Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflections Blue

Reflections Blue, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

It's a quiet morning at my house... misty outside and warm inside. The holidays are coming to a close, another new year is about to begin, and it's time to think about goals for 2011.  That came fast, didn't it? I know my "List" will come (I am a bit obsessive about identifying and writing down my hopes and dreams very year) but for now, I am just enjoying this peaceful interlude. Happy New Year, everyone, and thank you for following my work!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Country Corner

Country Corner, L. Daniel, 6 x 6, SOLD

I like the solitary quality of this wintery road, especially since every where I go this week seems to be crowded with people and cars! A quiet moment is somewhat hard to come by in the days before Christmas. I am not complaining though, I love this time of year and am so happy to have my family gathered (and gathering) around! 

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bare Sentinels

Bare Sentinels, L. Daniel, 6 x 6, SOLD

We are having unseasonably warm weather in Texas, but the bare trees are a reminder that its actually winter. I really love the faded colors of the landscape at this time of year; and views typically blocked are now wide open. There is always something new in nature...

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A New Day

A New Day, L. Daniel, 8 x 6, SOLD

I must say it is great to be painting again after my little technology detour!!!!  For this scene I worked from a photograph snapped on my way home from the coast last month... a stunning morning on the water when the early light was piercingly bright. It was one of those moments where I just had to pull over and let myself be mesmerized for a minute. (That morning, it happened several times!)

Thanks to all of you who visited my new website, for all your kind words of encouragement, and for signing up for my newsletter! BTW, I am inviting you all to sign up for my newsletter because I can't send it to you without permission (I could get in trouble for spamming.) Individuals must personally subscribe. So please check out my new site and sign up for the newsletter if you are interested!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upper Falls Flowing

Upper Falls Flowing (enlarged from a plein air piece), L. Daniel, 18 x 36

I have been seriously "Missing In Action" for the last couple of weeks; completely consumed with changing and updating my website. It took way more time than I expected but I am very excited with the results! My new one displays way more artwork and is much easier to keep updated, so it was well worth it. Please check it out: - and sign up for the newsletter while you are there. (I promise I won't send many... just occasional show announcements and updates.) 

Now I can get happily back to painting!! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010


Backlit, L. Daniel, 8 x 6, SOLD

This is my final painting from Lost Maples... another stand of trees with the light coming from behind. I just couldn't resist the brilliant colors!

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Maple Trail

Maple Trail, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

I found myself especially smitten by the glow-y quality of sunlit maple trees in Lost Maples Park. Something about the extremely saturated color punctuated with dark, vertical tree trunks kept calling my name. For this one I set up right on the trail, which was kind of an open invitation for hikers to stop and look. They were very respectful and most gave a little encouraging word as they passed. Several asked if they could take pictures... funny to think I will be showing up in vacation albums!!! :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winter Grasses

Winter Grasses, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

In addition to beautiful trees, Lost Maples State Park has expansive meadows with these gorgeous, soft grasses. When a breeze passes through, they blow this way and that and almost seem to have currents. And when the light hits them, they seem to glow.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Maple Canyon

Maple Canyon, L. Daniel, 12 x 9

Earlier this week I spent a couple of days camping and painting in Lost Maples State Park, known for its magnificent fall foliage. It required a little hiking to find the best color, but we strapped our backpacks on and got ourselves to it. There were some pretty spectacular spots along the trail and the weather was just perfect. Although one hiker insisted that it was "WAY better last year", I was pretty impressed. 

Here I am with my painting buddies, Carol Marine and Penny Lentz See what I mean about that color behind us??? We had a great time painting by day and giggling by night. :)

Me, Carol and Penny

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Moment

A Moment, L. Daniel, 16 x 12

Last night, I joined some friends for a figurative painting session and had such a blast. This was so far out of my comfort zone, but all in a GOOD way. Challenges are like that. I tried to focus in on big shapes and not worry too much about details, but it was hard! Maybe next time I will get a face painted on the figure...  :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harbor Channel

Harbor Channel, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

This is the last painting from my trip to the Texas coast... the "backyard" of a bait and fishing shop near Aransas Pass. It was really fun to explore new territory and discover new images down there to paint. In the spring, one or more of these paintings will be on display in the Outdoor Painters Society's annual exhibit, "Plein Air Southwest 2010-11". I am pleased to be juried in and participating for a second year! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beach Shop

Beach Shop, L. Daniel, 16 x 12

This little house turned shop is called "Potters on Cotter" and, you guessed it, the owners sell beautiful,  hand-thrown pottery. I love the way the morning sun lights up the front of the store - it's a very welcoming little spot just a few blocks from the beach. Another one from my trip to the Texas coast. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Dockside, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

Back to paintings from Port Aransas on the Texas coast with Outdoor Painters Society... In the afternoon on that first windy day, we found a sheltered spot behind a building on the bay. This small shrimp boat was tied up to a wonderful, dilapidated dock. The scene had so much character; but it was tricky and I think I had to start over 4 times!!! Though it may sound counter intuitive, my final solution was to go smaller (I had been working on a 9x12). The reduced format forced me to simplify and got me over the hump. Whew!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Sundown on the Lake

Sundown on the Lake, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

November skies in Austin are so incredible... last night Plein Air Austin met to paint the sunset over Lake Travis. This has become an annual event for us and last night was no disappointment. The sky was extra dramatic because of a large cloud coverage. In the last 20 minutes before the sun disappeared the sky changed about 5 times, and each new color was more stunning than the last. It was like watching fireworks, audible "oohs" and "ahs" rang out as we painted fast and furiously!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In For Repair

In For Repair, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Last weekend I went down to paint on the Texas coast for a few days with good friend and painting buddy Lynn Cohagan. We met up with other members of the Outdoor Painters Society and had a great time. The sun could not have been sunnier... and the wind could not have been windier! We attempted to avoid 20+ mph gusts by hiding behind my car in this boat yard. Though you can't see it my painting (which looks remarkably calm) we were literally holding onto our easels to paint!!! You know what they say, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Glorious Morning 3

Glorious Morning 3, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

It's so interesting to watch how the rising sun changes the colors of the landscape. This series of paintings depicts the transformation of a single morning in about 15 minute increments. In the final painting, the fog on the water lights up and mutes the distant shore. The cloudy sky also added to the show on this particular morning. It was a fun exercise in observation.

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Below are all three paintings in chronological order...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Glorious Morning 2

Glorious Morning 2, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD 

As the sun rises just above the horizon, there is a moment or two when the sky turns prismatic in color. Painting it en plein air can be a challenge because it all morphs so quickly. I began by blocking in the shapes on the horizon while it was still dark(er), and then focused completely on the the sky as the colors began to emerge. I committed to a moment in time, which meant I was soon painting from memory and NOT chasing the changes in color and light. (Hard to resist, but necessary!) This is the second of my series of three small sunrise paintings. 

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Glorious Morning 1

Glorious Morning 1, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD 

A couple of weeks ago, I got out early in the morning to paint the sunrise. I finished one on location (will show you that tomorrow) and then came home to paint two more of that magnificent, 30 minute light show. It happens fast! This was the "crack" of dawn, which happened just before sunrise, and the first in the mini series of three. 

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PS - I waited to post them until I could finish a larger painting of this one... will post that later as well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marina Storage

Marina Storage, L. Daniel, 16 x 12

Last week, I made a visit back to Westlake Beach, the site of many of my small paintings in August. This scene has been in my head since my very first painting there. The play of the light and shadows stops me every time and I have stored up my observations in anticipation. I wanted to wait until it was cooler and I could take more time to really "get" all the elements. A sunny, fall day was just the ticket! :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

7th and Main

7th and Main, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Saturday morning a bunch of plein air painters met to paint in the historic square of downtown Georgetown (about 30 miles north of Austin). It was quite a happening place: a beautiful morning with a huge flea market set up just a block away. What a combo! I can't tell you how many times I gave directions, "yep, just another block that way and turn right". One sweet couple came back several times to check on my progress and to give an encouraging word. It was a wonderful, warm small town experience. :)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day's End

Day's End, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Yesterday eve I headed out for and end of day painting on the edge of town. The late afternoon light is always the most beautiful, casting everything in a wonderful warm wash of gold. However, at this time of year, the light on the grasses is just unbearable. As I applied the final strokes it was almost too dark to see, but I was done anyway. It was good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumnal Morning

Autumnal Morning, L. Daniel, 18 x 36

This larger, studio piece is based on a plein air study I did last week. I widened the scene to focus on the long morning shadows and to capture the sense of depth I felt in this farmland. It was a fun way to revisit a lovely morning! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Country Watermill

Country Watermill, L. Daniel, 12 x 9

Last week Plein Air Austin painted together at the Anderson Mill about 20 miles outside of town. Originally built in the 1860's to make gunpowder for the Confederacy, it was later turned into a gristmill to grind corn for the local farmers. It's now a museum and historical marker, and a great place to paint! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lower Falls

Lower Falls, L. Daniel, 6 x 12, SOLD

On Monday, Julie Davis and I went to McKinney Falls State Park to paint the Lower Falls. This is a beautiful park that is just outside of Austin but feels hundreds of miles away. It's one of my favorite places for just that reason! We enjoyed another gorgeous fall day... so great to be outside.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn Beckons

Autumn Beckons, L. Daniel, 12 x 16

Fall and spring are the best times to live in central Texas... and actually maybe they are the best times to live just about anywhere! Don't we love the changing of the seasons and all the accompanying colors, smells and memories? This row of trees marking the farmer's field has been on my list for a while now, but it is especially compelling right now in its fall array. I had to do a little trespassing while painting this one, but what's a girl to do? Didn't seem to bother anyone. :) 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Amethyst Sparkle

Amethyst Sparkle, L. Daniel, 8 x 8

Whenever I teach a still life class I get the urge to paint beautiful lit up objects myself. This week I got a chance because my daughter was home. She had to work so I set up some small still lifes to paint in between our numerous chats throughout the day. Such fun. :) This purple blown-glass vase belonged to my husband's grandmother, Noonie, and I just love its chunky simplicity. (There is also a blue one that may make its way to my studio at some point!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amber Glow

Amber Glow, L. Daniel, 8 x 8, SOLD

I found these two old beer bottles on a ranch this summer when I was out scouting for paint sites. They were dusty and filled with dirt and bugs, but I loved them instantly. Their wonderful, weathered patina and rounded edges made them wildly compelling as painting objects for me, but when I held them up to the light, well, "delicious" is all I can say. 

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Amber Glow Mosaic Study, 6 x 4, NFS
a quick pre-study for shapes and color blocks, 
and loose simulation of block-in method

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Garden Delight

Garden Delight, L. Daniel, 12 x 9

On Saturday morning I painted at Mayfield Park, a lovely, local garden spot. We have been having the most beautiful weather and as I painted, the park began to fill up with photographers taking family photos. (Christmas card shots, perhaps? Some people are so organized!) I could hear moms clapping and dads chirping to get their babies to laugh before moving on to the next pose. It was totally entertaining. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lessons from the Colorists

Mission Light (finished piece), L. Daniel, 12 x 9

Mission Light (color block-in/start), 12 x 9

Daniel Pinkham Workshop - Block-in Process Notes:
Squint down to see at least three large masses in the darkest value.
Compare differences between each massin color and temperature.
With turpentine color washes - block-in large masses.
Repeat for mid-values and lightest values until canvas is covered.
Hold onto the values and temperatures as color is added.
(Wow - that sounds so logical, but easier said than done!)
I spent two days at the Masters Weekend studying with teachers from the Colorist tradition. Daniel Pinkham studied with Russian master Sergei Bongart; and Camille Pryzewodek studied with American master Henry Hensche (who studied with Charles Hawthorne). Both of these traditions find their source in Impressionism, specifically in the work of Claude Monet. It would be impossible to sum up each of these approaches so I will simply relay how they got us "started", both with a painting and with learning to "see" color. These two painters have devoted their artistic pursuits to understanding the color of light and the color of air (light filters through air and both affect everything we see). Please click on their names above and see their work - you will love it.
Mission Color (finished piece, palette knife), L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Mission Color (color block-in/start, palette knife) 9 x 12

Camille Przewodek Workshop: Block-in Process Notes:
Sketch composition with light blue pastel pencil.
Observe patterns of light and shadow - organize into flat planes.
"Hues on first" - paint spots of color in correct temperature and value.
Keep color spots separate until canvas is covered.
Compare and correct temperature, value and hue relationships.
When relationships are correct, add color nuance and subtleties.
Bring shapes together; retain value & temperature of large masses.
(Palette knife is important for avoiding detail too soon!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Afternoon Overlook

Afternoon Overlook, L. Daniel, 8 x 6

This is my afternoon painting from my session with Frank Serrano at Weekend with the Masters in California. At the end of day the light moves quickly, and Frank emphasized the importance of painting with a sense of anticipation. This means blocking in the shapes and composition, but holding back with the color that will change as the sun does its thing. On that day, a wonderful glow lit up the whole hillside. I was so glad I had waited!

Just FYI - Frank Serrano is a great painter and generous teacher. He came early, stayed late, and did three demos for us (which can be so stressful)! He is also really down to earth and fun. Check out his work here. I will tell you about my other painting teachers when I post my work from their sessions.

There was not a minute to spare at the Masters Weekend - it was chock-full of not-to-miss events! I watched still life demos by David Leffel and Richard Schmid, a duo portrait demo by Scott Burdick and Daniel Gerhartz, and I listened to a fabulous panel discussion about technology and art. All of this brought about stimulating dialogues... such an enriching experience!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beach View

Beach View, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Well, I am still basking in the afterglow of the 2010 Weekend with the Masters! We had four days of non-stop workshops, demos, panel discussions and all around joie de vivre! It was a fabulous time with so much to take in. Of course the highlight was being able to paint under some plein air teachers I greatly admire: Frank Serrano, Camille Pryzewodek and Daniel Pinkham.

In Frank Serrano's class we focused in on atmosphere. He is from the California coast and is exceptionally good at catching the subtle tonal shifts caused by fog and salty air. Frank had us start with the sky first - really getting color and value right. Then we keyed the rest of the values off the sky as we worked our way down into the painting. This is just the opposite to what I normally do! The idea here is that since the light in the sky affects everything else, it's important to get that correct first. I definitely found it very helpful. This was my morning painting from that day; a view looking down at the Dana Point Beach.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Distant Shore Value Study

Distant Shore, L. Daniel, 8 x 10

This morning, I am heading off to California with my good friend Julie Davis to attend the Weekend with the Masters painting workshops! I went last year and learned so much; and this year's line-up promises to be the same. I have all-day sessions with Camille Przewodek, Daniel Pinkham and Frank Serrano - all painting masters in their own right. I tremble with excitement!! :)

In preparation for the workshops, I have been doing these value studies. It's been such good discipline (hard at times) and practice at distinguishing relative lights and darks. One of my readers asked a great question, would I suggest taking a photograph of my subject and changing it to grayscale in order to "see" the values? My answer was no...

The beauty of doing these exercises is that the more you do, the more your eye will learn to see subtle value shifts in real time. Using a photograph will rob you of some very important sensitivity training and the resulting muscle memory. I am not saying never use photographs for anything (never say never), but don't use them as a shortcut. They are no replacement for direct painting from direct experience; and they may slow down your progress in the long run.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dock with Umbrella Value Study

Dock with Umbrella, L. Daniel, 8 x 10

My friend Cindy has a great lake house that her grandfather bought many years ago. Several generations have enjoyed the property, each adding new memories. I have been lucky to paint here many times, but painting it in black and white was a new experience. I really loved the brilliance of the sunlit umbrella and it's reflection in the water. (The big, fat #10 brush sure does keep me from getting fussy!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tree Reflections Value Study

Tree Reflections Value Study, L. Daniel, 8 x 10

I actually did this value study from a full color plein air piece that didn't work out. (No, I have not posted it and don't plan to!) Interestingly, I really fought with that failed piece but could just not pull it out. My problem was color. I love color... of course, we all love color. We respond to it emotionally, and because of that emotion we let it play tricks on us. We chase it's many iterations and forget the original context. Going back to the values allowed me to remember the simple relationships between the planes in the landscape I originally saw. It was all there in my memory once I set the color aside.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunflowers In Water - Color

Sunflowers In Water, L. Daniel, 16 x 12

I painted these examples for my still life class which met again today, where we continue to focus on water, glass and light. (I am sure you recognize the sunflowers from yesterday's value study - those flowers were just so paintable!!)

All my set-ups for class included glass vessels again, but this time each had something in the water. Though it seems a simple addition, it did complicate things! :) We started with the small "mosaic" study first; observing spots of color throughout the subject (and resisting the urge to connect and refine). The idea behind this warm-up is to identify shapes and placement and to loosen up before tackling a larger canvas.

Sunflower in Water Mosaic Study, L. Daniel, 6 x 4

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunflowers In Water Value Study

Sunflowers in Water Value Study, L. Daniel, 10 x 8

Observation for today: white in the background is darker and more muted than yellow in the foreground with a spotlight on it. It's mind-bending because the brain "knows" that yellow is darker than white, but the eye sees something different (if you let it.) Color is deceiving.

Over-riding what the brain "knows" is a huge challenge: it requires seeing shapes (not nameable things) and simple bits of dark and light (instead of color). Then it requires a little nerve and a lot of trust to put the bits down where you see them. What is amazing though, is that if you constantly compare each value against the others and adjust them accordingly, the shapes begin to look like something.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Brass Urn Value Study

Brass Urn Value Study, L. Daniel, 10 x 8

Still focusing on values here. One tip? Squint way down on your subject to observe the relative values throughout. And do it often (otherwise, your eyes will adjust to the light source and flatten everything.)

I had one reader ask if I do anything special to my canvas for these studies. No, quite the opposite. These are just cut-up, white canvas sheets; actually from a canvas pad. I tape them on all four sides to a board, so that I can paint over the edge without getting paint all over everything. (And then when removed, the tape leaves a nice clean margin for handling.) Using the sheets - loose, unattached - keeps the work from becoming too precious. Just studies... just learning... this is what I am after.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tea and Lemons Value Study

Tea and Lemon Value Study, L. Daniel, 10 x 8

In a couple of weeks I am going to the Weekend with the Masters workshops in CA. The 4-day event is put on by Amreican Artist Magazine. In preparation, I am devoting myself to value studies. One of my instructors, Daniel Pinkham, suggested that the best way to become a colorist is to study value (the relative levels of darks and lights within a subject). I know this is one of the greatest challenges for most painters, so no complaints on this assignment from me. I actually love doing these! Below you see my palette at the end of a value study. Yep, just black and white and one #10 brush (that is pretty big for an 8 x 10, keeps me from getting too caught up in details.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Water Glass

Water Glass, L. Daniel, 12 x 12

My still life class entitled, "Water, Glass & Light" started at the Austin Museum of Art School yesterday. You guessed it, the whole focus is on painting transparent objects and it is going to be fun! (As the teacher, I guess I may be biased, but there you have it.) While this may sound obvious, the fact that glass and water are CLEAR is the most important thing to remember. One is really just painting what is seen THROUGH the glass and water. We painted very simple still lifes with just colored fabrics and glass. It's a great way to get the concept of "seeing through".

Warm-up Exercise:
Before painting a full sized canvas, we did little studies like the following to warm-up. We are using a block-in method that starts with simple shapes and color notes, almost like a mosaic. This warm-up is a mini-version of that block-in method and it allows the painter to identify and locate color and shapes spatially without getting too caught up in detail. Getting it "right" is always a stumbling block for artists, so this is very freeing.

Water Glass Mosaic Study - 4 x 4
Explanation/directions (for those who want to try this at home):
Observe the important spots of color as they occur throughout the painting (really necessary with glass with all the reflecting and refracting) and put them down. No preliminary drawing - just use the color to block in shapes and negative shapes. Pay attention to how the colors are altered when seen through glass and water. Lay in color next to color but don't connect the spots - keep it loose. Resist the urge to "finish" it. It's a good reference for a larger painting.

This is a great exercise, and I think it helped my students as they approached their larger pieces with the same process. Of course, for the large one, they did get to follow the urge to finish. Great work guys!! :)