Plein Air Podcast 218: Douglas Fryer on Painting the Abstract Landscape

Plein Air Podcast - Eric Rhoads - Douglas Fryer

In this episode of the Plein Air Podcast, Eric Rhoads interviews abstract landscape painter Douglas Fryer on his historical inspirations, finding your authenticity as an artist, and more.

Bonus! In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, addresses how to price your art more for the luxury market.

Have a question about how to sell your art? Ask Eric at

Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Douglas Fryer here:

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FULL TRANSCRIPT of this Plein Air Podcast
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Plein Air Podcast. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.

Eric Rhoads 0:36
This is episode number 219 with Douglas Fryer.

Announcer 1:01
This is the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads, publisher and founder of Plein Air Magazine. In the Plein Air Podcast we cover the world of outdoor painting called plein air. The French coined the term which means open air or outdoors. The French pronounce it plenn air. Others say plein air. No matter how you say it. There is a huge movement of artists around the world who are going outdoors to paint and this show is about that movement. Now, here’s your host, author, publisher and painter, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads 1:43
Well, thank you Jim Kipping. And welcome to the Plein Air Podcast. I’m really excited. And I’m excited because the weather has really warmed up here in Austin, Texas, it was called just too long this winter unseasonably cold. And tomorrow, the great master artist Albert Handell is coming on over to my place. I’ve got some property here, I’ve got a lot of gnarly looking, beautiful old twisty oak trees, and he wants to paint my trees. So we’re going to be painting together. He and Linda maybe who knows, maybe some other people will come by. And we’re just going to plein air paint together for the day, which is going to be really fun. So I’m excited about that, you know, Albert’s been painting for 60 years, he is considered one of the top pastel masters top oil master. And every time I’m with him, you know, I was over at his studio just the other day and he’s showing me some tips and some techniques. So when I’m out painting, I’m sure he’s going to be given me some advice. He won’t do it unless I asked for it. But I will be asking for it. So I’m all already I got my hat on and ready to go. But I’ll take it off out of respect to our guests. For today. I’ll be posting some photos of my painting excursion with Albert and you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram. It’s at Eric Rhoads. And Rhoads has no E in SRH, OA, ds No, II, okay. And follow me on Instagram or Facebook if you would that be kind of nice. I’m always posting stuff there. I should also mention at the time you’re about listening to this. We are moving into pastel Live, which starts on March 9. If you’re white if you’re listening to this at the current time, you know some of you are listening to these things two years later. And March 9 is plein air live beginners day. And then we have three more days the top masters in plein air and landscape painting are going to be teaching and it’s we’ve got we’ve got a huge hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people going to be on we have about 30 instructors from all over the world including Kevin Macpherson and T Allen Lawson, among others. If you’re just hearing this and you’ve never heard about it tune in, you know, you can always watch the replays if you’re late. And if you watch your first day and you don’t feel like you got your money’s worth for the entire event. Well, you can ask for your money back by the end of the first day we’ll refund your money we’ll send you on your way and you will miss the rest of it but you will not have taken any risk. Okay, so I hope that you’ll do that. We are thrilled about the plein air podcast at about plein air movement and plein air magazine The plein air movement the plein air magazine plein air magazine. Now the number one selling and has been now for a few years number one selling art magazine nationally at Barnes and Noble mag. Art Barnes and Noble we’re pretty cool about about that. Secondly, Michael’s stores we are now in I think 139 or something Michael’s stores if it’s not in your Michael’s store, make sure to ask for this podcast is now had over 1.5 million downloads and you’re thinking why so many for something that nobody even knows what the word is? plein air. Well, obviously this movement is spreading. And there’s a lot of people very interested. So we’re pretty, pretty excited about that. And we’re also honored that the plein air podcast has been rated number one and feed spots 2021 Top 15 painting podcasts list and you can subscribe to this. There’s a subscribe button wherever you’re listening on your phone or wherever you know, it’s on all the different mediums and you can get it there. Oh, okay. So as always, on this podcast, we always end it with a marketing minute where I’m giving marketing advice. Speaking of marketing, I started all of this marketing stuff when I was trying to build the plein air convention. And and what happened essentially is I was the first one was in Las Vegas. And I was just, like, trying to get people to come and nobody was signing up. I had you know, about half of what I needed. So I brainstorming and I thought, well, you know, artists need to know about marketing. I’ve spent my life in marketing. I know a lot about it. And so I thought, well, I’ll do an art Marketing Bootcamp in the morning. Well, that did it all of a sudden it sold out. And every year it sells out and every morning at plein air convention, I do art Marketing Bootcamp for an hour, sometimes a little longer. But essentially, I’ve trained people on how to market and sell their artwork. Plein Air convention is coming up in May, and it’s important to get your ticket. It’s a gathering of plein air artists world’s largest gathering of plein air artists in person. It’s even larger with our online events. But that’s separate. And and essentially we have about 60 to 80 instructors. It’s right now we’ve got 60. We’re waiting to find out if we need more because we may have to reduce the size of attendance this year based on COVID protocols. We’re waiting to find out that’s why you need to get your seat now. Get it while you know you can get a seat. And also I was told to mention that hotel is almost entirely sold out. And you need to get that we have a special link on our website. Actually, after you register, you’ll get this special link because we don’t want people registering for hotel rooms and then not using him canceling at the last minute because we have to pay for him anyway. So anyway, get registered for the plein air convention. Just go to plein air convention calm. I should also mention, I love to paint and I love to paint with friends. And it all started Oh way, way back. I had some I was at the Carmel painters festival or I don’t remember what they called a plein air festival at the time, I guess. And I was sitting around with some artists and it was a rare moment in a bar. And we were all kind of eating french fries and drinking beers. And all of a sudden somebody said, you know, look around, you know, we never get to do this. We go to these plein air events. And we never get to spend time together. It’s very rare. Usually there’s an artist’s reception, but we don’t paint together. Because we’re trying to come up with different locations and different scenes, so that we can, you know, compete and sell our paintings. So I said, Well, what if we were what if I were to put everybody together and we do something where it’s just us? There’s no competition. There’s no show. And everybody’s like, Yeah, I’m in. So I quickly put something together at a bed and breakfast I took over the whole place. It only had 17 rooms, I took every room. And I had some really incredible painters some of which actually, all of which now are legends. And some were not well known at the time, some were still legends at the time. And so we did this week together and we painted together, we cook together, we had a lot of fun. So everybody’s after seeing and hearing about that they’re like I want to go to this and and I realized I couldn’t make it an invitational anymore. So I took over a facility in the Adirondacks where I could have a large number of people. And I love the Adirondacks and it’s just spectacularly beautiful. So I have this. I think this will be my 11th 12th 11th I think publishers Invitational I was able to do it last year, I wasn’t able to do it the year before. That’s why I’ve lost track of the count. But essentially, it’s a week of painting. You roll out of bed, we feed you. We eat together. We paint together all day in lots of different places, usually two places a day. We set up at night, we sing we paint portraits, we play music, we we just chat with one another and it’s really a wonderful experience. Anyway, that thing’s going to be sold out soon too. Because everybody’s like, I’m getting out I’m ready to get out. So you want to get out and get there too. So come to the paint. adirondacks experience, it’s just go to paint That’s the best thing to do. All right now we’ll get to our debt. Our guest Douglas fryer now I had the pleasure of meeting Douglas. I had not met him before. For I don’t think and and we asked him to come in here and shoot an instructional video because he’s so popular. He’s winning so many awards. He was just named as one of the new members of the plein air painters of America group, which is very prestigious. And, and so he came here he stayed in on my property in the world famous artist cabin, and was in town for a week. So we got to do a little bit of time together and not as much as I would have liked because there was some things going on in my family. But anyway, I got to know him and I thought you need to know him. He’s a fabulous painter. You can learn a lot from him. Please welcome Douglas Fryer. Douglas. Are you there?

Douglas Fryer 10:43
Hi. It’s great to see you.

Eric Rhoads 10:47
Thank you for being here on the plein air podcast. We are very excited about this. I should say Douglas was born in 1963. He’s just a young child compared to me. He was born in Salt Lake City raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. And later in California. He’s an artist regarded for his richly textured subtly abstracted landscapes, just beautiful and still lifes and figures. And he uses a variety of tools and techniques and mediums and he creates these unbelievably poetic works that inspire contemplation and reflection. He received his BFA in 1988, and an MFA in 1995 from Brigham Young University, which has a fabulous art program and a fabulous illustration program. And he’s taught at BYU, University of Hartford Fashion Institute of Technology and snow college. And he took his first painting lesson at nine years old but realized he wanted to be an artist. Many many years earlier. So dog what a story.

Douglas Fryer 11:54
Yeah, yeah, I it’s, it’s been a long career if you start at five years old.

Eric Rhoads 12:04
Well, when did you sell your first painting?

Douglas Fryer 12:08
Oh, you know, I did probably was early on, but it was probably only for pennies. So I thought, well,

Eric Rhoads 12:19
pennies were worth something to you at that age.

Douglas Fryer 12:21
Yeah. But I think I think I had a friend in high school that commissioned me to do a drawing or something. I was probably my first commission.

Eric Rhoads 12:31
So were you one of these people? You know, we hear about this. I think it’s controversial a little bit. But, you know, there’s people who just excel at drawing or painting when they’re little. It, were you one of those people? Or was that something that you just drew all the time? And you got good at it? What was what’s the story there?

Douglas Fryer 12:52
You know, I probably like a lot of kids. You know, I just liked to draw. I don’t know how good I was. But people told me I was good, but that was probably just them being nice. But But what it ended up being for me was, was encouragement and validation. And so, you know, drawing ended up being just part of my identity, I guess. I just knew that that was part of my life. And it was going to be a part of my life. And I I knew very, very early on. I was I was five years old and kindergarten. When I when I Oh, there I am.

Eric Rhoads 13:42
Look at that. Yeah, the people who are who are listening this this on audio are not seeing the pictures.

Douglas Fryer 13:49
That’s right.

Eric Rhoads 13:53
Cute as a button.

Douglas Fryer 13:56
I was five years so I was five years old and kindergarten and the, I don’t know what kind of assignment we had. But but we all had crayons, and, and that and just a lot of paper on the table and we were all gathered around this big table together. And all of a sudden I sensed my teacher standing behind me. And she was watching what I was doing and and thankfully, you know, she was very perceptive. And she she told the class class, you need to stand up and come and see what Doug is doing here. And I was drawing some dinosaurs and I I knew all the names and I knew all the kinds of dinosaurs and I was just, you know, drawing a big dinosaur on each of these pieces of paper and, and I still have those today i i You know, they will call. Anyway, it was that day I decided I was going to be an artist. And let’s go back.

Eric Rhoads 15:04
So do you remember? Or do you recall the first time you you actually saw a real life painting? And, and maybe a painting that inspired you? I can remember the moment very clearly I’ll just tell you, we’ll have time to think about it. But essentially, what happened is we went on vacation in New York City and I went to a museum and there was this giant painting of pirates, swashbucklers, right fighting and in a ship, and I remember that, and it was kind of like, wow, that’s a painting. And, you know, I thought it was very emotional. What do you remember?

Douglas Fryer 15:43
Well, you know, my, my uncle was an artist, and he had some, some health problems, that that were, you had to kind of give up doing creative work, and he was more of a technical illustrator, but he, but my dad was also an art major for a short time and in college. So I grew up with, with having a lot of art books in, in our house. And, and we had little bits and pieces of art. From from friends of my, my parents, I remember several watercolors that that friends had given my, my parents, and they were, these two friends were architects. And so they dabbled in, in watercolor, and we’re actually quite good. Those were the very first original paintings I remember seeing and, and I remember being really captivated by them. But it was it was probably not until I was in well as probably an elementary school and my, my parents decided to give me oil painting lessons. And

Eric Rhoads 17:16
so the oil painting lessons in elementary school

Douglas Fryer 17:19
when I was nine years old, and her my teacher was Mrs. French was was certain her name and she taught oil painting in her house and in her backyard. And I remember the very first day I went to class. I had my little sort of little toolbox full of my, my brand new materials and brushes and, and I think I had a little stretched canvas and, and she she told me, Doug, why don’t why don’t you just wait a minute, I’m going to get the other students started. And then I want to talk to you. And then when she was finished, and she came up to me, she said, Come with me. And we went into the far back of her backyard. And, and she said, I want you to look in the, into the sky. And I want you to tell tell me, I want you to tell me what you see. And I looked up and I said, Well, there’s clouds and that’s blue. And she said, Oh no, no. She said, Now I want. She said that’s not right. She’s a look at those. Look at those trees over there. Tell me what you see. And I said, well, it says there’s a trunk and there’s branches and there’s leaves. She said, No, that’s not it. And then she went on to explain to me about, about movement and about air and about the substance of that air and that everything was it, everything was a this patchwork of shapes. And she Anyway, she’s she gave me my first introduction to, to seeing the world in artistic terms rather than in terms of subject of thing. Right, right. You know, so it was very important. Well, that’s

Eric Rhoads 19:24
a great lesson to learn from the beginning. It only took me about 15 years to learn that one and and then only because I don’t know, I went to somebody who’s workshop and they said, you know, focus on big shapes. And I’m like, what? And the minute I started doing that it changed everything. And so you she was very smart that this branch

Unknown Speaker 19:45
it’s it’s a it’s a you know, it’s your first introduction to abstraction, you know, and when when you were told look at big shapes they were saying simplify it abstracted right?

Eric Rhoads 20:00
Well, all of that matters now it’s, it’s really huge. And and do you recall a first museum visit? And what, what really leapt out at you or what the experience was like?

Unknown Speaker 20:15
I do I, I think, my very first museum, real museum visit was on a field trip. I think it was, I think it was that year in college that we went to New York as a group of students. So I remember going to the mat, I remember going to the frick and Museum of Modern Art, and I was just, I was just blown away, I, there’s just no description for the feelings of seeing so many great works of art, originals, and all the things I’d seen in books…

Eric Rhoads 21:06
That this is the thing that’s, really disturbing to me right now. And I’m sure I’m going to make somebody mad by this. But you know, we, we have grown accustomed to seeing art, on images on our phones, on Instagram On Facebook. And that’s great. I mean, these are wonderful tools, and so on, but to see the difference in person to see the texture and the buildup of paint, and the thick brush strokes, the things that you oftentimes cannot see, when you’re looking at it, you know, on a picture on Instagram. And, you know, the museums are struggling there. They’re like, how do we get these young people who are digital natives, you know, everything’s about the phones, how do they get these people to get to the museums? And I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that once people, if they were to look up an image, look up a local museum, look at an image on their phone and tell themselves I want to go see that in person, just so I know how it differs. Once they do that, I think that you know, that click happens in their head, and they go, Alright, I need I need to do more of this.

Unknown Speaker 22:20
Well, you know, so many people and it’s not just young people, either, it’s people are convinced themselves that that an image functions the same way in a reproduction as it does as an original but, but just as a photograph of Eric Rhoads does, it’s not you, it’s a suggestion of what you look like but it’s not it’s not you it doesn’t carry your your spirit jet the the original carries a certain spirit, it has a certain soul to it, that that can only be felt in its fullness, standing in front of it with your nose up to it. There’s just no other way.

Eric Rhoads 23:15
So there are there are painters who have become your inspiration I know based on some of the things we talked about when we were together before some but talk to me about some of your inspirations and and why they really connected with your soul.

Douglas Fryer 23:33
Well, probably the very first the very first idea I had about art was my parents had this band go print just framed and above our sofa in it. And and I used to just as a little little child, I used to get up and just pour over that and just be amazed even though it was just a reproduction amazed that the texture and the colors and the lines and the patterns and the rhythms and you know the I was just captivated. I love that friend. But you know later you know, I would pour through all of the books that my my dad had. We had these big books on Rembrandt and Van Gogh and and and we had on Vermeer i And who else we had that whole time Life series. Yeah, yeah, of artists. So I would just even though I couldn’t read I would just flip through the pages. I remember specifically looking at Rembrandt self portrait, and in our big Rembrandt book, that, that that portrait that’s in, in the Scottish National Gallery, and a couple of years ago and see that, that painting and it’s, you know, in the original, and it just brought back this flood of memories of, of sitting on the floor looking at that book, but I would say that the very first artists that I, I really was with was influenced by was Andrew wioth. Yeah, and, and probably more than anything is his winter paintings. And they, they just have this, this darkness, this graphic quality. This, this feeling of reality, that and, and he is not that they, they were, they felt cold. And they were real because of that they were real because of their, their warmth, you know, their, their actual the spirit of that the land he was painting that he loves so much.

Eric Rhoads 26:28
And the mode while and certainly when you see see what wioth did, to realize the medium that he used just, I mean to pull off what he pulled off with watercolor just amazed.

Douglas Fryer 26:41
It’s, it’s phenomenal. You know, and you mentioned mood. And he actually said that about his work that it wasn’t so much like this faithful rendering of the place, but but his work was more about the mood. Yeah, but I would say that, that Andrew Wyeth was a was a really big influence on me, is his landscapes. His it interiors were just amazing. His his figures. You know, every everything about it is it just struck a chord in me.

Eric Rhoads 27:22
One thing that I think is interesting, though, is that, you know, Wyeth was a pretty tight painter. And yet, you’ve become very abstracted who influenced your, your sense of abstract painting?

Douglas Fryer 27:38
Well, you know, he, he was he was tight. When he wanted to be tight, and he was abstract when he wanted to be abstract. He had, it wasn’t just, I mean, he had all the facets, but as far as as far as abstraction of, of, of reality. You know, I would, I would say that, you know, Whistler was was a really big influence on me, especially his his paintings of the water and the ocean. day God was a wonderful, abstract artist as well. But I would say that, that day God in college was probably my, my biggest influence as far as the abstraction of, of the form or of the subject into into form. So I, I think I probably emulated de Gaulle as much as anybody in his in his drawing and his and in his breakup of space. That the painting of the the laundress I think it’s in a mat that is just, I think one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. It’s, it just contains the whole universe and that painting to me.

Eric Rhoads 29:30
So, so I want to kind of move move to the next level on this. You had some, some painters who kind of influenced your whole plein air thing that also combined into the abstract that we’re, you know, kind of from the 1920s and 1930s who specifically influenced that for you?

Douglas Fryer 29:56
Well, I, I would say, you know, starts would have to be the biggest influence on you know, plein air work. The the ability that he had to distill a scene to pattern odd way, but to be able to suggest the complexity of nature and, and read and rely on the movement of materials as he was translating from his observation, I think, certainly he had to have been, you know, the biggest influence on me as well as 1000s of others. The you know, the, the the work, the work that he did in both the figure and environments just can’t be equal. Yeah, um, so I would say that, you know, if if I were out plein air painting, and I was trying to find inspiration from someone in the past, it would be sergeant,

Eric Rhoads 31:30
I understand that you really liked Carlson as well as that, right.

Douglas Fryer 31:33
Carlson was wonderful. You know, I was first introduced to his still lives, but there was a painting the misty sea that’s in the collection of Brigham Young University. And when I was a graduate student, the I used to go into that collection and test just kind of camped out in front of this painting. It is just, I think, one of his very best, it’s just mesmerizing, and it’s in the simplicity of the forms, and the infinite variety, that he suggests, with within each each shape this this single the single way that is coming towards

Eric Rhoads 32:30
Oh, I knew it could see that he really painted air. He knew how to paint air, you know, when you look heat painted, look at Misty Sea, you can see the humidity in that air and the distance into the clouds. Pretty amazing.

Douglas Fryer 32:44
It’s, it’s a wonderful painting, but you know, all of his his landscapes have a very mystical quality to them. They they’re derived from very aware observation. But, but they are all again, distilled to this, this compositional pattern, that that is that becomes sort of a a frame of mind, rather than a rendering of a place they become just magical and symbolic.

Eric Rhoads 33:40
Now, I will tell you quickly, I was in Vermont last year, I live in the Adirondacks in the summer, and I went over to Vermont to meet with Julie McGowan, who is going to drive me around and show me some facilities so that I could look at possible places to hold future events. Because, you know, we do a lot of events. And you know, she’s telling me about all the artists who painted his, you know, so and so painted this field, and it’s a famous painting and so on, because there were a lot of artists around the Jeffersonville area in Vermont. And she said, and just down that road, Emile Carlson’s daughter lives down there, and I and I’m driving like 60 miles an hour, and I screeched on the brakes. And I said, I backed up the car and I turned and she said, Well, it’s after five o’clock, you know, she’s, she’s closed, but she has a little gallery with some of her dad’s work in it. So we went, we pulled into the driveway, we knocked on the door, she very generously came out, she opened up the gallery, we got a chance to see April’s work, but also his mother’s his father’s work. And she had about 10 or 12 paintings left over that were for sale. And you know, most of them had really, really big price tags on them. And there was one that I just there were two actually that I was especially drawn to both of them were eucalyptus trees. And it painted in Florida. And I just, I couldn’t stop staring at them. And I, you know, I look at other things, and I go back and I stare at it anyway, I ended up buying one of them. And so now I have a Carlson in my home, which is

Douglas Fryer 35:19
I wish I had seen it when I was there.

Eric Rhoads 35:21
Well, it’s not that home. It’s in the other home. … And and for those of you who are thinking about breaking in and stealing it, I live on an island and I’m not telling you where. (laughter)

Unknown Speaker 35:42
Well, I was just gonna say Carlsen, there’s hardly an artist, I’ve looked at more in the, in the last four or five years as as a model Carlson. Just and you know, as I as I was thinking, I mentioned Whistler earlier, you know, he he and Whistler although, you know, you can certainly distinguish their, their works. You there’s there’s no mixing them up, but they had sort of a similar attitude towards towards the world, it’s far as their ability to translate and abstract and, and come come down to the essential shapes, the essential colors. And the, you know, you look at the way Whistler will organize his his space in those in those landscapes. They’re, they’re just, there’s a simplicity to them. That that I think is, is the thing that captivates me, they’re not trying to copy nature, they’re, they’re not trying to render it faithfully. Again, very much like wioth it’s, it’s far more about the moods far more about the emotion, that the work is based on emotion and that the subject is only a point of departure, to make a work of art that that is its own living thing.

Eric Rhoads 37:30
Well, I want to talk about that. Because, you know, I judge lots of painting events and art competitions, including, in some cases, my own. And I see people who are outliers that are really standing out. And you know, one of the big things right now in plein air painting and landscape painting is this idea of abstraction. But you see a lot of sameness, a sea of sameness, you know, it’s a green fields and blue skies and puffy clouds. And yeah, yeah, and you know, Z shaped trails going down the road. Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not being critical. But you look at your work, for instance, and I look at that, and I say, You’re standing out there in that field, and you’re seeing a blue sky, but you’re making it brown. And you’re making that that whole thing total, and you’re figuring out how to make it feel abstract. How on earth do you accomplish that? What goes through your mind? Are you mentally ill, or artistic or what?

Amandine 38:37
Well, I’ll tell you, Can I can I give you sort of a roundabout way of yep, yep. of answering that it. It consists of, of a short story. When I was in, when I was in graduate school, I was teaching part time in, in another department, it was in the design department, I was teaching some illustration classes. And those classes are, you know, associated with the graphic design, as well. And at that time, they they brought in a speaker, a guy named Gordon Bowen, who, who has probably in the last 40 years, there’s hardly anyone, that’s been more important in advertising as Gordon Bowen, he, at that time, I think, was working on the American Express campaign that I think ended up being like campaign of the decade or something like that. Anyway, he was speaking to us about excellence in pursuing striving for excellence. And I remember him saying that he was currently looking for someone to take over a certain campaign, I think it was. He said he had been in the search for a year, it was a year long search, he still hadn’t found anyone. And that and that position paid $500,000 a year. And this was back in the, in the early 90s. He could not find anyone to fill that position. And this is what he said. He said, there’s plenty of room at the top, all of the competition average, the mediocre and the followers. That, that brings me to the, the answer to your question. There are plenty of people willing to teach you rules, methods, procedures, styles, formulas, they’re there ready to refer you to well, this is how Bouguereau did it, this is how Sargent did it and, and, and so on. And, and they’ll say I’ve got the secret formula, and they’ll say, you know, it has to do with, with this or that or the other that you will include in your in your work. And this is for traditional work, this is for academic work, this is for avant garde, even you know, they’ll reference other art movements, but, the thing is, as human beings, we want to know, the end from the beginning. And the unknown is scary to us. So, following a formula that guarantees success. Well, that’s, that sounds better to me, then trying to fumble my way through something on my own. The danger is that you this emulation, the deriving your work from a certain formula. It’s, it’s, it’s an affectation, it doesn’t ring true, it’s adequate, but it isn’t great. The meaning of the work has to it’s embodied in the work itself. You as an artist, you can’t lie your your work immediately allows others to discover who you are and what you believe and what your values are. Even if their average. And, and so what we have to do is be brave enough to do the fumbling through to, to chase that very elusive ghost of an idea that’s in the back of our heads. And, as we do that, we discover or we search for we find the the tools, the materials, the method that best serves us to, to chase after that, that elusive idea that elusive feeling and emotion it’s only by doing that, that that we come up with our own. Our own manner we define ourselves and and our style reveals itself our our style is nothing more than habits that we create. We habitually make marks like this, we habitually gravitate towards these certain aesthetic sensibilities. In in others work we we we define ourselves with every every move we make every choice we make. So I think that you know what, what makes my work stand out? I’m not sure It does or not, I think a few, a few of my paintings stand out, the vast majority are evidence of my struggle to, to get there. But a few that have stood out, I think there’s an authenticity to them. There’s a certain there’s a certain mystery to them, that I can’t quite put my finger on. But it’s this, this combination of, of beauty symbol, mist. organization, within, within sometimes very organic environments, I guess. There there’s, there’s this sense of saying this thing, although it’s mundane, carries, meaning it carries importance, there’s a significance to it. That and it’s my way of saying it existed. It’s gone now. But it existed in a moment of time as to why. And I think when we can get to that point, we become maybe most authentic.

Eric Rhoads 46:57
Okay, I’m back. I had muted for a sneeze, we’re gonna edit from here. Okay. As you know, I I produce a lot of videos that teach people important things that other people discovered, I think that, you know, you and I talked when we were on the set, doing an interview there that I studied under a fellow who was one of the great photography masters at the time. And he said that, you know, I was complaining that we were out shooting photos, we were not out shooting photographs. And he said, Well, you need to learn the technology first. So that once you get the idea in your head, you know how to implement it. So I don’t know. I mean, I was talking to Kevin Macpherson the other day, and he was kind of a post opposed to that idea, the idea that, you know, you just need to kind of find your way and figure it out on your own. I, you know, so I think there’s a lot of different approaches to that.

Unknown Speaker 47:51
There there are and by no means do I do I mean that we shouldn’t gather all the information, we can have as many tools in our toolbox. And we can we, definitely should. I mean, I’ve got I’ve got three huge bookshelves here full of art books, and, and artists and how to and in all, all of that. The the instructional videos are a wonderful tool for us to have. Because Because seeing something done we are, you know, we’re visual people, we see something done and some light bulb goes off, and we say, oh, that’s, that’s how that’s done. That serves me to learn how to do that. Because it it takes me in the direction of this. To chase this elusive idea. It’s, when it’s when we think if I learn how to draw accurately, when I learn to draw accurately, I will be an artist. When I can reproduce that photograph to look like that photograph, then I’ll be an artist. If I can simply learn the rules perspective. Well, artists do that I’ll be an artist. Those are all parts and pieces of of of what we do, but it doesn’t give content to the work.

Eric Rhoads 49:42
Well, they’re technical proficiencies Exactly. And they don’t necessarily make you an artist. I mean, being an artist is more than you know, some of my instructors always said, you know, your job is not to create a photograph. It’s already been done. Your job is to try and fix You’re out how to expand on what it is that you know that you’re seeing expiring,

Unknown Speaker 50:05
yes, expand on it, distill it. But absolutely, of course, we, you know, I’ve spent 40 years drawing, I’ve spent my whole life drawing. But as a professional for 40 years, I have, I have tried to perfect my skills to draw anything I want. Now, and then I’m allowed to, you know, I can give myself permission to go and in any direction I choose whatever I’m inspired to do.

Eric Rhoads 50:48
Alright, I’m gonna go back to a question I asked earlier. And that question, is that, all right, you’re standing out there in the field, you’re looking at, you’re out in Utah, you’re looking at a snowcapped mountain field in front of you with a road and you have a bright blue sky. And yet you managed to totalize that, and to abstract that. And it is there a planning process that goes through your head? Is there a, do you try and envision the painting before you paint it? Do you? I mean, that’s a struggle for me. And I’ve tried to do it, some people who are, who are great tonalist steak, they can do it, but you know, it’s something you know about, well, I see a blue sky, but I’m going to put in a yellow sky, it just is, I find it to be a little hard on my brain. How do you do that?

Unknown Speaker 51:43
Well, the one of the very first things I asked myself when I’m looking at that scene, is how would how would the the ordinary person you know, compose this, this picture? Well, and if I can picture that, then I tried to do something different. I and so I may, I may crop the picture off, so I don’t sell any sky, I may, I may abstract the forms down to just a simple rhythm or pattern, I may, instead of the blue sky, I’ll gray it. Or I’ll or instead of instead of those greens, I’ll make it brown or something or, or, you know, I’ll instead of drunk instead of painting blades of grass, I’ll I’ll just, you know, make it a soft, velvety transition between from shape to shape to shape. I’ll simplify my values of, I think about a grid that I could apply all of the information to, to organize my shapes. And then I’ll organize my values. So I’ll say, here are my light values here my my mid values here, my dark values and then I’ll prepare a palette that has several colors that are in the light several in the medium several in the dark. So that when I go to paint, it’s it’s already simplified into more of a graphic it’s symbolic representation of the of the scene.

Eric Rhoads 53:39
Well, it’s just, I it’s just beautiful your work. I don’t mean to fawn over over you. But it really is, is special and it’s beautiful. And I’m looking forward to seeing more and when I saw your work in person, I’d seen it online but when I saw it in person, much like we discussed before, there’s there’s the soulful quality, this pink quality that you know, the rhythms that you can’t you just can’t feel them when you’re looking at a photograph. So that’s pretty cool.

Douglas Fryer 54:10
Thank you. Thanks.

Eric Rhoads 54:13
So I want to just mention or just ask about a couple other things you just became a member of the plein air painters of America group. Tell me about that. What’s that all about?

Douglas Fryer 54:27
Well, I don’t it’s kind of a surprise to me. I was nominated and and, and the votes came in to accept me and and it was offered to me and of course, you know, I was really honored to to accept membership. So I think what it entails is that I get to go painting with a lot of plein air painters who are a lot better than me. I can learn something and

Eric Rhoads 54:57
that’s the that’s the fun of all of this. You get to yeah And we’re excited that

Douglas Fryer 55:01
I really looked forward to it. It’s it should be it should be really enjoyable, getting to know, artists that I’ve admired for so many years.

Eric Rhoads 55:11
That’s a great group of people. And and I was very lucky to have encountered them very early on in my, in my walk into this whole plein air thing and and you know, they really started the US movement. I’ve just helped expand it and but they really need the credit for doing what they’ve done. And, you know, I think Kevin Macpherson was the first president of that club. Oh, yeah. So anyway, that’s an honor. And congratulations on that. You have now that a lot of people are going to listen to this. Five years down the road. So I apologize to you. But you have a big solo show coming up. Tell us about that.

Amandine 55:49
Yeah, I’m working on a. So that will be in June of this. This? Well, this coming summer,

Eric Rhoads 56:02
June 24. Through 30th.

Douglas Fryer 56:06
Yeah, June 24. To the 30th. And I, I’m hoping to get it all done in time.

Eric Rhoads 56:15
Yeah. So there’s that.

Unknown Speaker 56:18
Yeah. But I’ve got that plus a number of paintings for other locations and, some commissions. So it’s a busy time.

Eric Rhoads 56:31
Well, what a great thing to have as a problem, right? Yeah. Well, Doug, I just want to say that you’re a great inspiration. I think there’s a lot of people listening to this, who are going to get a tremendous part out of it. Because you know, you really are addressing things that don’t get talked about enough and talking about the soulfulness and the spirit of the work and the sense of, you know, yourself being translated into the work. So I want to congratulate you and also thank you for the inspiration. I should mention that Doug’s website is let me look at it here. It’s Oh, here it is., or Douglas Fryer art on Instagram, Douglas, Fryer dot five on Facebook. Who are the other four?

Douglas Fryer 57:23
I have no idea. I didn’t even know I had that number.

Eric Rhoads 57:28
Yeah, well, that’s we did a little investigating. So Well, thank you so much for being on the plein air podcast, it’s a pleasure to get to know you and to see what you’re able to do with paint and, and it gives us all something to strive for.

Douglas Fryer 57:44
Well, thank you. I so appreciate you inviting me to do this. And it was sir. Just really enjoyable doing the instructional video and it’s a it’s a great work that you’re doing and, and, and helping people to, to move along the path, you know, just solving problems and inspiring them to to make art, you know, just to make more art. Thank you. I had a I had an instructor is his motto. He would he would tell all of us more art faster.

Eric Rhoads 58:25
More art faster. There’s a fellow by the name of Hurney, Heidi Hertwig, who lives in this High Sierras of California and everybody I ran into says you got to go take a lesson with honey hiney Hertwig. And so I saved up the money and and I and I called him and I said you know how much for a lesson. He said $10,000. And I said well, I like how many lessons is that? He said, every every week once a week for so many weeks. And I said I you know I’ve got a job. I can’t do that I got triplets at home that are babies and I said how much for just one day, just one, you know, one eight hour lesson on a Saturday. I don’t remember what the price was but it’s like six or $700. And so I drove for three hours to go to this lesson got up at five o’clock in the morning and went and took a lesson with this guy. And I learned a lot from him. But the thing that was really interesting isn’t on his on his desk or easel area. He had three canvases set up all three different sizes. He had a photograph in front of each one all different subject matters. And he would paint on all three. He once he dip into his yellow ochre. You know, he’s painting on this one, then it goes over to the other one and he figures out where he’s gonna put his yellow ochre that he goes on to the next one. And I said, why on earth do you do that? He said if you don’t learn to paint fast, you can’t make any money as an artist. Well, Douglas, this has been absolutely fabulous. Thank you again for being on the plein air podcast.

Douglas Fryer 1:00:06
Thank you very much for inviting me. All right, great. Take care.

Eric Rhoads 1:00:09
All right. So we have had a terrific interview with Douglas. Now it’s time for the art marketing minute.

Announcer 1:00:17
This is the Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the number one Amazon bestseller “Make More Money Selling Your Art: Proven Techniques to Turn Your Passion Into Profit.”

Eric Rhoads 1:00:30
In the marketing minute, I try to answer your art marketing questions and you can upload a video question at art It’s all set up, all you got to do is hit the little video or audio recorder and send and then it sends to us or you can email them to me and get a lot by email. And Amandine, who is producer of this show is going to tell us what the first question is.

Amandine 1:00:55
So the first questions from Bart Charlo is my question is for the artists just starting or considering selling their work. The art pricing formulas on so many posts seem constantly boring and constraints based on size, time, etc. I realized they are not geared towards the luxury market that you speak of. And most of us wish to enter. How would you dare to menu entry prices under those circumstances?

Eric Rhoads 1:01:28
All right. Well, thank you. Amandine just moved to America from France, and you’re doing a great job. So thank you for that. Bart, like all things, how you start matters, you know it, I went out and I started learning golf on my own. And I developed a lot of really bad golfing habits. And then I decided I need to get some lessons. And the guy that was teaching me said, we have to undo all the bad stuff that you learned. And one of the things that happens is that as artists, we make up our mind at some particular point that we’re going to go from being a hobbyist and to being a professional, whether it’s a part time or full time professional, we are moving into a different area. And we don’t know where to start, we have no idea where to begin. And it’s all very confusing. And so we just start, and we start doing things and we make a lot of mistakes. And hopefully we learn from those mistakes. But if if I were coaching somebody from the very beginning, I would do things a lot differently than the way a lot of people do things because you see things that you think matter. Now, let me give you an example of that. We, if you’re deciding that you’re going to advertise, all of a sudden, you start paying attention to advertisements, right? I can’t tell you and I know you all know this, how many hundreds of 1000s of ads came out after the Got Milk campaign that said, you know, got real estate or got baloney or got fish or you know, whatever it is, and and we didn’t know the original purpose of that campaign. We didn’t know how they were trying to target people or what they were trying to do. All we know is that there was a campaign we thought was cool. So everybody copied and replicated it and it did not have the same effect, right. And the reason it didn’t have the same effect is that you didn’t have a strategy in mind. And as an artist, you need to have a strategy before you do anything else. And so how do you learn a strategy? Well, there’s a lot of resources out there, there’s a lot of people teach, I teach I teach at the at the plein air convention, art Marketing Bootcamp. New every year, I have a book out make more money selling your art, you know, there’s a lot of things like that. But you want to start out with the goal in mind, right? Where do I begin? So where you got to start out with where do I want to be? Now? If if you’re not making any money today? And then you say to yourself, Okay, I’m gonna go from zero to $10 million in sales in one year, you might be being unrealistic, right? So you have to figure out how do I judge that, you know, because really, everything takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to take takes a lot of progress, a lot of you know, a lot of steps. And so you want to kind of be in an experimental stage. This is why in one of my videos I talked about, if you’re a person who is going from, let’s say you’re a heart surgeon, I use that example because a heart surgeon came up to me at the plein air convention. He said, I’m going to retire in five years, stop doing heart surgery and start doing painting full time. And he said, so how do I get there? And I said, well, the worst thing you can do is stop Doing heart surgery one day and go from having your income of however many. I don’t even know what heart surgeons make, well, let’s say it’s a million dollars a year, you know, suddenly you’re going to go from making a million dollars a year to making no money, are you going to be comfortable with that? And he said, Well, I’d like to make a little money, I said, well, then you need to develop a transition plan. So you got five year or three year period of time, you need to start getting your feet wet in learning about marketing your art, producing your art, having the discipline of putting it out a certain amount, every time having the discipline of selling some and moving forward so that maybe you start doing less surgery and you start doing more art and you know, they eventually crossed. And, and you know, if you’re making a million dollars a year as a heart surgeon, you might not make a million dollars a year as a painter right away, although I know a lot of painters and make more than a million dollars or $5 million a year because they’ve become so popular.

Eric Rhoads 1:05:57
Now I’m going to address your luxury question, because that’s a different thing. And you talk about pricing is boring and constrained. I think that’s an interesting statement. I wish I had you on on the call with me. So we could we could talk about that. But pricing is something we talked about last first, we talked about luxury market. Now, you mentioned luxury market, and I want to applaud you for being so having the observation. A luxury market is that you know, the people who buy Louie Vuitton or who stay in the Ritz Carlton, you know, and pay big, big money every night for a hotel room. And there’s an entire science to luxury marketing world. And there’s even a luxury Marketing Association, which has meetings in New York, and I’d be a member if I lived in New York. But I did have dinner with the or lunch with a founder of the luxury Marketing Association. And I learned a lot about it. But the one most important basic principle about luxury marketing, is that rich people behave differently. They want the best, and they’re not price sensitive. These are people who want the best. Now, most of us can’t relate to that. I mean, I I’m sorry, but I don’t have the money to buy a Bentley. Right? It’d be really cool if I had the money to buy a Bentley and to buy a jet. But you know, there are people out there that I know that I’ve met that used to be friends with me or still are that have those those trappings and they don’t think twice about it. I have a friend who would not think twice about walking into an art gallery pointing at 10 paintings and saying I’ll take them all and the guy would say, well, don’t you want to know how much they are? And he’d say, I’m sure they’re fine. Right? Because he’s got so much money, it doesn’t matter. So but you have to you don’t cost does not equate to luxury value. So let me make this point. I’ve made this point in my seminars, the a Bentley, I don’t know how much a Bentley cost today because I’ve never looked, but they used to be about $250,000. I’m sure there are a lot more today. But the cost of making a Bentley mate, which is made by BMW is only $18,000 higher than the top of the line $100,000 BMW or maybe $120,000 BMW. So you know, they do a little extra better paint job with extra coating, they do really, really beautiful interior wood, maybe they put an extra special sound system in, but they’re not selling that car for 18 or $20,000. More than the BMW they’re selling it for $150,000 more. Bentley is all about perception. People don’t buy luxury cars, just because they’re great cars, which most of them are, they buy them because they want to be seen in them. They reinforce their self identity. And it sends a message to other people. How many of us turn our heads when we see somebody driving down the road and a Rolls Royce. It’s like, or a limousine or something. It’s like who’s in there. We want to know that you know, so. And some people want to live that way and like that. So I think that you have to think about how a luxury person thinks I went to a collector’s house. It was a spry I had lunch with them and a sprawling estate at the top of Beverly Hills and I drive through the gates. And there are like nine garages and they’re all open and there’s cars pointing out and each one of them and every luxury car from Lamborghini, to Rolls Royce to Bentley to you know, he had a lot of different things. And then we go in the house and we have our lunch and then he says okay, I want to show you my art collection. We walked around and he shows me the art collection. He tells me the name of the artist, and he says you know I paid him million dollars for that one. Now that I’m not criticizing that, I don’t know that I would do that. Because that’s just, I’m more interested in the art than I am the, the, the what would be the word, the status of the art, but not everybody is. So you, you need to think in terms of status. So if you’re trying to become a high status artist, you have to be thinking in terms of what do I do to be high status, and the luxury Marketing Association can tell you all these things. But you know, it’s, it’s about packaging, it’s about elegance, it’s about the right colors, usually black and gold. And it’s about branding yourself as the most important thing out there and the best of the best. And that takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money. You might have to phase into that. And then then you’ve got to figure out how do I reach the wealthy people? Well, magazines like my fine art connoisseur, you know, we have all these billionaires who read it, that buy lots of art. So you know, a lot of people sell art in it. But the mistake is that you can’t sell a Mercedes in a flea market. And what I mean by that is, you know, you can’t sell high end expensive art in a low end and expensive gallery or in a place that doesn’t send the right environmental message. So you’ve got to get to the right place. And you know, the the biggest most prestigious gallery in America is Gaussian in Los Angeles or Hollywood. And you know, he makes stars, most of them are not representational painters, most of them are modern painters, which doesn’t matter. And he makes some famous and he makes them rich, and he gets rich. And that’s, you know, how we get to the, the, the whole thing. And so you want to make sure that you’re focusing on building yourself a luxury brand, and getting to the point where you are a luxury brand yourself. I mean, that’s how it’s done. And then when you get to pricing, just remember one thing, you know, I was talking to Douglas fire when he was in town, recently, artists Douglas fire and he said, You know, I, I had a collector one time tell me that my, my work wasn’t expensive enough. I have another guy who told me he was at an art show, and he had a painting and the lady said, How much is it? And he said, it’s 40,000 or $44,000. And she said, okay, and I’ll take it, and she writes him a check for 40,000. And he said, Ma’am, you put an extra zero and she said, No, I attended 40,000. And she said, about 4000, it must not be worth it. She ripped up the cheque and walked away. See, we don’t think like them, because we’re not in the same position. But there are people out there that have no problem writing a $40,000 check. So it’s about courage. It’s also about you know, how you present things. So we had an artist who entered our plein air salon and won a category. And he had this painting and he was getting ready for a gallery show. And his wife said, don’t sell that painting. And he said all but I really would like to sell it. And she said, No, I really love it. So they made a deal. He said, I’ll tell you what, I’ll put a high price on it. All the other paintings in the show about the same size for $900. He said, I’ll put a high price on it. If it sells, then we’ll just go ahead and sell it. She said Okay, I agree to that. So I put a $5,000 price on it. Put that plein air salon winning certificate right next to it, it was the first painting to sell at full price. So anyway, those are the kind of pricing discussions that you need to think about. Alright, so that’s the question for today. Thank you for tuning in to the art marketing minute.

Announcer 1:13:38
This has been the marketing minute with Eric Rhoads. You can learn more at

Eric Rhoads 1:13:46
I want everybody to remember that we’re going to be going to the Plein Air Convention in May. We hope you’ll sign up and we’ve got marketing there. Just go to Also, we have painting in the Adirondacks. I hope you’ll join me for that this spring. It’s a retreat, we’re going to have a lot of fun and it’s going to sell out fast because COVID is kind of over and a lot of people are going to come that couldn’t come before so just go to I want to encourage you if you’ve not seen my blog is called Sunday coffee. I do it every Sunday. It’s kind of more like philosophy on life. It has little to do with art. But once in a while I talk about art. It’s called Sunday coffee. You can find it at I’m also on the air daily five days a week on Facebook live and on YouTube. It’s called Art School live and you can find it best place to goes to YouTube. Subscribe there, just search streamline art, that’s our company and then you can find it. Also if you don’t mind, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook. That would be great. And also make sure you subscribe on YouTube. Well anyway, I’m Eric Rhoads, publisher of fine art connoisseur and plein air magazine and we are going to have a ball painting this weekend. I hope you get out do the same thing. So remember, it’s a big world go out and paint it.

This has been the plein air podcast with Plein Air Magazine’s Eric Rhoads. You can help spread the word about plein air painting by sharing this podcast with your friends. And you can leave a review or subscribe on iTunes. So it comes to you every week. And you can even reach Eric by email Be sure to pick up our free ebook 240 plein air painting tips by some of America’s top painters. It’s free at Tune in next week for more great interviews. Thanks for listening.

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