Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Garden Center

Garden Center, 8x10" o/c, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Geraniums, Marigolds, Petunias!

Painted at a local nursery this morning... an artist's delight!  Colorful compositions and hundreds of painting possibilities everywhere I looked.  A mockingbird sang nearby almost drowning out the awful piped music.  

Why do establishments have to do this?  Do they think everyone has the same taste in music?  Listening to water splashing in the garden fountains and the birds singing would be enough. Will be painting here often, but next time I'm wearing earplugs.  

Sorry about sounding off on my musical crankiness.  Other than that, it was a pleasant morning and I'm pleased with my sketch.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Gardenia Tree

Gardenia Tree, 5x7" o/c, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Our Garden

Painted in our garden this morning where I grow flowers to paint and John grows things to eat.  Surrounded by tubs of potatoes, rosemary, and Thai basil, I set up my easel in the sun near my gardenia tree.  Painted fast and jumped around while red ants nipped at my ankles.  Field studies are never easy, even in your own backyard.
 Experimented with burnt sienna acrylic for the drawing stage while wearing sunglasses.  No need to see color at this stage, just composition.  And inspired by reading how another artist worked, I positioned a viewfinder and attempted to work site-size.  Didn't work for me, at least with this study.  I like to pull things in from outside the viewing frame area, leave things out, and make stuff up. It's too much fun pushing paint around the way I want it to be.  Perhaps, if I had more patience and wanted to make a "photographic" copy of what I was looking at...  Anyway, had to finish before the Floridian sun burned a hole in my head.  Note to self: Paint in the shade or set up an umbrella!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ran's View

Ran's View, 6x8" oil on canvas, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Plain View Challenge

The view across a canal in Englewood looking towards the woods was plain and not-so-simple.  Challenged myself to find one tree to focus on and isolate it from the background.
Here's the view.  Too much green!
And to make it even more difficult, I painted on top of an old portrait study... hope this man's ears weren't ringing!
My thumbnail sketch.
Here's how it looked after one hour.
Hmmm.... I like this stage better, but fiddled for another hour attempting to bring it to it's final glory.  Maybe I should let plein air paintings, like sleeping dogs... lie!

Friday, April 25, 2014

City Jail

City Jail, 5x7" oil on canvas, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Anna Maria Island

Joined the Light Chasers yesterday to paint on Anna Maria Island.  This is the City Jail with a hand-lettered jingle: "No Roof, No Doors, No Windows, No Bars, No Guests for Yrs n Yrs... Anna Maria City Jail... air conditioned."
Thumbnail sketch
Took a little over an hour to paint on location while chatting with dozens of tourists.  Took two hours to drive there from Englewood, and three home after taking a wrong turn.  Hadn't been to Anna Maria in over fifteen years... changed completely from what I remember.  But still lots of charm, interesting cottages, and beautiful beaches, too. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bay Preserve Paths

Bay Preserve Paths, 7x5" oil on linen, plein air
©Diane Mannion

Small study painted in Osprey yesterday.  Thought a 7x5" would be fast... wrong!  Have been obsessed with tree studies lately but should have picked a less complicated view.  Simplified background, made it lighter and more blue for atmospheric perspective.  Pleased with the light, color, and the feeling of the moment.  
Started with yellow ochre drawing and began block-in.
Thumbnail sketch.  Had to "transplant" a few trees to fit my design.
Signed it with out any more fiddling.  Have ruined too many field studies by tinkering later in the studio.  There's a feeling of immediacy that's lost when these studies are touched up later on.  Perhaps a stroke or two, a finger smudge but nothing more.  Much better to use them as reference for new paintings.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Port Charlotte Beach

Port Charlotte Beach, 6x8" oil on linen, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Pushing Paint

A treat painting this morning with the VAC Punta Gorda group, but only had half an hour before clouds moved in.  Held onto the shadows and finished from imagination.  Playing with thicker paint and pushing color.  Thinking warm/cool, dark/light.
 Here's my three value thumbnail sketch showing dark, light, and mid-value patterns:
 And this is the block-in stage:
 This just in from VAC Punta Gorda FB page... my setup:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Sarasota Bay

Little Sarasota Bay, 6x6" oil on canvas, ©Diane Mannion

Watercolor Warm-ups

Painted with a lot of artists and friends from the VAC Punta Gorda Plein Air Painters today at the Bay Preserve in Osprey.  Flattered so many saw my solo show in the mansion and thankful that Suzanne ran up and down the stairs to let everyone in.
Eileen watching me paint.
Photo of myself as a living billboard!
Eileen's gorgeous oil on left, and my watercolor, and oil block in.
 (photos courtesy of Sharon Yarbrough, Fearless leader of VAC Plein Air Group)

Magic happens when artists line up their paintings and compare notes afterwards.  Compliments and tips are plentiful.  These mini-crits are a way of learning and growing.  Looking forward to painting with this group again.

Instead of my usual black and white thumbnail drawings before starting an oil... I've been doing watercolor sketches.  First sketched lightly with a sienna watercolor pencil which blended in when painted over.  Here's this morning's warm-up:
Little Sarasota Bay, 6x6" wc on hotpress paper, ©Diane Mannion

Please visit my show, 9-4 Mon-Fri, ring bell at mansion.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wave After Wave

Diane Mannion, Wave After Wave, 8x10" oil on canvas


As an artist in perennial transition, my work comes in waves caused by an unceasing desire to sharpen skills and deepen concepts.  Why do I paint?  What do I paint?  What's my motivation?
Aside from all the glory and fame... there's a need to buy more art supplies, frames, and pay a few bills.  There's also the obsession and sheer love of what I do.  

Changing mediums between oil, pastel, and watercolor helps me "see" subjects, composition, and colors from a different perspective.  Pastels inform color visualization and rapid drawing notations.  Watercolors allow for playful dabbling and quick sketches.  However, watercolor is the most difficult medium to control.  Perhaps, I should let accidents happen rather than trying to control them! 
(Note to self: Have fun.)

My watercolor, View from Boathouse was a pleasure to paint while sitting on the Bay Preserve boathouse steps.  Thought I'd simply take a few color notes and work out composition for an oil painting, but this took on a life of it's own... so I'll let it be.  Next week I'll attempt an oil from the same spot.  I learned a lot by doing this watercolor, so it should be easy.  Right?

Diane Mannion, View from Boathouse, 5x5" watercolor

Style and Branding are artistic buzz words a lot of artists worry about.  Rather than get locked into one style, one subject, landscape, figurative, or still life... I think it's in the artist's best interest to practice every discipline.  Landscapes, especially field studies, develops color sense.  Figurative and portraits develop drawing skills.  Still lifes develop composition abilities.  Like changing mediums, one informs the other.  Practice in all categories creates a better artist! 

And while I'm on this rant and rave... switching from field studies and plein air paintings to studio work is also important.  Working both small and large and larger still!  Studio experiments and lessons learned will help tremendously when back out in the field.  Yin and yang.  Metamorphosis. Never stop growing as an artist.  If you do... you're finished!  An artist's work is never done.

Please visit my show, Mon-Fri 9-5, ring bell at mansion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Art Student

The Art Student, 12x9" oil on linen
©Diane Mannion

Rainy day studio painting.  When I took the reference photo, it was the first time ever for this artist to paint outside. Have changed her a lot... reduced age from fifty-something to twenty-something.  In the watercolor study yesterday (which already found a new home!), reduced the art student to about twelve.  Think it's time to paint another self-portrait... and shrink my age too!

Now until May 30, ring the bell at the mansion and someone will let you in:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Art Student

Diane Mannion, Art Student, 5x6" watercolor

One morning in Punta Gorda, after I chased my class outside to paint, I was struck by the dramatic light patterns falling on this student.  Even though we should paint from life as much as possible...the camera is a useful tool for capturing transient effects.

It's been awhile since I've felt like painting with watercolor.  It's the medium I used most as an illustrator, so to me, watercolor is work.  Aside from a year long obsession with pastel, oil is the medium I love most.  This watercolor started as a class demo and is also a small study for a larger oil painting in progress. 

I rate the mediums like this:  Watercolor...MOST difficult.  Oils... easiest by far!
Pastels and acrylic fall somewhere in the middle.  Students are always shocked to hear this!  Most beginners want to start with watercolors.  And many want to start with portraits... also the most difficult subject.

On exhibit now at Ringling Englewood... a few of my watercolors:

Have been experimenting with a new watercolor toy (new for me, at least).  Pentel Aquash Water Brush Pen!  The large size can also do very fine details.  It's a wonderful device for field studies or studio.  Water is held in the handle... lasted a long time while I worked.  To change color, simply wipe the brush and dip into another color.  A great addition for any watercolorist!  Ideal if doing quick sketches on location because there's no need for a jar of water.  An alert reader on FB said she draws with water soluble watercolor pencils and uses the brush pen to turn the lines into watercolor.  Can't wait to try it!
Click here for Jerry's Artarama info.

Please visit my Bay Preserve Show, Mon-Fri 9-4.
And!  The Art Alliance of Lemon Bay, 477 W Dearborn, Englewood is showing paintings from the 2014 Plein Air Paintout (best paintout I ever painted in!), now through the end of the month.
Here's mine!
Artist Acres, 11x14" oil on canvas

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Watt Ever

Diane Mannion, Watt Ever, 9x12" oil on linen
Electric Boat

Started this in my friend's backyard but realized soon after that this boat would need some serious technique tightening.  Could not knock this one out fast and had to resort to photo reference.  Boat was docked on a curved corner of a canel in Boca Grande, a lot had to be simplified.  

Wish I could have fit in the gigantic great dane that stood behind the fence, as large a pony... but would have thrown everything out of scale.  John remembered seeing an electric boat just like this one that was called... Batteries Not Included.

In my haste to post yesterday, there was a glitch that an alert FB reader was kind enough to point out. Below is the first post with the "drowning hand" flag reflection!  ACK!  Once I saw it, smudged it out with my finger... the beauty of wet oil paint.  Easy fix.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Diane Mannion, Illuminated Vista, 9x12" oil on linen, plein air.

Morning Light Chasers

Was a pleasure painting with the Light Chasers Plein Air painters!   Saw many fine paintings and smiling artists.  I'm pleased with my morning's work... although it's difficult to think of it as "work."

Thought I'd touch this painting up later... but decided to let it be.  It captures the light and feeling of the moment, especially when that sunlight hit those yellow flowers!   And tinkering with a plein air study too much can destroy its spontaneity.  I'd rather use this painting as reference for a larger version, not a copy but one based on this light, color, and composition.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Diane Mannion, BIOSWALE, 9x12" oil on linen, plein air
Morning Study

A bioswale is a ditch dug to help control pollution from storm runoffs.  This one was filled with blooming purple iris, a plant that helps slow the flow of water so that it filters into the ground rather than rushing out to sea.  The bioswale is behind the two cabbage palms where we painted this morning in the parking lot of Bay Preserve.  

Having a difficult time keeping my leafy landscapes simple.  I'm an artist in transition (maybe simply growing pains) torn between realism, tonalism, and impressionism.  But whatever the ism... painting outside is both a pleasure and a complicated challenge.