Tag: cerulean blue

Art – Acts of Creation

Art – Acts of Creation

To Create

What is it ‘to create?’

Why  might this interpretive definition be important to you?

While I’m specifically  writing this article for the current participants of my courses in Perth, I feel it is  relevant for many others who’d like to be encouraged,  as they create.

watercolor painting techniques
Acts of Creation, palette knife & watercolor

People who create things – ‘Creators’

We do not, need to be  painters,  to be considered creators of art.

If you make things, build things, develop things – you are a creator.


We have been led, to believe only a select rare few, are artists. Are deserving to be named art creators.  Not so. We are all, born to create. In some form.

Art, takes an infinity of forms: Music, photography, dance, building & bridge design, digital apps., surgery,  interior design, fashion design, coding, cooking, sculpture, writing, martial arts….  We can make anything an ‘art form’  if that is our desire.

To take something to an ‘art form,’  we must truly love the subject.

Become partners with it. At ease and in tune with how it looks, moves, feels, sounds, responds.  The beginning of artistry is love, time, connectedness.

Whether we’re painters, teachers, computer app designers,  composers, surgeons, city planners – we all can enhance our work when we “feel” the situation, the surroundings, immersing ourselves in the subject. Being connected.

Its this way we can best share the excellence of creation we have  envisioned with the world.


palette knife in blue
Knife’s Edge A Dance in Blue

Acts of Creation:  All In

We use, channel, harness all of our senses in order to create the art.  

But, we must do so opened up.  All In.

To be All In,  means you’ve put everything on the line.

Wabi Sabi, tears and tears

You are Vulnerable.

Stripped down to your core. And must engage the process  with sensitivity, with feeling.  Being attuned to,  in time with our chosen partner,  i.e. subject.

What is your subject – Is it the Mountain? The ocean? The forest?  The dancers at the ballet?   The little rose bush, that the frost of autumn has  aged overnight?


Those cool professional walls, barriers, and that distance put into place to keep us “safe” and protected from feeling hurt, or embarrassed?

They don’t help us.

What they do is  negate the power of creation we  could have  infused our art with.


Why do we copy?

Replicate Joe Smith’s painting?  What ‘risk’ are we taking in doing that?  If it is mocked and we are embarrassed, we can always say, “Oh well, I only copied Joe. Its not mine. Not really.”  And, no. It’s not.

When we open up, we then are so vulnerable. And this is the  scary thing.

It is an uncertain thing.  

We do not like the fact that we don’t know for certain if  our creation,  will work or not.

IF, it will be ok.  Be ‘good enough.’ Or not.

To have family, a friend, a mentor … “approve.”

Get “likes” or not.  Get followers or not.

Life is way too short, for us to make those approvals of monumental significance.

Your own opinion, that’s the one that is of monumental significance.


And, yes. It is a struggle.

Every time we pick up the pen, the brush, the mouse, the knife, we hear the voice in our head tell us to  do it better this time.

 (Silence that voice each time.  It knows nothing.  Nothing…. of relevance to the act of creation.)


It is the Uncertainty,of not getting it right, that stops us.  It is what blocks us, chains us, ties our hands from trying.  

It is the Uncertainly that stops us from being  ‘ALL In.’   Prevents us from  giving it every thing we have to give.

But if we never try, never summon the courage, (in some cases we must  invent it if that is what is required)  then the world, misses out on what we alone have to give.


monotype in blue
Fallen upon my knees, failing

Yes.  We will stumble.

We will fall to our knees.

We will fail.

Its ok.  I repeat, it is ok that we make mistakes, stumble, fail.

*side note,  if you are a bridge engineer, aircraft mechanic, heart surgeon, airport traffic controller…. its ok,  if you have a little higher standards than what I’ve just mentioned.  In fact, thanking you in advance for it.  cheers!


For too long we have all been told, trained and conditioned, to believe in the god of perfection.

“Get It Right.”

No errors. No flaws.

No scars.

No visible signs of cracks, age, wear or tear.

In other words, absolutely no signs that we are, after all,  Human.

How sad.

Because, being human is the greatest asset we have. Flaws and all.



Acrylic Creations

I’m currently mentoring privately a beautiful person, with acrylics. We are working on a helpful approach to lessen the fear of mistakes, flaws.  We’re developing a program with Multiple creative  resolution methods, imaginative  solutions, thinking outside the box.

Addressing –  Society’s obsession with imperfections.

It is a challenge to go against our training.  But, we can do it.  We simply repeat, the acts of creation we desire. Over and over, and over.

In the mentoring sessions,  we are repurposing used acrylic canvases. They already have  colors and textures on them,  in abundance.   But, they were not quite working.

The next step is to brush over, in selected areas large swaths of contrasting paint.

We used White. Brilliant!   This creates a lovely and lively sensation of vibration and contrast. The underlying base comes through in places  with the white, skimming along the surface to create fascinating patterns suggesting of bark, trees, foliage shapes.

This Technique clearly demonstrates that the underlying “Imperfect” canvas, with its scars, its hard edges, its yucky bits…. actually was the perfect substrata for the project.

I like how this art creation process can also be interpreted through the lens of life as well.

An Act of Creation, Victoria Jane 2019
This is one of the pieces, my friend created using the acrylic methods described above.   A Wonderful, act of creation.

Art of Connection

I am in fact, expressing in paint, my world. Not yours. Not Joe’s. Mine. This is a very important distinction artists, creators need to make.

When I create a painting, or photographic art image,  I am primarily attempting to convey the dialogue.  In other words,  the  dialogue that is going on between the subject and myself.


That simply can not occur if I refuse to spend alone time with it.

If I treat it callously, abruptly,  with little regard, and simply want to “use it” to make a pretty little picture to boost my ego – then, no, I can’t expect its true beauty to shine through.

Its more effective to become friends with the subject.

To learn about it. To immerse oneself into its world.


Then…. Maybe I can create art that has a beautiful life energy within it.

What I hope to create, is to convey the essence of what  I myself connect to and  “feel.”

To define this. I think of it in these terms:  of having the emotion of Love of life,  emanate from my creation.  Just as a warm fire in winter compels and draws people closer.

I know.  That is,  a lofty goal. And one I often stumble, fall and abjectly fail at.  That’s ok.  I’m All In.   I’ll keep trying.  Some, do work quite well.  I’m happy with that.


In whatever form,  the art chooses to take for each individual, we want to strive to impart a piece of our selves,  into our  “Acts of Creation.” 



partner posts

Imagination,  Needs an Invitation  

Creativity,  threads of creativity  

Acrylics  Scorched Wings of Icarus 

Palette Knife  a delight 

Resolving Paintings


Toko Shinodo,  the power of creating with less  

Unbounded  –  The 7 Days of Zen 

Bones of Time – The 7 Days of Zen 


Obsidian Depths, Cerulean Shallows… river in oils

Obsidian Depths, Cerulean Shallows… river in oils

Lured by the Colors. But looking for gold.

In the obsidian indigo depths and the cerulean shallows.

I find the colors pleasing. Soothing. Melodic.

A beautiful summer’s melody you can only hear if you stop and really listen for it.


oil painting on wood board, abstract river in greens, indigo blue, cerulean and cobalt green paints, debiriley.com
Cerulean Shallows & Obsidian Depths


Abstract Oil Painting on Wood


Where is the gold?

Hidden underneath.






We have to dig.

Search it out.


Or we will pass it by.





Findings from the storm


The storm rages.

Torrents of water flood downstream.

Carting along the dirt, the sand, minerals, and gold in its wake.


The dark currents of indigo, churn the minerals and sediments as they slough off the hillsides and course down the river bed.

The dense nuggets and flakes of gold bounce along, buffeted, finally settling.

Into little protected pockets, small little envelopes.

Perfect for resting in, perfect for hiding in.



So its right after a really  big storm….

that is the best time to go on your gold quest.


Give the water time to settle and clear.

Then head for the hills.

There’s new gold, in the river.

In the obsidian depths and past the cerulean shallows.





Oil on Wood

I had a lot of fun playing with oil paints, this time using an old wood board.

It was quite beaten and rough.

The textures of the grain show through.


Diversifying my painting supports is a great way to both challenge myself and to obtain something unique.  Something worth repeating.

Its a risk!  I win some, I lose some.

But, I never know unless I give it a go.

This worked out nicely with river like textures showing through.



How the paint was applied.

The old wood board was primed and gessoed, then allowed to dry.

Time to paint….

White, Winsor Lemon, Indigo, Cerulean oil paints were used and blended together.

I used an old stiff paint brush and cotton rag to apply the paint.

With a dominantly horizontal directional movement, slightly angled.


Tonal Values:

By limiting the colors and ensuring clear tonal values within, the image even as an abstract – holds the eye.

While the my previous art painting Watercolors Inspired by Peace – was a great example of what High Key is,   this painting is a good representation of Low Key.


High Key: a higher ratio of White, Light and Mid tones rather than Darks.

Low Key: a higher ratio of Mid and Dark tones rather than Light/white tones.




Partner Posts

Gold n Umber River


cerulean landscape

indigo  vase contrasts 

indigo imagination 

river runs

face of a river 




Points I like about Obsidian Depths….

I love this color palette

The specific color selection creates  “A  Mood”


It is Simple,

yet my eye can be at ease within it for quite some time,  Resting


Our eye is zoomed right in to a small space within the river,

Zooming in, makes it  feel – Personal.


The wood’s texture worked for me;

it helped to provide the front dark eddies on top of the cerulean




Without the obsidian band (indigo) this image would fail.

Without the few tiny, fragile snips of golden flakes it would fail.

Without the color’s edges being properly blurred, it would fail.

Without the Square format, it also would fail.


There are lots of things to ponder before we paint, as we paint, after we paint.


These things, should never take away from the fun and freedom,  the spontaneous creativity we have while we paint.   

Its always,  much more important … to just paint.





Dive Into the Mysteries of Blue Paints

Dive Into the Mysteries of Blue Paints

Sweet, the lovely enchantment of paintings in blue!  Crystal clear and calming. Refreshing.  Mysterious. Deep.  Let’s dive into the mysteries of blue paints:  Ultramarine, cerulean, cobalt teal blue, indanthrone, prussian, cobalt, phalo and manganese.

Ocean, oil painting, cobalt teal blue pg50, cobalt blue pb28, indanthrone pb60, debiriley.com
Cobalt Teal Blue pg50, Indanthrone pb60, cobalt pb28


Unravelling the Mystery of Blue Paints

The beginner needs to dive headlong into the refreshing diversity and beauty of blue paints!

The new beginner painter does not have enough blue paints.

What!  not enough blues?  Don’t I need to buy  greens, purples, browns, greys, blacks? I hear these voices ask.  No, not in my head… real voices.  From students.  (Just so you are crystal clear on that one!)

But isn’t it easier to just buy the tube of green and use it?  Easy yes, wise… debatable.  How so?  Range, diversity, naturalness, smooth fluid transitions, and warmth/coolness temperature control.   “Control”  of depth and perspective is increased at least 75%  by mixing your own greens, browns, greys, purples.



Which Blue Paints  and Why


Cobalt blue pb28

Cobalt pb28 is my staple blue that is first on my list to get. Especially for beginners watercolour painting. It mixes beautifully with just about everything I throw at it, creating a lovely range of foliage greens, browns, greys, mauves.  Cobalt pb28 is a clean, Transparent blue paint colour that is great for glazes. This artist quality blue paint is the perfect blue for a sunny blue sky day. Used for foliage, ocean, sky, hills, trees, still life, just about everything.. Brilliant!

You don’t want to be fooled into buying a cobalt blue hue… it will be made from phalo or ultramarine blue with white.


Ultramarine blue pb29

Ultramarine pb29 is a stunning warm blue that is a Granulating pigment, creating beautiful textural effects on the surface of the paper naturally.  Sensational for mountains, hills, foliage and shrubbery.  I love to add it into my ocean scenes, as it gives a nice touch of warmth to the waters.   I usually prefer the French Ultramarine, its a bit finer and warmer, but its also more expensive. So, I have both.

Easy RECIPE for  Grey:    Ultramarine blue + Burnt Sienna =  grey    (at a ratio of est. 50-50)

Stunningly Vibrant Purple:   Ultramarine + “Permanent” Alizarin Crimson =  vivid purple

Ultramarine Blue pb28 still life flowers, debiriley.com
Ultramarine Vase and Leaves


Phalo blue  pb15

Phalo blue pb15  can be quite tricky to use, as it is very ‘nuclear’!  Its power, is amazing. Just one little drop can spoil a whole painting, so test it rigorously.  It is a Stainer, there will be no textural effects, it dries smooth, flat.  Great to glaze with.

Mixes well with others.  Very lovely when diluted liberally with white, into soft creamy pale tints of ethereal blues.   It will create a strong green turquoise when mixed with phalo green.  Then, if you add white to this, it will soften off into an exquisite frosted aqua.  Phalo blue when handled with care can be a most useful blue; and very handy for ocean, water, foliage.


Prussian blue pb27

Prussian blue pb27 is a very easy blue paint to use, it mixes great with most colours and is a perfect accessory to the landscape artist.  It is a Stainer, it won’t lift off 100% its quite powerful very deep and dark; plus,  will creep and spread in delightful ways that all Staining pigments will do.

Prussian is fabulous for foliage greenery.  Mixed with winsor lemon creates nice spring yellow greens; mixed with burnt umber – a darker cooler forest pine green.  Sometimes I will add a slash of it into my ocean waters, to provide a hint of deep dark greeny blue to draw the eye.


Cobalt Teal blue pg50

Cobalt Teal blue pg50  This blue/green even though it is an Opaque, and not a good mixer,  remains one of my favourite colours. I love this colour!  Ideal for water, perfect to cool down areas in a painting, or to act as little accents here and there.

Ocean ultramarine blue, cobalt teal blue pg50, debiriley.com
Oceana in Cobalt Teal Blue, Ultramarine on top


Cerulean blue pb35

Cerulean blue pb35 is my runner up replacement for Manganese blue.  Cerulean is both an Opaque and a Granulator, however it does mix considerably better than most other Opaques.

Cerulean is lovely for winter skies, providing a nice cool touch to the horizon.  It creates delicate foliage greens, gorgeous rock pools, rivers, lakes. Beautifully cool and refreshing.  The textural effects it gives  makes it a great choice for soil, foreground, bark.

Cobalt Violet  OR …   Rose madder genuine + cerulean   =   Delicate pale lavender


Indanthrone blue pb60

Indanthrone blue pb60  WOW, what a blue!  I wouldn’t be without it. There is a brand variance in colour intensity, thus,  I prefer the beautifully fully saturated richness of the Daniel Smith Indanthrone blue.    This gorgeous blue is a near black at full intensity with a peek of violet red undertone for warmth.

When I want an inky black-blue, THIS is the blue I reach for. Its perfect.  A Stainer, it mixes well with others and makes great glazes. Night skies, deep ocean currents, eggplants, delphiniums… and so on.

Watercolour Blues,cobalt teal blue pg50, Indanthrone blue  pb60 debiriley.com
Blues: Indanthrone, Teal, Cerulean, Ultramarine


Manganese blue pb33

Manganese blue pb33 has been discontinued some time ago due to its toxicity. I understand the health issues involved made it no longer viable for the manufacturers and the public. But, this blue was divine in its versatility and softness and mood.  I still look for it at garage sales and once in a blue moon,  score an old Winsor and Newton Manganese Blue.

This blue was delicate. Perfect for flowers, leaves, foliage, rockery, portraits, pets, skies, mountains, hills.  It could create a mood and ambience all on its own.   If you are an old time painter, and actually have a tube or 2,  lucky you!   Just be aware to use with caution.  Wash your hands etc.  Gloves would be a good idea and no drinking/eating while painting.


I’ve been careful to include not just the name of the blue paint, but its PB number  i.e.  its Pigment Blue #  That way, when you see it on the tube of paint before you buy, you know it is the right colour that will mix and behave the right way!    Those manufacturers can name their paints whatever they like. But, once they put the pb# on then we can tell if it really is the colour they have ‘named’ it.      This Pigment #  is the identifier I’ve used now for some years, in order to stop buying cheap ‘hues’  and to stop duplicating my colours.  It works.


A Blue Paints  Chart with Cobalt, Ultramarine, Cerulean, Indanthrone, Prussian blues

Blue Paints chart, debiriley.com
Blue Paints Chart debiriley.com



Beauty  from Chaos

Beauty from Chaos

Watercolor Beauty  from Chaos, portrays the landscape as if looking down from an airplane.

With a free flowing organic approach,  the colors melt and merge.

Running along the paper’s crevices cracks and seams, just as they do upon the rough terrain of land.

beauty from chaos debiriley.com
Beauty from Chaos debiriley.com


Watercolor Beauty from Chaos

I’ve used a Full Sheet 22×30 inches 100% cotton Rough Fabriano watercolor paper.

Cerulean and Burnt Umber make great “earthy” partners, and provide the eye with the inference of “land.”  For more on these, have a look at a previous post Cerulean.

It’s paired with Burnt Umber and  Prussian blue pb27, with gorgeous textural effects.


In its abstracted nature,  it still draws me in.

There still is  a place for my eye to gravitate towards as a focal point area amidst all the chaos and all the soft blurred edges.

And I find Beauty.



I’ve used an  aerial ‘above earth’    viewpoint,  very typical of  Fred Williams or John Olsen, Robert Juniper style approaches.