Sunday, May 2, 2021

5 Acrylic Demos and Painting Progressions

This was a project for my acrylic class showing the benefits of working with a limited palette of three primary colors plus white.  Following are painting progressions and notes for each sketch.  Had only been able to start the apple in class, the rest were finished later for students reference here.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Monday, September 7, 2020


Moonscape, watercolor, 9x12" 

Drove to Venice in the dark to meet artist friend, Sally Christiansen just before sunrise.  We painted the entrance to a trail that leads to the beach from the back of our cars in the parking lot.  A full moon was setting in the tree branches.

At just the right time, a man walked his dog into my painting!  I love how figures give the landscape a sense of scale.  And his red shirt was just the shock of color needed to balance the greens.

Tinkered with this watercolor later to strengthen the contrast.  Although a bit overworked, I like the way the light and atmospheric effect turned out.  Sometimes watercolor works its own magic without much help from me.  That's why I love it!


Monday, August 31, 2020

Field Sketch

CHADWICK BOAT, 6x8" watercolor, plein air

Painted in Chadwick Park, Englewood, FL with the Englewood Plein Air Posse.  A few artists were scattered around the area keeping their distance, but plenty of air hugs. 


Lovely breeze… remnants of Hurricane Laura that missed us.  Our hearts go out to people and animals caught in this nightmare storm!  We dodged another one but season’s not over yet.


I was attracted to the large boat docked across the canal and the overall light effect.  Did a quick monochromatic sketch before diving into the painting.


There’s magic that’s captured by painting on location that can never be caught by painting from a photo.   I enjoy setting myself up in front of a scene and responding.  Letting go of past methods, training and just focusing.  Letting the brush go free.  It’s visual meditation. 


Saturday, August 29, 2020


THUNDERHEADS, watercolor, 5x7"

Drove before dawn to meet an artist friend in Venice, Florida.  The sky flickered with lightning, wished I had checked the weather.  Set up in a shelter at the edge of the shore in case of rain.

Looming thunderheads swept across the Gulf glowing from the rising sun.  Magnificent!  Fortunately, they sailed away from us.

It's never easy deciding what to paint in this location... at least a hundred possibilities.  But this time, the clouds were the superstars.  And for the grand finale, a synchronized flock of pelicans winged overhead!


Friday, August 28, 2020

Field Painting

FISHING, watercolor, 6x8"

There's a pond five minutes away from my house that's also a good place to paint from the rolling studio and walk the dog... multitasking perfection.  

Sometimes a painting buddy joins me and we set up easels under the shade of the hatchbacks on our Hondas.  It's never long, an hour and a half at most, starting as early as possible to avoid the Floridian summer heat.

One morning a man was fishing, "catch and release," he said.  His yellow shirt was a perfect painting accent!  Figures add dimension and scale to landscape paintings.  

Another morning, a few monochomatic sketches to study composition and value ideas:

And recently, this same location came in handy for testing a new painting gadget (yes, I'm an art supply junkie).  The Portable Painter Micro is 2x3", plastic, lightweight and inexpensive.  Perfect for small sketchbook work and to keep handy for emergency painting opportunities when time is limited (like waiting in the car for your husband to come out of Homedepot).

Filled the six half-pans with my most basic palette of colors:
Lemon yellow, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, burnt sienna, yellow ochre.
Taped a nifty color chart to the bottom of the micro palette!

Clipped one wing of the micro palette to the sketchbook, clip also worked as brush holder!
And finished 30 minute sketch!

My watercolor, Fishing is available in my Etsy Shop.

The Portable Painter Micro Palette can be found here:



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Little Bear Sanctuary

Blind Pig, watercolor, 6.25x8.50"

A percentage of the sale of these paintings will go towards feeding this pig and her friends who are lucky enough to live in the Little Bear Sanctuary, Punta Gorda, FL.  



Portrait of Ms Piggy     SOLD
Dancing Goats, watercolor, 6.25x8.50. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Dancing Goats!

 Dancing Goats!  watercolor on Arches140lb  6.5x8.75"

These goats are celebrating the opening of my Etsy Shop!

A percentage of the proceeds from this sketch and others in my shop will help feed these hungry critters at the Little Bear Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, FL!

The goats do an excellent job of keeping the lawns trimmed and especially enjoy eating the leaves of the live oak trees.

Please visit my new shop and let me know what you think!  Thanks!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Watercolor News

 Have posted on my website blog,  DIANEMANNION.COM but after so many years here... and so much neglect to this site... cannot and will not abandon it completely.  It's difficult to keep up with everything online!  For now, I'll copy the text from the my website to this site.  

Just posted on my website blog about my watercolor obsession. Please visit my website, DIANEMANNION.COM

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Strada Easel January 2019 Challenge, 31 Days Painting from Life

 ( Paintings can be seen on my Facebook page, Diane R Mannion)

The Strada Easel 31 Day Painting From Life Challenge, 1/2019

I’ve done several 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenges in the past and something good always happened.  This time, the benefits were well worth the struggle!

Painting from life took a lot of effort, focus, and not a little stress.  Previous challenges with other groups didn’t have that rule.  It’s easy enough (at least for some of us) to create a painting from reference photos rather than jumping in the car in search of a landscape, setting up a still life, or finding a model. 

I have nothing against using photo reference that I take myself and indeed, use it often in studio work.  The great difference realized during this challenge was the feeling of authenticity and sincerity that a painting can have when also created from life. 

A photo or computer image is vastly different than the actual scene.  It lacks the color, the sense of space, and especially the values of the subject.  Photography, along with quick sketches, painted from life to record color notes, actual light/dark relationships, and a vital sense of place will be the main way I compose studio paintings from now on.

It was comforting knowing other artists were going through the same experience at the same time.   Viewing work online from across the country and around the world gave the experience a great sense of artistic camaraderie.  I’m happy that a couple of my “real life” friends decided to join in.  They learned the value of how daily practice helped their work, and that sketching and painting faster made their work stronger and more confident.  One friend has decided to keep going after 31 and make it 100 days.  And in a few months, we may create our own challenge, maybe 100 faces or figures or flowers… 

The most difficult painting of this challenge was my self-portrait!  I had my head turned (to my good side) and also had to wear reading glasses to draw.  The next self-portrait will have me looking straight at the mirror, instead of turning to look.  I lied a lot and left out a few wrinkles. 

The scariest painting was when I decided to pull into a local nature preserve.  It was a spur of the moment thing, so I didn’t invite a painting buddy.  Set up under the hatchback and realized it was too lonely.  Not a soul around.  Signs read, this area is under video surveillance, if you see something, say something.  Creepy!  Painted fast and got the heck out of there!  The sketch turned out pretty good though, must have been my nervous fingers.

Every painting has a story, especially this cold-for-Florida January.  Painted on the beach several times with my painting buddy.  Wonderful, not a tourist in sight!  Painted with the Peace River Painters one morning that promised sunshine but the forecast was completely wrong.  Cold, damp, and windy, instead. How we suffered for our art!  My worst sketch of the month!

Painted during a Quick Paint and won enough prize money to keep me in paint for the next few months.  

Somedays, I painted two or three to keep the pressure off.  Sometimes, the more you have to do, the more you get done.  And self-discipline is everything!  Thanks to Strada Easel for reminding me.  That’s what challenges are good for.

What January Looked Like!

Sunday, October 28, 2018


SEA U LATER, oil, 16x20"

New Gallery Season

Delivered a few paintings to the Hughes Gallery for the 2018-19 season which is just getting started down here in SW Florida.  
 GOLDEN MORNING, oil, 16x20"

 HERE COMES THE SUN, oil, 20x16"

WATER PEOPLE, oil, 20x16"
 This painting is back from touring six museums with the American Society of Marine Artists.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

9 New Watercolors

Great Blue and White Herons, sketchbook watercolor, 5x8"
My favorite painting of this group!


Still splashing about with watercolors... haven't stopped since the 30 watercolors in 30 days challenge.  Watercolors in the morning, once in a while a pastel, and oils in the afternoon, not a bad plan.  

I think it's healthy for an artist to work in different mediums, one informs the other.  I've learned a lot about simplifying masses with watercolor, and a lot about color with pastels.  My oil paintings are showing the results (I hope).  Have not been showing oil paintings until my show in March at the Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande.

Here are a few recent watercolors:

Snookhaven Again, sketchbook watercolor and gouache

Morning Splash, Chadwick Park, 6x9" on Arches cold press

Wave Study, sketchbook watercolor and gouache

Card for Angie, watercolor, 8x6" Arches cold press

Farmer's Market, sketchbook watercolor

Safe Anchorage, sketchbook watercolor, Chadwick Park

Poinciana Trees, sketchbook watercolor, Englewood Sports Park

Blue Shed and Poinciana Trees Again, sketchbook watercolor

Have outfitted my Strada easel for watercolor or oil just by changing the original palette with matboard.  Love how an Arches block fits inside.  John drilled holes in the side panel to hold brushes.

Blue shed with the thumbnail sketch

Stormy and my rolling studio setup on location.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Snook Haven Sketch

Snook Haven Light, 5.5x8.75" watercolor, plein air

Let It Flow On the Go

Haven't posted since my September 30 sketchbook watercolors in 30 days but have used those sketches to produce studio work,  translating watercolors into a large, studio paintings.  That 30/30 time and energy wasn't wasted but instead helped energized my creative expression and output.  Watercolor, gouache, even pastels have informed the way I paint with oils.

Thrilled to learn that watercolors are a quick and easy way to gather reference material for "serious" work, which means only taking a sketchpad and watercolor box into the field instead of more cumbersome oil painting equipment.  And (bonus observation)... I can easily sketch almost anywhere, in my car (auto-painting), standing or sitting in public places (urban sketching), or blending in with tourists on the beach.  I've become a stealth-sketcher!

I'm also becoming a minimalist, cutting watercolor supplies down small enough to tuck in a pocket or purse.  Have sketchbook, brush, and paintbox always ready to travel... to let it flow on the go!

Painted at Snook Haven this morning with the Peace River Painters, a talented group of artists.  Sat near the water with an Arches 7x10" watercolor block (140lb paper cold press) on my lap and happily splashed away.  And when I pulled the masking tape off (love those clean edges)... I didn't hate it!  Oh, happy day!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sweet September

Sweet September, 30 sketchbook watercolors in 30 days


This isn't the first time I've signed up for a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge, a tough decision, difficult at times (especially on weekends)... but always worthwhile.  My self-induced rule was painting from life in watercolor in a sketchbook.  I had used watercolors for many years as an illustrator and wanted to play, instead of work with them.

I've painted with gouache and discovered I could do a pretty awful watercolor and "save" it with gouache.  For this series, I kept a bit of gouache handy as an emergency device but wanted to work mainly with transparent watercolor.  Gouache is an opaque watercolor which can cover mistakes and hide horrible bits (and came in handy it did!).  

During the past 30 days, I studied watercolor books, discovered brilliant watercolor artists online, watched Youtube videos and relearned how to use this medium.  I rediscovered the joy of splashing about with watercolors!

The caps on my old illustration Winsor and Newton watercolors, carefully stored in airtight containers, were so old they crumbled when I opened them.  Thankfully, Winsor and Newton replaced the caps when I reported the problem!

I also used Daniel Smith and Schmincke watercolors.  Treated myself to a nifty little Schmincke travel palette that fits in my purse (12 pans which I refitted with 24 half pans).  

Sketched image with mechanical pencil Graphgear 1000 Pentel 7, or a Pentel waterbrush.  The only brush I used for the main part of painting was the Escoda Versatil #12 travel brush (LOVE IT!), held lots of water, covered large areas or small details with a fine point.

Started series in a Non-watercolor paper 6x8" Moleskine sketchbook, then to a 6x8" Handbook with watercolor paper.  Have a 6x6" Pentalic watercolor sketchbook waiting in the wings.  

Discovered many new directions and possibilities in this challenge.   Watercolor has become my favorite sketching medium and will inform my oil painting.  These 30 watercolors are only the beginning!

Strada Easel 30 Paintings from Life Challenge, Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days September 2018 Challenge

Happy Painting!