I think in the past, many of us brushed past things, too busy to pay attention.

Too wrapped up in getting through our list, our agenda, to observe anything more.

Many, perhaps, don’t generally take the time to go for a wander onto side paths to investigate….artists like JJ Hilder.

But every time I do leave the path, I uncover…. fascinating and stunning, treasures.


watercolor icon JJHilder
JJHilder Dry Lagoon detail

As I mentioned in my last post Tangents,  JJ Hilder was in the upcoming post.

I provided the link to the art gallery where you could view numerous watercolor landscapes painted by Hilder.


JJ Hilder Watercolorist

JJ Hilder was an Australian watercolorist, born in Queensland 1881. He died 1916 in NSW. So, he was fairly young.

However he had been beset all his life with very poor health.  The paintings he created during his short lifetime, are exceptional. Pure watercolor, feeling and sensitivity. His sense of design, brilliant. And he was not fearful of leaving things out!

Often when I mention to my groups, to look at or to reference JJ Hilder…. blank looks meet me.


He definitely fits the criteria as another Australian Icon of Watercolor.

I’m happy to share information with the watercolorists, and artists in general, about JJ Hilder.


JJHilder watercolor icon
Glowing, JJHilder detail of watercolor landscape Dry Lagoon


Watercolor Key Points

The key points I enjoy about his work:


Brevity, clarity, transparency.

A sense of lightness, depth and distance without overworking.  Subtlety.

His trees are dreamy.

The brush use is light, swift, deft.

Plenty of paint is mixed up and ready, no scrimping or ….. scraping it on.



Hilder is an inspiration!

I can aspire to have the same loose free, lovely way of painting the subject as Hilder. Using,  my own interpretive style…. without the compulsion to duplicate Hilder. As much as I love him, I won’t duplicate or replicate his paintings.

Oh! How I would love to have a Hilder hanging on my wall!


But, I still believe, in myself.

In my own voice.


And I believe, that it is what the audience of today wants to see and hear and feel….. Authenticity.

I could be wrong.  I don’t think so, though.

Because if I replicated, templated, its not using my words.

Its repeating the lyrics already written.




inspired trees
Trees in the my  Park debiriley.com
local park scene fog
my Park, in fog … I am inspired


JJ Hilder was just a bit of a creative artistic rebel. I smile at that!


He painted as he “felt” it.


He was more than fine using artistic license,  to create as he interpreted the subject.

It was as if the subject and he, held a communication of sorts. A dialogue.

And we, the viewers can feel the Authentic camaraderie.



There are many online avenues, to research JJ Hilder.  Go on…. have a peek.

JJ Hilder’s works are magnificent, and not, to be overlooked! 







Tangents: make life…. ‘More’

To Diverge off the beaten track

I diverged from my path, my written originally intended post.

However, I will definitely post it next, as its on the art and life of the great painter…. JJ Hilder. Another artist I adore.

If you go to the link I just shared, ie at the art gallery, you will be provided views of JJ Hilders stunning watercolor landscapes.


autumn leaves in a pond
fallen amber, cognac jewel toned leaves swirled amongst the reeds


Its almost like when I set out for my strolls… beauty finds me everywhere I look.

Heading down the path, I’d not taken before.

Off. On a tangent.


And. Why, NOT!

Its fun;   fun… is good for us!



So it happened on my diversion, I didn’t find what I what looking for.

The fallen leaves were found.

And were far too lovely to resist.

autumn leaves in pond photograph
Leaves fallen and just under water, yet still so vibrant

That’s how fascinating discoveries are made.

It makes life, More.


I’m ready to get my shoes on, ready for another outdoor excursion.

Wondering….. what, will I find to make me smile?  or laugh? To share?


fallen leaves in pond
Lovely Leaves in pond, submerged, yet glowing and vibrant


Watercolour’s Magical Ingredient

Magic of Watercolour?

A secret ingredient?  Look closer.


watercolor magic
Watercolor Landscape, debiriley.com


We love, watercolours.

Happy colors. Objects we can define.

And yet, watercolours…. so often, seem to escape our mastery.

The More, we ‘try,’  the more muddled they become.  


Watercolour Mastery

I’d love to introduce you to Blamire Young. He is the true magician of watercolour!

Young, an English – Australian was born 1862 and died 1935. He had been meant to become part of the clergy, but chose to study mathematics at Cambridge instead. Later, travelling to New South Wales, Australia to become the mathematics master at Katoomba College. Young was busy. Busy painting in the bush, painting in the studio. He painted, and just didn’t stop.  I like that!


Blamire, has been  (after Fred Williams and John Olsen)  one of my all time, icons.

His love of the medium, of the brush, his enthusiasm for the subject at hand has inspired how I paint for decades.


Blamire Young
The Bathers, artist, Blamire Young … AGNSW


Australian Watercolours

I’d love to share his work with you which is from my book:  Australian Watercolours.

I am enthusiastic about sharing the culture of Australia, the great artists of Australia with others. Whether you live in Perth, Katoomba, Dallas, Nice, Singapore or places in between – art education is what makes us as a community, connected.

I think we can learn, immensely, from studying these artists.

Its my pleasure to share!


Australian Watercolours, AGNSW
Australian Watercolours,  …. New South Wales Art Gallery

And a quote that I feel is pivotal to the understanding of and the successful,  application of watercolours;

The magical ingredient of sorts….. 


“I had for a long time felt convinced that there was some sovereign advantage in the unbroken continuity of colour, or, as I might say, in the homogeneous skin of paint that covers the paper from corner to corner.

I could scarcely explain wherein this advantage lay, but hankered after it like a mother to be,

and often sacrificed everything to reach it.


I know now that the charm I was seek was ‘bloom’  – that  unmatchable resonance  that comes from the rich surface of undisturbed paint.”


Words that are key:  undisturbed paint. 




Blamire Young was in all respects, a master at using his skills along with his imagination & creativity to provide a more fascinating composition.  He wasn’t compelled to replicate a scene exactly like a photograph. His intention was to personalise the creation, so part of himself was left embedded in it.


The Greek word, “Meraki”  describes exactly what Young did.

Meraki describes doing something with Love, with Soul, with Creativity. Its when you leave a part of your Self in the thing you are doing or building. Whatever that might be.


Watercolour skill and improvements, do take time. Practice.  I’d like to share part of the bio, that stated ….”In his 50th year, Young’s reputation”  –  finally began to get noticed, approved, popular and in demand.


I sighed. That is, a long time. Young was extremely prolific artist for a very long time. And still, it wasn’t until his 50th year that things began to perk up for him.

I think part of watercolour magic, might also be practice and diligence.  Lest you be discouraged, simply grab the paints and paper and begin counting your repetitions. Today.

How, many, can you do, in one week?   14 days? 30?   What if, you just focused on a tree, or a mountain.

Or just skies for those 30 days?


That improvement, would be magical indeed.



Young has so many, exquisite watercolour paintings.

Summer Evening; Autumn Morning: A Dry Land;  and…. A Refuge from Reality …. its stunning!  These are a tip, of his work.  If you’re not familiar  with Blamire Young, simply do a bit of research!

Wherever you might be, Australia, or otherwise,  I think you might fall in love with this magical master of watercolour too.





Breathing Peace, at the Park

Art, must engage all of our senses. Mine, anyway. Today’s walk was a simple one, around the block, trying to find a spot of serenity.

I sat. So much for “exercise.”

and breathed in as I listened to the wonderful sounds of water. Its lovely.

Its Art. …just, in a different form than we might expect.


A photo, must suffice sadly 2 hours of ineptness with YouTube accounts, video formats, wrong file information,  I have failed! 

But will post the video on my Instagram instead…. and listen to it, for quite some time.   

Instagram  debi.riley


Why The World Needs Artists, Now.

The World needs each one of us, to be an artist. To think, like an artist.  Now.

Ok I admit it. As an artist, I am biased.

However, no-one can deny times are exceptionally unique. Many of us haven’t seen any major world changing events in our lifetimes.  The coping strategies for This, may just seem to escape us.

Some of us might feel unfocused, scattered. Unable to move out of the canvas.


circles, vortex, in blue, debiriley.com
around and around the canvas



Artists are uniquely placed in this current situation. Most of us have had to become very tenacious people. For one reason or another.

Plus, we are on the whole,  fascinatingly resourceful, resilient and quite inventive.

We constantly, much to the bemusement of our non-art friends, view  Every thing as if it were an unresolved puzzle. Part of some canvas that we need to make whole and balanced,  ‘fixed.’


We’ve always mentally challenged our selves  to find the skills or ways to get the job done. Or even… to Invent methods, if that’s what we need to do!  Our compulsion to make the current Canvas more harmonious and unified doesn’t allow our minds much off time.

enso, ink drawing, debiriley.com
artist’s ways of seeing

The canvas we are staring at, may have small niggling issues. Or may have horrific near impossible fissures, we can’t fathom how we are ever going to resolve.

But,  I so often say, “Its just not yet, resolved.” 


In other words, do not despair. Do not quit. Don’t give up and lose heart.   Leave it for another couple days or so, if needs be. Then look again with a rested, fresh eye.   Things, look different then.


We artists,  seek  the harmonious balance. We are driven to bring all the parts together into Unity, into Wholeness.  In a sense, into Wellness.


middleground, focus, abstract painting, debiriley.com
towards the middle ground, its a great pathway

You may think, initially being ‘an artist’ is a solitary, self indulgent activity.

But, when we delve further, into the ‘why’ of these things,  we discover it is inextricably linked to our desire for community.  Our  need for connectedness. Our drive for unification and harmony in the world we live in.  We  express these things with others using art as the communication form.  

I feel this is the opposite of selfish. Even though most of us must spend a great deal of time alone in the pursuit of our artistic creative activities.

Most artists, are in their own way, expressing and communicating pathways in which the community might connect together harmoniously.


intersections in blue, debiriley.com
Ways of Seeing, Thinking, Inventing

Corona Canvas

With the current ugly Corona virus canvas  we are faced with,  we artists – are  thinking.

We are imagining.  We are inventing new skills and different strategies.



It is not an over night process. We don’t  just ‘wake up’ and Voila! all is well.

We don’t have “on” button that we push and are ready to go with bright ideas,  full of sunshine and energy.

It does, take us time to process this cataclysmic event with a magnitude we have never seen.


So, Yes.  It is ok to take a bit of time to wrap your head and emotions around the Corona canvas.

But as Artists…. we are, thinking.

Trying to figure out skills and strategies to better resolve the biggest canvas we have ever worked on before.

creative photography, conveying the mood and feeling, deliberate camera blur, landscape summers ending, debiriley.com
With Time, Clarity


Artists. Are lucky.

We have a habit. This very process of thinking in terms of  How to Resolve a Canvas, stands us in very good stead. We don’t feel quite so, paralysed. At least not for as long.

We are conditioned to look at a canvas, assess the strong areas and its weak areas, then brainstorm techniques to mitigate the weaker areas.  

Each of us can do this.

I ask, each of you, to encourage someone else, to Be… an artist too.

In words, music, images, paints, in sheer Imagination.


Drifting Feather jade green, debi riley art, debiriley.com
White Feather Drifting in deep jade greens….     one can, Imagine Invent, many things from this alone

World Needs Artists’ Way of Thinking

The World Needs, each of us,  to dig deep.

To find our hidden artist inside.

That creative resourceful tenacious community minded being, that won’t rest until the Corona canvas has been mitigated. Balanced.  And the canvas of the global community brought back into a semblance of holistic wellbeing and unity.


BE. The Artist You were meant to be.

We need you.




virus, drawing, digital art, debiriley.com
Wake Me when its all better…. don’t we all wish that right about now? debiriley.com

We can’t sleep through this.

We can’t stick our heads in the sand.



We must be creative.

We must be thoughtfull.



I want to leave this post with a link on a quote from a University of Sydney study by Professor  Mikhail  Prokopenko. 

He stated that  80%   of the community must quarantine for the virus to be controlled.

70%  will see failure.




Person  in 10 makes ALL the difference.



make a difference












Peacefully with Art


Art can create Calm

I changed my post at the last minute.

I thought a friend would appreciate the peacefulness of the watercolor paintings instead.


coastline, debiriley.com
watercolor abstract shoreline, debiriley.com

Sometimes, its not, all about what I want!

I will post the other post later, as I am rather excited with the images.

Just, not today.


watercolor pool, debiriley.com
watercolor forest pool, debiriley.com


The 3 images are watercolours, ranging in style from abstract, impressionist to a more traditional approach. All convey the subject of water. I always find that water, lakes, rivers, beaches, ponds, etc are so relaxing for me. I think we all feel calmer and at peace near the water.

watercolor landscape, debiriley.com
water and rocks, calmness


Time for a Zen Stroll


Time to refill the wells from Nature. Time for a Zen Stroll.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feeling a little bit hmm… bemused… lately?


Take a Walk

It seems we are being bombarded with all sorts of news these days.   With the mind overloaded with the news, I decided I needed to completely turn off news feeds, shut down all the devices, phones, tv. To stop and Pause. 

I needed a short 10 minute stroll to the local park.

It doesn’t need to take long, a short jaunt will do. Out in the open, or in the woods, its amazingly calming. I find the things of the earth reassuring. 

Its a perfect time, for a Zen Stroll. To slowly walk, breathing in, the forest scents. To reconnect for a few  moments with nature and become grounded again.

zen stroll sketch
calm zen forest sketch

Dawdle, Doodle,  Draw

I did take my sketch pad and charcoal. As you see, I managed one lone sketch. It was quick, not meant to “be” anything. 

Capturing the feeling of calm was what I was really after.

To be able to Feel... peace and serenity. 

I think I was able to convey this.

I know when I look at it, I relax. And breathe.


The sketch, has some color accents added judiciously.

I’ve used pastels to do this. Primarily green, to focus on the cool calmness. 


Zen Stroll refill the wells 

I have left it as a very rough draft. I like it like that, spontaneous.

Its a snippet of time caught,  as I perceived it to be in that moment.

Zen Strolls for me, are a perfect way to get back to my creative artistic self when outside circumstances are not as calm nor serene as one would hope for. 


The Fine Art of Self-Love


Art, Self Love and 2020.

2020.  A new direction. A new dimension. 


Expressive Watercolors, debiriley.com

I loved 2019. I felt great, worked on some fabulous projects and took on more tasks than previous years. All the while, still feeling better than ever.  Amazing year.  

Moving forwards is ingrained into me, I’m constantly trying to reach just a bit further for myself.  I know I challenge my students to stretch and expand in their art ideas, knowledge and techniques as well. They take it in stride, match me step for step. 


What am I doing now?  

I’ve had multiple projects on the go, keeping quite occupied.  And always….Thinking of ways to inspire and encourage others coming into the art room, perhaps for the first time. 


2020 Theme

Self expression, self love, doing “it” whatever it is, for the love of what you are engaged in.  

More Art Adventures, more art for the experience, less for the product.

Less things to ‘judge.’


I propose, that art, is an Experience to be enjoyed to please oneself.

As an act of self love. 


Doing the things you, prefer.  

It’s about Your tastes and the things you love. (Not concerned with what they might like from you.)

I’m encouraging each of my course participants to consider, that Art might be viewed, as an Experience:  just like going to a musical, a movie, the theatre, skiing, or, even bungee jumping?!


Encouraging us, to believe that we are engaged in this activity, for the pleasure  derived in the moment.  

Solely because we love our selves enough to do something Nice, for us.

Not for a product to judge.

I think it makes us stronger, more resilient to treat your self like you would a friend. Don’t you?


It is a Fine Art, this Self Love.

Like all art forms….. it’s taking a lot of practice.


Creating, sketching, painting, envisioning, imagining all are useful in this endeavour I find.   

Digital art,  a combination of my photography and my paintings is another new avenue I am loving and will be sharing through the year.  



process of creating
“Curiosity”     Watercolors, pigments, inks, spray adhesive  on pastel paper

 2020 is a new year.

It is easy, to resist new things.  

Its risky, and so much harder, to allow curiosity full rein.

But, to be curious and willing to experiment with different things, this is Expansion.  

So, Why not?! 


Term 1 is well under way at Atwell Gallery in Perth, Western Australia where I’m holding courses.  

Eyes opened in discovering the transformation from the old plain jane Watercolor class…. to  “Out-side the square.”


Oh my, What, did the students sign up for!?


Weekly fun, inventive adventures.

Last week was egg yolks! Making our own egg tempera paints. Seeing the gorgeous satiny finish that when dried, just felt luscious.  


I am a huge fan of the great Australian artists, especially those of the twentieth century. Its my pleasure to share with people the arts and culture of Australia. Not just the modern, but the past as well.  

So next week we are all going into the city to the state gallery.  W.A. Art Gallery   https://artgallery.wa.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/agwa-historical   to view the Australian historical collection. This will include Frederick McCubbin and John Longstaff, both fantastic artists.


I admire Albert Einstein.  

He said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”   

2020.  It most certainly, will be An Adventure! 

I am so looking forward to it.



Final Note for those,  ‘curious’  about the two images shown.

Expressive Watercolors, first image was done using a palette knife on damp 100% cotton paper.  I used the PK 1008 knife as I love its sensitivity to my gestures without being harsh and heavy.  I used mainly the earth colors in order to be in harmony with the Australian terrain, burnt and dry. 

Curiosity, the last image was a surprise. The surface was a textured pastel paper with a high grit tooth. I splashed on some  burnt orange and blue inks randomly. Then, dropped in dry pigments and some watercolor. Followed by a light spray of Adhesive spray over the image. What happened was a delightful, unexpected sedimentation. The texture in real life is incredible.  






Cold Wax …. travel to a new place


Inspiration 1:  The Book

cold wax painting, great art books, wabi sabi art books, art and travel, debiriley.com
Cold Wax Painting  – The Book

Anything with “Wabi Sabi” has my immediate attention, as many of you have guessed by now.  Wabi-wabi Painting with Cold Wax by Serena Barton  is on my list of Great Art Books to read. Beautifully laid out, logically presented and is easy to follow along and ‘ad lib.



cold wax oils
Cold Wax, Oils on Wood

Cold wax is a wax medium primarily used with oil paints to extend, increase thickness, to create added depth, transparency to the painting.  With hot wax, ie encaustics, you need to heat the wax. Which is sometimes a logistical issue.


I have, used cold wax over both acrylics and watercolours.

It worked fine for me.

Resolving and fixing your paintings, debiriley.com
Cobalt Teal Blue …cold wax glaze


Cold wax is easier, than how wax encaustics.

Its ready all the time. It doesn’t give precisely the same results as hot wax encaustics, it is different. In a good way.

I have experimented with both, and love both.

Wax, either cold wax or encaustic,  have a certain quality to them, an otherworldliness. This makes them perfect for paintings denoting depth, space, antiquity,  and distant lands. 

Its this unique quality the wax provides, that I love.

The aspect of travel of Other Lands,  suits cold wax application beautifully.


Golden wax encaustic debiriley.com
Shimmering… hot wax encaustic


Travel Inspiration… through Art

printmaking paper, Sennelier oil pastel, print plates, wax sticks, naples yellow, debiriley.com
Inspiring  world, through Art –   Encaustic Sticks, Chinese paper, pastels

Art is a form of travel.


Why do I say that?

Art is able to transport you in time and place.

I suppose, its almost like a magic carpet. In a way.

Art is able to transcend the barriers of the present moment – to project us forward, backward, or perhaps into alternate and magical,  realms.


If, the art is convincing enough.

If we are fortunate to have a Muse, to help us!



The Art Muse

Art in all its forms,  needs some type of a muse.

Something to breathe  the breath of life into the art. 

Something to spark the ember into a fire.

We need a Muse, that  Adds To   the world of art we wish to create.

The Muse shares with us, shows us:  different approaches, fresh ideas. With the help of our Muse,  we  use all our senses as we go about our everyday living.

Daily life, has been enriched.

That, is what the Muse does for the artist.



Expressive Art Creations  can’t  flourish,  in  conditions of rigid conformity.

The Muse,  works best in a free unbound environment.   In utter authenticity.

The Muse relies upon individualist creativity. That which can not be replicated,  mass produced.

The Muse is no Lemming.  What is being created are  things of unique and rare merit.

Imagination comes without an On – Off switch.  Sometimes its ON. Sometimes, its Off.



Travel to new lands –  Breaking Out

Creativity isn’t   free to express its  voice,  if its   shackled to the same four walls.

Art needs to be let out of the room, to go explore.

Some  Where.

Once in awhile.


These 3 Mountain paintings, are from 3 completely different geographical areas.

The exploring, the wandering, the travel …. it continues to  Add To  my daily life.

winter mountain acrylics debiriley.com
Winter Dawn Mountain Acrylics


color on the mountain, landscape painting, emerald, jade, debiriley.com
Color On The Mountain with cold wax added


We travel to new places,  To See.

Discovering different pathways.

To hear the songs from all across the earth.

Ultramarine Mountain landscape debiriley.com
Ultramarine Mountain

Travel allows us to discover.

Whether we are  walking a new street, seeing a new country, a new city.

Using a new color, a new medium, a different paper.  Or a different brush.

Without a bit of travel,  we become insular.

We become wrapped within our own habits, routines, becoming slaves to our own Selves.

Not noticing the treasures surrounding us.


So.  By the occasion foray to a new land, a new media,  a different place,   we become more aware of our local  daily environment as well.  Interesting.


I’d always longed to travel the entire globe.

Spinning the school’s world globe, studying maps of other lands.

Dreaming of being a pioneer, of discovering  unknown places.


While there may not be, many of those wild places left to discover and my days of scaling the rugged mountain peaks may have  finished…..  I still can hike (stroll)  and explore and conquer new lands.

I can still travel.

 In many different ways.


So can you.

We may not all be able to jet off to New York City, Seattle, London, Tokyo,  Madrid, Singapore. 

But we can use Art,  as our vehicle, to  transport us wherever we wish to go.

Any new place we go, adds to us.  We become more, Inside.


Cold Wax is another way to travel to new places –  in your art.

It has an adventurous, unknown, feeling to it.    It feels wonderful buffed and polished when dry. The layerings will create a sense of smoothed-over scarring;  with a dimension and depth that is irresistible.


cold wax medium, watercolor abstracts, cobalt teal blue, ocean theme, debiriley.com
Resolving old works… with Cold Wax Medium

Cold Wax Mediums

I have used all three of the brands.  Each are quite good.  I do like Dorlands.



Art Spectrum






Playing In Perth: Palette Knife Painting

Palette Knife Painting and Workshops

What a wonderful creative combination: the natural environment rocky escarpments and brilliant skies! Add the magical Palette Knife PK1008 and its a perfect recipe for fun.

palette knife painting workshops, Debi Riley art, nature as inspiration, Perth art classes, debiriley.com
Perfect Palette Knife Playing in Perth, workshop August 31, 2019



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