Plein Air Podcast 249: Haidee-Jo Summers on Perseverance and More

Plein Air Podcast Eric Rhoads and Haidee-Jo Summers

In this episode of the Plein Air Podcast, Eric Rhoads interviews Vice President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Haidee-Jo Summers, live from the Plein Air Convention & Expo.

Listen as they discuss:
> Perseverance, social media, and scams artists should look out for
> The importance of painting what interests you and Haidee-Jo’s process for plein air painting
> Entering art competitions, handling rejection, and much more.

“If there’s something you want, you should just be persistent,” Haidee says. “You just have to keep plugging away. Many people give up. It’s very competitive, even to get a painting accepted, and many people get discouraged … If there’s something you really want, you should just keep going.”

Listen to the Plein Air Podcast with Eric Rhoads and Haidee-Jo Summers here:


Related Links:
– Haidee-Jo Summers online:
– Plein Air Convention & Expo:
– Plein Air Japan:
– PleinAir Magazine:
– European Fine Art Trip:

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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.

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 1:01
So today, the plein air podcast, we’re recording live at the plein air convention, we’ve got a live audience. Today, our guest is Haidee-Jo Summers from from the UK. Welcome. It’s nice to have you here. So why did you come all the way over here from the UK for the plein air convention? That’s a big hassle.

Haidee-Jo Summers 1:29
Yeah, I mainly come here to see my American friends. Yeah. And, you know, there’s lots of so many artists gathered here from all over America. So you can always see a load of nice people, you know, and meet nice new people. And, yeah, I love it.

Eric Rhoads 1:49
So I’m curious about, we’re going to talk about you and your career and how you got where you are. And we’re probably talking about some painting tips and some a lot of different things. But I’m kind of curious about what’s happening. With plein air. We have this podcast is now in about 120 countries, we’ve had to two and a half million downloads. It’s very curious to me because we have listeners all over the world. And we’re hearing about pockets of plein air painting happening all over the world. And I’m curious, we know that there’s a couple of major events, especially a major event happening in Ireland. But could you talk to us a little bit about what you’re seeing happen at the in terms of the plein air movement? Over in Europe or perhaps

Haidee-Jo Summers 2:44
in the UK? Yeah. So I think it’s only really 12, 13 years ago that things started, you know, events really started in the UK. And we have a few plein air competitions and events. And the festival in Ireland, of course, is a fun one. Yeah. In Wexford, but we don’t have quite the scene that you have here. But it’s it’s definitely become hugely popular in the UK amongst painters.

Eric Rhoads 3:11
Yeah, yeah, I understand. It’s growing. I understand it’s growing exponentially. In some areas like Spain, for instance. I had no idea but there are dozens and dozens and dozens of events. It was some pretty large prizes. Pablo Rubin told me about that. So was plein air painting, always a part of your life?

Haidee-Jo Summers 3:34
I’m not particularly I mean, we never called it plein air painting. But we might paint outside a bit in summer, you know. But then in 2010, I lived on an island in France. And it was a very, very small island. No cars. I wasn’t teaching and I didn’t have any other distractions is pretty Island. And that’s when I particularly started painting outside.

Eric Rhoads 4:00
While I was having a fond memory flashback, because the first time we met, we met in France. You heard I was gonna be in France, and you came over with your husband and and that’s the first chance and that was I’m trying to remember what year that was probably 2018 or 19.

Haidee-Jo Summers 4:19
Was Yeah, it was a while ago.

Eric Rhoads 4:21
Yeah. As I was leading a group, we have these fine art tours that we do. And I think that’s the last one we did because we had to stop with COVID We’re starting up again this October. We’re going to Madrid and to Stockholm.

Haidee-Jo Summers 4:36
In Madrid you’re gonna go to the Sorolla museum

Eric Rhoads 4:39
we’re gonna go to the Saravia is all the museums really. And we go behind the scenes, we go to artists homes, and sometimes we have chances to meet with curators and museums we, we have for instance, we we went behind the scenes at the Van Gogh Museum when we were in Holland and they passed So Van Gogh painting around for us to hold in our hands. I mean, how rare is that? We went, we were in Budapest, we went to off out smooth cars home, his daughter 32 At the time, let us into his home and to see their family private collection of his paintings that no one’s ever seen. So we do a lot of things like that.

Haidee-Jo Summers 5:20
I know, I’ll join you one day. All right. Cool.

Eric Rhoads 5:22
We’d like that very much. So how did this whole journey begin for you? First memories of thinking about becoming an artist.

Haidee-Jo Summers 5:31
Well, I’ve always been kind of considered myself an artist, I went straight from school to art college, university, studied illustration, and started teaching and painting and exhibiting worked at picture framers. Yes, quite a long, long career, but as well as having a couple of kids and being a mom and being at home, looking after the kids and stuff. So it’s really, really that year in France was a big turning point, because that’s when I reluctantly joined Facebook, like 15 years after everyone else had the idea of doing something that everyone else is doing. And the art blogs and all that I discovered the whole online,

Eric Rhoads 6:19
see, quite masterful, online thing.

Haidee-Jo Summers 6:23
Well, Instagram seems to be seems to be in a happy place. For me. Yeah. And it just connects you with artists all over the world, who probably wouldn’t have known about you and plein air magazine. And I thought, everybody, if I hadn’t ever gone online, if I’d have stayed off of grid?

Eric Rhoads 6:43
Well, you know, our most famous subscriber happens to live in your country. Yeah,

Haidee-Jo Summers 6:47
that will be king, new King.

Eric Rhoads 6:51
So the story on that is that Joan Rivers and I knew each other she was a comedian. Yes. And she called me one day. And she said, I don’t know if he I knew her from the radio industry. And she said, I don’t know if you know this, but she said, I’m a subscriber to plein air magazine. I said, I didn’t know you were a painter. She says, Yes. She said, Charlson, I go out all the time painting. And she said, I bought him a subscription to your magazine. And I’ve been paying for it for years. And so when she died, I was curious what would happen whether or not a renewal would come in. Now it’s to the same address. And by the way, it was not an address that was visible. In other words, you know, nobody else would know who that is. Well, we’ve got a couple of famous subscribers, there’s just kind of

Haidee-Jo Summers 7:44
next time I’m having tea at the palace. I’ll just look around and see if there’s a copy, sitting.

Eric Rhoads 7:52
Well, I tried, I reached out to try to go painting with him. This was before he became really busy. I’ve been here. I got a really beautiful rejection letter.

Haidee-Jo Summers 8:07
Something to frame and hang in there.

Eric Rhoads 8:09
It’s not it’s not signed by him by his secretary, which is probably still a big deal. But so. So you said it changed your life? Yeah, changed your trip trajectory? Was it getting outdoors that made a difference in your painting,

Haidee-Jo Summers 8:28
outdoors, and also been a little bit isolated and cut off? Yeah, in France, because then I really enjoyed making the connections online with other artists over here and stuff. And then when I went back to the UK to live, I was determined to enter competitions. And that’s what happened. I want to I want to prize very soon after I got back to the UK, which was called the Artist of the Year. I mean, it was just quite a, you know, lots of entries and TV show knows competition. And I won, and then I was invited to paint the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant in London. And that all happened within the first six months of being back in the UK. And then what happens with your career is you win something and then somebody suggests something else, and then you get an offer from somebody else and things just start snowball momentum. Momentum. Well, momentum really built up for me. Yeah. 2011 2012 2013. Yeah, even though I’d been painting since I’ve graduated in like the mid 90s. But it was only in the last 10 years that things have really

Eric Rhoads 9:40
good. So I sat down with Kimball, who won the plein air salon award this year. And I said, I want to coach you and tell you how your life is about to change when you win this award. And he’s very sweet man. And I said, first off, your prices are going up increased dramatically. And within 24 hours of winning that prize, he got a call from one of the top five galleries in America. And they invited. So I and I, and he had known that yet I said, this is going to happen. You’re going to hear from galleries, you’re gonna hear from competitions, you’re gonna hear from people who want you to do workshops you’re gonna hear from, and it snowballs. It does. So that’s kind of what happened to you

Haidee-Jo Summers 10:29
the absolutely the since then I’ve written a couple of books, I film DVDs, I’m, I became a member of the Royal Institute of oil painters, and now I’m the vice president.

Eric Rhoads 10:39
that’s a big deal. So can you talk to me about that organization and kind of the meaning of that in the UK? Because that’s a pretty big deal.

Haidee-Jo Summers 10:48
Yeah, so it’s a really old society, I should know. But you know, like 150 years old. And when I was a young artist, I won a Young Artist Award. So they have an annual show that anyone can send work in, and maybe have it selected and hung. I entered as a young artist, I won an award a couple of times, actually. And then from then on, all I ever wanted was to become a member. I mean, that was my only kind of career goal or dream, even. As soon as I came across this society of artists who were all passionate about oil painting, and exhibiting at the male galleries, which is just down the road from Buckingham Palace is a fabulous gallery. And it was just so exciting to be a part of the All I Ever Wanted After that was to become a member took me a long time I exhibited for probably, you know, 15 years or more with them before I became a member.

Eric Rhoads 11:46
So the lesson in that for all of us as well.

Haidee-Jo Summers 11:48
It’s, if there’s something you want, you should just be persistent. You just gotta keep plugging away. Yeah, because I mean, many people give up. It’s very competitive, even to get a painting accepted, and many people get discouraged. But that year in France when I was away, and I couldn’t enter, I was just determined after that, that I was never going to miss a year. And I was going to just keep on entering until I was elected a member. Yeah, if there’s something you really want, you should just keep going.

Eric Rhoads 12:23
Absolutely. So you, you said earlier that you painted the Diamond Jubilee. Yeah. What was that like?

Haidee-Jo Summers 12:32
That was funny, because it was in June, and the weather was terrible. And I bought a dress specially because the BBC were filming. There were a dozen artists on the Millennium Bridge that they selected. Different, you know, oil painters, watercolor, somebody with an iPad, somebody was even painting on a door, a full size door. And I thought this special occasion it’s going to be filmed. It’s going to be on the BBC, where we’re painting

Eric Rhoads 13:05
the stage looking

Haidee-Jo Summers 13:06
down over the river. There was this big pageant with all kinds of different boats and the Queen and Prince Philip or on one of them. And we were just to paint the boats as they came down the river to do that when there was this hard to do that. Yeah. And I had bought this dress specially because it was gonna be lovely. And it was so cold and wet. On the day that I had a fleece I had a coat I had a woolly hat is the only people I know it was gorgeous. The only people who could stay painting with the oil painters everyone else was they were just dropping like flies. Like, you know, the iPad guy, the watercolors, Lady with acrylics, and they were just like running. I had an umbrella on my oils, and I just kept painting and had a little like, chat to Annika rice on TV. But you know, the funny thing about that was that people were then messaging me from Australia and America. And then lots of people had seen it. Send me Facebook messages and things.

Eric Rhoads 14:09
So did that build your social media consider? Yeah,

Haidee-Jo Summers 14:12
I think I had a blog at that time. It was in the blogging days. Yeah, I think

Eric Rhoads 14:16
that helped no blog anymore.

Haidee-Jo Summers 14:19
Please, nobody looked for my blog, because it’s still on. Yeah. Find me on Instagram, please. Yeah,

Eric Rhoads 14:27
yeah, it seems so 90 days. I still do a blog.

Haidee-Jo Summers 14:31
Well, yours is great. Yeah. Yeah, love it. Read it every week. You know, the Instagram is great, because it’s just so instant. That’s why it’s good for artists, you paint something and you can just pop it on there the same day. And I think your followers feel like they’re such a part of your life because they know where you are. You know, I bump into someone in London they say Oh, so you’ve just been to Spain. How was it and I for a second I think How did you know? And then it’s a little creepy. Everybody knows it’s on Instagram, right?

Eric Rhoads 15:04
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, you come here to the convention and you see faces that you’ve never met, but you feel like you know him, because you’ve interacted with him or watched him on social media. It’s fabulous.

Haidee-Jo Summers 15:15
You do is and I think the great thing about social media as the you, you can build these connections and you do end up meeting everybody, at some point in person. I do. I mean, everybody in the end,

Eric Rhoads 15:28
you got a lot of followers, that might not be physically possible. So you you got the Queen coming down in a boat. Oh, gosh, raining. Yeah. The Queen’s probably indoors because it’s cold.

Haidee-Jo Summers 15:43
No, the cool thing is they were out there on the front of the boat. Really? No, it was funny. I mean, I painted kind of the buildings on the river first before the boats came and just did my best. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 15:56
How’d it come out?

Haidee-Jo Summers 15:58
I mean, it was a record of the day.

Eric Rhoads 16:02
So you’re regularly painting. I wouldn’t want to see it now. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so tell me what your responsibilities are. You’re the vice president of the Royal Institute of oil painters. Yeah. So what is the vice president do?

Haidee-Jo Summers 16:18
I’m still to find out. It’s already been a month or so.

Eric Rhoads 16:24
I realize brand new. Congratulations.

Haidee-Jo Summers 16:26
Thank you. Yeah. But it’s a great society. We’ve got people like Trevor Chamberlin and David Curtis. Ken Howard has recently passed. But you know, all of the top world inspirations to us. Younger painters, and we’ve got loads of fantastic younger painters come in in

Eric Rhoads 16:46
meetings. Like you guys sit around and drink beer.

Haidee-Jo Summers 16:49
Yeah. Well, we have council meetings on we. We just run the society between us with the help of the mall galleries. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 17:00
Well, you mentioned a couple of big names that we need to get here to the plein air convention. has happened, David? Yeah. David, my David. I’ve tried for years, but he’s getting up there.

Haidee-Jo Summers 17:11
He’s getting out.

Eric Rhoads 17:13
Yeah, he’s brilliant. He’s great. Yeah. I’ll have to go over there and do a live interview and then put it on the stage.

Haidee-Jo Summers 17:21
That’d be wonderful. Yeah, you come and see my studio as well. Anytime.

Eric Rhoads 17:26
And where do you live? What part of the UK

Haidee-Jo Summers 17:28
I live in Lincolnshire, which is very rural. It’s in the middle on the east. On the east side. It’s easy to get to London on the train. It’s like an hour to London, but it’s also completely quiet and peaceful. There’s just fields and it’s nice.

Eric Rhoads 17:44
you obviously make your living as an artist? Yes. You have no other form of income.

Haidee-Jo Summers 17:51
Don’t make me cry.

Eric Rhoads 17:55
Well, I’ve got two paintings. How do you make a living as an artist you have? Are you in galleries?

Haidee-Jo Summers 18:06
mainly painting sales, And then teaching and the the art some money from the books and things? Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 18:13
All right. So galleries direct sales

Haidee-Jo Summers 18:17
Yeah. I’d say mainly direct sales, but also gallery sales. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 18:24
And are you getting any sales or activity off of Instagram?

Haidee-Jo Summers 18:29
Yes. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 18:30
How does that work for you? I mean, what do you do? Do people just say, Hey, can I buy this? Or do you use? Yeah,

Haidee-Jo Summers 18:35
so you just get, I just post my work. And then somebody will message direct message usually and say, is that one for sale? And I’ll say yes, it definitely is.

Eric Rhoads 18:48
Have you have you got the one that says Hi, I’m trying I love your paintings. And I’m my wife. Oh, special anniversary. And

Haidee-Jo Summers 18:56
I know that off by heart that one.

Eric Rhoads 18:59
Do you guys know that scam?

Haidee-Jo Summers 19:01
perusing your works? Yes, yes.

Eric Rhoads 19:03
Yeah, I get it. I always say my artwork is I always respond. I say my artwork is always available, available on this website. And I was hoping they’d stop sending him but they keep sending. A lot of artists fall for the scam and end up sending them, you know, they send them money, and then they somehow they don’t

Haidee-Jo Summers 19:30
know. I mean, if somebody doesn’t address you by your name to start with, you know, they send you a generic email and it’s like, not saying Dear Eric, that’s not a good sign at the beginning. And then their grandma’s usually really bad. And then you see the same sentences over and over again.

Eric Rhoads 19:47
But I do all those things.

Haidee-Jo Summers 19:51
But if someone’s not sure if they receive an email and they’re not sure if it’s maybe genuine or if it’s a scam, I suggest just cut in A section of the email pasting it into Google. And you’ll see it will pop up because it’s already on. This is already on there. Millions of people have already received it. And then you go, Oh, yeah, that’s a scam email.

Eric Rhoads 20:12
Yeah. Sad, or just got scammed online recently. I’m not very happy about it. But I should have done that. But it wasn’t about selling her. So talk to me about plein air painting in terms of you know, what percentage of your time are there seasons? You know, you’ve got a rainy season is all the time.

Haidee-Jo Summers 20:34
Right. I paint all year now. daily rounds. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 20:38
Yeah. No matter how cold it is. You’re out there. Yeah,

Haidee-Jo Summers 20:41
I mean, I’m usually in a nice place though. Like so I was in Seville for a week in February. And I love this. We love the snow in the UK. I think all plein air painters in the UK love the snow, because it’s so rare and we don’t get enough. So I’d really like to come over here and paint some proper snow,

Eric Rhoads 21:00
proper snow, like like the proper state. So you actually this week in Colorado, you can see some proper snow. Yeah, stuff to get a little higher. But you can see it from down here. That’s assuming we weren’t having the smog coming from Canada from the wildfires.

Haidee-Jo Summers 21:18
And I was the same in Santa Fe last year, if you remember.

Eric Rhoads 21:22
Now there were viruses. That’s because we’re hot. Can I tell you that I’m sure the Colorado artists are some water in there for the Colorado artists here could probably tell you how to get to some snow. So you’re gonna be here painting extra days, that’ll be nice. So what’s your Do you have like, something that you’re iconically known for? In terms of what you paint?

Haidee-Jo Summers 21:47
I think I’m known for painting, kind of intimate scenes, maybe as well, the kind of things that people don’t normally see as painting subjects. Like laundry on a line. Like one of the monthly awards was my neighbor’s washing line. That’s the kind of thing that a little domestic subject, I tend to hone in on a small motif rather than a grand.

Eric Rhoads 22:29
Is there a reason why you landed on that? Is there something that you’ve discovered or learned that helped you get there?

Haidee-Jo Summers 22:36
No, when I was a teenager, I used to read the all of the Jane Austen books. And she’s said, You should write about what you know, she said. She wrote about the things that she knew and didn’t try to write about anything that she didn’t know. And she said, we do a

Eric Rhoads 22:51
lot of laundry, two kids.

Haidee-Jo Summers 22:54
She said this little piece of ivory on which I write two inches wide, and it just stuck with me all the years. I’ve just thought I better paint about things that I know. Yeah. You know, like gardens and kitchens. And not I mean, I love Western art. But I don’t. I haven’t associated with any cowboys yet. So I just stick to the kind of the normal English things that I see.

Eric Rhoads 23:21
That is really pretty good advice.

Haidee-Jo Summers 23:24
Yeah, and you just got to paint what interests you personally, and not try to be overly overly influenced by what everybody else is? Painting. So there are certain themes like the laundry theme, and allotments, which are like kitchen gardens. And there are certain themes like that, that I’ve been interested in since I was like 80. And you know, I just keep coming back to that.

Eric Rhoads 23:47
Do you try to do you have a story in mind when you’re painting? Is it what’s going through your head in terms of when you’re creating your composition? Are you you know, 100 years from now? Or are the curators gonna make up some bogus story about what you were thinking? Or are you just like, I think that’s cool. I’ll paint it.

Haidee-Jo Summers 24:07
Yeah. Yeah, pretty much.

Eric Rhoads 24:12
Okay. All right. So well, 100 years from now, if this podcast still exists in the ether, then

Haidee-Jo Summers 24:18
I think that’s good. It’s usually an effect of the light. It’s just so striking. Something strikes me.

Eric Rhoads 24:24
What’s your process, like when you first you’re going out somewhere? You’re going to Seville? You’re wandering around trying to find something?

Haidee-Jo Summers 24:34
Yeah, that’s what I do. Exactly. So I’m not big on planning. And I wouldn’t like to go to a place and kind of pre-plan. What I’m going to paint when I get there, much rather see what’s, how it is on the day, what the lights doing and look for something that interests me.

Eric Rhoads 24:50
So you find something that speaks to you. Then what do you do then you do a sketch do

Haidee-Jo Summers 24:55
so I just start straight with my oils. So I What I’d really like to do one day is take a trip just with my sketchbook and pencils and leave the oils at home, but I just keep a little nervous about that nervous about that. Yeah. Because, you know, like, within two days, I feel like we should. Yeah, no, I love the idea of doing that. But um, yeah, no, I just, I’m always with the oils, you see. So I think it’s good to break out of your comfort zone. And maybe, I mean, maybe I’ll take goulash or something. But um, yeah, then I just set up and paint for a couple of hours to three hours. And then I need a snack or a drink or both, or beer or meet with a friend or Yeah,

Eric Rhoads 25:41
so typically, if you’re on a painting trip for you, is your optimum getting one painting a day? To two? Yeah. And are you pretty much a morning and afternoon light person?

Haidee-Jo Summers 25:55
Yeah, I’m not particularly an early riser. And in the evenings, I like to eat dinner with friends. If there’s only one. There’s only one thing in the morning and then having a break and then painting again. Yeah, it seems quite lazy to any managed to but I used to try try for more. But I think the quality Takes a Dip. If I’m trying for three four paintings in a day. Although, in my book I did try. This was fun. A fun for a try. Yeah, if you’re if you’re bored, and you want to try something, I did 10 paintings in a day. Did you really? Yes. Really quite fun,

Eric Rhoads 26:33
actually really? Like posters stand? Like sort

Haidee-Jo Summers 26:37
of eight by eight? Yeah, yeah.

Eric Rhoads 26:40
And you prefer to paint small most of the time.

Haidee-Jo Summers 26:43
I do paint pretty small. Yeah, like 12 was 16. And under sort of size, because because I’m usually just doing one session. Something I’d like to do more of his work larger outside and to go back repeatedly and do two three sessions.

Eric Rhoads 27:00
So are you typically a direct painter, you’re doing it under painting, you’re just laying paint

Haidee-Jo Summers 27:08
straight on with the paint?

Eric Rhoads 27:10
What’s the first thing you do?

Haidee-Jo Summers 27:12
So if it’s architecture, I’ll usually do a bit of a sketch, a guideline sketch. position, the position the main shapes

Eric Rhoads 27:22
with my brush, try to get your perspective figured out. Just get it all positioned

Haidee-Jo Summers 27:25
on there, really. And then just try to get on with color and tone as quickly as possible. Like a blocky and I suppose and then go back and refine.

Eric Rhoads 27:38
So do you do like the thin wash first or you just start out with?

Haidee-Jo Summers 27:43
Not really I prefer it if I’ve already put a thin wash on the board’s back in the studio. And then they already have some kind of Yeah, I prefer that. But sometimes I’m out with a white panel and then I do just just rub something on quickly, like, like raw sienna or something.

Eric Rhoads 28:03
Okay, so that’s, you’re looking for kind of a brown Total effects

Haidee-Jo Summers 28:09
on your, like, warm. I don’t know why, but I’m drawn towards towards a warm gray. That’s my ideal.

Eric Rhoads 28:15
So you do a lot of teaching.

Haidee-Jo Summers 28:16
I do a fair bit of teaching. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 28:18
What? What are the things that you find? You’re most able to help people with? What are the things that they’re struggling with that you’re really would say is your superpower at helping recognize and help them solve?

Haidee-Jo Summers 28:32
Well, I maybe hope I’m good at helping people with with direct brush strokes. Yeah, a lot of people fuss and blend and they lose. You know, they may have a good tone, or they may have good tonal value relationship going on, but then they lose it by constantly noodling. noodling is a great word noodling. So I hope I might help with that.

Eric Rhoads 29:00
What do you tell him to do? Instead?

Haidee-Jo Summers 29:02
I think that but just by watching me the way I put it down, and then lift the brush off, makes them think they can maybe be more decisive.

Eric Rhoads 29:13
So is a pretty thick, pretty thick. Yeah. So like, how big are your piles of pain when you put them out?

Haidee-Jo Summers 29:21
Actually, I don’t know. I don’t pre mix. So, you know, I don’t know.

Eric Rhoads 29:31
square edge. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And then what are the some of the other things that you find students struggle with drawing, drawing? Yeah. What’s your best recommendation on that?

Haidee-Jo Summers 29:45
It’s a practice drawing. practice drawing for like 5-10 minutes a day and make it a regular habit. Just with a pencil and paper, anything from life, anything at all, just just regular practice as well. You Need some great books I can recommend on drawing as well. So there’s the drawing on the right side of the brain one. Edwards. And there’s a Danny Danny Gregory book called The creative license. That’s a really fun one creative license license. It’s a really fun book, you know, if people are reluctant to draw because they think it’s serious or daunting. That’s a really great fun book to get people started withdrawing.

Eric Rhoads 30:27
Tell me about your book. Two books.

Haidee-Jo Summers 30:30
Yeah. What are they? So the first one is called vibrant toils, and it’s the general kind of oil painting. And the second one is plein air painting. With oils, plein air painting in oils? Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 30:47
How did your life change when you became an author? Or did it?

Haidee-Jo Summers 30:51
I don’t know. I did a demo for you last year on the mainstage. And my, my book was in the shop there. So that was nice. And at the end of the demo for you for came to the stage, and I signed the book. That was fun. But I think the book is also like a nice record of where your work was at that time. So I’m thinking about a possible third book now. And it’s nice, like every three or four years, a new book would be quite nice, because looking back,

Eric Rhoads 31:17
like what CW Mundy did this morning, you know, he said, I’ve learned so much since I did my last video that this This incorporates all my learning. And if you look at a you could buy like an old Richard Schmid book on on eBay or something, and you look at how much is worth changed even since he wrote that book. I mean, people are always hopefully growing. Absolutely.

Haidee-Jo Summers 31:41
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So the book is a nice record. Really, it’s a nice, it’s also very inexpensive. You know, people can pick that up on Amazon for like, I don’t know, $12 or something. So it’s the books give lots of information, lots of inspiration, tons of photos of my paintings. And it’s yeah, I’m an I love them. I collect them. I have hundreds of books.

Eric Rhoads 32:06
It’s a sickness we all do. So the we have a lot of people who are at different levels listening to this right now. One question that people are always sending is, how do I get to the next level? So there’s, there’s that question, there’s how do I find my voice? And then there are people who are already at a relatively high level that are trying to figure out how do they push themselves? Even higher? What would you tell these people?

Haidee-Jo Summers 32:38
It’s the same old advice over and over again, isn’t it? But you have to keep putting your work out there. And putting yourself out there. And I know, it’s hard if you’re, if you’re an introvert, I’m an introvert.

Eric Rhoads 32:50
on stage in front of all these people.

Haidee-Jo Summers 32:56
I am but these people are my tribe, you know. So when I started doing demos for art clubs, I used to be really nervous. But that was like 20 years ago, and the first couple of times, I was really nervous, you know, like, really anxious butterflies. Yeah. And then one day, I just realized I was on my way to a demo, and I thought, Oh, hey, I, I can’t go wrong here. This is a it was a big realization. I can’t go wrong, because they’re actually just there to watch me paint the way I paint. So however, the painting turns out, that’s, that’s they’ve watched me paint. That’s how I do it. And if even if it goes wrong, because it goes wrong for all of us, right, then even if things go badly, then they’re seeing you your thought process and they’re seeing that sometimes you mess up, you literally can’t go wrong if people are watching you pain because they you are doing what you say you do. I never was anxious after that. About a demo. But I artists you know, if I was in front of a roomful of non artists, it might be different but

Eric Rhoads 34:02
putting yourself out there,

Haidee-Jo Summers 34:04
putting yourself out there entering competitions, open exhibitions. I mean, that’s how I met David Curtis really by entering my work into a there’s a magazine in the UK called The artists magazine, and they have an annual exhibition at an art festival called patchings. And I used to enter my work into the Hutchins. The David used to be a judge he still is I’m a judge now. It’s not many of us in the UK, we will do the same jobs. Yeah, but it was really funny. I remember when I first met him, and I was wearing a name thing like this. Yeah, because I was an exhibitor. And David looked really busy. He was setting up his in the guest marquee. And a friend of mine, another artist said oh, let me introduce you. And I thought, oh, it looks it looks terribly busy. And he was rushing back and forth. This is one of those cute Little VW campervans and he was fetching his paintings. And I thought it’s not a good time, you know, when you I was quite sensitive, and I got the vibe, it wasn’t a good time. And he came, came out and said, Hi James friend of mine said, Oh, you must meet. And he was sort of like, hi, but No, I’m busy. Yeah. And then he looked down at my name. And he went, Oh, and his whole demeanor just changed. He just shook my hand. And he said, I love your work, your work is great. Because he’d been awarding me those prizes at the, for a couple of years at the exhibition. So yeah, people have got to put their work out there. That’s how things.

Eric Rhoads 35:37
So I think, you know, people ask a lot, a lot about that. And, of course, we do our competitions with plein air salon. And I secretly enter another art competition, I don’t enter my own because that would be silly, wouldn’t it. But I secretly enter another competition, because I don’t care if I win. I want to find out if I’ve got the chops or not, I want to find out if I’m going to become a finalist. Because what I’ve realized is that, when you put yourself out there, your mindset changes. Talk to me about how when you enter something for the first time or second time, what does that trigger inside of you in terms of how you think differently as an artist?

Haidee-Jo Summers 36:26
Well, I think mindsets, hugely important, you should not you should not you should not hold anything too heavily, right. So even when you do well, and you succeed, and you win a prize, or you are elected to something, you know, don’t don’t make that over affect you either. And when equally when you don’t get work in, you don’t achieve something that you wanted. Don’t Don’t let it get to you. Because it happens to literally everybody, you probably all know Pete the street. He’s had his work rejected from the Royal Academy, summer exhibition, time and time again. I mean, we’ve all been rejected from stuff. So I think mindsets terribly important, you’ve always got to we’ve got to have hope. And there’s always possibility and, and hope, buddy, but also you’ve got to keep a kind of an even temperament as an artist, don’t get too carried away with successes and definitely don’t get overly upset by something doesn’t work for you. There’s a there’s a there’s a saying isn’t there, what’s meant for you doesn’t pass you by. So if you know, maybe it wasn’t your time wasn’t your year, or it wasn’t your competition, but there will be others.

Eric Rhoads 37:47
I had a very famous artists tell me that there he became part of a big competition. And you know, you we always just assumed because we’ve seen him there forever that he’s always been there. And he told me, he entered nine years in a row. And every time he got rejected, he told himself, there’s something wrong, I have to fix. And so he would study his work more. And he would be more critical of himself. And he pushed himself. And each time that happened, he pushed himself more. And he said that I was I finally realized that I got accepted in because I wasn’t ready those nine years before, but I was ready, that that ninth year. Right. And, and I think that the mindset thing is really important in the sense of when when you’re putting yourself into a competition. Now you’re not competing with yourself, you’re competing with everybody else, in the sense of, you know, I’m a judge, you’re a judge, we know how it goes, we’re looking at hundreds or 1000s of images, and images that are that tend to be iconic kind of stand out. And they jump out and they go, Wow, it can be Yeah, that is more impact. They have more impact. And, and so learning how to do that. And when you keep entering, you’re like now I have to try harder push and push myself. Peter Adams at the California art club said that they had resumed, they used to have our competitions and they had stopped them and then they started them up again. And he said that the first year they did it, the quality wasn’t all that good. But each year they did it the quality improved because people were pushing themselves up to higher level. And now the quality you know, 25 years later that the quality is just so exceptional. Yeah. And that’s why I think we need to enter these things and you need to put yourself out there like you said, what are some of the other ways you do that?

Haidee-Jo Summers 39:56
To put yourself out there Well, I think that you go into events like this, and making friends and meeting people connecting with them online. Because you never know when you’re going to who are going to bump into and what they might have some advice for you, they might tell you about a gallery in your town or something you didn’t know about. So it’s, it’s, it’s a great idea to be connected with other artists.

Eric Rhoads 40:27
So we have an art show out there in the hallway. And I’ve seen some artists I’ve never known about, and I’m taking pictures of their paintings and their and their name, and sending them off to my editor and say, My name is here, you’re not good enough yet. And I’ll send them off to the editor. And I’ll say, you know, might consider looking into this artist and just some little things like that.

Haidee-Jo Summers 40:53
Yes, some great workout.

Eric Rhoads 40:54
There’s really nice work

Haidee-Jo Summers 40:56
out there. Yeah, so just just connecting with other artists. You know, don’t force anything but just like, as I say, I was always an introvert, but you just gradually meet one or two new people each time you go to a new event. I go to a plein air Invitational, I might make two new friends. That’s two extra friends. Lifetime. Absolutely. Yeah.

Eric Rhoads 41:21
So if you were going to impart some wisdom on somebody who was maybe deciding to go down the path of trying plein air, maybe they’re listening to this, and they’ve been thinking about it, but they’re also like, I don’t know how to do it is a big hassle. You know, there’s mosquitoes and raindrops and wind and all but what what is your best advice to somebody who is considering plein air? What’s your advice on how to how to get yourself out there? How to get yourself started

Haidee-Jo Summers 41:52
Well, you know, if it’s new to you then join a local group. Because there are painters painting plein air everywhere, as like you see everywhere in the world. So join, join a group and then you’ll have a commitment to go out. Because we’re the worst thing is thinking I’ll do it next week. And I’ll do it on, you know, and then I’ll maybe next week and just putting it off, isn’t it that’s the worst thing. So if you don’t have a group, maybe have a date in your diary and a time and maybe put your paints in the car the day before, you know, just make it as easy for yourself as possible. Make a plan to go to a place. Because I think that’s the hardest part is just getting out of your, your own house and getting out there. Yeah,

Eric Rhoads 42:40
so I always like to ask for a couple of tips. And you probably have a couple of pieces of wisdom that you try to impart on your students from time to time. Is there anything that you might leave us with that you think would be helpful to somebody to explore or try?

Haidee-Jo Summers 42:56
Okay, so I would just say try when you’re painting to listen to the little voice that’s going on in your head and try not to name objects. And just think in terms of shapes, values and colors, not trees, doors, fields, carts. Just listen to what you’re saying to yourself, because you need to see the subject as a as an arrangement of shapes, values and colors, and not think about things too much.

Eric Rhoads 43:27
The downside of thinking about things is

Haidee-Jo Summers 43:31
that you start rendering individual things, maybe instead of making a coherent design, making a coherent painting.

Eric Rhoads 43:41
We also have a tendency, I think to tell ourselves because of the kindergarten art class. You know, a tree looks

Haidee-Jo Summers 43:48
like a trees ball, and it’s brown, and green

Eric Rhoads 43:51
and or a sky is and the beat of the Sun has little rays coming out of it

Haidee-Jo Summers 43:55
and the sun does yellow as well. That’s another thing, isn’t it? And off? I was going to have a good one then. Yeah, there was that you had said about not naming things.

Eric Rhoads 44:15
the reason yeah, why not to name things? Well, anyway, well, anyway, it probably was not that good.

Haidee-Jo Summers 44:25
Well, anyway, in my first book, vibrant oils, there’s a bit about design and making no tons and just coming up with a good strong design that’s got impact. Yeah, so doing well. So my other tip would be just to paint what you love. And sometimes I ask a student, you know, what is it that drew you to this subject? And they might say, well, I like you know, there’s these pots with flowers on the doorstep. I like the way that looks. And then I look at their painting, and they’ve got the pots the doorstep The door, the windows, the first floor, windows, the roof, the chimney. And I say to them, so why painting all that? All of that. So my other tip would be to think about what it is that particularly inspires you about that scene, and think about maybe honing in on the thing that interests you, rather than trying to take on too much. And sometimes we get like, we’re in a new place, like, you know, golden yesterday, and sometimes we get visual greed and we see loads of exciting things.

Eric Rhoads 45:31
That’s a great term visual greed.

Haidee-Jo Summers 45:33
then you have to say to yourself, well, hang on, is this actually better as to paint is am I looking at two or three paintings here? Well, which 1am I going to?

Eric Rhoads 45:43
Yeah, so yesterday, I’m painting on the bridge at the river, with the mountain in the background. And and there’s water and there’s colorful trees, spring trees. And I told myself, there are five focal points here, right. Which one? Do I pick?

Haidee-Jo Summers 46:00
Yes, exactly.

Eric Rhoads 46:03
Let’s just put all five in there.

Haidee-Jo Summers 46:05
And then you’ll get the myth the painting will have a confusing message. Yeah, it won’t be clear what it was about. So.

Eric Rhoads 46:11
Well, this has been absolutely fascinating. Thank you for being on the plein air podcast.

Haidee-Jo Summers 46:16
Thanks for having me. We did this about four years ago. We have a nice interview already that we did about four years ago.

Eric Rhoads 46:29
Was it on video? No. video now.

Haidee-Jo Summers 46:34
that’s one for me not to watch later. (laughs)


This has been the plein air podcast with PleinAir 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.