Category: mixed media

Color-filled Textures!  Watercolor class lesson #6

Color-filled Textures! Watercolor class lesson #6

Color and Texture:  Watercolor Class Lesson #6.

It was pure fun.  I always thoroughly enjoy this topic and technique.

We played with paints, palette knives, pastes, gels on sturdy boards.

We turned plain old  ‘normal’  watercolor, into a Unique Creative Adventure.


Is what I’m talking about!


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Creative Watercolor Textures, molding paste and impasto gel






Yes.  We used Acrylic products, for use with Watercolors!

Impasto gel  and Molding paste. 

They are so exciting, so versatile, I do love them.

They unleash your Imagination.

I’ll tell you how……



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Creative Watercolor textures



Texture: its Function 

Creating Texture in the painting…. what purpose does it serve? 

What locations does it best serve in?   


Texture Effects will help the artist to create depth, dimension, perspective, form and space. 


Texture creates visual “Interest,” preventing the painting from being boring,  from monotony.


Selective Texture,  is especially useful in capturing and holding the viewer’s interest.

Place the Texture in preplanned Select areas.  Areas you have targeted for the viewer to look at,  then you create more contrast and texture in that area.


Art Basics.  Its a good idea to try to remember the basic guidelines.

… A regular painting will generally have a background, middle ground, foreground, and focal point;  and how Texture increases coming forward, into the front.      





Progress – with Different, New Ideas

Using  Watercolors, doesn’t automatically  mean you must only use watercolor paint products. 

There is no “rule” stating your paintings must be pure watercolor paint only.   

Using Watercolors,  doesn’t rule out creating Textural surfaces with mixed media, or acrylic mediums. 

Take your art to the next level. 

Expand,  to include the possibilities of  alternatives, taking you beyond The Beginner levels.  Go ahead, try out the the textural gels and pastes. 




Preparing the Surface

Before we apply the Texture gels and paste, the surface (in this case a wood board) needs primed.

By that, I mean triple coating with gesso.  Making sure the masonite wood board is 100% covered up and completely white. Do the sides as well.

Allow it to dry in between coats.

The masonite board is Ideal.

These boards are sturdy, (vs paper or the warp-able thin card canvases.)

They will uphold the weight of the textural mediums applied so lavishly and vigorously.   


Once the gesso is dry, apply the gel or paste using the palette knife.

Be very Generous, with the gel and paste.

Don’t try to make a “tiny bit” cover the entire board;  scraping it across, till there is no texture left at all. That won’t work.

Go on ……    S l a t h e r     it   on!


As previously mentioned,   I recommend palette knife pk1008 

Dick Blick Comfort handle style 62    soft handle



cool purple watercolor textures, viridian green, teal,
Cool and Purple watercolor over impasto gel


Impasto gel

This will dry clear or nearly clear. 

You will see whatever has been painted underneath.   


So if you think about it, this could work well in many instances.  An underlying ‘not quite resolved’ image, can be covered with the gel and then repainted in areas. With thick goauche, or inks, or acrylics.  


Impasto gel, acts more like the slippery, slick Yupo paper;  the paint will slip off easily. 

debi riley free watercolor art lessons, watercolor and impasto gel techniques
Impasto gel with watercolor stained on top


To counteract this slick attribute, try using either of these techniques:  


A. staining paints and rubbing the paints into the board

B. Gouache White, Opaque paints which will adhere better than the others as they are thicker, denser,  ie more like acrylics       


A bonus, is it that it is so easy to Simply – rinse off and start all over again!!        



masonite wood board art paintings, watercolor and impasto
masonite board,  watercolors over molding paste textures



Molding Paste 

This used to be called Modelling paste.


I used Heavy molding paste.

This will dry off-white and matte,  slightly gritty with a tooth to it; it is ‘absorbent.’   


watercolor landscape trees, with texture,
Watercolor with molding paste


Watercolors applied to the molding paste textured board – acts a lot like a Fresco

Paints are quieted, dulled a tone, slightly less saturated.

But with a lovely old world feel to them, from my perspective. 


Paints are best applied, poured on Or squeezed on… not ‘brushed’ on 

Its not a surface to dob, dab, fiddle about. 


Paints will not wash right off  – the surface is too Absorbent.

But some of the color, will rinse off. Maybe 80% or so. 





Application of the Texture Medium

I prefer applying molding paste randomly.

Freely. Loosely. With my fabulous palette knife. 

Slather the paste on. As if it was meringue.

Don’t be ‘miserly.’


craggy tactile texture in watercolour using molding paste,
A Mountain… emerged from the molding paste textures



You can experiment the textures, by laying a paper onto the paste then lifting, for some fun random foliage like patterns   

With both The Impasto and The Moulding paste,  they must be super dry before any attempt is made to paint.      

If, or when you reach a point watercolors aren’t working for you on them;  they are ready for Acrylics to be painted on. Or mixed media.         You can also re gesso   and reapply the paste.     



cobalt teal and rose watercolor abstract, creative texture techniques, watercolor lesson for beginners,
let the dust settle, teal and rose


Rewards  of Impasto Gel and Molding Paste   

I like using these as wonderful imagination builders. 


Once colors are on and dry;  “things & shapes” begin to emerge. 

Don’t be hasty. 

Allow. This process to happen.   

Things will come forth.   If you allow the Time. 


Perhaps a flower may peer out eventually. 

Or there could be a tree, a leaf, a mountain and sky….. you just never know! 


It keeps you guessing. 

It keeps you looking forward to something – 



The excitement of the Surprise, that these colors and Textures gift you with,  is almost free.      



watercolor beginner lessons color and texture,, Perth art classes creative watercolor,
wonderful white cliffs, the water below….  gouache and a light molding paste


Which Brand you ask?

Golden brand is the one I can always recommend.

It has never, let me down.

It performs brilliantly.

There are, of course many others in a wide range of prices.

I’ve experimented with nearly every brand!


In the many example shown, I have used several brands.  I found each brand has its own characteristics.  One might be toothy and gritty, the other… not so much. One might be translucent. The other, more satin.



Golden’s very useful website page describes their products.

Providing you with a Treasure Trove of great information on the texture mediums, (gels, molding paste, impasto, etc.) and how to use them.

No.  I get no ‘kick back’  rewards, payments of any sort whatsoever for my recommendation for this product.

Or for that matter, any other product I’ve suggested to you.

If I’ve assessed a product and then recommend it as being the most helpful for you; I do not want monetary gain,  to be an influencing factor.

Golden is certainly on the higher end on the budget. But, helpfulness, reliability and  a student’s consistent,  improved results has Value and Worth.





Do Your Own Thing, while creating bold color filled watercolors,  layered up with texture!   



Power of The Blue

Power of The Blue

Delicate beauty and powerful imposing strength.  A compelling combination.

The whisper-like fragility of these gauze thin papers would seem to oppose that bold cocky bravado of blue.


Or is it, that this delicacy, this fragility is in fact, tempering the hard brash Power of the Blue?


prussian blue pb27 paint, paper collage techniques, using square formats, zen wabi sabi,
Little collage, delicate, strength


Blue Power #1

The collage featured began its life as a watercolor.

The paper used was quite heavy, but was student grade. Bockingford. And I wasn’t impressed with the results.

So it went  ‘unresolved’  and placed in my Later Box, for further inspirational.



Recent Resolutions

My idea was to make good use of the thick, sturdy paper as a support for a Collage.  While leaving hints of its texture visible.

Seemed like a good plan.


I chose super thin plain tissue papers along with some printmaking papers I have in my studio.

Masa and Unryu papers played a major role in the collage.

These assorted papers were torn, shaped, glued onto the larger heavier weight paper.


Gloss medium was used to adhere (ie collage)  the papers firmly onto the support.

I was quite generous with the ‘glue’ and did not skimp.

This was because I wanted the viewer to see the underlying textural quality of the heavy support paper ie Bockingford.

Its woven appearance,  added a lovely visual interest to the collage.


Watercolor Paints:

Daniel Smith Aztec Gold, is what I had on hand, for the gold paint.

The gold was applied at every stage.

The underlying washes were in thin diluted amounts; occasionally  I applied gold at the halfway mark.

The final touch, was with the gold. Skimming the gold right across the tips, the peaks of the paper folds.


Quinacridone Gold  – Daniel Smith  I used this sparingly.

It is a Staining paint, therefore is too easy to get carried away with its Boldness.

But, when I pay attention, and wash it out into dilute washes…. it is so lovely and pale. Just perfect.


Prussian Blue pb27  Venezia is  the student grade of Maimeriblu.

Venezia Prussian blue pb27   Item(402) at Dick Blick 


I’ve preferred this brand of Prussian Blue for over 15 years, for its depth, luminosity, tonal range.

I’ve had excellent success with the student range in Prussian Blue.

So, I use the less expensive about   $4  for the  15 ml tube. 


I know,  you are shocked.

“Student grade paint!”

But,  there are some excellent exceptions.

I have discovered some to work better (for what I want in paint results) than the leading professional brands.



Color Mixing – Limited Palette

Quin Gold mixed with Prussian Blue will create a massive range of blue-greens, greens, golden-greens.


These may be diluted with water to fade and be paler; softer.

Or used in strength for a big, bold, dramatic impact.


Two great colors to have on hand – Prussian Blue and Quinacridone Gold.

Hey….. Christmas is coming!!




Blue Power #2

Blue Zen.

This painting is acrylics on masonite board. Heavy applications of molding paste and impasto gel have been used.


Zen Beauty, blue and gold pairing, debi riley art techniques, wabi sabi,
Blue Zen:         molding paste &  impasto gel


Brilliant and Bold Band of Blue

I’ve included Blue Zen for its sheer dominating strength.

Its been seen before, but it is perfect for this post.

It helps illustrate how ‘imperfections’  can balance, can temper,  power.



Texture. Texture. Texture.

Thicker layerings of impasto medium were slathered over top the molding paste layer.

Creating peaks, ridges, valleys, crevices…. an abundance of texture.

Giving the crevices the appearance, the illusion they were on the verge …. of fracturing.


It is this sense of impending fragmentation that gives us a feeling of  fragility. 

It counteracts and balances  –  the nearly overwhelming power of the blue.




The very dominant horizontal blue band along the bottom, pulls, draws the eye down.

Its inescapable.

We can’t help but go there.

But with all that texture above (about 95% of the image)  we aren’t ‘trapped’ either.

We can, allow our eye to return upwards, following the path that is there for us.

There is a Design in this piece. And it helps make the painting work.



Both paintings show how important a sense of delicate fragility, of gentleness are,  in order to balance  the power of the blue 



Mixed Up media

Mixed Up media

Words and letters lie scattered upon the Acrylic painting. Mixed up.

The letters’ dark hard edges  in sharp contrast to the enveloping pinks, oranges, scarlet and salmons of the background.


mixed media in pink and orange, acrylic contemporary art, using words in paintings,
Mixed up media


Acrylic Mixed Media

Its a mixed media piece;  begun with watercolor, adding some textures and finishing with acrylics.

Fairly large at 22 x 30 inches, its a full sheet.

I haven’t used many colors, keeping the palette to prussian and indigo blue with the pink, orange and rose.




New Art Destinations…

Its not a typical approach for me. Its very different.


But, by going to new travel destinations on occasion, it helps me develop further.

To stretch.

It helps to broaden my horizons and appreciation of new forms of art.

To not stay stuck in my comfortable artistic rut, creating the same thing, week after week.



Surprising Outcomes

I enjoy this image, though I didn’t think I would.

The text, the words and letters, randomly falling and all mixed up – look intriguing.

It may not be ‘my thing,’ no.

I’m not on the “Text bandwagon” for good.

But I certainly will be tempted to do more in this style, (on occasion) in the future.



Materials Used

Watercolor Paper 22 x30 inches 300 gsm recycled and gessoed Saunders

watercolor permanent rose washes

Stencils letters and circle patterns

acrylics white, indigo, prussian, rose, scarlet, orange

old brushes and house paint brush 

palette knife 




Even … the trees,  have something to say

Even … the trees, have something to say

I’ve just read an article. The subject was unsettling. It wasn’t a “garden full of bright pretty flowers.”  I didn’t want to keep looking, to keep reading.

Yet I did.

When even the trees  are saying something….. it is time,  to take a deep breath

and Listen.


From Spirit Park to Spirit Dark 

mixed media trees, protest for peace, forest glade canada, andrew seal,
Spirit Park to Spirit Dark 


“Talking Trees”


Andrew Seal the artist, created an amazing art work.

Eight full sheets united to make one unforgettable haunting landscape.

He describes its genesis.

From the lovely zen stroll in the forest… through the transformations it took to completion.

I couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop reading.


I’m  highly,  recommending you read his post:  Spirit Park to Spirit Dark 






My own thoughts afterwards….



Out in the forest, where there would be peace.

There’s much to learn.


So much to see. So much to find.

So much to say.

In the forest.

Even the trees have something to say.


We.    The.  People.

  • With our voices

  • With our art and,

  • In peacefulness


Can say something too.


Its been…. Enough,  to move even the trees.




spirits in the forest protest, andrew seal, protest violence with art, forest in canada, mixed media,
Spirit Park to Spirit Dark 



Spirit Dark……  magnificent and haunting,   8 Sheet mixed media landscape.

From the lovely zen stroll in the forest… through the transformations it took to completion.


It makes you think. It makes you feel.

That, is art.


Andrew’s post is compelling,  informative and is one you won’t simply “forget.”





Making a Difference

If we want peace and unity and cooperation and harmony,


have to say so.





Makes a difference.


Those tiny wee whispers,  the small quiet voice,  and  the mouse who roared.

Every one of them,

makes a Difference.


Use your voice, even if you whisper.




autumn reed reflections photo
Whispers on the Wind, are heard





Tearing It Up…collage

Tearing It Up…collage

Wabi Sabi:  (1) Imperfect  (2)  Unfinished  (3)  Impermanent

Wonderfully, Yes.

Each of those three, sum up the Tearing It Up collage in blue!


tearing papers, collage, mixed media, work in progress, wabi sabi imperfections,
Tearing It Up, collage

Collage WIP

So much patience is needed.

This collage has been an ongoing work in progress for 10 months.

That. Is a long time for me, to still be unfinished.


I’ve only shown you a small portion of the image in the post. The latest part I’ve worked on.

Overall, its quite a large piece.  And intricate.

Did I, perhaps bite off more than I could chew?  I’d have to say yes.  Especially, if… I’d intended to have this done in my usual time frame.  One day. Two at the most. That’s the normal way I work.



Resisting Temptations…

I’m tempted to gesso over the whole thing.

I’m tempted to quit.

I’m tempted to cut the canvas up into sections.


My oh my. I don’t think this will ever, be finished.  

Its certainly, Imperfect.   

And if I keep tearing it up – the impermanence part, well… that is going to be hastened along much sooner!




Persist.. for the Promise

But I persist. In increments.


I see the underlying ‘promise’ within the whole piece.


It may not, be ready yet.

I may not be ready yet.

But  there will come a time when  everything falls beautifully into place.




How do I know?

By experience.

I can and do, trust in myself in this.

By the feeling I get when I look at it.


It holds promise.  



So, its safe.

From gesso. From the scissors and knives.  From the trash bin.




I tell you these things, to encourage you.

To let you see, that you can too can use a similar attitude, a similar approach to thinking about art.

That even when its taking too long, or  its not ‘perfect’ and you are getting frustrated, that there are ways … to navigate around those obstacles.




Another…. snippet,  seen Previously.

creative collage, blue and purple papers,
Creative Collage,



Wabi Sabi is just a word

Its just struck me … I don’t think many readers out there like, the word Wabi Sabi.

Is it because it sounds too much like the ‘Burn Your Tongue,’  ultra hot,  “Wasabi?”

Or sounds like, Khemosabi?


But really,  Wabi Sabi  is just a word that explains and describes something useful to us.

That something is –  a different way of perceiving art. 

Looking at things in ways we’d not imagined them before.

That beauty…. can be discovered in a so many more forms than what we have ever, in the past,  limited our minds to.


Beauty can be found in an unfinished line drawing;  or the rough broken ragged torn edges of papers.

It can be in the impermanence of melting ice sculpture or the crumbling turrets of the sand castle.


In the very imperfections we groan about… there, we find Beauty.




Wabi Sabi.  IT so eloquently describes the grace and beauty of everyday life.    

And thats an amazing thing.




Tearing it up, ripping and shredding papers, art paintings, old poems, and books.

Layer by layer by layer.  Month after month it goes.

So slowly, we create a loved and aged work of art.





Great Partner Posts

Collage in watercolor strips of green 

Canvas Collage 

Collage Saturday 


Bones of Time Zen Wabi Sabi    

this is part of my 7 Days of Zen Series



Patterns In Black and White

Patterns In Black and White

As much as I Love color….. sometimes black and white art images can appeal just as much to me.

floral patterns in black and white, monotypes on japanese paper,
Floral Pattern BW, (c)

Floral Pattern Black and White

Inspired by a vase overfilled with flowers, this monotype is completely pattern based.

It is an abstract, most definitely.

And as such, I thought it would make a great design for my shop products.  So when I’m finally up and running, this is one that’s going to be earmarked …get ‘readied.’



I’m quite enthused about monotypes.  It’s one of my favourite forms of creating art. The process is always an adventure, and something…wonderful seems to always happen!


They’re fast, fun and prolific.

You nearly always get more treasures than expected with this process.

I think of it as a Gold Mine.


Rising Deep

Rising Deep

Rising Deep.

Halloween nears.  And the things beneath begin to move.


mixed media on board, rich colors, scarlet and indigo,



An Abstract

Hints of earth are here, within this painting.

They’re suggested.

Horizontal bands and colors, allude to an earth landscape theme.

Its not spelled out.

With sediments and rock layerings stretched across the horizon, the colors rise.

From… the deep.





A Low Key painting

Low Key. Meaning it has a dominance of dark and mid tones; less light tones.  High Key is the opposite, with a dominance of light tones, creating a sense of air and space and room.

Low Key typically creates the atmosphere of deep, dark, intensity. Maybe ominous, foreboding.  Powerful,  dramatic, intense.  Contained, Closed in.


In my painting, I provided all that Intensity  an ‘Out.’

I created a ‘vent.’

A pathway for the intensity to escape, to rise to the surface, rather than being contained.





Deep Color Palette

The color choices I used were deep and intense. Strong.

Red Scarlet and  Prussian Blue. They both tie in well to an earth theme and have a mysterious depth to them that, in combination, that I liked.

This mysterious depth… seemed to suit the mood, the time  – the season.


Mixed Media 

I used acrylics on a primed, sanded smooth wood board. The board actual size is 6 x 18″ providing a very long vertical drop.  The board was tilted, nearly all the time, while I was painting.  This helped with gravity. Making things rise, and fall.


This is the fun part of art, to be active with the paper, canvas.

Tipping, angling, tilting.

Allowing the paints to rise and sink and merge. Melding together in their own unique creative ways.


To be honest…. it is simply…..for this love of the Process, that I continue to paint.






In a sense, this ‘suggested and inferred’  approach I’ve used is  akin to the ancient Japanese form of art,  “Yugen.”


art that is mysterious, deep, hinted at, not stated directly.

Art that has  power to evoke.




Reading the book,    Japanese Aesthetics and Culture,   by Nancy G. Hume   I came across some wonderful references to Yugen.   And to the wonderful,  Yoshido Kenko.


Yoshido Kenko 1283-1350  wrote this relating to  ‘Yugen’….


“Are we only to look at flowers  in full bloom,  at the moon  when it is clear?

Nay, to look out on the rain and long for the moon, to draw the blinds and not be aware of the passing of the spring – these,  arouse even deeper feelings.

There is much to be seen in young boughs about to flower, in gardens strewn with withered blossoms…..

They must be perverse indeed who will say “this branch, this bough is withered, now there is nought to see.”






6 handpicked posts  –

for those of you, who might be,   interested in more…..



Prussian Blue   oil abstract, One Drop – at a time

Prussian Blue    autumn landscapes

Scarlet Red    inferno  oil

Beautiful Findings….   A lovely post on yugen, and the elegance of wabi sabi

Abstracts a definition       explaining in brief, the art of the abstract

If, It Can Be Imagined      open the doors to your creativity