My feet tingle as they hit the cold, wet deck of the covered porch that goes the length of the front and back of this “Texas farmhouse.” Pussy willows reach for the sky with their arms out in praise, their soft buttons of fur standing out in contrast against the darkness of the woods behind them. A Christmas amaryllis in full bloom adds a splash of red color against the greens of spring as though it’s Christmas again. Crunching leaves of fall remain interlaced with new blades of grass, and Texas wildflowers start to show their cheery faces as the old tree at the edge of the property blooms with white blossoms. A roar of rain slamming into the tin roof drowns out the distant birdsongs.
There is simply no feeling quite as good as spring. Winters, even the short and warmer ones like this year’s, are always long, and we await the new season with hope and anticipation.
Fields of Flowers
Yesterday, Laurie and I were explorers on a quest for fields of bluebonnets. Roadsides here are covered with them, thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, who had seeds handed out with license plates and encouraged Texans to spread the seeds along roadsides. The viral effect created roads of beauty, a Texas tradition we all look forward to. Kids in their Sunday best are photographed among the fields of flowers each year as an Easter tradition.
Massive Snow Drifts
When I lived in Indiana as a child, winter provided a much-needed rest from the activity of the rest of the year. Snowdrifts the size of houses would keep us inside by the fieldstone fireplace, other than a few frozen adventures to tunnel out and build snow forts where we would lob ice orbs at one another.
A Crafty Lady
We learned to be creative, to fill the time with projects — some productive and useful, like cleaning out indoor spaces in need of decluttering, and others more creative. My mom would sit for hours between meals cutting fabric to cover shoes, make hats, and sew clothes. She was the first to place a paintbrush in my hand as if to give me a life mission I did not yet know I had. We would sit together for hours, talking and painting.
The Baggy Green Sweater
One year Mom asked me to pick out some yarn for a sweater she would knit. I picked out bright green fuzzy mohair, which seemed like a good idea at the time. The end result was oversized (so I could grow into it), baggy, and made me look like a giant green blob from Mars. I can still see the pride in her eyes seeing me wear it to school, yet as soon as I was at my locker, it came off — then back on again before going home. I was embarrassed to be seen in it. I tear up just thinking about how hard she worked on that sweater for me, the love that went into it, and my deception so my friends wouldn’t see me wearing it. I think she eventually found out, which would have broken her heart.
My fondest memories of my great childhood are about the downtime, the simple times of crafting at the dining room table, being with family when the fireplace was crackling, and playing long games of Monopoly.
Last week I mentioned silver linings, and this time of quarantine is an opportunity to reconnect, to have downtime to play, to make memories, to engage with your family.
A Little Embarrassed
Remember when the media frenzy called Y2K had many of us ready for the end of the world? I have special memories of the family being sequestered together in a cabin on a frozen lake, a memory that is special to this day. Though nothing came of Y2K and we look back a little embarrassed at taking the bait, it’s hard to know what looking back over COVID-19 will be like. But we could look back on the best parts, when we were forced to be inside with family.
What can you do to make this time the most special in the memory bank of your family?
What can you do to communicate messages your family needs to hear… family legacy, the stories of the past?
What lessons can we impart to our families? Not lectures, but stories with lessons built-in?
As the cases amplify and more is learned as more are tested, we can focus on the bad, or we can focus on the things we can influence or change. Let’s use this time to strengthen our relationships and build lifetime memories.
One day soon we’ll be looking back, probably a little embarrassed that we filled our garages with toilet paper, but we’ll cherish the time we were imprisoned indoors.
Yes, this too shall pass.
Be strong, but be deliberate. Don’t let this opportunity pass; it’s a chance to create a lifetime memory.
I’ve spent the last decade of my life creating what I believe are the best art instruction tutorials on earth. I started creating them because I was a buyer, and they were never really as good as I wanted them to be. So I hired a Hollywood cinematographer and started creating them. Today we have developed a reputation for exceptional quality, with excellent light, sound, and cinematography. One person who tried them for the first time just a month ago told me they had no idea just how much better our tutorials were. She said, “You should tell people this. I had no idea.” So I’m humbly sharing this with you.
We have a library of over 400 videos, and, unlike home-brew or self-made products made on smartphones or consumer cameras, we’ve invested in the same cameras producers use for network TV shows and movies. We built a state-of-the art soundstage to eliminate street noise and distant lawnmowers. My goal was to create films with the same quality aesthetic you would expect from a movie you see on Netflix.
And most of our videos are in-depth. Though we have some shorter ones, most are like master classes, like attending a several-day workshop so you can see every stroke, and know exactly what the instructor is thinking. In fact, some viewers have said they prefer them over in-person because if they miss a point, they can rewind and look again.
We have masterclasses in plein air painting, landscape painting, still life, portrait, figure, and even academic training in classical realism, like you would get attending an atelier.
We’ve become known as the place the best artists come to produce these masterclasses, because of the quality of our videos. They spend their lives building a reputation, and they don’t want to see it torn down by a low-quality production. As a result, you will find the best of the best, people who can teach you at the highest level. Yet we have products for every level, from beginner to pro.
The reason I’m giving you this “infomercial” is because if you have time on your hands because you need to stay inside, this is a time to learn and grow, and do something you’ve always wanted to do, like learn to paint.
I’ve listed our video opportunities for you below, starting with some free lessons for people who want to learn to paint but don’t think they have the talent or ability.
Free lessons I teach: www.paintbynote.com
Wendy from CA’s comment has got me thinking a lot more about being like Jesus (or Buddha or Mohammed depending on your perspective). In the words of my mom, I’ve become more “feisty” since the COVID19 outbreak. I’d like to apologize for anything you may have perceived to be “cheap shots” being made publicly on your blog. And as I said before, I forgive you for your actions in 2018. We are all in this together.
Be brave and safe,
Frankly, I’m a bit surprised to read the above comment. If people have an axe to grind with Eric, it would be much more gracious to private message him than to take cheap shots at him publicly, on his own blog. I may not know him personally, but I’m going to bet that his response (if he deigns to give one) will be far more gracious than the attack, like “turning the other cheek,” as Jesus once said.
Eric, you may not be perfect, but that is okay with me–none of us are! You keep being you, turning the other cheek and encouraging others, and ignore the judgmental comments. There are plenty of us out here who think you’re pretty dang awesome. 🙂
Good advice! I’m enjoying painting more these days. Stay well, dear Eric and family.
Wise words from a wise man
Dear Eric, the hoarders should be embarrassed for sure (and ashamed), but none of us should regret for the slightest moment that we should protect ourselves and our community by sheltering in place and doing everything we can to halt the spread. This is not “taking the bait”. I live in Silicon Valley where the impact is already very real- my neighbor is a doctor who has had to post on NextDoor that her clinic has run out of protective gowns and masks- they are asking for help finding some, and recruiting anyone who can make some.
My daughter and her three old (my grandson!) spent last week in San Francisco with fevers, but can’t be tested. No tests. My son got strep throat last week and now has bronchitis, but can’t get tested for COVID19 either- no tests. I don’t know when it will be safe to see them in person again. I’m thankful for FaceTime!
So please be careful everyone. This is far from over. I’m extremely fortunate to have a garden to tend and bring me some joy.
I wish the best for you and your family.
I own almost 40 of your teaching videos because I cannot travel hardly at all for workshops. The past 2 weeks I have been watching my favorites again and feeling like I can “go to class” again. Some I watched again after seeing it years ago the first time, and more lightbulbs went off. I had greater understanding to get more out of it. I am grateful they are available and the work you do to produce them. Thanks Eric and staff!
No worries, we all know only Jesus is perfect. Eric is pretty dang awesome at connecting talented artists with each other. He can do great things.
Thank you Eric. Your words are always uplifting and add much needed encouragement especially as we wait to see how this particular piece of history plays out.
I’ve bought a few of your videos (and have my eye on a few more) and agree with you the quality is unmatched! Ive grown as an artist over the past few years in part to the videos, the podcast, as well as the news letters.
I’m grateful for all you’ve done for artist like myself.
This is the wife of your previous full time independent contractor writing again. I spoke with my 103 year old grandmother this week and she mentioned that she was 2 years old during the Spanish flu. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus between 1918 and 1920 and approximately 50 million people died. I joked with her that, when my 2-year-old daughter is 103, COVID 19 will be a distant memory, just like the Spanish Flu is for my grandmother now. With that said, the Spanish Flu was much more serious than Y2K. It’s okay to be a little embarrassed for being either over or underreactive in this time of rapidly changing information. We are all doing the best we can and it’s okay to acknowledge when we are wrong and course correct. Humility involves admitting that you’re wrong and apologizing when appropriate. Humility is not, “I (create) the best art instruction tutorials on earth” or other people “filled their garages with toilet paper.” You can learn to be humble Eric. We are all in this together.