Thursday, December 11, 2014

Corner Window

Corner Window, 12x9 oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Let It Go

A friend gave me three words today... as a gift!  "Let It Go."  Ahhh... instant stress relief.

They were not in reference to this painting, but also useful here.   I let the painting go before fiddling too much and losing the spontaneous plein air feel.    

Painted with the fabulous Light Chasers again at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey.  Artists were everywhere!  We even out-numbered the tourists.

My setup

Friday, December 5, 2014

Painting at Sharkys

Painting at Sharky's, 9x12" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Artists Painting

The Light Chasers plein air artistss surrounded Sharky's by the pier in Venice yesterday.  Windy day, gorgeous light and sunshine... painter's paradise!

I enjoy the company of artists as much as I love painting!  

But this painting was a struggle (so what else is new?).  Stood in the sun and couldn't figure out why my umbrella was the only one that kept popping off, must have been in a wind gust alley because I noticed the artists in front of me had no problem.  Also could not find my glasses.  Also forgot the term KISS... keep it simple stupid.  But aside from the tinkering and fiddling, I think this painting gives a good impression of the lovely morning.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fishery Sketch

Fishery Sketch, 5x7" watercolor sketch, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Fearless Sketching

The reason I'm so obsessed with watercolor lately is because I'm treating these little studies like sketches... nothing serious, simply practice, thus NOTHING TO FEAR.  If you're not an artist, you would not understand this silly nervousness.  Like stage fright, it happens every time an artist approaches a blank space to fill.  Depending on the artist's experience, it may last from a few seconds to minutes or until the artist gives up.

I've been studying the work of Marc Taro Holmes on his blog and in his new book, THE URBAN SKETCHER.  An inspiration!  He describes his journey of sketching with pencils, ink, and watercolor up to his current achievement of painting with watercolor while leaving the pencils behind, drawing with the brush, instead.  A great challenge for a watercolorist! 

I approach my oil paintings this way, drawing with the brush, but watercolor is a lot more unforgiving.  So today I painted the Fishery Sketch without the aid of a pencil.  A lot of planning went into a tiny thumbnail sketch first, using a pencil, but the painting was brush only.  Felt like a tightrope walker without a net, but a good way to become a bold and fearless painter!
Thumbnail sketch about 2" wide 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Green Street

Green Street, 5x7" watercolor sketch, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Two Sketch Morning

Wonderful time painting with the VAC Punta Gorda Plein Air artists this morning on Green Street, Englewood.  I did two quick sketches... one of the church above and a pink house below:
Pink House, 5x7" watercolor sketch, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Afterwards, artists set their paintings up for a friendly crit, shared compliments, tips, and encouragement.  We learn a lot from each other!  All levels and mediums.  Paints Monday mornings. Great group!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Trader Sketch

 Trader Sketch 2, 5x7" watercolor study, ©Diane Mannion
Dress Rehearsals

Discovered another view of the Seminole Trader soon after I painted the last one.  This small, watercolor study is studio practice from my photo reference, memory, and imagination.  I'm hoping a few studies like these will help when I go back to the location.  These sketches are dress rehearsals for the "real" painting event, sort of how tennis players or golfers imagine playing well before the game.

I don't usually update my blog posts but couldn't help this!  A few hours later, painted another dress rehearsal and like it much more than the first.   The second sketch above was painted much faster.  The first below, took longer and I tightened up too much.  So one secret to watercolor must be... PAINT FASTER!  ( I have "Paint Faster, Stupid," engraved inside one of my paintboxes.)
Trader Sketch 1, 5x7" watercolor study, ©Diane Mannion

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


TRAIL SIGNS, 5x7" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Alligators and Quick Sketches!

Painted with the Punta Gorda Plein Air Artists yesterday at the Charlotte County Environmental Center.  And yes... we saw an alligator, must have been at least 15 feet long and three feet wide in the middle.  No one wanted to stand next to it for scale. 
I was attracted to the signs!  "Do Not Feed Alligators, $500.00 Max. Fine and possible incarceration."  "Do Not Approach Alligators."  An artist asked a park ranger...if an alligator takes a leg... is that considered feeding the alligator?  He told us about a man that lost an arm and had still had to pay a fine because he was feeding the gator.  So he actually lost an arm and a leg!  Didn't happen in this park though.

I've been too busy to blog, so thought I'd catch up by posting a few quick watercolor sketches here:
GATOR POND, 5x7" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

 Fisherman, 8.5x11" watercolor, live model, ©Diane Mannion

Englewood Beach Sketch, 5.5x5.5" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Dog Pound 1, 8x8" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Dog Pound 2, 6x6" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion
Was not happy with Dog Pound 1, so this is another attempt.  Hot press paper instead of cold, and I like it better.
 Sharon Painting at Bay Preserve, 6x8" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion
Gusty Gully Morning, 6x8" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seminole Trader

Seminole Trader, 8x10" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion
Seminole Trader, 8x10" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion
Old Shrimper

No need to worry about this boat leaving while I painted!  Every year more rusty chunks drop off and larger holes are forming in the sides.  Must have seen many stormy seas, but now retired and sinking into the sand below.  Sad sight seeing a genuine part of old Florida disappearing.  

This is the Placida Fishery area, not far from where I live.  Have painted this boat many times and will paint it again before the area gets taken over by condo developments.

Pleased with this one, painted quickly on a chilly morning.  The light on the bow caught my attention, became my focus... let everything else happen around it.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm just learning how to paint.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Model A 1930

Model A 1930, 8x10" oil plein air, ©Diane Mannion
A Winner!

I already posted this old car and did lots of horn tooting about how it won first and sold at the Arcadia Paintout last weekend, but because it wasn't the lead photo on my post... it didn't reach a few online galleries I'm involved with.   And a FB friend informed me the car was a Model A, not T, 1930, thus the title change.

I'm also posting this again because the stats were off the charts, higher than any other painting I've ever posted.  Is it my painting or the old car that folks liked?   A humbling thought...

Model A was the second oil painting of the day.  Afterwards, I had hours to wait until the reception.  Too far to drive home, and too exhausted to explore the antique shops again, (have already explored every wonderful nook and cranny), I found a quiet place to park. 

Rather than being bored by doing nothing, I painted two small watercolors while resting in the car... auto-paintings.  So tired and bleary-eyed, I painted on auto-pilot!
City Hall Arcadia, 5x5" watercolor sketch, ©Diane Mannion
Across Oak Street, 5x5" watercolor sketch, ©Diane Mannion

I'm writing an article about using different mediums, switching between oils, pastels, watercolor, acrylic and so on, and how this is helpful for artists.   My article will list the benefits gained by working this way.  

Please let me know if you have had any experiences while switching mediums and I will include them in my writing.  Will give you credit, of course, and post the article here on my blog. 
Email or reply to this post... Thanks!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oak and Polk

Oak and Polk, 8x10" oil plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Arcadia Paintout!

First painting yesterday morning at the GREAT Arcadia Paintout.   Overwhelming choices in this unique town!  I noticed the red stop light glowing against the pink building, that and the green polk sign were my inspiration.  This painting is available through the Martin Art Gallery (863 494 2100) through December.

Model A 1930, 8x10" oil plein air, ©Diane Mannion
Second painting of the day and my first auto plein air!  Parked outside Mary Margaret's Tea and Biscuit.  Painting won FIRST PRIZE and sold last night at the Arcadia Paintout Gala!  Hoot!
Great night for the LIGHT CHASERS!!!
Christa Friedl, people's choice
Shawn McLaughlin third and sold
Sandra Robinson second
My painting, Model A 1930 won first and sold
Our fine judge was Joe Palmerio

Friday, November 14, 2014


WATERBUG, 6x6"watercolor, ©Diane Mannion
Lots of News

Painted on Arches cold press... a swimming break at the beach.  I'm still experimenting with watercolors, pushing technique and loving it.

Will be painting with oils tomorrow at the Arcadia Florida Paintout.  If you happen to be in town antiquing... there will be over 25 artists painting!  This is the painting I did last year:
Trinity Methodist Church, 8x10" oil, ©Diane Mannion

More news... honored to have my painting, SKIPPY accepted into the Randy Higbee Gallery 6" Squared Show... fourth year!  Here's where my painting, beautifully framed, can be purchased:

Still more news:  My Englewood Ringling College of Art  and Punta Gorda Visual Arts Center classes are starting soon.  All mediums, all levels.  Please see the schedules and sign up!

Be sure to check out my latest Ebay auction studio sales.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Boatyard Worker

Boatyard Worker, 5x5" wc sketch, ©Diane Mannion

Letting It Bleed

I liked the pink shirt on the worker sanding the boat and the great light on the boat.  Doesn't take much to inspire me.  Also liked the blue plastic tarps underneath.  Boatyards are filled with great shapes, shadows, and colors! 

Used large brushes on smooth surfaced, 6" Square Handbook sketchbook.  Allowed the paint to do what it does... let it bleed.  Attempted to combine dark areas into patterns and simplified a lot of clutter.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Watercolor Walk

Watercolor Walk, 5x5" wc sketch, ©Diane Mannion

An Invisible Artist

Watercolors go everywhere with me now.  They can go where oils cannot.  I'm not giving up on oils, far from it... watercolors help me see in other ways.  I'm a shy artist when out alone.  Don't like folks knowing what I'm up to.  If I were writing in a journal, no one would bother me... but drawing or painting are people magnets. 

Would not want to set my easel in the middle of a crowd... although if I'm with other artists, it's fine.  If I know just one other artist is down the street, I'm fine.  It's just the way I am.  A ham while with others, shy when alone.  So stealth sketching is the answer for me.

There are a few places that feel comfortable painting solo, a local park, a nursery, certain areas on the beach.  This morning, I asked permission to paint in a boat storage yard... promising to stay out of the way.

The owner said fine, but if a boat owner is around, I should ask permission first.  He said some folks actually don't like to have their boats painted!  Another artist reported the same thing about painting a street scene when a home owner came out all upset that their house was being painted!

No one owns the view!

So my solution to painting solo is to remain invisible!  My tiny 8 pan Schminke watercolor set (new, that's why it looks so neat), along with a small sketchbook and brush, are lightweight and fit in my purse.  My Winsor and Newton box on the left works great when I'm painting with a group.  Made the color chart to acquaint myself with the Schminke 8 pan colors.  There's still room for four more!
And it even has a built in flask and water cup.  (I'd rather buy art supplies than diamonds!)

I know I'm not the only artist that enjoys some privacy when painting in public.  One mentioned how he liked finding a spot with his back against a wall so no one could creep up behind him.  Another doesn't like velcro because the sound alerts folks to what he's up to.  Another artist does stealth portraits on a laptop converted to a paintbox and paints in coffee houses.  Jamie Wyeth built a box to shield him from tourists.  Robert Genn (who sadly is no longer with us) had a van that was a rolling studio, windows, hanging easel, could park in the middle of a city, even at night and no one would know he was painting. 

While in art school, we were told to sketch people on subways... but to be discrete and avoid eye contact!   So I've added a large pair of dark sunglasses to my artistic cloak of invisibility. 

But if you do happen to find me painting... please don't tell me about your aunt that could really paint.  And don't try to strip down and pose naked in front of me... unless you're really good to look at. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hermitage Cabin

Hermitage Cabin, 8x10" oil plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Painting Light

Second painting from last Thursday at the Hermitage, Manasota Key.  The subject is light!  

This was painted on top of another wipeout.  What caught my eye at first was the small patch of light on the right side between the cabin and palm tree.  Built the rest of the painting around that patch.  

The warm light on the near side hit the closet palm tree casting a strong shadow.  Somehow, this painting came together on it's own.  My thumbnail didn't even include the closest palm tree.

... added a few red flowers with my artistic license.  Not often that I get two paintings in one day that I'm happy with.

A gentleman peeking over my shoulder asked if I would be painting the white cabin white

I had him look at an artist who was standing in the sun.  "Her shirt is white also.  Now look at the cabin again... it's not the same color of white." 

"Ah," he said.  "I see." 

"White is actually made up with different shades of red, yellow, and blue.  That artist's white shirt has a lot of yellow in it.  The cabin has more blue."

I think that explanation scared him away...

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Hermitage Morning, 8x10" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Ringling College Englewood Paintout

Painted at the Hermitage on Manasota Key today with a group of enthusiastic artists.  Couldn't ask for better weather and almost bug-free conditions.  A few years ago lovebugs swarmed and stuck in everyone's paints.  Fortunately, there were only a few ants and mosquitos to contend with today.

I was struck by the triangle of light on the house and how it spilled across the yard.  Played with warm and cool, dark and light.  Happy with this one!  Hoo Ha!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Port Charlotte

Port Charlotte, 5x7" watercolor, plein air,  ©Diane Mannion


Second plein air from yesterday.  Painted in car while waiting for an appointment, an auto-painting! Typical Floridian 50-60's style house, a familiar sight on Bayshore Drive.  Have always admired the owner's vibrant taste in color!
Painted once before in 2009!  It's clear how I messed up the carport in the new version!  The royal palm tree in front is about fifteen feet taller.
House on Bayshore, 6x8" oil, ©Diane Mannion

Monday, November 3, 2014

Arcadia Alley

ARCADIA ALLEY, 8x10" oil on linen, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

A Good Day

Painted with the Punta Gorda VAC Plein Air Artists this morning.  Cool and breezy!  Great seeing so many practicing for the Arcadia Paintout.

Have always wanted to paint this charming antique shop window with the lacy curtains.  The red/orange bricks were a great contrast with the deep blue sky.  Happy with this one!
Sharon took this work in progress, location photo with my admirer, Mr Pumpkin-Head.

And in the afternoon... did a small watercolor while waiting for an appointment.  A good day, painting with oils and watercolor!  My car's a rolling studio, actually did the watercolor while sitting in the car.  Will post it tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Chadwick Park

Chadwick Park, 8x8" watercolor, ©Diane Mannion

Local Scene

Have painted at this local park many times.  Lots of boats, views, usually not too crowded, and, best part...  close to home.  

Used Arches watercolor block, great for small studies.  Have discovered Quinacridone Gold, warm and really strong, Winsor and Newton Artist quality. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Palm Practice

Palm Practice, watercolor, 5x5" ©Diane Mannion
Watercolor Sketchbook Study

Set out to paint this morning but ended up exploring local painting sites and running errands.  Not every day is painting perfect.  Was going to drive to Sarasota to paint with the Light Chasers, but like a horse stopping before the jump, I balked at the drive... thinking of the two hours in the car instead of painting.   

So my humble offering for today is a small practice study in my sketchbook. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cassia Tree

CASSIA TREE, 6.5x6.5" watercolor, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Backyard Plein Air

A friend gave me a six inch high cassia seedling about three years ago, it's now a huge tree in full bloom.  Attracts lots of yellow butterflies and perfect for hanging orchids in the shade.  Also difficult painting subject.  The plant on the lower left is a myers lemon tree growing in a flower pot and loaded with lemons beginning to ripen. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ollie's Pond

Ollie's Pond, October 2014, watercolor plein air, 6.5x6.5" ©Diane Mannion

What An Oil Painter Can Learn From Watercolors and Pastels

Painted in Port Charlotte with the Punta Gorda Plein Air group this morning.  Wonderful to see so many snowbirds and new members!  

This was painted on an Arches 140lb, 8" square watercolor block.  Taped the sides to get a neat edge but really prefer the shaky, scribbled edge like my previous posts.  Every painting's an experiment!  

 Didn't see any gators... but they were lurking just beneath the surface.  Carried my own water supply so I didn't have to dip into the pond.
 Location shot.

What An Oil Painter Can Learn From Watercolors and Pastels

Going through a learning stage, still totally obsessed with watercolor.  I'll be going back and forth to oils, but what I'm learning though watercolors is an education for oils!  It's healthy working in different mediums, learned a lot during my pastel obsession a few years ago.  

Watercolors... seeing the masses, making stuff up, and letting things happen, importance of thinking ahead and planning.  
Pastels.... seeing color in a totally different way, understanding stroke direction and energy!  

And with any medium... the importance of thumbnail sketches!
My sketchbook thumbnail for this painting.  Lots of decisions made before touching the brush.  A scribbled short-hand of my thinking... a map to approach the painting with.  It's not set in stone, many changes were made during the painting process, but it really helped me visualize the "design."

Now, if I can only get the watercolor to behave!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning, 5x5" watercolor, plein air sketch, ©Diane Mannion

Aqua Brush Practice

Walked Shadow then painted this with two aqua brushes.   Pentel Aquash large round, very good for this type of brush.  Has excellent point for detail work and washes larger areas when pressed and squeezed.  No need to carry any water except for what's in the handle (for an hour painting session, only used half).  

Also tried for the first time a large flat, Aquastroke Brush Pen... could cover larger areas than the Pentel, the brush seems too loose and floppy for my taste, but someone else might love it.  Both are handy to have for quick sketching but really prefer my regular brushes.

Drew the design first with the Pentel using yellow, instead of pencil lines.  Should also mention that it takes awhile to get used to not having a water jar.  Simply rub the paint off the brush on a paper towel and dip into the next color.  If more water is needed in the painting or paintbox well, squeeze the handle.  Fun!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

San Casa Park

San Casa Park, watercolor, 5x5"plein air sketch, ©Diane Mannion

Sketchbook Study

Some days, there's not enough time to take the oil painting gear out and paint, watercolors are my solution.  Small kit with paintbox and sketchbook now goes everywhere with me.  

This is a local park with ponds and palms and... dog-friendly!  Plenty of places to park and do a quick auto-painting on the way home from Walmart.  Or take Shadow for a walk and do a quick study later.  Nothing like multi-tasking! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ringling's Grounds

Ringling's Grounds, 5x5" watercolor plein air sketch, ©Diane Mannion


Found a shady spot on a bench after yesterday's Light Chaser demo (see previous post).  Let the watercolor flow, focusing on light and shadows.  This is a on the path towards the rose garden which was in full bloom but unfortunately, also in full sun with no shady spots to sit and paint.

The grounds at Ringling Museum are filled with incredible banyan trees.  Too bad the roots travel far and crack swimming pools and foundations... now on forbidden to plant list.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ringling's Ca d'Zan

Ringling's Ca d'Zan, watercolor, 5x5"plein air sketch, ©Diane Mannion

Light Chaser Demo in Sarasota

Artist and Light Chaser member, Vladislav Yeliseyev gave a demo this morning on the Ringling Museum grounds surrounded by admirers.  He talked about how important drawing, perspective, and proportions are and spent a lot of time doing a beautiful pencil sketch for his painting.  

Instead of doing a thumbnail by drawing the box first, he drew a large image and cropped it the way it would work best as a painting.  He carefully considered values at this stage, keeping his sketch as simple as possible.  He demonstrated how to enlarge the sketch my measuring proportions when drawing the image on the watercolor paper.

During the painting stage, he became the painter, instead of the designer.  He painted rapidly wet into wet, sky first, then broad washes elsewhere.  Careful planning, loose technique, and extraordinary skill produced a finished product worthy of the applause!
Afterwards, the artists scattered around the grounds producing their own masterpieces.  I painted two small sketches before heading home... a great day!  Will post second sketch tomorrow.