Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On the Rocks

Diane Mannion, On the Rocks, 8x10" oil on linen, plein air.

Rocky Sketch

Another perfect morning painting on Caspersen Beach, Venice!  Endless compositions, colors, shapes, and forms in one location... an artist's dream.

These rocks aren't a natural part of the Floridian landscape, probably added along the shore for erosion protection many years ago.  But they're an inspiring subject to paint... artists are thankful for the form and structure, how they cast light and shadows, and especially how they look submerged reflecting translucent shades of purple and blue.

Give an artist some rocks, throw in sun, surf, and sand... and they're entranced.  Doesn't take much.  It's no wonder paint-slingers often haunt these rocks.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tickled Pink

Diane Mannion, Tickled Pink, 6x8" oil on linen, plein air.

In the Pink

"I believe in pink!" - Audrey Hepburn

Pink Pain might be a better title, painting muhly grass was an excruciating challenge!  It's only in bloom this time of the year.   So when invited to capture this pink splendor in a field, I jumped into the knee-high thick of it.  Sneakers and ankles bug-spray-zapped, I stoically stood in the mist of stinging red fire ants.  Ahh, the joy of plein air painting!

Muhly grass is a difficult subject, so many layers, so much pink!  So many wonderful shapes and colors and textures!  Had to work fast with the late afternoon sun sinking and shadows growing.  
Pink Fields Forever
I love my friend's muhly grass interpretation.  

Eileen Wright, 8x6" oil on linen, plein air.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Diane Mannion, LATE MORNING, 6x8" oil on linen, plein air!

Dailypaintworks.com Facebook Pick of the Day!!!

Late Start

When my painting buddies wanted to meet at Caspersen Beach this morning, I said...YES!  
John went along to ride his bike while I painted.  Of course we had to stop at Benny's Bada Bing Bagel Shop on the way so we arrived a little (a lot) late.  

My friends were down on the beach and well on their way through the block in stage.  I set up on the boardwalk and had a good bird's eye view.  Painted fast to catch up and I'm pleased with the results.  Starting late and finishing early is a good way not to overwork it. 

 Sheila and Eileen.
The magic of painting on location!  Would NEVER see these colors in a photo.  There's nothing more satisfying (well almost, winning lottery ticket, or...) than bringing home a piece of time frozen in paint.  And even if it's not a masterpiece, it's a valuable piece of reference material for future studio work. 
View from Eileen Wright's easel.  8x10" masterpiece!!!

Here's a link to Sheila Thornton's painting... check it out!

And John rode from Venice to Nokomis and back and managed not to get hit by blind zombie drivers.

Friday, October 25, 2013

On the Way

Diane Mannion, On the Way, 16x20" oil on linen

Plein Air to Studio

Lined up my favorite 8x10" plein air studies and had my husband choose which one he liked best... we both picked the same one.  This is a path to a beach on Manasota Key where I paint often.  Last summer the beach sunflowers were in full bloom.
Here's the original study on my easel and the first day's effort.  That's Too-Loose LaWreck in the background waving me on, a wood sculpture collaboration between my husband and yours truly.
This is how it looked by the end of the next day... too greeeen.

I've had many folks ask for larger versions of my small plein air studies.  Working on a few commissions and a body of larger works for galleries... a major transition.  I'm addicted to painting outside so it's difficult to stay put in the studio, especially when Floridian weather is cool and fabulous.

Entry for the Punta Gorda National Show, 2013!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quaker Parrot

Diane Mannion, Quaker Parrot, 6x6" oil on gessoboard

Bird Series

Another for my bird series.  While going through old reference photos, I found this shot of a Quaker parrot I snapped a few summers ago in Punta Gorda.  There's a large tree in a park which is home to a flock of these noisy, comical creatures.  When I zoomed in I noticed this parrot held a scrap of what looked like a candy or potato chip wrapper.  No wonder he liked hanging around the playground during lunchtime.
The thumbnail sketch.  I liked the leaf patterns and how the parrot blended into the background.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bada Bing!

Diane Mannion, Bada Bing! 8x10" oil on linen

Neon Light

BADA BING!  Benny's Italian restaurant in Venice!  While waiting for friends to arrive, I snapped a few reference photos.  Loved the neon glow, colors and light.
Complicated subject, the thumbnail helped me visualize a plan of attack.  Wanted to have a figure walking into the restaurant but settled for the cat, instead.
Toned the panel with ultramarine blue and sketched by removing paint with a Color Shaper.  This allowed me to make lots of changes without adding any paint at all.
"Erased" the lights with Gamsol, brushes, tissues, and rags.  Added darks.
 Blocked in colors in background and the neon glow on the ceiling.
Worked on furniture trying to keep it simple.  Added cat, which helped to break up the diagonal line below the window, also made a great transition point between the floor and wall.  I liked how the tail echoed the arms of the chairs.  Yes, I think about stuff like this!  
Finished the flag, added a few indications of letters on the window and signs.  Painted the neon with the brightest colors I could find.  And Bada Bing, Bada Bang, it's done!

Dinner, by the way, was fantastic!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Out of the Blue

Diane Mannion, Out of the Blue, 8x10" oil on canvas


An artist asked if I had any title ideas for a painting she's working on.  Usually it's the first thing that pops in my mind, so I told her "I'll Scratch Your Back If You Scratch Mine."  The painting features a flamingo, don't know whether she'll use it or not, but I thought it was funny.  Her painting is colorful and whimsical so it might be a good fit.

Good titles are tough to come by.  I always find it difficult.  Sometimes titles descend from the clouds while I'm painting.  The first title for today's painting was simply a description of the composition, Plant Patterns.  Not very exciting, but would do until I thought of another. 

Last night while reading poetry, several titles filtered out of the blue and suggested themselves simply by the sound of words.  They had nothing to do with what I was reading but the verbal music playing in my head combined with the images of paintings I want to create caused me to jot the ideas down.  Unfortunately, none would fit today's painting.

And just as I was re-reading the paragraph above... a title jumped out!  "Out of the Blue".  Perfect.

A good title can take the image beyond the visual and resonate with different meanings and perhaps entice viewers to linger longer and look beyond the surface.   Although, "Out of the Blue" is an over-used cliche, I like the way it works with this painting.  There's a twist or play on words and color that works for me.  Not the world's greatest title (or painting) but serves to illustrate this story.

So, I've started a list of titles that I hope will inspire paintings.  And if anyone out there has some titles to spare... please send them along.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Punta Gorda History Park 2013

Diane Mannion, History Park, 8x10" oil on linen, plein air

Color and Values

 Punta Gorda History Park
Had every intention of painting a flower in a flower pot this morning, focusing on something simple... but was struck by the light and angles of the roof tops, a challenge, but well worth the effort.  

 This is how it looked earlier.  Loved the shaft of light on the grass in the foreground, but would not fit in my compostion.  Was happy later when it appeared between the buildings. 
Fast, scribbled thumbnail sketch helped lock in the composition.  
 Final painting again to compare.  Simplified composition, focused on light and color.  
Took it home and did not retouch it.  A morning well spent!
Masterpieces and artists lined up to talk and trade painting secrets.
VAC Punta Gorda Plein Air Painters!  Talented and friendly group!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Garden Colors

Diane Mannion, Garden Colors, 6x6" oil on canvas

Almost Abstract

This was my demo at Ringling Englewood today.  Painted on top of an ultramarine blue acrylic sketch. Those specs of blue showing through help unify the image and vibrates with surface colors... in an abstract way.  There was an abstract show opening inside while I painted outside with abstraction in mind.  After all, composition is actually the abstraction of visual space. 
 My abstract underpainting and photo reference of my garden plants.
My teaching aids setup in Ringling's breezeway...cool painting spot.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Hibiscus Demo

Diane Mannion, Hibiscus Demo, 4x6" oil on canvas

Oil Over Acrylic

This painting started as a class demo painting oils over acrylics.  If acrylics are thin, it's fine to paint over with oils, but NEVER PAINT ACRYLICS OVER OILS!  A student asked, "why?"  

Don't know the actual chemical reason, but acrylics do not stick very well on top of oils.  Perhaps, it's because oils take much longer to dry and acrylics dry almost instantly.  It's a guestion that might be fun to research on Google.  If anyone has a simple answer, please comment below.

Took my own advice and looked for an answer on Google.  If the oil is dry, over a year, sanded... then perhaps the acrylic will stick.  Tests have shown acrylic could be lifted off the oil with tape.  If you just want to experiment on your own and have fun, then go for it.  But why risk having your masterpiece disintegrate over time.  Just DO NOT PAINT ACRYLICS OVER OILS!

 Demo notes:
First sketched with ultramarine blue acrylic (spots of this bright blue are showing through in the final painting).  Defined the patterns of darks, the composition and rhythm of the piece with the blue acrylic.
 Acrylic ultramarine blue showing under demo.  Cropped (from 6x8" to 4x6") and finished later with oil on top of acrylic.  Most pre-primed canvas is acrylic, but I also have oil-primed linen and would never paint with acrylic on that.

NFS, Painting is not for sale.  Will use this as future teaching aid.

This Saturday, October 12, 11-1:30, I'll be doing a demo at Ringling Englewood Art Center.
And November 1, the Hermitage Paintout!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

What's For Lunch?

Diane Mannion, What's For Lunch? 6x6" oil on panel
Don't Feed the Gulls

I'll be doing a demo at Ringling Englewood Art Center this Saturday, October 12, from 11-1:30.
350 S McCall Road, Englewood, FL 34224

Gulls are hungry birds, this one kept an eye on me while I was painting in Chadwick Park.  Toss popcorn in the air and gulls from miles around know instantly.  Critters must have built in crumb detection.  A family at the beach was swarmed and their youngest child carried off because they dropped a Big Mac bun.  Neighbors ducked under beach umbrellas during the ensuing poop bombardment.

So if you're going to join us at the Hermitage, Ringling Englewood Plein Air Art Fest, November 1... please, don't feed the gulls.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Diane Mannion, Hermitage, 8x10" oil on linen


Ringling Englewood Plein Air Art Fest, November 1, 2013
 Manasota Key, Florida
Please join us!

350 S McCall Road |Englewood, FL 34224 | T 941 474 5548 | eac@ringling.edu | ringling.edu/eac
Plein Air Art Fest: Friday, November 1, 2013
Artist Information: Please read entirely before submitting registration form.
This year EAC has partnered with the Hermitage Artist Retreat to bring you Plein Air Fest 2013. Painting will begin at 9 am at the Hermitage, there will be no assigned locations. It is not necessary to register, in order to paint at the event. However, if you would like to enter your work in the exhibition and make it eligible for prizes you must register.
Pre-registration at EAC (October 8 – October 31) price: $25
Registration at the event (Friday, November 1, 8:30 am – 9 am): $30
By registering for the Plein Air Art Fest 2013, artists agree to:
• Set up on-site at Hermitage Artist Retreat. Artists can paint anything they can see from their location a full 360 degree. Please no working from photos or books.
• Paint at least one work from start to finish from 9 am till 2 pm on November 1, 2013.
• Artists can work in any size aspect and on any support they choose. HOWEVER, EAC will only provide framing for work as detailed below. Be prepared to frame your own work for the exhibition if you do not wish to work to the EAC standard 16” x 20” frame.
• If you would like your artwork to be framed by the Englewood Art Center, you must bring your artwork to EAC no later than 3:00 pm, on Friday, November 1, 2013, for entry, framing and jury/judging. The piece must also fit the 16 x 20 metal frame that EAC will provide. (“painted image” cannot be larger than 11 X 15 the size of the mat window. No other sizes, mats or frames will be accepted.)
• If you would like to do your own framing, you may do so to make your artwork ready to hang (according to the EAC Gallery Policies & Guidelines which can be found in our brochure, on our website at www.ringling.edu/eac) no later than 4:00pm to EAC. Any size artwork that is framed by the artist themselves is eligible for entry and jury/judging.
• Registered artists may enter up to three artworks for the exhibition/judging.
• Allow artwork to hang in The Englewood Art Center Gallery through the end of the exhibit, Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
• Registered artists must agree to comply with the following rules.
350 S McCall Road |Englewood, FL 34224 | T 941 474 5548 | eac@ringling.edu | eac.ringling.edu
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY: As this is a Plein Air art festival, and the artwork needs to be framed and exhibited in a very short time, the following rules must be adhered to strictly. NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE ART CENTER 941-474-5548 FOR A CLARIFICATION ON ANY OF THE RULES.
1) Check In: Artists check in at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, FL between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 am, Friday, November 1, 2013. Artists must present their BLANK painting/drawing surface for verification. When you register, each support will be stamped for eligibility for jury/judging. You can bring several to paint on and may move to various different spots throughout the day, but will only be able to enter up to three artworks for the exhibition/judging.
2) Start & Finish Times: All work is to be started and finished between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm on November 1, 2013. No work will be accepted that was begun before or finished after these hours.
3) Delivery of Finished Work: All work to be framed by the Englewood Art Center must be delivered to the EAC 350 South McCall Road, Englewood no sooner than 2 pm and no later than 3 pm on the same day, Friday, November 1, 2013. Framed work will be accepted until 4pm.
4) Painting/Drawing Substrates: All work must be completed on paper, mat board, or stretched canvas.
5) Canvas Framing: Canvas works to be framed by EAC may have a solid primer applied before the paint out and must fit into the 16 x 20 metal frame supplied by the Englewood Art Center. No other sizes and no other frames will be accepted.
6) Paper, Mat Framing: All work on paper, board, or mat to be framed by EAC and requiring a mat and glass will be framed in a metal 16 X 20 frame provided by EAC. The mat will be cut for a quarter sheet. In other words, the “painted image” cannot be larger than 11 X 15 the size of the mat window. No other sizes, mats or frames will be accepted. If the artist is framing their own artwork, it can be any size, but must follow the EAC Gallery Policies & Guidelines that can be found in the EAC brochure, online at ringling.edu/eac or can be picked up at the front desk of the center.
7) If EAC frames your artwork, all framing materials will remain the property of Englewood Art Center.
8) End of Show and Pickup of All Paintings: The show will end Tuesday, November 26, 2013. At that time artwork will be unframed and made available for pickup by 1:00 p.m. There is always a shortage of storage. Therefore, your prompt response is appreciated.
9) Rain Date: NO RAIN DATE. Check the weather report and come prepared for a great time, i.e., water, sun screen, sun hat, anchors for a windy day, a chair, etc. Be sure to pack a nutritious lunch and/or snacks to keep your creative energy flowing—the Hermitage is an ideal spot for an artist retreat but it’s a bit of a hike to the nearest food stop.
350 S McCall Road |Englewood, FL 34224 | T 941 474 5548 | eac@ringling.edu | eac.ringling.edu
Fees: Pre-registration at EAC (October 8 – October 31) price: $25
Registration at the event (Friday, November 1 8:30 am – 9 am): $30
Sale/Commission: EAC does not broker art sales in the Loranger Gallery or collect commission. Artists are free to put a price on their work which will be included on the label and in the program. If a buyer is interested in purchasing a work with a listed price, EAC will collect the contact information of the buy and submit it to the artist to negotiate a sale directly with the buyer.
Liability for Artwork: The Englewood Art Center will use the utmost care while the artwork is in their possession. However, EAC is not liable for any damage or theft of artwork submitted and accepted for this event.
Fee: $25
Registration Fee
Amount Paid
Artist or Business:
Received by:
Total Paid:
Artist Name
Please enclose your non-refundable registration fee. Print all information clearly, sign and return to The Englewood Art Center, 350 South McCall Road, Englewood, FL 34223. ALL information requested is required for entry. Your signature verifies that you have read, understand and agree to all rules of the event set forth on the Artist Information Sheet attached. Thank you for your participation. We look forward to a great paintout and a wonderful exhibit!
Plus 3 Merit Ribbons
1st Place $150 2nd Place $100 3rd Place $75
Registration receipt (Please give artist the bottom section of this form)
Make checks payable to: The Englewood Art Center

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Morning

Diane Mannion, Tuesday Morning, 8x10" oil, plein air

Painting Backwards

Caspersen Beach, Venice, Florida
Because of the sun's angle I had to paint with my back to the scene this morning.  Too windy to set up umbrella, so I turned the easel to keep painting and palette in shade.  Look, memorize, turn and paint... with the constantly moving surf and cloud shadows it was a terrific exercise in building my visual memory bank.
My location painting with back to view.
Thumbnail sketch to help me visualize composition and patterns.  I liked the zig-zag design with the rocks coming in from the left.
Painting friend's setup, my easel in background.  Her painting is gorgeous!  A tourist tried to buy it... but I think she was smart not to let it go.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Diane Mannion, Fishery, 10x8" oil, plein air

Painting in the Rain

A few hardy plein air painters showed up this morning at the Fishery in Placida despite the rain!  Cars parked nose into the wind providing protection with open hatchbacks.  My favorite way to paint, everything's handy, nothing to schlep around.
Fellow artists under hatchbacks.
Puddles inspire me... (doesn't take much!)
Toned panel and thumbnail sketch.
Thumbnail sketch.
 The start.
Finish again.  Left it exactly how it was, did not fiddle or fuss.  All the information, color notes, design, and feelings are here to paint a larger studio version. 
There was a warm glow to the sky that does not show in the miserable photo. 

Painting on a dreary rainy day was a treat... at least it was a change from the usual Floridian sunshine.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chadwick Morning

Diane Mannion, Chadwick Morning, 8x10" oil on linen, plein air
Why We Paint Outside

Cool morning, slight breeze, cloud speckled sky.  Artists gather, chatter, settle down to paint.  Two or three hours fly by along with screeching gulls and clinking sailboat halyards.  Boats putter and hum along the Intercoastal Waterway and across Lemon Bay.  We paint what we hear, what we smell, what we feel... along with what we see.  Beginner to advanced, we all leave with an authentic experience expressed in paint.  This is why we paint outside.

 My view from Chadwick Park.   Painting was completed on location except for scratching in the halyards with my trusty meat skewer stick later.

A curious heron was disappointed that the muffin crumb I tossed wasn't a shrimp.
And not only did I get to hear, feel, smell and see while painting this morning... I also got to taste!  An artist was picking seagrapes from a nearby tree.   "They're ripe," she said.  "Good for making wine and jam."
So after living in Florida for over twenty years I ate my first seagrape and it was DELICIOUS!
This is why we paint outside.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Venice Boardwalk

Diane Mannion, Venice Boardwalk, 6x6" oil on gessoboard


Spent the morning visiting some of the 30/30 artists, finally getting to see their paintings.  BRAVO to all 400+ artists!  

Quick-study (but never quick enough!) of the Venice Boardwalk from photo reference.  Practice. Practice.  Never stop.  Solved several visual problems, first in the thumbnail sketch, then while painting.
Thumbnail sketch

Reference photo
Final painting again.  Zoomed in on center of interest.  Favorite parts were the palm tree shadow on the walkway, and the bright shine of the tin roof.  Moved beach umbrella and stair railing closer to pavilion on the left.  Simplified plants as much as I could.  Painted on iron earth toned panel.
Good afternoon practice.

Richard McKinley wrote a beautiful article on the importance of drawing.  I've followed his work for years and love it.  Whether you're a pastel artist or not, his blog is a wealth of information.  
Go read it here and enjoy!