Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Window View

North View, 6x6" oil
The weekly challenge ( http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenges )is to paint a view from a window in your house.  This is what I see from my front studio window.  My neighbor's yard across the road is always filled with flowers, gazing balls, and flamingos... even has a flock of flamingos that glow in the dark.  A constantly changing exhibit that matches the seasons.  Our yard has been hit hard by two nasty winters, lost several palm trees in the island garden that the hose is leading into.  And the scrawny bush on the left, once a huge traveler's palm, now reduced to a few torn leaves.  But the Purple Queen and the blue lobelia are starting to grow back.  And the cardboard palm, the big plant on right, was saved by covering it with blankets during the cold snap.  Gardening in Florida is tough!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Portrait Studio

An Irish Lad, 6x6" oil
Great way to spend a Friday afternoon in the company of many talented artists at the Venice Portrait Studio, VAC.  This handsome man posed for us with patience and dignity and also managed not to fall asleep.  Had planned on just letting the top of his hair bleed off, but I suffer from an artist's term called "exploding-head-syndrome."  My original sketch kept getting bigger and bigger until he not only lost the top of his hair but half his skull.  Sometimes, the brush controls the artist.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chadwick Park Plein Air

Crab Boat, 6x6" oil
Perfect plein air painting conditions this morning in Chadwick Park.  Most of the tourists have left and we had the place to ourselves.  Fine views of fishing boats across the channel.  Cool breeze, shade, time flew by too fast.  Ended with lunch at the Lock and Key with lovely lady artist friends. 
Have painted this crab boat before, it looks like a mistake from the beginning because of the cabin position near the bow, built that way so the captain can look down and spot the traps.  This scene has a lot more "clutter," had to force myself to simplify.  Liked the orange reflections in the water from the life raft on the boat's roof.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weekly Challenge

My Sister, 6x6" oil
This week's challenge was tough!  http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenges.  For oils, only burnt umber and mineral spirits could be used. It's a value study or a grisaille, used by some artists for an underpainting.  I worked on heavy textured gesso, thought it would be a good way to camouflage wrinkles.  Q-tips, rags and brushes with mineral spirits were used for taking paint away.  After I signed it, I discovered my meat skewer made really nice hair lines.  Scraffito, an Italian word for scratching,  is an ancient technique also used in pottery, and after mosquitoes bite.  THIS WAS MY 100TH PAINTING FOR THIS YEAR!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flower Painting

Zinnia, 6x6" oil
Painted alla prima, wet into wet, in an afternoon. 

Monday, May 23, 2011


Neon Eggplant, 6x6" oil
 These are Neon eggplants discovered at the market this weekend, never knew there was such a thing. Added the red Thai peppers from our plant in the yard.  Thought this would be an easy painting.  Ha!  The eggplants and peppers were a snap... it was the plate that took longest.  Painted from life, I looked down on the setup from an angle.  Perspective was tricky.  Sometimes, sketchy and loose painting hides lots of glitches.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Portrait of a Lady 2

Barbara, 10x8" oil
This is the same model as yesterday's post, a week later at Venice Art Center.  I suggested she wear a hat so she borrowed one from her mother.  It was brown, so I changed it to purple.  Artists are allowed to do that!  And the background was an orange color so I changed it to blue green for more contrast with the flesh color and dress.  It's all fun.  Like this one a lot better than the previous post.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Portrait Demo of a Lady

Lady, 10x8" oil
Painted from model at the Venice Portrait Studio, VAC.  Brought my camera along and took photos each time the model took a break.  The photos below look a lot lighter because of the working lights in the portrait studio room.  The finished sketch above was scanned into my computer and looks darker, but is closer to the "real colors."  Anyway, here's a peek at my process (struggle).
Rapid block in after first pose.
After second pose.
Third pose.
Fourth pose.  
And finished after fifth pose.  Really like how it looks after the 4th, and wish my colors were actually that bright in the finish. 

Friday, May 20, 2011


Clay Whistle, 6x6" oil
Yes, I made the whistle myself and it really whistles!  Went through a brief period of playing with clay, even have a potter's wheel and kiln... am darn good at throwing pots!  That's the danger of being an artist, at least for me.  I'm easily distracted.  Fortunately my favorite thing to do is paint.  I realize if I ever want to get any good at it, like a musician, it's practice practice practice.  And most important for me, FOCUS. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Plein Air with Gators

Koi Pond, 6x6" oil
Painted at a local nursery this morning with two other brave artists while alligators croaked in a nearby lake (sounding like dogs or giant bullfrogs).  We were told there were about seven or eight gators around and to keep an eye out, one was about nine feet long.  It's the middle of mating season and they're CRANKY! 
Gators had even been seen in the little koi pond I was painting.  Wondered how koi could still be there and was told they have caves to hide in.  So we spent the morning keeping one eye on our work and the other looking out for giant, hungry, horny snappers.  We could have been dragged away as gator snacks or worse.  "How we suffer for our art," Ginny said at lunch.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Wave Painting Today, Sorry.

Betty, 6x6" oil

Spent the morning painting waves at the beach.  Stood my easel at the edge of the surf and looked straight out at the blue green water.  The sparkling waves glittered in the sun.  Cerulean blue sky with perfect puffy clouds.  Trouble was, nothing held still... think I painted ten different versions on the same 8x10 inch panel.  My mind could see what I wanted to paint but my brushes wouldn't produce.  Snapped a few photos and went home thinking I could touch the painting up and pull it through, but the photos did not capture the form and movement and color I saw.  So today was a total wipeout.  Doesn't happen that often, thank heavens.  But I'm determined to spend more time at the beach  painting waves until I get them right.  So today's daily painting is a portrait of Betty I did a few weeks ago.  Sorry.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interior Exterior Painting

Tin Pail and Roses, 8x10" oil
Found this pail at Home Depot... never know where you'll discover the next still life object.  Rushed home, put it in front of a window and painted away.  Reminds me of a series of "window" paintings I did years ago,  interior and landscape painting at the same time.  Or it could be a floral, still life, interior, and landscape.  Add a figure and every genre could be painted at once! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cat Weekly Challenge

Cat That Ate the Canary, 6x6" oil
Couldn't resist painting this hairy thing for this week's Weekly Challenge: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenges .  I don't like working from a photo taken by someone else, but this is for the Challenge and Dreama Tolle Perry (this week's challenge artist) is right, it's interesting to see how one photo can be interpreted through a few hundred different eyeballs.  And it's exciting to reach the point, when working from a photo, that the painting takes on a life of its own. 
Reference photos can be a useful tool, especially when painting animals or the way light hits a flower.  I think it takes a lot of painting from life to really understand light and color, eyes see more than a camera can.  Direct painting can increase the ability to see through the photo and paint more life into it. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Florida Plein Air

Lemon Bay from the Funeral Parlor, 6x6" oil
Some of the best views are in the most unlikely places.  This was painted from the funeral parlor parking lot at the end of Dearborn Street in Englewood.  Other painters from the Lemon Bay Plein Air group were gathered under the shade of trees in a nearby grassy area.  I stuck it out under the sun at the edge of the water because the view was splendid, but had to paint fast.  Not only sun, but ants... fireants were swarming around my legs.  At least they caused me to change my technique into something looser and speedier. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Plein Air

Placida Cottage, 6x6" oil

Painted with the Lemon Bay Plein Air Painters this morning in Placida, the Fish Market area.  This little cottage has always enchanted me.  Had to simplify, removing flower pots and another heron stature.   A pleasant change from all the vegetable painting this week.  (The Challenge is still on: http://dianemannionpaintings.blogspot.com/ ).  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Weekly Challenge Fries

Small Fries, 4x6"oil
A little something to balance all the healthy goodness in my Paint Your Vegetable Challenge.  Loved how the grease glowed right through the bag.  Had to paint this fast before the fries got cold.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weekly Challenge

Garlic on Spoon Dish, 6x8" oil

Another painting for the Weekly Challenge: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenges .  This one took a lot longer than the usual two to three hours for these small paintings because of all the details in the spoon dish.  The more I looked,  the more I saw...  could have gone on even longer.  Have to decide when it's enough and works as it is, difficult to know when to stop.  There's that old saying, it takes two to paint, one to push the brush and another to yank the brush away.  Good thing John needed the garlic for the pasta sauce or I'd still be working on it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekly Challenge

Red Pepper, 6x6" oil

Painting lots of vegetables this week because it's my idea on the Weekly Challenge... check it out!  Lots of terrific paintings there already.  http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenges

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekly Challenge!!!

Asparagus, 6x6" oil

I'm so excited!  It's my idea this week for the weekly challenge, check it out:  http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenges .

Friday, May 6, 2011

Still Life Painting

My Mug, 6x6" oil

My favorite coffee mug, can't start the day without it.  A still life set up in the corner doesn't take up much space and it's good having something in the works at all times.  With all the speedy plein air paintings and fast portrait sketches I've been doing lately, it's like taking a break...  painting slower.   A daily meditation, wish I could remember which artist said, " painting is like a prayer."
After a quick Google search came up with a couple of quotes, not the artist I'm trying to remember but worth sharing:
Sister Wendy Beckett, "All great art is a visual form of prayer."
Wassily Kandinsky, "The word composition moved me spiritually and I made it my aim in life to paint a composition.  It affected me like a prayer and filled me with awe."  
(Found this quote on Robert Genn's, The Painter's Keys: http://www.painterskeys.com/ ).
So get busy and set up a painting shrine next to your yoga mat!
Here's a link to the fabulous potter that made my mug:www.sanantoniopottery.net , Jack Boyle.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weekly Challenge Portrait

My Painting Hat, 6x6" oil

This is my entry to the Weekly Challenge: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/Challenge .  Carol Marine was right,  she said, " a self portrait is frickin' hard!"  Loved the way my hat came out so had to finish it...  I'm really much more beautiful, younger and thinner.  After awhile it became an illustration of me instead of a portrait, more of a caricature. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spanish Point Boatyard

NANCY'S FANCY, 6x6" oil

Couldn't resist painting this boat because of the dramatic light hitting the stern.  Locked in  light areas first because they never appeared the same way again.  The dark workshop area in the background provided great contrast for the sun-dapples.  I took reference photos of this scene but the camera could not capture the true quality of light and color that I saw while painting outside.  The camera could not capture the colors and contrasts that I witnessed with my eyes.  This is why it's a good idea to paint things from life once in a while.  It will help you adjust what the photograph is missing and the camera cannot see when you do use photo reference.  Eyes see much more than the camera.  Painting on location also captures the feeling of being there, a spontaneous snapshot of a moment in time.  SOLD

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Venice Plein Air

Shade Pavilion View, 6x6"oil

Painted this one during my lunch break on the same day as yesterday's post.  I was careful to avoid the deadly piece of concrete, although I did notice a bloody sidewalk.  Half-crazed from standing in the sun all morning, the cool shade of Venice Beach's new pavilion felt wonderful.  Problem was, I'd left my paints and linseed oil in the car and was too lazy to walk back over.   So painted this without any medium and used the leftover colors inside my paintbox.  Nice thing about oils, stays dry inside  my EasyL pochade box for days, even weeks.   And the town of Venice is constantly planting new palm trees, these still had the wooden supports attached to hold them up, but using my artistic license left them out.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beach Painting

Venice Beach Looking North, 6x6" oil

Beautiful day last week painting with the Plein Air Painters of Florida group.  Clouds and waves made perfect patterns.  Two artists rushing around to great everyone, stumbled over the same piece of concrete at different times and were terribly bruised!  How they suffered  for their art.  One stood painting for hours with an ice pack on her face.  Painted with the same artist today and noticed how that face planting has bloomed as it heals into every shade of magenta,  puce,  and pea soup green!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The Hermitage
Lovebugs have been flying like slow, drifting clouds of black snow here this week.  Painted with a group of artists at The Hermitage (an artist retreat in Sarasota County).   Many artists fled, but I stuck it out while the lovebugs stuck to my palette.  

Here’s everything you should know  about lovebugs while watching them smash into your windshield.  And remember to wear sunglasses and keep your mouth shut, or hold your teeth closed like a grill, especially while riding your bike.

Urban legend.  Lovebugs are synthetic!  A genetic experiment that went wrong at the University of Florida to fight mosquitoes.  

Lovebugs... Plecia nearctica Hardy (honeymoon bugs, kissing bugs), are small black flies about a third of an inch long.  They invaded Florida sometime around 1947 from Central America through Texas and Louisiana.  Useful in the larval stage, eating rotting vegetation, but when mature have two flights a year which last about four to five weeks.  They swarm in the thousands, flying in tandem while mating for several days.  Females only live two or three days and can lay up to 350 eggs. 

They don’t bite or sting, just tickle when crawling on your neck.  They are attracted to light colors, especially fresh paint (see photo of my palette!  White is their favorite color).

They seem to be attracted to auto exhaust and hang around highways and intersections.  They spatter windshields and obscure visibility.  Turning on windshield wipers will only smear them worse.  They can clog radiators, screens in front of grills help, or driving at night (they only fly in the day).  They should be washed off cars immediately because the acid in their bodies can damage paint.  Some people use baby oil or WD-40 on their fancy cars so the critters will wash off easier.  I just drive an old wreck with a good film of dirt.

At least there was one good thing about the lovebugs yesterday at the Hermitage, we got invited back to paint again on a less buggy day.