Friday, March 27, 2020

Fix It Friday #4 - Dune Shadows

Dune Shadows,6 x 8, Oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

I spend a lot of time on the Georgia coast and walking the beach is my favorite way to start the day. I love all of its sights and smells and sounds; and the peacefulness it offers is a daily gift. This week I heard this beach is closed! I guess it had to be done because people tend to congregate there (especially at spring break), but wow. So sad.

Since I can't be there... here is ANOTHER beach scene makeover for today's Fix-It Friday. This little plein air piece had some of the same issues as my last post!!! Hmmmmm... a recurring problem... this is a good thing to learn about myself! 


Problem 1 - Another stagnant horizon line. 
Fix 1 - Raised up the foreground grasses to break through the horizon line. 
Fix 2 - Added some activity in the sky to break up horizontal bands. 
Fix 3 - Varied water line on shore to break up horizontal bands.

Problem 2 - Focal point is off the page.
See how the line of grasses and the horizon line make a racetrack to the far right corner? They take the viewer right off the page because there is no other clear focal point. 
Fix 1 - Enlarged and enhanced the first clump of grasses, making it the focal point.
Fix 2 - Enhanced sky activity to pull the eye back in.

The first problem reminds me that even if the actual subject doesn't have what I need, I can change things. There are almost always examples of what I need all around - grasses farther up on the dunes, a wisp of clouds that can be enhanced. Use everything. Even memories. 

The second problem was compositional. In this case, a little manipulation helped. The taller grasses help to keep the viewer traveling around the scene. NOW, the eye sees the large grasses first, travels up the leaning grasses, jumps to the clouds, and comes BACK to the large grasses along the dune line. (The goal is to keep the viewer in the picture as long as possible!)

Biggest take-away??? Apparently I like painting dune grasses at the beach. AND, making the same mistakes. Maybe, just maybe, I should remember these lessons and approach this subject differently next time I am outside painting it. How much better to get it right the first time!! ;)

Click Here to see Fix it Friday #2 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fix It Friday #3 - Beach Study

Beach Study, 6 x 8, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020
Click to purchase $120 + $16 shipping

I hope this post finds you well. It has been a crazy week all over the country, as we have watched institutions shut down and events get canceled. I've had to cancel my own upcoming workshops, which makes me so sad. It's a nerve-wracking time for us all.

So... let's have some fun with paint on "Fix It Friday"... 

FIXER UPPER #3 - Beach Study, 6 x 8, oil on panel


Problem 1 - Stagnant horizon line.
Fix 1 - Extended the grasses up over the horizon, made focal point more pronounced. 
Fix 2 - Added birds at horizon for movement and to draw eye into the picture plane.

Problem 2 - Foreground is cramped.
Fix 1 - Eliminated shadow and grasses in corner which opens up entry to beach.
Fix 2 - Kept part of the shadow lead in, but muted way down.

Problem 3 - Overall coolness in color.
Fix 1 - Warmed up sandy foreground.
Fix 2 - Warmed up clouds.

It's always a good idea to let one element dominate. In this case the big clump of sea grasses are the main "event", but they were diminished in the first version. Giving them a larger presence and popping them above the horizon allows them to have the attention they are due.

Click Here to see Fix It Friday #1
Click Here to see Fix it Friday #2 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

FIX IT FRIDAY 2 - Bowing to the Mist

Bowing to the Mist, 8 x 6, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020
Click to purchase $120 + $16 s/h

Welcome back to Fix It Friday! 
This is a little painting that has been on the shelf, screaming at me for years. That little tree in front was absolutely trapped, creating visual tension. It was as if it was pruned back to fit within the edges of the canvas.  When I finally took it down and reworked it, I wondered why it took me so long. And I really wondered why I didn't notice that tension when I painted it. 

FIXER UPPER #2 - Bowing to the Mist, 8 x 6, oil on panel


Problem 1 - Main tree was cramped.
Fix 1 - Reshaped the tree to allow it to go off the edge of canvas.
Problem 2 - Color was dull.
Fix 2 - Brightened up the mist color and kept tree color more uniform. 

The edges of a canvas are actually design elements, and they impact a painting's composition. The related design principle to remember here is that when two design elements meet up, either pull them back from each other or make them overlap. Letting the tree overlap the edges of the canvas (vs pulling them back in the original) is a WAY more aesthetically pleasing solution. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Farmer's Spring - with Process Shots!

Farmer's Spring, 8 x 10, Oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

I recently came across this plein air piece from one of last year's workshops that I never posted! Hmmmm... not sure how I forgot to do that, but here it is now, complete with process shots. This lovely roadside view is from Wimberley, Texas, about an hour outside of Austin (a great place to paint!) See workshop information at the end of this post, and join me for one this spring!!

Block in sketched with ultramarine and burnt sienna.

Creating a sense of distance requires a variety of greens.

Almost finished, but the piece needed something... 

Pops of more intense color and light finish the painting - added at the very end!! 



March 30-April 2, 2020 - Wimberley, Texas
April 16-18, 2020 - St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 8-9, 2020 - Austin, Texas (full with wait list)

Thursday, March 5, 2020

FIX IT FRIDAY! Fixing flawed paintings...

Beach Promises, 6 x 8, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020
Click to purchase $120 + $16 s/h


Sometimes, a painting just doesn't work. Usually, I chalk that failure up to practice, and just move on. But some of those "bloopers" have captured something. They cry out for a DO-OVER, and just need some minor editing to make them "work". With a little bit of TLC, they transform and offer up lessons about color, value, or composition. Of course, the goal is always to get it right the first time; but this process helps me identify where and how I lose the plot. (It's also a great warm up activity!)

Read on, and tune in for the next few Fix-It Fridays when I will show my experiments with Do-Overs, including before and after shots and a brief explanation of changes I made. 

Fixer Upper #1 - Beach Promises, 6 x 8, oil on panel


Problem 1 - Corridor to beach is too wide and exposed.
Fix 1 - Made opening more irregular, and enhanced dominance on left side. 
Problem 2 - Foliage is skimpy.
Fix 2 - Enhanced all foliage, keeping left side dominant.

When I painted the original piece on location, I let myself get too stuck to what was actually there (skimpy foliage and all). As painters, we want to be free to exaggerate the "feeling" of the scene and adjust reality as needed. I hope I remember this lesson next time I need to change up the scene a little bit! ;)


March 30-April 2, 2020 - Wimberley, Texas
April 16-18, 2020 - St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 8-9, 2020 - Austin, Texas (full with wait list)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Blooming Hydrangeas and Spring Workshop Info

Blooming Hydrangeas, 24 x 48, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020
Commission for Private Collection - SOLD

"Blooming Hydrangeas" is another commission piece I recently completed. My client had admired some other hydrangea paintings of mine (as you know, they are a favorite subject for me), but she wanted something very specific for her newly redone bedroom. It was such fun working with her, and coming up with that perfect certain "je ne sais quoi". I love it when collaborations take me in inspiring directions. This was a fun one. 

Painting large from a proportionally smaller still life. This is NOT a "sight size" situation (if you know the sight size method)! It REALLY helps to do a smaller sketch first, for placement and composition, and for overall management of the painting.

The small graphite sketch I worked from... foundational to the painting.

The painting, framed and "in situ"! Kind of makes you want to do a room makeover, doesn't it? 



March 30-April 2, 2020 - Wimberley, Texas
April 16-18, 2020 - St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 8-9, 2020 - Austin, Texas (full with wait list)

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Austin Country Club Commission... installed and unveiled!

Davenport Clubhouse, 4' x 5', oil on canvas, Laurel Daniel © 2020
Austin Country Club Commission - SOLD

(If you follow me on social media or get my newsletter, you have seen these photos already. Please forgive my repetition, but I feel compelled to share this story here as well, since it represents a big chunk of my time and energy over the last months!) 

Here is a little bit of the story...
I was commissioned last September to do this 4' x 5' painting for the Austin Country Club (ACC), in Austin, TX. So I cleared the decks and worked on it fairly exclusively until the end of the year. Though it was not a secret endeavor, I never feel comfortable sharing much about a commission until it's totally finished and approved. On February 4th, it was installed and unveiled (literally) at a champagne reception in the main lobby of the club. Such fun!

My painting is part of a larger project that highlights and celebrates the club's history. The master plan includes a painting of each of the three clubhouses from which ACC has operated in its 100+ years. Mine depicts the current clubhouse, while the earlier two locations were interpreted by Texas artists Tom Evans and Dan Blagg. There is a fourth painting, a portrait by Carol Ivey, of three of the club's most famous golf members (Harvey Penick, Tom Kite, and Ben Crenshaw.)

It is a huge thrill and honor for me to be a part of this expansive and local project! Many thanks to the ACC board and to all who made this happen! 

A real "unveiling"... my first ever! It was actually a little tricky to get that sheet off without yanking the painting right off the wall. As you can see, I did get some help to prevent that!

The classic grinning-artist-in-front-of-painting-shot (a must have)! ;) 

Left: Hancock Clubhouse by Tom Evans
Middle: Davenport Clubhouse by Laurel Daniel 
Right: Riverside Clubhouse by Dan Blagg
Such a pretty setting, right? I am simply delighted!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Flowers of the Field - with process shots!

Flowers of the Field, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

Painting wildflowers in the hill country is always a treat for me. Maybe that's because before I moved to Texas 20 years ago, I was pretty convinced that this state was all just desert. I could not have been more wrong. There are so many different regions here, and the Hill Country might have the most unexpected beauty of them all. I still wonder at the color that appears each spring and fall!

For you painters out there, here is a series of process shots to show how the painting came together...

My start was a loose sketch for placement and composition.

Building on that initial sketch, I paid close attention to form and value. 
(That yellow stain is a place holder for flowers that will come later.)

Working dark to light, I painted the foreground uprights first. Then I moved to the distant uprights, muting them down to make them recede into the atmosphere.

Next I added the ground plane and sky plane. Since value and color are all relative, it's important to constantly compare and adjust to make all the parts work. 

Finishing the piece included muting the distant uprights even more, and popping the highlights on the foreground elements. I always save those marks for the end, so I can key them off what is happening in the rest of the painting. 

Here is a shot from my easel... parked ever so cooly in the shade! ;)

Monday, December 2, 2019

Awakened to Life - Davis Gallery Group Show

Awakened to Life, 30 x 24, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2019
On display in Davis Gallery Group Show, Austin, TX

Please join me at the Davis Gallery for the opening of our holiday group show... 

Looking Out, Looking In
Davis Gallery Group Show, Austin, TX
Reception Saturday, December 7
7:00-9:00 pm
Runs through January 11, 2020

As usual, this show will be inspiring. Here is the description... 

Davis Gallery is pleased to announce Looking Out, Looking In, an extensive group exhibit focused on the personal philosophies of premiere Austin and Central Texas based artists. This amorphous concept allows artists to explore the theme freely, and in their own voice. Sacred Geometry, the importance of family, life and death, our connection to Nature, and spirituality are among the perspectives that artists have chosen to focus on. Each of the participating artists have created new work, or carefully chosen work from the past, which uniquely recognizes these concepts.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Plantation Lawn - demo notes!

Plantation Lawn, 6 x 8, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2019
Click to purchase $120 + $16 shipping

Plantation Lawn is a demo from my spring workshop in St. Simons Island, GA. We were painting at the historical Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation (we always go to wonderful places and have a great time! Just sayin'...) If you are thinking about putting a workshop on your Christmas list, I would love to have you come to one of mine! For full details and contact info, please visit my website. Here are the dates and locations... 

March 30-April 2, 2020 - Wimberley, Texas
April 16-18, 2020 - St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 8-9, 2020 - Austin, Texas

And here is a snippet of the day. I often start with a paint along demo, where students follow the same steps as me. It helps to step through the whole process together, and the "see and do" aspect reinforces muscle memory (for both brain and hand...

Getting started - Compose with lines and shapes that will direct eye flow. Create an "envelope" to contain shapes (sometimes they want to grow).

Block-in value patterns of large shapes. Mass-in Upright planes in the shadow family.

 Mass-in Upright planes in the light family.

Mass-in ground plane and sky plane.

Finishing - Finesse edges and add final highlights at the very end.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Crooked Little Tree - repeat post with active link for purchasing

Crooked Little Tree, 8 x 6, Oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

Available... Click to purchase $120 + $16 shipping
Purchase link is updated and active!

Due to technical difficulties (okay, okay, due to operator error) I posted this small painting two days ago with a broken link to PayPal. If you were interested in purchasing it and couldn't get through, please try again. It wants to find its forever home! :)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Crooked Little Tree (purchase link repaired)

Crooked Little Tree, 8 x 6, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019
Click the price to purchase: $120 + $16 shipping Updated Link!!
(So sorry for broken link in original post!)

In his book, The Art Spirit, Robert Henri writes, "Give the tree its gesture." The full quote reads like this...

"Get one form that looks like the tree rather than little pickings at the branches. Give the tree its gesture. Some trees are heavy, ample and full. In a tree, there is a spirit of life, a spirit of growth and a spirit of heading its head up." - Robert Henri

I thought of these words as painted this crooked little tree. In fact, I try to access this idea whenever I paint trees, of any kind. It's important to look for the quirky spirit that makes each one unique. When you find it, celebrate it! It's also what makes them fun to paint. 

Not a bad lens to view ALL of life from! ;)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Winter Harbor

Winter Harbor, 8 x 6, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

Another title for this piece could have been "Moored and Forgotten". Although the harbor waters were smooth as glass, the air was frosty and no one was out for water sports of any kind! The upside??? Those three boats stayed right in place for the duration of my painting session! It was pretty cold for painting too. I'm not going to lie, I didn't last long myself. :)


(A good thing to add to your Christmas list!)

March 30-April 2, 2020 - Wimberley, Texas
April 16-18, 2020 - St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 8-9, 2020 - Austin, Texas

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Palm Breeze

Palm Breeze, 8 x 6, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

As a practice, I carry extra, small canvases out into the field; and I highly recommend it. They are great for focused studies of specific subjects, and perfect for shorter painting sessions when time allows. This piece hit both of those categories. I was about to load my car after my morning painting session, when I looked up to see this combination of shapes and textures. I love palm trees and clouds, and am always game for observing them both more closely. I had the time, and decided to give it a go. Always worth it!


Start planning now...

March 30-April 2, 2020 - Wimberley, Texas
April 16-18, 2020 - St. Simons Island, Georgia
May 8-9, 2020 - Austin, Texas

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Shops on the Corner - with process shots!

Shops on the Corner, 12 x 9, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

This is one of my favorite plein air paintings from this year. Why? Well... because it was just so darn fun to paint! The little shops were inspiring with their tropical color and feel, and the shadow patterns added fabulous structure and interest to the scene. This corner WANTED to be painted! :) 

I did manage to get some process shots along the way, so I can share with you how the piece came together. 

Block in using ultramarine and burnt sienna mix: I was going for a correct, but loose, sketch of the structures. 

Lay-in of values and color in the upright plane: Capturing the color of the shops early on was very important to my process. It's what attracted me to the scene AND what kept me inspired! I didn't want to lose it.

Final painting: I was happy I could retain the "sketchiness" to the end.