Dan Oakleaf has lived in Colorado his whole life, where he explores the back country whenever he can. in 1996, a chance encounter with a mischievous Pine Marten rekindled a schoolboy obsession with Drawing. Making sketches of this curious little creature gave him a way to hold on to this fleeting moment. After a few years of honing his drawing skills mostly in his spare time, the decision was made to take the next step learning to paint. After a short workshop with wildlife painter Terry Issac and another with nature artist Robert Bateman did little more than inspire. Dan realized he needed more intense study. A friend suggested the Art Students League of Denver. He began his studies with Boulder artist Molly Davis, two years with Molly and he was starting to see real improvement. At this time the same friend who suggested the league, introduced Dan to Denver artist Kevin Weckbach. They immediately hit it off, and Dan started the intense one year comprehensive painting course Kevin offered. Through Kevin's generous teaching style and interaction with other talented students, many of whom were professional artists, the skills all started coming together. At the league Dan has also had instruction from Quang Ho, John Lencicki and Tony Ortega. Now Dan is painting full time, and still paints with Kevin a couple times a month.
After exploring all manner of subject in the beginning of his painting studies, Dan is starting to again focus on the natural world he loves. Sometimes painting in the field, sometimes in his studio, and even painting in the back room zoology department at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Although Dan believes the most important parts of a painting are the visual properties and technical aspects of a work, nature still provides the inspiration.