Water reflections: a source photo and a painting in a soft and soothing impressionist approach. Comparing the reference photo and the painting created, there are quite a few obvious differences. Colors, Tones, Details!

water reflections, acrylic painting, debiriley.com
Impressionist Painting Reflections

A small rivulet in New South Wales, Australia.  Page’s River served as my inspiration for more than a dozen photos in the charming town of Murrurrundi, just south of Tamworth.


The photo is quite clearly more intense yellow green and a near black blue, with distinctive tree branches and foliage seen in the water.

Whereas, to obtain a more Impressionist look… some alterations were needed.

river water reflections, photograph, debiriley.com
Pages River Reflections photo


Water Reflections


Colors Used for Water Reflection Painting

I used a limited palette.  This was to help me achieve a zen like harmony.

Naples Yellow and Prussian Blue in acrylics.

I like Naples Yellow, and felt it would sit in the painting much better than a bright and loud yellow green would.

Prussian blue is my ‘go to’  blue,   its perfect for this type of subject.  It provides a full range of tone from the palest blush of baby blue to to a near black – blue.

By limiting my palette so dramatically,  I help myself achieve better tone throughout the painting.  I avoid mud.  I create harmony, unification…. that would not exist if I’d used 8 zillion colors.

I like to make things easier for myself.




Techniques Used To Enhance Impressionist Vibe

The beginning was a gelli plate print with the two colors softly merging. And while still ‘hot off the press’ and wet,  I worked into the painting to fine tune the areas I wanted just a little more focus on.

There was some skewers being used in this as well, I drew into the damp acrylic paint in some areas to define a few trees.



Impressionist –  Not a Photo Replica

Even though I’d singled out a reference source, my goal was to create an impression of the subject.

I simply wanted to try to convey a feeling, a mood….. a sense of coolness and water.

Basically to elicit emotion,   rather than record the exact latitude and longitude of the geographical location.




This Image is slightly,  underdone.

Perhaps, to finish this piece I could think about……

cropping the sides in just a little  and then add white into the main focus tree trunk, ever so judiciously and lightly.