Tag: beginner watercolor

Impressionist’s Approach …painting water

Impressionist’s Approach …painting water

Rules. Basics. Secrets. More rules…..

For the beginner watercolorist, it can be, all very overwhelming to try to remember it all!

You don’t have to.

 

 

Painting Water

My thoughts on painting water.

 

Keep it super simple.

For Beginners:  Short easy sessions,  that you focus on just one technique at a time are the key.

 

Just one process you want to get down.

Not the  whole shebang at once. 

You can have a lot of fun, keeping it simple,  learning to paint water. 

 

 

 

Impressionist Approach

Keep it nice and loose.

Carefree.  Fun.

In an   Impressionist’s approach. 

 

 

 

impressionist approach painting water, watercolor land and water easy techniques, debiriley.com
Impressionist Moods of Water

 

Its really about Your impression of the subject you paint.

Its more about how you are feeling about the subject that makes the difference.

Its how you personally are interpreting it, what dialogue you have between the two of you… that counts most.

Just let us know,  show us.

 

 

paint emotion, impressionist watercolor, mist on water, Northwest inlet watercolor landscape, debiriley.com
paint emotion

 

 

Sometimes the water appears bright and tropical,  fun and summery. Light and easy.

So.  Paint it that way.

Utilise white sparkles of the paper shining through,  to accent and highlight this point.

Don’t allow it or yourself, to get all bogged down and tight; the work filled with hard edges won’t capture the fun loose and carefree vibe.

 

 

 

Sometimes the water appears dark.  Choppy.  Moody and Sullen.

Well,  paint that feeling!  cool, stormy colors with short choppy strokes will evoke this sensation.

 

beginners impressionist watercolors, painting water in watercolours for novice painters, debiriley.com
practice…water techniques

 

 

 

Leaving white of the paper is a big help.

Painting a few squiggled lines for ‘ripples’ is another fast and simple method that works quite well many times.

Graded washes,  light -mid – dark tones in your water,  is another key factor to remember.

 

The other thing to remember about water, is that the farther away it is –   white waves will be ‘greyed off’ not stark white,   and the less detail, the less color intensity,  the less contrast,  the less strong dark deep tones it will have.

That right there,  is worth jotting down!

 

 

beginners watercolors painting water techniques and ideas, debiriley.com
water techniques

 

Beginners Watercolors

Beginners at watercolor,  may find it useful and easier,  to begin with simpler designs.

Simple basic easy shapes.

Starting right at the beginning.

 

Nothing too complicated or complex, no matter how much our minds are leaping to do so.

I know.

We are yearning to…. paint that busy harbour scene filled with action.

Boats, sailors, shipping lines, cargo carriers, seagulls in flight, reflections shimmering, sailboats flying in the wind.

 

 

But,  I have discovered, small steps.

One thing at a time, works.

Sinks in.

 

So that week by week,  month by month we do see incremental improvements.

Then, we can paint the more involved scene.

Such as the shadowed fir trees reflected in the misty early morning waters of the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

 

 

follow on posts….

Watercolor water 

Watercolor loose and free and easy 

Watercolor Impressionist  –   John Peter Russell    

 

 

 

 

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Zen Stroll: Watercolor Tree Inspirations

Zen Stroll: Watercolor Tree Inspirations

Can we lower blood pressure in under 5 minutes?  A soft smile upon our faces?

And, can we  be Ready for the day? 

Calm morning strolls, no matter how short, are perfect.  Perfect for refreshing, for inspiring.

For gaining new insights.

 

forest stroll zen meditation, nature inspirations, watercolor lessons, debiriley.com
Zen Stroll –  so inspiring

The Zen Strolls

My Zen Strolls began a few years ago, with the instructions “get some exercise.”

The idea was for me to jog or something like that.

The traditional idea of exercise.

 

I thought I’d walk. Cheap, handy, etc.

 

An incentive.

I needed a reward.

So I took my camera, thus my “prescribed” program of exercise morphed into a meditational zen stroll.

Something I enjoy.

Look forward to. And will do as often as I can.

 

I had to look at this exercise thing a little differently, than the standard way of thinking about it.

With new fresh eyes.

No. I do not actually do aerobic exercise. At all.

But, my blood pressure is lower. Enjoyment is higher. And some days,  I end up walking 2 hours.

Works for me.

 

 

 

The Difficult Questions

 

Approach it all, with a New Innocence.

Yes.

Whatever it is, whether its ‘exercise’  or if its Art.

 

Those ….. ingrained traditions.

Those old accepted beliefs.

 

Question them.

 

 

Why do we need to skimp on paint?

Why do we need to use Just Beginner quality products?

Why do we need to paint tiny, shrinking inwards, rather than Bold & Outwards!?

Why do we need to parrot the exact scene, line for line, word for word, without expressing our own selves?

 

 

Do you pause, and wonder about

HOW are these actions, serving us, in the  Long Term?

 

These are the hard questions, we need to ask of ourselves, in order for the doors of creativity to fully open.

 

 

 

Good Advice

 

“What purpose is this thought or action serving?”

This was what one of my professors, demanded of me, in the nicest way possible.

 

 

It stopped me, in my tracks.

And made me think.

 

She was a great one for doing her own thing, her way.

And making certain that others found their own voice.

It was years ago, and I’ve not forgotten her words.

 

 

 

zen nature stroll, meditational walk, reflecting in nature, debiriley.com
stillness and serenity   –  a zen stroll

 

 

Art is Feeling

I explore in many posts, ideas about feelings, thoughts and emotions in this Art website.

Not just the mechanics, the step by step techniques.

Basics are good, needed, but without the spirit and imagination to spur us on, we falter.

 

One can not divide the two…. Art and Feelings.

 

The artist’s feelings, emotions, are what breathes Life into the art work.

Without that vulnerability, ‘risk’ taking,  the resulting product is bland and flat.

Its an empty product without taste, not many would be interested in tasting.

 

rough bark photograph, canon eos, debi riley art, art basics
Bark    Rough,  but soft in the back.  how it looks, feels

 

 

 

I’m working on some watercolor color charts.

watercolor mixing chart, landscape colors, debiriley.com
Palette  I   for Tree  Bark

 

Plus, a  quick tree or two… these will go into Part 2 of Zen Strolls, my upcoming next post.

 

 

 

 

The World of Watercolor: Loose And Free!

The World of Watercolor: Loose And Free!

Do you love watercolor?  Love its translucency, its soft melting edges?

Love Colors that seemingly flow together to create something that the hand, the brush could not quite have dobbed or dabbed into being?

I do.

 

watercolor techniques loose and free, beginners fun painting, debiriley.com
world of watercolor loose and free

 

Impressionist watercolor flowers, bright colored flower painting, debiriley.com
Loose Colorful  Patio Flowers

Watercolor Loose and Free

Freedom of Expression

What purpose such looseness and freedom serve, we may wonder.

Wouldn’t crisp, tight, defined, “control” over the entire process be much better?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

Wouldn’t it better … “to bend; not break?”

 

My privilege as a teacher, while adhering to the described course title, theme topic,  is to overview the group’s needs and then tailor the agenda to that.

Diversity within the group, of course means we will all take in the skills, the information at varying rates, the different things presented.

Its just like here, in these posts.  At different times, we will be ready. For new information.

 

I liked the concept of Loose and Easy, as I believe its one of the most effective ways to  become confident and successful with watercolors.

 

Scary at first, yes,  I do remember being a ‘beginner.’

But we ease in. Bit by bit we let go.

Step by step we open the doors.

 

watercolors, bright colors of natures, wet in wet watercolor technique, debiriley.com
Glorious Colors

 

Ways… to let go

Trying any of these, better still – making up your own ways, is a step towards free & loose expression in art.

 

Ultramarine acts as a dark anchor while Lemon blends with Cobalt Teal blue as they fall together.

The explosion of shapes created with Cadmium Scarlet eased into Indanthrone blue, Prussian blue.

Or maybe the sedimentation and speckling patterns made by mixing Lunar Black with Quinacridone Sienna.

Cobalt Teal blue finding its way downwards, as gravity controls its descent in a lovely scene, reflections along the water.

 

creativity includes cropping an image, debiriley.com
Cadmium Scarlet on Blue

 

 

 

There is a time and place for all types, all styles, genres of painting approaches.

Botanical, Impressionist, Surrealism, Illustrative, Cubist, PhotoRealism, etc.

 

bright bird of paradise greeting cards, debi riley art, flower cards for Mothers day, Society 6, debiriley.com
Bird of Paradise Greeting Cards

 

Each artist, will have their own unique personality.

With specific preferences.

 

These preferences,   evolve with time.

Our tastes, change, as we gain more experience.

 

As we gain confidence, step by step, we put our ‘stamp’ upon the things we do.

Just like our clothing, our home decor, our landscaping, our favorite cooking recipes.

And this, is exactly what we are aiming for!

 

 

zen of colour: forest in cobalt teal blue pg50, debiriley.com
‘Zen in the Forest,’    …. a loose interpretative approach

 

 

 

Tips & ‘Guide Posts’  to Painting Loose!

For us to be able to paint and create Loose and Free,  there are some helpful ideas that make it easier for us.

These guide posts serve to inspire us, to lead us in the direction of our goal.

 

 

viridian green watercolor, viridian green pg18, watercolor mixing greens, debi riley watercolors, debiriley.com
Loose and Free!!    Viridian green and Ultramarine  22×30  Abstract

If you like, you could replace the words need and must, with “suggest”  it does, sound nicer on the ears.

 

  • we must be willing to paint loose
  • we have to….  Want It!

 

  • we need to practice,  frequently
  • practice with such repetition, that it might annoy us at times

 

  • we need to Think differently
  • think thoughts of big bold, loose! Free!

 

  • we need to let go
  • we need to open the closed doors

 

  • we need to stop,  all,  miserly thoughts
  • penny pinching  defeats,   Loose & Free

 

  • we need to think laterally
  • creative problem solving  for such issues, IS Possible

 

watercolor beginner flowers, easy purple iris bud, step by step, debiriley.com
Control –  serves a purpose, at times.

 

 

The World of Watercolor Loose and Free, though, is one where we can relax.  Let go.

Enjoy the colors, the music, the tones, the movement.

 

 

watercolor abstract simplicity, light red, debiriley.com
Simplicity Wc Light Red

 

 

bold colorful impressionist landscape, loose and free landscape paintings, debiriley.com
Loose and Free,  interpretation of  W.A.  landscape.      “uncontrolled  ill defined”

 

 

 

 

Watercolor Basics 

 

 

 

 

Watercolor Paper: gorgeous

Watercolor Paper: gorgeous

Paper Love, or  shall I say “paper-philia?”

Printmaking, Asian papers, watercolor, pastel and handmade papers… I do love good paper.

 

Gorgeous Papers

Watercolor Loose and Easy  began its first session yesterday at Atwell Gallery, Perth.

It was fabulous.

Discussing watercolor basic materials,

and the many types of Watercolor papers,  those most beneficial to beginners, was a priority.

 

watercolor papers, Saunders cold press textures, Daniel Smith greens, zoisite, impressionist watercolour landscapes mountains, debiriley.com
Saunders 100% cotton Watercolor paper;   in detail,  close up

 

Selecting 100% Cotton paper

With pure cotton, your results are smooth.  Lovely transitions and merging of beautiful colors.

The added bonus: 100%  cotton papers are a dream when you make a mistake and need to rinse/lift it off.

Student grade papers

(made from cellulose ingredients not cotton)  are very difficult, not beginner friendly in this regard.

 

Yes, they are cheaper!

But, I’d rather not pull my hair out in frustration with that cheap paper.

 

 

I’ve recommended Saunders Cold Press 100 % Cotton Rag.

With the proviso, if they so chose to go the luxury route, Arches CP or Rough was a very, very good paper. 

 

Arches cold press debiriley.com
Arches watercolour paper Cold Press debiriley.com

 

 

I’m also personally fond of using: Masa, Fabriano Soft Press, Fabriano Rough, Fabriano Esportarzione,  Twinrocker Feather Deckle and Yupo.

Usually, it is anything that is going to provide lots of texture with a lovely soft cotton ‘feel’ to it.

 

Winters Glow, watercolor landscape, reflections, debiriley.com
Winter’s Glow  amethyst on Masa… debi

 

Though the Yupo is quite slick and plastic like in its feel and handling.

But, I like it and so do many of my students!

 

yupo watercolors abstract blue orange debiriley.com
yupo  creativity workshop with watercolour –  Victoria

 

 

 

Close up of Saunders

When you look at this watercolor study close up,  you can see the exquisite textures within the Saunders paper.

 

I’d like to point out, for beginners, that it is the combination of:

  • Plenty ie  surplus…. of Water and
  • the good paper  and
  • the granulating paint pigment
  • that will allow this perfection of textural effects to shine through.

 

 

I have used  Daniel Smith (green)  watercolors in this impressionist mountain study:

zoisite,   green apatite and serpentine.

 

Zen.   They blend harmoniously.

And the textural qualities these pigments lend to the painting are sensational.

 

zoisite, zoisite gemstones, Daniel Smith watercolor primatek paints, paintings inspired by gems, debiriley.com
Zoisite the gemstone

 

Zoisite, the gemstone

Its so lovely to get to see, what the pigment originally was.

Before it was ground fine as dust, mixed with gum arabic and squeezed into a paint tube.

 

 

 

 

 

All Things Watercolor

All Things Watercolor

What do watercolor beginners want to know? What do beginners  need  to know?

I think we all wish to spend a little less, create a little more, and see greater improvements in our work.

That’s at the heart of our watercolor wants.   

So,  what can we do and what do we need to learn in order to make these happen for us?

watercolor beginner basics, tips and techniques for starting watercolours, everything you wanted to know about watercolor, debiriley.com
watercolor beginner basics –  simple easy loose landscapes

 

All Things Watercolor

Its about your selection of the Brushes, the Paints, the Papers.

Choosing the right material to accomplish the task as successfully as possible.

 

Beginners want to know

How To Get Started with Watercolors.

Watercolor Brushes 10 Tips   

A New Brush,   testing….

beginner Watercolor brushes, Hake, Rekab 320s #2, rigger, debiriley.com
Watercolor Brushes

Watercolor  –

Its a whole different ballgame to oils or acrylics.  In those, we are actively trying to ‘cover up’  the support, the canvas surface.

And in oils/acrylics we do, with gusto!

 

impasto Acrylics with palette knife debiriley.com
Buttery super Thick, Impasto Acrylics

 

The trouble comes, switching over to watercolors with that same idea.   That, then becomes a problem.

It creates mud.

Thicker, heavier wc applications aren’t so great. Neither is covering up the entire paper surface with paints, not leaving any white of the paper visible.  This, dulls the painting making it appear tired and over – worked.

Not ‘sparky’ or lively at all!

 

 

Watercolor Paint Colors – Absolute Beginners!

  1. Cobalt blue pb28       2. Permanent Rose pv19       3. Winsor Lemon py175
Watercolor easy color mixing chart, Beginners watercolor mixing, debi riley art, debiriley.com
Watercolor Chart:  Just 3 Tubes = Hundreds of Mixes            debiriley.com ©

 

Just for Beginners –   3 Tubes  to get you started,   its less overwhelming.

Plus, cost is less.

And you get less mud.

And you create a more unified painting.

Win Win!

Simple Greens back to Basics 

Watercolor Browns 

Watercolor Green Leaves 

 

 

Watercolor Tips

Lunar Black Daniel Smith watercolors, Debi Riley art, mixing green, debiriley.com
Colors of the Sea – pigments flow, merging
  • Watercolor likes to be diluted, to run free.
  • Let its pigment particles sink, flow, flare, merge &  To Create!
  • Think along the lines of ….  “WATER -color.”
  • Make the  emphasis on the Water.
  • Allow the Water to be the vehicle, that carries the Color, as it runs, sinks, melts.

 

 

Papers for Watercolor

For well over 25 years, I’ve been a strong advocate (bordering on compulsive?)  of Arches Rough 100% cotton watercolor paper for The Beginners especially.  I’ve written a few posts on Arches paper for beginners.

I still firmly believe the paper itself, is exceptional.

BUT, in Australia, the importation costs of Arches paper has now, in my opinion….  escalated Beyond any justification I can possibly come up with.

 

 (USA  Jerrys online art shop)  Arches 300 gsm paper pack of 10 $54.50

making each sheet  $5.40  – Which is reasonable.

However,  in Australia    ONE  Sheet of Arches 300 gsm   is      $17.50 +

A sheet 22×30 of 640 gsm Arches is   $38.70     

 

Therefore, I’ve changed  my recommendations for watercolor paper. 

 

Saunders   is a very good paper – and is now my Watercolor Paper Recommendation.

impressionist watercolor landscape, simplifying the subject, limited palette, debiriley.com
Impressionist Landscape –   Saunders Watercolor Paper

 

It is absolutely 100% cotton rag  and that is the foremost important consideration.

The Cold Press or the Rough surfaces will work well for beginners.  It will allow for enough lifting and rinsing off mistakes to resolve most faux paux.

 

Fabriano 100% cotton rag Rough is sheer delight for the intermediates, the Soft Press and Hot Press great for intermediates as well.

The Cold Press will be fine for beginners.

Winsor and Newton is a great paper, if you can get your hands on it.

But the Cold Press is a dream, and wonderful for beginners too.

 

Winsor & Newton Cold Press paper watermark Debi Riley
Winsor & Newton cold press paper –    the watermark

 

The book that is my favorite reference guide is  Watercolor Paper Handbook… Werner Mertz

Well worth the trouble of ordering.

Twice,  as it happened in my case.

 

Watercolour Handbook Werner Mertz, debiriley.com
Watercolor Handbook Werner Mertz

 

 

 

My thoughts

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Start off nice and slow;  and easy.
  • Build your skills and techniques,  over time. 
  • Set yourself goals.    Goals…. are good.
  • 1,2, 3, 6, 9 month goals.  1 year  2 years  3 years
  • Look at this progress… that you have made.  Not Sue, not Bob!
  • Find some good spots, in each art work you do. Every time. Its important.   

 

 

 

 

References

Classes. Museums.  Books/magazines.

 

Generally, my first recommendation for Beginners is to take watercolor art classes.

Look for an encouraging, instructor with a like minded philosophy.

Research who is in your area. Make the calls and emails. Check them out in advance.

You’ll want to paint from physically tangible, touchable items.

You learn more and faster this way.

 

Art museums with the Masters would be a second suggestion.

 

Books and magazines. ….  many ‘beginners how to’  don’t meet criteria for accuracy or being adequate.

Using online sources to copy ie   “Pinterest” art –  This is a minefield, for a plethora of reasons.

 

Reference sources need to: teach basics and creative Self expression

If they teach replication, that isn’t truly helping us to fully engage and  ‘learn.’

How then, will the student learn how to design/simplify/create a painting all on their own,  if they’re not shown the basics of how these processes are thought out and done?

 

If the references show a painting with poor tonal values, poor edges, poor center of interest, poor aerial perspective and pass it off as  “ok”  –  How will the Beginning student learn the correct art basics?

 

The Australian Artist magazine,  The Pastel artist magazine,  The International Artist magazine, The Southwest artist magazine typically show high calibre professional work.

They combine the art basics with these critical factors…. Self expression, Creativity, Imagination, Interpretation.

They’re Great places to look and study art techniques. Not copying.

  (Online art Piracy,  is rampant.  Its not ok.

Painters are the same as writers.  A painting is the same as a book.  We… spent our money and our time, creating a product for purchase.)   And yes.  Its happened to me.

 

Tony Smibert …. any of his art books are simply fabulous.

Edward Seago,  we all can learn from him in watercolor and in oils.

 

 

Finally – The Featured Landscape

watercolor beginner basics, tips and techniques for starting watercolours, everything you wanted to know about watercolor, debiriley.com
watercolor loose landscape

My featured watercolor painting, while not perfect, does show some lovely watercolor attributes.

The flow and merging of paint pigments has been allowed to happen, without coercion.

The edges around the borders are so soft and blurred. It creates a calm and leads the eye inwards.

Only 2-3 paints were used. Some warm golden tones in front to infer its nearness. The colder colors receding, into the distance. Provides a sense of depth, even to this semi abstract landscape.

And lastly, the amount of white space was deliberate.

The viewer is now free to interpret the sky and foreground areas as they wish.

Its up to them.

This open ended invitation to the viewers, I think makes art so much more accessible. More Embraceable. Well, for me, it does.

 

 

watercolor landscapes 3 tips  

loose untamed watercolor 

watercolor hills 

 

 

Watercolor Secret, its in the ‘kiss’

Watercolor Secret, its in the ‘kiss’

Watercolor Secret….. It is simple and Quick!

Just allow your loaded up watercolor brush to lightly ‘kiss’ the paper surface.

Think of your paper as if it were a delicate butterfly wing you don’t wish to damage.

But to  – merely touch with the gentlest of touches.

That is it.

Nothing complicated, just simple.

 

watercolor landscape techniques, impressionist watercolours, using minimalist brush approach painting trees, debiriley.com
impressionist watercolor minimalist landscape

 

Watercolor Secret

In this serene, impressionist watercolor calmness prevails.

With a warm, well diluted Naples Yellow watercolor applied as the all over wash first to set the tone.

For my darker areas, I needed deep rich tones of burnt sienna and burnt umber.

The hints of tree trunks were created randomly, with the tip of a skewer.

 

I did, have several of these on the go this session.

It helps me.  It prevents me, from fiddling with watercolors.

 

 

 

There’s been no heavy handed, rough harsh use of the brush.

Just enough  brushstrokes, to accomplish the task intended – no more.

And then the pause.

 

A time for Reflection….

Stopping.  Assessing.

 

Understanding –  that yes, enough was said and done.

 

 

 

Understanding

Watercolor responds best, when it is  understood. 

When you Know, what each paint, each pigment you use, will and won’t do.

 

When the artist is fully able, to direct the brush and the pigment with that oh so delicate ‘kiss’  upon the paper.

 

 

Watercolor’s pet peeves and her loves ….

I have avoided any rubbing, scrubbing paint color in, dobbing and dab-dab-dabbing of the brush.

 

Watercolor dislikes intensely the dobbing and dabbing one could skate by perhaps, with oils.

Watercolor thrives under a more sensitive, softer, lighter handed approach.

 

The brush, fully loaded,  just meets  the uppermost top layer of the paper’s surface.

That.

Is what Watercolor loves most.

 

That is when you get the best results out of watercolor.

 

 

 

Brushes.

It makes life easier, in this endeavor, when the brush you use is not a synthetic blend. They foster, the stiffer dobbing brush strokes.  The 100% natural hair brushes, sable, squirrel, etc.  provide a fluidity watercolor loves.

 

 

Now, I have to duck out real quick.  The art shop is having a sale……..

 

Return to Basics – Simplicity

Return to Basics – Simplicity

Watercolors.  Back to Basics.

Simplicity…..   I like it.

Its about the basics.

Trying to express with the brush, what you see and ‘feel.’

 

 

watercolor techniques, painting Christmas trees, back to basics watercolor beginners, debiriley.com
Simplicity … it can be,   complicated

 

Simplicity

A watercolor Christmas holiday tree, kept nice and easy.

Not with all the hoopla, and dizzying busy-ness that makes our heads spin.

 

This was deliberate.

Created with simplicity in mind.

 

Done with  the specific targeted goal  of trying to paint  “simplicity.”

And then hoping,  that feeling of Simplicity,  might follow me around elsewhere.

Even if, it was just the rest of the day. Or week.

 

 

 

 

Creative Watercolor Zone

 

My mind was in the creative zone.

I shut off everything else.

 

This painting….

it didn’t take long.

I didn’t need to devote precious,  Time.

All I spent in total, was 5 minutes.

 

The brush danced along and I had fun watching it move.

Yes… I know,

I was holding the brush.

 

But I was really, only gently directing its pathways.

I wasn’t forcing it or ‘making it’  go anywhere.

 

There was no rigid tight control freak in charge….today.  I’m not, perfect!

 

 

It is this part of The Art Basics, that often gets left out of art classes.

The Partnership.

The one-ness between you and the brush, the paints, the papers, ie your materials.

 

And its this Partnership that enables you, to master Simplicity.

 

 

 

Extra

You might like to view Tony Smibert’s art images at smibert.com  

He is a current, internationally known artist who most certainly,

has mastered the art of Simplicity.

 

Magic happens in so few, beautiful brush strokes.

Tony works in both watercolors and abstracts, and acrylic on canvas.

Loveliness.