Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Light Catcher

Light Catcher, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#18 of 30/30.  
So far, the most difficult!  Almost gave up but there was something about it I couldn't let go.  

Figure position taken from old snapshot of Rachael.  Changed everything, even invented a new character.  There WERE sunspots though and that's what I wanted to paint.

First attempted to have figure on beach... did NOT work out.  Shady light of a garden worked best, after all, that's where the original pose happened.  In Brooklyn, in a cemetery...  Actually, it was a great place to go for a walk, lots of sculpture to check out in this famous, historic location, Greenpoint Cemetery where some of our ancestors reside.  Rachael was not impressed.

An early attempt...   Was going to call it Line in the Sand.
 Still not working here, but closer once I added garden and sunspots and adjusted proportions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wave Runner

Wave Runner, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#16 of 30/30.  

Another figurative study like the one I painted yesterday... those waves are challenging!  

Worked from a simple snapshot taken and changed the young woman' appearance to protect her privacy.  Even if I had asked her to pose there's no way she could have held this position, rough seas that day! 

Underpainting in red iron oxide and Gamsol.  Burnt sienna works just as well.  As with all of these 30/30 studies, underpainting was dry before working over.  But could also have been worked alla prima or all at once, wet into wet.  

Anything can be painted over if thick paint is used and the angle of the brush is more parallel to the surface than perpendicular.  I like stiff brushes such as Silver Briston which can scoop paint on thick almost like a palette knife.
Here's the color block-in stage of this and yesterday's post. Both painted at same time.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Raft Rider

Raft Rider, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#16 of 30/30.

Painting notes: 

Quick figurative sketch and an attempt to define the basic forms of waves and water.  Not easy, even with photo reference.  What is it about painting water that is so darn difficult?

 Kept values of the "whites" darker so the final splash notes would pop.  After all, white is never really white, even the brightest spots had a bit of lemon yellow added to mimic sunlight.

The underpainting, with basic design and color blocks arranged, was worked with transparent color. Resisted using white.   

For finishing layers, often used Naples yellow light instead of white to lighten colors, which helps avoid the dreaded "chalky" effect.  Found Naples yellow light useful for skin tones and for warmer water colors.  Used white to lighten background color, cool colors recede.
Color block-in stage of this and next post, Wave Rider.  Worked both at same time.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fran Painting

Fran Painting, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#15 of 30/30.  Half way through 30 paintings in 30 days challenge.  Painful, but really glad I'm doing it.  If I were practicing a musical instrument, this time would HAVE to be done in order to improve or at least keep skill levels up.

Painting practice is the same as an athlete in training for a sport or a musician getting ready for a concert.  These small studies are practice for larger studio paintings.

Fran was painting early in the morning at Snook Haven in Venice, Florida with the Peace River Painters.  The light was spectacular!  Visually rearranged the composition to fit the signs in.  

Loved the term... SLOW DOWN NOW!  The bottom sign read Absolutely NO Dogs.  Johan absolutely obeyed this warning and kept Duke on the outside of this sign!

Underpainting with burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, leaving white of panel for lights.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Running Boy

Running Boy, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#14 of 30/30.  Painted this little guy many times from a snapshot.  Classic running pose!  

While I was taking photos of a Great Blue Heron standing on the beach, this boy and his accomplice rushed over and threw a handful of pebbles and shells at the bird.  HEY! I yelled and off they ran while I captured their escape with my camera.  Painting should be titled, Bad Boy!

Experimented again with minimal values and brush stokes and have learned a lot!  Most difficult was stopping... letting it be "unfinished... or unpolished."  I tend to render the heck out of things, past years as an illustrator coming through.

Underpainting.  Loved the ear color and the shorts which are the only things I left alone.  Thought back leg was too long here, so shortened it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

John's Shadow

John's Shadow, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#13 of 30/30.  At this point, it feels like it will never end!  I keep asking myself, WHY?  Why paint 30 paintings in 30 days?

- practice
-pushing technique
-color mixing
-getting myself to "paint faster, Stupid!"
-exploring new subjects and ideas, even though I'm sticking to figurative here
-remembering the benefits of past 30/30's by seeing how my work improves
-the "hitting your head with a hammer because it feels good when you stop" theory.
-starting New Year off right
-improving self-discipline
-because I'm painting and I just can't stop

Enough whining!  

John's Shadow was painted from an old snapshot taken somewhere near Wilmington, NC while we lived there briefly for one year (realized it was a mistake and missed Florida!).

Left color areas, especially apparent in the sand, as large simple blocks.  Tried to hold values to dark, light, and medium.

Photo reference of John and first layer below.  Painted yesterday's post of Beach Lady at the same time.  Mixed up color for both, skin, water, etc.  Mass production technique!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beach Lady

Beach Lady, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#12 of 30/30.  Worked on two at once this morning, #12 and #13.  Mixed paint for both at same time.  Experimented with minimalism, used as few strokes as possible, simplified values and colors.  Fought the urge to tighten up and add more details.  It's amazing how little can tell the story.

First layer of Beach Lady, made a lot of changes.
Second layer of Beach Lady and second layer of #13 which I'll report on in next post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Tourists, 6x6"oil, ©Diane Mannion


#11 of 30/30, past the one-third mark for a painting a day.  These are small, all 6x6" that I had started last month.  Not cheating, an experiment to let the image rest and age before finishing.  Often these small paintings are finished on the spot, this time approached it differently.  Experimentation is the name of the game here.  And meanwhile... also working on large, studio paintings which take weeks and months.  Phew!  Too much fun!

This painting of tourists is from a snapshot taken on an unusually cool Floridian day.  Wanted to show movement and impression of the strollers rather than a detailed study, afterall, I couldn't ask them to hold still and pose.  

Experimented with flat, silhouetted shapes using limited, muted colors and minimal brushstokes. Another backlit scene forcing the water to look brighter because the figures are darker.

Here's the first layer, or underpainting.  (I always tell my students..."It's only an underpainting until you decide it's finished. There can be layers and layers of underpaintings, so have no fear.  Push that paint around!"  Even John Singer Sargent worked with layers, saving the gorgeous, bravado brushwork for last that made it look so easy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sally Painting

Sally Painting, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#10 of 30/30.  Painted with the Peace River Painters at Artists Acres in Englewood yesterday.  Was in the low 30's!  Great chance to capture folks bundled up while working.  It was so cold I thought no one would show up but the place was filled with happy painters!

This is Sally Smith Yoder working in watercolors.  She recently moved out of the area and was visiting for the day.  Miss her a lot and so glad to have had a chance to see her.

I only had a few minutes to paint, at least I got a start on the spot.  (Family emergency called me away but that turned out fine.)  Was able to finish this painting later from iPhone reference photo.
Burnt sienna sketch was all I got done on location... started background later.

There were orchids blooming from tree trunks!  The pink one in front of Sally glowed in the morning sun.  It's roots had grown into the grooves of the tree bark.  And reference shot of Sally with orchid.

Artists Acres is private property.... thank you Mary Tracy for letting our group paint on the grounds.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fishing for the Birds

Fishing for the Birds, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#9 of 30/30.  Fisherman near the rocks on Caspersen Beach early in the morning.  Birds often hang out near folks fishing who toss them bits of bait, easier than catching their own food.

"Catch anything?" I asked.
"Not yet," he answered.  "And I don't care if I do… gets me out here."
"Beautiful way to start the day!" I said.

Roughed in background.  Painted from photo reference, combining several shots.
Ended up making fisherman much larger, he seemed smaller than the heron here, compressed the perspective and brought him up closer.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Beach Readers

Beach Readers, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#8 of 30/30.

Reference definitely not taken today!  38 degrees down here in sunny south Florida.  This couple would have been bundled in sweatshirts with hoodies up.  

I liked how one reader had an old fashioned book and the other, an e-reader.  Scene took place on Manasota Key Beach a few months ago.
Underpainting with transparent red iron oxide.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Johan and Duke

Johan and Duke, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#7 of 30/30.  Painted with Johan and Duke at the Fishery in Placida on a Monday morning before the shops opened.  I opened the umbrella for dramatic effect.

 Painted this plein air except for having Johan and Duke pose for reference and added them later.  Don't even have an earlier version, just one of those times when I was too busy painting to stop and take progression shots.

Shortly after sitting for the reference photo, Duke managed to roll in something deathly ripe and stinky.  Typical lab!  

Happy with the loose brushwork and quality of light.  After a couple hundred paintings, one will turn out just right.  My favorite painting of this 30/30!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Backlit Girl

Backlit Girl, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


Part of the reason I enjoy doing the 30 Paintings in 30 days challenge is the chance to experiment and push style and technique.  This little head study caused me lots of grief, thought I'd post it before giving up.  It went through many rub-outs and scrapings!

Wanted to paint a backlit effect.  Girl kept becoming different characters, from about age 6 to 20.  My original photo reference was terribly distorted, the model was 17 and looked nothing like this.  So put it aside and made the whole thing up from imagination.  Not easy and I'm not thrilled with.  

Here's one of many early versions.  Wish I had photographed each one!  

Didn't like how the head was too close to the top.  Thought bringing down some glowing light and blurring form would help.  Felt the face was too stiff and mouth was wrong.  
Love Sargent's quote: "A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth."
Just found this wipeout!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Eileen Painting

Eileen Painting, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#5 of 30/30 paintings.  One of my best artist buddies painting at Caspersen Beach early in the morning when the light is most dramatic.

And this is how it looked at an earlier stage.  There are spots, like the hat, I should have left alone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jane Painting

Jane Painting, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#4 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days.  Jane painting at the Fisherman's Village Marina, Punta Gorda, Florida.  Extremely talented friend!  

Had a lot of problems with this one, changed the foreground arm and made the hat red instead of tan.  Simplified the background and added more sailboat masts.  Sometimes, it's more difficult to paint in a looser style than tightly rendered.  Wanted to suggest movement of the artist on a breezy day. Fortunately, my daughter pointed out faults which I happily corrected, it's useful having another pair of eyes.

Underpainted with thin burnt sienna.  Jane's arm was bent and rested on her easel but looked awkward or stubby.  Enlarged the canvas she was painting on and extended the arm.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Gail and Gerda

Gail and Gerda, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion


#3 of 30/30.  Gail and Gerda painting with watercolors at Manasota Key Beach.  Started this sketch on location and left it unfinished on purpose.  One of my goals for this 30/30 is to leave sketches unfinished and touch up later, not over-rendering.  Usually, I try to finish on the spot, so this is a different method for me.  It takes a lot of pressure off painting plein air not to worry about creating a finished product.

These small sketches are like practicing a musical instrument, a musician would never go on stage without hours of rehearsal.  It's the same with painting, these are rehearsals for larger studio paintings.

Underpainting done on location and left unfinished.

Monday, January 2, 2017

One Cool Kid

One Cool Kid, 6x6" oil,  ©Diane Mannion

#2 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days

Loved how the light played on the sandy beach and how hot color looked in cool shade.  Although it's a snapshot taken of my granddaughter, I didn't want to paint a portrait... made her hair darker for dramatic effect and left out the wild and colorful polka dots on her swim shirt.  Simply borrowed the figure and the situation.

 Lost over 7500 reference photos after my computer was hacked a few years ago, another reason I feel compelled to work with snapshots that keep calling to me.  Not that I copy them, I change a lot, exploring the range of visual possibilities.

Painting at block-in stage.  Adding the blue blanket helped!

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Swimmer, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion

HAPPY 2017!

First painting of the year for the start of another 30 Paintings in 30 Days.  Theme is figurative.  Exploring ideas for future, larger paintings.  Self-portrait, wanted new FB image.

Keeping them all 6x6" and have worked many to the half way point already, not cheating... just an exercise to make myself stop before finishing in one go.  Giving these sketches time to ripen before finishing, and yes, I have 30 unfinished ones ready to FINISH!  

How it looked at the half-way point.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Leaving's Sweet Sorrow

Leaving's Sweet Sorrow, 15x17"oil/linen, ©Diane Mannion

(Or when is it time to leave a painting and move on?)

"Parting is such sweet sorrow…"- Shakespeare

Sometimes a title will come while painting, heard Shakespeare's words from Romeo and Juliet, and melded them with the woman leaving.  The title was much easier to create than the painting!

Did a small study last summer and wanted to see if it could work in a larger size, also had a nice scrap of portrait linen, million bucks an inch, not to waste!   Stapled it to a board, set up my study and went to work.  Easy… I thought.

July Leaving, study, 6x8" oil

First sketch on linen with charcoal, then thin paint, which also showed composition "movement," sort of a zig-zag.
Study set up next to linen scrap stapled to board.
First block-in
Got it to this point and decided I didn't like it.  Sigh.  Those umbrellas were giving me a headache!
Blocked in new masses for background.  Pushed darks and lights.
Final painting after changes.  And finally… I like it.

Many of my paintings are available at the Hughes Gallery, Boca Grande, FL!!!