Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Marina Ugly

Marina Ugly, 6x6" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Weird but Fun

It was a gray and drizzling morning when some brave Peace River Painters showed up, with permission to paint at this marina which I've renamed, Marina Ugly.  Locally known as the place where old boats go to die.

 Years ago, my husband and I pulled in by boat to explore and thinking my small poodle might want to stretch his legs, we stepped out on a rickety dock and were immediately surrounded by hissing, hump-backed feral cats.  No need for junk yard dogs here!

The marina has lots of character (and characters that live on seedy, barely floating boats).  Boats are crammed everywhere, helter-skelter, balanced on fragile stilts leaning precariously at impossible angles.  No trespassing signs are posted on every fence and post.  It's a refreshing change from the glitzy glamor of most Floridian marinas.

We set up and painted for an hour or so when a creature from Marina Ugly lagoon chased us away, snarling, "G--D---Artists!"  We moved out of her way while this "behemoth in a bathing suit"* flashed us and had another resident back his smoke belching pickup in our direction.  Needless to say, we won't be inviting these folks to our parties.

Most of us left with unfinished paintings to finish in the cozy comfort of our studios.  Another unforgettable plein air experience!
 Margaret Egli painting at Marina Ugly
Margaret had forgotten her easel so some artists found a chunk of debris that worked perfectly.
*"behemoth in a bathing suit" - Sharon's words, ha!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chadwick Boats

Chadwick Boats, 6x6" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion


Sometimes, if I simply aim for a sketch... I end up with something better.  Happy with this one painted under the open hatch of my car.  Nothing better than going home with two in the box before noon.  If I hit all the lights right, the beach and this area is only about six minutes from my house.  Darn wonderful.  Painted with the Heatstrokes this week.

Painted in Ding Darling, Sanibel today.  Can't wait to write the amazing report!  Instead of six minutes from my house... 4 hours round trip but was so worth it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's a Shore Thing

It's a Shore Thing, 6x6" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Englewood Beach

Painted with my summer plein air group, the Heatstrokes, membership... myself and any other artist I can coax outside.  There's always a spot of shade or a breeze near the water.   This one was painted in the shade of my beach chair awning only a few feet from the surf.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Snagged One

Snagged One, 6x6" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Back to Caspersen

Quick little sketch at the beach this week.  Love how clouds cast purple shadows in the water.  This fisherman caught something large, could have been a shark or a rock.  Line snapped and he moved on.  Sometimes people just appear on the scene while I'm painting.  Had started with simple study of rocks and surf but couldn't resist his red shirt. 
 Click here to purchase.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Caspersen Rocks

Caspersen Rocks, 9x12" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Back Again

Started this yesterday with the Peace River Painters and SRQ Artists.  This morning, I went back to the same spot again on Caspersen Beach to add a few finishing touches.  
This is how it looked yesterday... wanted to add more without overworking.  Photo ref didn't give me enough information.  So spent an hour or so adding finishing touches on location.  I wanted to do more but will save that for a larger version.  Happy with composition and glad I went back to the same spot.  Really pleased with results!
Easel setup yesterday with all-important thumbnail sketch.
 Thumbnail sketches help me visualize values and composition.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tulip #2

Tulip #2, 6x6" oil, Diane Mannion

Spring Into Action Challenge

Second exercise for the dailypaintworks challenge I'm hosting this week.  Fun trying the same subject in a different medium.  One hour sketch/block-in and one hour to polish and finish.

Here's the link to the challenges... all are free and anyone can join.  Archived challenges are a great way to learn how to paint for beginners to advanced.  Great practice for learning, a wealth of tips and free education.  Join us!  CLICK HERE.

To purchase Tulip #2, please click here.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tulip #1

Tulip 1, 6.5x6.5" watercolor, Diane Mannion

I'm hosting another Challenge for Dailypaintworks!  Get your brushes ready and join the fun!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pinecraft Park, Sarasota

Pinecraft Park, Sarasota, 5x7" watercolor, plein air, Diane Mannion

The Company of Artists

Drove to Sarasota this morning to paint with the Light Chasers.  Artists were scattered all along the edge of Phillipi Creek while cloud shadows drifted across the landscape.  Gentle Amish folk strolled by in dresses and bonnets, and quietly peeked over our shoulders watching us paint.

Behind me, children in a playground tested their lung capacities, shrieking and shouting.  But that noise faded once I moved my brush, focusing on the view.  Artists stopped to chat once in awhile, comparing notes and news.  Splendid way to paint... in the company of artists.

Actually, I didn't feel like painting at all.  Happens sometimes.  So instead of painting with oils,  sketched with watercolor.  But once started, and lost in the moment, the boundaries of mediums disappeared.  Scribbled with pencil and let the watercolor flow on top.  The boat and two people appeared later, just in time to paint them in.  Two people appeared on the path in the distance while a few birds flew overhead. 

Happy with this one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Pineapple, 6x6" watercolor, Diane Mannion


It's a good idea to switch mediums once in a while... cross-training.  While oil's my main medium, watercolor's a refreshing change of pace, especially as a lightweight backup for plein air painting.  Everything I need fits in a small bag, great for travel and spontaneous sketching.

This pineapple went though many stages.  A first I liked it, then hated, then gave it a passing grade.  Salvaged it by pushing values, but some of the darks became opaque and lost the vibrant transparency that I love about watercolor.  Liked it more when I added the red bits. 


Monday, April 6, 2015

Boca House

Boca House, 6x6" oil, Diane Mannion

1 Hour Quick Study

Fabulous house across from Boca Grande Art Alliance.  Shock of blue sky against terracotta chimney pot and white roof!   

Painted fast using Gamblin's Fastmatte White along with my regular colors.  Can't paint bougainvillea without Permanent Rose!

I'll have three paintings in the BGAA Member Show, April 9-12 2015.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ponce Park

Ponce Park, 6x6" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Punta Gorda Demo

Started as a demo this gorgeous April morning in Ponce de Leon Park, Punta Gorda.  Delightful teaching landscape painting outside instead of in a classroom!   The orange umbrella showed up later and had to be added in!  The couple sitting on the right stayed in the same spot for a long time talking, perfect models.  Added the red hat for dramatic effect.

Next week's the last class for this season, taking time off to paint, write, paint and paint... and will be posting here often.  

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Boca Gate Again

Boca Gate Again, 5x7" watercolor sketch, Diane Mannion

Boca Grande

Found a cool parking spot on a quiet street to sketch...  away from tourists and other prying eyes.  Sometimes, I just want to paint alone.  Can understand why Jamie Wyeth likes to paint inside of a box.  Boca was swarming with folks visiting for Easter.

 I like my thumbnail sketch more than the watercolor.
First stage painted with ultramarine blue, then started applying local colors.
Didn't erase my pencil lines because I like their energy.  I only paint on one side of my sketchbook pages so they can be removed, matted, framed and sold. 
Boca Gate, 6x6" oil, ©Diane Mannion
Painted this one last year.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Squiggy the Grizzly

Squiggy the Grizzly, watercolor sketch, Diane Mannion

Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary

Had the privilege of visiting the Octagon Wildlife Sancturary with the Peace River Painters!  The experience of being so close to these amazing animals was overwhelming.   Most of us spent the time snapping photos, wandering around, dazed by these extraordinary creatures and their sad tales of survival.  It was almost impossible to paint.

Fran managed to started a half-sheet watercolor of a tiger, while John chose to paint a totem pole because unlike the animals... it held still!  I was only able to do one sketch of a grizzly.

All the animals were rescued from horrible situations.  Most were born in captivity and would not be able to survive in the wild.  They are pampered, well-fed and cared for by volunteers, and will continue to live a comfortable life!  Too many good things to report about this place here.   Please visit their website for more information.  Link is below.

Squiggy the Grizzly shares a huge cage, complete with swimming pool, with two rare Himalayan brown bears, Laverne and Shirley.  The three bears had been rescued from a facility where they were beaten with pipes.  Now fully recovered, I watched the two females play while the grizzly roamed around until feeding time.  Huge piles of meat (donated by food stores) was pushed through a pipe and greedily shared by a flock of vultures pecking through the cage screen.

Group shot of happy creatures.  The sloth does everything but poop while hanging upside-down!
Three tigers were rescued from someone's yard in Port Charlotte!  What were these people thinking?!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Go Figure

Go Figure, 8x10" oil, ©Diane Mannion

Gesture Drawing

Had students take turns posing for 1, 2, and 3 minutes while we sketched each other.  Great gesture drawing practice!  Not enough time to get stuck on details.  The drawings were lively and loose.  The focus was simply capturing rhythm and action lines. 

Students used paper and pencil while I painted on canvas scraps:
Found it interesting when two sketches were on the same sheet that the figures seemed to relate to each other. 
Liked these two gestures the best.  Began to create a background.
Worked on the figures.  Not happy with this stage.
The final again.  Worth while, imaginative exercise... but time to let it go.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Arcadia Window

Arcadia Window, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

Can This Painting Be Saved?

We all knew it would rain but not as sudden and heavy as it came down yesterday.  Most of the VAC Punta Gorda artists (Peace River Palette People) were painting under overhangs along Oak Street in Arcadia.  But that didn't protect us from wind and flooding up to our ankles.  Most fled... a few had lunch until the rain stopped and we could wade back into our cars.

Here's Weimin Mo waving... and a determined artist still painting (sorry I don't know her name).

The stage of my painting when I stopped on location.  Decided to remove the figure and make a few (a lot) of adjustments later.
 My wild thumbnail sketch.  Should have worked out the values more carefully!  Rushed in an effort to start painting right away.  Lesson learned... slow down.
The scene... looked SO much better in "real" life.  Photo reference was not much help back in the studio.  
When I was a young whippersnapper, I remember leafing through my mother's McCall magazines.  There was a feature titled, "Can This Marriage Be Saved?"  For some reason, I always think of this when I'm not happy with a painting.  CAN THIS PAINTING BE SAVED?

So why did I paint this scene in the first place?   The sunflowers caught my eye and the view through the corner window.  I also wanted to paint the reflections of the building across the street (not clear in this photo) AND... a selfie of me painting!!! What was I thinking?

Sometimes it's fun to plant yourself in front of an impossible scene and see how much IS possible.  

Was this painting saved? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Artists Acres Fragment

Artists Acres Fragment, 8x8" oil, ©Diane Mannion
Dailypaintworks FB Pick of the Day!
My Square

About twenty-five artists each painted a square fragment from a large, digitally enhanced, reference photo.  They will all hang together like a patchwork quilt, an interesting mix of styles and techniques.  The framed, 3x4' creation will be sold to benefit the Art Alliance of Lemon Bay on Dearborne Street, Englewood. 

Fun project!  Forced me to paint something different than my usual subject and style.  Added the cat, figure, and gator from imagination (yes, there are gators in the pond!).  Also added purple and viridian to my palette, colors I don't always use.  They make a nice gray with a touch of orange and white.

I'll add a photo of the final, total project,  here later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Morning Rocks!

Morning Rocks!  11x14" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Gulf Study

Experimented with wave patterns, light, and purple shadows early this morning.  Set up the easel and pushed paint around, letting myself react to what was in front of me.  Pure joy.

This is a moving study.  Light and shadows changed fast.  Locked the foreground shadow in and let it stay.  Gulf formed light greenish-yellow swells in a steady pattern breaking on the rocks.  Seascape painting is memory painting.  Look, watch, wait... remember... and paint.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Warm Mineral Springs, 2015

Warm Mineral Springs, 2015, 8x10" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Warm Mineral Springs, 2014 and 2015

 Warm Mineral Springs, 2014, 6x8" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion
Here's a link to the 2014 painting.  Warm Mineral Springs with some history.

Painted with the VAC Punta Gorda Plein Air Painters this morning in Northport at WMS.  About 30 enthusiastic artists surrounded the pond until almost noon.  

This year we were told, "No Swimming."  (We'd rather paint anyway and just as well, I picked up a nasty bug last year after swimming across.)   Meanwhile, crowds of folks waded or floated on noodles around and around in circles... chatting away in languages that sounded Slavic or Russian or Eastern European.
Painted on an old painting I didn't like anymore, Osprey Boathouse turned upside down.
 The view.  Left out the hideous pink chairs.
Waders wore colorful hats.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

'37 Dodge Pickup

'37 Dodge Pickup, 11x14" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion
3rd Annual Plein Air Paintout
Artists Acres

Happy this painting sold to the folks who own this gorgeous, vintage pickup!  Painted their gray tabby cat in later... perfect addition!

Fabulous day painting in Englewood yesterday.  Shiny auto, orange sign, turquoise building... didn't want to paint anything else!  Really pleased with how this painting turned out.

Many thanks to the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay for organizing this event.  And much appreciation to Todd and Mary Tracy for sharing the private grounds of Artists Acres, former home of renowned artist, Lois Bartlett Tracy.
 Location shots

Friday, March 13, 2015

On the Other Hand

On the Other Hand, 6x6" oil/linen, ©Diane Mannion

Dailypaintworks Challenge!

I'm hosting a painting challenge at Dailypaintworks this week!  


This challenge was inspired by an ungraceful tumble I took at an art show last weekend. A collision between someone's large foot and my shin caused me to land like a sack of potatoes. Injured both my pride and drawing hand!

Thought it would be fun painting with my non-wounded hand. So I set up a simple still life and slapped the brushes around. It was interesting, but I'll be glad when the bandages come off.

So I dare you to paint with the opposite hand you usually use... no cheating! This really helps loosen up technique and makes you think about every stroke. Use lots of paint and let it be shaky and weird.

You may use my photo reference or set up something for yourself. The results may surprise you! (Or not.)

The challenges on Dailypaintworks are free and anyone can enter.  There's a world of great painting knowledge, ideas, and experiments collected in several years of weekly challenges.  Enter online or work on the suggested topics on your own.

Also check out the great challenges posted by Carol Marine who recently published a fabulous book on painting... DAILY PAINTING.

Here's a link to the site: Dailypaintworks.com.