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

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


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. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Flying High

Flying High, 16 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

This painting represents pure summertime joy... birds flying high in a playful sky and shimmering colors on the marsh... island time, my fave! I can never get enough! Is it a coincidence that I am dreaming of warm sea breezes on this freezing day in November? I think not! ;)


Start planning now...

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Passing Through - wonderful workshop weekend!

Passing Through, 8 x 10, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

The weather in central Texas has been erratic this fall, and as my plein air workshop approached, I knew to plan for any eventuality. As it turned out, we had one cold wet day (spent in the studio) and one gorgeous sunny day (spent at a local organic farm). As much as I hate to teach plein air painting INDOORS, we make the best of it and some great learning always goes on! "Passing Through" is my demo from the first day using a photo reference. 

My students made the weekend so much fun. They were focused, tenacious, and undeterred. They jumped right in, rain AND shine! Below are shots of a few of them from Boggy Creek Farm where we enjoyed a perfect plein air day!

 Finding a spot in the shade is a "must" in Texas (even in the fall).

 Picnic painting!

Many thanks to all!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Country Field - Aesthetic vs. Reality

Country Field, 8 x 6, Oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2019

"Country Field" is a small demo I painted for a plein air workshop this past spring. After I finished and even signed it, I was bothered by some things. While I had managed to replicate the scene, it wasn't aesthetically pleasing to me. An additional lesson came to mind what is more important: aesthetic or reality? I say aesthetic.  

Sometimes it is necessary to adjust reality a bit to accurately portray what we SEE and FEEL about our subject. Permission granted to make changes for the betterment of your painting! 

In this case, I had stuck a little too close to the real thing and lost the feeling of the place... so... I did some adjusting! Below you can see the before and after photos of this piece, and a photo of the scene. 

Changes I made and why:
1) I gave the main tree shape a more interesting shape by cutting back in with sky and distant tree line. Before, the main tree was too perfectly round and static.
2) I cooled down distant row of trees. Before, the distant trees were not receding enough, or separating enough from the front tree.
3) I added more fencing on the right. Before, there was too much weight on the left side. The added fence counterbalances that weight and creates a more specific "path" into the scene.
4) I lightened up the highlights on the trees. Before, the highlights did not fully convey the light that came and went that day.
5) I added Bluebonnets. Before, there was no reference to season. It was Texas Spring! Bluebonnets were everywhere else and I had plenty of reference. HAD to!

Above: Before 
Below: After

And here is a photo of the scene... 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Autumn Grazing - AWA Show at RS Hanna Gallery!

Autumn Grazing, 18 x 18, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2019
On display at the RS Hanna Gallery, SOLD in pre-sale! :)

This weekend, please join us at the opening reception for this year's American Women Artist (AWA) show in Fredericksburg, Texas! Here is the info...

A Tradition of Excellence
American Women Artists at the RS Hanna Gallery
244 West Main St, Fredericksburg, TX
On display through December 7
Reception November 1, 6-9 pm

As you can see, I was not quite done with my Longhorn series, and I suspect I will revisit these guys again in the future. AND... I am delighted to share that they have already found their forever home! YAY! 



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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Texas Spring - Managing a Commission

Texas Spring, 24 x 30, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2019
Commissioned Painting - SOLD

As I shared in my last post, I was commissioned earlier this year to paint a classic Texas scene. It has all the usual suspects of the Texas Hill Country; oak trees, bluebonnets, a big sky and longhorns! Many thanks to my incredible client... she was a dream to work with!!

A word about commissions...
Commissions can be complicated, but I've learned to enjoy them. The key is communication. When I explain my process to clients and keep them in the loop, all goes well. It is important to establish a detailed timeline with achievable check-in points, and then to meet each deadline. Meet EACH deadline. I can not tell you how important this is (and really, it's true in every business!) Being reliable is almost as important as the final product. 

After a nice long discussion with my client (which included looking at lots of my other work), we agreed on the subject matter. I try to really understand what the client wants and we get there with LOTS of visuals. After that, we agreed on a process that would include the following check-in/approval points: 1) a sketch of the proposed scene, 2) a color study of the proposed scene, 3) the block-in stage for composition placement on actual piece, 4) final image at completion.

It might be helpful to note that I WANT the client's approval at each of these stages when I do a commission. I don't find it annoying because truly, it's the key to success. And after all, my greatest desire is that the client will LOVE the finished piece! Changes are much easier early on, and last minute surprises are not good for anyone this process!

Here is how it went... 

CHECKPOINT 1 - The Graphite Sketch, 8x10, for composition. 
After discussing with my client, we agreed to enlarge the scene. She wanted more of our big Texas sky, and more reference to clouds... NOT approved, see fix...

Expanded Graphite Sketch, 10x13, modified composition.
Since my client loved all the other elements, I simply adjusted the drawing to include more sky (you can see the original edge.) APPROVED!

CHECKPOINT 2 - Color Study in Oil, 12x16, for color, value, and mood.
Note that this study is not in the correct proportions. Normally I would recommend staying true to proportions throughout. It's just easier. Since my client was able to visualize these colors in the expanded scene, she felt she had enough and did not require another study - yay. APPROVED!

CHECKPOINT 3 - Painting Block-in in oil, 24 x 30, for placement.
Hopefully, when I present the block-in to my client, it looks A LOT lite the approved drawing. However, if something is off, or bothers them, I would rather know and fix it at this stage. (I don't want to be moving trees or adding a longhorn after the painting is complete.) APPROVED!

CHECKPOINT 4 - Finished Piece, 24 x 30, oil on canvas
Usually, by the time I get to this point in the painting, my client has been so much a part of the journey that it feels like we have finished it together! I'm not saying there are never changes, but I find the changes are completely manageable when expectations are properly set. APPROVED! 

And there is nothing quite like that final approval! AHHHHHH! :)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Texas Spring (study for commission)

Texas Spring (study), 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

Back in the spring, I was commissioned to paint a "classic Texas" scene. What did that include? Well, live oaks and bluebonnets of course, but there was also a request for some TEXAS LONGHORNS! If you follow college athletics, especially football, you will have heard of Bevo, our beloved Longhorn mascot at the University of Texas. This painting was to be a gift for my client's husband, who is an alum. I totally "got it"... why it was important, why it had to be. This is Longhorn country and I am a fan, so I happily jumped right in! 

The first thing I did was to find a local ranch where I could study an actual herd, and take pictures from lots of angles. I had a lot of fun on that mission, and this field study became the jumping off point for the commission piece that came later. My next post will be all about the process of a commission, and how this one came together. Please stay tuned! 



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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Welcome to the Winery - with process shots!

Welcome to the Winery, 10 x 8, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2019

This is a demo from my spring workshop in Wimberley, TX, an all-inclusive art retreat, where it's all art, all the time! It's a perfect way to teach and to learn! So much bonding, so much art opportunity, so many break throughs and so much fun! My next one is on the calendar coming up in March 2020! Join us (see below)!

On one of the days, we painted at a local winery. This is the road that leads to the tasting room and I couldn't resist the tunnel effect of the trees and the one-point perspective provided by the driveway. The workshop was all about composition, and this was a perfect example of using the design to lead the eye. Below are process shots of the piece coming together...

Block in using ultramarine and burnt sienna. Establish focal point from the beginning.

Mass in dark uprights. Use the best average color and value, and go after big shapes. 
(Painting is rubber banded into a wet panel carrier. Please excuse obstructed view.)

Mass in Ground Plane. Again, use best average color and value and simple shapes. 

Break up masses with subtle shifts of temperature and value. This allows detail to be "suggested" without getting too fussy. Add highlights to indicate light and pop the color (be careful not to overdo it!)

You can see that I made some adjustments on the final piece: 1) The tasting room needed defining (it had grown taller than planned) and brightening (it was too muted). 2) The tree shadows broke up the road too evenly, so I tightened up the space between. 3) The tree foliage was pointing out of the picture, so I spread/enlarged the canopy in order to bring the eye back down and INTO the tunnel leading to the winery. 

Regarding #3... sometimes things need adjusting! :)



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