Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bay Preserve Paths

Bay Preserve Paths, 7x5" oil on linen, plein air
©Diane Mannion

Small study painted in Osprey yesterday.  Thought a 7x5" would be fast... wrong!  Have been obsessed with tree studies lately but should have picked a less complicated view.  Simplified background, made it lighter and more blue for atmospheric perspective.  Pleased with the light, color, and the feeling of the moment.  
Started with yellow ochre drawing and began block-in.
Thumbnail sketch.  Had to "transplant" a few trees to fit my design.
Signed it with out any more fiddling.  Have ruined too many field studies by tinkering later in the studio.  There's a feeling of immediacy that's lost when these studies are touched up later on.  Perhaps a stroke or two, a finger smudge but nothing more.  Much better to use them as reference for new paintings.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Port Charlotte Beach

Port Charlotte Beach, 6x8" oil on linen, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Pushing Paint

A treat painting this morning with the VAC Punta Gorda group, but only had half an hour before clouds moved in.  Held onto the shadows and finished from imagination.  Playing with thicker paint and pushing color.  Thinking warm/cool, dark/light.
 Here's my three value thumbnail sketch showing dark, light, and mid-value patterns:
 And this is the block-in stage:
 This just in from VAC Punta Gorda FB page... my setup:
Click here for purchase information.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Sarasota Bay

Little Sarasota Bay, 6x6" oil on canvas, ©Diane Mannion

Watercolor Warm-ups

Painted with a lot of artists and friends from the VAC Punta Gorda Plein Air Painters today at the Bay Preserve in Osprey.  Flattered so many saw my solo show in the mansion and thankful that Suzanne ran up and down the stairs to let everyone in. 
Eileen watching me paint.
Photo of myself as a living billboard!
Eileen's gorgeous oil on left, and my watercolor, and oil block in.
 (photos courtesy of Sharon Yarbrough, Fearless leader of VAC Plein Air Group)

Magic happens when artists line up their paintings and compare notes afterwards.  Compliments and tips are plentiful.  These mini-crits are a way of learning and growing.  Looking forward to painting with this group again.

Instead of my usual black and white thumbnail drawings before starting an oil... I've been doing watercolor sketches.  First sketched lightly with a sienna watercolor pencil which blended in when painted over.  Here's this morning's warm-up:
Little Sarasota Bay, 6x6" wc on hotpress paper, ©Diane Mannion

Please visit my show, 9-4 Mon-Fri, ring bell at mansion.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wave After Wave

Diane Mannion, Wave After Wave, 8x10" oil on canvas


As an artist in perennial transition, my work comes in waves caused by an unceasing desire to sharpen skills and deepen concepts.  Why do I paint?  What do I paint?  What's my motivation?
Aside from all the glory and fame... there's a need to buy more art supplies, frames, and pay a few bills.  There's also the obsession and sheer love of what I do.  

Changing mediums between oil, pastel, and watercolor helps me "see" subjects, composition, and colors from a different perspective.  Pastels inform color visualization and rapid drawing notations.  Watercolors allow for playful dabbling and quick sketches.  However, watercolor is the most difficult medium to control.  Perhaps, I should let accidents happen rather than trying to control them! 
(Note to self: Have fun.)

My watercolor, View from Boathouse was a pleasure to paint while sitting on the Bay Preserve boathouse steps.  Thought I'd simply take a few color notes and work out composition for an oil painting, but this took on a life of it's own... so I'll let it be.  Next week I'll attempt an oil from the same spot.  I learned a lot by doing this watercolor, so it should be easy.  Right?

Diane Mannion, View from Boathouse, 5x5" watercolor

Style and Branding are artistic buzz words a lot of artists worry about.  Rather than get locked into one style, one subject, landscape, figurative, or still life... I think it's in the artist's best interest to practice every discipline.  Landscapes, especially field studies, develops color sense.  Figurative and portraits develop drawing skills.  Still lifes develop composition abilities.  Like changing mediums, one informs the other.  Practice in all categories creates a better artist! 

And while I'm on this rant and rave... switching from field studies and plein air paintings to studio work is also important.  Working both small and large and larger still!  Studio experiments and lessons learned will help tremendously when back out in the field.  Yin and yang.  Metamorphosis. Never stop growing as an artist.  If you do... you're finished!  An artist's work is never done.

Please visit my show, Mon-Fri 9-5, ring bell at mansion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Art Student

The Art Student, 12x9" oil on linen
©Diane Mannion

Rainy day studio painting.  When I took the reference photo, it was the first time ever for this artist to paint outside. Have changed her a lot... reduced age from fifty-something to twenty-something.  In the watercolor study yesterday (which already found a new home!), reduced the art student to about twelve.  Think it's time to paint another self-portrait... and shrink my age too!

Now until May 30, ring the bell at the mansion and someone will let you in:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Art Student

Diane Mannion, Art Student, 5x6" watercolor

One morning in Punta Gorda, after I chased my class outside to paint, I was struck by the dramatic light patterns falling on this student.  Even though we should paint from life as much as possible...the camera is a useful tool for capturing transient effects.

It's been awhile since I've felt like painting with watercolor.  It's the medium I used most as an illustrator, so to me, watercolor is work.  Aside from a year long obsession with pastel, oil is the medium I love most.  This watercolor started as a class demo and is also a small study for a larger oil painting in progress. 

I rate the mediums like this:  Watercolor...MOST difficult.  Oils... easiest by far!
Pastels and acrylic fall somewhere in the middle.  Students are always shocked to hear this!  Most beginners want to start with watercolors.  And many want to start with portraits... also the most difficult subject.

On exhibit now at Ringling Englewood... a few of my watercolors:

Have been experimenting with a new watercolor toy (new for me, at least).  Pentel Aquash Water Brush Pen!  The large size can also do very fine details.  It's a wonderful device for field studies or studio.  Water is held in the handle... lasted a long time while I worked.  To change color, simply wipe the brush and dip into another color.  A great addition for any watercolorist!  Ideal if doing quick sketches on location because there's no need for a jar of water.  An alert reader on FB said she draws with water soluble watercolor pencils and uses the brush pen to turn the lines into watercolor.  Can't wait to try it!
Click here for Jerry's Artarama info.

Please visit my Bay Preserve Show, Mon-Fri 9-4.
And!  The Art Alliance of Lemon Bay, 477 W Dearborn, Englewood is showing paintings from the 2014 Plein Air Paintout (best paintout I ever painted in!), now through the end of the month.
Here's mine!
Artist Acres, 11x14" oil on canvas

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Watt Ever

Diane Mannion, Watt Ever, 9x12" oil on linen

Electric Boat

Started this in my friend's backyard but realized soon after that this boat would need some serious technique tightening.  Could not knock this one out fast and had to resort to photo reference.  Boat was docked on a curved corner of a canel in Boca Grande, a lot had to be simplified.  

Wish I could have fit in the gigantic great dane that stood behind the fence, as large a pony... but would have thrown everything out of scale.  John remembered seeing an electric boat just like this one that was called... Batteries Not Included. 

In my haste to post yesterday, there was a glitch that an alert FB reader was kind enough to point out. Below is the first post with the "drowning hand" flag reflection!  ACK!  Once I saw it, smudged it out with my finger... the beauty of wet oil paint.  Easy fix.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Diane Mannion, Illuminated Vista, 9x12" oil on linen, plein air.
Morning Light Chasers

Was a pleasure painting with the Light Chasers Plein Air painters!   Saw many fine paintings and smiling artists.  I'm pleased with my morning's work... although it's difficult to think of it as "work."

Thought I'd touch this painting up later... but decided to let it be.  It captures the light and feeling of the moment, especially when that sunlight hit those yellow flowers!   And tinkering with a plein air study too much can destroy its spontaneity.  I'd rather use this painting as reference for a larger version, not a copy but one based on this light, color, and composition.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Diane Mannion, BIOSWALE, 9x12" oil on linen, plein air
Morning Study

A bioswale is a ditch dug to help control pollution from storm runoffs.  This one was filled with blooming purple iris, a plant that helps slow the flow of water so that it filters into the ground rather than rushing out to sea.  The bioswale is behind the two cabbage palms where we painted this morning in the parking lot of Bay Preserve.  

Having a difficult time keeping my leafy landscapes simple.  I'm an artist in transition (maybe simply growing pains) torn between realism, tonalism, and impressionism.  But whatever the ism... painting outside is both a pleasure and a complicated challenge. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Boathouse Again

Diane Mannion, Boathouse Again, 9x12" oil on linen
Plein Air and Studio

Boathouse Again began as a plein air study on a mostly cloudy day.  The sun was out when I started! I was struck by how the boathouse looked through the stand of palms.

When painting outside, I react to the color, light, and sense of place that is impossible to see in a photograph.  It takes intense concentration and speed.  Back in the studio, I'm able to slow down and consider what colors to mix, and experiment in new directions.  I react to my painting from memory and experience.  So another benefit of plein air painting is to inform the studio experience.  I hope this practice in the studio will be evident when heading outside again.  Plein air or studio... both are necessary!

It's very rare for me, because I'm a slow painter, to finish a plein air painting on the spot.  Most are simply studies for future work or practice, building a visual vocabulary to enrich the creation of studio paintings.  I've given myself permission to slow down while doing field studies, to consider them sketches, raw material for something wonderful later.  But like fishing... once in a while you catch a good one.

Delighted to chat with many members of the Light Chasers group and also Sally Christiansen's class who came to paint along and also see my show!  I'll be painting at the Bay Preserve as much as possible during my solo exhibit there until the end of May.

My start on the porch right before the rain moved in.
Second day.  Painted with Shadow along for the first time.  Couldn't leave her home because of the new roofing noise going on at our house, like being inside a drum.  She was perfectly well behaved!  Conehead is to keep her from chewing on stitches from a minor operation on her side.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fishery Palms

Diane Mannion, Fishery Palms, 12x9" oil on linen

Painted with the Punta Gorda VAC Plein Air group this morning at the Fishery in Placida.  Weather was as bad as the last time we painted there about a year ago.  Typical Floridian downpour which may last all week.  Painted this while sitting in my car under the raised hatchback.  Still managed to get everything totally drenched... at least oil and water don't mix.

Drove over this morning thinking no one would show up in this deluge, but seven hardy souls were already massing in their sketches while standing under an overhang on the fishery building.
Above is my one hour start and later finished at home.  Used ultramarine blue and transparent red iron oxide for underpainting, wiped out lights with Gamsol, and added a bit of green.    This first layer was simply to mass in darks, patterns, and establish path of lights.

Fine work, Everybody!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bay Preserve Artist

Diane Mannion, Bay Preserve Artist, 9x12" oil on linen

The Opening

This painting started as a plein air study after spending a lovely day at the Bay Preserve with an artist friend.  Umbrellas are a visual magnet!  Love the play of light and color.  Bay Preserve Artist will replace one that sold opening night. 

Still catching up after the opening of my solo show at the Bay Preserve mansion... couldn't have asked for a better evening!   Well attended and sold well.  Many thanks to the Conservation Foundation! Thank you, friends, students, artists, and others for a fabulous celebration!  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Artist Acres

Diane Mannion, Artist Acres, 11x14" oil on canvas, plein air

Perfect weather and wonderful organization made for a fabulous paintout in Englewood today.  Artists were treated with snacks, live music, and later on... dinner, wine, and cupcakes!  Delightful visiting with so many artist friends.  Unlimited inspiration on the private grounds of Artist Acres... Florida as it should be.  I'm happy to be part of this artistic community.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bay Preserve at Osprey

Diane Mannion, Bay Preserve at Osprey, 11x14" oil/canvas


I've been invited to exhibit my paintings...SOLO SHOW in the Bay Preserve mansion... huge honor!  The opening reception is March 18, 5-7.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Diane Mannion, SOS Snowy Egret, 6x6" oil, plein air

SOS, Save Our Seabirds, Part 2

Sunday morning at Save Our Seabirds, Sarasota, Florida.   Over 2000 birds treated and released each year!  Fabulous place, worthy of visiting... across the road from Mote Marine.  Saw sandhill cranes that actually had artificial legs!  Amazing.

This little egret did not hold still at all!  He was standing in the sun when a keeper came in to scrub his cage (wish I had someone like that around my house!).  After the cleaning, the pool was filled with fresh water and a large bowl of fresh fish put out for each resident... the egret shared his quarters with two night herons. 

Had started this painting before the pool was filled, so locked in the shadows first.  Knew my model would not hold still for long, snapped an iPhone photo for reference.  Kept glancing between the real bird and the photo... could see much more color in the real life version.  Was interesting to actually see in the moment how the photo did not capture many colors or values.  The bird was almost pure white in the photo.  It's SO important to paint directly from life as often as possible.
My painting location:
Some young people helped remove a fishhook from a pelican's wing.  Lucky bird survived and would be released that night.  The record number of fishhooks removed from one bird was 19!
Here's the Light Chaser Gallery (inside and outside) for the weekend!
  Pam sold lots of paintings for us.
Terry Mason, our fearless leader, painting in all her glory!
A bird handler... holding a barred owl who had only been in training for six months.  Bird was blind in one eye, so could not be released, but seemed to enjoy all the attention.  All the birds in this facility were content, pampered, and carefully kept.  A joy to visit!

Monday, March 3, 2014


Diane Mannion, SOS BARRED OWL, 6x6" oil, plein air


Painted with the Light Chasers at Save Our Seabirds near Mote Marine in Sarasota.  This fabulous facility invited us to exhibit and paint on it's gorgeous grounds over the weekend.  SOS is responsible for treating and saving over 2000 birds a year!

This barred owl held perfectly still the entire hour I painted him.  Loved the way the sun glowed through the enclosure lighting up his face.

Here's my easel set up in front of the cage:
Click here to purchase this painting.  200./free shipping/30% will be donated to SOS.