The Time Is Now for Legacy
Warmth is the first thing I feel as I step out to the long covered back deck of this Texas ranch house. Sun is blasting my eyes, throwing hot orange against the tree trunks, and the tall blades of grass are casting long shadows. But it won’t last long and will be gone before I finish.
It’s been a while since I’ve come to you with something fresh and new. Thanks to my team for setting up the repeats to fill in during a brief illness. Happily, I’m 150% back, filled with energy, and my brain is on fire with all the things I want to do in ’22.
Two Weeks Straight
I often suggest two-week vacations to my team members. Some like to do that, others like to take a week at a time. In my own case, it takes me a week to relax, and then that second week is to play while relaxed. The same thing happens if you’re stuck in bed. You lose the stress and see your mind open up.
Ali, my very overqualified assistant, will tell you the conversation after every time I take some time off.
“I’m going to make some changes. I need more time to think, more time to work on ideas, and less time ‘doing things.’”
She agrees, and then two weeks later, I’m back in my 150mph routine and nothing has changed.
But this time will be different, I tell myself. This time I’m going to make changes.
But will I?
There is nothing like a relaxed brain, the removal of stress, along with a prepared mind. I know what I need to change, but will I? A betting bookie would lay odds that I continue to repeat my normal behavior and change does not occur. And then, the next vacation or break, I’ll say the same things, have good intentions, but then go back to the grindstone.
What about you?
When you get the cobwebs out, where do you want to be, and what are you going to do about it?
In my case there is usually a bag of good excuses to help me rationalize my addiction to work. Things like, “I know I need some help, but can I really afford it?” Or, “I don’t have time to train someone to take up some of my responsibilities.” Or, “No one can do it like I can.”
Of course, the contents of that bag are complete BS.
If you or I want to make change, only you or I can do it. We cannot rely on outside sources, we cannot rely on circumstances, and we have to stop making excuses.
Making a New Plan
Knowing this, I made a plan while I was resting. In fact, with ample time to think, I went into detail, including a plan to not allow myself to fall back into the same old habits. And one day of my illness, I got out of bed, went to the couch, and, with scratchy throat, made a phone call to explore bringing someone on board to take over some of the things I want to remove from my massive list of responsibilities. This fall, I also was able to hire someone else to do the same for different responsibilities, and it’s made a huge difference. And I’ve discovered that not only am I not needed, others can do it better.
Taking a Risk
Now I have to admit, there were decades when I could not afford to hire anyone to help me. But my discovery is that if I don’t take some risk and get some help, it stunts my growth, slows my success, and exacerbates my problems. As a result, I’ll not have to wear my cape with the red “S” anymore. After decades of being Superman, it’s time for others to fight my battles.
So what will I do with all this extra time? After all, I’m not interested in or ready for retirement and boredom.
A friend who did this, a very famous and important artist, said, “I’m going to spend the next couple of decades on legacy projects.” He used that opportunity to write books that needed to be written, take care of projects that would make things easier for his family once he was gone, and do things that make even more of a difference.
I’m not going anywhere. I intend to keep doing my daily livestreams and my podcasts, hosting my virtual conferences like next month’s PleinAir Live, teaching marketing on stage at the Plein Air Convention, and hosting painting events like Fall Color Week and the Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks. But it’s time to work on the legacy projects … the books I need to write, the exhibitions I need to mount, the courses I need to record, the museums I want to create, and a few dozen other very worthy projects. But I’m hopeful I can step off the high-speed merry-go-round of minutiae and focus on what also needs to be done.
It’s not about my legacy. It’s about the legacy of making the world a much better place, making the art world better.
Our Last Breath
The reality is that you and I never stop till our lungs exhale their final breath. Our brains work, our bodies work, and we still have interests and important things that need to be done. Some tell themselves they are out of time or energy, while others allow the passion for their projects to drive them to completion.
Which are you?
Andrew Carnegie said he spent the first half of his life amassing wealth and planned to use the second half to give it away. It’s my hope that my second act will be about giving back. Making sure that projects the world needs to be done, get done.What about you?
Most of us have lost some important people in our lives in the past couple of years. Some related to the pandemic, others not. Just this week I lost a 45-year-old second cousin who has spent his life building his career to provide for his family. But what about the legacy projects?
Count on Nothing
Recently I told my lawyer that I wanted to get my planning done now, not wait for another 30 years like others I know who feel fairly secure that they’ll be around. But we can’t count on anything, which is why we all should consider building legacy into our daily lives, not waiting till we’re gray. Happily I’ve done a fair amount, but looking back, I could have done more. It did not all have to be about career-building.
Find the time. Identify your special gifts, and seek ways to leave something special behind, the legacy or gift you can leave the world. Do not delay. Find a way, find the time. You’ll never regret it.
PS: A year or two ago I set a goal to teach a million people to paint. I’m guessing I’m not there yet, but I do know we’ve been exposed to hundreds of thousands who are learning because of the efforts we’ve taken. That makes me happy. That’s legacy work, because it changes lives and breathes confidence into people who never before could paint. But I need to reach more people, train more people, and open their eyes to what they don’t believe is possible. You can help by spreading the word.
For the last two years I had to cancel the Plein Air Convention, which prompted us to invent PleinAir Live, an online training conference that takes place over 4 days. We’ve run it twice, and have reached thousands. It’s coming up again in March and has proven to be the answer for hundreds and hundreds who cannot escape to attend our live events. We’ve had people in 50+ countries attend these events. We’ve taught thousands to paint. And we have the world’s finest as our instructors. If you’re tired of golf, or looking for something fun and different in your life, take a risk (it’s 100% money back guaranteed). You’ll never regret it.
Oh, and by the way, the Plein Air Convention & Expo will take place in Santa Fe this May. So you can come and learn in person, though attendance will be limited.
When I started our art instruction video business, Streamline Art Video, a decade ago or more, we did things differently and used Hollywood-level production to give a better experience. When the pioneer in that business died, we were asked to carry on the Johnnie Liliedahl legacy. Then, when the founder of Creative Catalyst passed, we were asked to carry that legacy on as well. We’ve kept all three brands around for years, but we discovered it was getting confusing, so right before Christmas, everything became one brand… PaintTube.TV, which has hundreds of art instruction videos in one place. And will soon be on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon, and others. Oh, and by the way, at the convention in May, we’re presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to co-founder Ralph Liliedahl. It will be a proud moment.
There is always a lot going on … so I thought I would post a calendar of all the things in the plan (so far) for the year.Important Dates
Plein Air Salon Entry Deadline
$30,000 Art Competition/Deadline: March 31, 2022
Annual Winners Will Be Announced Live at PACE on May 17 in Santa Fe, NM.
Enter this monthly online competition to win cash prizes and recognition. Monthly category winners will be entered into the Annual Competition where the Grand Prize is $15,000 cash and the cover of PleinAir Magazine. Enter one of our 18 categories in plein air and in studio painting.
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3rd Annual Plein Air Live Virtual Conference
Virtual Event: March 9-12, 2022
Beginners Day: March 9
March 6 is the last day to save up to $300 on a ticket
Replays available if you can’t make the date.
PleinAir magazine presents Plein Air Live, a 4-day online training event featuring 30 of the world’s top landscape and plein air artists doing demonstrations and presentations. Join thousands of artists from around the world to take your work to the next level and learn about the plein air lifestyle and how to become a part of it.
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9th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo
In-Person Event: May 16-20
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Basic Course: May 16
Kevin McPherson Pre-Convention Workshop: May 16-17
Main Event: 17-20
Last Day to save $500 is February 14th
Plein Air Magazine presents the 9th Annual Plein Air Convention, a gathering of plein air artists, over 60 top instructors teaching on multiple stages in multiple mediums. Daily painting at a group in iconic locations. Giant expo hall of plein air specific art materials. Art marketing Boot Camp. Attendance limited.
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11th Annual Publisher’s Invitational Paint Out in the Adirondacks
Artist Retreat: June 11-18, 2022
Location: Paul Smith’s College Near Saranac Lake, NY
Join Eric Rhoads, Publisher of Inside Art, PleinAir, and others, for a one week artist retreat, painting in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of Upstate, NY. Paint with the group or alone, all meals and lodging provided. Meet new friends, paint multiple pieces daily. All meals together, plus group events, cocktail parties, singing and music, portrait painting and more. A great way to get better fast or to learn the ropes of plein air painting. This is not a workshop or training event.
7th Annual Fall Color Week
Artist Retreat: October 6-13, 2022
Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
Join Eric Rhoads, Publisher of Inside Art, PleinAir, and others, for a one week artist retreat, painting in the beautiful fall color during peak color week at Acadia National Park in Maine. Paint with the group or alone, all meals and lodging provided. Meet new friends, paint multiple pieces daily. All meals together, plus group events, cocktail parties, lobster dinner, singing and music, portrait painting and more. A great way to get better fast or to learn the ropes of plein air painting. This is not a workshop or training event.
Painting Trip and Tour: September 15-29, 2022
A rare opportunity to paint in the cities and countryside of Russia, along with sightseeing, museum visits (including a private entry into the Hermitage Museum), art studio visits, visits to the two great art academies, and painting with Russian Masters. The trip starts in St. Petersburg, then to the small villages inland, then to Moscow, and ending with the village and exact paint spots painted by the great Russian masters like Repin, Serov, Levitan and others. Hosted by Eric Rhoads. Limited to 50 people. Join the waiting list. This is a one time trip, which will not be repeated.