Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Garden Fire - Final week of show!

Garden Fire, 18 x 18, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020

This is the LAST WEEK of my solo show at the Davis Gallery! Sadly. It has been so fun to have it up, and to have friends and collectors visit the work. All of your wonderful comments have been SO encouraging. Thank you. I love seeing it altogether on the walls... sigh. The search will continue... of course it will!

Davis Gallery, Austin, TX
On display through Thanksgiving!

I love these three pieces together. 
Companions for sure (but can be sold separately.)

In the gallery window on opening night...

Thursday, November 5, 2020

From A Distance - Demo Process Shots!


From a Distance, 8 x 10, Oil, L. Daniel © 2020

Yesterday I had the great privilege of doing a LIVE interview and painting demo with Eric Rhoads, publisher of PleinAir Magazine, and Fine Art Connoisseur. He has been broadcasting with a different artist every day since the pandemic started... what a gift to artists all over the world! I was interview #224! 

For my short LIVE demo, I showed my "Block In" technique - how I get started on a painting. I worked from a completed demo piece I had done for my most recent workshop. The images below show where the painting would've ended up if I finished it, AND aprocess shots of how it would have all come together. 

To My Workshop Students: 
As promised, these process shots are also for YOU... a reminder of the steps we took in class!

Block In Sketch
Loose lines define simple shapes for placement of subject matter. Shapes only, NO detail. (Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna)

Block In Values (darks and lights)
Loosely massed in value indicates the light and family side of the upright planes. Notice that the nearer upright planes have darkest darks, while distant uprights begin to lighten and become less defined.

Upright Planes - Shadow Family and Light Family
Mixed color is consistent with block in values and loosely massed in. Notice that distant uprights are cooler, lighter, and have less contrast. The farthest upright is muted, lighter, and leans toward blue.

Ground Plane
The ground plane is much lighter than the upright planes because it is parallel to the sky and light source - the sun. Notice that the ground plane becomes cooler and slightly darker as it moves into the distance. Conversely, the ground plane becomes more vibrant as it moves closer.

Sky Plane
The sky plane recedes by becoming more muted and lighter on the horizon. Space for clouds is left white, to be painted after all the other values and colors are established.

Clouds - Breaking up the Masses - Highlights
After all the large areas are massed in, I break them up with subtle value shifts and highlights. I have learned (the hard way) to make sure all the value planes are all reading correctly before adding these final details! ;)

My palette of mixed colors used in the painting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Morning Hush, plus LIVE CONVO and DEMO

Morning Hush, 10 x 20, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020

I love the tranquility of this scene, and know we are all ready for some quietness after all the recent craziness!!! Praying for peace...

BIG NEWS! Wednesday, November 4th, I will do a LIVE interview and demo with Eric Rhoads, publisher of PleinAir Magazine and Fine Art Connoisseur. Join us at 12 noon eastern time, on Facebook and YouTube... please tune in! 

Click HERE for live link (or catch it later by searching my name on YouTube.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Pink Blush - Show Pics!

Pink Blush, 36 x 36, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020
SOLD in solo show (Click for larger view)
Evidence of the Search - on display through November 25

I am so happy to report that my show opening was WONDERFUL! And... we found a way to gather that was safe in the time of COVID. Visits were staggered through out the night, with only 10 people in the gallery at a time. The upside? Conversations could actually be had, and the paintings could actually be seen! Silver linings! ;)

The young woman who purchased "Pink Blush" saw it online, fell in love with it, and immediately called to claim it (I think she used the word "swoon" which made my heart sing.) When she came by to see it in real life, she squealed, "it's even more beautiful in person!" Of course, I began to apologize and explain how hard it is to get a good photo image of a painting... especially a large one... "Oh no", she said, "I LOVE that it's better in person! That's what makes it art, it needs to be experienced!" 

VERY TRUE! She is so right. Art is meant to be walked up to, engaged with... EXPERIENCED! I wish you could all come and walk right up to each piece! 

Here are some gallery shots from the opening... 


And yesterday, I took my parents in for a "private" viewing! 
Aren't I the lucky one?? :)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Wild Blue - Eve of my Solo Show!


Wild Blue, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020

Tomorrow is the big day... my solo show opens at the Davis Gallery here in Austin, TX! It has been a long time coming and I am thrilled! :)

Davis Gallery, Austin, TX
October 24 - November 25

Artist Reception October 24, 4-8pm
COVID-safe, socially distanced reception...
30 min increments, 10 people at a time, masks required.

About this piece... As I prepare for a show, I like to hold off on the sharing of new paintings. I like to be able to let one piece lead to another, and present it all together as a body of work. (It just works better that way for so many reasons.) Because of that, I have been waiting to share this piece since early April so it's a little "out" of season. Oh well. I do love a "spring" frame of mind - any time. :) 

As you may or may not know, Texas is BEAUTIFUL at that time of year! Wildflowers pop up on every roadside (almost overnight) and we have an ever-changing parade of color that begins with this electric blue. When the bluebonnets return, there is collective excitement. It marks an awakening to new beginnings and fresh life. In this strange year, we needed that reminder more than ever!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Ruby Sky - Upcoming Show and Process Shots!

Ruby Sky, 24 x 36, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020
SOLD in my upcoming show at the Davis Gallery
Evidence of the Search - opening Saturday! 
(Click on the link above for bigger and better image)

Last fall, my husband and I went to Dallas for the Texas State Fair and the big UT/Oklahoma game. As we walked from our hotel to the fair on the edge of town, we came upon the vestiges of an old farmstead. The tall granaries and low slung buildings hinted at another era, right in the middle of the city. Civilization had grown up all around it... so unexpected and oddly pristine. :)

On our way home, the sky put on a spectacular show... I shot a million photos and determined I would try to paint that spot. It took me a few months to get back to it, but when I did, the inspiration was still there!!! Magical moments are like that. 

Here are some process shots to see how the piece came together...

Initial sketch for Placement
Used ultramarine & burnt sienna on yellow toned canvas.

Full Block-in 
Painted the dark values with mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna. 
Stained the sky with alizarin crimson (as under-color placeholder). 

The Sky
 Painted large areas of luscious PINK and YELLOW in the sky, as a base for the cloud pattern. (Dark foreground... established by using tight values and low contrast.)

Grey clouds painted OVER the pink and yellow elements of the sky, and blended a bit on the canvas. Reserved areas of sky color that would best guide the viewer's eye to my focal point... the old granary.

And... for my friend, JM... here is that yummy warm pink made from a little red, a little yellow, and a little white. ;)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Around the Bend and Upcoming Show!

Around the Bend, 36 x 60, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2020
My largest piece in the show... Sold in Pre-sale! :)

Dear Blog Friends,
When I disappeared at the end of August, the details of my show were calling for my complete attention. I am happy to report that my most recent body of work is now delivered to the gallery for final framing and hanging! WOO HOO! It feels good, let me tell you! I invite you to preview the show HERE.

If you are anywhere nearby, please come see the show...

New Work by Laurel Daniel 
October 24 - November 25
Davis Gallery, Austin, TX
Reception Oct 24, 4-8pm

Reception details in the time of Covid:
To keep everyone healthy, the gallery reception will be broken into 30 minute increments of no more than ten people at a time. Book a time slot to the reception through EventBrite HERE.

Three trips to the gallery later, the paintings were all delivered! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Lake Swan - Fix It Friday #25!

Lake Swan, 8 x 10, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

Can you believe I have been at this for 25 straight weeks? I can't! This series has been a great way to stay in touch while I've been working on larger paintings for my upcoming show in the fall. It has also provided a weekly marker to get me through the Ground Hog Days of quarantining! Fridays = Fix it. TGIF! 

BUT, as fun as it has been, I will be taking a little hiatus from the weekly post...

It's time to change it up. Summer is almost over and my show opens October 24th at the Davis Gallery here in Austin. The next two months will be busy with finishing works for the show, getting them framed, and marketing them! (You will soon start hearing from me about that!) I also have visits with my kids and grandkids planned. So... with great appreciation to all who have followed along with me and sent your encouragements... a heart-felt THANK YOU!!!

Here is Lake Swan, on Fix it Friday #25!!!



Problem - The lighting in the scene was inconsistent with the lighting on the swan. (Everything in the scene needed more contrast and brightness to be agreement with the swan about the light.)
Fix - Added streak of blue to sky (it transformed yellow haze into a brilliant day).
Fix - Made water more reflective of the blue sky.
Fix - Popped the light on the loose reeds. Sparkle.
Fix - Added highlights on the distant shore. (That is Westlake Beach in the distance, local friends! You know who you are.) ;)

Problem - The water lacked structure so the surface didn't look flat.
Fix - Defined all reflections.
Fix - Reordered the water patterns to recede, making them larger in front, smaller and condensed in distance.


Throughout a painting session, it's always good to keep remembering where the light is coming from. It's also helpful to make sure the entire painting agrees about where, and how, that light is shining! :) 

I love the swans on Lake Austin. They have babies every year and swim around as a family. Although they never sit still enough or close enough, I constantly try to get pictures. And did you know this? Swans mate for life. LOVE that. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Field of Cactus - Fix It Friday #24

Field of Cactus, 12 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

Texas cactus! It's beautiful, especially when it blooms and... it's very invasive. Once it gets started, it just duplicates itself over and over. If an "ear" falls off, stick it in the ground and it will happily survive, grow, and spread!! All that to say, my fix today is all about better depicting ranch land full of propagated cactus. 




Problem - Layers of cactus were not "laying down" on the picture plane.
Fix - Created a definitive scale shift from front to back, making layers incrementally smaller as they move into the distance. 
Fix - Muted layers incrementally as they recede.

Problem - Field just didn't have enough cactus!! 
Fix - Added another layer of cactus at the fence line.

Problem - Overcast sky was lack-luster in color and interest.
Fix - Intensified the purplish color that was there and popped the bit of light. 


Working with elements in the landscape to push them into the distance is a great challenge. Today's fix was a wonderful exercise in doing just that... scale shift, atmospheric perspective, overlapping, and layering were all used here. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Vineyard View - Fix It Friday #23

Vineyard View, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

Today's fix is from a Napa Valley trip I took a few years ago...
The day I chose this location to do some plein air painting, the sky was full of gorgeous clouds. When I came back the next morning, it was foggy but I blocked in my painting leaving LOTS of room for that glorious sky. I just knew it was coming. It never did. The fog never wore off. Best laid plans gone awry, and the painting stayed misty. Until now...




Problem - Canvas looked "cut in half" at the horizontal center line.
Fix - Raised up the mountain tops slightly past center and added activity above the center line.

Problem - So much canvas devoted to the sky, but nothing going on.
Fix - Added a sky feature - clouds! 

Problem - Foreground field was disconnected from distant field layers. 
Fix - Darkened the foreground to a value more similar to the field beyond, and added "field markings" to make it feel like a continuation of tilled land.

Problem - Background mountain range was disconnected from previous field layers. 
Fix - Added just a "suggestion" of fields continuing into distant valleys, in order to make the valley feel expansive and cohesive.


Thank goodness I took some pictures of that first day with all the clouds! And thank goodness I still had them in my files! It took me awhile to revisit this one, but I'm so glad I did! It now looks like, feels like, smells like the lush valley vista that I was so compelled to paint on that California hillside!!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Stormy Fields - Fix It Friday #22

Stormy Fields, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

Today I am revisiting a plein air piece from a dark and turbulent day in 2016. A storm was coming and the sky kept changing with each passing moment. My painting ended up with a sunless sky and a well-lit foreground. Well, which was it? Those fast and furious efforts of mine depicted a contradictory tale. Hmmm...




Problem - Sky plane and ground plane disagreed about the light.
Fix - Muted ground plane and added more "lowlights".
Fix - Lightened the sky plane with soft light in clouds.

Problem - Clouds were flat (they were not rain-laden).
Fix - Gave clouds volume by adding a "light side" to the shapes.
Fix - Reinforced the shadow sides of the clouds (to indicate heaviness and the density of moisture-about-to-burst.)
Fix - Developed cloud layers and filled the whole sky to emphasize their size.


A general "rule" about darks and lights in the landscape is that usually the sky is the lightest plane because that is where the sun lives. Since the ground plane simply reflects the sun's light, it is usually darker than the sky. My original painting had that relationship reversed: the sky was much darker than the ground. (Sometimes a stormy sky can be darker, but this one just wasn't working.)

Also true: Color often appears intensified on a muted, dark day. I did love that intensity, but I totally overdid it with the grasses in my original attempt. As I made other adjustments to make the scene "read" correctly, those needed to be altered too. It was a bit of a toggle...

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Flying High - Fix It Friday #21

Flying High, 16 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020

TGIF!! Or, should I say, TGIF-I-F!!! I do love fix it Friday.
This is a painting from last fall that kept catching my attention. I liked it, but something was off and I didn't know what it was. That "nudge" became crystal clear after my last post about finding depth in a painting. (Be careful what you preach... it may come back to haunt you!) ;)

Here's why...



Problem - The sky plane was... flat! The cloud layers all had the same treatment of light, shadow, shape, and color. 
Fix - Created scale shift between foreground clouds (made bigger) and background clouds (made smaller). 
Fix - Removed contrast from background clouds (made them more muted, less highlights).
Fix - Added contrast to foreground clouds (gave more color, stronger highlights).
Fix - Increased gradation of blue sky from muted at the horizon to more intense at top.

Problem - Ground plane was also a bit flat.
Fix - Added marsh creek into layers to create a sense of space and depth. (It breaks up the marsh grass and reflects the sky.)

I remember this day, I was in the moment, responding and having fun. It is so easy to forget principles when we are in the thick of things. And, sometimes it takes awhile for awareness to catch up. Now, I can relax into the scene when I look at it! Ah...

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Creating Depth in a Painting - 5 TIPS!

Morning Reflections, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2010

Dear Blog Friends,
I was recently invited to write a guest post for "Realism Today", an online newsletter for artists. It went live this week, and here it is in its entirety. It's long, but it has lots of good info! (Click the title to see it in its original context.) Enjoy! 

Guest post for Realism Today by Laurel Daniel

One of the most common challenges for beginning painters is learning to establish the feeling of distance in a landscape. It is a hurdle I remember well from my own early efforts… scenes looking flat, backgrounds jumping forward, and no sense of visual space to travel into. With much study and years of practice, I have discovered a number of ways to create that illusion of depth I so badly wanted back then. Below are five tips that have helped me in my journey, with examples for each. They can be considered individually, but I think you will find their actual use is very interconnected. Hopefully, the ideas will help you “see” your subject matter better.

1 - Atmospheric Perspective
Atmospheric perspective, or aerial perspective, is a technique that uses modification of tone to create a sense of depth. Simply described, natural conditions like fog and light have a softening effect on distant layers of the landscape. This impacts a painter’s color and value choices. I like to describe them in these two ways… 

A) As objects move further away from the viewer: values become less contrasty, colors get weaker and cooler, and details become less distinct. 
B) As objects come forward and closer to the viewer: values have more contrast, colors get stronger and warmer, and details become sharper. 

In “Foggy Coastline” below, you can see this concept at work. Notice how each mountain range becomes weaker and cooler as it recedes into the distance. Conversely, the closest mountain range and people have greater contrast and more detail. The warmest/strongest color is in the sandy foreground.

Laurel Daniel, "Foggy Coastline", 9x12, oil on panel, plein air, contact artist

2 - Scale Shift 
With the term scale shift, I am referring how our vantage point effects the appearance of size. Objects look smaller in size as they get farther away from us. Using this size shift helps us further enhance the feeling of depth in our paintings. When working with this concept, it's all about comparison in the big picture. Observe the relationships between “like” elements in foreground, middle ground, and background (compare grasses to grasses, clouds to clouds, etc), and incorporate the incremental differences as they actually occur in nature. 

In “Morning Reflections” below, we see this scale shift with the grasses in ground plane and the clouds in the sky… both elements are larger in the foreground and get smaller in the distance.

Laurel Daniel, Morning Reflections, 9x12, oil on panel, plein air, contact artist

3 - Spacial Increments
Similar to scale shift where objects get smaller in the distance, the spaces between those objects also decrease. This is especially true for evenly spaced elements, like telephone poles, train tracks or orderly planted fruit trees in an orchard. Being intentional with this incremental change will not only give the illusion of depth, it will also keep the ground plane from looking flat. 

In “Fruited Valley” below, notice how the spaces decrease between the vertical rows of grapevines as they go back, and between the horizontal rows of trees dividing the distant fields. 

Laurel Daniel, "Fruited Valley", 24x30, oil on canvas, studio, private collection

4 - Overlapping Elements
Whenever a painter can partially cover one object with another, it gives the appearance of depth. Why? Because we can instantly identify layers, and layers create space.

In “Palm Tree Promenade” below, we view the ocean cove, mountain, and sky through the overlapping palm trees. This relationship (combined with a significant scale shift from foreground to background) establishes a great sense of depth. 

Laurel Daniel, "Palm Tree Promenade", 8x8, oil on panel, plein air, private collection

5 - Practice, practice, practice!
Look for examples of these principles when selecting subject matter for paintings. I think you will find that searching with this in mind will also provide a jump-start with analyzing, composing and blocking in your chosen scene! If you can see it, you can paint it! Practice with a purpose. 

In “Half Light” below, all of the ideas are at work… see if you can find them: atmospheric perspective, scale shift, spacial increments, and overlapping elements. 

Laurel Daniel, "Half Light", 15x30, oil on canvas, studio, private collection