Tag: depth

The Leaf

The Leaf

I adore the textures etched into this weathered dying leaf.

Lines upon lines, filled with a treasure of textures.

I nearly passed it by.

But something made me stop and turn back.

Fortune Smiled.


monochrome madness, macro photography, leaf textures, sepia photography, Wabi Sabi art photography, debiriley.com
The Leaf …… glorious textures



The Leaf


in monochrome.

Warmed with a soft sienna tone.

Hinting at the life lived;

Now fading slowly

Back to earth.



“The Leaf”  is a beautiful example I think,  of Wabi Sabi.




For the curious, I used my old Canon 600d with a Canon 100mm macro lens 2.8L

The shutter speed was at 1/200  the fstop at f5.6 and the ISO at 100

Fortune Smiled.




Add Excitement with Texture!

Add Excitement with Texture!

Has your art become staid?  Too flat? Too predictable?

Change it up!

Add excitement to your painting life with luscious Textures!


creating texture in oils, oil painting tips for depth, textural effects in foreground, debiriley.com
Its All About Textures….          #1



Exciting Oil TEXTURES

Why oils?

To change it up, of course!  I’ve been using watercolors in a much higher ratio than anything else in the past few weeks.

Time for a brief break.


Oils are quite thick, providing ample ability to create near sculptural like texture.



I would need to use other techniques to create my textural effects with Watercolors.

ie  Watercolor Texture 

creative texture 

touching the mountain 



The Mindset

To keep the ‘excitement and joy’ at the optimum level, I maintained my attitude of Play.

Reminding myself, many times, that I am learning.

That I am playing. Silliness IS Allowed. 

That I am allowed to just explore the paints today.


This way, I can lessen the need for a finished product.   Sometimes,   the inner mind has one in store regardless, and it just emerges.

I enjoy these aspects of painting and having experimentation days….. I never know what Might Happen!


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Textures in Oils, smooth and rough       #2



Painting Materials

lush texture in oils, adds excitement to art, create depth with textures in oils, debiriley.com
Have FUN…….   Creating Sculptural like  Texture in OIls         #3


I chose to use a brush for my experimentations today in oils.

I wished to achieve the dragged, rough lines, the sweeping gestures, the short choppy motions that can be conveyed by using the brush.

I confess I did not use a regular art brush.

Instead,  used a small used, old housepaint brush.  A horrid little stiff brush….. which was really ‘just right’ for helping my create those textural effects in oils!

The surface was a canvas paper, relatively inexpensive. Perfect for a plethora of practice!



My Purpose

The goal was simply to create as much textural effects as I could with the brush in 2-3 colors.

To make the texture stand out more effectively, I need to remember to have plenty of calm, smooth, flat planes of space too.   We know if we have too much action going on all at once, the impact is lost.  Its the same as using color. Too many colors “bright and bold” all over,  are not as effective as One Bold Color set amidst a field of calmer, ‘subordinates.’


In other words,  we need to plan,  and then create a delicate Balance of Calm to Busy.

A very simple, rough beginners’ tip for that……  I suggest about  2/3  Calmer and 1/3  Busy.  

Feel free to play with that ratio.  It depends upon what mood, what feeling you are trying to convey to the viewer, too.  If you want an ultra serene vibe, nearly ‘naptime’ then try for 7/8 Calm  and 1/8 Busy.

Or if you specifically Want the viewer to be in chaos mode…. choose a very high ratio of Busy.

Perhaps 3/4 Busy and 1/4 Calm; and certainly the 7/8 Busy and 1/8 Calm would do the job.




creating focal points in paintings, texture and detail on center of interest, impressionist oil painting with figures, debiriley.com
Figures in Oils          #4


Location, location, location

Where does Texture really belong?!


We want to add excitement.

To get out of the rut, out of the same monotonous pattern and  enliven our art.

Usually, my autopilot mind thinks first of using Color.

Color will do it.

So too will Texture.



But wait.

Where…. does “Texture”  belong?

What are the appropriate corresponding locations in your paintings?

Where should the most and the least go?  From the background,  middleground, foreground to the focal point?

What is the secret, the hint we can all use to help us out?




Generally Speaking,

we want to place the Most detail and Textures on the Focal Point.

Next (usually)  is the Foreground.

Then the Middleground gets less details/textures.

The Background normally receives the least amount of attention, details, textures.





Because as things recede further away from our eye, they become gradually more subtle. More indistinct. They are more blurred, faded, flatter in tonal value, with nearly no details nor textures left for the eye to see (at that Distance.)

This, is something every new artist really needs to jot down on their easel.  So that they see it. Every time they paint!


It confuses the eye, when Every Thing is in focus and has so much detail/texture going on.

When the focal point, the foreground, the midground and the background  all have nearly equal amounts of detail and texture……. our eye is confused about the Depth and Perspective.


textures in art techniques, debi riley
Fabulous Textures  oils      #5


With all of these examples, #1-6,  it was all about trying to create Texture.


In #1  The brush marks seem to gouge through, leaving deep valleys and streaks. With the peaks creating shadows upon the surface.

#2  The look was much smoother, calmer. A high ratio of Calm. With the Foreground have the primary area of textural effects.

#3 A wild medley of sculptural effects. Thick layers plastered on over the top of previously textured areas. Wild.

#4 A fun little testing strip area, practicing figures. The Figures being focal point they received more textures than elsewhere.

#5 Brushing the oils on, then smearing with a piece of paper and lifting to create this look.

#6  lots of tree foliage texture,  image from prior post but changed now into a long horizontal format


With the exception of #6  all the samples were absolutely ‘process’ based vs ‘product’ based.

#6 I wanted Texture and a landscape painting.    The others were great fun and very informative for future work!

oil Textures, impressionist oil landscapes, cobalt teal blue, debiriley.com
Texture in oils  with a pleasing  calm to busy ratio                   example   #6





Skies Above

Skies Above

Very Simple… in design.  Full of Atmosphere and dialogue.

I find it calming, serene and relaxing to look upon.

Relaxing. With just the merest hint of energy in the deep waters, to prevent any boredom from setting in.


landscape in oils, contemporary oil painting, abstract in ocean blue, cerulean sky blue, debiriley.com
Skies above, oil painting


Skies Above

I wonder.  If more of us painted, more of us drew, more of us tended our gardens, more of us wrote poems and stories, if more of us Created from the artist within….  wouldn’t  it all  be a much better world.


I look at the skies above

and wonder.





The Process of the Painting

For Skies Above, I used a canvas with an pale lilac undercoat, painted beforehand.

Choosing a Cool dominant theme. Giving the sky a higher ratio of space in the painting, about 2/3 roughly.

I thought this would assist in the communication of   “skies and looking Up at wide open spaces.”


My oil paints in blues were indigo, prussian, cerulean, ultramarine… mixing them together as needed.

White was required for balance and for tonal contrasts, and depth.

I allowed some of the pale lilac undercoat to be revealed.

These hints and glimmers, add to the depth of the painting.

I chose, to have the deepest most intense dark at the lower left corner.

As if, we are there and then our eyes  are swept up to the horizon and further, up into the cerulean & lilac sky.

I made choices.




The Masters knew.
  • Tell a story.
  • Make each brushstroke count.
  • Don’t waste effort.
  • Don’t fiddle about.
  • Know what you want to communicate, then set about to do so.


acrylic ocean 1 brushstroke debiriley.com
The Ocean….with  1 brushstroke (from Banish Boring Brushstrokes 2) 


The Masters made choices.

We can learn from the Masters. We  certainly can choose to use that knowledge to improve our own, unique and original paintings.

We can practice until we improve!



The Masters knew…………

Banish Boring Brushstrokes,  make every brushstroke count!  


Banish Boring Brushstrokes 3 Tips  Part I    


to dream of skies 





The Colors of the Flinders Ranges (oils)

The Colors of the Flinders Ranges (oils)

Color, color, color…. and memories!

My  10 day adventure to The Flinders Ranges, 1993 was long ago,  but in my mind –  it seems more like just a year or two.


impressionist oil landscapes, colorful landscape paintings, Flinders ranges, art trips are fun!, debiriley.com
Colors of the Flinders Ranges (c) debiriley.com


Flinders – Filled with Color!

I can recall the landscape, textures, heat, wind, flies, storms and all those bold,  glorious colors instantly.  Its been etched in.

The sunset colors of naples yellow, mountains of lilac,  tree foliage of silver and cobalt teal, earth the color of rust and amber.

My word, I was spell bound.




The Trip

The art trip by bus, was organised by a Melbourne group,  ‘friends of friends.’  This was a first for me, never having travelled by ‘bus’ before.  I learned a lot.


The leader, an older woman had ashes to scatter in the mountains. Her artist/teacher husband always loved to camp and paint the Flinders when he was alive. The ashes were peacefully and beautifully scattered in a lovely natural setting.

The wind captured the dust and carried it up and away.

I thought this was going to be morbid, so I almost chose not to go on the art trip at all.  I bucked up and went.  Trip of a lifetime and I knew it!

But it wasn’t ‘morbid’,  not at all.



Immersed into the Subject

I took hundreds of photos and dozens of fast color studies and sketches. But mostly, all I wanted to do was to immerse myself into the landscape so deeply that I’d always remember it.  I walked more than the others, even in the stifling heat. With the crazed hordes of mean flies.


You may ask to see the reference photo for my painting.

I didn’t use one.

I closed my eyes for awhile;  and remembered.  I know that I didn’t document an exact location ie the corner of Gum road and Sage drive, right next to Dogleg Bluff.



That’s not my thing.   I want…….  Color.

I want ……. Feeling!

Thats all.  Thats really all I need from my work.





The Painting


This is done in artist quality oils, painted on oil paper.

I used naples yellow, white, quinacridone gold,  permanent rose, ultramarine,  cobalt teal blue.


I wonder if you can tell me where I ‘broke’ the rules…. and why?!

Many of you have been reading my posts for awhile, and will see a couple of things in this painting that does not follow the general guidelines I outline.  Can you spot them?



Let it go – and enjoy

I enjoy this color filled impressionist painting of the Flinders Ranges.

I loved being there.  I loved painting it.

Its not a masterpiece, a perfect painting.  Thats ok.

I enjoy the looking at it.


We don’t need for something to be perfect,   or to behave,   or to do what we had in mind for it to do – in order to enjoy it as it is.   So I have discovered.




*And Readers,   Thank You for reading.  For following, for sharing & caring.  I am grateful.




Watercolor Tips

Watercolor Tips

Watercolor 10 Fast, Simple, Easy Tips for Beginners.

The 1st  watercolor tip,  holding your brush is more important than you might think!

Imagine a surgeon having a death grip on the scalpel? mmmm… no thank you.   A nice light hand, sensitive to what is happening,  the grip on the tool sure and comfortable. At ease, from practice.

While painting and using a brush or a palette knife is really not the same as surgery,  it does involve a very similar  degree of sensitivity and light handedness.


watercolor brushes, Raphael brush, Kolinsky sable, watercolor painting of brushes, debiriley.com
Watercolor Brushes, loose and bold


10 Watercolor Tips


  1. hold the brush loosely, without tight rigid stiff tension
  2. stand to paint if you can, sitting hunches your neck & shoulders
  3. do be ultra generous mixing your paint blends, not ‘stingy’
  4. have brush fully loaded up;  flowing with ease across the paper. Not scratchy
  5. do use a taped off section of your watercolor paper as a Testing Strip area
  6. consider as you paint, placing cooler colors behind the warmer ones
  7. ensure you haven’t over done a yellow/golden green all over in every location
  8. place yellow golden greens in a Primary location ie front;  forego mid & background
  9. have a hair dryer on hand
  10. use Dryer to fully dry an area completely… before you make Corrections



Standing to Paint

Standing,  it Loosens you up.

It helps you to use your shoulders and to express gesture, mood and movement much easier.

Sitting and using the wrist, locks us up. Blocks the flow and hinders us from expressing gesture and movement with ease.   I need to do both, these days. I stand for awhile, then sit. And Repeat.

Differing  Styles   of art require adjusting your ‘stance.’

watercolor lilies, abstract flowers, Watercolours Wild Floral fast and loose painting debiriley.com
Wild Floral fast and loose

Wild Floral,  a double sized sheet, was painted standing while it was flat on a table.


Dancing Curtains Watercolor painting debiriley.com
Dancing Curtains

Dancing Curtains,  Is a Different style of watercolor…..  and so, I needed to sit.  I needed to use my wrist for the intricacies of pattern in this small 2×3″ miniature painting.


Generous Paints

The brush just flows easier if it has plenty of liquid. Inadequate fluid in the brush creates streaks and uneveness.

Plus, you may not choose to have to spend all that time trying and trying, to mix up more paint to match the last batch.

And we all know, what happens when we ‘just add more water to make the paint go further.’

It makes the paint far  too pale and light!!  A Big Problem.


Mix up Plenty.. Be Really Generous.

And if you do have left overs, store them in tiny plastic containers with lids.  The paint will be good for about a week.

watercolor techniques and color mixing tips for beginners, landscape depth in watercolours, debiriley.com
Mix Plenty of Color!



Testing the Paints First

It is so easy, so simple to tape off a couple of inches at the bottom of your paper.

Each time you mix a color, load the brush up…. and whack it on! Don’t be shy!

Is it too dark? Is it too light?  Is it too warm, too cool?   By using the Test Strip on your paper, you figure it all out…. beforehand.

Smart And Easy!


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



Warmer Paints –  Front

For This TIP,  it is important to pause here and really let the info sink in.


If you had a painting mainly in say, greens…. in order to get the best Depth, you need to deliberately place very cool Greens in the back.

And then progressively,  as we come into the mid area, warm the Greens abit more.   Then the foreground Greens will be the warmer.  With the Focal Point having the ……. warmest Green of all.  (generally speaking, this is a good guide for beginners.)


The same would apply to any and  all  other colors.


We must choose to change them.

To take the Main Mix,  and add a dash of blue to cool down a warm.  Or add a dash of warmth to make the cool color subtly …. warmer.


We Alter them to suit their individual Locations!!

They are all in different places,  so they need to be treated as such.     


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


You can see, that the warmer golden, yellowed greens are in front.  They’re not in the distant back or middle areas.

Warm golden, glowing yellow mixes belong in specific areas of a painting.



Just a note, for the curious as to what paints I used to mix these greens.

I created these colors in Landscapes Greens with  my Beginners Core Basics.

Cobalt blue pb28  &  Permanent Rose pv19  &  Winsor Lemon py175




Saving the Day – Hair Dryers

Patience is a virtue. One I’m afraid that watercolorists may find in short supply as their enthusiasm abounds.

The eagerness to get on with it is usually at fever pitch, I notice.  I’m not pointing fingers! I really am like that too. But, I have figured out how to curb it. How to work around this little quirk.

Its not difficult at all.    Most of the time, I will automatically just lay out about 3 pieces of paper.  I work on several at a time. That way when one Needs it to dry ie it is at that ‘cranky’ stage, I can easily hop on over to the next piece of paper that is laying there Waiting For Me.

If. I didn’t do this, then the next fantastic solution is to use my hair dryer to dry the painting off. That takes less than a minute.

Then, whatever Glazing that needs done, or lifting, etc.  can be done without risk of murky mud.    Because,  mud occurs so often when we are too impatient to wait for the right timing (DRY!) to apply the next layer of paint.

When we don’t wait,  those two paint applications will …. mingle and mix, to create that Mud.   yuk


#inktober, ink drawings, watercolor and ink, paintings of waterfalls, nature journal in inks, debiriley.com
Ink Falls, (c) debiriley.com


Believe it or not,  INK FALLS,  called for the Hair Dryer.

I’d made a mistake and had part of it done while damp;  but I had to dry it completely, before I could return to fix it and carry on.   So I used the hair dryer to dry it.  Then redampened the entire paper with due care.

I then Corrected the mistake and proceeded along on my way.  It turned out fine.





Partnering Posts

watercolor beginner tips and technique informational post articles:


watercolor depth

watercolor  color mixing tips

watercolor brushes 

watercolor color mastery techniques 


The Truth, in Aristotle’s Words

The Truth, in Aristotle’s Words

I went out yesterday morning meaning to go for a short, zen stroll.  Fresh air, to clear the mind and sooth and relax.  But as things progressed, thats not what happened. I had a very hard hike.

With these 3 images and their story, I’ll share how the words of Aristotle – changes our art.

nature walks, zen, choppy waters, monochrome, debiriley.com
The Winds Stir the Waters, …from a zen walk


The Hike, not a stroll

With my heart and mind on other matters, my feet took many turns – and then I ended up far, far from home. With a very sore hip.  A hike indeed. I’m sure its good old fashioned weight bearing exercise “good for the bones.”

Yes, lemonade from lemons.

Clarity,  in part has been granted. While the soreness lingers.


Aristotle, the inward significance of art, convey the mood and meaning in paintings and photos, debiriley.com
Aristotle, the inward significance of art


So the “Hike” has served a useful purpose.

You know, of course, I don’t go on strolls without my camera.  My photographs have recorded so many things from this Hike.

Not really just the outward things of nature, but a deeper inward symbolic meaning.  Especially the very last, at the park. The meaning of which must be… for another post.


creative photography, conveying the mood and feeling, deliberate camera blur, landscape summers ending, debiriley.com
The Dreamland  – soft moss lawn and gold drops of foliage



The Hike – Image #1

In the first photograph, the wild winds were hitting the water. Dashing it from one side to another. With a dark indigo blackness that seethed, the water churned and chopped. Ahhh….. you get the drift here.



Image #2

The second image with Aristotle’s words.  Isn’t there so many layers to this one?

Can you see the elements, touching and reacting. The bright yellow green leaves being touched tenuously by the withered twig. Just barely.  So nearly, not.   And looking further into the back. That shape. The sphinx-like face that gazes out, to the left, far away to somewhere else.


Image #3

The third is the Landscape of golden tipped trees.

Well, its my fav of the 3 images.  I deliberately created camera blur effects for a dreamier appearance.

A Dreamland.

Soft and golden with pale moss lawn.

The gold drops of foliage…. falling down. Like teardrops. Haunting and yet enchanting.


*also,  this image does tie in with my last color mixing post with Naples Yellow. I could so easily mix all the colors seen from the paints I’d listed.





In each of these 3 images, the inward significance is far greater than that first glance, exterior appearance of beauty or prettiness.



Most artists would not go into much detail, explaining the image or content.


Why, would I?  Only because I am a teacher.

And after all these years, I know the questions are there for so many.

And would remain unasked.  The images and artworks to remain unresolved mysteries. Or guesses.  I’ve made it my purpose, to try to take a lot of the guesswork out. To make art easier to understand.



Blurred images and abstractions do not need to remain ‘mysterious’ – I think I can explain, in part, mine at least.

  • Blurring helps to create depth, distance, perspective.
  • It helps to lead and guide the eye in.
  • Also….. it creates a soft and dreamy, welcoming mood. A Dreamscape.
  • Whereas, hard, sharp choppy edges – serve to draw the eye right there.
  • Riveting there on that spot and staying right there.
  • Not taking the viewer through the artwork.
  • Those hard sharp edges can tend to be quite  ‘pokey,’  abrasive.
  • Like swords pointed at you. Making you want to …. stay away.



Aristotle’s words about digging deep, to show the inward aspects truly resonates with me.


Curves and Colors: Abstracts

Curves and Colors: Abstracts

Curves in Art.

This first painting with its graduating circles, curving in like a vortex, definitely leads the eye around and inward.

earth tones, abstract art geometrics, brown bronze, debiriley.com
Curved:  circular forms of earth


I’ve created 2  very different styles of abstracts, equally enjoyable for me.

Both feature the Curve in their design.

One is easier to ‘relax’ with while the other is a bit more on the ‘energetic’ side.  Can you, see that difference?  Do you know why?



obtain depth with curved lines, textures, color, debiriley.com
Curves and Textures


I’ve used color,  texture and tonal values to enhance the illusion of depth.

This last image I’ve used a multitude of layers.  Layers of tone, textures.  All with a sweeping curving directional movement to alleviate boredom.



The first image with all curving circles is smoother, gentler.  While the last image with the rough textures and more drama,  creates a stronger sensation of Tension ‘abrasion.’     This is why one feel more relaxed with one style than the other.