Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This Morning

THIS MORNING, 6x8" oil on canvas, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Manasota Key Beach Path

Found another shady painting spot this morning.  Had a delightful time watching sunbathers heading to the surf.  Folks always ask, how do you paint in the Floridian summer heat?  Doesn't bother me at all, as long as I find shade.  Afterall, even on the hottest days, tourists bake in the sun.

THIS MORNING was painted on an old portrait I was ready to toss, but instead, turned upside down and painted over... recycling!  

Here's my setup with the upside-down portrait, black and white thumbnail sketch, and block in stage.

Also two photos of the finished painting: Top one taken outside in the shade, south side of the house.  Found the colors too warm!  Took bottom one north side in the shade, which matches the painting perfectly.   I'll try working with those south side, warmer colors sometime, like the way they reflect the heat of the day.  The cooler version is close to the way things really looked, but the warmer version has emotional heat.

Friday, May 23, 2014

American Lotus 2014

American Lotus 2014, 8x10"oil on linen, plein air, ©Diane Mannion


Came as a shock while looking for previous paintings of the Lotus pond that this is the FOURTH year I've painted at this celebration!   Both the VAC Punta Gorda Plein Air painters, and the Light Chasers Plein Air Painters meet together at the Jacaranda Library when the pond's in full bloom.  And a lot of colorful creations bloomed from about thirty or forty easels.

Joseph Melancon, an acrylic artist of great skill and bravery, painted closer to the edge than many would have dared.  A Louisiana man... said gators didn't bother him.  But when he dropped a favorite brush and artists attempted to search for it in the thick grasses at the water's edge, things got a little, well... edgy.  Fortunately, it seems that gators find artistic fingers distasteful so didn't bother chomping any off.  And Joseph found his brush on the way up the bank, must have stuck on someone's sneaker.  So happy ending to this tale!
Here's Joseph and his favorite brush.  Click here to visit his website.
And here's his painting!
FULL POND, 12x16" acrylic, plein air, ©Joseph Melancon

Here's my setup:
My paintings from the past three years!
Many of the artists thought these flowers were water lilies... but they are not.  And they are totally edible!  We could have harvested dinner while we painted.
 Here's a link about the American Lotus worth checking out!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cool May Morning

Cool May Morning, 6x8" oil on canvas, plein air, ©Diane Mannion
The Canvas Path

Got an early start yesterday morning while the shadows were long and the air was cool.  Caspersen Beach, Venice, painted the same path as yesterday's post, but from left side instead.  Another spot where 100 paintings could be created!  And had the delightful artistic camaraderie of my painting buddy...EW. 

A few people stopped by to see what we were doing and cheer us on.  One man asked, "What style would you call that?"  Took me a while to answer because I don't think about style, don't even know if I have one, just want to make a good painting.  "Could be impressionisim,"I answered.  "Ah, yes, IMPRESSIONISIM," the man said, happy with my label.

But my favorite comment was from a  man who said, "That looks so relaxing."  
"Actually," I said... "It's terrifying!" 
He walked off before I could explain that it's difficult and challenging work.  Always thinking, looking hard attempting to translate the visual world into paint.  An hour can go by and nothing moves but my painting arm.  Legs seize up from standing... I forget to step back and look at my work from a distance.  It's a tense occupation, far from relaxing.  Exhausting, often frustrating, but a delightful addiction, a joy!
Location and my setup:

Striving to become a better painter is only found through darn hard work.  Painting for miles and miles along that brush-beaten canvas path is the only way.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

That Path

THAT PATH, 6x8" oil on canvas, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Painting at Noon

This was the second sketch from yesterday, painted at high noon when the light is flat.  My favorite time to catch the light and shadows is early morning or in the evening... the golden hours.  

And after my lecture on not touching a painting up later... broke that rule here.  Lightened and cooled the background on the left to push it back and brightened the palm tree leaves to bring them forward.  Just a few simple quick strokes, two minutes to make a better painting.  Tempting to rework the whole thing but resisted!  Which do you like better?

Here's how the painting looked before the final touch-up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

That Tree

THAT TREE, 6x8" oil on canvas, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

That Tree

Oh!  That tree.

Painted at Bay Preserve, Osprey this morning.  In the past I've noticed many artists paint THIS tree, an old live oak leaning over the edge of Little Sarasota Bay.  It's actually the neighbor's tree, not on the Preserve property at all... but does have character.  

While my solo show has been on at the Bay Preserve, I've painted with many plein air groups and artists.  I've seen renderings, both good and bad (EW, if you read this, yours is one of the good ones!) of this poor old tree.  So now that my show is almost over, thought I'd give it a try.

This is a plein air (painted outside) SKETCH, an alla prima (wet into wet)... premier coup (painted in one shot).  Not touched up later.  Simply a study, an impression capturing color notes and light that the camera cannot see.  

Trying to paint faster on location and not think about creating a "finished" painting.  It's freeing!  Just get the primary reaction, the feeling of place, a moment in time.  If I want a more finished, studio work later, I'll use these along with my photo reference to create a larger, new, more polished painting.  

Magic happens with these little ones... fresh, spontaneous, an energy that can be destroyed if tampered with in the studio.

One of my favorite artists, Duane Keiser... does small "premier coup" paintings almost everyday that end up in my email box.  They are of whatever catches his eye.  If you want to fall in love with an artist, check out his work.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fancy Dancer Hibiscus

Fancy Dancer Hibiscus, 5x7" oil on canvas, ©Diane Mannion

Studio Practice

Painted over an old portrait coated with several layers of leftover palette paint.  Good way to recycle old panels and use up palette scrapings.
 But had to start with this muddy green mid-tone color, a challenge because I like to start with transparent colors and leave some of their strong, vibrant colors showing through in the finish.  Had to build the entire painting up with opaque paint, instead. 

Studio work is good for slowing down and thinking hard about color mixing, especially for greens!  Healthy practice for next time working in the field.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Neighbor's Garden

Neighbor's Garden, 8x10" oil on linen, ©Diane Mannion

Sun Raked

My studio view of the neighbor's garden where morning sunlight rakes shadow patterns across the lawn and sets the flowers ablaze with color.  I've been wanting to paint this scene for a long time. 

Interesting how light changes throughout the day, right now it's late afternoon and the flowers are deep in dark shadows.  But the lawn is glowing with wonderful tree shadows cast from the west.  A nocturne would be interesting with warm interior light glowing in the window, and outside... the tiny white garden lights that decorate the plants.   Hope my neighbors don't think I'm nosy when they see me staring with my artist's eyes.

Have been busy painting our house, too.  The walls, not on canvas.  My studio's now a lovely shade of muted gray green.   Refreshing!

And getting ready for a second solo show this year!  This one in Englewood on Dearborn Street, the New Gallery in the Raymond James building.  News will follow soon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Beach Day

Beach Day, 8x10" oil on linen, ©Diane Mannion

Beach Day

This painting started on location as a plein air study which I took home and wiped off.  Repainted from photo reference and memory.  Sometimes, I finish a painting on the spot, take it home and sign it.  Wonderful when it happens, but this one was a struggle!

Although I'm pleased with this alla prima impression of a wonderful morning painting with friends on Manasota Key Beach... will have to call it a studio painting, not plein air.  But in the end it's what makes a good painting that counts.
Block in stage... later wiped. Thanks for the photo, Sharon Yarbrough!
My morning painting spot.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Vintage Rocker

Vintage Rocker, 5x7" o/c, ©Diane Mannion
Experimenting, Again

Passed this vintage rocker while driving around Boca Grande.  There was no place to set up an easel without getting in the way of lawnworkers, so I snapped a photo instead.  Will have to go back and paint it from life.  

Experimented with a palette I read about on FB that some artists were trying out.  Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Pthalo blue, titanium white, and burnt umber.  Spent more time toning down these garish colors than painting!  Lesson learned.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

See Trial

See Trial, 5x7" oil on linen, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

See Trial

Marine term... Sea Trial, when a vessel is tested for sea-worthiness.  This morning, tested my new James Coulter Mini Easel for the first time!  A see-how-it-will-work-out trial.  Wanted to work out the kinks before taking it on a "real" painting expedition.

 Only had about a half an hour to sling paint before going back home for studio and house renovation work.  Found a shady spot under a tree in a nearby park with no one around.  Bliss!  At least for ten minutes until a curious man showed up.  Then a whole group set up lawn chairs in the parking lot behind me.  Sigh...

But my first trial of the Coulter easel was flawless.  Love the speedy setup and take-down ease!  Happy with the light weight!  Tripod, box, brushes, paints, Gamsol, sketchbook, and towels fit in one boat bag.  
 Location, easel, and sketch stage:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gardenia Study

Gardenia Study, 5x7" oil on linen, ©Diane Mannion

Slow Motion

I'm always in a hurry, dashing off paintings as quickly as possible while painting outside because of changing lighting conditions, bugs, snakes, alligators, sunburn, wind, rain, curious or ominous onlookers, etc.  This speed has helped me be more spontaneous and produce a large body of small paintings.  Added to that, the habit of daily painting and the enjoyable pressure of publishing online has loosened my style. 

So, it was a pleasure working in slow motion for a change.  Took my time with this study trying to tackle complex patterns and colors.  Studio work allows time to pause, think about future projects, experiment and push technique. 

Studio studies... slow and steady, is preparation for those frenzied outdoor paint slinging sessions!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Paw Cat

Paw Cat, 8x10" oil, plein air, ©Diane Mannion

Too Many Choices

Was heading out to paint in Sarasota this morning, but stopped by to see what the Englewood Plein Air Painters were up to.  Instead of painting with the Light Chasers in the Ringling rose garden, I ended up painting a trailer park.  Too many choices!

There were too many interesting (at least to me) things to paint this morning.  Wish I would pick an easier subject!  The sky and clouds were great, the trailers, the boats, oh my.  Too many choices so I painted everything.

This is the view by the Royal Palm Marina where Paw Cat was docked.   Poor old sailboat covered with barnacles and mold, portholes cracked and open... sad sight.  Even though it was an ugly, tubby looking thing, I liked the blue stripe and the way the morning light reflected off its miserable, ready to sink hulk.

Was also attracted to the vintage trailer park, the boxy shapes and patterns and how the light reflected off their dented, rusty metal bodies.  Both subjects, boat and trailers related to each other by reflecting another time.  I felt a simple joy recording their continued survival in paint.

Spent far too long on this painting and I have sunburn to prove it.  Treated myself to lunch at Zekes with the gregarious Englewood painters.