Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Diane Mannion, FRANGIPANI, 8x10" oil
      This frangipani was growing on the lower branch of a huge tree in Boca Grande.   I've seen Farmers market venders sell cuttings in short sticks which can be planted simply by poking them into sandy soil here in Florida.  Frangipani has white or pink flowers that that have a strong, sweet aroma and have been used in perfume production.  
      Used my handy-dandy meat skewer stick to scratch the lines on the leaves.  Actually, this technique is called "sgraffito," an ancient method used by artisans, common in Italy, to decorate frescoes on plaster walls. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thai Pepper

Diane Mannion, THAI PEPPER, 3.5x2.5"oil on linen
Grabbed the first thing I saw to paint when I passed through the kitchen this morning.  Home-grown Thai pepper from John's earth box and an old spice jar with Italian seasoning.  Feel a little guilty posting these tiny ones... but they do work as place markers while I'm working on larger paintings.  ACEO, Snippet Series #9.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Banyan and Park

Diane Mannion, Banyan and Park, 2012 8x10" oil
Another Boca Grande painting, this house is on the corner of Banyan and Park.  I've painted it before, about a year ago.  2012 was painted on a cool, misty early morning.  And 2011 on a hot, sunny afternoon (image below).  Notice the Australian pine tree in the background has been taken down.  Too bad, it's one of the things I liked about the scene in 2011, a dark contrast. 
Diane Mannion, Banyan and Park, 2011, 6x8" oil

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mannion Paints Banyan Street

Diane Mannion, #100 Mannion Paints Banyan Street, 8 x10" oil
My hundredth painting for 2012 (about 670 since starting my blog in 2008)!  And I'm happy my 100th is of Banyan Street in Boca Grande, Florida, one of my favorite places to paint.  We're not supposed to plant these gorgeous trees anymore because the roots travel for hundreds of feet and have been known to crack foundations and swimming pools.  This street in Boca Grande is famous, usually a tourist stop for photos during season.  These old trees have survived many hurricanes and are still standing.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Diane Mannion, JOHN, 8x10"oil
      John posed for us at the Venice Art Center today for about two hours.  He had to leave right before the last twenty minute sitting, so this is unfinished and I'll consider it a sketch.  I always hope to smooth things out and bring the whole portrait together at the end by adding highlights and dark accents, and  those all important final dramatic brushstrokes with thick paint.  But I'll leave it as it is and call it "practice." 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Venice Beach, July

Diane Mannion, Venice Beach, July, 8x10" oil
      Venice Beach, Florida.   The sky was a little hazy because of all the Sahara dust.  Vast clouds are traveling across the Atlantic, causing gorgeous sunsets, adding soil to the Amazon rainforest, limiting the formation of hurricanes, and causing breathing problems for a few poor souls.  Never knew this!  About a billion tons of the stuff swirls high above us every year! 
      Here's a photo of my paintbox sprinkled with Sahara dust:
      And here's a photo of a cicada that flew into another artist's green paint:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Purple Lilies

Diane Mannion, Purple Lilies, 6x6" oil
And then there are days when everything goes well!  Worked on marketing, packing, wrapping, shipping, and designing new business cards all morning.  Wasn't able to start this until mid-afternoon and then the chef called me to dinner.  Scratched my name on it and let it go before overworking.  And I like it the way it is. 
      Worked with Prussian blue for the drawing and like the way it shows through here and there.  A great cool blue.  Permanent rose mixed well with it for the purple.  And magenta and alizarin crimson for the darks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Diane Mannion, CHEESE, 3.5x2.5" oil on linen
      This was the second painting I did today... the first was a complete wipe-out!  And it was a much larger one, a landscape I had attempted before.  There are days like this, fortunately not too many.  And if it were easy every time, well, that could be boring.  
      I've been doing a lot of reading about how other artists work, and reviewing all the fundamentals, getting prepared to teach in the Fall.  All this information buzzing around in my head slows down the process when I paint.  I can hear myself teach!  Yikes!  I have to absorb these ideas and then let them go, and let the painting happen more intuitively.  
      I can't play the piano but I think it must work something like that.  Practicing the scales until it becomes a habit.  Time to move on to the next painting.  And I kind of like my cheese painting... just practice!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bird Cage Cottage

Diane Mannion, Bird Cage Cottage, 6x8" oil
Took my dog for a walk around Boca Grande this morning, a lovely island only minutes away from my house.   Did a few sketches but the mosquitoes were swarming, (a cloud around Shadow's head), so took lots of photo reference and finished this in the studio.  Even though this cottage wasn't the most charming on Boca, I loved the name on the gate... The Bird Cage.  And while driving off the island, a helicopter was just about to spray the area for mosquitoes where I would have been painting. Phew!  Close call.  Another danger of plein air painting.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Snippet Series #7

Diane Mannion, Snippet Series #7, 3.5x2.5"oil on linen
      Antique Hood cream or milk pint bottle, another one from my collection.  Painting clear glass is scary!   Had to forget I was painting glass and just think about shapes and colors,  putting them together like a puzzle.  And there's really no such thing as white, even the whitest white had a touch of lemon yellow for a warm highlight or blue for cool.  And the same for the background... all just mixtures of red, yellow, blue, and white. 
      It's Sunday and I didn't have a chance to paint.  With family and friends and all the wild parties going on... was happy to have this little one I did a few days ago to post.  Have plans to get out and paint in the morning before the afternoon thunderstorms kick in.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Snippet Series #4

Diane Mannion, Snippet Series #4, 3.5x2.5"oil
Painting on linen of antique container... Expello, Kills Moth Worms, For use in the Electrolux cleaner.  There's a date on the back of the can, 1937.  Never heard of moth worms, guess it worked.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Purple Pond

Diane Mannion, PURPLE POND, 10x8"oil

    I don't think this pond, which was located on a farm near Arcadia, had a name.  Was just a puddle which probably dries up when the Florida rainy season's over.  A baby alligator swam in between the lily pads watching me while I wondered where the mother was.   I kept well back from the water's edge and painted fast.  This was completed later in the safety of my studio.  
      Named the pond Purple because I painted with a purple and yellow palette.  Have been reading "The Yin/Yang of Painting" by Hongnian Zhang and Lois Woolley.  (Recommended by Carol Marine). Thought I knew just about everything there was to know about mixing paints but this book is an eye-opener.  I won't get into all of it here but it's worth researching on your own.  The book's available on Amazon.  
      It's all about opposites.  Yin and yang.  There are three palettes made up of the three opposite colors plus black (black!) and white.  The red/green palette.  Purple/yellow.  And blue/orange.  Opposite colors vibrate when next to each other and also mute each other when mixed.  
     The colors in the painting above were all mixed with yellow and purple, black and white.  A warm, a true, and a cool is used for both colors.  Amazing how the colors seemed natural... black and yellow make wonderful greens.  And black and white (like the Zorn palette) make an almost blue.  But boy, did I ever miss my ultramarine
      He's a photo of the baby gator!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

White Peacock

Diane Mannion, White Peacock, 8x6" oil

   This magnificent bird put on quite a show at Doc's Farm, Florida.  Painted there for a morning with several artists while peacocks were blooming all around us.  Here's a photograph of this fellow doing his dance before he flew up to stand on the hot, tin roof.
      All the other peacocks were the usual colorful kind, but this white one was a wonder!  It was amazing to hear the rattle of feathers while they strutted their stuff.  All the hens, dressed in rather drab colors, did their best to ignore the mating dances.
      I did two small studies before painting the final that helped me decide on composition and colors.  And not wanting to "waste" any thumbnail sketches, I polished and signed them as finished.
Diane Mannion, Snippet Series #5, 3.5x2.5"oil on linen

Diane Mannion, Snippet Series #6, 3.5x2.5 oil on linen

   I liked both thumbnail studies, but picked the first one for the final because it best showed the bird up on the roof. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Snippet Series #3

Diane Mannion, Snippet Series #3, 3.5x2.5"oil on linen
      These tiny paintings are handy to post when I'm working on larger paintings that aren't ready to show yet.  And this one goes well with the two posted before.  
      I've painted this jar many times!  It's a gift from a friend, a sample of Steven Assael's painting medium with the recipe hand-printed on the label.  I still haven't tried it.

    ***My work is now in the DAILY PAINTERS GALLERY!!  I'm honored to be sharing cyberspace with some of my favorite artists.  It will be a continuing challenge to strive for their level of achievement.  I'm thrilled!  
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Snippet Series #2

Diane Mannion, Snippet Series #2, 3.5x2.5"oil on linen
      Had planned on painting outside but another rainy day kept me in the studio.  Hey, it's not just the rain, it's Floridian lightning!  Continued with the ACEO format... tiny!  When there's finally a break in the weather, I'll head out and paint some of these little ones as thumbnail sketches.  Would be interesting to do a few before starting a larger painting.  
      After "loosening" up my style for the last few months, it was relaxing to slow down and really look at all the miniscule details and color changes.  Painting from life instead of a photo is good exercise.  The eye sees so much more than a camera.  And still life setups, well... hold still long enough to study them well.
      Did lots of squinting, trying to see the larger areas of color.  Enjoyed adding "extra" details just for the heck of it.  Attempted to work in patches of color, putting strokes down and not always blending.  Really tried to clean the brush by pulling paint off after every stroke.  Actually, two if I used both sides of a flat.  Used thick and thin areas of paint, letting the brushstokes show.  The more I looked, the more I saw and  would still be painting if I hadn't put the brush down and said, "Enough already!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Snippet Series #1

Diane Mannion, SNIPPET SERIES #1, 3.5x2.5"oil
      I'm a huge fan of Duane Keiser's Oddments (tiny paintings).   So when this week's DailypaintWorks.com Challenge was suggested... I was delighted.  The Paint It Small Challenge, suggested by David Lloyd, is to paint an ACEO (2.5 x 3.5) size.  Also referred to as Artist Trading Cards or ATCs.  ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals.  Just checked Ebay, there are currently 7,537 originals available... only 336 oils, 2027 watercolors.
      It's a handy exercise for using left over paint at the end of the day.  And when time is short, a way to practice those painting strokes and technique and still have something to show for it.  Really fun!  Now I know why I've collected all those tiny antique bottles. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sun Tunes

Diane Mannion, SUN TUNES, 6x6" oil
      There's a bench outside the kitchen window next to a potted palm that casts gorgeous shadows in the morning.  John was out there listening to music and I shouted, "Don't move!"  Grabbed my camera and snapped away.  Wanted to continue my theme on painting from photos, (it's endless) so I painted Sun Tunes from that snapshot.
      Recently, I downloaded a few ebooks of artist's paintings... Sorolla, and others.  Some of these ebooks have 300+ paintings.  While flipping through these pages, evidence of photographic reference was obvious to me.  This was the dawn of the photography age, Sorolla even did a painting of his photographer.  And though he also painted from life, I'm pretty sure he once in awhile used (gasp) photographs as reference.  I'm sure the oxen that pulled the fishing boats out of the surf didn't hold still long enough for Sorolla to paint from life.  And neither did the children playing at the waters edge.  Yes, his paintings are beautiful, but I suspect he used the photograph as a tool.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  It's what he did with this tool, how he used it to achieve his vision that counts.  After all, everyone has heard of Vermeer using the camera obscura, and that was long before Sorolla.
   It's what the artist does with these photographic images to create a painting that matters.  Take for instance, Joseph Raphael's watercolors.  Videos online show his painstaking technique of tracing projected images with a pencil.  But it's where he takes it from there that matters!  His paintings are fabulous.
    Another example of art merged with photography is the work of Chuck Close.  Photography is central to his work, but it's his vision that makes the paintings come to life. 
     So what does this have to do with my daily paintings?  Sometimes, a gesture, a moment, an inspiration of light striking an object or person can only be captured by the photograph.  No time to set up the plein air easel at those times.  But the photographic image is not enough for me.  The challenge is translating this digital reference into living paintings.   I'd much rather be painting from life but not everything holds still long enough.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Double Vision

Diane Mannion, DOUBLE VISION, 6x6" oil
Fortunately, I had a camera handy when an artist friend looked up from her drawing and said... "I've GOT to get new glasses."  
I find it harder to work from photos than from a live model.  It's difficult to stay loose and spontaneous and not have it turn out looking like a stiff photo.  After all, WE ARE NOT COPY MACHINES.  We're artists!  And a painting should look like a painting, not a reproduction.  Touchy subject.  A camera is a great tool but that image should not be the final goal.  The artist should use photos (and only photos taken by them) as a reference or starting point.  Then the painting should take on a life of its own based on visual memory, experience, and emotions.  Therefore, the more an artist paints from life... the easier it will be to transform photo reference into vibrant works.  At least that's one of my goals. 

Friday, July 13, 2012


Diane Mannion, PENESHA, 10x8" oil
Raw footage (as in an unedited film) of my painting sketch from the Venice Portrait Studio this afternoon... untouched, just a 2 and a half hour session with an awesome model!  She didn't even want breaks but we did!  And wonderful painting surrounded by old (not in age) friends on a Friday afternoon.  I've been inspired by Rose Krantzen's video on portrait painting.  Google her work... it's fabulous and so is her video.!  I heard her voice in my head while painting... "That's OK, I can change that..." 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Nod to Monet

Diane Mannion, A NOD TO MONET, 16x20"oil
Each year the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda, Florida picks an artist from history for the Fine Arts Festival theme.  This year it's Monet.  Painted this with his impressionistic style in mind and had a lot of fun with it.  
The painting progression follows (please click for larger image):

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Paddle Practice

Diane Mannion, PADDLE PRACTICE, 8x6"oil
      Little boy getting ready to head out for a morning paddle with his dad.  I watched them from a spot in the shade where I was painting.  The river was calm and glittered in the sun, and once in a while an alligator moved slowly along the edge.  All Floridians know the size of a gator is measured between the nose and eyes, the only thing that appears above the water while they're swimming.  It's one inch to a foot.  The ones in the area were about four to eight inches which meant they were four to eight feet long.  There's always a sense of danger in Florida with people so near the wildlife.  And when tourists come from other areas they might not be aware.  Fortunately, this canoe came back at noon with only sunburned noses and smiles.  Guess I have gators on my mind today because of two recent attacks down here this year.  I won't go into the gory details.     
      So Paddle Practice was also practice for me... pushing the paintbrush, a safe distance away from the water's edge.  Every painting is a balance between taking risks where alligators lie just below the surface,  and playing it safe... just treading water. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beach Equipment

Diane Mannion, BEACH EQUIPMENT, 6x6" oil
      The beaches around here are a constant parade of colorful characters.   A treat for artistic eyeballs...  a wealth of shapes, movement, sunlight and shadows!  And the ever changing blue-green Gulf!  This is why I love living in Florida.
      I paint at the beach often and I take lots of photos.   It helps to aim at a friend or relative and actually zoom in on a stranger, an interesting subject totally unaware.  Sometimes I swing my camera after a bird and shoot folks on the way, they never know it's them I'm after.  I take care when painting from my own reference photos to change people's identities.  The woman above was given a facelift, weight, age reduction, and sunburn lightening.  
      "Good day to go to the beach and watch the tourists burn," a local radio host announces almost every day.  I use a lot of cadmium red.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On A Clear Day She Can See Forever

Diane Mannion, On A Clear Day She Can See Forever,
16x20" oil 
This is the fourth week I've been working on larger paintings that seem to take forever compared to my small, daily paintings.  But after winning a major award with a larger painting, I feel an obligation to push onward and upward with this size.  The challenge for me now is to do both at the same time!  
I've documented my struggle (please click on it for a larger view):