Sunday, October 15, 2017


 Trees Grow in Brooklyn, oil, 6x8" 9/2017


Playing catch-up here on my long neglected blog!  Has been a hectic but creative time.

      My flight from Maine to Sarasota, Florida was cancelled at JFK because of hurricane Maria.  My daughter was able to pick me up and I had a delightful, unexpected visit with family in Brooklyn.  Thankful for the safe harbor during the storm!  Took two weeks to get a flight back home, unless it was an emergency, and it wasn't. 

Meanwhile in Englewood, Florida…  John, our 95 year old friend Angie, and our dog Shadow sailed through the hurricane without any damage except for one tree down and a torn screen door.  House isn't in a flood zone, far enough inland,  and with 16' elevation… almost a mountain.    Power stayed on!  

The painting above, Trees Grow in Brooklyn, was painted from my daughters kitchen window.  I loved this birds-eye view from the sixth floor.  

I had committed to the Strada Easel 30 Challenge, a painting a day from life, and also the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge led by Leslie Saeta of Artists Helping Artists.  Worked out well during my visit to Maine and Brooklyn, then finished back home in Florida.  Finished both at the same time.

I find these challenges useful for sharpening skills and motivation.  Now doing 31 pastels for Gail Sibley's How To Pastel blog and loving it! 

 View from Jana's Office, 5x8" watercolor/gouache
 Yummy Taco, 5x8" gouache.  Another kitchen window view.
 Prospect Park, 5x8"gouache.  Park bench view.  Fed ducks here when I was four.
 Water Song, 5x8" gouache.  On the next park bench, a Hasidic Jew sang prayers softly to the water for the hour I painted.  I feel blessed to have experienced it.  
 View from Redhook, 5x8" gouache.  Delightful watching sailboats on a Sunday morning!
My grandfather was a dock master here many years ago.
 Looking East, 5x8" gouache.  This light effect out the living room window was fleeting during sunset.  Painted from life and snapshot.  Love the different styles of architecture and neighborhoods.
Greenwood Cemetery, 5x8" gouache.  Huge contemporary bronze statue, strong emotional feel of grief.  Magnificent work of art.  This cemetery is alive with history and angels.  My daughter and I visited our ancestors… a moving walk.

Gouache tip:  It helps to "seal" the paper first with casein or acrylic.  The gouache above had an ochre casein underpainting which shows through and gives the work a harmonious feel.  It's a mid-value tone, so the darks and lights were easier to judge.  Another reason to seal the paper is it helps the gouache stay on top, rather than sinking in.  

It's a difficult medium at first but well worth getting to know.  It's possible to paint an terrible watercolor and save it with gouache.  Wonderful for sketchbook studies and travel.  All you need to get started are regular watercolors and one tube of white gouache.  Gouache can be rewet and reworked.  When it dries on the palette can be rewet and used again.  Can also be placed on a wet paper towel to keep it fresh while painting.  The only way to learn how to use it is by painting a lot!  Try 30 paintings… tip, keep them small!  

 Please Google James Gurney's knowledge of this medium!  

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Old Boats, oil, 6x8" Diane Mannion

Nanatuck 2017

What a creative week in Port Clyde, Maine!  Nanatuck's an artist's retreat organized by Mary Erickson and this was the second time I had the honor of joining.  I was surrounded by brilliant, energetic, and friendly Master artists.  Absorbed a wealth of inspiration and knowledge simply by peeking over a few busy shoulders.   Don Demers, Mary Erickson, Mark Fehlman, Robert Sloan, Neal Hughes, Daniel Ambrose, Jane Sither, Eielnne Basa… to name a few.

*Our group was deeply touched by meeting Helga, Andrew Wyeth's model!   Mark Fehlman gave me permission to use his FB photo.  "One of the highlights of our trip was having dinner with Helga of Andrew Wyeth fame.  She's a wonderful, energetic and creative soul."-Mark
Helga and Mark!

*Jane Sither and I visited the Olsen estate where Wyeth loved to work.  Heard the sounds… birds and wind whistling through the trees that he listened to while painting.  Felt sad Jane couldn't hear it also, but I could tell she felt the breeze and joy of the surroundings.  Jane's totally hearing-impaired, filled many notebooks sharing our adventure.
 Talented artist Jane Sither in front of Olsen house.  
 Olsen house window.  Guide inside allowing tourists to enter a few at a time.

*Went to the 100 Year Anniversary Andrew Wyeth Exhibition at the Farnsworth Museum, Rockland.
Wyeth had his eye on Jane Sither and me in front of the Farnsworth.
Jane and Me in Farnsworth garden.
Artists painting at sunrise!

*My Maine Sketches and Studies!
 Nanatuck Sunrise, 6x8" oil.
 Marshall Point Light, 5x7" oil
 Rocking Waves, 5x7" oil
 Maine Gator, 6x8" oil
Maine Splash, 5x7" oil
 Co-op Road, 6x8" oil
Nanatuck View, 6x8" limited palette
 Nanatuck View, 6x8" pastel
Nanatuck View, 6x8" watercolor/gouache
 Lobster Boat, Fog, 6x8" oil
Old Boats, 6x8" oil

My 30 sketches for September, there were more… but completed the Strada Easel 30 and the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Leslie Saeta) at the same time, ha!

Links to a few Nanatuck artists:

Mark Fehlman

Mary Erickson

Don Demers

Robert Simone

Neal Hughes

Daniel Ambrose

Eleinne Basa

Jane Sither

I know there were a few more artists, will post later.  And it was delightful meeting artist's partners, too!  Penny, Betsy, Anne!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Oh, What a Month!

Shadow Napping, sketchbook gouache, September 30

Maine, Brooklyn, and IRMA!

(Will show all 30 September paintings in next few blog posts.)

My painting of Shadow Napping is exactly how I felt after this wild September.  

We were lucky!  All's well!  Sending prayers to those who did not ...

Worked small… all that was possible during this stressful time.  A few oils in Maine, one in Brooklyn, the rest are sketchbook watercolors and gouache.  Only one pastel.  

Managed to do the Strada Easel 30 Challenge on Facebook.  Also the Leslie Saeta 30 Paintings in 30 Days but was not able to post until now.  The discipline of focusing on my work everyday was a soothing meditation in the midst of chaos. 

Even though hurricane IRMA cast a grim spell over the month, there were amazing highlights!
  Spent a week in Port Clyde, Maine at Nanatuck, an artist's retreat.  Met Andrew Wyeth's model, Helga!   Touched by living history!  Painted the sunrise along with fabulous artist friends!
Nanatuck Sunrise, oil, 6x8" My first ever sunrise painting!

  Because of IRMA my flight back to Sarasota from Maine cancelled at JFK, had great, unexpected two week visit with family in Brooklyn, NY.
Trees Grow in Brooklyn, oil, 6x8" view from kitchen window.

Watched IRMA from Brooklyn, worried about John, Shadow, and a 95 year old friend taking shelter in our house, as the storm tracked over Englewood, took last minute turn and weakened.   John had house well shuttered, not in flood zone...didn't even lose power!  Only one tree down, all's well.
Home Again, Home Again, sketchbook gouache.

And also this month...  I was honored to win the James Gurney Paint a Storefront Challenge!  
Albritton Gallery, gouache, 2 day plein air, Winner!

Friday, September 1, 2017


Kayak, sketchbook plein air, 5x8" watercolor/gouache, DMannion


Will be traveling to an artists retreat in Maine next week, so have been practicing sketching with minimalist equipment.  Painted with the Englewood Plein Air Posse at Boca Grande and simplified:

Pocket Palette (
Pentalic Watercolor Sketchbook
Pentel Waterbrush size large
Tiny Moleskine thumbnail sketchbook with pen
Paper towels, a few sheets
And that's it!

Don't know if I'll be able to post much next week without my computer!  And I've signed up for TWO 30 Paintings in 30 Days events!  I know the paintings will get done but may be late posting here.

Happy Painting,

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Free Will

Free Will, sketchbook gouache, 5x8" DMannion

It Happens...

Out scouting around for new places to paint, I pulled into a local boatyard and introduced myself to the owner who gave me permission.  Was almost high noon and blazing hot!   And… It Happens… I forgot  to pack my oil paints!  Using the Palette Garage, a new gadget, which works well if it's taken out of the freezer and deposited in plein air backpack before heading out.  Sigh.  

Took lots of photos and did thumbnail sketches on location soaking up the atmosphere.  Love the shapes and colors, will return!  Found an old Cape Dory 28 that may have been the one we used to sail.  Sold it right before Hurricane Charley, 2013.

Painted Free Will back in cool studio with gouache instead of oils.  Gouache over an acrylic underpainting of lemon yellow.  It helps the gouache stay on top of watercolor paper, unsealed it tends to sink in.  

Love the name Free Will.  What was Will freed from?  From the condition of the boat I fear it didn't go well…

Set up an "invention" a mini shade spot, to take to Maine instead of an umbrella.  Worked well with HomeDepot clamps on the Strada.   Sewed black nylon to a car side window shade.  Curls up and will pack well.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tracy's Shed

Tracy's Shed, 5x9" sketchbook gouache, DMannion

Artists Acres

Lovely morning painting with Englewood Plein Air Posse friends at Artists Acres.  Steve, Sharon and I were captivated with how red flowers on a bush glowed in the sun and how light spilled over the tin roof.  Steve painted a winner with watercolor and Sharon's oil shone with stunning colors.

Meanwhile, I struggled once again with gouache.  Had it half finished when we got the call to lunch at 
Boca Royal Country Club, about a dozen of us, not bad for off-season. 

Back in the studio, I finished… or rather fought the sketch to something blogable.  Had to cover over the orange acrylic underpainting (which covered another unexciting figure drawing).  Orange showing through took away from the dramatic red flowers.  Tracy's shed is so crooked that it makes my drawing look bad, so it's not my fault! At least I like the reworked version better. 

Have been working in gouache thinking it would be faster for sketching… not.  Meanwhile, working on large oils in the studio which I can't show right now, so little studies at least give me something to post.

Fresh from the field, plein air version
Thumbnail sketch

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gouache Lesson

Gouache Lesson, sketchbook, DMannion

Jane's First Gouache lesson

After painting outside in the heat Sunday morning, Jane and I set up a still life in the cool studio.  It was her first time painting with gouache.  Told her she could do a lousy underpainting in transparent watercolor and then everything could be covered with opaque gouache.  Unlike watercolor, changes are easy to make.  

But gouache isn't easy the first time… takes practice and patience!  Jane must have enjoyed the lesson because I couldn't get her to stop!  

She tried a few different brushes, from Winsor Newton Series 7 sable for watercolor (one of my illustrator brushes), an old travel synthetic flat (one of my favorites), and a water brush, the type with water in the handle.  All that's needed to get started with gouache is one tube of white gouache and a watercolor box.  
Can do a transparent underpainting and gradually build it up.  If working opaque, mix a good pile of the color.  Stroke it on and LEAVE IT!  NO PETTING!!!   Edges can be softened later.

 What Jane used, along with plenty of paper towels and water.

I worked on the painting above in a Pentalic watercolor sketchbook.  Had painted orange acrylic over an old figure drawing that I didn't like (good way to salvage pages in pricey sketchbook!).  Acrylic allows the gouache to stay on top and not sink into the paper.

My gouache box and Pentalic sketchbook, great for travel!  Limited palette here of a rose color, orange, yellow, ultramarine, turquoise, sepia, and white.  Sepia and turquoise is not really needed.

I use gouache, pastels, or oils with my Strada easel.  Flattered that Strada Easel posted my easel hack on Instagram yesterday!  Had John drill holes in a side panel for holding brushes.

I also paint gouache on the easel by putting tube paint on a wet paper towel which keeps it moist.  Almost like working with oils!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chadwick August

Chadwick August, 5x8"sketchbook gouache, plein air, DMannion

Painting with a Friend

Chadwick Park in Englewood is a little known small place with plenty of things to paint.  Also a lot of shade provided.  My artist friend, Jane Sither and I spent Sunday morning painting in the heat which didn't bother us at all.  Gentle cool breeze by the water, could have stayed all day but got hungry for lunch.  
Jane, who did a terrific study in oils!
Our view!
My thumbnail sketch