Tag: Daniel Smith watercolors

SO  Zen!  watercolor granulating pigments

SO Zen! watercolor granulating pigments

Where would we be without the granulating pigments of watercolor?

That’s a good question!


granulating watercolors, daniel smith paints, zoisite, serpentine, lunar black, prussian blue pb27, debiriley.com
Granulation is, So Zen



Watercolor Pigments

Granulation is Texture.

Texture creates depth, atmosphere, feeling and visual interest.

The granulation adds ….  Mystery. Intrigue.

It is yet another powerful tool to capture the audience.



My featured painting “So Zen”  used a lovely blend of Lunar Black, Serpentine, Zoisite and Prussian blue.

However, it was key that first, I knew what paints could do.

And how I could assist them to do so.


 I needed to know which paints would do what, (when wet, dry, and damp) in order to be able to achieve the atmospheric effect desired.




Without my Granulating Paints –

I would be truly lost, most of the fun would be gone in this medium.

It is that thrill of rolling the dice,  the sense of adventure, the exquisite evocative nature within its granulation that keeps me coming back for More.



My range and scale would be abruptly curtailed.

I wouldn’t have the contrasts, the texture, the layers, the depth that I so enjoy  – with  these Granulating pigments.


We couldn’t  Sing quite as brightly, nor filled with so many layered nuances  without these  special colors.





Granulating Paints

They are one, of the four categories of pigments. (Transparents, Granulating, Staining, Opaques)  Each has its own unique talents, quirks, and surprises.  Learning to harness their attributes and direct them down the path you wish, is part of the Fun.


fun with granulating paints, watercolor mixing, cerulean and ultramarine blue, zoisite daniel smith, lunar black paint, debiriley.com
fun with granulating watercolor paints



Granulating Paints

what they do for us

They create texture…  Adding dimension and depth.

Their heavy particles sink. Right into the fabric of the paper’s crevices.


1   Granulators help immensely to create mood and ‘feeling’; and the wonderful, atmospheric appearance within our paintings.


2   They help to stop our fiddling.   They do the work for us with their tiny little particles looking so much like details of texture, which we haven’t  had to dob or dab on!


3   They rouse our imaginations and inspire us with their fantastic self created shapes and forms that ‘just happen.’






Granulation is texture; thus, we would like most of our texture in the foregrounds.  Some in the middleground. With little, in the very backgrounds.

In my featured image, So Zen,  the background has been greatly diffused.

Yes, there is some slight granulation, but it is minimal compared to the middle and the foregrounds.




Granulation is in proportion to the amount of fluid, water used.  Lots of water will give you a lot more granulation.

Rougher papers also will give more granulation as well.    Anytime you mix one paint that granulates with another non granulator, you’ll get granulation for the new mix. That is provided,  the ratio of water & granulator paint was sufficient.



which ones

The list is extensive, I’m providing a shorter list of the ‘most commonly’ used paints that have Granulating properties in various degrees.

Cerulean, Ultramarine, Rose Madder Genuine, Viridian, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Cobalt Green, Cobalt Violet, Cadmium Red, Cobalt blue, Ivory black, Ultramarine Violet, Lunar Black, Zoisite, Lunar Earth….


which brands

On a regular basis, I use and suggest:  Daniel Smith, Winsor and Newton, Art Spectrum, Maimerblu, Holbein, Blockx.   There are other artist quality paints I use. But much more infrequently.  I do not always just use one brand only, because each brand will excel at one color and will have shortcomings on some other color.  Therefore, I switch as needed.

I have, listed the brands –  in order of my own  overall preference. In case you were wondering.





daniel smith watercolors, granulating watercolours, lunar black mixes, prussian blue pb27, phalo blue, naples yellow Daniel Smith watercolor mixing, Impressionist watercolor landscapes, basic beginner watercolour techniques in color, debiriley.com
Granulation of Lunar Black + Naples Yellow + Prussian


With just 3 colors: 1 Staining Prussian blue; 1 Opaque Naples Yellow; 1 Granulating Lunar black

The combination melts together beautifully.



Staining watercolor paints, prussian blue pb27, Impressionist watercolor landscape mountain, granulating paint manganese blue, cerulean blue, debi riley watercolor, debiriley.com
Mountain Prussian Blue watercolors, debiriley.com

The Mountain above uses  a range of blues.  Staining Prussian blue; Granulating … Cerulean blue, Manganese blue;  Burnt Umber Granulating. This painting had minimal granulation, but it is there when you view the piece up close.




still life in blue, granulating watercolours, watercolor painting cerulean and ultramarine blue vase, mixing blues in watercolours, debiriley.com
Fluted Blue Vase, watercolors

The fun of combining so many blues… Granulating Cerulean, Ultramarine with Staining Prussian, Phalo, Indigo.

The granulation is in targeted centralized areas. Its not everywhere.

And wow, the vase does pop!



granulating pigments, using palette knife, watercolor pairings, lunar black daniel smith, quinacridone sienna, staining paints in watercolor, debiriley.com
Lunar Black Mountain

Lunar Black,  never disappoints.

Hit it with sufficient water, and it will combine with everything to Granulate. Creating textures, depth, contrasts.

The dense areas are where the granulating paint, Lunar Black was applied with very little water.

Other areas, seem to flow and melt right down the mountainside where there was a lot more water.



granulating paints, Daniel Smith watercolours, mixing watercolor foliage greens, Zoisite and Apatite watercolors, foliage green mixes, debiriley.com
Zoisite and Apatite  Granulating watercolors debiriley.com


Stunning combination of Granulating Daniel Smith watercolors. Zoisite is a marvellous grey green, perfect for alluding to the far distance.

Green Apatite with its brighter, yellow green is far more suited to the foregrounds.  Used in combination,  they make great landscape foliage greenery.




Two Staining paints Phalo blue and Phalo green paired with  Lunar black on a 100% cotton rag Fabriano Rough paper.  Delightful!




I’ve highlighted some previous posts and articles that may be useful for watercolor beginners.

The Watercolor Basics , will also be a helpful tool.


My collection of paintings from the Masters,  are on my  Pinterest watercolor art boards… one is Learn from the Masters

another is the Masters of Watercolor  they are both Excellent for beginners to review and study.


Additional sources you could look up:

Hillary Page, Michael Wilcox, David Taylor, Tony Smibert, Jane Blundell  give wonderful insight into the nature of watercolor.





Unified Palette: indigo and raw umber

Unified Palette: indigo and raw umber

A very simple watercolor landscape.

No bells or whistles. Just two paints.

Indigo for a cool, dark. Raw Umber for the warmer, lighter color.


impressionist landscape trees, golden trees in watercolors, indigo daniel smith watercolors, watercolor beginner tree techniques, debiriley.com
Unification thru Limiting the Palette




Impressionist Watercolor Landscape



My processes


Color Selection.

I decided to paint using a very reduced palette to help with unifying the image.

I needed to select a warm and a cool.  Making sure one would be super dark, and the other a lighter tone.

Having that criteria in my head,  then made the selection much easier.

Raw Umber fit the bill for the warmer and Indigo for the cool dark. Done!



Subject Theme.

“Easy.”  I wanted fast and easy.

So,  Trees.




Getting Started.

  • Mixed up and tested colors.
  • About 5 minutes or so.
  • Applied a pale sloppy wash of Raw Umber for the background area.
  • Flicked the brush, so it wasn’t as wet.
  • Loaded a much thicker, stronger, denser application of Raw Umber onto brush
  • Then charged that, into the still very damp background area.
  • voila !
  • trees  are beginning to emerge
  • Next, was the Indigo
  • this was a Dry Brush application across Foreground area
  • Last step, the “tree trunks”
  • Using a wooden skewer  point,  to unify
  • joined the Indigo into the Raw Umber



When using the skewer,  just make sure  that the trunks weren’t all “rigid, straight”

but had some movement going on in them.





You could try this, it is fun!


Most any color duet would do…..  one to be warm and lighter; the other is cooler and darker.

Burnt Sienna and Phalo?

Light Red and Prussian?

Prussian blue pb27  and Raw Sienna?


Its great for a fast and easy,  Simple, little play with colors.








Abstract Harmony

Abstract Harmony

What, might be the Benefits of looking at Abstract paintings?  At creating them?

Frees the mind.

Unlocks previously locked doors and boundaries.

Opens new vistas and new creative ideas.

Relaxes the mind in a calm, meditative yet alert fashion.

Quiets the ‘negative, critical’ voice.

Allows –  the encouraging and positive.  to come forth.

A Positive mindset sets the stage for inventiveness

For playful creativity, for learning from each and every brush stroke

– whether they be “Award winning, Acclaimed” or not.

Abstract forms of art help us in our pursuit of harmony.

In our pursuit of joy, contentedness, self fulfilment,

Abstractions create a needed …. balance within us.





Daniel Smith watercolor quinacridone sienna, burnt umber, watercolor abstracts, debiriley.com
watercolors: Earth Colors harmony and abstracts



Abstract Harmony and Balance


Abstract art requires all the regular art core basics of tonal values, correct edges, warm and cool temperatures, texture and detail in the right locations, etc.

So, in a way – I would have to say that to create a pleasing work of art in abstract ….. is much harder.

Its also much more fun!



Watercolor Technique

For the “Featured Abstract”   Above,    this was painted on dry paper.  I used Hot Press Paper Arches 90lb (the lightest weight.)

I combined  several watercolor techniques.   

The mingling of colors was created with charging them together whilst still wet.

The texture was a Splatter technique. And for 50% of the piece I poured, my paint onto the paper.


The Paints

The Paints,  just  the 3.

Three colors in The Earth Color palette.

Quinacridone Sienna, Daniel Smith watercolors;  Burnt Umber; and Raw Sienna.

3 colors.  3 definite tonal values, at the very minimum.

I used a Limited Palette, which provides the most opportunity for harmony, for greater depth, for better tonal values.




Gateways Created With Abstract Art

Gateways open, we Choose   to enter.


Artists travel along pathways,  as each….. unfold to us.


Leading us.

Around each New exciting bend and corner.



Wall art Debiriley Society6.com
coral pink collage debiriley.com


From collage, to brushstroke….



Zen Unbounded, wabi sabi, debiriley.com



inspiring color, abstracting photographs, debiriley.com
Inspire Me



Blue Waters Inspires, photo art, debiriley.com
Blue Waters


To magenta wine reflections.

digital painting in red wine colors, with purple reflections, debi riley art


green bowl, Chihuly bowl, color, debiriley.com
Chihuly Bowl in Greens



a child's eye, quail egg drawing in color, debiriley.com
Quail Eggs by Ryan


To Pastel pencil quail eggs to  acrylics sculptural molding paste effects.


quail egg photograph, still life photography leaves, debiriley.com
Egg, Foil, Leaves –  Abstract shapes and Patterns abound



reflections and patterns, photo, debiriley.com
Abstract Patterns in reflections, and  Shells


texture and patterns, quail eggs, photos, debiriley.com
Quail Eggs and Foil – Abstract Painting with matching patterns



cobalt teal blue pg50, textural effects and techniques, cobalt teal painting, debiriley.com
Molding Paste textural effects, debiriley.com




watercolor pairings, lunar black, sienna, debiriley.com
Lunar Black Mountain with Quinacridone Sienna and Prussian blue



Love of color, watercolor, debiriley.com
For Love of Color – Earth and Jade waters


Mountains, Jade waters to rough hewn craggy mountains in watercolors…… the gateway opened and I walked through.


craggy tactile texture in watercolour using molding paste, debiriley.com
Creative Watercolors!  Craggy Mountain





More…With Abstracts

It seems to me, that Abstracts are more.

More than merely  scribbles.

More than “child’s play.”

More than the conscious mind takes in.


But, one the subconscious fully embraces with gusto.

Once, we ‘allow’ it.

Once we give it the nod, the ‘OK.’





a beautiful, creativity gateway.





abstract art – a  definition 



Walking in the Green Woods (Daniel Smith Watercolors)

Walking in the Green Woods (Daniel Smith Watercolors)

How much fun can you have – just walking in the green woods?


painting in the forest, walking in nature, painting trees and forest greens, painting with Daniel Smith watercolors, debiriley.com
Walking in the Green Forest… endless fun


or just splashing and mixing paints?



I had endless  fun. Both during my short walk and after, while creating these pretty little foliage green mixes.



painting landscapes with Daniel Smith watercolor greens, walking to fill the well, painting nature, foliage greens, meditative art, debiriley.com
The Greens of the Woods,  Daniel Smith watercolor greens


With only a few brief moments to play,   I decided to go ahead and run with it anyway.

I just felt the need to get out the greens and mix!



Forest Greens

Endlessly Fascinating.



I really don’t know how it is possible to become bored …. not with all nature’s treasures around us.

Nor with all these paints waiting to be mixed.


Colors splashing in a rush,

upon the paper

creating intricate


in greens, lilacs, blues and fresh citrus lemon.


zoisite, emerald, green apatite, serpentine, sleeping beauty turqoise Daniel Smith watercolors, painting landscapes, debiriley.com
Zoisite, Emerald, Green Apatite watercolor greens


Color Mixing 

Not everyone is as passionate about color and mixing as I am.

For many, there must be a product.


For me,  This Is  the product.

The process is the product.

My enjoyment and relaxation,  is the purpose.



And so, to me,  this is the end result.

I didn’t have a burning requirement to ‘do a picture and get it hung up for viewing’  as my goal.

As time goes on, I’m much more motivated to paint and create simply for my own amusement. My own relaxation and enjoyment…. than someone else’s smile and nod.




My objective was to become immersed in the colors.

Just as I was immersed in the  greens of the forest.




The walking in the green woods……


fun in the forest, walking in nature, creative photography of trees and parks, debiriley.com
Forest Adventures  …  debiriley.com (c) 2017


There is so much to see out in these walks.

I never know if I might find a pond, or a bird.   Or sunlight filtering magically through the trees.

It is always a little mini adventure with these Zen Strolls.





What I might discover this time.


Paintings and Photographs of zen greens and zen forest walks.       Come into the forest with me……. 

Tiny people, giant trees, forest in WA, debiriley.com
Green Woods of Denmark


watercolor outdoor painting, plein air watercolor tips, watercolor greens, debiriley.com
Watercolor Forest,  Tigers Eye & SB Turquoise



green tree grove, Waiting on a Friend debiriley.com
Green Grove….Waiting On A Friend



Forest grove, Daniel Smith watercolors, Green Apatite Daniel Smith, Cobalt Teal blue pg50 Daniel Smith, Zoisite green, Pool Forest Edge Inspiration, watercolors, debiriley.com
Forest Grove, Daniel Smith watercolors



Zen Greens in King's Park, Perth WA, debi riley abstract art, debiriley.com
Forest Zen Greens …reflected into the pond


Daniel Smith watercolors foliage greens, Zoisite and Apatite watercolors, foliage green mixes, debiriley.com
Zoisite and Apatite watercolors debiriley.com


Blue Heron, stream, photograph, debiriley.com
Forest Edge,  the Blue Heron Stills



About the Daniel Smith Watercolor Greens

Zoisite –  a FAV!  love this one. its a greyed off green, perfect for distant hills.  this color creates great textures

Amazonite – lovely blue green with fabulous clarity and mixing abilities, great for water

Serpentine – an Australian found green pigment, green yellow and granulates a bit

Green Apatite – from bright yellow green to midtones, it is a wonderful mixer with zoisite green

Tigers Eye – a green/brown color with granulation properties  that mixes with green apatite well

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise – a pale cool blue green that makes lovely seas and tropical scenes

Diopside Genuine  – known as Russian Emerald, it is a rich and deep green. Sometimes in dilute washes hints of earth are seen settling into the paper.




The Glow: Evening’s Golden Lights

The Glow: Evening’s Golden Lights

Watercolor, versatile and forgiving.

Watercolor,  the easiest of the media to make corrections!

One year later, I returned to the painting.  Washed some areas off, softened off some bits and added a few hints of pastels here and there.   Done!


watercolor sunset landscape, bright red sky, mountain at dusk painting, debiriley.com
Evenings Golden Lights, debiriley.com  (c)   2016


That is one of the major attributes I like most about watercolor.

How easy it is to make alterations.

That I can return to it,  whenever I feel inclined. Being able to soften the edges even one year later.  To lift paint right off the paper and start afresh if needed.



Watercolor Landscape:   4 Fast Tips

A Limited palette is easier to work with, my foundation painting I’ve used just 3 colors

Make sure there is adequate Light, Mid and Dark tones in the image

Try to create a ‘pathway’  that leads the viewer’s eye inwards

Come back to it later, when dry – to make corrections is safest approach




Watercolor posts of interest for the beginner and landscape painters:

watercolor basics    (just about everything is on this page!)


watercolor trees 

watercolor mountain landscape  with crazy texture

watercolor techniques