Tag: color mixing

Watercolor Techniques: painting water

Watercolor Techniques: painting water

Short and quick today.

Observing how water can be painted using watercolors.



Painting Water

In the samples shown,  I’ve created the impression, the illusion of water on paper.

Cobalt teal blue in watercolor helps, of course.

But, so does understanding the tones, the feeling, mood, and which of the common techniques to use.



watercolor techniques for water, beginners watercolour secrets for water, debiriley.com
Techniques for painting water: watercolors



We learn as we go.

Practice… repetition until a technique process becomes second nature, was the secret key to my own improvement.



Using dry brush, washes, charging, splatter, leaving White of the paper… they all combine to help with the illusion.

In the first demo,  you see a background a mid ground and foreground, along with a focal point.  These help guide the viewer and make the image understandable.


Whereas in the second demo, a mere wash of a couple colors,  we must engage more.  There is still enough information, but its less tight and structured.

More free flowing and carefree.  Perhaps, in holiday mode!   But you will observe more warmth in front, the White cresting wave in nearby, and there isn’t much action in the back.

Our minds, have decided yes, it is water we are looking at. And,  Most likely, the beach.

We’re good to go.



follow up posts

watercolor beginner basics 

11 fun water techniques 

watercolor easy techniques 

depth   via splatter


tonal value   Into the Light





Featured today… simply,  because I like it.


impressionist watercolor, bold and colorful landscapes, mixing blues, debiriley.com
Watercolor Loveliness


Watercolor Landscape



This remains, one of my favorite paintings.




It goes unnoticed for months on end.

Stacked in a pile, amongst the many.


Every time I get it out again, it is like a new painting. Its’ loveliness …. fresh, sparkling, happy.

And it makes me smile.






Still Life floral watercolors

Still Life floral watercolors

A nice easy and simple arrangement with two vases.

One clear, one a dappled cobalt teal blue.

Complementary pairing was used with the flowers – Yellow daffodils and Purple magnolias.




watercolor still life, magnolias, cobalt teal blue, debiriley.com
still life floral



Still Life Techniques



This painting, has a dominance of hard, sharp edges.

This means it was painted on dry paper and those edges left intact, not softened.

It created a much sharper, ‘in the face’ image than some of my other paintings where I’ve used a higher ratio of softer edges.

Edges hard, medium and soft Watercolor,

Natures types of soft edges  

Around The Edges




The design has diagonal lines, vertical lines and horizontal lines in the image.

This helps move the viewer’s eye through the painting.

Power in the Line 

The Thin Red Line 

Lines in art  




The Yellow and Purple pairing (complements) help to energise the watercolor still life painting further.

This is a great tip to remember for you to use yourselves when you paint. Or even putting on an outfit!

Yellow and purple;  red and green; blue and orange.

Those are the 3 complementary pairs that I keep in mind when I paint.




Charcoal was also used for extra definition and drama.

Once charcoal is on the paper, over the watercolor – thats it.

There is no going back. Its on to stay, pretty much.

Charcoal is fun to use this way, you just need to be aware of its limitations.




This was originally a full sheet. 22 x 30 inches.  I wasn’t happy with those dimensions.  It looks much improved as a square.

I think it could be cropped even further.

But, I  try to be judicious.

And to remember that Less, is more.

Stop. Fiddling.




So even though there may still be things amiss, that I dislike….

it might be better to quit while I am ahead.


Taming the Dragon Perfectionism





Soft Trees across the waters: watercolor

Soft Trees across the waters: watercolor

Soft Trees across the waters is a nice little watercolor study, anyone can do.

It doesn’t take long.  Nor involve many paints at all.

Its just painting watercolor landscapes with simplification in mind.


beginner watercolor landscape techniques, painting simple trees and water in watercolours, daniel smith indigo, debiriley.com
Watercolor Trees and Water


Watercolor Basics

A very, abbreviated summary is in this post.  With just 4 ideas and tips listed.  It doesn’t really begin to scratch the surface of what beginners might be looking for or, needing.

I could, suggest heading for Watercolor Basics page;  No Fiddling; Impressionist Landscapes;  Trees;  the 3 edges of watercolor;   7 Ways of Watercolor 

and of course you can always

just go to  my   SEARCH Bar …..  type in a word and voila!





First thing to do is – break the many complicated shapes down into 3 or 5 Big, shapes.


ie  the sky, is a Shape.

the trees are a shape,

the water is a shape,

and then the shoreline from front to back is,  just one shape.


There.  Thats 4  big shapes.


Made so much easier than what was really there, in all that very confusing,  clutter of detail overwhelming the mind and eye!




Limited Palette

Using a nearly monochromatic palette of just 2 paints, goes a very long way in assisting your painting efforts.

In making your watercolor landscape paintings simpler, more successful, and easier to learn how to do.


I used 2 paints.

Indigo blue   and  Burnt Umber  Daniel Smith watercolors  mixed well together,  creating smooth browns with super darks where needed.



Shadows and Light

It is important….. to ensure you achieve a good sufficiency of light tones, mid, dark tones (LMD)  throughout.

LMD give you a 3Dimensional look. Depth.

Leaving enough of the white paper, well,  Plenty of it actually,  and  not covering it all up. Don’t  just …..fill it all in with your watercolor paints.


(all I did was mark the area to be left pure white;

then dampened AROUND that area.  And painted into the areas that were Damp.  That left my dry area nice and clean and pure white. Lovely!)


In my sample image shown, I have used a photo with a deliberate play on light and shadows.

It has a very strong shadow cast upon the white backing paper.

This….serves as a great reminder to make good use of your Light and your Shadows.

Contrasts are critical to success.





You might also notice the edges in this watercolor.


Almost every where are soft edges, gentle edges.


Except for the water in the front.

The hard sharp edges of the water, balances out the soft edges elsewhere.

Plus, gives some definition, form and meaning.

They tell us, where to Look.







We, almost all of us, get a bit frustrated when things don’t progress as we expect.

As we want.  As we had envisioned.


I know.

I’ve had 30 years of painting. Things,  do not,  always go as envisioned!! 


So, to help out with this pesky little dilemma,  what I  suggest is to set out 5 – 7 pieces of paper.

Medium small  works just fine.


We will do…. several trials, practices, warm ups.

In other words, we Need, the experience! 



The first is always a test, a trial.  We learn a lot from this one.

The second is the second trial.  ……  “learning more.”

The third we are getting in the groove.

#4 Hey!  Things are going much better.

#5 You really do see improvements from #1 to  #5 or 7.


And to be honest, really,  that is   all we can expect from ourselves.  

To see improvements,  with the practice and over time.




My Suggestions

“My”  way,  is not the only way to create,  to paint.


There are many ways to paint landscapes, many ways to paint water.

This is just one simple way for watercolor beginners to get started.


To learn in easier steps, some basic watercolor techniques of trees, water, landscapes.

In an impressionist approach.

Simple, fun, enjoyable and with pleasure.








Beautiful Jade Emerald Greens in Oils

Beautiful Jade Emerald Greens in Oils

Lovely fun greens slathered on like butter. Swirls and dollops of emerald and jade colors rising in relief on the canvas.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about!

Pure enjoyment of the process.

dollops of oil paint filled with texture, creating contrast in paintings, green oil paints, debiriley.com
Dollops of Paint, calm and busy


Textures in Oil Paints

No barn. No flower. No tree.

No, there’s nothing much to ‘see.’

That is, if I was inclined to be picky, critical.

But that’s not how I’m seeing these at all.




oil paints in greens, green abstract oil painting, jade emerald green oils, debiriley.com
Oil Paints in Beautiful Greens

Lively and Alluring

They’re lively.

So beautifully textural,  it makes me wish for a moment,  that I was a sculptor.


The freshness has a lure.

A pull to it that none of my oh so  labored, overworked and  “over finished”  paintings  will never have.


oil painting abstracts, palette knife with oils, limited palette color schemes, debiriley.com
The Horizon





Where it Began


Before I started, I’d looked through some of my past nature walks.

Zen Strolls.



zen in greens, sparking the imagination, oil abstract beginnings, debiriley.com
Its Zen, gorgeous greens

My eye kept returning to the reflection from the pond. With those gorgeous deep greens.


Thats how I started.

With a thought.  With a feeling.



A color in my mind that sparked creation.


photograph of water reflection abstraction, debiriley.com
Movement on the pond


Playful Rebellion

It is so important, to create.

To play. To explore.


To take the time to engage in the process without any preconceived needs.   

We all know that old saying,

“All Work, No play … makes Jack a very dull boy.”



Its so important that we don’t take an activity we’d  intended for our relaxation, then turn it into  A Work Project.

With timelines,  goals, deadlines, ‘good enough’ ratings,  etc.


Nearly all of us, do it, myself included!

If we think about it though,  we don’t do that same thing when we:  read a magazine, or watch a TV program, or go to a concert, play or movie.


I know we all have that tendency to turn Fun – into Work.

Its been ingrained over the years hasn’t it?


I choose to   not want to go that pathway.

Thats not the road I want to travel.

A bit of ‘rebellion’  if you will.



I’m not a full time rebel.

I rebel when….. I think about it.


Every zen stroll, Every art work…. is an act of peaceful rebellion.


So, my walks are peaceful, beauty filled,  zen strolls.

There is zero aerobics involved.

I get fresh air.

I’m creative,  filling the well.

I stroll about for 45 minutes. Sometimes more, others less.

It is so relaxing, even if its a mere 10 minutes.




oil painting abstract textures, palette knife with oils, mixing green paint colors in oils, debiriley.com
In Luscious Jade Greens, a hint of naples yellow



And my art is created as the mood and spirit moves me.

I’m not going to be pressured, or dictated to.




Its always more about expression and communication of feelings, than replication.

Recording, duplication just isn’t my thing. Thats me.

I’m certain, that the art could be more popular if they were more  Just Like the photograph. More realistic and less abstract.  And….Bigger.


But I don’t Create for reasons other than to simply express outwards, to communicate what I hear and see and sense in the world around me.

As I feel led to do, my own unique way.


That’s all anyone can really do, I think.

Tell it, like you see it. 

How you see it, is different;  

it is interesting.  To Us.    


green falls abstract painting in oils, debiriley.com
Green Falls, in oils


Artistic Authenticity

when I see your art,  or you see mine,

I want to see your tears as they fall, your dance of joy, your bursts of summer sunshine, your silence on the shores, your dark rage upon the paper,  I want to see the truth of your thoughts and emotions come tumbling out in color and textures and etched lines on that canvas.  I want to see for a micro-moment, a glimpse of that beauty that resides within your soul.


Will you do that?









What You Get…. (Benefits of watercolor paint test strips)

What You Get…. (Benefits of watercolor paint test strips)

Testing…. test strips for Watercolor.

What’s in it for you?

The relevance, the value, The Benefits of having a Test Strip at the ready every time you paint.

It may not sound like fun at first but it certainly can be.


watercolor test strips, color mixing, debiriley.com
watercolors, a Favorite….. Test Strip


Watercolor Mixing and Testing



Learning Points about Test Strips 


Things that I’ve learned & gained from consistently having  and Using  test strips when I paint:


  • using more paper as a Test Strip  (ie 5×7) is truly,  not a waste
  • use the Belly of the brush to test… Not the Tip


  • the belly gives more accuracy, the tip will be too tiny and,  too falsely dark
  • its a great way to warm up before you start painting


  • testing the tonal value, how light or dark the color is prior to application is a life saver
  • checking the color out first on the test paper, means you get it right the first go


  • it saves you time, materials and a whole lot of frustrations
  • accidents,  hmm, “wayward” paints happen…… let this occur first on the test strip and then see if you can harness that waywardness to your advantage!
  • in other words,  turn accidents into Assets



watercolor mixing, lunar black mixes, naples yellow daniel smith watercolor, prussian blue pb27, debiriley.com
Lunar Black, Naples Yellow +Prussian Blue





  • very frequently, I find…. snippets emerge to make lovely little mini paintings
  • colors on the test strip allows you to try several various glazes on it later,  because that color is there already and it is a ‘safe’ place to do so



watercolor mixing, test strips, lunar black, prussian blue pb27, daniel smith naples yellow, debiriley.com
The Mountain




A student’s oh so lovely, Test Strip!

test color first, color mixing for beginners, watercolour test strip, watercolor paint color mixes, debiriley.com
Color watercolor test strip






Partner Posts on Watercolor and Color Mixing….

Watercolor Tips 

Watercolor lunar black

Watercolor 7 Ways   color mastery





Color Play Triad

Color Play Triad

Just for fun.

A quick bit of mixing and matching.

Testing the colors out, seeing who looks good together.


watercolor mixing, triad color palettes, teal, Daniel Smith moonglow, debiriley.com
watercolor triads


Watercolor Play

I created a 6 set chart in watercolors.

Then found a few sets that appealed to me the most.


This triad with the Daniel Smith Moonglow, the cobalt teal (green blue) and the golden warm ochre – has a lovely tropical and floral feel to it I quite enjoy.


Creating these charts and then grouping into sets, Its a good way to inspire the imagination!



Definitely not hard.

Certainly not time consuming.

But has great artistic benefits.


For more Watercolor Beginner tips and techniques you’ll find a lot at Watercolor Basic Tips.