Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #16


As I am anxious to start the new year with it’s hopes, dreams and new beginnings,  I am reminded of how on a smaller scale to the artist, a fresh white canvas offers hopes and dreams all on its own.  Just as in life we see the importance of looking back in review to more effectively move ahead, I am reminded of the necessity to treat each new canvas with the same degree of serious reflection so as to learn from the last attempt.
Each painting must begin with a resolution of sorts, to improve upon a deficiency in edges, value, drawing, or color to greater achieve the mood you are aiming for. I am continually striving to get to the next level and have found that it clearly helps to have a plan formed before the brush hits the canvas.  Be specific. Resist thinking, “I hope this one turns out better”, but rather meditate on, “What specifically do I need to work on to gain greater sensitivity or strength in my work”.  If you have trouble identifying what that might be on your own, ask someone you trust to tell you the truth.  I am extremely dependent on “outside” help.  My wife Jennifer has an amazing eye and often sees what I miss.

I remember specifically the resolution I made prior to this painting, “Tricia”, page 33, that being to severely limit my color palette.

My work had become too colorful, meaning I was using color for color’s sake, throwing it in haphazardly and not being truthful with what I was seeing. The “circus” look was not working!!!    Having recently viewed an Anders Zorn exhibition helped me to identify this color problem and I recognized that something had to change.  As an exercise, this work was completed using his choice of colors as well, that of, white, black, raw sienna, and Rembrandt’s Permanent Red Medium, (which closely resembles the vermillion Zorn used.  I have since broadened my palette again, but the lesson was invaluable to teach me what effects could be achieved with very little shift in color.

I wish you great paintings as you break out into the New Year!

book cover new web

Thank you for your enthusiastic support of Not Far from Home!


3 responses to “Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #16

  • Candace X. Moore

    Daniel, This portrait is one of my favorites in your book, was happy to read your comments on it. There is so much color there…surprising to learn it was painted with a limited palette. That makes it even more inspiring. I love the cool flesh against the warm hair and that crazy green shoulder. Also understand your message here about the importance of being deliberate in the goals of each painting, to improve, not to impress. Thanks for all your wonderful insights this year. I’ve learned so much from your blog and book, which I refer to frequently. Best in 2012.

  • Adebanji Alade

    Thanks Dan- I have got your book and video on “her mothers locket”- I love your work and I am a great fan!
    I am really pleased you have used the Zorn palette here-Amazing! I have used this palette for only one painting and it has brought me a good education too!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • przewodek


    Thank you for the reminder to dig deeper and explore who you are as an artist. We get caught up in the result at times but the result will take care of itself if we just strive to reach the next level in our work.

    I wish you a wonderful new year filled with beautiful paintings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: