Danielle Donaldson is an artist, author and educator renowned for her use of complex color palettes and delicately drawn details. Her work incorporates an imaginative array of subjects, from playfully rendered forest creatures, nautical landscapes encapsulated in glass jars, and pillow-forts filled with kittens.

Her background in fine art paired with her skills as a graphic designer have provided her with an exceptional pairing of intuition and practicality, which shines through in her art, books and workshops. In addition to her best-selling instructional books, creativeGIRL: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life and The Art of Creative Watercolor: Inspiration and Techniques for Imaginative Drawing and Painting, she teaches both online classes and in-person workshops including beginner to advanced artists from around the world. Using her trusty mechanical pencil and vast palette of watercolors, she weaves the values of creative practice, color experimentation, and fine art fundamentals with her signature small-scale illustration.

Nestled in her comfy studio in Northern California, Danielle continues to grow as an artist by fully embracing the creative process in all she does and with each story she tells.


At the bottom of this page, you’ll find my semi-official guidelines to copying and selling art based on my book, online and in-person classes and a bunch of other stuff that is just a peek into how I look at these types of things. If you find yourself here – it may be because you emailed me for permission about something that has to do with my art or process and I sent you an email with this link.

This page will be updated regularly so check back for more! (official rules and regulations at bottom of page)

But first, let’s talk about the dreaded copying thing

Finding our own creative. Inspired by everything. Practicing over and over. The magical moment when we make it our own.

This is the art of creative practicing.

(in other words, when copying is looked at as a positive thing. something I truly believe is possible. as long as we use common sense and respect the process and the people involved.)


send a text or email to someone you love outside of the creative world. include your piece of art and a piece of mine (or any other artist that has inspired you) and ask them for honest feedback... do these look the same or different and why. And ps. asking your mom or bff may not be the best person because they love you so much that they might leave out the constructive part of the feedback.


and ask them for honest feedback... do these look the same or different and why.


Set aside all notes, handouts, and sketchbooks. Turn off the class video, pinterest or the book. can you create in your newfound style/direction without all of the other stuff? was it super hard and frustrating? easy as pie? can you set it aside for a second time and create something similar with a smile on your face?


If this was hard, then you probably aren't there yet. Don't be afraid to share your process and keep working towards your own style. Practice, practice, practice! It is how every single artist gets where they want to go. If it was easy, then you might just be ready to share it as your own!


Make a list of the similarities and the differences between your art and the art or artist you have been practicing. Then make note of the supplies used, the color palette, the attention to detail, overall composition and other little details - how is yours different?


Did you have lots of differences, both large and small? Then you are on the right track! Not so much? Then go back to your lists and look at what you might be able to change up. Be sure to only change one thing at a time though - so you know if it works or not for you and your style!



  1. Agree with you on creative practicing. Your work is lovely and unique and sweet. No one could (or SHOULD) copy it. P.S. Tried to leave a comment before…but think it didn’t “take”.

  2. I have always dreamed of having my own style of art, but still have NO idea what it is. I appreciate the encouragement though. I’ve seen too many books that encourage copying without the next step. I have your Creative Girl book and have started doing some exercises. I just ordered the DVD set and SO pumped to get them and take the next step in my creative journey. Thanks so much for your inspirational art and your helpful suggestions and lessons.

  3. danielle .. you are truly one of those ‘angels unawares’ that the ‘good book’ speaks of. one of those rare people who understand ‘gentle ways’ of speaking.

  4. Danielle, My sister and I are so drawn to your water color classes (we have them all – I think _ and the book!).
    We love your methods, your beautiful girls and your sense of humor. You are so much fun to watch time and again, and we learn lots every time we repeat watching a class class! Two huge fans say thank you for sharing!!
    Jennifer and Sian

  5. Hi!
    I actually don’t know very well where to draw the line between copying and not copying. I’m still searching for my own voice, and it’s nowhere to be seen, but I have figured out that I love watercolor in soft shades, and are mostly drawn to whimsical imagery.
    However, if I learn in your courses to flick my brush for droplets (which I adore), and doodle around them, and I apply that to my own work in the future, am I infringing your copyright?

  6. Brava! Clears it right up. Shout out to you and your years of experience, as a newbie I want my first steps to be careful ones. Gracias

  7. very well described. thank you for the tutorial on how to tell the difference BETWEEN COPYING TO LEARN AND THEN PASSING IT OFF AS YOUR OWN. it actually really helps alot. THANK YOU!

  8. I am so excited about your very own online art class. I have been an artist all of my life of mostly realistic exotic wildlife. After having four children and being a stay at home mom, I have painted many large scale jungle murals. Painting large scale is really taking a toll on my body. After a series of unfortunate events with my health in the past few years, I have enjoyed working small. I found your classes online and spent an entire year practicing squares. I have yet to get to the cute sloth video. Your work is so refreshing. The colors, the softness in the tones, the lights and darks and most of all the simplicity in your sketches. I had the joy of recently purchasing two of your stash starters and I absolutely LOVE them. So silly I guess to be excited about paper scraps and watercolor bits but I adore them still, even the sweet ‘lil scrap of lace. I will find a fun way to sew the bits together with perhaps an encouraging quote so I can frame and hang it in my studio. TMI. …also, I was able to order some of the new stamps and a faux dori. LOVEit. YOur Jen friend is awesome! TTYL

  9. Hi Danielle, I bought your new course on the 26 June 2017 ,I have tried to log in on your web page but my password must be wrong ,dying to paint some hedgehogs Please help Anne Conway

  10. Hi Danielle, I love, love, love painting this hedgehog — he is great. I also took your class through Jeanne Oliver Storybooks and Studious Girls and this helps to fill in some of the blank pages too. Thanks for this course

  11. I am having some technical issues with your site. When I click contact to contact you about it, another technical issue. Can you help? I have been trying for over a week and I am having the same issue.

  12. Hello. I have fallen in love with your artwork and am ready to jump in and begin water coloring. Your work is a huge inspiration for me. Could you please remind me which brand of white pen you use to highlight?

    Thanks again for your incredible work.


    1. Libbi – I use uni posca white pens! 🙂

      1. Thank you.

  13. Is your fabric available anywhere? Do you have yardage you would like to sell (to me, of course)? I am taking your course at Donna Downey’s in April. Can’t wait for the new book. Is your course “All Things Wistful and Wise” still available? Happy Holidays.

    1. Diana – I don’t have fabric available for sale but that may change closer to my book release! Remind me about a month prior and I can bring some to sell you regardless! See you then! Danielle

  14. Hi Danielle I have read a lot of your books and have taken several of your online classes. I love your work and how you teach because it makes me happy, and I create things to just surround myself with these happy things. I have a completely different style and I work with other materials, but when I’m taking a class with an artist such as yourself, I’m always looking for that story. What are the steps you took to get your work out there. You’ve mentioned that you work at home, sometimes in your living room, but who did you contact (not literally) or what did you do with your finished work to become recognizable so that other doors opened up for you?

  15. Your newest book is fabulous. My self, my sister and our wonderful friend meet every week and paint together. Your work has become our inspiration for the last three weeks and we can’t wait to tackle all the lessons in “The Art of Creative Watercolor”. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work and taking us with you on your creative journey .

  16. Can’t wait to get started.

  17. Danielle, I am a late comer to your classes but have both of your books. I am caught up on my Art Troop classes. As a retired teacher of 36 years, I wanted to let you know how much I have learned from you, your wonderful work and details have been a blessing to me. I know how much work goes on behind the scenes to make these videos, handouts etc. Thank you for sharing your gift with me. Marian

  18. Have you had a lot of issues with copyright Danielle? I have never seen such a detailed page on copying artists work

    1. So far, I have been pretty lucky. But I also worked as a director of ops for some very badass (all femaie) lawyers and I learned a thing or two. I am a huge believer in sharing my process, but I also am a proponent of protecting what is mine in terms of blatant copying. Did you have a specific question or feedback about something? I am happy to tweak or answer if I can!

  19. Danielle, is there somewhere I can go online to purchase one of your original watercolors? They are truely special!

  20. Hi Danielle, I have lost a brother to ALS this year and the sudden death of my sister last month. I wanted you to know that when I turned on the Polar Bear video and just heard the little song I felt such peace. Your teaching has been a wonderful gift to me. Thank you so much.

  21. Hello!!
    I’m in love with your publications.
    I write to you from Spain, and although we are a society increasingly aware of the learning of other languages (the idiomatic culture came to us very late), there are a lot of people who are still relatively young and who have a hard time mastering the language (as you will be seeing when reading me)
    Anyway, my question is, Can we, in the future, read your books in other languages?
    Thank you very much for your art.

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