Category Archives: Featured

Arrival – Arriving Into The Present Moment

Arrival (2012) by Daniel Leighton

Arrival (2012) by Daniel Leighton

“Arrival” (2012) I had this feeling yesterday…when I arrived in the present after an intense swirl of activity, I felt a wide mix of emotions. The primary one was sadness. It was for a lot of things, old and current. It was also for how much I had been away from myself and for the many emotions I had deferred because I didn’t think I had the time to feel them in the moment. This painting gave me a way of communicating that feeling to the person I was with. Now, it reminds me to slow down.

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An Ocean of Concrete

An Ocean of Concrete(2012) by Daniel Leighton

An Ocean of Concrete by Daniel Leighton

“An Ocean of Concrete” (2011) – the drawing for this painting came out between the inspiration for, and the painting of, “Return of the Boy Genius” (2011). I’ve always been fascinated by how it happened. I was doing the dishes and suddenly “Return of the Boy Genius” came to me all at once. I ran from the kitchen sink to my iPad to start drawing while it was still fresh in my head, but ”An Ocean of Concrete” came out. It was my subconscious mind and body at work. I didn’t really understand what each was about until later. When I did, the order made perfect sense. “An Ocean of Concrete” is about the feeling of being stuck and powerless. “Return of the Boy Genius” is about moving on from that feeling and returning to your roots — to who you are and who you have always been deep down, even if it’s hard and scary and you’re not sure you are capable.

If you’re coming from that place of “stuckness”, it must be acknowledged and recognized before you can move to someplace closer to where you want to be.

Return of the Boy Genius (2012) by Daniel Leighton

Return of the Boy Genius (2012) by Daniel Leighton

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One More Touch Before I Die

“One More Touch Before I Die” (2011-2018)

This painting was inspired by a dream I had the night before the memorial service for a dear friend and mentor who died, suddenly, back in 2011. He was a true healer and I became much healthier from the work that he and a couple of the other doctors he had trained did on me. He had incredible power in his hands and I was able to learn some of his magic.

In the dream, he knew he was about to die and he was perfectly fine with it. Before he left, though, he wanted me to lay my hands on him as he had on me. He wanted me to use what I had learned from him on him.

As the mentor is lost, the space opens for the student to occupy more space in their own life, to incorporate what the teacher has taught, make it their own and share it with smaller and larger circles.

This painting is on view as part of the “Electric Abstractions” exhibit at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA) featuring the work of Jayne Behman, Robert Chapman and Daniel Leighton. The exhibit is curated by Ruta Saliklis and is on view April 20, 2018 through June 10, 2018. More info at and

For purchase inquiries, please contact the museum.

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New Huffington Post Blog: An Artist With Crohn’s Disease Looks Back at Living Without A Colon For 35 Years

First Surgery - A painting by Daniel Leighton

First Surgery (2011) A depiction of what I was like when I was in ICU recovering from that first surgery. My intestine was coming out of my body (I had an ileostomy), along with 5 or 6 tubes.

35 years and 1 week ago today I had my entire colon (large intestine) removed (known as a “colectomy”). I was 11 years old. 6 years earlier I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.It was the first of what would be 6 surgeries. I had one each at age 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, and 21.

When I had that first operation, part of what we were expecting was that I would be cured. That was the language and thinking used by the medical community and the CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America), one of the primary funders of research for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD, which includes both Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease). The idea is that you if you take out the colon, you can’t have Ulcerative Colitis. This didn’t work out for me, though, because when I was 20, I was re-diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Even if it did work out I think the word “cure” used in the context of removing your entire colon which alters your life permanently in big and small ways is misleading to patients and their families. To their credit, some, including the CCFA, have stopped calling colectomies cures.

Anyway, when they told me I had Crohn’s, it meant that I was not cured and I thought I was going to have to go through all the horrible things I went through in the first 20 years of my life again and I just really didn’t think I could. So far, it’s turned out that I had one more surgery at age 21 and haven’t had to have one since. I do have number 7 coming up but not for Crohn’s, for a torn rotator cuff. One fear I have about it is that I will get sick again as I did before my last surgery. I was so terrified of having another surgery that I think I stressed myself into sickness because I took a major downturn that began when we finalized the date and ended with the removal of more of my small intestine (some had previously been removed in other surgeries).

Read the rest on Huffington Post

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“Pure Love” (2014)

"Pure Love" (2014) by Daniel Leighton
No matter what is in front of us and what is behind us, at this moment, we have pure love.






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Camel To Lion To Child, Joseph Campbell

One of my favorite clips from “The Power of Myth”…three transformations of the spirit, follow your bliss


Camel To Lion To Child by Joseph Campbell w/ Bill Moyers on Grooveshark

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New Huffington Post Blog: “In the Cave — Going Into Darkness”

In the Cave by Daniel Leighton

In the Cave by Daniel Leighton

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” – Joseph Campbell

Experiencing pain and loss is part of every human’s experience, but too often we skip over the feelings that come with it. Experiencing those feelings is a way to understand what we have gone through and to learn and grow from it. It is a pathway into the deepest part of ourselves. If we skip over those feelings, we relinquish a critical opportunity to create positive change in our lives.

The painting above is called In the Cave. I’ve had recurring visions of cave scenes for much of my life. I view a cave as a “container” which causes fear and provides protection. On the one hand, there is the fear of collapse, as well as one of the hidden terrors lurking in the dark. But there is also a sense of safety from various threats and invasions, both physical and emotional, that comes from the insulation that a cave can offer from the outside world. Since you are often…Read more on The Huffington Post

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“Many Faces, One Head”

Many Faces, One Head

Moving through the world, he has taken on many roles. Some of these he’s chosen, some were forced upon him. Now he has come to a place in his life where he can decide for himself which of these he wants to keep and which he wants to discard. At any moment he can choose to step into any of his possible selves and immediately embody all of its attendant traits and characteristics.

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New Huffington Post Blog: “Tied Up At The Hospital”

Tied Up At The Hospital

Tied Up At The Hospital (2011), Daniel Leighton

Three days before my first solo show, I stood alone in a Dallas art gallery staring at one of my paintings. Tied Up At The Hospital is about my first visit to the hospital when I was five years old (which I referenced in my last post). Nurses were trying to place a tube into my stomach through my nose; I attempted, with my little arms and legs, to fight them off, until they finally held me down and tied me up. This painting is about the moment after that; the moment when I realized that I was powerless in this fight. I became detached from the whole experience, causing me to cut-off my emotions because they were too painful to feel. It was the right reaction at the time, especially since there were to be many more incidents, of a similar nature and magnitude, yet to come. Read more on the Huffington Post

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