Splash, Spray, Create … in watercolors

ultramarine blue pb29 watercolor, watercolor creative techniques, easy beginner watercolor ideas, texture in watercolor, debiriley.com

Deep ultramarine and hints of violet.

The explosions of light and color from stars and galaxies we will never see. Except, perhaps in our imaginations.


ultramarine blue pb29 watercolor, watercolor creative techniques, easy beginner watercolor ideas, texture in watercolor, debiriley.com
watercolor creative techniques


Ways With Watercolor

The magic of watercolor for me, is its ability to adhere so well to its specific pigment properties. It is obedient, reliable, consistent in the following of its nature.

Lending the artist a helping hand, with this knowledge.


A Granulator such as Ultramarine stays true to itself and creates wonderful textures upon the paper’s surface.

Stainers, like ….Permanent Alizarin Crimson will follow its nature. To run, explode outside the barriers.


I know what these ingredients, these pigments will do.  So then I combine them to do a job. To help me say what needs saying.


You could, in a way think of them as you do your cooking ingredients. Flour, sugar, honey, molasses, salt, vinegar, baking soda, milk, cream, lard, olive oil, coconut oil. Many times you could use any old oil or butter and it makes no difference.

But, there are times when the ingredient must be pure butter for the recipe to work.

For the result to turn out…. delicious.


Not just – passe.

Heaven forbid…  inedible.



It is the same with paints.

Many ultramarines are fairly exchangeable. No worries.  So too with phalo blue.  And quinacridone rose, phalo green, quinacridone gold, burnt umber.

I normally,  don’t specify a particular Brand for most,  routine colors.



Critical Importance to success

Unless it is crucial.

…..   like  it is with Indigo and Naples Yellow.

(Daniel Smith’s are successful.)

Its all in “the ingredients!”



I mention this today, as I’d talked about it a little last week in class.

I often try make do, make something  I have on hand, work.


Why go and buy something…. if I have a product that will do the job?

Many of us might have ended up with 3 crockpots, 2 types of knife sharpeners and have learned our lesson!

I’m with you on that, definitely.


Having said that, I’ve also spent 25 years buying thousands of tubes of paints.

Experimenting. Testing. Researching.   Every single one.

So, my hope is always, that you let all my “losses”  be your gain!   That you  learn from my mistakes and save yourself time and money.





Process of Splash and Spray

This was done on dry Arches 100%  cotton paper rough.

The paint colors used were burnt umber (Maimeriblu)     Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Winsor Newton)  mixed with Ultramarine (Art Spectrum)

So that is limiting the palette to 3 paints.    And,  I’ve used a  Cool Palette.   Doing both  of these are great tips to avoid, mud.



I used a spray mister to lightly mist the paper surface.  Choosing to ‘miss’ some areas.

Then loading brushes and flicking the paints on.  Misting again, as needed.

The Darker Ultramarine and Burnt Umber, I used an old toothbrush to scoop up paint and flicker it on as the paper was drying.

This allowed for the darker tones I was hoping for, to create more depth.


This is a fast, fun, easy, loose watercolor technique.   

Perfect to release tension, have some fun, create some exciting work and some of these can also be used later as backgrounds for other works.

The soft edges are particularily good for depth.




This is a non representational image, abstract.

It simply is a  watercolor technique.

An exercise to demonstrate limited palette using cool colors; and how using a Spray Mister can be an effective way to add depth in your future works.



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

13 thoughts on “Splash, Spray, Create … in watercolors

  1. A beautiful experiment and sound advice as always. When I follow online or book tutorials I always use materials I have already to hand rather than buying products especially. And understanding the properties of pigments is essential knowledge for all watercolour painters – I’m getting there slowly. I’ve realized too that there’s no short cuts with this – it’s only by using lots of different pigments, practicing with them that I will truly get to understand how they will react with water on my paper! Lovely post Debi….


  2. Really like how you delve in to the process of creating in this post, Debi. It’s so apt to associate galaxies with imagination. Anything is possible with imagination…sometimes imagination and inspiration may be a bit bleak, maybe dark and scary. But when stars and inspiration strike, it is such a beautiful feeling.

    Wow, you have bought thousands of paint tubes and I bet each one was something exciting when you opened it and tested it out. Some might have worked right on the first go, others maybe gelled better with others and other simply a no go. I have a similar experience with writing. There are many genres to write about and over the years I have tried writing different genres. Poetry didn’t work for me, and the same with creative writing. These days I know non-fiction is what I like writing about…with an academic twist and a bit of personal anecdote at times 🙂


    1. hi Mabel, Thanks!! Yes, I’ve done ‘my homework’ LOL I can see how finding the right fit in writing can take time. Can BE, an experience in itself. Thats the thing, we, often disregard in the rush to get to the end destination – that the steps, along the way, the sights, scents, feelings, all of it, make us the better richer artist. We, (people) seem to want it right now. Your niche, works so beautifully for you, with you. it is as if you color the writing, but also, the writing marks and colors you as well. I’m reading some OLD art books. I’m finding hidden gems within that I didn’t think I would. Trying to let go old ideas, to be open to new. 🙂


      1. So agree that so many of us want things right now. Art takes time to develop, and our mind needs time to see the different pieces and put them together so the bigger picture gives a sense of purpose. Always a delight on how you experiment with water colours, especially when it comes to blending of colours – always open, always new, always refreshing 🙂


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