Thursday, March 28, 2013

Woman with Long Hair

Diane Mannion, 47 Woman with Long Hair, 10x8" o/c

Always a treat painting with my friends at the Punta Gorda Visual Arts Center Portrait Studio!

Experimented with Grumbacher's MG Titanium white and found it not to my liking at all.  Grumbacher's Pre-Tested titanium white, the regular kind, has been my favorite for years and will continue to be.  But the MG white got gummy and tacky really fast.  By the end of the three hour session, it had almost dried on my palette where I had mixed it with other colors in the center.  The pile on the side was a mess of stringy goo.  Slowed down my work... had to use stiff brushes just to mix it.  Will be removed from my paintbox!
An artist friend sent this information from Dick Blick which probably explains why I had problems with MG:
Grumbacher underpainting MG white according to user instructions on is as follows:

This permanent, fast-drying Titanium White oil paint is designed for use in underpainting or in wet-in-wet (alla prima) painting. Specifically formulated to create a lean, dry paint film, MG Underpainting White has enough tooth to readily accept glazes.
Other uses include creating surface textures and impasto techniques. In normal applications, MG Underpainting White dries to the touch in 4 to 6 hours and may be painted over immediately.
Need to control drying time? Mix MG Underpainting White with oil colors or mediums. To dilute, mix it with Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine or Grumtine only. Petroleum solvents and paint thinners and odorless paint thinners are not compatible with this product. Mixtures of MG Underpainting White in excess of 1:1 will result in a brittle, dry paint film.
 *I don't like to complain about Grumbacher, I have used their paints for years recommend them.  Perhaps, if an artist wants to use Grumtine or Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine  MG would work for them.   However, I'm trying to use less mediums, mostly Gamblin, linseed oil, or simply paint from the tube, so MG is not for me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

46 Windy Day in Boca

Diane Mannion, 46 Windy Day in Boca, 6x8" o/c, plein air

 Gusty winds drove us off the beach and onto a dock this morning in Boca Grande.  I'm happy with this painting, red oxide underpainting, and used artistic landscape license to relocate palm trees closer to sailboat.  Didn't have much time to paint before Patty screamed, so finished it at home.
Patty, Bonnie, and Richard painting before it happened.
"OH NO!" Patty screamed, (along with a few other words the wind blew away).  Four paintbrushes into the drink floated just out of reach.

 Richard held her ankles.
A dead mangrove branch hooked two brushes.
Two more paintbrushes rescued (one eighty-dollar one!) when they floated near the next dock.  Victory cheers!  Meanwhile, Bonnie and I were were cheering because a gigantic manatee surfaced right next to us.  Its tail must have been three feet wide, the creature was huge!   While packing our easels, getting ready to leave... Patty screamed again as her paper palette loaded with fresh paint blew off the dock and floated towards those shiny white yachts.   Fortunately, she was able to grab it before we were banned from the docks for life.  Oh, the joy of plein air painting!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

45 Rusty Shrimper

Diane Mannion, 45 Rusty Shrimper, 8x10", oil
Started this as a plein air sketch last Monday, only had about half an hour into it.  There was a lot I liked about the sketch, so touched it up today trying hard to keep the sketch-like quality and not overwork it.  I prefer working wet paint into wet, but this was dry and has a different look to the brushwork.  It's OK, but I better go back again and paint this poor rusty shrimper before it sinks.  Hard to believe it actually fishes in the Gulf.  Boat's name is the Seminole Trader, St James City, which is near Fort Myers, Florida.  Here's how the plein air sketch looked before I monkeyed with it:
30 minute plein air sketch.  Transparent red earth underpainting, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, and white.  A speck of Indian yellow and cad orange.
And here's a shot of the boat's stern:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Young Man

Diane Mannion, Young Man, 12x10" oil/linen

Painted from life at the Punta Gorda Visual Arts Center Portrait Studio this morning.  Great artists and great friends there... thoroughly enjoy their artistic company!  Liked the runny red iron oxide underpainting and exposed canvas, so left it like that.  Pretty happy with this one, but wish more of his ear was showing.  Ears are landmarks for me and I find it difficult to do plotting and triangulation without them, plus they're an awful lot of fun to paint. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cigar Maker's Cottage

Diane Mannion, Cigar Maker's Cottage, 8x10" oil, plein air

e the sketchy quality and how the red oxide underpainting shows through unifying the color.  Painted as a demo at the History Park in Punta Gorda while teaching landscape, so much nicer than teaching in a classroom.   Wonderful introducing people to painting outside that have never done it before.  Had a perfect spot to park our cars and paint from the open backs.  Cloudy day with on and off sunlight.  Added the cat and flowers on the porch because if I lived in that cottage I would have both.  And as Terry Miura says, MSU... "Make Stuff Up!"
Snapshot of location... good example of why it's more fun to paint from life than photos!
The painting after a transparent oxide red underpainting and darks were started.

Monday, March 18, 2013

42 Placida Fishery

Diane Mannion, 42 Placida Fishery, 6x6" oil, plein air

Had set up on the dock to paint a rusty old shrimp boat but rain forced me under my car's hatch back.  A complicated scene started on top of an old demo painting.  Began with limited palette experiment again... yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, red iron oxide, and white, but had to add Indian yellow and orange to make the palm tree come forward.  Really too much going on for such a tiny panel, but good practice.  My favorite spot is the water where I put the paint on and left it. Overworked and not my favorite, but a nice tourist stopped by and told me it was beautiful. 

Friday, March 15, 2013


Diane Mannion, FIRST FLIGHT, 6x6" oil on Gessobord

Used limited palette of transparent red oxide, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, and white for this study. It will be useful to show as a sample for a figures in the landscape class I'm teaching next week.  It's based on a snapshot I took last summer and changed a lot to protect the identity of the figures.  Tried to make them look like they were moving, thus the blurry definition.  Found it painful not to use more colors... but really wanted a sample of what this muted palette looks like to show my class.

*Have been reading Terry Miura's entire blog archive and have learned a great deal about painting figures, landscapes and using a limited palette.  There's so much information there, it's a delightful and informative read... well worth a visit.  His paintings are fabulous and he's a brilliant teacher!
Detail showing the loose and blurry brushwork.
It took three thumbnail sketches to make me realize the figures needed to be small.  Focused so much on painting this that I neglected to take process stage shots. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Party Palms

Diane Mannion, 40 Party Palms, 8x10" o/c

Named this Party Palms because the they dance like crazy when the wind blows.
Started as a demo while teaching landscape painting yesterday in a classroom.  The main idea was how to paint GREEN, a color many, including myself have trouble with.  Also... because we live in Florida it's important to know how to paint palm trees without them looking like toilet bowl brushes.

We worked from my photo reference, redesigned, and made scribble thumbnail sketches.  Next we began the underpainting and massing with a red spectrum color which would be green's compliment.  The idea was to let some of this color show through in the finish to add sparkle, visual interest, and unify the image.
Reference Photo

Went wild with my underpainting to show how far color can be pushed.  Started with permanent rose massing for the trees and Indian yellow for the sky.  Was too busy teaching and forgot to photograph the very first stage but below is how it looked by at the end of a three hour class.  Between lecturing and visiting each easel, I didn't have much time to paint... almost impossible to focus.  And a bird flew into the room which caused lots of chaos, arm flapping, and sweater waving... but Bob managed to catch and release the poor thing and we watched it fly happily away. 
 Party Palm underpainting

Some GREEN painting tips:

"It's not easy being green." - Kermit the Frog

"The secret of green is orange and violet is the friend." - Richard Mckinley
"Balance greens with mauves." - Albert Handell
*Until you can mix natural looking greens... avoid greens out of the tube, especially thalos and viridian!
*Natural green is not simply yellow and blue but has other colors added.  Start with pepper flake additions on the edge of your yellow/blue mixture on the palette.  Experiment by adding bits of permanent rose OR burnt sienna OR purple.
*Don't darken green with black.  Hate to make this a rule... black, especially Gamblin's Chromatic black might work fine in some circumstances... but use with extreme care.
*Tree shadows can be created by introducing any red spectrum color.
*Viridian is garish and artificial but looks fine when mixed with other colors... pepper flake bits, not huge globs!
*Warm greens.  Cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue.
*Cool greens. Lemon yellow and thalo or cerulean blue.
*Use transparent red oxide, transparent red earth, or burnt sienna, transparent orange, etc for underpainting greens... AND ALLOW BITS OF THIS TO SHOW THROUGH FOLIAGE.
*Get wild with the underpainting, use party colors like permanent rose, magenta, Indian yellow, purple, violets.  Let bits of these colors show through the final foliage.  Adds lots of zip and vibrancy!

Monday, March 11, 2013


Diane Mannion, 39 HERMITAGE, 8x10"plein air, oil/paper

The wind kicked up so I had to finish this at home, but got a pretty good start on location.  After all, these plein air paintings are meant to be studies, an impression of a place, a quick sketch capturing color notes and atmosphere.  Sometimes, I'll leave them 100% plein air like the previous post.  This one was about 75% finished.  Below are photos of the adventure:
My Monday Morning Painters group started about 9am, beach side of the Hermitage on Manasota Key.   This is a good example of why photos don't capture what our eyes can see, colors are lost, darks are too dark, and the forms are flattened.  
 A quick scribble sketch with black pen in my sketchbook to figure out design and composition.  Shortened the palm trees (artists are allowed to rearrange things to make a better design!), and even removed a few windows on the cottage.  This is a painting, not an architectural rendering or historic document.  If I were painting a portrait of the cottage... I would be more precise with details.  But my intention here was to simply capture the light and mood of a sunny morning on the beach.  Tra-la-la!
Painted on the new Arches Oil Paper which I had mounted on a masonite panel.  You can see a faint image of a class demo that I rubbed off and painted over.  Found this oil paper much easier to paint on if I wiped it with linseed oil first... just a thin layer, helped the brush glide smoothly.  Used transparent red oxide even where the greens will be.  The red-brown color looks beautiful peeking through the greens painted in later.  This stage also helped me visualize where the darks would be and the pattern they made in the composition.
This is how it looked right before the wind blew sand in our eyes, my umbrella blew off, and Sue's painting dropped face down in the sand.  Told her not to worry, let it dry and the sand will brush right off, what's left will add authentic texture. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Boca Gate

Diane Mannion, BOCA GATE, plein air oil, 6x6"

Tough decision this morning... yoga or paint, paint or yoga?  So, painted while John taught an hour yoga class... I'll stretch later.  Found a BLISSFUL location which I'll share with a few artist friends later, but for now it's top secret.  Simply wanted to capture the effect of morning sun on the arched gate and I'm happy with it.  Nothing more satisfying than going home with a good one, it's a lot like fishing.  It would be possible to polish this further with the photos I took, but I am saving it as is, 100% pure plein air.
Below are photos of the location and setup:
 Perfect spot to park and paint!
Notebook scribble-sketch with black pen.  Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna wash on Gessobord panel... searching for dark pattern.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Morning Surf Study

Diane Mannion, 37 Monday Morning Surf Study, 8x10" o/c

Met a few artists on the beach this chilly (37 degrees and also the 37th painting this year) SW Florida morning for a plein air session.  Didn't take long for the jackets to come off though, by 10am the tourists were walking on the beach in bathing suits.  The water was gorgeous but the darn stuff doesn't hold still!  Took photos and thought I'd touch this up in the studio... but decided to leave it 100% plein air.  It's simply a study and I can't wait to do more!