Monday, February 8, 2016


PORKY, 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Pig Payback Sketch

Had fun with this quick sketch promised to friends for pig-loan of previous painting...Spam.

Painted on oil primed hardwood panel with limited palette:  ultramarine blue, transparent red oxide, and white.  These warm and cool colors worked well!  Kept it loose and messy.

Short post, busy with large commission this month.

Paint away, Friends!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


SPAM, 11x14" oil, Diane Mannion

Why I Painted This

While visiting friends, I always look around for things to paint.  This antique pig bank (Buy at Norco and Save on it's side) was locked in a display case along with a collection of vintage objects.  The owner allowed me to borrow his prized possession in exchange for a sketch of it (which I will do asap).

It's always a challenge to paint something completely different and... why I painted this.  Thought the pink roses from my garden would work well along with the vintage pitcher of orange juice because the colors work well together. 

 At first, there was nothing behind the pig and something else was needed in the background.  The can of Spam was John's idea, so we can blame that on him.  Attempted to paint the Spam so it would not dominate the painting... tough!  I like how it added to the zig-zag composition design.

Have been busy working on a commission for the Hughes Gallery, Boca Grande where many of my paintings are finding new homes fast!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mrs Butterworth and Friends

Mrs Butterworth and Friends, 20x20" oil, Diane Mannion

Slow Painting

After finishing field study landscapes in a few hours, it's difficult making the transition to studio work where time moves in slow motion.  Large studio paintings can take days, weeks or months to finish.  

Other techniques come into play.  Slow painting allows glazing, wet over dry, wet into wet, scraping, and making endless changes.  The problem is losing patience and calling it finished before it's well... done or polished.
Also my critic friends' opinions!  Thought this painting was finished until suggestions were made to push it a bit farther and define a few spots more carefully.  A painting has to please more than me! Writers want their novels read, composers want their music heard, and I want my paintings seen not just by me.  I am also my toughest critic.

Mrs Butterworth and Friends went through many changes!  Worked outside, inside, and from imagination trying to wrestle this one into a painting that works.  Flowers and glass were the most fun but  orchestrating the backlit arrangement to form dynamic and cohesive patterns was the most difficult.  Varied the paint application from thin to thick, creamy and buttery.  Sweet! 
The first stage felt too boxed in and needed something else going on in the foreground.  Easy to see how many changes I made, and I'm glad I did.  Also glad I listened to my critics.
 Found the vintage Mrs Butterworth and her sake bottle buddy in an antique shop.  They've been hanging around my studio for years waiting for me to paint them (and may have to wait a few more years for me to paint them again). 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gulf Exercise

Gulf Exercise, 8x10"oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Surf painting is the most difficult subject for me!  Started with a thumbnail sketch but still could not lock in the pattern I wanted.  Made color notes and watched waves repeating more or less the same movement and tried to memorize the shapes.  There must be a dozen paintings underneath this two hour sketch.  
Have painted on this beach many times over the years and still find it impossible to capture the sheer brilliance of the Gulf.  Not giving up though!  It's a beautiful challenge.

Hopefully taking a workshop with master marine artists Don Demers and Mary Erickson this winter.  So to get ready, it's back to watching Don's video, THE ART OF THE WAVE for the millionth time, dusting off my E John Robinson's books (The Seascape Painters Problem Book, and Paint the Sea in Oils), and will stare longingly at Winslow Homer and Joaquin Sorolla's seascapes.

A great group of Peace River Painters gathered on the beach this morning despite the nippy-for-Florida weather.  Actually had to scrape FROST off my windshield and turn the (gasp) heat on!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sandlin House

Sandlin House, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Punta Gorda Historic District

The Sandlin house, 1890's overlooks Charlotte Harbor on West Retta Esplanade at Harvey Street.  James Sandlin came to Punta Gorda on the first train in 1886.  In 1909, his daughter burned to death on the porch when a gas fueled iron malfunctioned which may be why the house is thought to be haunted.

My painting spot in the shade
The View
Notan style thumbnail sketch to "see" dark and light pattern
First stage on pre-toned yellow background
Color block-in stage

Painted on morning of Peace River Painters first annual and fabulously successful Quickpaint... I was the judge!  More photos and report on the Peace River Painters site. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Garden Shelf

Garden Shelf, 18x24" oil, Diane Mannion

Making Changes

It's important to have artist friends with eagle eyes because sometimes I'm so close to my work I can't see it anymore.  This painting is a revision of the last painting for 2015, Garden Horse. 

One of my personal critics reacted to the horse's head like a scene out of the Godfather where a horse's head was found in bed.  And another critic friend said it wasn't my best idea of something to paint.  Sometimes, I'm so anxious to paint that I grab the first thing handy. 

First version with dreaded horse's head.
Horse head blocked out and copper pot added.

 Glad I showed the stage below to one of my critics who saw something I simply DID NOT SEE.  Oh!  The horror!
Can you spot it?
Pig face!!!
 Learned a lot with this painting.  Four, six, or eight eyeballs are better than two.  And it's all right to make changes if it  makes a better painting.  Didn't really like that horse's head anyway.

Had started this painting outside, then worked from photos which didn't help much, then clipped flowers and brought flower pots into the studio.... but where that pig came from I'll never know. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Temp

The Temp, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

Boca Grande

First painting of the year!  Temptation Restaurant, affectionately known as The Temp, Boca Grande, Florida.  Located across the street from the Hughes Gallery where I'm honored to be represented! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Garden Horse

Garden Horse, 18x24" oil, Diane Mannion

Last Painting of 2015!

Garden Horse is last of 132 paintings for the year.  Every time I finish one I post on this blog... it's a tradition that holds it all together for me.  An archive of my work, some teaching and technical information, or simply art news of the day since 2008!  

This painting went through many more stages than the two progress photos here.  I like working on a series and this one relates to Vintage Copper, same size and still life.  Will explore painting still lifes outside for the rest of this series.  Garden Horse was a bit of both.  Set it up outside then brought plants inside later to finish.  

Two stages of underpainting.  Signed the first stage because I knew I'd finish it and it's easier scratching name in wet paint but repainted over later to bring flower pot along with rest of painting.

Have a happy, healthy, and creative New Year, Everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Door of Mercy

Door of Mercy, 8x10" oil, plein air revisited, Diane Mannion

Before and After

Painting on a painting... revisited a study that I did a few years ago and painted on top.  The traveler's palm on the right was twice as tall today as it was then. 
This is how it looked before.  I noticed how the light moved from warm to cool on the building.  Added more plant detail and light on the royal palms.  Happier with it!

Christmas trees were planted while I painted with the Peace River Painters this morning.  
A few of us went to Temptation Restaurant for lunch... excellent!
And Sharon Yarbrough sold her painting wet off the easel!

Sharon putting finishing touches on her SOLD painting.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vintage Copper

Vintage Copper, 18x24" oil, Diane Mannion

Playing with Patterns and Light

Always on the lookout for still life objects, this vintage copper pitcher caught my eye at the Hughes Gallery where it was graciously loaned.  The hanging 1950's tablecloth was purchased in an antique shop, and the bottom one was a lucky find in a Maine thriftshop (kept me warm during a long cold night in the Portland airport waiting for a flight home).  

The blue Ball canning jar and the ceramic turquoise pitcher are part of my still life object collection and have been painted many times.   I consider these objects "actors" waiting in the wings!
A small part of my collection waiting to be painted...  or for one heck of a garage sale.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Boathouse, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Spanish Point

Once in a while, like catching a big fish, or golfing hole-in-one (although I've never played golf!), a painting works out better than expected.  Maybe, one in thirty or fifty plein air paintings are keepers right from the field.  Stayed a bit longer to finish this one because I knew it was going well.  Oh, happy day!

Wonderful seeing so many friends and painters with the Light Chasers this morning.  Loved it when a total stranger hugged me and said she loved my painting.  Her husband said, "It looks just like a photo (urgh), but the nice lady said... "It's BETTER than a photo!"  I know folks say it looks like a photo as a compliment, but I want my paintings to look like paintings, not photos.
Location shot, left out the black plastic bag behind the boat and simplified a bit.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sandy Acres

Sandy Acres, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Sandy Acres Ranch

 Peace River Painters were invited to paint at the home and studio of artist Laszio Kohanec this morning.  Over four hundred acres of fields, ponds, and animals.  What a treat!

Left my quick study of Eileen painting as it was fresh from the field.  Could have fussed and fiddled from photo reference later, but like it as is.  Sun was in and out of the clouds, difficult, constantly changing painting conditions.  Saw sun patterns in foreground and locked them in.

I compressed and simplified a lot, as the location photo shows.
Cameras never capture the color! 
And YES... there were gators in that pond!  
Donkeys brayed like watchdogs when cars pulled in.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Ringling Light

Ringling Light, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

Ringling Museum, Sarasota

Katie Dobson Cundiff painted a fabulous demo yesterday for about sixty artists and members of 
Here's Katie during the demo.  I'll be taking her workshop in March!

Afterwards, I found a spot in the shade along a path and painted with some friends.  Loved the light hitting the grasses near an old statue, and the red flowers on the distant porch.  I was only able to get to the halfway point on location.
My very loose thumbnail sketch
Painting as it looked before mosquitoes chased me away.   Captured color notes and atmosphere and knew I'd finish the statue and add more details from photo reference later.  Sometimes, it's the last 10%, finishing touches of light that makes a painting work.

Good news!
Jade Plant, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion


Monday, December 7, 2015


Texaco, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion
Plein Air to Studio

Painted with the Peace River Painters this morning at the Nav-A-Gator.  Arrived late and left early.  Happy the sun came out long enough to get one started.  
Thumbnail sketch.
Underpainting done on location.  Indian yellow tinted gesso on panel.

This was the image first posted which had a purple glare that wasn't in original painting.  Kind of liked the glare and let it influence my revision.  Tinkered a bit more with the final image above.  

Painted the same sign a few years ago on a 6x6" panel.  Nice to see a few repairs to the shed.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Doug, 10x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Portrait on Portrait

Two hour study painted from life at the Venice Art Center Portrait Studio yesterday.  Always good practice and fun painting along with friends.  

Painted on top of an old oil portrait which I didn't like.  Used white oil paint tinted with Indian yellow to paint over the old, horrible portrait leaving the rough texture as it was.  This background treatment was completely dry before I started.  There are patches on bottom right that have been left uncovered.
The original portrait was painted on thick gesso on masonite allowing the gesso brushmarks to show. 

Started with a color block-in method rather than drawing the face first.  Wanted to capture the gesture of the pose as a figurative study rather than a simple face study.  Wished I had had a larger board because I originally wanted to include the hands.  If I had, the head would have been too small for detail.  There is only so much that can be painted in two hours, probably less if breaks are counted!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Farlow's, 10x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Cloudy Days

This painting was a double challenge.  Painting on a cloudy day... no strong shadows.  Painting while under emotional distress.

Started as a plein air on a cloudy day in a very unexciting location (at least for me) at a local restaurant with fresh plantings (no weeds, no character).  Wish I had taken a snapshot of the first attempt which was pretty awful. 
Liked the flower pot and color of the plants but had to do a lot of re-landscaping.  

Days later, painted from this photo reference but could not get it to work.
Bought a few plants to match the ones from original location, and added the foreground pot from my own yard.  Painted from life outside on another cloudy day. 

Discovered I can paint on cloudy days while under duress and save a painting from the garbage bin!
My Miserable Thumbnail Sketch

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pottery Express

Pottery Express, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Lots of Pots!

Painted with the Peace River Painters at the Pottery Express this morning.  WOW!  What a place!  Located off Burnt Store Road outside Punta Gorda, well worth the trip.
Artists were everywhere.   Afterwards, we lined up our creations and shared painting tips.  Great group, great morning.  Click the Peace River Painters link for more photos.
 Kathy painting
 My View
My quick thumbnail sketch, about 2.5x3".  Scribbled the darks and general movement of the painting with Pilot G-2 pen in small sketchbook.  A two minute sketch can save a lot of time later on...  although I usually let changes happen while I paint.  Thumbnails are a visual action plan or map that that helps the brush push paint in the right direction.
Here's the finished plein air study again to compare.