November 3, 2023

Are You Playing Catch Up?

A birthday message from Dan on artistic growth and staying the course

Keeping up with the Watercolor Jones’ can be nerve wracking, annoying and will only add to artistic frustration. Do you ever find yourself comparing your journey to that of someone else? What can we do when negativity takes hold of the thing that we love and (used to) enjoy so much? Not everyone finds themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole of- “I don’t paint as well as so and so”, “I cant express myself with watercolor in the way that I want”, “nothing comes out how I want it to”, “I couldn’t copy that picture”, “I didn’t get accepted into the show”, etc….but to be perfectly honest with you, I have. I can tell you it’s not a good environment to foster creativity and personal growth… is it?

Its the age old “Artist Imposter Syndrome” that myself, my professional peers and maybe you have experienced from time to time.

On and on it goes until the frustration builds to a point where you don’t even feel like taping your paper, let alone lifting a brush.

When I experience any of these feelings, i’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) to focus on what’s truly important… and frankly… it’s myself. My own art and watercolor journey is mine. I am solely and completely responsible for my own growth, art happiness, shortcomings, consistency, success and enjoyment of doing what I know I love. It has nothing to do with what anyone else is doing. Hard work pays off and if i’ve become stagnant or complacent it’s my own damn fault. Kudos I say to those I may want to compare myself to, they are doing it! I can do that too!!

I will ask myself honestly

  • Have I been making time to sketch?

    The only way to improve overall drawing ability.

  • Have I been painting consistently?

  • The only way to keep wracking up brush miles and muscle memory.

  • Have I been studying the masters?

    Its all there for the learning, there are no elusive secrets that cant be found in great art.

When I cant honestly answer a resounding YES to these questions I get right back on the ball and get moving.

If you find yourself needing a little extra inspiration and creative push, stop just playing catch up and take steps to get back on track!

What Can I Do?

A few simple ideas to re ignite that special spark

  • Is there a magic brush?

    Well, no…sadly. But if using the brush, paper or tools of an artist you admire makes you want to paint and inspires you to get going-then YES, by golly, it IS a magic brush, buy it! It will be a catalyst to keep you going. Just be sure to keep realistic expectations of what that brush will do in YOUR hand, at the current point of your own growth and development. But keep using it and see what happens over time!

  • Watch a Video or Join a Live Masterclass

    Sitting down and absorbing a video, listening to the artist and watching the magic come off of their brush can be just the ticket to make you get in front of your easel! The only real developmental danger is sinking in to that too deep without actually experimenting with what is being shown. Watching and watching wont give you brush miles. It doesn’t happen through osmosis! Hopefully some ideas may sink in though. Listen carefully and find the nuggets of what is actually being shared in the content. The theories and ideas of how they are coming to the point of what’s happening in the painting is priceless! My live Monthly Masterclasses give you an opportunity to ask questions, listen to other artists questions and actually interact in real time with what is being presented. There is another one coming up November 12th if you’d like to experience that! There is also a full library of past masterclasses and demo videos on my website.

  • Take An In Person Workshop

    I just wrapped up teaching my last workshop of the year on Balboa Island. We all had such a great time laughing and learning together.

    Sharing the joy, camaraderie and difficulties of taking a workshop is an experience like no other. You come to realize that you are not alone on this watercolor rollercoaster, you’ll meet friends and bond in a way that is very unique. I have such fond memories of the first workshop I ever took with Joseph Zbukvic in Cadaques, Spain. That was over 10 years ago now and I’m still in contact and have remained friends with the other artists I met there. That experience led to a very close friend and mentor relationship with Joe. I’ll be forever grateful for that experience.

    If you like what I do and want to come to one of my workshops, I’ve got some great ones on deck for 2024, I’d love to have you there!

  • Go To A Museum or Gallery

    Find inspiration and ideas by seeing great art in person. Don’t just look though, take a small sketchbook and analyze compositions by making thumbnail sketches, make notes on use of color and color combinations, see how that artist is communicating. PRO TIP- do not just look at watercolors, oil painters and pastelists are using the exact same theories of composition and color. There is so much information to glean by looking at sophisticated, educated works.

  • Find A Local Life Drawing Class

    I often go to the Denver Art Students League open figure drawing sessions. Not a class per se but an opportunity to improve how to see and gauge proportion, drawing from a professional model who knows how to stay still lol. Another opportunity to meet friends who may inspire you and at the least have the company of artists following the same pursuits.

What is your special spark starter?

It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you can identify when you need it and remember that you and you alone are responsible for your art happiness.

I wish you well on your watercolor journey and am honored to be able to offer even just a little help in your growth and development



In one of my happy places

out painting the day before my birthday, keeping the spark alive

October 20, 2023

Laguna Beach Dispatch

The 25th annual LPAPA Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational has been in full swing all week. It’s been so much fun painting with friends, meeting lots of new people and enjoying the Laguna Coast. It’s been a fantastic week with the Invitational and looking forward to next weeks workshop on Balboa Island!

Read on to see what’s happening!

I turned in all my paintings yesterday (pics below) and finally have a chance to relax before the big Gala tonight. It is a ticketed, sold out event but you can still come in person to see all the art! Sunday the 15th is open to the public, all the artists will be there, some (including me!) will be doing demonstrations, painting, sketching etc. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hello, look at the art and if you’re moved to.. buy some! The exhibition is open from 10-4

(I will be painting on and off with no set demonstration time)


The week kicks off with The Quick Draw event. Artists have a 2 hour time limit to paint at Heisler Park. When the painting is finished it’s a rush back over to the Festival of the Arts grounds to frame and turn in, followed by the Auction! The site is limited to 9×12 so I usually have time to do 2! I can only enter 1 though, below is the one I chose, the second can be seen below in the Library section.


Laguna Stroll (Quick paint #1) 9×12 Sold


From the work painted only during the week, artists choose 4 paintings to be considered for award selection. Below are the 4 I’ve submitted.

Umbrella Shade, Cafe Serenade 8×16- SOLD

Cove Connections 10×20 Available- contact

Canyon’s Quiet Reverie 14×18 Available contact

Beach Bonding 8×16 Sold


In the “Library” artists can hang work not eligible for judging, it can be either extra work created throughout the week, studio work or paintings from other locations etc

Here are a few (plus more!) that I had have available.

Crystal Cove, Morning Glow 11×14 SOLD

Coastal Lines (Quick paint #2) 9×12 SOLD

Laguna Happy Hour 11×14 Sold

Pier Twilight 14×18 Sold

The Striped Blanket 9×12 Available contact

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