Tag: depth

Impressionist Watercolor Landscape (artistic license)

Impressionist Watercolor Landscape (artistic license)

Its about artistic freedom, artist license.

The joy of expressing in paints, brushstrokes, color, the things you’d like to say with words… but can’t.


artistic license, impressionist watercolor landscape, Daniel Smith watercolors, limited palette, debiriley.com
Artistic License Impressionist Landscape

Communicate Through the Arts



If I was a singer, maybe the words would be clear and perfect.

And elegant, eloquent, full ranged.  Sounding lovely and lyrical.

But then, maybe not.



Bruce Springsteen

” A great singer has to learn how to  Inhabit a song. 

You may not be able to hit all the notes.    That’s OK.

You may not have the clearest Tone.   You may not have the greatest range.

But if, you can Inhabit a song,  you can communicate.”


This is a quote from Springsteen’s December 19, 2016  PBS interview.





As artists, in any profession, in any media….. that, is a very fine goal to take to heart.





(Living, Abiding in the place)


I feel that in this landscape watercolor I do inhabit the painting.

It typifies me.  It is a signature Debi Riley artwork. Unique to me.  Created from my memories.


As I paint, I remember…. the Pages River in Murrurrundi.

The tall vertical poplar trees that dot the area.


I recall, the hill across from the Emirates thoroughbred stud farm, paddocks filled with gleaming broodmares.

The many times I’ve visited there and the soft spot it holds in my heart.



This location means something to me.

This subject –  has meaning.

And so, it is easy for me to inhabit the artwork as I create.



We can All… do this. 

Beginners, yes,  right on to the advanced.

Singers, chefs, writers, composers, painters, whatever.


But,  what we must do, however, is dare to

be our own selves,

to inhabit our songs… our creations.



John Olsen

Fred Williams 

Watercolor Hills 

Watercolor Landscapes and textures in color …. 

Landscape in Blue

Landscape in Blue

Landscape in Blue.

Lone tree rising,  somber.  Where, is the foliage?


landscapes in blue monochrome, mountain and tree in the landscape, somber and quiet mood in art, printmaking styles for beginners, debiriley.com
A Lone Tree, rising against the stark blue bluff


Monoprinting in Blue

While this is not really a recent work,  the  monoprint was done in the past 24 months.



Our class topic at the time was on using color and line, format, and subject placement to create a ‘feeling’ that would be clear and evident for viewers to identify.

I created,  a somber nearly desolate feeling in this landscape.


While working the process that day I finished quite a  number of monoprints.

Some were florals, some animals & people –  which you have seen.

And then this one,  which  you haven’t seen.



Blue Ink

I chose to use only the blue ink and hand printing on a pale creamy paper.

The paper wasn’t pure white.

I thought, I might temper the starkness… just a little.



The solitary tree rising, carries with it a feeling of not just aloneness,  but also the sense of barrenness.

There is no foliage in sight.


Where, did all the foliage go we wonder?

Where are the other trees?


And,  then,  the next thought our minds consider,  might be:

“Is this tree still alive?  Still struggling?  Or is it finished?”




The prints you have previously seen:

arabian horse print indigo debiriley.com
Lines in Indigo Blue  monoprint…..     debiriley.com  (c)



Dream Horse in Blue, mono print debiriley.com
Dream Horse in Blue – Monoprint debiriley.com (c)




monotype, indigo fields, debiriley.com
Evening… Indigo Fields  –  debiriley.com



monotype painting, woman, calmness, debiriley.com
just for a  Moment – Close your eyes……..





Other Posts and articles


monoprints  and monotypes 

trees in the landscape  Best 15 Trees 

moods and feelings in art 

paintings in blue    

blue power of blue painting 



floral rose monotype, simplicity, zen minimalism, red white and blue palette, debiriley.com
Red Roses, Blue Vase  – monoprint process    debiriley.com (c)




Turquoise and Aquamarine Seaside Abstracts

Turquoise and Aquamarine Seaside Abstracts

At the Sea, relaxing in the warm gentle breeze.

Bare feet playing in the soft white sand.

Watching the waves advance and retreat, an endless meditational loop.


acrylic abstract seashore, turquoise waters abstract, debiriley.com


Creative Pursuits

OK. I admit I wasn’t there this week!!

I’ve been occupied with other forms of creative endeavors.  Taking in… and storing up colors, shapes and forms from my drives, my zen strolls, formulating lesson plans.

And  “painting hair.”


We were planning to paint on canvas this weekend. I had several brilliant ideas lined up.

I thought we could each use 5-6 large canvases and splash, pour, splatter and throw the paints on.


Yellow would be a feature color, with a pop of magenta and pink.

Maybe CTB.  For that hint of green.




Plans change.

As they do with an 11 year old girl.  Anyone else relate to that?!



So instead,  we all enjoyed the creativity that magenta-pink hair painting offered us.

Using the ‘canvas’ of her long blonde hair.

With the 3 of us involved, it was great fun.

More fun, I’m quite sure thank if we’d gone ahead and painted on the canvases!





Sea Painting

I was however, determined to use a painting for Monday’s post.


Awhile ago, I’d gone to the beach overnight and really had a wonderful time.

Immersing myself in the water, the mood, the ‘feeling’ of the place in order to better convey its unique character, and essence.

I’d taken hundreds of snapshots, as you do.


beach photographs, waves rising, tropical beach, debiriley.com
at the beach




surf and Sand at the beach, photographs of Perth beaches, debiriley.com
Surf and Sand



And being inspired by the mood of the sea I had painted on a large canvas ….just the waves coming in.

You can check that earlier post Sea Salt, Surf   showing you this painting.


It has needed more fine tuning.


Some additional resolutions to the old   image would be great as it is on quite a big canvas that I’d rather not waste.

I do like most of the image and think it has ‘potential.’


This morning I’ve played around with seeing how it would look cropped and turned around in several different formats.

These 2 were the better of the lot.



I’d used a monochromatic palette while painting this.

 Its easy, fast, less hassle.  Less likely to get muddy.  Better chance of getting my tonal values right.


But maybe next time, my palette might be:  buff titanium, white,  cobalt,  cobalt teal blue CTB,  cerulean and ultramarine blue.   They would all harmonise really well together and fit into the sea surf theme perfectly too.


seaside abstract in acrylic, debiriley.com
Changed Up, new format




By turning it over upside down and around, cropping the sides, turning it into a long vertical, etc.  creates improved designs.


And while, I still might repaint over this at some stage … for now, I can leave it.

Let it rest. While I think about it.


I’m not in a big hurry.

The waves are pleasant and breeze is warm, the sand feels so lovely and soft.





Its Not Too Quiet Here

Its Not Too Quiet Here

A zen kind of day.

Contentedness…. in the calm.



zen of nature, contentment found in peace, debiriley.com
Content, in the Calm



There is a lovely balance found here;  out in this soft delicacy and peacefulness.

Its not too quiet, no.

I don’t think so. Not at all.




I Steal Time.

I sneak away.

To find hidden places within this city’s  boundaries.

To uncover the quieter, secret places, to discover their mysteries.

To have life unfold in its beautiful ways, for me.



Its not too quiet here.

I can breathe here.

Its clear here.

Its calm here.



It wasn’t far.

But I did leave civilization, behind.

No  smartphones.


No radios, no tv,  no crowds.

Just the camera and I sharing a zen moment.

Its a beautiful day.


Its not too quiet here.




The Challenge – Watercolors

The Challenge – Watercolors

Its a challenge, yes.

But wouldn’t it be just a little bit boring without a challenge or two?!

So far in my “Master Color” course we’ve been proceeding along in segments.

It makes it easier.

While I’m purposely creating this post for my Tuesday class, “MASTER COLOR”  don’t let that stop you from joining in the fun today!!



landscape fields photograph, foregrounds, debiriley.com
landscape fields:  foreground – middleground – background


Watercolors – The Real Basics

We’ve found out how to read the labels and,  why that is so relevant.

(Pigment identification numbers, lightfastness ratings, series, names, brands, single pigment paints vs multiple ingredients.)


Plus, what opaques, granulators, stainers, transparents are and how you can use them to their best advantage, avoiding their liabilities!

Which ones are good social mixers and which ones, like to be the solo artists.

We also are discovering,  how the differing brands of the same paint name, can make or break a color blend on your painting.



Last Term Blues Featured

2017 started off on the Cool side, focusing on the magnificent Blues of watercolor.

Daniel Smith Indigo, cobalt pb28, the 2 types of cerulean, prussian blue pb27, ultramarine pb29,  phalo blue pb15.3 and indanthrone pb60 were the featured paints. We combined them with the lovely Daniel Smith Naples Yellow and Winsor Lemon py175.    Totally fascinating!


watercolor blues, tropical ocean colors, cerulean, cobalt, teal, color mixes, debiriley.com
Blues in Watercolors, debiriley.com (c)


Term 2  Warm Colors of the Earth

This term we’ve focused on Warms and the Earth colors.

Permanent Rose Pv19, Winsor and Newton Permanent Alizarin Crimson Pr206,  Raw Umber PBr7,  Burnt Sienna PBr7,  Light Red. Now we are integrating these with the Blues in Landscape themes.

It has been a great fun challenge so far.

Especially trying to keep in mind, Keep it Loose, Keep it Simplified. And,  Don’t get bogged down with “replication.”

ah yes…. easier said, than done.

Its a Challenge!




Weekly Watercolor Workouts

Each week, I suggest a little something for them to do at home.

Making sure they all feel free to Ad Lib.  To change the recipe to suit.


Weekly Watercolor Works  (WWW)

This week it is about depth.  About aerial perspective.

About Foregrounds.


And we will be mixing from only the colors we have from Term 1 and Term 2 to obtain the illusion of depth.

The aim is to enable the viewers to ‘walk through’ the paintings smoothly.

Not rough or bumpy, but a beautifully even and smooth,  stroll through.



It is a Challenge………  Join Us?!



I mentioned to my lovely friends that I’d share some helpful visuals on my next post and title it The Challenge.

The landscape photographs   you see here,  you are welcome to use as references for your watercolor paintings too, as part of  The Challenge. I’d appreciate it though, that my paintings, not be copied/used as reference.  Its important, as many of my images are for sale in my shops…..Thanks!


painting watercolor trees, beginners techniques, debiriley.com
Watercolor front is warmer



miniature watercolour impressionistic landscape debiriley.com
Miniature Landscape  warm to cooler



NSW blue hills watercolour landscape debiriley.com
Watercolour landscape, dry brush foreground     debiriley.com


Burnt Sienna PBr7, monochrome watercolor landscape mountains, trees, debiriley.com
Burnt Sienna tonal value study   dark to lighter



Suggesting …. Depth and Perspective

One of the dilemmas, new artists face is how to create depth.

How to avoid that ‘flatness’  that happens so often. As it did to me, for way too long!



Is the simplest key.  But it is, The second on my list actually.

The first is, of course tonal values.    (See the Burnt Sienna landscape above)



If we make sure that the foregrounds are very warm (reds, oranges, terracottas, yellows)

and the middleground areas are less warm (greens – lime greens, grass green, blue greens)

and then the backgrounds are quite cool (grey greens, blues, pale grey lavenders)     Well!

Then we will have a lovely smooth stroll through the painting.

The painting will have depth and perspective.



HOW?  You ask.

Always, mentally divide the photo, painting, subject into sections.

Background. Middleground. Foreground.

Assign each, the ‘temperature’ of colors that is appropriate for its location.


watercolor foregrounds, debiriley.com
Foregrounds, mid, backgrounds



watercolour trees forest, creating depth, mixing green foliage, debiriley.com
Forest Depths, warm to cool watercolors debiriley.com



Lets say I have mixed up a lemon green for a field that is closer to the front.  Maybe it was a canola field?  Anyway,  to make the back part of that field recede like it needs to,  all I need to do is add increments of a blue to the mix and paint away.

Lets say I’ve some bushes, shrubbery that are in the foreground, middle, background…..

Something like this,  might be the way to go.

watercolor foliage green mixes, beginners watercolours landscape greens, mixing warm greens,debiriley.com
Landscape Greens, warm colors in Front – cooler in the Back





Some Reference photos, that I thought might be helpful are below.


landscape photo, foregrounds, debiriley.com
Landscape photo, challenge


landscape fields photograph, foregrounds, debiriley.com
landscape fields, foreground – background


pink lake, Perth WA, photograph, debiriley.com
Pink Lake, landscape depth foregrounds



misted tangles watercolor, photo, debiriley.com
Foliage Misted Tangles





What you’ll want to do is to simplify.


Mentally divide the image into the 3 sections back, mid, foreground.

Assign each area the appropriate color temperature and textural effects and tonal value.


nature photograph reference for painting, debiriley.com



Never try to ‘just duplicate’ a photo.   They don’t tell the truth, anyway!

Use the photos as guides.


Suggest….. the details.  There is truly no need to reveal, expose it all.


Go for a close approximation and do your best to put your own spin on things.


Its just a piece of paper.





Watercolor Basic Posts you’ll find great resources:

 Painting Depth background to foreground 

Depth background 

Backgrounds  –   are lovely things  

Mixing greens with depth 

watercolor landscapes 

watercolor tips 

Watercolor Basics

3 fast tips watercolor landscapes 





Did you know, that Maimeri Raw Umber (my favorite)  mixed with cerulean/cobalt blend  in a wet wash creates a gorgeous greeny blue.

That is so perfect for middleground hills, with the slight granulation ….. suggesting, shrubbery!

It is, Delightful to experiment with these colors we have added to our palettes so far.


It is a Wonderful Watercolor Challenge. Yes.




Colorful Brushstrokes

Colorful Brushstrokes

Breaking the rules.

With decisive,  powerful brushstrokes. Colorful brushstrokes.


colorful abstract acrylic, prussian blue pb27, warm and cool colors, debiriley.com
Colorful Powerful Brushstrokes in Acrylics


A Bridge of Prussian Blue

These two big sweeping strokes of Prussian blue unite the image.


The background was quite jarring, overly full of lively textures.  And, it was so warm.

This is generally not in keeping with a balanced sense of harmony and unification, that I’m looking for in a painting.


The ‘rules’  …. say warmer colors in front and cooler in back; textures and details in front, less in the back.

The orange and yellow normally would belong in the foreground area of a painting.

The lively textures also, usually are placed in the foreground and the focal point area.


I resolved the dilemma.

With 2 strokes.





But, I had to pause. And think about it.

I needed to allow my mind to sort through ideas.


Such as:  How can I balance all that texture?  All that warmth?  What about using the complement of the orange? Well, then… which Blue would work best? Which Brush, do I want to use?  Which direction to move it in? Go bold, go lyrical, go with curves, go with angles?

You see, I needed to ponder a moment.




My Choices

I chose Prussian Blue pb27, a favorite.

It is Bold. Decisive!


I chose an old stiff, housepaint brush, which would leave strong bristle marks.


I chose to limit drastically my brushstrokes. “Less, is more” is a great motto.

I chose to unite these two strokes, bridge-like.


An Embrace.

To create a sense of harmony, unity.  I think it worked.




Speaking, with softness

Speaking, with softness

In life, so it is in art.  The loud, the shouting, the bright, the brazen are often who are heard.  The only ones heard, listened to.

They trumpet their wares with sharp edged precision.

Those that speak in softer tones without the sharp, hard edges often become the wallflowers.

In life, so it is in art.

conveying emotion in media, expressing mood in art and photography, soft edges for depth, debiriley.com
Threads of jade silence


Soft Spoken Art

But can I turn that around? I’ll do my best.

Come, see these subjects that speak deeply, thoughtfully, with Feeling…. in their soft spoken, abstracted like beauty.


canon 600d, macro 100mm, nature photography, pictures of zen, soft edges in art, debiriley.com
Early Dawn, dollars in the sun
Where the images came from

I’ve been on a quite a few short zen strolls, those were lovely.   And a some hard, strenuous hikes recently.

With camera and lenses in hand, I’ve been hard at work! 

From – surfers gliding the transparent cobalt teal sea, to the glorious Indian Ocean sunsets, to the zen hike at the zoo.

And of course, my yesterday’s zen stroll around the block, finding  a myriad of surprises.



My activities have accumulated 5000 photos in just a couple weeks.

From the many,  there may be a few that speak in the tones I wish.


Now,  for the culling. Not. As fun.

But now I DO have ample material with soft edges for today.



canon 600d photographs, canon 100mm nature photos, water reflections in macro, debiriley.com
Emerald and Jade, ripples



Fear of Soft Edges

Soft edges are hints, suggestions and nuances.

Blurred lines and shapes, that open and envelop.  Soft edges are not defined.


They allow the melding of ideas, of tones, of colors, of movements to blend together – whether in song, or in dance, in poetry or in painting.


Soft edges allow our imaginations to soar and our intellect to query.




Many modern artists, those just starting out, may have a fear and an apprehension with softness of edges. I did too! 


Perhaps, there is a misunderstanding.

Perhaps there is an uncertainty in the use, in the placement, in the application and techniques.

Perhaps softness does not resonate within some….. and their unique personal art style is a harder style.

Maybe more like Ellsworth Kelly, Escher or Mondrian. It could well be.


But for the rest of us,  this apprehension of those  Soft and ill defined edges,  is there.  In masse.



We don’t have to be afraid of soft edges.

Whether we dance, cook, paint, draw, sing, or write.

We don’t  need to have it all spelled out, leaving nothing for the imagination, for the intellect.

We may tell ourselves we need it.



But isn’t it really, truly, because it is Faster.


To have the thing already defined for us?

Already spelled and mapped out.

A  premade item all we need to do is pop it in the microwave to consume?

…. for the most part,  I’m thinking, yes.



This,  is a major part of our Fear of soft edges and ill defined things.

Just the realisation that our compulsion for Faster, for Easier –  is all the fear is,  goes far to ease much of that fear from us.

In truth, many times, we simply create our own fear because we want something …. Immediately.



Hold on, Not so fast!

It takes, on average about 10,000 hours.

To become skilled and master a subject.

We do  need to want this skill passionately enough to do the time.



depth and perspective with soft edges, macro flower photography, canon 600d, speaking softly with soft edges in art, debiriley.com
Beauty in Edges, depth



Inspired by Subtleties

Let me show you, why many times I am so much more inspired and awed by the background of an image, when it is so with excellence.

When the background – becomes the piece de resistance.  




composition, design tips, focal point in art is in focus, sharp edged, background is soft edged, depth in landscapes, debiriley.com
Focal Point, Is in focus, is sharp edged



For maximum depth, we need a Sliding scale of blurred and sharp edges.

Variations and progressive gradations in those edges.

Smooth and Seamless is my ideal.


The Focal Point, most always needs the hardest and sharpest edges to draw the eye to it.

The middle ground is less sharp.  The background – can be a wide range of blurred edges.

A sea of melting, merging colors, shapes and tones.





macro flower photography, spring violet bud, canon 600d, canon 100mm macro lens, speaking softly with soft blurred edges, art tips for beginners, debiriley.com
Shy: its all about the soft edges


Soft Edges

Soft edges are a perfect backdrop to create more depth, more distance, recession and perspective.

They also hint at open windows, doors and open arms. Open minds.




woodland violets, macro flowers, canon 600d, soft edges in art, purple flowers, zen stroll, nature walks, debiriley.com
Woodland violets

Cool greens, greys, lilac purples look charming.  Woodland violets’  blurred softness throughout evokes a clear mood, a feeling.

We have such an abundance of soft edges here,  it denotes perhaps a forest dreamscape.



nature walks, nature photography, canon 600d, canon macro 100mm lens, creating soft blurred backgrounds for mood and depth, debiriley.com
Another Realm, in greens


Soft, as

This has a very high ratio of soft edges to sharp,  about … 96% soft blurred to maybe 4% sharp/harder edges.


pink rose petal, macro flower photo, canon 600d, debiriley.com
Soft, as



Back in the studio, glancing from the vase to outdoors – we get another perspective.


still life photo, soft blurred edges, canon 600d, soft focus background, debiriley.com
inside looking out



Speaking with softness, doesn’t mean to go unheard.

But to choose, with care where the tones, lines, and edges go.

Sharp and soft.  Those edges,  they are as if they were your words.