Friday, April 26, 2013

Garden Crown

Diane Mannion, Garden Crown, 10x8" oil on linen

Painting Saved By Bird

Wanted to paint the background without using any blue!  The green is simply black, yellow ochre, cad yellow, and white.  My reason for not using blue in the background was to force the blue in the glass "crown" to stand out and I think it does.  Added the sparrow for scale and garden drama... the little peeper pulled the whole painting together!  Happy with this.  Fence post located in Pat's garden.
The start.  Realized right away the subject needed something else... and along came the sparrow.  Shot this inside under lights, thus the more yellow green.  Final above is the most accurate color.
Middle stage, again shot inside so greens are much yellower than finished painting above.
The finished painting again to compare.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pat's Garden

Diane Mannion, Pat's Garden, 8x10" oil on linen FB pick of the day!

Pat adopted a pair of my canaries and in exchange posed for me in her garden.  I snapped over fifty reference photos and at least half are potential painting material!  Her garden is amazing, filled with flowers, interesting plants, shade house, and a collection of blue glass bottles.  It was cloudy all day, but the late afternoon sun came out just in time to photograph Pat and her garden dappled with light.  

This is the first study which suffered two total wipe-outs yesterday.  I struggled with it today but managed to push through.  I've been studying the work of several artists that I love and striving to incorporate some of their methods in my own work.  I don't want to paint like them... but rather see how far I can grow my own technique with some of their knowledge.  Wolf Kahn, Kim English, and David Shevlino are a few.  Kahn for color!!!  English for light.  Shevlino for brushwork.  

 Just one of my wipe-outs from yesterday.  This was first stage but it got completely out of control along with the second attempt.  I could visualize where I wanted it to go but the paint and brushes would not behave.
 So today, I started with a "tighter" drawing using ultramarine blue and transparent red earth.
Actually signed it way before it was finished.  Sometimes, I can see enough is working and signing it encourages me to finish.  It's also much easier to scratch a signature into wet paint.  I liked how the light was working and was excited about the color.
And here's the finished sketch, study, experiment, practice piece, whatever... 
Dreama Tolle Perry said, "When you study, study.  When you paint, paint."  Not easy when your head is spinning with Wolf Kahn's color, Kim English's light, and David Shevlino's brushwork.
This is also the 57th painting for 2013... yes, I keep count!  What gets counted gets done!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Punta Gorda Fountain

 Diane Mannion, Punta Gorda Fountain, 8x10" o/c, 100% plein air

Punta Gorda VAC Plein Air News!
Like my sketch composition better... oh well.  Worried about the fountain top ending up too close to the top edge, I cut off too much on the bottom.  Fairly happy with the colors and simplification of a complex scene.   And well worth the morning spent painting with the VAC Plein Air group in the Herald Court neighborhood.  Glad I didn't paint near Claire and Sharon though, trucks pulled in and blocked their view! 
 Thumbnail sketch
Complex location
Afterwards, we had a get together in Claire Harvey's studio in the Atelier nearby.  Wine, cheese, show and tell, and passing of the baton!  After years and years, Claire is turning over leadership of the group to Sharon Yarbrough.  Thank you, Claire for an outstanding job keeping this group of restless artists together!  Clarie is a direct link to Frank Miles, one of the founders, and a fine friend we all miss terribly.  Looking forward to a bright future with our new fearless leader, Sharon.  Thanks for shouldering this awesome responsibility!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Garden Shed

Diane Mannion, Garden Shed, 8x10" o/c
Imaginative Snapshot

Attracted to the light spilling through pine trees in my friend's backyard, I set up my easel and spent an hour or so capturing color notes.  Back in the studio I changed the garden shed door to blue instead of brown, simply to make a better painting.  The neighbor's cat was invented. 
Pushing my technique here: loosening up, exaggerating color, simplifying masses, using thicker paint and dramatic brushstokes, all in an effort to capture an impression of the light and heat I felt that afternoon.  Painted while listening to the canary and parrots on the porch, the chickens worrying in the coup, and the wind chime tinkering nearby.  This is not a "photographic" impression of the scene, but rather a feeling of the moment... a 50/50 plein air/ imagination, or an imaginative snapshot painting.
 Thumbnail sketch for Garden Shed
Photo of scene to illustrate how much I invented!  7.4 trillion more colors were seen while painting on location that do NOT show up in this photo.  Another reason to get out there and paint.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ollie's Pond

Diane Mannion, Ollie's Pond, 8x10" o/c, 90% plein air

Plein air painting with a group is a great time to catch up with old friends and make new ones.  The Punta Gorda Visual Arts  Center plein air group met in Port Charlotte at Ollie's Pond this morning.  Artists usually work alone, painting isn't exactly a group sport... but I always feel better out there if some other artists are around.  A few go off and paint by themselves, while some stick together in groups.  
Unfortunately, the best view was a mess, an ugly glaze of slimy yellow-green algae covered the entire surface of the pond.  Ducks looked like they were sitting on a green parking lot.  There were no reflections at all, not much fun to paint a pond without them.  No blue sky mirrored on the surface, no sunlit sparkles, just pure flat, yellow-green scum.  So I opted for the path, instead and painted an artist looking out at the pond searching for a good view.

This is 90% plein air because I added the figure later back in the studio from an iPhone snapshot.  Here's the thumbnail I sketched before starting the painting to help me visualize where the darks and lights would be and how the composition might work:
So even though the pond was ugly the morning wasn't a total disaster.  Clare Harvey and I talked about how it doesn't matter where you are, if you look around... there's always something to paint! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Diane Mannion, SPLASH!, 10x8" o/c

Teaching season is just about over here in SW Florida, so now I have time to finish some of the demos I started in class.  Some were wipeouts (difficult to paint and teach at the same time) but some had potential, like this one.  Here's the progression:
 Thumbnail sketch, indicating values and motion.
 Transparent red earth underpainting.
 This is how the demo looked after teaching a figure in the landscape class.  Painted with transparent red earth and Gamsol, then wiped off with paper towel.  This was the second attempt, first one had the child's feet too close to the bottom edge.  But that's the great thing about drawing with oils... so easy to wipe and start over.   And something magical happens at this stage when the smeared paint causes a sense of atmosphere. 
Used reference photo I took at the beach while pretending I was taking a photo of  my mom.  Parents get nervous if you aim a camera at their children.   I make every effort to change the subject's appearance unless I have been given permission to paint them.  
Ultramarine blue layer.
I don't work like this every time.  The transparent red earth layer had dried completely, so the transparent ultramarine blue glaze with linseed oil... helped to "oil-out" the surface and make it seem more like working alla prima (wet into wet) which is my preferred style.
Worked sky, water, waves, and forground with full palette of transparent and opaque colors.  Painted "over" the figure, so edges could be softened later.  Used red, yellow, blue, and white in everything!  Clouds, sky, water, etc.  Even used my "party" colors... permanent rose, viridian green, and dioxazine purple.  Yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, and viridian green are great for water, toned down with yellow ochre or transparent red earth.  Used Old Holland King's Blue (ultramarine and cerulean blue work just as well), and white in the sky.  This blue also highlighted the waves.   Clouds and breaking wave highlights... Indian yellow (sunshine in a tube) and white.  I know this is a lot of information about color but I'm obsessed.
Used cad red highlight on her shoulder and other shadow areas.  Flesh was transparent red earth, yellow ochre, white, speck of viridian, and ultramarine blue.  Touch of orange on cheek caused by glow from pail.  Indian yellow and white in highlights and splash.  Photo reference had pink bathing suit and red pail, I used the complimentary colors of orange and purple because I thought it would make a better painting.  Remember:  When using photo reference... we are not giant copy machines!  Take reality and make it your own. 
I kept the brushwork loose to express motion and the breezy style of a plein air sketch.  So the next time you go to the beach... don't forget your camera.  And take lots of photos of your "mom."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beach Rocks

Diane Mannion, Beach Rocks, 6x6" oil, 100% sunny plein air

Story of an Abstract Impressionist

Painted this during yesterday's session in an hour or less while chatting with folks, leaning on the railing, and sipping coffee.  Painted fast, and maybe because I wasn't "worrying" it to death... I think it came out great!  In fact, I like it more than the Boardwalk View (see yesterday's post) which I spent two hours painting. 
 Here's Boardwalk View, 8x10" again, to compare.  It really is a nice painting but I like Beach Rocks better... even though John likes this one best. (sigh) "Because I can tell what it is," he said.

If you study the rocks on Venice beach, the tops are covered in viridian green and cad yellow algae, and yes... the water looks purple where the rocks are submerged.  Highlights are the color of the sky.  Water has more yellow ochre and transparent red earth closer to shore.  The surf is Indian yellow and white. 

Maybe, I like Beach Rocks more because of the, dare I say it, "abstract" qualities.  Abstraction shows in the pattern, the movement of light and design, the dramatic effect of values, and especially the play of color.  And these elements are all stronger in Beach Rocks than in Boardwalk View.  Yes, a realist, impressionist, plein air painter can also be an abstract artist.  It all ties together.  The important thing is whether or not you like a painting... and I like Beach Rocks a lot.  Although it was almost an accident... I think it's a watershed image in the development of my work.  So there!  It's fine to like your own work once in a while and yell... "BRAVO!"

Two thumbnails from yesterday's session:  The top one for Boardwalk View and the bottom for Beach Rocks.  At first I was attracted to a beach umbrella on the bottom right and also had a few figures standing near the rocks.  Obviously, I eliminated both in the final painting.  This is another great reason to do thumbnail sketches first... it helped me see what NOT to paint!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Boardwalk View

Diane Mannion, 51 Boardwalk View, 8x10" o/c, 100% plein air

Every artist needs a painting buddy, so when my friend calls... I'm out the door!  This morning we painted on the boardwalk in Venice.  A spot in the shade, endless subject matter and inspiration.  We've been painting together for years now and we're both impressed at how much better we are.  The more we paint the better we get!  And it doesn't get much better than this, pushing paint, sipping coffee and watching tourists go by. 
Boardwalk location and coffee in thermos.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

50 Blue Screen Door

Diane Mannion, 50 Blue Screen Door, 6x6" oil
Boca Grande this morning... tornado warnings, so worked this one up from a photo reference instead of getting blown away. 
Delivered three paintings to the Boca Grande Art Alliance Members Show... April 5-12.  
Two more paintings shipped to the IMAGINE GALLERY, Franklin, Tennessee for the Woman Painters of the Southeast show, April 15-May 20.

And five paintings in the Ringling Englewood Instructors Exhibit for the month of April.

Saddened to hear about the passing of Maggie Price.  Wonderful artist and instructor.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Potted Jungle

Diane Mannion,  Potted Jungle, 6x6" oil, 1hr, 100% plein air
This painting is a one hour study.  Set timer and painted the first thing that caught my attention outside this morning.  An exercise in loosening up and pushing the brush faster.  When timer chimed, brush down, paintbox closed!  No cheating!   
 Value Study
 Loved how the sun hit the flower pot and plants.  Orchids, ivy, lilies, rosemary, coleus, and the still-blooming after Easter...Christmas poinsettia!  All clustered in a jumbled jungle so they could be moved inside on cold nights this winter.  Hard to believe we had to scrape frost off the windshield last week down here in SW Florida!  The canaries, Gouldian finches, and the parrotlet also survived the winter in the lani with the shutters closed at night. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chadwick Park

Diane Mannion, 48 Chadwick Park, 8x10" o/c plein air

Fine morning painting at Chadwick Park, Englewood.  This one's 100% plein air!  Did not touch up later.  A complicated scene, impossible to render all the clutter and jumbled details, a good exercise in simplification.  Like how it captured the moment and feeling of the place.  Painted on a wiped off demo, used purple and magenta for drawing and massing under the trees for the underpainting. 
Location shot