Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grapes of Art

Grapes of Art, watercolor, 5.5x8" ©Diane Mannion

Day 16 of 30/30 Challenge

 Painted in layers of transparent glazing with blue, red, and yellow everywhere.
First layer blue which helped to get values down.
Second layer, red which was painted everywhere, especially the flowers and grapes.
Third layer, yellow, also painted everywhere but mainly on the lemon and flower stems.
 Then worked and reworked again with every color to define and finish.

Monday, September 15, 2014


GLADS, watercolor, 5.5x8"©Diane Mannion

Day 14 of the 30/30

Another painting on Arches hot press.  Attempted to put strokes down with minimal blending, let them puddle or flow where they would.  Happier with this one than yesterday's post which I think I'll try to lighten and rework, then repost.

One good thing about insomnia is watching watercolor demos and picking up tips here and there.  Hundreds of videos on Youtube, most pretty awful, but once in a while, a good one.  Later, I'll list a few favorites.  Anyhow, I learned about Mr Clean's Magic Eraser and how it can be used as a tool to lift areas.  Will buy one today, see how that works and report on that later also.

I did myself a favor and took every tube of watercolor and made a Lift-ablility chart.  Used Arches 140 lb cold press paper because it seems to be my favorite.  Painted each color in a line from dark to light tint.  Then took clean water on a brush and stroked the center and lifted off with tissue.

Learned a lot about the colors I own, some of which I've never used before... some were samples, some were gifts.  I left out the metallic and iridescent colors, will test later because I'm not using them during this Challenge.  Have a lot of tubes with mysterious  names, like what in the world is the color of Moonglow?  Now I know!  

I really recommend making a chart like this!  It's clear to me now which colors are more transparent or opaque... and most importantly for me... which are easier to lift!  Also learned which were clear and which were grainy.  Once in a while, changes are helpful, softening edges for example, so lift-ablility is important.  Here's a snapshot of my chart.  Go make your own!
Moonglow, Daniel Smith, middle column, fourth from bottom!  Looks like dark mauve.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shadow in the Sun

Shadow in the Sun, watercolor, 5.5x8" ©Diane Mannion

Day 14 of the 30/30

My standard poodle, Shadow likes to spend time in the Floridian summer sun on the pool deck.  Must need a break from the air conditioning inside.  We spend so much time during the heat of summer inside that we think of it as our "winter," but it's starting to feel a bit cooler in the mornings now. 

The pool deck is not that hideous yellow, just pushed the color for dramatic effect.  This was painted on Arches hot press, the paint tends to stay on top of the surface.  Not thrilled with this one, but at least I've kept up with the 30/30 Challenge.  These are all experiments anyway.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Chip on my Shoulder

Chip on my Shoulder, 5.5x8" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Day 13 of the 30/30

Was going to call this My Sister because my husband thinks it looks like my evil twin.  Self-portraits are not easy, especially at my age.  The parrotlet (world's smallest parrot) is Maxie, couldn't resist using the title, so he is playing the role of a Chip.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Garden Pump

Garden Pump, 5.5x8" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Day 12 of the 30/30 Challenge

This garden pump is on the grounds of Artist Acres in Englewood,  a densely shaded area with patches of sunlight filtering through thick foliage.  Not an easy subject to paint.  

Perhaps, I should have titled this "Help!  I'm painting and just can't stop!"  In an attempt to push my darks for the shadows and values, I kept adding layers of paint.  If I paint this scene again, I'll simplify the masses and keep my foreground, middle, and background more distinct.  

Watercolor works best as a transparent medium and is easily overworked.  But I'll let this painting stand as a sketch.  Sometimes, we learn from our mistakes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cool Swimmer

Cool Swimmer, watercolor, 5.5x8" ©Diane Mannion

Day 11 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days

Painted on Arches 140 lb cold press, my favorite paper!  Pleased with this one, sometimes they're a surprise and if it weren't for the 30/30, I might not have painted it.  From a photo reference I took last summer that I picked out of hundreds in my files.  

I don't like painting from photos, so I changed and simplified this a lot.  Worked on several layers of glazing using transparent colors in a fairly limited palette.  A warm and cool of each primary.  Also used masking for the highlights in the water and on the goggles.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Little Brother

Little Brother, 5.5x8"watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Day 10 of the 30/30 Challenge

One third of the way there already!  Still not easy even thought it's my fourth time doing Leslie Saeta's Challenge... click here to see how the other artists are doing.  

Thought I'd try painting an extra one last night and ended up with a wipe-out, or tear-up because it's on paper, not canvas.  I have a paintout during the last week of this challenge, so I'm trying to get ahead. 

Practiced the spatter technique in Little Brother (better the boat should be named Little, instead of Big Brother).  I like way the splash dots give a spontaneous effect to the sketch, although this was not painted as quickly as I wished.  These watercolors are taking longer for me to paint than oils!

And I'm not ashamed of using masking fluid when needed, the masts and rope lines are a good example.  Makes more sense to have the background flow over the masks instead of trying to paint around them.  I'm a purist and try to avoid masking fluid but sometimes it works.

This painting is a view of the Royal Palm Marina on the Intercoastal Waterway here in Englewood, Florida.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Swing Under Cedar Tree

Swing Under Cedar Tree, 5.5x9" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Day 9 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days

Painted with the Englewood Plein Air Artists at Artist Acres, a private, former Englewood artist's retreat.  Wrote about the history of the place in the post during the paintout last season.  Click here to read it.
My setup on a cool morning in the shade.  Rigged my James Coulter easel for watercolor.  Have a plastic mixing pan in the middle... on top of my oils which are under plastic wrap.  Worked well!
First stage, painted on a watercolor block.  Lowered the back leg of the tripod to adjust the tilt.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Day at the Beach

 Another Day at the Beach, 5.5 x 8" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Day 8 of 30 

 Typical local scene, this one a path towards Venice Beach in the morning.  Love hearing tourists say..."Wow, look at the color of that water!"  Some days, depending on the weather, it's vivid turquoise,  or if cloudy,  can range from ultramarine to shades of purple.

Used fairly limited palette based on burnt sienna and ultramarine mixture to keep the greens muted so  bright colors would pop.  Kept background trees light in value for atmospheric depth.  Used spatter technique for splashy and loose effect.

Sketched the figures on tracing paper and moved them around over the painting to find the best placement, before painting them in. 
 First stage using ultramarine and burnt sienna.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Art Lesson

The Art Lesson, 5.5x8" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion
Day 7 of 30/30 Challenge

My mom giving drawing tips to her step-grandson, Jackson last summer.  Loved the intense communication between the two that this reference photo captured.  A watercolor sketch worked well as a study.  

I have a lot of reference photos that would be fun to paint from although I don't like to use them and would rather paint from life.  But this is a good example of why the photo is useful... never would have gotten these to to hold still for long!

Watercolor is a great medium to explore whether or not the subject is worthy of a larger painting in oil.  Design and color can be changed and moved around, values adjusted, patterns added or simplified before tackling a larger canvas.  In this case, The Art Lesson works well as a little study; statement has been made... no need to work it up in oils. 


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Flower Box

Flower Box, 5x7" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion
Day 6 of the 30/30

Found this wooden box at a local garden center.  Like the rough and rusty, weather-worn look about it.  Never know where still life objects will appear.  Will use this box again later for another painting.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Triathlon Director

Triathlon Director, watercolor, 5.5x8.5" ©Diane Mannion

Day 5 of the 30/30 Challenge

Took a reference photo of John directing the runners at a local triathlon along Englewood Beach.  Always liked the vibrant colors of the shirt and vest in the morning light.  Simplified and changed things a lot.  Darkened the background to make the figure appear brighter. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pickled Ginger

Pickled Ginger, 5.5x8.5" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Day 4 of 30/30

Took my time with this one and used layers of glazing.  Background was done in one, wet into wet layer inside each area.  The objects worked wet into dry, then dropped or pulled out beads of color.  Used dabs of masking medium for a few highlights, then softened some of those edges.  Kept palette simple, used ultramarine blue and burnt sienna mix for background.  Pushed values.

 Background worked first over light pencil drawing.
 Worked each object.
 Pickled ginger jar at first layer stage.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Englewood Yard

Englewood Yard, 5x8" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Day 3 of 30/30 Chalenge

Painted with the Englewood Plein Air Painters on a hot summer morning.  Lots of creative energy  happens when artists focus on the same scene.  Interesting to see the variety of interpretations.  

It's not a view I would have chosen, but planted myself in one spot and let the brush react to light and color.  Impossible to actually paint every detail, so much is simply imagined and simplified.  It's an impression... rather than a rendering.

If there's just one piece of advice I have for folks... it's find a group or painting buddy!  Great incentive to "get out there."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Pond Again

The Pond Again, 5x5" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Day 2, 30/30

Having a great time exploring watercolor!  This was painted in a sketchbook on hot press paper.  The watercolor stays on top of the surface and if left alone (paint a puddle and leave it)... forms hard-edged patches when dry.  It's a technique that I've long admired about Maurice Prendergast's work.   Click here to see an example.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Local Pond

Local Pond, 6x8.5" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Day One of 30 Paintings in 30 Days!

 This was started as a plein air watercolor, loved how the sky turned out, but struggled with the rest.  Thought it a good excuse to salvage a work, experimenting with lifting, scrubbing and scraping... all the while thinking, "Can this painting be saved?"  Just barely, I think, but great practice for the next.

Have decided to paint watercolors for this 30/30 challenge, my fourth!  Will paint small watercolors while also doing larger oil paintings and plein air studies.  Last I heard, over 700 artists have signed up for Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge!  Visit site here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pressing Dimensions

Pressing Dimensions, 11x14" oil/linen panel, ©Diane Mannion

Trompe d'Oil
Pressing the three dimensional world into two!

Found out about a trompe d'oil competition two days before the deadline and (ha) thought I could do it... but was fun trying anyway.   Have wanted to experiment with this genre so this was a good excuse to try one.  

Found the iron in an antique shop in Maine over twenty years ago.  Has been used as a doorstop ever since (even survived a "bad" poodle that liked to lift his leg on it).  This iron also brings chills to the hearts of my students because I've made them play spin-the-iron and draw it from every angle.  I've always wondered what poor soul wore the paint off the handle with hard working fingers.

Tore the fabric patch off a robe that belonged to my mother.  I remember the day we bought it!  While trying on clothes in a large dressing room in a fashionable store, I managed to get stuck in a bathing suit.  "Mom?" I called, asking for help... and heard six or seven other moms answer.  Must have been lots of mother/daughter shopping teams that day.  

John built the cabinet which I changed a lot to suit the design.  Had to add a few dings and scratches for artistic drama.  

The flowers were silk, not my favorite type to paint but hold up well under  lights.  Dried white flowers on bottom shelf were real.  But this is a trompe d'oil... a genre that attempts to fool the eye, so artificial flowers fit right in.

First stage and set up.

NFS (for now)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


SANGRIA, 11x14" oil/linen, ©Diane Mannion

Summer Studio Painting

I'm happily tucked into the cool studio during the dog days of Floridian August!  After fast and loose plein air landscapes, it's a treat slowing down to a quiet and considered practice, sharpening technique, and painting things that hold still.  Refreshing change rearranging light and objects, playing with color and design.  And nice not having to dodge lightning bolts outside.
Stage 1: objects placed and values indicated.  
Stage 2: first layer of color blocked in.  
Painting was worked in alla prima method, no glazing.  
Widened bottle to strengthen composition.
Thanks for the word, Joseph Palmerio..."JUICY."


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fruitful August

Fruitful August, 11x14" oil/linen panel, ©Diane Mannion

Painting from Life

Set this still life up by a north window and was too eager to start.  Should have worked a design... a thumbnail sketch first.  Kept adding and subtracting objects to get it to work.  

By the time I was ready to paint the flowers, they had wilted and dropped a few leaves.  The flowers had to be painted from photo reference and memory.  But the leaves added the perfect transition.  Moved the leaf in front to guide the eye into the painting.  The leaf on the right side of the jar dropped into the perfect spot... painted it in right away!

Here's how the painting looked at the start.  Easy to see the changes!  Main subject is the play of light on the objects, and how the color works throughout.  A struggle with fruitful results.  I'll give myself a pat on the back for this one.
 It's a shock going from a daily painting to a weekly one!  Wish I could paint faster... but slow is fine, too.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Outside Sketch

Outside Sketch, 6x9" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Plein Air Still Life!

 This little sketch is a first for me.  Clipped some flowers from the garden, set up a still life outside in the sun, and painted it with WATERCOLORS! 

Forced me to paint faster because the light and shadows moved rapidly.  Wanted to keep it loose, which is difficult for me.  Guess I'm more of a control freak and love getting lost in details.  Accidents are wonderful in watercolor... I don't give them enough of a chance.

Not comfortable with the wet into wet techniques, will have to experiment more.  My experience with watercolor as an illustrator was working in transparent layers, painting wet over dry and controlling the bead, the wet edge of the paint as I applied it.

#100!  One-hundred paintings so far this year and getting close to 1000 since I began blogging in 2008.  962 posts with a painting for each post, to be exact.  Only 38 to go! 

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