Friday, August 30, 2013

Great Blue Heron

Diane  Mannion, Great Blue Heron, 6x6" oil on panel


Another bird for my series.  I came across this heron one morning on the edge of Lemon Bay.  Snapped a lot of reference photos as he wandered through the mangroves and slowly stepped into the cool, shallow water.  He didn't seem bothered by me at all.  Fabulous feathery model! 

Painted background with transparent orange oxide and ultramarine.  Wiped off here and there with tissues.  Wanted to see how little green I could get away with in the foliage, barely suggesting green.  Only painted a hint of ultramarine and cad lemon leaves then blurred into background.

Blurred edges of bird where dappled sunlight hit... then blended into background for atmospheric effect in an attempt to paint the thick, humid Floridian air.

Quite pleased with this one!  Applause please.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Diane Mannion, MOM AND CHICK, 6x6" oil on panel


After living in Florida for over twenty years, I've only seen flamingos once, at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens during Christmas season.  

These two were part of a flock sleeping off late night festivities.  The Gardens are filled with blinking lights and noisy tourists until late, so the birds nap during the day.  With necks twisted around their backs and standing on one leg... they look like feathered lollipops!  

And killing two birds with one stone (HA!)... this painting and the notan sketch are for the Weekly Challenge.

 NOTAN.  Black and white thumbnail sketch to determine dark and light value patterns.

First stage: Roughed in with mostly transparent colors.  Then wiped off here and there with a paper towel, covered with plastic wrap and put in freezer over night (keeps paint wet so I can continue in an alla prima style.  Wet into wet.) 

Final stage:  Lightened some of the dark values so color could be seen.  I have a conflict between painting in an impressionist/colorist style... or a realistic, light and dark value one.  If the darks are pushed too far the colors are lost.  Same thing happens with the lightest value colors that become over-bleached.  It's always balancing act... color or values?

Monday, August 26, 2013


Diane Mannion, BLACK SWAN, 6x6" oil on Gessobord

This painting is a DAILY PAINTWORKS FB Pick of the Day!


This black swan is a famous resident of the Sarasota Jungle Gardens.  Have been working on a series of birds lately, but no matter what my subject is... my main focus is light.   
Portrait, still life, or landscape... whether it's a child, toaster, or bird in the water, the play of sunlight and shadows is what motivates me to paint.   And if it isn't sunlight, the muted colors of a cloudy day, fog, dawn or twilight inspire me just as much.  
I find the luminous glow of lamplight on a still life, wrapping around the subject bouncing and reflecting colors delightful!  Doesn't take much for me to sling that paintbrush.   It's not just reproducing visual material that makes me slap paint... there's also the mushy topic (another post) about feelings and emotions, love, angst, etc.
Sometimes, having too many subjects can be a problem.  Galleries like to see work in a series.  Artists are encouraged to think about "branding" to market their work.  It's all too easy to fall into a trap of turning out the same subject over and over.  Seascapes, anyone?  If they sell and an artist is known for that subject, it becomes difficult to explore new horizons.
So tomorrow?  Maybe I'll paint a duck.  Or a swamp.  A tourist or a garbage can... 
It all depends on how the light strikes it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Diane Mannion, PELICAN, 6x6" oil on Gessobord
(or a daily-dose of art and literature)

Found this pelican in a marina near Boca Grande, Florida... paddling around the docks, perhaps waiting for a fisherman to toss him a shrimp.  Love watching pelicans fly... strung in a line low over the water, wings flapping then gliding in choreographed formation.  

Here's a favorite pelican poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt:

A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican?

Artist's note:  A quick, Sunday afternoon sketch.  Toned board with Indian yellow, then worked fast so I would have a few hours left in the day to do... NOTHING! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Diane Mannion, RAVEN HEAD, 6x6" oil on Gessobord

Raven Request

Another request for a raven painting!  Must be a lot raven-heads out there... much like the parrot-heads we have here in Florida.  


Thursday, August 22, 2013


Diane Mannion, WAFFLING WAVER, 12x9" oil on linen
Buy here.


HOW TO PAINT IN 37 MINUTES... (or not)

Started this painting with every intention of leaving it as a 37 minute exercise... 
inspired by Robert Genn's recent post... but when my kitchen timer went off at 37 minutes,
I wasn't ready to let go.  
 The 37 Minute Stage.  Could see where I wanted the painting to go and also where it shouldn't!  Figure was too large for the space and feet too close the bottom.

Second pass... drew the figure again.  Painting closer to my imagined vision.  
(I'm glad I saved an image of this stage because there's a lot I like about it, even more than the final version!  Will study it to figure out what works for future reference).

Wrapped in freezer wrap in freezer overnight to keep the paint wet.    Wrapped brushes, instead of washing... popped them in the freezer.  Also put plastic freezer wrap on paints in paintbox but didn't put in freezer.

 Final version again... after taking some time off painting (not by choice!) my brush is about as hesitant as the young girl getting her feet wet.

Genn's advice for short painting sessions is excellent for training the hand to move faster and 
tricking the brain into a visual rather than critical mode.  For now I'll use the 37 Minute Exercise for starts... but who knows, maybe someday I'll actually finish one in 37 minutes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Diane Mannion, NOVA SCOTIA, 6x6" o/c

The Daily Paintworks Challenge this week is to paint a house once lived in.  

Once upon a time, I lived in this house near Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Found it on Google map! and happy to see it's exactly like it used to be.  Had been an inn for a stage coach stop.   The Prince of Wales had slept there and scratched his initials on a windowpane.  Delphiniums in every shade of blue lined the driveway.

Have fond memories of my daughters playing in the yard.  And not so fond memories of blood stained faces from black fly bites!

"Mommy, the trees are walking," Betsy said, one windy day as a tall stand of pines swayed on the other side of the pond.  

Held Jana, bundled in blankets by a window upstairs one chilly night.  Watched moonlight sparkle on snow as I rocked her to sleep in an orange rocking chair.  And in the morning by the kitchen window, she practiced spoon-handling skills by flinging cereal against the windowpanes.

Didn't live there very long...  but glad to paint this piece of my story.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let It Fly

Diane Mannion, Let It Fly, 6x6" oil on panel

There are No Ravens in Florida!  

 Another entry for the Dailypaintworks Weekly Challenge.  

Experimented with brushwork and color, movement and style.  Again, used a limited palette... Indian yellow, cad red, Winsor Blue, and white.  Same palette as yesterday's post (NEVERMORE) except for Indian yellow instead of cad yellow.

Googled millions of raven images for reference and used bits of information from all.  There are no ravens in Florida!  I really prefer working from my own images, but had no choice.  Was tempted to change him into a crow... lots of crows in Florida, but wanted to stay true to the DPW Raven Challenge.

And this raven nearly got away from me!  Started flying parallel to the picture frame, changed its flight pattern mid-painting, and angled towards the background, instead.  Bird had a mind of its own... so I let him go.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Diane Mannion, NEVERMORE, 6x6" oil on Gessobord



Painted from photo reference for the DPW Weekly Challenge... paint a black bird without using black!   Could not paint a raven without thinking of Edgar Allan Poe!  My raven is sitting on the statue of Pallas above a door at midnight under the glow of an outside lamp shining through a window.

My palette:  Winsor & Newton Artists Oil Colour, cadmium red, WinsorBlue (red shade), and cadmium yellow pale, plus Gamsol Radiant White.  Used blue, red, and only a touch of yellow to get the darkest "black."

(first stanza), Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"Tis some visiter," I muttered,  "tapping at my chamber door-
      Only this and nothing more."

(And from 8th stanza...)
      Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

First stage of this painting... r,y,b,w over wipeout (also rybw) from day before:
Second stage:
Final again:
Top two photos taken inside under lights with iPhone.
Final is most correct taken outside with good camera.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Diane Mannion, Baby Bowl Cat, 8x6" o/c


Elliot in his bowl as a kitten, the BEFORE version for my Dailypaintworks Weekly Challenge... Paint-A-Pet.  Check it out!
My daughter, (Jana Potashnik) snapped this recent photo of Elliot in his bowl!  Only a tiny bit can be seen by his rear foot.

* Painting notes:  Focused on the back-lit light spilling around the form in this painting.  Loved the way the ears glowed!  Used mainly red, yellow, blue, and white again... with accents of permanent rose in the ears.