Thursday, September 29, 2011

Summer's End (and thoughts on using thick paint)

Summer's End, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

Here is another painting from last week's paint out where I my goal was to use thick and juicy paint. This is an area of focus for me right now - I am even making my students try it in our still life class. (Sorry guys, just sharing the joy.) :)
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Here is a question from one of my readers I thought might interest others...

"Why is it desirable to apply paint in thick brush strokes?"
I am just trying to better enjoy the buttery, goopy quality of the paint. The whole process is so much more delicious when the tactile factor is higher. Children get this intuitively. They don't need to be taught to smear it everywhere. 

Adults need to be retaught (or un-taught). I see it all the time in myself and in my students and friends. Due to some crazy grown-up fears, we are 1) miserly with paint both on the palette and on the canvas; and 2) tentative and overly careful with our mark-making to avoid mistakes. Our fears of depleting supplies and wastefulness make us scrimp and our fears of imperfection and failure restrict our ability to express.

Fear is not a good place to work from when we are trying to be creative. So, what better way to get past those fears than to face them full on, with more paint and bolder marks? Turn it into a game. Make it play. SET A GOAL. (Whatever it takes.) 

Of course, this is completely a matter of personal taste. Thick, chunky paint may not be everyone's cup of tea (it may even be UNdesirable to some people!) Whatever your preference, just remember to have fun.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shadow Shimmer

Shadow Shimmer, L. Daniel, 6 x 8

Last Thursday, Plein Air Austin met up to paint in the country. My goal for the day was to use thick, juicy paint; and the simple shapes of this shed and its shadows were a perfect subject for that goal. I am enjoying pushing myself in the area of paint application... if you click on the image, you will be able to see the thick paint up close. More of this experimentation will be showing up in my next few posts. :)

Spring Workshop Info:
Garden Vignettes En Plein Air, May 17-19, 2012, St. Simon's Island, GA
Contact Mary Anderson, Anderson Fine Art Gallery912-634-8414

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Workshop Announcement - come paint with me!

Back Gate, L. Daniel, 6 x 8 with 3" gold frame, SOLD
More work available at Anderson Gallery

This spring, I am offering a plein air workshop on St. Simons Island, GA
If you are interested in joining in, here is the information:

Garden Vignettes En Plein Air
May 17-19, 2012
Thursday-Saturday, from 9am-4pm 
Anderson Fine Art Gallery
St. Simon's Island, GA

Workshop Description: Develop oil painting skills through painting en plein air at a variety of private and public gardens. Emphasis will be on catching light and shadows, seeing color, achieving depth with perspective, editing and simplifying forms and capturing a sense of place. Each session will include a demo and a critique.   

To sign up:
Please contact Mary Anderson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Still Life Lessons

Pair of Oranges, L. Daniel, 9 x 6

My last session at the Weekend with the Masters was a still life class with Quang Ho. Ho is a great painter, teacher, author, and just an incredible thinker overall. Listening to his ideas about painting and creativity is inspirational. He encourages artists to strive for "maximum randomness"... to look for variety and complexity in each area of a painting. Most importantly, he experiments. He is always open to new approaches and simply knows how to play when he works. "Play" is a really good goal and so easy to forget. 

In these two paintings, I tried to experiment with color and edges. The top one was my second attempt and favorite (I was definitely in play mode).

Fruit Toss, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mist On The Rocks

Mist On The Rocks, L. Daniel, 9 x 12

Back at Point Lobos on day two of the Weekend with the Masters... 
I studied with plein air painter Joe Paquet, who is passionate about painting, art and life. The day was overcast and foggy, and Joe did a great demo showing us how he paints air and atmosphere into his vista paintings. We started with an underpainting of all the shadow elements using cobalt blue, black and lead white (or flake white). Sadly, I didn't think to take photos of that stage so I can't show you what it looked like. My goal here was to create distance between the various receding elements and the underpainting helped me get the values set correctly from the beginning.

Addendum... it turns out that my friend, Leigh Sparks, took pictures at the workshop and happened to catch my painting at the early stage. Here is the underpainting using cobalt blue, white and black. Color was added on top of this. Thank you, Leigh! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Point Lobos - Six Quick Studies

Point Lobos Study 1, L. Daniel, 6 x 9, NFS

Last week I had the great fortune to attend the Weekend with the Masters  in Monterey, CA -  four days filled with workshops, demos, and lectures featuring some of our country's best artists and teachers. I spent one of the days studying with Ray Roberts, who focused on painting quickly in the field to capture important shapes and fleeting color notes. Learning to work fast means being able to bring home more options for painting a scene larger and more carefully in the studio. We did 30 minute studies, repositioned, and started again.

Some tips for doing 30 minute studies? Do not limit your palette (bring primary and secondary colors). Premix tints. Keep it simple (really simple). Use lots of paint. Focus on getting correct values and identifying major color families. Do not try to get finished paintings - stop when you have the notes you need. And practice, practice, practice. 

These are the studies I finished that day at Point Lobos in Monterey. It was an incredibly fruitful day and I think I caught the rhythm of something that will really benefit my work. Many thanks to Ray Roberts. (These studies are not for sale.)

Point Lobos Study 2, 6 x 9, NFS

Point Lobos Study 3, 6 x 9, NFS

Point Lobos Study 4, 6 x 9, NFS

Point Lobos Study 5, 6 x 9, NFS

Point Lobos Study 6, 6 x 9, NFS

Monday, September 12, 2011


Follow, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

This dirt road winds it's way through old and dense evergreens in the Pacific Northwest and it certainly cries out to be followed! I was quite taken with this area of the country and can see why folks rave about it. It seemed to me that there was a painting in every direction and I hope to go back for more! 

PS - I am now back from the Weekend with the Masters and will share some of the lessons this week. :)

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fence Check

Fence Check, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

I love a farmer's field, be it east coast, west coast or middle America, and this one in Washington simply had my name on it. The orange-yellow grasses and patchy blue sky were a delicious combo... and then there was that post and wire fence... irresistible!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cliffside Breezes

Cliffside Breezes, L. Daniel, 6 x 8, SOLD

Before I left for the Weekend with the Masters in Monterey, I pre-posted of some smaller studies I've been working on over the past weeks. They are a little like postcards to myself as I used them to process a few memories of my trip to the Pacific Northwest. Hiking next to the waters of the Puget Sound, we came across this bending tree, it's growth greatly impacted by the sea winds. It interested me to think about how the tree has adapted for survival there, hunkered in and clinging to the cliff. Nature always finds a way.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Painting Included in fall issue of Plein Air Magazine!! WOO HOO!

High Falls, L. Daniel, 12 x 12

The Fall 2011 issue of Plein Air Magazine has an article about the Publisher's Invitational that took place in the Adirondacks this summer, and this painting of mine is included in the story! What a thrill it was to open the pages and see it there (I'm not going to lie, I bought several copies!) The magazine is available at Barnes and Noble in the art section. Go check it out! And thanks for letting me share the good news!

Artist friends: this week I will be attending the Weekend with the Masters in Monterey, CA. If any of you are going to be there, please contact me. It would be fun to meet up!

My dear painting buddy, Carol Marine, has lost her home, studio and everything inside to the Texas wildfires. Many of you know Carol and would like to help out. The above link will take you to a fundraiser help the Marine family get back on their feet. All donations will go directly to them. Please keep central Texas in your thoughts and prayers. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Demo Notes - Stolen Moment (enlarged)

Stolen Moment (enlarged), L. Daniel, 16 x 12

On Thursday evening I went to Fredericksburg, Texas to do a painting demo for the Die Kunstler Von Fredericksburg group. Since I was painting inside, at night, I chose to do an enlargement of a 6 x 8 plein air piece. The original was done the week before my daughter's wedding in June and it brings back many happy memories of that joyous time. 

But beyond that, I also thought it would be a good scene to work through while explaining my painting process. More than 50 people came to the demo and they were a great crowd! Many thanks to the organizers and all who were there. I promised to post the whole thing here for a little review, so here we go...  

A Demo of "Stolen Moment":

Line and Mass Block-in
Using French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson I lightly sketched in my composition. 
Stepping back, I checked the drawing, made needed corrections and laid in the darkest darks.
For blocking-in, it's important to use a very dry brush and a light touch to avoid muddy colors later.
From here on, I will load the brush, continue to use a light touch and try not to scrub (more mud).

Foreground - Darks and Lights in Upright Plane 
Using color to describe the darks and lights, I massed the shapes & kept them simple.
Later on I will break up the masses with subtle value and temperature shifts in each range.
(Upright plane refers to vertical elements, such as trees and foliage. It usually contains the darkest darks.)

Foreground - Darks and Lights in Ground Plane
Again, I focused on the simple shapes of the darks and lights - this time in the ground plane.
(The ground plane reflects the sky, so it's overall value is usually much lighter than the upright plane.)
 I pushed the color a bit here, knowing that I will come back in with highlights at the end.
I tried to establish an overall vibrancy in the foreground that would contrast well with the muted distant shore.

Background - Establish overall Value
I try to compare every element; and here I compared "like" to "like"...
 How are the elements in the background different from the same elements in the foreground?
Atmospheric conditions make the background cooler, more muted, softer, lighter...
I painted the background mass using the average best value and color to establish a sense of distance.

Background - Darks and Lights in Upright Plane.
Once the value was correct, I broke up the large background mass with subtle shifts of light and dark.
The value range is tighter (less contrasty) in the distance, so I avoided dark darks and intense color.
I kept detail at a minimum (it's far away and I know I can't see that detail!) :)

Middle-ground - Reflections in Ground Plane
Here again, I indicated reflections by using large masses that I will break up later.
(You should be seeing a trend... Large masses that get subdivided.)

Sky - Value and Nuance of Sky Plane 
I generally paint the sky last, but I know lots of people who start there.
No matter when it's painted, the sky is an important key to the rest of the values in a painting. 
The sky is usually the lightest area in a landscape because the sun is there...
once everything else established, I know how light I need to go.

Final Touches - Highlights and Sparkle
Painting is a practice in patience and delayed gratification. 
I try really hard to establish the values and temperatures of all the masses before ever doing a single highlight.
Once the masses are working together, I begin to break them up and try not to overdo it.
Last, and I mean at the very end, I add the highlights and sparkle and any little details. 
Honestly, when I follow my own advice on this, I am happiest with the outcome.