Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sand Sailors

Sand Sailors, 9x12" oil, ©Diane Mannion

Vintage Sails

Came across some vintage photos of sand sailing, a sport that still exists today!  (Go Google it!) Inspired by the classic sails and homemade contraptions of the vintage variety, thought I'd attempt to paint a few.  This one, made up from my imagination based on extensive research, is the tricycle style.

What struck my about this era, was the ho-hum attitude of the sailors, especially the females  who seemed quite bored with the activity.  Folks were dressed in their Sunday best, hats, ties, and dresses with long skirts.  Children weren't even wearing seat belts or helmets!  The characters and the lab in my painting are figments of my seedy imagination.

I'm torn about painting any more of these because they verge on my old illustration style rather than my more sophisticated fine art flair.  But it's all fun!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Simply Sunday

Simply Sunday, 14x18"oil, ©Diane Mannion

Dog Obedience

Simply Sunday sat around the studio for months and went through many changes, most of which I hated.  This painting was a dog (no insults to pooches intended here).   

Changed my summer model to not look like her at all (sorry Megan, they all can't be you).   The window view is from a plein air study that I did at the Hermitage, an artist's retreat on Manasota Key.  
Most everything here, including the non-Megan model, is from my imagination.

At first the figure held a letter with an empty envelope nearby, but who writes letters anymore?  It seemed too sad, like bad news received.  The book worked better, I liked the triangle shape of the white pages and the patch of blue.  Last thing I added was the bookmark to visually flow up to the petals and flowers.

Did not like this painting at all until yesterday… Sunday!  Somehow it came together with the relaxed feeling of a day well spent.  Now I like it even more than yesterday.  Very satisfying bringing this dog to heel!

So my tip of the day is to keep working with those dogs even if they bite, don't give up too easily.
Update:  Love this quote from Johan who posted on FB!

Johan Bjurman Sometimes a rescue dog saves you and becomes a seeing eye dog.

Friday, October 14, 2016

All That Glitters

All That Glitters, 23x32" oil, ©Diane Mannion

Growth of a Painting

Something about a few small sketches I did of my granddaughter kept haunting me… had to follow my instincts and explore the possibilities.   After a long and arduous journey, have found what I was after and at last, am ready to let this one go.

Part 1:  My original small sketches, the first quick block in with payne's gray.  Was excited about the figure but after working on it in the following stages, lost the "older" child of the block in, appeared to look too much like my granddaughter.  I wanted the figure to be someone I didn't know, a figure made up from my imagination, more "iconic."

Part 2:  Final stages.  First major breakthrough happened when I changed the figure to an older child.  Second breakthrough when my husband came in and wrinkled his nose, "Is that girl going to be hit by a giant wave?"  His comment caused me add a horizon and sky.  And final stages, added details and lightened the sky.  ***Having a problem photographing this painting!  iPhone shot came closest, last image.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


My PT, 8x6" oil, Diane Mannion

My Physical Therapist

Tricked my lovely physical therapist, Mylene into posing last week, one way to get her to stop twisting my leg!  Promised her a sketch if she wouldn't hurt me.  I have nothing but good things to say about Englewood Hospital's Rehabilitation center next to the Y… lots of kind, gentle folks with magical healing powers.

All's well, walking without cane already.  Spend half my time working out, the other half painting (with time out for sourdough bread baking)… healthy lifestyle.  

My PT!  Happy with her portrait sketch!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Color Bootcamp

BRAIDS 1 & 2, 5x4", oil on Arches Paper, 30 min studies, Diane Mannion

Color Bootcamp

BRAIDS 1&2 are the first sketches since finishing bootcamp.  Used a reference shot I took of my model, Megan last summer but changed her first into a young girl, then a young woman. 

Spent the last four weeks recovering from surgery, so while stuck in the studio (which is one of my favorite places to be anyway)  was able to take an online course through the NEW MASTERS ACADEMY, link below.  

Finished the Color Bootcamp with Bill Perkins, wonderful experience, great practice, and learned a lot!  Especially how not to be afraid of 30 minute block ins!  This practice will also come in handy for landscape, figurative, and still life painting. 

All 30 head studies completed for the bootcamp on my easel!  Enjoyed the value, black and white studies that came first.  After doing a 30 minute study, Bill Perkins does the same exercise... I often did another 30 minute study after seeing his solutions.  And later, I watched him doing the exercise before I did mine.  Great learning experience!  Bill's a terrific instructor.

I've always attempted to paint what I see, Bill Perkins takes it another step... paint what you know about color.  Exaggerate the play of warm and cool colors.  I'm excited about the colorful possibilities for my future work.

The cost of a year's subscription to the New Masters Academy is less than what folks pay for one workshop!  Fees can also be monthy.  A wealth of information... well worth it!  

Here's the link:  NEW MASTERS ACADEMY

Steve Huston, an incredible classic figurative painter, is one of the founders and another instructor.  I've purchased his book and watched his free three hour head study video on Youtube.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


WATER PEOPLE, 20x16" oil, Diane Mannion


I'm thrilled and honored to announce my painting, WATER PEOPLE will be traveling with the 

Opening September 8th at the Muscarelle Museum, Williamsburg VA.
Then traveling to:
Academy Art Museum, Easton MD
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St Michaels, MD
Quinlan Visual Arts Center, Gainesville, GA
Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona MN
Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic CT

Monday, August 15, 2016


CLEARING, 20x20" oil, Diane Mannion

Clear Vision

Another painting revision!  This one has a long history, first titled Her Beach after three revisions.  I had said three strikes and you're out, but here we go again.

My choices now were:
1. Slash and burn.
2. Hang facing wall.
3. Paint over as if I didn't care what happened.

Went with #3 and learned a lot.  Is it better?  Clearly!  At least to me.

Felt I didn't have much to lose, so painted over everything except parts of the hair (which is about all I really liked).  Removed sunglasses, turned head and added beach equipment in foreground.  Wanted painterly brushstrokes, not highly rendered.  Gave the character a tan to increase value difference from background.

 One of the original versions, Her Beach.  
Too much going on.  I really liked the little groups of people but they took away from the main character.  Different feeling, different day.  It was painful painting over them, but they may reappear in future paintings one group at a time.  Left the group under the white umbrella but "hazed" over to push back.

Beach Lady, 6x8" oil study.  
Painted quickly with gusto.  Love the brushwork.  Realized I wanted more guts like this in the larger version.

Here's the link to original version, HER BEACH, three strikes you're out, and lots of suffering.

Solved many problems with this painting.  Tremendous learning experience.
But this is it!  CLEARING is clearly the LAST revision...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

New Blue Tube

New Blue Tube, 20x20" oil, Diane Mannion

Fear of Change

This painting hung around in my studio for awhile, I loved the background and the tube but not the character.  Fear kept me from making the changes needed to save the good parts. 

One of my critics didn't like the character either.  At first I couldn't see what was wrong, but after living with the painting I slowly began to see it.  Sometimes, time needs to pass to see a work with fresh eyes.  I moved it from room to room, placed it where I could see from a distance, held it up to mirrors, stood on my head, etc.

When someone thinks a change should be made, I don't do it for them... I have to remain true to my work.  This time, I DID come into agreement with my critic... but not always.

I had three choices:
1. Destroy the painting.
2. Use original as study and paint new version.
3. Keep good parts and make changes on the original.

Number 3 was my choice... if it didn't work I could always revert to number 1 or 2!

Blue Tube, original stage.  Did not like the character's face or hat or neck.
Placed a patch over the part I wanted to change and studied it for awhile.

The original boy was a character from my imagination, so I imagined another character, this time a girl.  Her hair and head rotation solved many problems.  Took courage to tackle this painting again and I'm glad I did.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Not Megan

Girl in the Garden, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

Not Megan

The last of the three fifteen minutes sketches of Megan from life last week.  Attempted to make the model NOT look like Megan and placed the scene outside rather than an interior view.

Sketch which is the underpainting.  Gessoed wood panel, rubbed lightly with linseed oil just before sketching with brush and red iron oxide, thinned and rubbed off areas with Gamsol. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Figure Study

The Art Book, 10x8"oil study, Diane Mannion

Go Figure!

Instead of painting at Manasota Key with the Englewood Painters, we had a unusual early morning rainstorm (almost like clockwork, rainy season storms are most often in the late afternoon), so I had to paint in the studio instead.  My model, Megan posed for three fifteen minute studies last time here, so I decided to work on this one.  

I suffer from exploding head syndrome!  Happens when I start a figure at the head and suddenly can't get the feet to stay in the canvas, or the top of the head bleeds off the top, a violent handicap.

My first attempt had the feet leaking off the bottom so I wiped it off.  Second attempt, I forced the figure to stay inside the frame, but the feet still looked too big.  Easy fix because I only worked in one color, red iron oxide until I got it right.
 Second attempt, but feet still too large.

I reached the block-in stage with this painting by painting on top of the oxide sketch.  Could noodle and polish but this is an exercise in putting down color and values and leaving them and I like the way it works... go figure!

Listened to PleinAir Podcast featuring Quang Ho interviewed by Eric Rhoads while working on this.  Fabulous interview!  Great inspiration, especially while pushing my brush.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Portrait Practice

Window Seat, 11x14" oil, Diane Mannion

Portrait Practice

Started painting this from life and finished later from photo reference.  Megan's a wonderful model and I have enough reference material to keep me busy for awhile.  A lot of these photos will be for figure reference and will not look like the model at all.

Actually attempted to make this NOT look like the model but Megan shined through anyway.  John said even if it were on a milk carton you'd know who it was.

Painted in alla prima style with large brushstrokes until a tiny brush got stuck in my hand and I noodled a bit, especially around the eyes.  Attempted to work with the cool north window light and the warm interior lamp light by showing cool highlights on window side and warm shadows on dark side of her face and hair.  I loved painting the hair, especially the one long strand in the front that captured the light and the shorter one over her eyebrow.

Practice practice... 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

30 Paintings, 30 Stories

Vincent, 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Every Painting Has a Story

Was my self-induced painting challenge worth it?  YES.  Painful, but an exercise that always shows results both good and bad.  It's the fourth time I've endured this visual marathon, first three times were with Leslie Saeta's Artists Helping Artists group.  Many of these studies would not exist if I hadn't pushed myself and the brush, and some are pretty darn good.

The challenge 30 Paintings (sketches or studies) in 30 Days is not only a way to sharpen technique and explore ideas but a way to hone self-discipline.  Self-discipline is everything!  A phrase long remembered from my art school days spoken by an immaculate professor, his words forever embedded in my lazy-slug student brain.

These 30 paintings, an illustrated history, are not in order but were all created July 2016.  Grab a cup of tea or a shot of something stronger, this post is really long!
 Vincent, 6x8" oil
Vincent painting at Manasota Key Beach.  Attempted to capture blazing sun and humidity.  Simplified and softened background and sharpened values and contrast around center of interest.  Cooled and softened background colors and kept hot colors sharp up front.
4th of July, 3.5x2.5 oil
Drove around on the 4th looking for flags to paint.  Found this one at Royal Palm Marina in the parking lot.  Flowers like fireworks!
Artists Acres Pottery Shed, 6x8" oil
Painted at a private family's estate, Artists Acres with the Englewood Plein Painters (affectionately known as the plein airheads) one hot, steamy morning.  Liked the flowerpots but got distracted by clutter and tried to simplify.  Too busy and overpainted for a 6x8".   A green faced hornet buzzed around my head... swung my brush and he flew off with a red nose!
Artists Acres Pottery Shed 2, 6x8" oil
Another view of the pottery shed, the cat wasn't there but could have been.  Was a challenge simplifying clutter, leaving stuff out, and squinting to see values (where the darks can be combined or massed in a space).  Was most attracted to the purple glow of the tin roof.  Liked how the roof on the left was lighter than the background... then on the right, darker than the background.  (It's these little things that thrill me!)
Toys and Boy, 6x8" oil
Happy with this one!  From iPhone snapshot, simplified and changed a lot. iPhones are wonderful to snap photos without folks being aware, perhaps they think I'm just texting or checking email.  It just doesn't give them a chance to become self-conscious.  As soon as I aim my regular camera with it's enormous lens at people, they get nervous and so do I, which ruins a shot.  The iPhone doesn't take the best photos but gives me enough information to capture an idea which I change a lot anyway.  I like to make things up, change folks appearances to protect the innocent, etc.
Beach Walker, 6x8" oil
Made scene up from several iPhone snaps at Englewood Beach.  Had to slim down the walker, lots of hefty people out there!  Love playing with colors, forms, and shadows of beach umbrellas.  The three main elements in this painting were far away from each other, but once combined they created a neat composition. 
Caspersen Beach Morning, 6x8" oil
One of those perfect mornings in Venice... started at 8am and finished before 10am.  Put those strokes down and left them.  Squinted to see values and simplified a lot.  Painted with my oldest painting buddy, Eileen who spilled her box of pastels in the sand and still managed to paint a winner.
Chadwick Walk, 6x8" oil
A favorite location to paint in Englewood, Chadwick Park.  Man and his dog COULD have been there, hazy light and sharp palm shadows really were.
 Beach Lady, 6x8" oil
Figurative concept I've been struggling with.  Sometimes happy accidents happen in these small studies, pleased with the surf and sky.  Background figures could be simplified further, but time to let it go and move onto the next.
Englewood Beach Sea Oats, 6x8" oil
All of these elements were there but had to be rearranged to make the painting work.  Sea oats really glow orange and gold against the purple sky, this color can never be captured with a camera.

Leaving, 6x8" oil
Another iPhone shot simplified and rearranged.  Love painting beach umbrellas!  Happy with this! Bothers me a little how the woman's foot is hitting the bottom of the painting, but it's just a sketch and something I'll fix if I work this one up larger later.
Chadwick Boats, 6x8" oil
Chadwick Park, Englewood.  Pleased with the moody gray light effect.  Had to simplify the larger boat and added the touch of red to the sailboat for a bit of PING!  A visual exclamation point!
Egret, 6x8" oil
Caspersen Beach, Venice again.  John's upset with this one and I'll change it eventually.  The bird's looking out so the head seems small.  I'll correct with a profile view that shows more beak.  But I like the water and rocks.
Love these egrets, their feet look like bright yellow boots.
Caspersen Beach Palm, 6x8" oil
Venice.  Have painted this same tree many times but this may be the last.  Had a red ribbon around it... could be a cut notice.  It's leaning from severe beach erosion and might fall on someone.  Painted early with my painting buddy who painted me painting the palm.  
Shack, 6x8" oil
Chadwick Park again.  This guy ran across the grass and did a perfect flip before settling down with his cell phone.  A friend later recognized him from my painting and said his name is Shack and that he's a craft artist that works with shells and beads.  Small town!
Cherries, 3.5x2.5" oil
The first three paintings this month were artists trading card size... tiny!  Found it easier to work larger, so switched to 6x8".  I like to use these small paintings as thank you gifts, and have also sold many around the world on Ebay.
July 1, 3.5x2.5" oil
First painting!  After not painting for two months (medical reasons, I'm becoming bionic), thought I'd start with something small.  Used this as a sketch for another of same setup.  I enjoy arranging a still life and painting from life, eyes see so much more than a camera.
July 2, 6x8" oil
Painted from life from the same setup as the one above.  Played with horizontal and vertical composition.  Backyard flowers managing to survive my neglect.
 Dragon Fruit, 6x8" oil
Vibrant green leaf tips on this dragon fruit faded by next day, glad I was able to capture the lively color.  An Asian fruit (also grown in Florida by my friend's mom!), it's still sitting on the counter to get soft and ripen.  Inside, it's white with tiny black seeds.
 White Lilies, 6x8" oil
Found these lilies at the local market, lasted for a couple of weeks.  Difficult to paint but a joy to look at.  Has anyone else noticed the hideous artificial colors flowers are now being dyed with?   At least these flowers still had their natural colors. 
 Pots on Garden Shelf, 6x8" oil
An attempt to capture the sun-dappled effect.  Not happy with this one but learned what not to do.  Shadows too purple and blue.  Favorite spot is the leaf pointing up on the central pot catching the cool sky reflection.
 Veggies, 6x8" oil
Snatched these off the kitchen counter, raced to the studio, put them in a box, aimed a light at them and painted fast... it was next to last for the month, light at end of tunnel thing.  Liked how the white garlic stood out against the purple Asian egg plant.  Not my favorite or least favorite of the month but good practice for the next one.
Setup in box and sketch on panel.
 Roses and Silver, 6x8" oil
This WAS the last painting, but at the time I had counted wrong and thought I had two more to go.  These are miniature roses from my garden and the silver pitcher is only about four inches tall.  Painted them larger than life.
 Copper Pot and Flowers, 6x8" oil
The flowers were a gift from Becky and the copper pot was Barb's.  Took many reference photos with both together.  This is one of my favorite paintings of the month!  Love how the light bounces around and sparkles, and those flowers glow!  Painted much looser than my usual style.  Sometimes they just turn out better than expected.  Happy happy.
 Mac and Lime, 6x8" oil
Macintosh apples are my favorite but never taste as good down here in Florida as they did in the crisp Fall Upstate New York (only a speck homesick for the north).  John found this beauty at a farm stand and I promised to paint it before eating it.  Just took a bite... soft and mealy, only a hint of Mac's taste, apples in Florida are not the same.  But I like my painting!  Lime was from a friend's tree, flowers from my garden.  Experimented with higher key, lighter background.

Setup and underpainting
 Figure Sketch, 6x8" oil
Have found a wonderful model and working on studies for larger works.  Love this pose but didn't want to take it any further than this sketch stage, saving enthusiasm and energy for later.
Sketched on canvas with red iron oxide and wiped off with Gamsol.  Although model was sitting on a couch in my studio, my imagination puts her on a yacht with gentle waves in background.
 My Shadow, 6x8" oil
Painted this on one of those unmentionable birthdays.  Attempted to paint myself in the background but wiped off after several grim attempts.  Wanted to title the painting Me and My Shadow.  My Shadow is the greatest and most gorgeous standard poodle in the world! 
 Megan with Shadow Stripes, 6x8" oil
Megan is the granddaughter of a good friend of mine.  I'm delighted to paint her!  I'm taking hundreds of reference photos for future figurative work.  

 Megan in Straw Hat, 8x6" oil
 Stuck my old painting hat on Megan and liked the way it looked.  Changed the background from warm to a cooler sage green to bring out the warmth in the hair and skin tones.  Happy with this one!
Me 2016, 8x6" oil
And last but not least... me.  What brutal torture this was!  Lied and simplified and those glasses hid a lot.  Should have painted myself more when I was young and gorgeous.  Sigh.  Worked from hideous selfie and magic mirror that showed fewer wrinkles.  But at least this portrait doesn't make me want to throw up.  Painted on Arches Oil Paper. 

That's it folks!  Thank you for scrolling all this way!
Contact me for purchase information.  Thank you.