant color, then second and third and so on. He would review our efforts and tell us to continue or start again. I never finished a painting! But I still follow his instructions. Now seeing your videos I have added to my method of painting, with Casein, and have made progress. I joined the California Art Club last year and was introduced to water soluble oil paints. I have purchase Rosemary Brushes that were mentioned several times on your videos and now have a portrait (my wife) that I am working the courage to start. My drawing is great, I am not sure I want to ruin it with paint! But I will. Several years ago, when I was feeling down, you sent me free magazines for a time. I now subscribe full time. Thank you again for your Sunday Coffees and videos. I am very sure I am not the only one to appreciate your drive and efforts.
Thank you for your positive outlook for the future. Our studio friends are leaving because of loss of funds, open studios cancelled, studio teaching stopped, sales are non-existent, having to change our way of living day to day. However, new artists moving in to our studios brings new life, Zoom conferences/shows are educational and we are all learning new ways of communicating. More and more on-line shows are available for artists to keep the incentive going. Look forward to the next Sunday Coffee
Loved Plein Air Live, it couldn’t have been better!!!
Thank you and your fabulous Team, Eric! I just didn’t realize how much I needed this. Since March, I have done a lot at home, gardened, etc. but didn’t paint as I didn’t feel the motivation. I registered for PleinAirLive for inspiration; and WOW, I really didn’t realize what I would experience. Exposure to all of these great artists is something that I would have never been able to experience in a lifetime! When working I taught, not only in the classroom, but designed and taught online courses. I can’t imagine how you were able to conceptualize this and make it happen so seamlessly in such a short amount of time. This was really a life-changing event and so needed in midst of Covid-19! The way you structured the conference was so insightful! I knew I had the replay option, but I was glued to the computer all week. The best to you and to your team, and thank you for “pivoting” and in providing a pivot to so many of us around the world!
Eric – you created an idea, a spark of energy, that gained daily momentum and has traveled around the earth. Connecting a world of artists into one very appreciative community. Thank you for Plein Air Live, so glad I jumped onboard and flew.
Congratulations on such a successful event in Plein Air Live!
I just signed up for Realism Live as well! I love art and learning and growing even as a master of pastel! Thank you for providing this new platform! Kudos to your team and all the presenters!
Thank you and your staff for all of great content these last few months, but especially for creating Plein Air Live. It was fantastic and some of the best instruction that I have experienced. My bold move, as a result, was to reimagine a difficult large painting that has been giving me fits and to create devices in it to solve problems. I based all of that on plein air studies from the last 8 years. One takeaway from Plein Air Live is the sheer volume of hard work behind the artists’’ successful paintings.
Is all of life a giant learning curve? Maybe so, but the practice of becoming a better painter has a very interesting, challenging and rewarding learning curve! Thank you for speeding me along a good bit during these times.
All the best,
Sarah Clayton Davis
Thanks Eric. Words of wisdom. You are an inspiration and a role model.
My applauds to you and your team for for making the best from the fear of the times we are living in to a spectacular event. Remarkable artists, the content they provided priceless. Being able to connect with people from all over the world was also an exceptional experience. In one of the breakout rooms I met someone who attended a workshop in 1999 with me that was offered by Kevin Macpherson at Greenville Arms in NY State. Serendipity. Maybe it is cooler in the Adirondacks today then it is in NJ. so that you enjoy sitting by the lake in your ages old adirondack chair. You deserve it. Thank you once again for all that you have done for the art community over these unsettling times. Take good care and stay safe.
Thank you to you and your team for pivoting in spite of the challenges and holding this wonderful event. Your insghts, advice and leadership were brilliant The teachers were outstanding. The people in the break out rooms were cool and generous with their knowledge. Plein Air Live really shook me up and recharged my enthusiasm for painting after being cooped up in the studio or out painting alone. I will be participating in future events and have already bought my ticket for the October virtual summit. I will be telling all my friends! Also, thanks for the noon videos and the other support that you offer with these Sunday Coffee emails. You are a Rock Star!
2020 definitely challenging times to say the least. I am an artist and also work in the medical field with patients everyday so there is some risk in my profession, but I look at the challenges instead. I take all safety precautions ( people please wear masks and social distance ). My art sales are way down due to shows being canceled etc., but look at this time as a time to build inventory and paint for myself paintings that mean something to me personally, although they may not be what I would sell a gallery it is rewarding my creative spirit. I believe it is making me a better artist also, getting to push me out of my comfort zone. The interaction you have provided us online Eric has been wonderful and inspiring. Pivot with the times, find joy in taking a closer look at our lives and loved ones, never give up the creative spirit, brighter days are ahead in our future. Enjoyed Plein Air Live so much, thank you.
My husband just said, “Did that really happen?” What you can’t hear is his unspoken “WOW”!! He would wander in, from time to time, to see how it was going for me (and to help with computer navigating, LOL). He was dazzled, TOO! See the ripples that go out? As retireds, this was maybe the only way that I (and my husband by default) could experience something like this.
TY again, Eric!!
Rest and enjoy the pines of the beloved Adirondacks! Peace and joy to you.
There is always a choice to go beyond your own fear of the unknown. For some the correct answer is to walk forward and explore the future in a different way which you have done and given great benefit to fellow artists along the way. . At other times it is best to roll over and let life move past while you take a rest. Over the last decade i have had to relearn how to walk, read, write and speak 3 different times after surgical events that progressively diminished the ability to recall my former life. Through this all the ability and need to create art was the one stable immovable object. During the months of near total immobility where i could only blink, trapped within a non functional human body, i could still create paintings in my mind, exploring possibilities. Finding the personal balance between opposing forces within yourself allows movement forward into life without resistance where lies the moment of awakening to the path forward. Each of us comes to the point where we must live in the moment of now which in your writings you described beautifully and eloquently. Covid 19 is as much an opportunity as it is a threat to our ideas of what our lives were meant to be. Through todays writing [plus your actions] and others in the past you have shown many artists the way forward past self imposed limitations.
Thankyou Eric for organizing that amazing virtual Plein Air conference. It was so inspiring for all of us isolated in our studios during these Covid times… very much appreciated!
Thank you so much for Plein Air Live. I feel as if I have grown in my art during the last 5 days. I know that I will enjoy looking forward to reviewing the event in the coming days. Again Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you so much for Plein Air Live. I learned so much, and I have already signed up for Realism Live. You are so right that in every crisis there is always opportunity.
I hope that you are filled with joy, Eric! – Huge thanks to you and all…and YOUR FAMILY!! Applause for them, for they are part of this, too!! All of your sacrifices and hard work made for a PleinAir Live that felt bigger than itself! A life-changer for me on so many different levels! Am still reveling in the spectacular presentations, stories, fun personalities, comraderie…could go on and on. Unforgettable!! (Took 120 pages of notes and now I have my own personal Art “handbook” that will last my lifetime!) Am SO grateful that you pivoted and did this wonderful thing! TY,TY! It was a gift to me from my kids. Please tell others that all your productions make the PERFECT gifts!! Prayers and God Bless you, Carol
I just used your quote about “we can’t assume it will get better” as my Facebook status. Of course, I gave you the credit. Such a healthy way to view these days!! Thank you for that wise perspective!
Eric, My hope for you, is that you realize the gravity of this virtual conference. You brought master artist/instructors into homes of people who cannot afford to attend a live conference. As you speak of financially tough times and uncertain futures during this COVID, many people have been in that survival mode every day of lives. Many people cannot leave jobs for a week and afford the extra expenses of traveling to a destination. That week of work and income cannot be made up. Providing an online conference at a reasonable price allowed many to experience something that was just a glimpse of a dream. You will never fully know what you have done for so many beginning artists, aspiring artists, dry artists, fearful artists…you provided hope and generated movement. As for me, I spent this whole time closer than a front row seat. I can rewind and repeat to solidify the concepts into my being. My income from “art” comes from teaching. So creating is the catalyst to depth in my lessons. I so not focus on marketing my work. An affordable online conference is PERFECT. Also I was not able to attend day 1,2 or 3 since I was teaching art teachers at those times. Your format was perfect. I have yet to see all the conference yet. I do wish the replay was at least a week longer for situations like mine. I am three days behind. I host 2 plein air groups for 5 day adventures once a summer, one in the Black Hills of South Dakota and one along the Niobrara River in Nebraska. My people would love this conference, some did attend. I will be spreading the word and sharing knowledge too many. The “Paint Along the Niobrara River” was developed out of this COVID. I knew I could not guarantee a safe experience in the Black Hills at public locations so I pulled my big girl pants on and planned painting with a couple of my friends in my local area, the Niobrara River. We are VERY remote and everyone knows me as a neighbor and art teacher for years in the area. So I began talking to my neighbors and getting access to locations to paint. the community was super supportive. Artists were wanting this very thing. We ended up painting for five days with 25 artists attending either all or part of the days. Please rest and know your exhaustion is worth every bit of the pain. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!! Joan Swim-Springview, NE/Valentine, NE—and yep Debra Joy painted with us!
Wow, Joan! You said it best about being financially pinched now. It takes Faith to keep in the game, to stand up, looking up, not down. You are doing wonderfully well, just like Eric! Prayers for your continued successes.
Thank you Eric for pivoting to bring us the virtual conference. I for one am very thankful for this opportunity to attend. I am grateful for this wonderful experience.
Great teachers , that I would never have seen and enjoyed. Thank you!!!
Beautifully written and so true.
PleinAir Live was a huge success, and I learned so much last week that I was (happily) exhausted by Saturday evening. Thank you so much for finding a new way to share the talents of so many gifted and hardworking artists, yourself included. Hope you get back to your happy place on schedule.
Thank you for Plein Air Live, so bummed it’s over! Looking forward to Realism Live. Thank you again for “pivoting” into the virtual mode, could not be happier with the education I have received thanks to you Eric Rhoads. Enjoy your well deserved time at the lake.
I have many friends who joined and watched the Virtual Summit and they all loved it. I would have joined as well, except for the fact that I just moved across the country and was not able to.
Congratulations Eric on stepping up and continuing with your dream!
We can all learn something from watching other artists methods- Thank you!
Thank you for the uplifting message today. I also feel we need to deal with this pandemic by thinking out of the box, staying positive, and using our flexible brains to be more creative than ever.
Good for you, Eric! Thank you for these words and your courage to lead in good times and bad! You are an inspiration!
Don’t cry because it’s over. Be glad it happened…. Dr. Seuss .
In my life I have made several hard pivots. Of course I mourn what will never be again. However when I pivot, squarely face and accept my new albeit unknown reality, my fear begins to subside and hope emerges. I believe those who successfully emerge from grief Into hope are the true warrior survivors! You have certainly proven you are a member of that club.
Congratulations on a very successful pivot. You have tapped into the artist hunger for a product that has been inaccessible. No matter how much you lowered your price, they could not participate in the traditional conference format. I look forward to when we can be together, but I hope this format will also continue.
Thank you so much for your inspiring comments and insight into this crazy time we are living in. Your creativity and tenacity is helping us home bound souls seek out ways to continue forward. I’m curious to see how the art work being produced now might be reflective of this time.
Safe travels to you.
Hello Eric from Brora in the Scottish Highlands,
I want to say a heartfelt thank you for pivoting and facing the fear. Plein Air Live was a fabulous 5 days of inspiration , learning,growing and entertainment and was just what I was searching for. I ‘ve been painting outdoors for many years and like yourself spent x 2 weekends spring and autumn painting outdoors. (See I was listening.) With so much knowledge and expertise packed in, I have over 25 pages of notes and its time for me to stop procrastinating, face the fear and put the learning into action.
Yes I have signed up for Realism Live and look forward to October. Many thanks to you, all of your team and everyone involved for making such a fabulous event happen.
Enjoyed the heck out of Plein Air Live. I’ve always wanted to attend but we spend the summers in Denmark so it’s been impossible. Keep it up Eric, you have done more good to help us all during these unsettling times. All the best to you and your empire. Now go enjoy the Adirondacks.
You are pretty darned amazing. Thank you for your very real observations, thought provoking comments, and inspiration. We’ll get there.
Excellent food for thought..thank you for my morning inspirational jolt, Eric..you have certainly earned a nice rest tonight in your Adirondack chair overlooking the lake.
Dear Eric, Thank you so much for putting together Plein Air Live. I signed up for Realism Live this morning. I had looked forward to the Adirondack retreat and had withdrawn from it because of my fear of COVID. I was really down in the dumps. I think we have all been hurting because we have felt our joy be stripped away these last few months. Through your team’s hard work, we have been able to reconnect to our true love: Art. I know that instills fresh hope in my heart. You are right. It is time for all of us to get out of the basement, time to renew our dreams. Cheers! Happy Sunday and safe travels back to the Adirondacks.
Tricia Lowrey Lippert
I have enjoyed these Sunday morning chats as I have been one of those living in fear. I was sick early on for 6 weeks (which could have been Covid but testing was unavailable then) and have repercussions from the illness which are finally improving. You bring me out of my fog and into a light. I paint with a friend and we have had to change our methods. We can no longer drive in one car to our destination, but we meet and paint and it is a wonderful release from stress.
I debated doing your online event, but find being on the computer for long periods was making me edgy. Perhaps if you do it again, I shall give it a try. It looked terrific.
I love your magazine. I can’t wait until it comes and read every word. It has definitely improved my painting.
Keep the faith.
I love Sunday Coffee…..keep it coming!
Congratulations on such a history making adventure. Pleinairlive was fabulous. Have a good rest and keep that deckchair warm. Please take a huge heart felt thankyou from me for pivoting so beautifully, facing your fear and having a far reaching impact on so many.
Thank you for pivoting. #PleinAirLive was the best weeklong art workshop I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to plenty over the years. The experience was a revelation on every level. Usually I go home thinking I’ve missed something crucial that has left a gap in my understanding. Not with your conference. If there is a facet left unexplored, it doesn’t exist. An absolutely remarkable experience. Well done! Thank you.