Saturday, December 31, 2011

200 Beach Runner

 Diane Mannion, 200 BEACH RUNNER, oil on canvas, 8x6"
This is my 200th painting for 2011!  COUNTING COUNTS!!!  
Diane Mannion, 199 Rachael is Seven, oil, 8x6"
Seven year olds don't hold still.
Diane Mannion, 198 Venice Model, oil, 8x6"
This model didn't take breaks!  Amazing beauty.
Diane Mannion, 197 Bob Drawing, oil, 10x8"
Painted while teaching Bob and other students how to draw outside.
Diane Mannion, 196 Jean, oil, 10x8"
15 minute sketch of student.  Class took turns posing.  Sketches were 
wiped off right after as an exercise in beginning a portrait.  Took a snapshot of this before wiping off.  Good for teaching students that not every drawing is "precious."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Point Comfort Boathouse

Diane Mannion, Point Comfort Boathouse, 6x8" oil
      Finally had a chance to get outside and paint this morning.  This is on Lemon Bay in Englewood, Fl.  Have been busy teaching and working on illustration projects... and getting ready for holiday family visitors.  Happy happy and merry merry everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mahogany Woman

Diane Mannion, Mahogany Woman, 20 x 16" oil
      This painting won the Bowles Portrait Award tonight at the Faces and Figures Show, Visual Art Center, Punta Gorda, Florida.  I'm deeply touched, thankful, and honored.

Monday, November 21, 2011

After Ingres

Diane Mannion, AFTER INGRES, 8x6" oil
      My tribute to Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1775-1867).  Old Masters learned by making copies of older master's works.  A hundred years ago when I was an art student (still and always a student)... my teachers had me study Ingres's work.  This was a class project for my students to create a painting out of Ingres's drawing, "Portrait of Victor Baltard's Wife and daughter, Paule."  
      While researching Ingres, I discovered this great quotation: "Drawing contains three quarter and a half of what constitues painting"...Ingres.  Ingres considered drawing to be superior to painting.  His favorite medium was pencil on paper.  He wouldn't have approved of my little painting because he didn't like to see any brushstokes showing.  He believed a painting was a window into reality and thought evidence of the artist's work was a distraction.  But I don't agree with him... I love to see brush work, to me it's part of what makes a painting.  
      Below is the first stage of this painting which I "drew" with a brush using burnt umber.  A demonstration to my students that painting IS drawing... with a brush instead of pencil:
 Diane Mannion, AFTER INGRES, sketch, 8x6"oil
      This is how the painting looked during my class demo, difficult to talk and paint at the same time.  I suffer from "exploding head syndrome" and realized later that more hair was needed, which would have the top of the hairdo right on the top margin... a "kissing" problem!  Had to give poor woman more hair in order to "bleed" off the top for better composition.  So there!   Two new artistic terms in one blog post.  Exploding head syndrome and kissing.   Now you know.  And the red stroke, bottom left (actually magenta) was an explanation to my students that the drawing on canvas can be done in any color.
      If you would like to see a copy of Ingre's drawing, please do a Google image search, it's easy to find.  (Did not want to get involved with copyright rules to show it here.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fat Cats

Diane Mannion, FAT CATS, 6x8" oil
      While I was painting in a rather upscale area of the historic district in Punta Gorda, Florida... these cats decided I was something new and interesting to watch.  Their heads followed the movement of my brush strokes.  Actually, there were three cats lined up thinking I was quite entertaining to watch... until I turned and aimed my camera at them.  One immediately left with his nose and tail in the air, quite put off that someone would take their photograph in front of their very own house.  The two remaining, painted above, pretended that I was not there at all and ignored me to the best of their abilities.  Notice, no eye contact, just a sideways glance, even in the photo.  Only the tail tips flicked and the ears were held back like they couldn't stand to look at me.  They disappeared soon after.
      Started this painting while teaching a class to demonstrate how to work from photos without becoming a gigantic copy machine. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beer Run

Diane Mannion, BEER RUN, 6x8" oil
      Man having a wonderful time puttering about the Intercoastal Waterway near Lemon Bay, Manasota Key, Florida. Couldn't think of a title, first thought One Happy Fella, or Small Boat Big Man... then John and I thought of the perfect title at the same time! Beer Run, which is most likely what was going on.  This little boat passed by one day while I was painting near the docks, the man waved while I zoomed in with my camera before he got away.  Always helps to have a camera handy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Got Fish

Diane Mannion, GOT FISH, 6x8" oil
      Who needs fish when the spot is as gorgeous as this?  Couple spending the morning at Boca Grand Pass, Florida.  Couldn't resist painting the red nylon gear and lunch bags.  Oh, and loved the way the light was shining through the gentleman's ears.  Doesn't take much for inspiration to strike around here!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Royal Marina View

Diane Mannion, Royal Marina View, 10x8" oil
      Even though I'm way behind in my Weekly Challenges, I decided to attempt the November Big Brush Challenge on Kevin Macpherson's AMO site.  And trying out these exercises help me decide how to torture my students in new ways.
        Royal Marina View was painted with only a #12 bristle brush (which is about an inch wide)... even for details.  It felt like painting with a broom!  But it's a way of getting out of the comfort zone.  Had to cut out a lot of details and zoomed in, way in, on the scene.  Originally had a stone wall and water's edge along the bottom and a small bridge on the left.  Wiped out my first session which was painted on site.  Second version painted from a snapshot and memory.  Was forced to concentrate on patterns, masses, and values.  Had to use lots of thick paint (which is a good thing).  Great exercise but can't wait to get back to my favorite #2s!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

6 Inch Squared Show

These three paintings are on the way to California for Randy Higbee's 6 Inch Squared, Fall 2011 Show!   I'm thrilled and honored to have my work juried into this show. 
Dec 3 - 23, Randy Higbee Gallery, 102 Kalmus Drive, Costa Rica, CA 92626 (714 546 2156).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Too Cute

Diane Mannion, TOO CUTE, 8x6" oil
     Painted for Carol Marine's Simplify Cute Challenge on  An excellent challenge... create  a painting from a cluttered photograph (provided by Carol Marine)... simply simplify.  Wonderful exercise for artists using photographs as reference.  This painting also started as a demo in a portrait class I taught today, then finished at home. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Queen Michele

Diane Mannion, QUEEN MICHELE, 8x6" oil
      It's so much fun painting portraits of people and friends I know!  This is Michele, Director and Queen of the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda, Florida... a FABULOUS place for artists!  
      I had been inspired by Lucian Freud's painting of the Queen (one of my favorite paintings which the Queen actually posed for!!!), thus the crown... and also a photo on the cover of the annual Women's issue of HARBOR STYLE magazine (March 2011) where the "Queens" of the local art world were featured dressed as royalty.  Michele was one of them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Week Later

Diane Mannion, ONE WEEK LATER, 6x8" oil
      Painted for a weekly challenge.  These pumpkins were sitting in the sun behind me while I painted the House on Gill Street last weekend.  Having a private chuckle... couldn't catch what they said but I bet it was nasty.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

House on Gill Street

Diane Mannion, House on Gill Street, 8x10" oil
      This painting won an award at the Artsensations plein air paintout yesterday in Punta Gorda.  Artists painted between 9am and 1pm on a beautiful, sunny and cool day.  It's amazing how much good work was created in such a short time.  While I painted, people stopped by to chat.   A few cats sat nearby fascinated by my brush moving across the canvas.  
      And at the other end of the street, artist Joe Palmerio painted a fantastic view of the purple house across from the Methodist Church.  He also won an award, well deserved!  
      As I look at my small reproduction online, I can see a few areas where my perspective is a bit wonky.  Easily fixed by adding a few bushes on the right side of the house.  There were no plantings around it, had to imagine the flowers out front.  Recently renovated, the building's grounds were bare except for grass.  There were garbage cans on the right side of the porch, not paint-worthy, so I added a bush.  But I'm pleased that I captured the morning sunlight and atmosphere of the neighborhood.  Punta Gorda's historic district is quaint and of my favorite places to paint.
      And here's the new, improved version!  What a difference a few plants make!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Diane Mannion, DENNIS, 10x8" oil
      Artists in the Venice Portrait Studio at VAC were thrilled today to have a handsome model with lots of character pose for us in his golf hat!  My favorite way to spend a rainy Friday afternoon painting with artist friends.  
      This painting was first sketched in burnt umber with a small brush.  Then while the model took his break, I mixed up piles of flesh tones, shirt, and background colors.  The session was two and a half hours, but excluding breaks... only about two hours to paint.  There's never enough time!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Diane Mannion, NAUTILUS, 36x48" oil
      Captain of  shrimp boat, Nautilus watching approaching storm in the Gulf of Mexico.  These big paintings take a lot more time than my little daily paintings, but I did paint daily... for hours and hours.  Will be entered into several competitions this season.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nautilus Study

Diane Mannion, Nautilus Study, 6x6" oil
      Head study for Nautilus, a large painting (30x40") that I'm working on.  This is the captain of the shrimp boat, Nautilus in the Gulf of Mexico.  Too busy painting to write much more today... deadlines, deadlines!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spanish Point Boats

Diane Mannion, Spanish Point Boats, 6x8" oil
      Quick demo study I painted during my Artists Bootcamp class this morning.  We had to paint inside because of the weather, so we did "pretend" plein air studies from some black and white photos I took at Spanish Point. 
      Started this painting by coating the panel with linseed oil and yellow ochre, then demonstrated a technique of "wiping off" the composition... barely indicating where the masses of darks and points of light would be.  
      Then using only red, yellow, blue, and white sketched in the areas with color.  Cerulean blue and white for the sky worked well with a touch of yellow ochre toning it down.  The yellow ochre was also a great help on the sails, only needed to add white.  
      Although the boat on the shore was white, I explained how the darks and lights had to be mixed to make a "darker" white for shadows.  Shared my favorite idea:  "If in doubt, use purple."  So, I mixed a purple to capture the darker value.  Mixed red and blue and yellow for the trim, which made a nice brown.  
      A few dabs of yellow to make a lighter green to highlight the trees, along with some lighter blue-green strokes to define the mass.  Also explained the miracle of "sky holes" in the trees, which are usually a darker shade of the sky (so they don't pop out).  Made the background softer and more blue to suggest distance.  Pumped up the bow of the foreground boat with a brighter red to make it stand out.  
      Discussed how I thought the center of interest was the sailboat... the brightest color set off by the darkest dark.  And noticed how the foreground boat also had strong values.  But the most interesting thing to me is the movement of the sailboat behind the foreground boat.  Maybe, there's a conflict of central interest?  Don't care, I like it the way it is.  Also mentioned edges... a important fundamental of painting.  Edges can be softened to indicate rounded form, can be lost and found, and can be sharp to pop forward.  Also talked about mixing color on the palette, putting down the strokes and letting them be with as little blending as possible.
      The composition of this painting has a strong diagonal element of darks and lights.  The horizon is not dead center, but higher.  
      We studied CF Payne's Forms of Composition such as the "Suspended Steelyard, Three spot, Group Mass, Balanced Scales, the O, the S or Compound Curve, the Tunnel, and the Diagonal Line."  Some artists like to diagram their compositions beforehand.  I see composition as visual music... if it looks right, it feels right, then it's fine with me.  But it does help to keep some of the formality of classic composition in mind.  For example, my favorite is the S curve... which is great for beach paths and forest trails.
       Color, composition, values, edges, brush stroke quality... almost all you need to know about painting.  Keep it simple. 
      This post is a long one!  Congrats if you made it this far, you get an A.  It's basically everything I stress in every class I teach.  And this last group of students has been a joy!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Diane Mannion, CATHY, 6x6" oil
      When Cathy's around the lights go on.  Filled with energy and constantly moving... hard to get her to stand still long enough to snap a photo.  Mover and shaker at the Punta Gorda Visual Arts Center!
      Painted over an old landscape with lots of texture.  Difficult painting, had two wipeouts!  A few beginning stages and a messy palette!:
First sketch over old landscape.
Cathy just before one of several wipeouts!
A wipeout...
and a messy palette which may have 
been why I struggled with this painting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Venice Pier Rain Clouds

Diane Mannion, VENICE PIER RAIN CLOUDS, 6X8" oil
      After a fabulous week in NYC (saw Lucian Freud at the Met!) it was refreshing to paint with my plein air friends again.  This is also the beginning of our busy season with lots artists returning.  (WELCOME HOME, TERRY!)  It was difficult to keep quiet and not exchange news and stories while we painted, but we were able to chat a few minutes before we ran from the rain.  Artists really need to focus while working and not talk.  Difficult for some tourists to understand.  Many of us will meet again at the ArtSensation'11 in Punta Gorda, November 5. 
      Finished this painting at home from a snapshot that really did not capture the magnificent color and light of the real scene.  Added a few more sea oats (there were some off to the left, but using my artistic license, I transplanted them with my brush to make this painting more visually exciting.  Artists are allowed to do this... and don't even need a permit.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Diane Mannion, MICHAEL, 6x6" oil
    Just could not capture the vibrant and colorful personality of this artist... will have to try again.  I like the way glasses glow though.  First stage sketch:

Monday, October 3, 2011


Diane Mannion, RICHARD, 6x6" oil
Retired Maine lobsterman, and three times courageous survivor of my Artists Bootcamp!  All those years of hauling traps and pulling lines were good practice for painting lines on paper and canvas.  A true and gentle artist with lots beautiful works still to come.
RICHARD at sketch stage

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Diane Mannion, SANDY, 6x6" oil
      One of my Artist Bootcamp students still surviving with her sunny personality intact.  
And here's the first stage sketch:

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Diane Mannion, CHUCK, 6x6" oil
      Another one of my talented and intense students.  Pushing the technique and color and trying to paint faster (no such luck).  Even though it looks like it was a speedy sketch... had to think about each brushstroke and color.  Continuing use of thick paint and minimal blending.
      Here's what it looked like at the first, sketch stage level:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Chef John Again

Diane Mannion, CHEF JOHN AGAIN, 8x6" oil
      Another view of Chef John who posed at the Venice Portrait studio again.  Yesterday, I painted a cowgirl yogi and today, a yogi chef.  In real life, John's a yoga instructor.  And for dinner he cooked a mean shrimp scampi! 
      Worked with lots of thick paint, putting strokes down and letting them be.  Painting the hat was like icing a cake.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cowgirl Yogi

Diane Mannion, COWGIRL YOGI, 10x8" oil
Yes, we have cowgirls in Florida, and ones that do yoga also.  This woman posed for three hours in a half-lotus position at the Punta Gorda Visual Arts Center portrait studio.  What a treat!  The lovely yogi woman was calm and cool while we suffered and sighed, moaned and groaned while slinging brushes and paint.  All in a hard day's morning for a group of enthusiastic artists.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Diane Mannion, LIONEL, 6x6" oil
      Another one of my talented Artist Bootcamp students.  I've always wanted to paint my students and this time I will!  Already have all of them at the first stage, at least for this class.  And I hope to paint students from the past that I still have photos of.
      Ran out of prepared panels so painted this one on top of an old plein air painting I didn't like anymore.  None of the old painting shows through in the finished stage, even though I usually like to save some of the original colors, but it caused me to use thicker paint strokes which is a good thing.  Here's the first stage sketched in burnt umber over a pond in Englewood:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Diane Mannion, JOAN, 6x6" oil
      Signs of Fall in Florida, instead of colorful leaves, there's the colorful license plates on snowbird's cars heading down here for the winter.  And shiny new faces filling up classes at the art centers.  This is one of my students doing an excellent job surviving my Artist's Bootcamp in Punta Gorda. 
      I used bright red as an underpainting, really makes the color snap.  This week's challenge at Daily Paintworks, posted by Ann Feldman, suggests using a vibrant color for the background... great fun!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chef John

Diane Mannion, CHEF JOHN, 10x8" oil
      We had a great time at the Venice Visual Arts Center portrait studio today.  Chef John posed in his chef's outfit complete with soup ladle and his classic, extra sharp Sabatier knife.  He said the old fashioned chef's hats aren't used much anymore.  But I wanted the "Mickey in the Night Kitchen" look, so I made the hat the night before.  He'll be back again next Friday, hope to see you all there.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Stroke At A Time

Diane Mannion, One Stroke At A Time, 18x24" oil
      Have been working on this for a couple of days and I promise you... the colors don't look anything like this.  It's very difficult to photograph a wet painting, especially with so many dark colors.  When this dries, I'll try to get a better shot.  Meanwhile, consider it stage 3 and below are the first two:
stage 1, ultramarine blue sketch
stage 2, worked on background

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Have Cake and Ate It Too

Diane Mannion, LAST CUPCAKE, 6x6" oil
Had my Artist's Bootcamp paint cupcakes today.  Oh, how I make them suffer.  But after finishing their masterpieces, I let them finish the cupcakes.  All except one which I took home and painted immediately before it was consumed.  Really have a wonderful group this session, even though they complain a lot about having tired fingers and artist's cramps.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Diane Mannion, AVOCADO, 6x6" oil
      Our friend has a thirty foot avocado tree and has a hard time selling or even giving away all the fruit.  One of the benefits of living in Florida!  Sliced this one to paint for the Daily Paintworks Weekly Challenge.  
      Painted directly from life, I thought the challenge interesting enough to do a demo.  Click the image below for larger view:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Woman With Colors 2

Diane Mannion, WOMAN WITH COLORS 2, 12x9" pastel
      It's been awhile since I worked in pastels.  This is the same model that posed last week for the Venice Art Center portrait studio.  The first, posted a few days ago, was in oil.  Getting ready for a pastel portrait show in October... this is the last in a group of seven I'll be exhibiting with two other artists.  More about the show later.
      My oil portrait, FLORIDA COWBOY, 24x18" oil, won a ribbon in the Englewood Art Center show this afternoon!  I'll be teaching a portrait workshop there next month, which I'll announce later, also (so many details, so little time).