Gardens, such  lovely retreats.  With snippets of shy fronds peering out amidst the green fresh oasis.  Relaxing and serene.  In the zen like stillness there is action and movement, if I look. In the garden’s serenity,  I find my artistic energies refuelled.

zen garden tropical retreat, foliage greens, calm, debi riley art,
Zen Garden


Creating Art From the Garden


Zen In The Garden …  my creative art endeavour for today is this post.

It counts as art.

It is creative.


Many times,  students do not have time during the week to paint. To practice in the ‘normal’ way. i.e.   getting the paints out.     


  • But,  we can still practice art!
  • We can still create art, in many ways.
  • Just looking and observing, is studying.  Yes,  you are studying art!
  • Looking for a focal point, or for tonal contrasts, etc.  It counts as practice.
  • These acts,  accumulate knowledge within, and will be released when you do get to paint.



Liberal, Relaxed Ideas

By now,  many of you probably know how broad and liberal I am with my art terms, ideas and phrases.

Some of my students in class have a laugh now, when I mention ‘landscapes.’

I raise my brows, as I say,  “If you can see it outside,  go right ahead and paint it.  I consider it Part of The Landscape!”   So whether it is a person’s face, a waterfall, a window, a wild wave crashing, a patio garden… go for it.



Technically….. that’s not quite spot on.

But, who likes rules all the time?




As the well known artist,  Tony Smibert says,

“There are no rules,  just consequences.”


I love that,   don’t you?!!



Zen Garden  Photograph

When I look at this photo, I become immersed in these lovely tranquil greens. Its another world.


I look into the scene and study it for lights and shadows.  I can count about 10 various tonal ranges of greens in the photograph;  this is a helpful thing to do if I was to use this as a reference to paint from.

We need plenty of tones to make a painting successful.


I also can see many, many  versions of greens.  We need 5-7 versions of green at a minimum,  for the optimum success of a painting in greens.


If using watercolors  then perhaps I might use Perylene green for the deep near black greens I see.


Zoisite green, would be perfect for the greyed greens that are in the back and middle ground.   A nice winsor lemon py175 mixed with a tiny bit of prussian blue pb27  would be brilliant for the fresh, light, bright foliage in the front.




Color Burst Watercolor


easy watercolor flowers, mixing green foliage leaves, simple watercolor paintings, debi riley art
Watercolor Garden Sunburst colorburst 




Color Burst Watercolor


  • Cool and Refreshing, like a lemon twist on a hot day!
  • Tons of sparkle created by liberally leaving lots of Whites on the Paper.
  • A limited palette helps: cobalt teal blue, serpentine, winsor lemon.
  • Clarity of tonal values: Light, Mid and Dark provide visual interest
  • Leaf like and Petal like brush strokes draw the viewer in




Zen Serenity  in the Gardens



zen garden, calm peaceful greens, debi riley art, Perth flower,
Serenity in the Gardens


So soft. So tranquil.

The background in the garden is everything in this photograph.

The soft edges and tonal ranges all unite to gently, bring your eye to the tiny star flower in the foreground.



Summary Points  


  • Many studies have shown, that Creativity and a Relaxed mind are linked together.
  • Gardens are a perfect place to retreat to for some zen relaxation.
  • Time Poor, no Time to Paint?  I can still Create!   Just in a different format.
  • Ideas and Imagination, are a valid creative art form
  • Tony Smibert has brilliant ideas and artwork



Zen in the Gardens photograph has a delicacy and sensitivity, a story telling quality to it that I find quite enchanting.

If, the photo had been a riot of all colors…. this quality would not have emerged.  The near monochromatic nature of the photo enhanced the image’s content.



Further Posts you may be interested in

Tony Smibert