Saturday, April 30, 2016


Tonora, 4x6.6" watercolor/gouache, Diane Mannion

Sketchbook Page

Always a treat painting with my friends at the Venice Art Center Portrait Studio!  Worked with watercolor and gouache in a sketchbook.  Interesting how many artists never heard of gouache!  I sent everyone to explore my hero, James Gurney's work.  Gouache was once the mainstay medium of illustrators but has now gone out of fashion, a shame.  

Gouache is opaque watercolor and can be used to paint over regular watercolor or used alone.  Just think of all your overworked watercolors that can be "saved" with this wonderful medium!

Tonora, first sketched in pencil, was painted with watercolor, then the blackboard, nose and eye highlights... gouache.  All you need is one tube of white gouache to transform your watercolors into gouache.  Or you can purchase individual tubes of gouache in every color... or simply red, yellow, and blue to start.  I prefer Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache which can be purchased through Jerry's or Blick.

For excellent instruction and mega gouache inspiration, I can't praise James Gurney enough!

Friday, April 22, 2016

4 Sheep

4 Sheep, 3.5" x 2.5"oil, Diane Mannion


These are some sort of rare Austrian sheep that reside in a nearby ranch here in Florida.  Their coats are kept short because of the heat.  First saw these critters a month ago and there were six pregnant females...  now the herd has more than doubled, some had twins!

I practice color thumbnail sketches for soon-to-come larger paintings that won't look anything like these mini-portraits.  Compositions will include more landscape views.  Exploring a more monochromatic palette, keeping color in reserve for  dramatic impact.  For example, loved how the red ear tag stood out in the top right sheep.

2 lambs
Herd following caretaker


Monday, April 18, 2016

Flower Scraps

Flowers Scraps, each 2.5 x 3.5" oil, Diane Mannion


I have lots of canvas scraps I don't like to waste and sometimes, only a few scraps of time to paint.  Artist Trading Cards, the classic 2.5 x 3.5" size is a perfect way to be productive, use up old palette paint and create something useful.  I've auctioned them on Ebay, sent them around the world to collectors, but most of all I love giving them as gifts!

This is also a great way to practice skills and technique.  The small size may seem cramped but allows for composition, color and value experiments.  Keeping my painting brushwork fairly loose instead of tight, and working alla prima style, they don't take a lot of time to do.   I've recently put ivory black and raw sienna back on my palette and enjoyed learning in a small space how they behave with other colors in a painting. 

More can be learned by doing many small paintings rather than a few large ones.  Once basic techniques are learned by controlling them in a small space... it is easier to translate this skill to larger and larger, even gigantic canvases or murals.

Consider these tiny paintings as thumbnail sketches to spark future creative ideas.  Now collect your scraps of time and canvas and get busy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cracker House

Cracker House, 8x10" oil, plein air sketch, Diane Mannion

Bay Preserve

A Cracker House is a Floridian style built during the 19th century, woodframe, porch, and metal roof. Unfortunately this house had had its roof replaced with modern asphalt tiles.  The term "cracker" originated from cowmen in the 1800's that herded cattle by cracking whips.

Painted with the Peace River Painters yesterday at the Bay Preserve in Osprey.  A couple of hours is only enough time to capture color notes, a feeling of the place, and create a loose sketch.  I could have finished this from photo reference, but decided to leave it as it is... simply a record of a pleasant morning painting with friends.  

Added the yellow flowers on the bottom right and broke up the triangle of the roof line later.
The roof was in shadow when I started, the photo below is how it looked with the sun on it.  Decided to leave it alone!  (Don't chase the light!)  The huge stand of bamboo in the background, blocking out the sky was a challenge.