One Person Recently Gave Me an Earful!

It started simply.

In a discussion with some artist friends, someone suggested that they don’t get time to paint together when they attend plein air events, because they’re competing for prizes.

One said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a week we could paint together … side by side? No competition, no art show, no touching up paintings in our rooms till late at night.”

An Event Is Born

That discussion was the birth of the “Publisher’s Invitational.”

Following that conversation, I took over a friend’s B&B, invited 10 artists, and we all met to paint in Austin, Texas. Before long, a couple of them invited friends, and we ended up with 17 painters.

It was magnificent.

We painted all day, every day. We sat up till the wee hours talking shop. We even painted portraits of each other by candlelight at night.

We had a blast.

Because I am the publisher of PleinAir Magazine, and because everyone at that first event was invited …  it became known as the Publisher’s Invitational.

Word spread fast. Others wanted to be invited, so I decided to do it again.

No Invitation Required

Because so many people wanted to be at the event, I decided not to make it invitation-only. Anyone who wanted to come could come. Pros, non-pros, beginners, advanced. It did not matter. What mattered was that we had fun together.

The funny thing is, it worked out great. We had all levels of painters, so the pros would help the beginners part of the time, and everyone just had a ball.

I’d call this “ACCIDENTAL MAGIC.”

A Friend Fest

What started as an excuse for painters to hang out and paint together has turned into a giant friend fest. We have all made loads of great friends, and we reconnect every year. And each year we add more friends to fill the places of those who can’t make it that year.

It really is magical.

A Stress-Free, Ideal Week

Imagine this. You roll out of bed and show up to a hot breakfast that’s waiting for you. We all sit together chatting over breakfast, and then we head out painting.

Two Groups

Most of us go out with one of two groups … I lead one, and Sandra Hildreth, a wonderful friend and painter who lives in the Adirondacks, leads the other.

She usually takes the roadside painting group … beautiful spots, no climbing. I usually take the group that climbs a few rocks or hills to get to some amazing waterfalls or vistas.

Everyone Together

Two days during the week, we all paint in one spot together. It’s a chance to see everyone in one place and wander from easel to easel. We bring our sack lunches and sit around as a group telling stories about our painting experiences.

Music, Chatter, and Even Portraits for Some

In the evening we head back to Paul Smith’s College, where we’re staying. A gourmet chef prepares our meals (it’s a culinary school). We sit around and eat together … and then lots of us run out to do a sunset painting on the lake.

Fun Nights

Then, at night, we gather, and we all bring in our paintings from the day — we call that our “catch of the day” — and we get to look at each other’s paintings. It’s fun to see what everyone has done.

And then, most nights, there is music … a singalong, or just some folks playing … anyone who plays an instrument or sings can participate if they want. And on many nights, we set up and paint portraits. For some, it’s their first chance to paint from a live model. Some nights we go out and do nocturne painting, and for many it’s the first time they’ve ever painted at night (bring a head lamp).

Then we repeat our routine, day after day. It’s pretty cool.

The best part is that we have all developed some very good friendships … and it happens fast. A complete stranger shows up and feels connected by the end of the first day.

Am I Being a Snob? This Is the Earful I Received.

I recently heard from someone about the Publisher’s Invitational who said this:

“I’m offended. I think your Publisher’s Invitational is snooty. It excludes good people. It should be open to anyone who wants to come.”

I profusely apologized, explained what I’m about to tell you, and invited this person.

You know, I never thought the name might appear snooty. It’s so unlike me because, frankly, I love to be around everyone and I would never intentionally exclude anyone. I have no reason to be a snob — I don’t want to be around snobs, and I don’t want to be one.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, if that person thought it was snooty … there is a chance you may have thought the same thing. I told that person what I’m about to tell you.

Please know, anyone is welcome to attend.

  • You can be a beginner painter
  • You can be an intermediate painter
  • You can be the spouse or partner of a painter
  • You can be a pro
  • You can be a superstar
  • At the Publisher’s “Invitational,” there is NO INVITATION REQUIRED — we are all equals, and everyone at every level is equally embraced

Note: One artist did tell me they like being a part of the “PleinAir Magazine Publisher’s Invitational” because it sounds good in their list of accomplishments. I suppose no one else has to know there is no invitation required if that’s your plan. 🙂

Oh, but here’s the catch…

We’re There to Have Fun

We’re there to paint with old and new friends. I’m there to have fun too. Therefore I pride myself on doing it all by myself once we’re at the event. Though I love the people I work with, if they are around we end up talking about work, and then I can’t relax (nor can they). So the only team member you’ll see is me.

I try not to involve my team in the Invitational other than registration in advance, which Jaime in our little office handles leading up to the event.

Also, I Involve My Family

My kids help me check people in, and sometimes one or two of the kids comes along to paint. The whole family usually shows up at the opening, and they do all the work to get ready for the closing party at the house. The kids usually bake cookies for you. You might even end up meeting other family members because this is a family thing we do together. So now you’re part of the family!

Why I Choose to Limit Attendance

The reality is there are as many dorm rooms as the school has students. I could have over 600 people at the event, but there are three reasons I limit attendance:

  • First, there are only so many really nice new dorm rooms. I don’t want to put you in the old cruddy ones.
  • Second, I want to keep it small, manageable, and intimate.
  • Third, some of the paint spots can’t hold a ton of people.

What the Publisher’s Invitational Will Do for You

  • A well-deserved week just for you
  • A week away from stress, life, pressure, family, responsibilities
  • A week on a beautiful forested lake
  • A week deep in the woods with amazing crisp, clean air for deep breathing
  • A week in one of the most scenic and stunning places in North America
  • A week of stress-free painting where you don’t have to look at your watch
  • A week of meals provided for you so you don’t have to cook or clean
  • A week of doing two or more paintings a day, which really improves your work
  • A week of late nights (if you choose) sitting up with new and old friends
  • A week of all play, lots of laughing, lots of chats with friends
  • A chance to paint at least four different waterfalls
  • A chance to paint in the exact spots painted by the Hudson River School masters
  • Evening music and singing with painters and recording artistsRick Wilson, Erik Koeppel, and Lauren Sansaricq
  • Evening portrait painting with a live model if you wish to participate
  • Prizes and giveaways just to make it more fun
  • A chance to do nocturne painting (nighttime painting)
  • Some of the most incredible, colorful sunsets you’ve ever seen
  • A chance for us to get to know one another

Your Special Invitation

Though no invitation is required, please know I’d love to have you consider joining us. There are no rules other than one: no drama. We want to keep it fun, and if that’s what you want too — if you’re up for a good time of friendship, painting, and a week to invest in yourself as a painter and in your state of mind — we want you.

My Bold, Confident, Love it or Leave it 100% Money-Back Guarantee

You can register right now, and you have my 100% guarantee that if you don’t love the people, don’t have an amazing experience, and are not blown away by the scenery to paint, if after the first two nights you think it’s not what I’ve represented, think it’s not for you and not a good experience, let me know by breakfast on Tuesday morning, and I’ll refund 100% of your registration fee. Then you can head home on Tuesday, even though I’ll have to cover your first two nights of food and lodging. (Note: This is not a rain or weather guarantee.)

Sign up now … we’ve only got a few seats left. 

The event is in Upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains, an area that’s one of the best-kept secrets in America. It’s actually a giant state park, with protected wilderness unlike any you’ve ever seen.

Fly from anywhere:

  • Fly in to Saranac Lake-Lake Placid (10-minute drive from campus)
  • Fly into Plattsburgh, NY (1-hour drive)
  • Fly into Burlington, VT (2-hour drive including ferry)
  • Fly into Montreal, Canada (2-hour drive plus border time)
  • Fly into Albany, NY (3-hour drive)
  • Take the train to Westport, NY (1-hour drive)

Drive times to Paul Smith’s College New York (near Saranac Lake and Lake Placid)

  • 5 hours from New York City
  • 6 hours from Boston
  • 8 hours from Baltimore
  • 9 hours from Pittsburgh
  • 13 hours from Indianapolis and Chicago
  • 18 hours from Atlanta

One thing you’ll discover very quickly … as you take a deep breath … you’ve probably never experienced such fresh air … such intense quiet … and such amazing beauty. You’ll relax almost immediately knowing you’ve escaped your stress for a week.

I’m looking forward to painting together.

Eric Rhoads 
Publisher and Founder
PleinAir Magazine