Thursday, April 27, 2017

Shifting Sands - Georgia Coast

Shifting Sands, 8 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017
Available (arriving soon at Anderson Fine Art Gallery)

The way beach sands shift and move always amazes me. Tides, winds, currents, and storms all have a hand in that process and it seems to change almost by the day.

These partially buried beach rocks tell a story of change on St. Simons Island. They were originally placed along this beach after Hurricane Dora in 1964, by President Lyndon Johnson (referred to as the "Johnson Rocks".) The storm had caused so much damage and flooding that the large granite rocks were placed strategically along the beach to prevent further loss and erosion. As nature would have it, the sands have continued to shift, and now, over 50 years later, they have completely returned (and then some). The beach is greatly expanded, and has filled in and covered many of the Johnson Rocks on this beach. 

It's always a treat to walk down there and see what's new! :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Local Color - Georgia Coast

Local Color, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017

The Crab Trap, a restaurant on St. Simons Island, has been around for ever and ever it seems... through changing times and all the new trends. There is nothing quite like their fried shrimp and hush puppies. But besides all that, they have the best display of flowers! I love driving by and simply taking in all the colors!

Just as I was finishing up this painting, a sweet little girl and her dad came over to see it. She told me (quite confidently) that she will be an artist when she grows up. So, of course, she happily took me up on my offer to make a little painting right there on the spot. My apron was a bit long, but she had a ball! I believe she is ALREADY an artist!

Well done, my little artist buddy!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quiet Moment Under the Lych Gate - Georgia Coast

Quiet Moment Under The Lych Gate, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017

Christ Church, Frederica is a beautiful, historic church on the north end of St. Simons Island, GA. It is surrounded by gardens, a cemetery (where some our family are buried), and huge live oak trees that were standing when it was first established by the English colonists in 1736. The term "Lych Gate" refers to a covered gateway to an English-style churchyard. This one does just that, and its path leads through a dappled yard to the gothic-style episcopal church. A few years ago I painted the church entrance and steeple - see below. Together, these two paintings may give you a bit of the very quiet and dappled feeling of this hallowed place.

Sunlit Steeple, 16 x 8, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2015
collection of the artist

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Crooked Creek

Crooked Creek, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017

I have been enjoying some much needed painting time on St. Simons Island... my workshop is behind me and each day is free for me to explore and discover. Sooooo wonderful! This is a marsh view that I dearly love. In fact, it is literally across the way from where my husband's grandmother lived most of her life. The old family beach house was on the same property, and we all had many happy times there. That place is gone now, but the memories (and the creek) are strong as ever!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Morning Marsh

Morning Marsh, 8 x 10, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017

On the second day of my workshop, we painted the marsh. The tide was rising fast... it quickly covered the banks and almost got up to the top of the grasses. The scene changed dramatically and we had a spectacular view for the show!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tabby Cabin - with process shots

Tabby Cabin, 8 x 10, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017

This past weekend, I had the great privilege of teaching a workshop to some wonderful artists in St. Simons Island, Georgia. We started out on the first morning at this tabby cabin, which is a surviving out-building of the Hamilton Plantation. The word "tabby" refers to the material it is made of, which consists of water, lime and crushed oyster shells. It was built in the antebellum era, before 1833, so that mixture is pretty strong and resilient in the salty, ocean air. 

Below are a couple of shots as the painting developed... many thanks to my hard-working, talented students!


Beginning to add color

Finished piece

Painting with palette, and the subject is in the background. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Stormy Fields and Upcoming Workshop

Stormy Fields, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017

On stormy, overcast days, I notice that color in the ground plane is much more intense. This piece is from late fall and I just kept forgetting to post it. Sometimes life gets busy! I loved the combination of colors this day... a muted, periwinkle sky with those rich, yellow grasses. 

UPCOMING WORKSHOP (still a couple of spots):
En Plein Air: Strong Starts

March 30 - April 1, 2017
Contact: Anderson Fine Art Gallery
Phone: 912-634-8414
More details, click HERE.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bright Spring Morning and Workshop Info

Bright Spring Morning, 8 x 16, oil, L. Daniel © 2017

When spring arrives I am always ready to get outside and paint again. This particular day was a little chilly and lots of trees were still bare, but I was able to find a well-lit green spot at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The leftover winter grasses were glowing red, and offering up a delightful pop of complimentary color. It was great to be out!


Painters - I still have a few openings in my workshop on St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast... If you can get away, come join me! Focus - Discover how a disciplined approach to your plein air work can lead to free and expressive painting sessions... 

En Plein Air: Strong Starts

March 30 - April 1, 2017
Contact: Anderson Fine Art Gallery
Phone: 912-634-8414
More details, click HERE.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cafe De Flore

Cafe De Flore, 16 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017
Auction Donation - Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

This cafe scene is all about the leisurely joy of lunching with friends. Do we EVER make enough time for that in our lives? I don't think so. Here's to slowing down more often. A cuppa al fresco does wonders for the soul!

Available at the Huntsville Museum of Art Gala and Art Auction - March 4, 2017.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Patio Welcome

Patio Welcome, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2017
Auction Donation - Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL

This weekend, the Huntsville Museum of Art is holding its 26th Annual Gala and Art Auction. One of my dear patrons is one of the chairmen, and she invited me to join in. This little patio garden scene will be in the silent auction on Saturday night. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be there, but if YOU are, have fun and I hope you find some art that you can't live without! All proceeds benefit the museum. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The BIG ONE (60x72)... and Top 10 Tricks for a Successful Commission Project

A Capitol Evening, 60 x 72, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
Third of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
New teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

This is the big one, friends... and it will be placed in the entrance lobby of the new medical center!!! How cool is that?? I do wish you could see it in person to get the sense of the scale and brushwork, but here are some close ups...

A Capitol Evening (detail)

A Capitol Evening (detail)

The canvas is so big that I had to have it delivered to my house (it doesn't fit in my car!) Then, I had to move my studio into our living room to work on it. Thankfully, my easel moves up and down for painting the bottom half, but I could only do the sky by standing on my garden bench! Let's just say, there were definitely some gymnastics involved, and I learned A LOT from all of it! 

I'm still mentally digesting the lessons of scaling up my process to such a large format. Some days went smoothly, some were a bit challenging, and still others were downright frustrating. (My husband would insert here that he was compelled to stage an intervention about halfway through... some discussions on the "ledge" and a whisking away to the movies were greatly needed!) Painting this large required some serious adjusting on my part, and more importantly, keeping my eyes on the goal. Happily, it all came together in the end! 

A lot of you have asked about the ins and outs of commission work and I promised some "take aways" about that. For some reason, there is an awkwardness involved in doing creative work for other people. It is really important to treat a commission like a business deal, and that's where it gets hard. To that end, here are some of my tricks for managing the process:

Top 10 Tricks for a Successful Commission Project

1. Get a signed contract. (Include painting design, fees, and project timetable.) 

2. Build in an extra fee for the "hassle factor". (20% add-on is my standard.)
3. Allow extra time in schedule for completing the work. (Life happens.)
4. Get a non-refundable down payment. (50% to get started is reasonable.)
5. Agree ahead of time on approval process. (Communication is everything.)
6. Document each stage. (And secure approval at designated checkpoints.)
7. Rearrange life. (Cancel lunches and take over the living room if necessary!)
8. Do the work and do not procrastinate. (Last minute equals disaster.)
9. No surprises. (Mid-project is not the time to "try a new idea".)
10. Meet deadlines - all of them. (And finish on time.)

I could write an essay on each one of these points, including stories of when I did it right and when I did it WAY wrong. But it all boils down to this... if I follow these guidelines, the whole process is better for my client and it is definitely better for me! It helps ME stay on schedule, and it helps us all stay on the same page. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Second of Three Commission Paintings for New Medical Center

Capitol Profile, 34 x 44, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
Second of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
New teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

As I shared in my last post, I kicked off 2017 with a 3-part commission for Austin's new medical center. See the first painting HERE. Each of the paintings commissioned is a cityscape, depicting a well-loved aspect of our very cool town (we love our home!) To say that I am excited to have been chosen for this project is a huge understatement. I am thrilled!

This piece features a profile view of the Capitol building, which is at the center of our downtown area. Of course, it is fenced in for safety purposes, but its "front yard" is a mass of sweeping lawns and paths, huge trees, and sculptures made to Texas history. And the inside of the building is stunningly grand. If you are ever in town, I highly recommend the tour. 

Some shots of the painting process... 

Blocking In

 Building up the painting with color

The Finished Piece - Capitol Profile, 34x44

An interesting story about shipping these commissions...
Since the art broker for this project is located out of town, I was asked to remove the paintings from their stretcher bars, roll them up, and ship them in a tube! It's a cheaper and safer way to transport them. The paintings will get re-stretched and framed at headquarters, and then come BACK to Austin to be installed at the new medical center! 

The painting, removed from the stretcher bars and rolled up between layers of glassine (an archival paper with a neutral ph protects the surface from rubbing and sticking).

Monday, February 6, 2017

First of Three Commission Paintings... with process shots!

State on Congress, 34 x 44, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2017
First of three commissions for Dell Seton Medical Center
The new teaching hospital at University of Texas, Austin

I know I have been radio silent for a long time. Here is the deal... sometimes things happen in life that are just BIG. I have been completely distracted and painting non-stop on my largest commission project ever. It consists of three paintings for the Dell Seton Medical Center, our brand new teaching hospital at the University of Texas, which opens in May, 2017! Soon!

The commission is huge, both in honor (I am thrilled to be chosen) and in size... two are 34x44" and the third one is 5 feet by 6 feet (the largest painting I have ever made!) The "smaller" two are now on their way to the client for framing and installation, and I am hoping to wrap up the BIG one in the next week or so. 

Below are process shots of the first piece, "State on Congress". This one is based on a painting I did a few years ago that was much smaller and square (18x18). The submission process included reworking the scene into a horizontal landscape shape, which I presented as a pencil sketch and small color maquette. Once approved, I began the actual painting. I hope you enjoy seeing the progression of its development. 

Pencil Sketch for commission, 8x10

Color Maquette for commission, 12 x 15


Step 1 - Block-In - design and composition of scene.
I use a dark neutral paint tone, lightly applied to indicate shapes and values.

Step 2 - Mass-In large areas of color and value.
I mass in shadow areas of painting first, and work dark to light.

Step 3 - Mass-in large "lit" areas, keeping everything simple. 
Note that building in the dead center got moved. ;) Sorry for the bad photo but I wanted to show this stage and it's all I have. 

Step 4 - Break up masses and final marks.
I use subtle value shifts to indicate form and detail, adding final highlights and lowlights last. Note that the tall building on right got shortened. It's never too late to make changes!

Coming Up: Process Shots of the other two pieces, and some thoughts on how to approach a commission. I am making a list a "take-aways" to share with you, so please stay tuned! :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

WOO HOO! 5 years of Remission and Woodland Trail Revisited

Woodland Trail Revisited, 24 x 54, oil on canvas, L. Daniel © 2016

Dear Friends... Today is the 5 year anniversary of my breast cancer lumpectomy, on December 1, 2011! Can I get an AMEN?? (By the time you get this it will be the Dec 2, but such is the timing of the cyber world.) And what a wonderful 5 years it has been... our two beloved children married the loves of their lives, two beautiful grand boys joined our family, and life is as full as ever! 

I chose to share this painting today, because it ties-in to my 5 year journey in a special way. I painted the first version right after the BIG ORDEAL, when I thought I was really fine, as in, "back to normal". But the painting was really dark (and a little scary in my opinion). I am not a dark person, so maybe I wasn't quite okay yet. :) It stayed hidden in the coffers for the last five years, until this summer, when I "revisited" it. I was finally ready to paint-in the joy and hope that I actually feel. The changes may be subtle, but to me, they are night and day. One friend said, "keep it, to document that time." But I am all about redeeming those dark places, and the process was very therapeutic for me! 

It brought me great joy when a sweet, young couple bought the "new" painting from my solo show at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center this fall. It will be in the background of their lives, as they raise their family and do life together. It just feels right... :) Here's to pushing through, fighting the good fight and emerging healthy and happy on the other side! Thank you, God!

Woodland Trails, the first version... 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Super Moon Monday and painting in the dark...

Super Moon Monday, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

Last night few of us from Plein Air Austin met up in Zilker Park to paint the super moon. We had so much fun, and watching that moon come up was exhilarating! As for painting it, this was my first "moonrise" ever and the light changed fast (and many times)! In the matter of an hour we watched daylight turn to sunset, and pitch dark turn to moon rise. 

Blocking in the scene was a giant guessing game, anticipating where the moon would rise, how big it would be, how dark the sky would be, and how light the buildings would be. But my biggest challenge was that I didn't bring a clip-on light for my easel. DUH! I'm not sure why I didn't think of it. I resorted to using the flashlight on my cell phone, and skootching in close to my friend's easel and light. Lesson learned! A brand new clip on light is already ordered and on it's way to me!

It was a race to the finish and a great adventure! Many thanks to my painting buddies Tricia, Lynn and Jane... we have already committed to meeting up (same place and time) for the next super moon in 2034!! ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Peaceful Sky and Artist Reception

Peaceful Sky, 12 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

Please join me at the artist reception for my solo show this weekend!

"Laurel Daniel's Works of Nature" 
Reception: November 13, 1-3 pm

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
McDermott Learning Center
4801 La Crosse Avenue
Austin, Texas

If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by! Admission is free for attendees (just tell them at the kiosk that you are my guest). Hope to see you!
Click HERE to see entire show online.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Misty Shore - Workshop Demos

Misty Shore (full color demo), 6 x 8 oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

This weekend in Austin, the sky was overcast and on the verge of raining, at all times. And don't you just know that I was teaching a Plein Air workshop? Wouldn't it be nice to know these things when scheduling, so the sunny, blue sky weekends could always be chosen? Well, it really wasn't so bad. We got a lot of painting in, despite the fact that we were poised to seek shelter at all times. 

One really great thing about overcast days is that the light never changes. We were able to do value studies in the morning followed by full color paintings of the same scene, with the same light and same values, in the afternoon. These were my demos of that. 

Misty Shore (value study demo), 6 x 8, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

Students working hard on value studies...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Avenue B Grocery

Avenue B Grocery, 8 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

Several weeks ago, I met up with a group of painters from Plein Air Austin to paint an older, Austin neighborhood. I love this little store. It is Austin's oldest, continuously-operated grocery store, was built in 1909, and on is 10th owner!! They make delicious sandwiches and are VERY well-loved by the locals. 

Below is my block-in... so you can see how I got started...

 and a view of the painting in process with store in background.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bay Pine

Bay Pine, 8 x 6, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016
Click to purchase $120 + $16 s/h

Our last morning in Spanish Bay was gorgeous, but I only had a short window of time to get out and paint. To go or not to go? That definitely was the question. Painting with a ticking clock in my head has its challenges, but sometimes it's perfect for a quick little sketch. Since I had considered painting this sea view several times AND it was close by, I decided to give it a go. What a delightful morning I had! I LOVE those Monterey Pines and when that sailboat showed up, I knew I had made the right choice! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Windswept By The Bay

Windswept By The Bay, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

This is another plein air piece from California. I spied this little dwelling next to the sea and knew immediately that I would go back to paint it. Some things just have my name on them! I loved the way it was nestled into the windswept cypress trees. When I got started, the afternoon breeze was just beginning to pick up. By the time I finished, my umbrella had blown off and had to be put away, my easel had tipped over once, and I was painting furiously to catch the scene before the wind drove me inside. One thing is for sure... I saw first hand how those trees got their twisted, leaning, weathered shapes!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sea Spray

Sea Spray, 9 x 12, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to paint in Carmel, California. My husband had meetings in Spanish Bay, so... there I was, and I just happened to bring my paint kit along! ;) The famous 17 Mile Drive was right outside our hotel, so I got out early to study that glorious, rugged coastline. What I didn't anticipate was how many tourists would be stopping by that same spot, and how many people would ask to take my picture. It was pretty funny. I can only imagine the number of family slide shows I ended up in! 

I finally asked one of them to take a picture with MY camera too... so I could have a picture for my own slide show! Here I am on my rock in full painting mode... a beautiful morning with no winds. Pretty idyllic!

See that little Sea Gull in the top right corner sitting on the rock? He watched me paint the entire time I was out there. He was great company!