Monday, September 1, 2008

Artist Interview: Laurel Daniel

Annarella Home is exhibiting some of the oil paintings of Austin artist, Laurel Daniel.(You can see from the card above all the details.) Her landscapes are filled with the light and color of the Central Texas. As a plein air painter she begins outside working quickly to discern the shifting patterns of shadow and light" in her studies which are oil on paper. Then into her studio where she works on canvas to refine her subjects while still capturing the spontaneity of that one moment in time.

Hi Laurel, thanks for doing my interview questions. I always enjoy the paintings even more after talking to the artist.

Tell me about art and your childhood. Was art part of your home? The art form of my early years was music.My parents are both musicians and my dad, in particular. is a musical prodigy. There was always live music at my house. And when I learned to read that meant it was time for piano lessons. I didn't discover art until high school. When one of my clay pieces won the school contest and went to the local museum, I was out of my mind. That was the beginning.

What form did your art education and training take? I went to Wheaton College in Illinois where the art major included exposure to everything; and my two main interests were printmaking and painting. It was an important time...I learned how to learn, I learned how to create and I learned how to live.

But after college, I actually didn't paint for 20 years. I became a graphic designer with my own free-lance business. In 1999 my family moved to Austin. I closed my business and signed up for a painting class with Cassandra James. That was a significant time for me - having someone nurture my skills and motivate me to be disciplined. Now I am teaching at the Austin Museum of Art School - I've come full circle.

Can you label your style? I usually refer to it as Painterly because my brushwork is flowy and loose and has a bold energetic quality.

Can you tell us about your process? What inspires you? My inspiration comes from nature and natural forms. I spend a lot of time IN the landscape observing and, more frequently, enjoying it. My overall process begins with painting on location, en plein air, where I paint small studies. My larger work is almost always based on these.

For my actual painting process, I use "alla prima" technique.This French term refers to painting wet paint into wet paint, as opposed to letting the paint dry and building it up in layers. It requires working fast to finish while the paint is still wet and allows for luscious color interaction and wonderful soft edges.

Knowing when to stop is the hardest part. I try to step away when I think I am nearing the end and take a little break. I look at it from a distance and try to analyze what final marks it needs. I have a little mental checklist of possible problems and things to look for.

What do you want or hope the viewer to feel from your works? I don't have any underlying message in my's really a celebration of creation and life. My hope is that viewers will share in my experience by bringing their own sense of celebration to the work. I like to think in a way they are completing the painting themselves.

I enjoy hearing about what people take away from my paintings. Recently someone told me that one of my pieces "took her back" to a really happy time in her childhood - that made me smile. Another friend told me that because of a warm pink sky in one of my paintings, he began to notice that sky in real life. I LOVED that.

Do you listen to music in your studio? I do listen to music - mostly classical and usually KMFA. Occasionally I listen to books on CD. Having something in the background really frees up the right brain creativity because it engages the left brain. It's a mystery how this happens, but the left brain can get out of the way when it has something to focus on. This is important to the creative process because the left brain can sometimes lock things up by "thinking" too hard.

Any favorite books, movies or TV you enjoy for relaxation or inspiration? I love to read and really enjoy a good story to get lost in. Historical fiction is my favorite because I fancy I am learning something but with all the embellishments that suck me in. I am currently reading Christ the Lord - Out of Egypt by Anne Rice and just finished the first two segments of a Robin Hood trilogy - Hood and Scarlet (the third is yet to be finished) by Stephen Lawhead. For artistic inspiration and catharsis I highly reccomend The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.

Thanks, Laurel, for all the good insights into your art.

Take a look at her blog to catch what she is currently working on.

Stop by Annarella to see her show which will be up until September 30. Come in and meet her on September 5 from 6-8pm.

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