Richard McDaniel

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On Location Cover

Plein Air Painting in PASTEL

by Richard McDaniel

REVIEW: Northlight Book Club
May 2005
By Chalice Bruce

From the Book:
“The conditions may be harsh, and the task may be hefty, but ahhhh, the reward. Working from life makes you a stronger painter, and painting from life in the open air makes you come alive!”

In the ten-plus years I’ve been working with North Light Book Club, I’ve perused a lotta, lotta art instruction books. Every once in a while, one completely stops me in my tracks with its originality and pure mastery of the medium. On Location is one such book. I love Richard McDaniel’s teaching style—very easy and enthusiastic, conversational and unrushed. He has a wonderful way of demystifying the process of plein air painting while maintaining all the romance. More than anything, I love the art—rushing water and open skies, foggy mornings and scorching afternoons, sparkling colors and an embracing spirit of place. This book makes me want to grab some pastels and head out! And let’s face it—getting that “fire” of motivation is half the battle.

I was so inspired that I sent Richard a quick email note to congratulate him on a book well done. He wrote back: “Holy Mackerel” (and I am instantly fond of any person who uses the phrase “Holy Mackerel”) “thank you for taking the effort to share those kind words. I sure hope people like the book . . . that artists interested in plein air painting will find some handy information that will make their working process more efficient.”

No doubt you will--tons of helpful advice to lead you to joyful, productive painting sessions, to help you respond quickly and expressively to the many bold and subtle moods of nature. Richard covers it all, from assembling your painting kit and finding a scene that “speaks” to you, to classic pastel techniques, to finding that crucial balance between finishing and noodling. Eight step-by-step demonstrations illustrate a range of approaches, including basic layering, pastel on colored ground, the dry wash, the turpentine wash, pastel with pure pigment, the intimate landscape, and pastel over watercolor.

Above all, On Location will help you capture the essence of place, the thing that attracted you to your scene in the first place. You’ll also learn how to bring your painting to a higher stage of development back in your studio, while preserving the truth and purity of your on-location visit. Great, great stuff. 

128 pages.
204 color illus. 26 B+W illus.
Retail Price: $27.99

“Learn to vary the pressure you use while working. A line drawn with uniform pressure does not convey the rhythm and expressive qualities that are found in a line created with varying pressure. Such a line is vibrant and alive. It knows how to dance.”

REVIEW: National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters
June 2007
By Deborah Chapin

As beautifully written as painted, this book "On Location" makes me want to paint in pastel even though I am a die hard oil painter of 25 years. Richard McDaniel will undoubtedly be recognized as one of the leading painters working on location in this era of plein air painting. As a painter he brings to the art world well composed, drawn, and executed works of art and yet never loses his sense of artistic touch in the delicate balance between bold color, subtle nuance and overlay upon this sound structure. What is all the more remarkable is his sense of paint, his touch and "brushwork" is as fresh, creamy and alive as any oil painter using the alla prima technique.

As a writer his skills match his range in drawing and painting with his ability to interpret, explain and diagram his method to others... no easy task. This text is richly illustrated and also organized with logic and layout, it shows a thorough understanding of the subject and a clear mind at work carrying the reader from one point to the next. Ideas flowing, the text is a reference book of information and far more than just a simple "how to".

I have seen the great works of plein air painters of the past through exhibits in the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Metropolitan, Terra and the National Gallery. Very few works by contemporary artists’ stand up to my scrutiny on mental comparison to these paintings in touch, color, composition and technique as well as those of Richard McDaniel. Any student or professional could benefit by adding "On Location" to their library and studying and reflecting upon this man's work.


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