Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Garden Horse

Garden Horse, 18x24" oil, Diane Mannion

Last Painting of 2015!

Garden Horse is last of 132 paintings for the year.  Every time I finish one I post on this blog... it's a tradition that holds it all together for me.  An archive of my work, some teaching and technical information, or simply art news of the day since 2008!  

This painting went through many more stages than the two progress photos here.  I like working on a series and this one relates to Vintage Copper, same size and still life.  Will explore painting still lifes outside for the rest of this series.  Garden Horse was a bit of both.  Set it up outside then brought plants inside later to finish.  

Two stages of underpainting.  Signed the first stage because I knew I'd finish it and it's easier scratching name in wet paint but repainted over later to bring flower pot along with rest of painting.

Have a happy, healthy, and creative New Year, Everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Door of Mercy

Door of Mercy, 8x10" oil, plein air revisited, Diane Mannion

Before and After

Painting on a painting... revisited a study that I did a few years ago and painted on top.  The traveler's palm on the right was twice as tall today as it was then. 
This is how it looked before.  I noticed how the light moved from warm to cool on the building.  Added more plant detail and light on the royal palms.  Happier with it!

Christmas trees were planted while I painted with the Peace River Painters this morning.  
A few of us went to Temptation Restaurant for lunch... excellent!
And Sharon Yarbrough sold her painting wet off the easel!

Sharon putting finishing touches on her SOLD painting.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vintage Copper

Vintage Copper, 18x24" oil, Diane Mannion

Playing with Patterns and Light

Always on the lookout for still life objects, this vintage copper pitcher caught my eye at the Hughes Gallery where it was graciously loaned.  The hanging 1950's tablecloth was purchased in an antique shop, and the bottom one was a lucky find in a Maine thriftshop (kept me warm during a long cold night in the Portland airport waiting for a flight home).  

The blue Ball canning jar and the ceramic turquoise pitcher are part of my still life object collection and have been painted many times.   I consider these objects "actors" waiting in the wings!
A small part of my collection waiting to be painted...  or for one heck of a garage sale.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Boathouse, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Spanish Point

Once in a while, like catching a big fish, or golfing hole-in-one (although I've never played golf!), a painting works out better than expected.  Maybe, one in thirty or fifty plein air paintings are keepers right from the field.  Stayed a bit longer to finish this one because I knew it was going well.  Oh, happy day!

Wonderful seeing so many friends and painters with the Light Chasers this morning.  Loved it when a total stranger hugged me and said she loved my painting.  Her husband said, "It looks just like a photo (urgh), but the nice lady said... "It's BETTER than a photo!"  I know folks say it looks like a photo as a compliment, but I want my paintings to look like paintings, not photos.
Location shot, left out the black plastic bag behind the boat and simplified a bit.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sandy Acres

Sandy Acres, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Sandy Acres Ranch

 Peace River Painters were invited to paint at the home and studio of artist Laszio Kohanec this morning.  Over four hundred acres of fields, ponds, and animals.  What a treat!

Left my quick study of Eileen painting as it was fresh from the field.  Could have fussed and fiddled from photo reference later, but like it as is.  Sun was in and out of the clouds, difficult, constantly changing painting conditions.  Saw sun patterns in foreground and locked them in.

I compressed and simplified a lot, as the location photo shows.
Cameras never capture the color! 
And YES... there were gators in that pond!  
Donkeys brayed like watchdogs when cars pulled in.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Ringling Light

Ringling Light, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

Ringling Museum, Sarasota

Katie Dobson Cundiff painted a fabulous demo yesterday for about sixty artists and members of 
Here's Katie during the demo.  I'll be taking her workshop in March!

Afterwards, I found a spot in the shade along a path and painted with some friends.  Loved the light hitting the grasses near an old statue, and the red flowers on the distant porch.  I was only able to get to the halfway point on location.
My very loose thumbnail sketch
Painting as it looked before mosquitoes chased me away.   Captured color notes and atmosphere and knew I'd finish the statue and add more details from photo reference later.  Sometimes, it's the last 10%, finishing touches of light that makes a painting work.

Good news!
Jade Plant, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion


Monday, December 7, 2015


Texaco, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion
Plein Air to Studio

Painted with the Peace River Painters this morning at the Nav-A-Gator.  Arrived late and left early.  Happy the sun came out long enough to get one started.  
Thumbnail sketch.
Underpainting done on location.  Indian yellow tinted gesso on panel.

This was the image first posted which had a purple glare that wasn't in original painting.  Kind of liked the glare and let it influence my revision.  Tinkered a bit more with the final image above.  

Painted the same sign a few years ago on a 6x6" panel.  Nice to see a few repairs to the shed.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Doug, 10x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Portrait on Portrait

Two hour study painted from life at the Venice Art Center Portrait Studio yesterday.  Always good practice and fun painting along with friends.  

Painted on top of an old oil portrait which I didn't like.  Used white oil paint tinted with Indian yellow to paint over the old, horrible portrait leaving the rough texture as it was.  This background treatment was completely dry before I started.  There are patches on bottom right that have been left uncovered.
The original portrait was painted on thick gesso on masonite allowing the gesso brushmarks to show. 

Started with a color block-in method rather than drawing the face first.  Wanted to capture the gesture of the pose as a figurative study rather than a simple face study.  Wished I had had a larger board because I originally wanted to include the hands.  If I had, the head would have been too small for detail.  There is only so much that can be painted in two hours, probably less if breaks are counted!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Farlow's, 10x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Cloudy Days

This painting was a double challenge.  Painting on a cloudy day... no strong shadows.  Painting while under emotional distress.

Started as a plein air on a cloudy day in a very unexciting location (at least for me) at a local restaurant with fresh plantings (no weeds, no character).  Wish I had taken a snapshot of the first attempt which was pretty awful. 
Liked the flower pot and color of the plants but had to do a lot of re-landscaping.  

Days later, painted from this photo reference but could not get it to work.
Bought a few plants to match the ones from original location, and added the foreground pot from my own yard.  Painted from life outside on another cloudy day. 

Discovered I can paint on cloudy days while under duress and save a painting from the garbage bin!
My Miserable Thumbnail Sketch

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pottery Express

Pottery Express, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Lots of Pots!

Painted with the Peace River Painters at the Pottery Express this morning.  WOW!  What a place!  Located off Burnt Store Road outside Punta Gorda, well worth the trip.
Artists were everywhere.   Afterwards, we lined up our creations and shared painting tips.  Great group, great morning.  Click the Peace River Painters link for more photos.
 Kathy painting
 My View
My quick thumbnail sketch, about 2.5x3".  Scribbled the darks and general movement of the painting with Pilot G-2 pen in small sketchbook.  A two minute sketch can save a lot of time later on...  although I usually let changes happen while I paint.  Thumbnails are a visual action plan or map that that helps the brush push paint in the right direction.
Here's the finished plein air study again to compare.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fishery Truck

Fishery Truck, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Placida Fishery

 Placida Fishery is a tiny old fishing village with colorful cottages and boats.  Not many places with "character" left like this, and with the property for sale, it may be high rise condos soon. 

Fishery Truck is a two day plein air painting, started last week with an Englewood group and finished today with the Peace River Painters and the SRQ group.  Could paint with different groups almost any day of the week around here!  

Painted this scene because I was struck by the light patterns on the grass.   And the old red truck.  And the cottage's colors... purple, teal, yellow, and a tin roof!  What more could an artist want?  Had to do a bit of re-landscaping and moved the flower pot into the picture plane.  The place was crawling with fishery cats that wouldn't hold still long enough to paint.  Did leave the telephone pole out which would have cut the scene in half.  

The light on both mornings was exactly the same thanks to our Floridian sun.  Ospreys called to each other while artists chatted in the background.  Snowbirds caught up with news and shared stories.  Towards noon, we gathered around for a gentle critique and admired each others productions.
Went home with a dozen blue crabs for lunch!
 A few Peace River Painters!
Our sign with Johan painting, Vlad of SRQ behind Sharon Yarbrough (our fearless leader looking splendid in the tee shirt we'll be able to order next week).

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hermitage Looking South

Hermitage Looking South, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

Ringling Englewood Art Center Paintout

We were lucky!  Promised rain didn't happen and traffic from the Super Boat Race didn't effect us.  Many artists turned out despite the dire warnings.

I'm the judge for this event (well kept secret) and am looking forward to seeing everyone's work next week.  After glancing over a few shoulders, I can tell picking a winner won't be easy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hermitage Cottages

Hermitage Cottages, 8x10" oil, Diane Mannion

November Morning

Ran into technical difficulties with this.  Used a fast drying type of oil paint but it turned into chewing gum on my palette.   May have been the strong sun and brisk breeze that caused the paint to congeal like old rubber bands, but whatever the reason... not using that stuff again.  Was happy with my start even though it took lots of scraping to remove most of the goo so it could be rescued.  Then went back on location to adjust the colors and details.  Phew...

Aside from standing on a fire ant nest and having ankles bitten (even though I was coated with bug spray!), it was a beautiful morning painting with lots of happy Peace River Painters on Manasota Key.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gray Morning

Gray Morning, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Blind Pass Beach

Painted with friends this quiet Sunday morning on Blind Pass Beach, known to the locals as Middle Beach, located in the middle of Manasota Key.  This is one of the cottages in the Hermitage, an "artists" colony that will open it's gates to the locals for a paintout this Friday.  

The Gulf was smooth and lovely right behind me.  Cloudy, breezy and cool.  Watched a dolphin arching along the shore and pelicans fluttering about.  Thought it would be miserable painting conditions but it was perfect... didn't want to leave.  I don't go to the beach often enough! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Old Orchid

Old Orchid, 11x14" oil, Diane Mannion

Growing Pains

This one was a struggle.  Wiped, scraped, redesigned and ready to give up several times!  But considered it a challenge to just finish the darn thing.  Kept remembering Qiang Huang's words... "Flowers can never be painted, only indicated."  

The more I rendered the less I liked them.  When I boldly pushed the paint around as I do while painting plein air, I liked them better.  So what happened was that by the time I reached one side, my style had changed and I ended up repainting the whole thing.

Started painting from life in the studio, here's the setup.  Thanks heavens I decided NOT to paint the lovely print on the fabric or I'd still be at it.
I've had this old orchid for at least ten years, fortunately it thrives on neglect.  Once a year it blooms from about Thanksgiving and lasts until Christmas.  As you can see, I had to do a lot of visual trimming to fit the big old thing into my small linen panel.
Worried about studio lights and air conditioning harming the plant, I moved it outside to paint in the healthy heat and humidity.

Here's a progression shot showing the agony of redesigning.  Actually played with it in Photoshop... foolishly thinking my white parakeet might look good flying into the plant.  Glad I rejected that idea! 
So why did I title this post Growing Pains?  I learned a lot about what NOT to paint.  Learned not to render too much, although I'm a fool for details.  And hope my next painting will grow from these painful lessons into the next great stage of my artistic development. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lifeguard Stand

Lifeguard Stand, 8x10" oil, plein air, Diane Mannion

Fresh Paint

Hit my reset button this morning on Manasota Key Beach!  After weeks of other issues and distractions, it felt great getting out with the Peace River Painters and slashing away with the brush.  Painting and not thinking... or at least only thinking with my eyes. 

Too windy for the umbrella so I painted with sunglasses until the end, then removed them to see the colors.  The lifeguard came over to make sure I had painted him big and muscular... his red shorts and viridian shirt were great accents.  He put up a yellow caution flag because the water was rough and choppy.

I shrunk the distance to the surf and left out the rescue vehicle using my artistic license.  Amazing how much color the camera does not see!
Leslie's shot of me working on a sunburn.
Fran and Helga!
Happy Helga painting in MY favorite painting spot. 
Vincent (wearing his daughter's hat!) was bothered by biting ants and has learned to always spray his shoes with bug spray before painting.
Johan, recently landed snowbird from the far north and excellent artist and I'm happy to report... we're now neighbors, fellow Englewoodians.

Check out Peace River Painters on Facebook for photos of artists I didn't catch and to see their wonderful works.  Great group!