Watercolours: Red Dragon Maple Trees

maple trees watercolours,debiriley.com

Watercolours aren’t really difficult. Easy to correct – just rinse off the paint. Easy to pack, clean up and carry around.  They are great socialisers as they mix brilliantly with other forms of media. They married well with the Red Dragon Maples.

maple trees  watercolours,debiriley.com
Red Dragon Maple Trees in watercolours debiriley.com

I chose watercolours in the painting,   Red Dragons   for the transparency and the authenticity of the piece.  Red Dragon is another name for the dwarf red Japanese maple (Acer Palmatum)  we  had in our gardens overlooking the Puget Sound area.


Watercolour landscape colour selection

The sunsets in early autumn often gave the  sky a lovely naples yellow glow. And being in the Pacific Northwest, the lawns were nearly always deep emerald green.

This image evolved and had its genesis after reviewing several of my photos with red and green pairings.  I started with thinking about colour opposites (or  ‘complementaries’) which are:  blue and orange,   yellow and purple and  red and green. I selected red and green.

Watercolour landscape tonal values

I kept the sky flat, not graded.  I did not want to busy it up, not interfere with the viewers’  enjoyment of the red delicious vibrancy of the trees.

The emerald green foreground required that the tones be graded.  I followed the general guideline of darker in the front (near)  and lighter into the back.   This helps to give a little more depth to the image.

The image is already quite a ‘decorative’ piece.   In other words, it isn’t truly representational, it is more of a Statement Piece.    But,  regardless of that, it still needs the minimum of 3 tonal values to make it work.


red tree foliage, mixed media debiriley.com
Red Tree Foliage, watercolour media, debiriley.com

Watercolour and  Mixed Media

Red Tree Foliage,  mixed media with watercolours, pastels and inks.  This is a previous painting from  several months back that I also reviewed. It helped assist me while thinking about my subject and colour selections for my main painting of the day. In it, I found the perfect red.

This rich vibrant red was exactly what I wanted.A mixture of Permanent Rose, Quinacridone Sienna and Permanent Alizarin Crimson created this lovely blend. This is the blend I used for my Red Dragon maples.


These two photographs I also reviewed.  Focusing in  on  the red and green     complementary theme, provided me with more ideas for design and colours.

red and green photo debiriley.com
Red and Green Opposites photograph


dewdrops on flower photo debiriley.com
Dewdrops Red and Green photograph

Dewdrops inspired the creation of the rich deep emerald green in Red Dragons.

Red Dragons  green was created by blending prussian blue, naples yellow, perylene green.

Quite often,  the memories that are triggered  by your  own photographs can help  you recapture the connection with your subject and convey that same feeling back to your viewers.

Its more like…..  capturing and conveying the spirit of the subject than achieving the  precise measurements, mathematical angles and technical correctness.

Watercolour painting corrections

When I’m using watercolours, nearly any painting mistake can be wiped, lifted, rinsed off – either to the pure white of the Arches 100% cotton paper, or to nearly all white.

The edges can easily be softened around the perimeters, the backgrounds, the objects’  bottoms: straight away or 6 months later.

I can return to the painting months or even years later and add other media such as pastels or inks to highlight or soften areas if I’d like.

Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

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