Thursday, May 24, 2018

Garden Pond Reflections


Garden Pond Reflections, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2018

I am always grateful when people open their personal spaces to me to paint in; and my week painting on St. Simons Island was chock-full of kind generosity in that way. This lovely garden pond is situated at a Bed and Breakfast on the island, and thanks to Debi, I was able to spend a morning there. It was quiet, shady, and offered shimmering reflections that were delightfully irresistible!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cabin Shadows

Cabin Shadows, 8 x 10, Oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2018

I have been spying this little cabin for years and never managed to get to it when the light was right. Actually, I really didn't believe that the light EVER touched it, due to all the surrounding trees. Well, an unexpected, late afternoon painting opportunity revealed otherwise. As it turns out, the sunlight hits this darling front door right around 3:15, and plays quite dramatically on it's face for several hours. It was a delightful surprise and a good lesson that "timing is everything". 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Beachview Garden

Beach View Garden, 8 x 10, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2018
SOLD

While I was on the Georgia coast teaching, I had some free time to roam about and do some plein air work of my own. It felt good to be outside painting after so many months inside. I loved these little cottages when I came upon them... brilliant, colorful gardens in front, with the big, beautiful ocean in back. What a day!!


Monday, May 14, 2018

Judy's Hydrangeas - workshop demo with process shots

Judy's Hydrangeas, 8 x 10, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2018
Workshop Demo - Sold

I just finished teaching a workshop in St. Simons Island, GA. It was an plein air class, and we had pretty much perfect weather. I love it when that happens! We focused on "garden vignettes" and tried to capture a sense of place, as we considered the basics of painting outside. Each day we met in a different, private (and very beautiful) garden. This is my demo of one little corner at Judy's house from the first day... Thank you, Judy!

Compose/Block-in large Shapes and Values          

Mass-in Upright Planes – Shadow Family 

Mass-in Upright Planes – Light Family

Mass-in ground plane and details.

Break up background mass to add light. Add spectral highlights.

Workshopping in Georgia with a great group of students!
Many thanks to all!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Giant Commission DETAIL - with process shots of detail area

Roses in Hermann Park (DETAIL)
This is an approximately 24" x 18" section of 
the 10 foot painting seen below.

Roses in Hermann Park, 5 foot x 10 foot commission
Detail is of bottom left corner.

If you have not been following my recent blog posts, I painted this 10 foot painting for Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. It's the first of three, and all will hang in the lobby of the hospital's new North Tower. One frustrating thing for me is showing this work in such a drastically reduced, postage stamp size. While the internet is great, and without it I couldn't share at all, the painting is meant to be experienced in person. I wish, I wish...

So... these detail shots will bring you closer in, where you can see a little more evidence of my brushwork and color nuances that just can't be captured in the photo of the whole painting. The camera has to be set up too far away to get those details.

Below are process shots of the flowers on lower left side... I thought it might be interesting to document the roses as they emerged. (You will also notice that the figures changed at the very end!) 

Working so much larger requires a more deliberate and controlled approach than when working small, simply because of the scale. I wanted this area to have loose, expressive marks to indicate the flowers. Without getting too detailed, I treated them as a mass, with simple lights and darks. I stained the flower spots pink as place holders, to remember where I wanted to put them.

I built up the color with simple shapes, and loose lights and darks.

Developing a passage that would "read" and still feel expressive is tricky. In a small painting, a "pop of light" can be indicated by a single stroke. Not so, at this scale. That same pop of light requires many more marks to say the same thing.

An artist friend and I were discussing this challenge (sometimes frustration?) of adapting our mark-making for working in such a large format. We concluded that it's best to simply accept it as a completely different animal in that way. AND... these big paintings? They really do want to be seen up close and personal! ;)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Roses in Hermann Park "Study" - the design for my first huge commission piece

Roses in Hermann Park (Study for large commission)
8 inches x 16 inches, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2018

And just for fun, you can compare the small study above,
 to the large finished piece below...

Roses In Hermann Park (Finished Commission)
5 feet x 10 feet, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2018

Yesterday, one of my blog readers asked, "Did you do small to-scale paintings for the client first?" Such a great question!

The answer is yes. I painted an accurately scaled, proportionally correct, mini version; and got approval on it before starting the commission. There were also many conversations. The plan was to come up with a Houston scene that would be calm and inviting, but also distinctive of the city. So I visited. I drove around. I took pictures. I painted on location. I got suggestions and made suggestions. When we finally settled on the IDEA, I gathered my resources and fleshed it out.

You can see the 8" x 16" study in the first image of this blog. That is about 50 times smaller than the final piece, but it got the idea across. Since the client already knew my work and style, the study mostly represented what subject matter would be included. My main concern was design, composition and color. 

I stuck pretty close to my original design, and the feeling of it, when I did the big piece. Once approved, that is just the smart thing to do! Throughout the entire painting process, I kept that study nearby. And... I checked and rechecked it constantly!

My next post will include some "up-close" process shots with some of the details INSIDE the painting. Please check back!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Adjusting My Painting World for a Giant Commission - the story of three 10-foot paintings!

Roses in Hermann Park, 56 x 120, oil, L. Daniel © 2018
Commission for Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas
First of three 10-foot paintings to hang in new North Tower


Dear Blog-Friends, This is a story I wrote for Outdoor Painter last week. It's longer than most of my posts, but I share it in it's entirety because you to know what I have been up to since January. More to come on the process and, of course, on subsequent pieces! And thank you for your ongoing support!


The Project
Every now and then, an opportunity comes along that both excites and terrifies. I am in the middle of one of those right now… a commission project for three 10-foot paintings. When finished, these pieces will all hang together in the lobby of Houston Methodist Hospital's new North Tower expansion. It's an honor to be chosen, AND it also comes with high expectations. It’s a challenge that is taking me out of my comfort zone and growing me in new directions. That can be fun and scary!

Prepping my giant blank canvas with two extra coats of gesso.

The Logistics
At first, even the logistics of painting so large seemed insurmountable. A ten-foot canvas is not available at the local art store, is too wide to be supported by my easel, and won’t even fit in my personal studio. Knowing I would need some help, I began to research and ask around. In the end, Davis Gallery (my Austin gallerist and local frame-shop) is custom-building the canvases and delivering them to my front door. Easel guru, David Sorg, suggested two matching easels placed side by side to manage that size, and my double-Sorg arrangement works like a charm. Finally, my sweet husband helped me convert our living room/dining room into a giant studio space for the duration of the project (he also gets ongoing credit for being my greatest encourager)!

My dark neutral block-in on the double-Sorg easel set up.

The Execution
Once set up, I had to figure out how to execute on such a large scale. I typically paint in the Alla Prima method, often en plein air, and I love the freshness of working wet into wet. Even though sheer size would inhibit that process some, my instincts told me to stick with what I know. So I stocked up on paint, got larger brushes, and just got going. Everything took much more time than expected, but I stayed true to my process. I blocked-in the composition with a dark neutral, and began working dark to light. I stood back a lot, focused on large shapes, and slowly covered the canvas. I learned to be much more patient with developing a good foundation, and to overcome the drying time issues. Yes, I adapted, but my basic process served me well.

The easels move up and down in tandem so I didn’t have to stoop to paint the bottom. However, I did need a step stool for painting the top. 

The Finish Line
The first painting of the commission is now delivered and a being framed for installation, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment!! But I am not done… I have two more 10 foot canvases to go. By the time I am finished with all three, I will have been at it over nine months - January to September. (And the quoting process started 9 months before that!) When the paintings are all installed in that new hospital lobby, I will make my pilgrimage to Houston. That's when I’ll feel truly done, when I visit my big, 10-foot paintings altogether, “in situ"! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hill Country Fence Line - Demo Process Shots

Hill Country Fence Line, 8 x 10, oil, L. Daniel
Workshop Demo - SOLD

What happens when it rains at a plein air workshop? Well, we take shelter inside and work from photographs. It often works out to be a valuable time to cover some concepts in more depth.


On the third day of my workshop in Wimberley we had torrential rain... I mean, this was serious Texas thunder and lightening, and a literal downpour! It was pretty dramatic and cozy to be inside, but we worried just a bit when the creek started to rise. Our sweet inn keepers moved our cars to higher ground, "just to be on the safe side". Thankfully, all was well in the end, and we just kept painting through it all. :)

Below are process shot of my demo from that day:

 Compose/Block-in large Shapes and Values

Mass-in Upright Planes – Shadow Family

 Mass-in Upright Planes – Light Family

 Mass in Ground Plane and Sky Plane

Break up Masses and Add Highlights

Some Final Notes to my intrepid Students:
Remember to work dark to light, and thin to thick (dryer, not runny).
Values get cooler/lighter and contrast weakens as elements recede in the distance.
Save small details (like the fence) and brightest highlights until the very end. 



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Cypress Creek Reflections - Workshop Demo on Selection Process

Cypress Creek Reflections, 8x10, oil, L. Daniel © 2018
Workshop Demo - SOLD

On day two of my workshop, we painted the Cypress Creek next to Creekhaven Inn where we stayed. How great was it that we could walk out the door and down the hill to set up? The lessons that day were many... water, reflections, and mixing greens... but a big one had to do with the Selection Process

The scene was full of trunks and limbs and all kinds of tangled branches... what to choose? It's so important to have an "idea", and we can't have it all. (That never works!)

What caught my eye was that sunlit patch of grass next to the big cypress trunk (which widened nicely as the morning progressed), so I zoomed way in. My goal was to portray the feeling of the creek as simply as possible. 

Take what you need and leave the rest. 
Editing is EVERYTHING! 


More from the banks of Cypress Creek...


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Texas Landscape - Workshop Value Study Demo


Texas Landscape, 6 x 8, oil, L. Daniel © 2018
Value Study Demo for Wimberley Artist Workshops

Last week, I had the privilege of teaching a group of fabulous painters in Wimberley, Texas. This was a four-day workshop with the Wimberley Artists Workshops, and it was an all-inclusive, total immersion set up. It's a such great way to go... beautiful accommodations at the Creekhaven Inn, with  all meals taken care of... we were completely free to just paint and learn!

We started out the first day with a value study in the morning, and then painted the same thing in color after lunch. It was a great exercise, until the winds picked up in the afternoon... all but two of our easels blew over, and it was a bit of a battle. But no one gave up!! And that is the risk of plein air, right? You never know what is going happen! 

The value study was designed to help students learn about atmospheric perspective... to see how values diffuse in the distance, and to learn to incorporate that change to give depth to their paintings. We started out mixing a range of grays... 

5 mixed values plus white and black
(We mixed a rich black with ultramarine and burnt sienna.)

First came a sketch of the scene.
I looked for layers going into the distance.

Next came the grays... 

 Working dark to light...
The sky (where the lightest lights are) comes last.

In the finished value study...
Notice how each plane lightens and softens as it gets farther away.
The foreground has darkest darks and greatest contrast.
In the distance, values come together and contrast goes away.

Below are pictures of my students, hard at work! 
Many thanks to all, especially to Judy and Jocelyn for sharing your photos!





Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Marshland Morning

Marshland Morning, 24 x 30, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2018
Commission - SOLD

I painted this piece for a new, young friend, who wanted to honor her parents with a special gift. What fun that she and her fiancé chose to give the gift of a painting! It always warms my heart to see the next generation appreciating and surrounding themselves with original artwork created with love. My young patrons thoughtfully chose a cherished view; and in doing so, their love is mixed in to this creation as well! Thank you so much, L&T, it was fun collaborating with you!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Poppy Fields of Campagna - Plein Air Magazine editorial

Poppy Fields of Campagna, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2018
Sold

I am very pleased to share that "Poppy Fields of Campagna" is included in the March issue of Plein Air Magazine! The article is about artists who travel and paint, and this piece is from my visits to Italy where our daughter's family has been living for 3 years. Scenes like this one are all around their home in the countryside at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius. My little grandson loves to take bike rides with his dad to feed carrots to the horses on neighboring farms. Such a life!!!