Sunday, July 31, 2016

30 Paintings, 30 Stories

Vincent, 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion

Every Painting Has a Story

Was my self-induced painting challenge worth it?  YES.  Painful, but an exercise that always shows results both good and bad.  It's the fourth time I've endured this visual marathon, first three times were with Leslie Saeta's Artists Helping Artists group.  Many of these studies would not exist if I hadn't pushed myself and the brush, and some are pretty darn good.

The challenge 30 Paintings (sketches or studies) in 30 Days is not only a way to sharpen technique and explore ideas but a way to hone self-discipline.  Self-discipline is everything!  A phrase long remembered from my art school days spoken by an immaculate professor, his words forever embedded in my lazy-slug student brain.

These 30 paintings, an illustrated history, are not in order but were all created July 2016.  Grab a cup of tea or a shot of something stronger, this post is really long!
 Vincent, 6x8" oil
Vincent painting at Manasota Key Beach.  Attempted to capture blazing sun and humidity.  Simplified and softened background and sharpened values and contrast around center of interest.  Cooled and softened background colors and kept hot colors sharp up front.
4th of July, 3.5x2.5 oil
Drove around on the 4th looking for flags to paint.  Found this one at Royal Palm Marina in the parking lot.  Flowers like fireworks!
Artists Acres Pottery Shed, 6x8" oil
Painted at a private family's estate, Artists Acres with the Englewood Plein Painters (affectionately known as the plein airheads) one hot, steamy morning.  Liked the flowerpots but got distracted by clutter and tried to simplify.  Too busy and overpainted for a 6x8".   A green faced hornet buzzed around my head... swung my brush and he flew off with a red nose!
Artists Acres Pottery Shed 2, 6x8" oil
Another view of the pottery shed, the cat wasn't there but could have been.  Was a challenge simplifying clutter, leaving stuff out, and squinting to see values (where the darks can be combined or massed in a space).  Was most attracted to the purple glow of the tin roof.  Liked how the roof on the left was lighter than the background... then on the right, darker than the background.  (It's these little things that thrill me!)
Toys and Boy, 6x8" oil
Happy with this one!  From iPhone snapshot, simplified and changed a lot. iPhones are wonderful to snap photos without folks being aware, perhaps they think I'm just texting or checking email.  It just doesn't give them a chance to become self-conscious.  As soon as I aim my regular camera with it's enormous lens at people, they get nervous and so do I, which ruins a shot.  The iPhone doesn't take the best photos but gives me enough information to capture an idea which I change a lot anyway.  I like to make things up, change folks appearances to protect the innocent, etc.
Beach Walker, 6x8" oil
Made scene up from several iPhone snaps at Englewood Beach.  Had to slim down the walker, lots of hefty people out there!  Love playing with colors, forms, and shadows of beach umbrellas.  The three main elements in this painting were far away from each other, but once combined they created a neat composition. 
Caspersen Beach Morning, 6x8" oil
One of those perfect mornings in Venice... started at 8am and finished before 10am.  Put those strokes down and left them.  Squinted to see values and simplified a lot.  Painted with my oldest painting buddy, Eileen who spilled her box of pastels in the sand and still managed to paint a winner.
Chadwick Walk, 6x8" oil
A favorite location to paint in Englewood, Chadwick Park.  Man and his dog COULD have been there, hazy light and sharp palm shadows really were.
 Beach Lady, 6x8" oil
Figurative concept I've been struggling with.  Sometimes happy accidents happen in these small studies, pleased with the surf and sky.  Background figures could be simplified further, but time to let it go and move onto the next.
Englewood Beach Sea Oats, 6x8" oil
All of these elements were there but had to be rearranged to make the painting work.  Sea oats really glow orange and gold against the purple sky, this color can never be captured with a camera.

Leaving, 6x8" oil
Another iPhone shot simplified and rearranged.  Love painting beach umbrellas!  Happy with this! Bothers me a little how the woman's foot is hitting the bottom of the painting, but it's just a sketch and something I'll fix if I work this one up larger later.
Chadwick Boats, 6x8" oil
Chadwick Park, Englewood.  Pleased with the moody gray light effect.  Had to simplify the larger boat and added the touch of red to the sailboat for a bit of PING!  A visual exclamation point!
Egret, 6x8" oil
Caspersen Beach, Venice again.  John's upset with this one and I'll change it eventually.  The bird's looking out so the head seems small.  I'll correct with a profile view that shows more beak.  But I like the water and rocks.
Love these egrets, their feet look like bright yellow boots.
Caspersen Beach Palm, 6x8" oil
Venice.  Have painted this same tree many times but this may be the last.  Had a red ribbon around it... could be a cut notice.  It's leaning from severe beach erosion and might fall on someone.  Painted early with my painting buddy who painted me painting the palm.  
Shack, 6x8" oil
Chadwick Park again.  This guy ran across the grass and did a perfect flip before settling down with his cell phone.  A friend later recognized him from my painting and said his name is Shack and that he's a craft artist that works with shells and beads.  Small town!
Cherries, 3.5x2.5" oil
The first three paintings this month were artists trading card size... tiny!  Found it easier to work larger, so switched to 6x8".  I like to use these small paintings as thank you gifts, and have also sold many around the world on Ebay.
July 1, 3.5x2.5" oil
First painting!  After not painting for two months (medical reasons, I'm becoming bionic), thought I'd start with something small.  Used this as a sketch for another of same setup.  I enjoy arranging a still life and painting from life, eyes see so much more than a camera.
July 2, 6x8" oil
Painted from life from the same setup as the one above.  Played with horizontal and vertical composition.  Backyard flowers managing to survive my neglect.
 Dragon Fruit, 6x8" oil
Vibrant green leaf tips on this dragon fruit faded by next day, glad I was able to capture the lively color.  An Asian fruit (also grown in Florida by my friend's mom!), it's still sitting on the counter to get soft and ripen.  Inside, it's white with tiny black seeds.
 White Lilies, 6x8" oil
Found these lilies at the local market, lasted for a couple of weeks.  Difficult to paint but a joy to look at.  Has anyone else noticed the hideous artificial colors flowers are now being dyed with?   At least these flowers still had their natural colors. 
 Pots on Garden Shelf, 6x8" oil
An attempt to capture the sun-dappled effect.  Not happy with this one but learned what not to do.  Shadows too purple and blue.  Favorite spot is the leaf pointing up on the central pot catching the cool sky reflection.
 Veggies, 6x8" oil
Snatched these off the kitchen counter, raced to the studio, put them in a box, aimed a light at them and painted fast... it was next to last for the month, light at end of tunnel thing.  Liked how the white garlic stood out against the purple Asian egg plant.  Not my favorite or least favorite of the month but good practice for the next one.
Setup in box and sketch on panel.
 Roses and Silver, 6x8" oil
This WAS the last painting, but at the time I had counted wrong and thought I had two more to go.  These are miniature roses from my garden and the silver pitcher is only about four inches tall.  Painted them larger than life.
 Copper Pot and Flowers, 6x8" oil
The flowers were a gift from Becky and the copper pot was Barb's.  Took many reference photos with both together.  This is one of my favorite paintings of the month!  Love how the light bounces around and sparkles, and those flowers glow!  Painted much looser than my usual style.  Sometimes they just turn out better than expected.  Happy happy.
 Mac and Lime, 6x8" oil
Macintosh apples are my favorite but never taste as good down here in Florida as they did in the crisp Fall Upstate New York (only a speck homesick for the north).  John found this beauty at a farm stand and I promised to paint it before eating it.  Just took a bite... soft and mealy, only a hint of Mac's taste, apples in Florida are not the same.  But I like my painting!  Lime was from a friend's tree, flowers from my garden.  Experimented with higher key, lighter background.

Setup and underpainting
 Figure Sketch, 6x8" oil
Have found a wonderful model and working on studies for larger works.  Love this pose but didn't want to take it any further than this sketch stage, saving enthusiasm and energy for later.
Sketched on canvas with red iron oxide and wiped off with Gamsol.  Although model was sitting on a couch in my studio, my imagination puts her on a yacht with gentle waves in background.
 My Shadow, 6x8" oil
Painted this on one of those unmentionable birthdays.  Attempted to paint myself in the background but wiped off after several grim attempts.  Wanted to title the painting Me and My Shadow.  My Shadow is the greatest and most gorgeous standard poodle in the world! 
 Megan with Shadow Stripes, 6x8" oil
Megan is the granddaughter of a good friend of mine.  I'm delighted to paint her!  I'm taking hundreds of reference photos for future figurative work.  

 Megan in Straw Hat, 8x6" oil
 Stuck my old painting hat on Megan and liked the way it looked.  Changed the background from warm to a cooler sage green to bring out the warmth in the hair and skin tones.  Happy with this one!
Me 2016, 8x6" oil
And last but not least... me.  What brutal torture this was!  Lied and simplified and those glasses hid a lot.  Should have painted myself more when I was young and gorgeous.  Sigh.  Worked from hideous selfie and magic mirror that showed fewer wrinkles.  But at least this portrait doesn't make me want to throw up.  Painted on Arches Oil Paper. 

That's it folks!  Thank you for scrolling all this way!
Contact me for purchase information.  Thank you.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

JULY 30/30

Roses and Silver, 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion

July 30/30 Finished!

A month of paintings... mostly sketches and studies.  Happy with many and glad I did it!  Was going for 31 but have to get to work on other painting projects and will need a day to blog about the experience.

Leslie Saeta will be doing a 30 Paintings in 30 days challenge in September, be sure to join in.  I'll be busy that month but may do January 2017.

Will write about each painting in next post.  
Contact me for purchase information.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My July Challenge

ME 2016, 8x6" oil on Arches Oil Paper, Diane Mannion

Keeping Up!

Self-portraits are never easy, at least for me.  What was I thinking?  This was the most difficult painting so far this month.  I tried to be kind and not copy every hard-earned wrinkle.  At least it will be useful for a new FB image.  Celebrated a major birthday while painting this and I'm not telling which.  I think it's a nice portrait even if it is me.
 And only one painting behind before the end of the month!

 SHADOW, 6X8" oil on canvas, Diane Mannion
Portrait of my standard poodle, a big beauty and greatest dog ever!
DRAGON FRUIT, 6X8" oil, Diane Mannion

Friday, July 22, 2016


MEGAN #2, 8x6" oil study, Diane Mannion

July Challenge Continues

Excited to have a delightful model this summer, high school senior, Megan!  This is a quick sketch, practice for more "serious" studio work.

Have continued my self-induced July painting challenge, a sketch or study a day.  Unfortunately, I've had a complaint... (from my mom, who else?!).  She wonders why my paintings look like I did them really fast and loose, not like my "finished" style.  I had to explain that these are SKETCHES or STUDIES.  

They are PRACTICE, like playing scales on a piano, an opera singer rehearsing, an athlete training for the Olympics...  artists also have to practice and push their limits of artistic ability.  These daily sketches are my way of sharpening skills and visual thinking.  Every painting doesn't fall perfectly off the brush each time.  There's a lot of work that goes on in the background, like a dress rehearsal.

Some of these little sketches may become "finished" paintings later.  So, don't worry Mom, I haven't lost it, just making up for the two months I was not able to paint.

Here's another Megan study:
MEGAN #1, 6x8" oil study, Diane Mannion

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Toys and Boy, 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion


Going well with summer sketches for the 31 days of July!  It's NOT easy.  Some days I don't feel like painting but do anyway.  Sometimes the ones I don't like when I put the brush down turn out to be favorites a few days later.  I've found that rushing and letting accidents happen, instead of controlling every stroke (control-freak that I am) often results in more energetic work.  And as the saying goes... "Paint faster, Stupid!"

I don't mean to paint sloppy, but to let some of the years and years of polished and practiced painting skills shine through.  Tough but exciting! 

All 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion.

 Will add stories, titles, and more information on my blog, and add favorites to  my website when this challenge is over.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Vincent Painting, 6x8" oil, Diane Mannion


Painting as fast as I can during my July painting frenzy.  These are quick studies exploring technique, composition and subject matter.  Because they're simply sketches it allows for broader range of possibilities, rather than taking each one seriously... attempting to relax, have fun, and paint more intuitively.

Lilies, 6x8" oil 
 Copper Pot, 6x8" oil
Shack, 6x8" oil
Chadwick Boats, 6x8" oil
Caspersen Beach Palm, 6x8" oil