Painter Laurel Daniel in her studio.
Laurel Daniel in her studio, prepping for her solo show at the Davis Gallery in Austin, TX in the fall of 2020.
Laurel Daniel’s studio, with still life arrangement and a 30 x 24 painting in progress.
Laurel Daniel’s studio, with still life arrangement and a 30 x 24 painting in progress.

How did you get started and then develop your career?

Laurel Daniel: I got started on my art journey when my high school art teacher gave me an award at the annual art show. That little nudge was all I needed. I went off to college, majored in fine art, and pursued a career in Graphic Design. After almost 20 years in that field, life gave me the chance to paint again, as well as a dear mentor who shared her time and craft with me. The importance of these two teachers in my life sticks with me, and I am forever grateful. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Developing a career in art is a very personal and individual journey. There is no clearly charted path or checklist to follow. Here are some things I recommend to emerging artists: 1) be teachable, 2) do the work, 3) take risks, 4) set goals and stick to them, and 5) surround yourself with like-minded folks to travel the road with. We all need strong doses of structure, encouragement, and bravery to follow our dreams.

How do you describe success?

Success can be defined in so many ways… achieving personal goals, winning awards, making some money, making a living, having collectors… all of these things build us up and give us reasons to keep after our practice. But some are harder than others to attain, and the trick is to find motivation in the unattainable ones, not become discouraged.

Ultimately, success comes back to the personal level of finding joy in my OWN work. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I FEEL most successful when I am in the flow of painting… when one piece leads to another… when I lose track of time and can’t figure out how I got covered in paint. The funny thing is that when I truly focus on doing the work and loving the process, I do better with the other stuff too.

How do you find inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere, yet sometimes we still need to search a bit to find it. In those times, I often go for a walk. I simply need to get outside, see the light (and shadows), and be with nature. I’ve learned that it’s okay, even necessary, to take a break. Other times I just have to get started… to squeeze paint onto my palette and trust that inspiration will come as I move my brushes. The more we respond to inspiration, the more it grows.

Who do you collect?

I collect work that moves and captivates me… Nancy Boren, Carol Marine, Julie Davis, Marc Hanson, Ben Bauer, John Poon, Dee Beard Dean, Charlie Hunter, Mark Boedges, Rose Thome Casterline, Will Klemm, Gordon Fowler, Jan Heaton, Roi James, Cassandra James, Scott David Gordon. And I wish I had more walls!

Painting of dusty blue berries and pale green leaves.
Laurel Daniel, “Dusty Berries,” 18 x 18 in., oil on canvas, 2020
Oil painting of a red flower with green leaves.
Laurel Daniel, “Garden Fire,” 18 x 18 in., oil on canvas, 2020
Painting of a field with grasses, flowers, fences and trees
Laurel Daniel, “Morning Hush,” 10 x 20 in., oil on canvas, 2020
Painting of a dirt road surrounded on both sides by blue flowers and trees in the background
Laurel Daniel, “Wild Blue,” 30 x 40 in., oil on canvas, 2020

To see more of Laurel’s work, visit: www.laureldaniel.com

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