Tag: Design with Lines

Cereal Boxes and Printmaking Landscape Collagraphs

Cereal Boxes and Printmaking Landscape Collagraphs

I created a random design,  using a discarded cereal box to cut shapes from.

Then … I thought I’d try to be clever.  Tricky.  Try something new.

Instead of doing the normal thing, I chose to try a new path.  I used small foam sticky pads to adhere those shapes to my base plate.

You never know. Until you try.



Collagraph Print

It didn’t work properly.

It would’ve been better had I used my regular glue  ie (acrylic matte medium) to glue the cut cardboard shapes onto the base plate.


The Problem:

The sticky foam pads,  allowed the cut out shapes to fall and sink unevenly.  Which meant that the ink being rolled on the plate from the brayer, wouldn’t be level and smooth. The ink would be a hit and miss affair…….oh dear.


Oh well.

Too late. I needed to try, to make it work.

I was in class, it was a demo for Atwell Gallery class.


What. do you do?

You get on with it.


printmaking collagraphs, beginner printing paper and glue, oil based printing inks, debiriley.com
collagraph from cereal box cut outs


Printing Processes

I gave up trying to continue on with the normal hand printing process with barren and wooden spoon to get the ink onto the paper.

The shapes were too uneven and the ink wasn’t ‘catching.’   Wasn’t getting onto the paper.


I used Masa paper a very versatile paper great for lots of media.  And my hand,  mainly my thumb to press the ink onto the paper from the shapes.



This last print,  I think is rather nice. Not as solid dark as the others, it has more feeling in it.

There is some lovely texture, tonal variations.

It seems to have a mood to it.


The other collograph I constructed not using the foam tabs, was a much better plate.

It provided a far superior printing experience that I let a student borrow for class.


Still,  I do enjoy this one featured.

It was a challenge.

Its kind of cool.




I used a wonderful ink, not available now.

A professional grade, gorgeous velvety black Daniel Smith oil based printing ink.

I had some saved from about 15 years ago.

It Still,  is still great to use.

It rolls out perfectly. Even after all these years.


In class I demonstrated soaking a variety of good printmaking papers, including Rives.

This process worked out nicely. whew.


I love doing this,  with the oil ink and using better quality print papers which provides such a beautiful professional finish for even beginners.

Spendy… but hey, once in awhile  its a fabulous pleasure.  And, bear in mind, it can last decades.




Learning Points

experiments,  may not  go the way you expect

stay cool

back up plans,  creative thinking go a long way to making even those work out ok

buying good quality materials, though more money,  usually proves to be more cost effective in the long run



The Meaning of Doors….

The Meaning of Doors….

Doors and Windows: they’ve fascinated all of us in one way or another for centuries.

I’ve chosen them, as the Theme, for Term 1,  2018.


They’re interesting to paint, with great shapes and designs.

However, its more than just that.


Balmain NSW colorful stain glass window, debiriley.com
Shapes and Design:  Colors of the Door and Window


Art. Its not enough, just to paint pretty. 

The aim is to be able to ‘touch’ and move others through art.

Move them through “the doorways,”  whatever those doors might be to the viewers.



Might be enough.



The origins of the word “door” in English began from a Sanskrit word,  Duarah.

This has the meaning of two doors.

And from this, comes the Greek Thura, then  German Tur, and Middle English Dure (Dor) and Old Norse Dyrr.


This is how our modern word, “door” originated.


The Gaulish, Doro… means mouth.

Doesn’t that provide a thought provoking picture?

Our lips the double doors.

Our words we speak from our lips, those double doors; might be crowds bolting out those double doors or they could be solitary entities slipping past the double guards…. almost unnoticed.



door and window, inspiration ideas for abstract paintings, geometric shapes, design ideas, debiriley.com
door and window: looking for inspiration

Thinking and Making Choices

Many of us, never pause, to consider “Why?”

Why we are pulled so compellingly to certain subjects, scenes, media, papers, colors, songs, etc.


I do…now.

But ‘you’ are an art teacher. (I hear you.)


Yes. Yes, I am.

But we don’t have to be practicing artists to stop and wonder for a quick second, for a moment,  why a thing might be.

It grants us a much better understanding and awareness of ourselves and those around us, so I believe.


I don’t see it as wasting time. Its something I can do while shopping, waiting in line, waiting in the traffic jam, waiting…. on hold.

I’m just ‘thinking’ after all.



solid timber Doorway, Balmain NSW Australia, buildings, debiriley.com
Doorway of Balmain

Door Subject: an  Example

Bold blue surrounds. Solid and sturdy big, double doors in  raw timber. Large iron hinges bolted in so securely.

The appearance given: Stay out. Shut tight against the outside.


Arousing curiosity.


And there it is.

A hint.  That if we as artists infer, and hint at something in our work – it makes the viewer much more interested.


To spell it all out,  show it all,  to reveal everything…. spoils the viewer engagement.

The mystery is over. The show is over.

The audience is now rather bored.


I think, that is why I love soft edges when I paint as much as I do.  Its the mystery.

And why I normally won’t paint from a photographic reference that  reveals it all.




UWA exterior debiriley.com
UWA   ‘portal’  arches




Doors, Windows, Gates and Portals

They represent opening and closings. Exits and Entrances.

Different pathways. New perspectives.


Doors can be things of mystery, things of the future, unseen  and hidden.

And they can be barriers, things that set boundaries where we are allowed and disallowed.


The closed door, is in itself presents “a challenge.”

Full of possibilities; we don’t know, what lies on the other side.

We can only guess.




If the door is locked, we must find the key.

Acquire permission, to gain entrance.

Somehow, we must pay the entrance fee, however the ‘payment’ is defined.


In a way, it is a test.

A test of our wills.  The intensity of our need to see, to get to the other side of that door is tested.

Will we, give up just a fraction of a moment,  too soon?



Doors –  Decisions To Be Made

Doors. Present us with a multitude of choices.


Which to choose, why we choose it, when to choose it.

Doors are never simple.

Even when you think they are.

Inside, our minds realize the complexities of the doors.

Inside the brain is processing thousands of ideas, concepts, problems, solutions.  All at once.

Thankfully, we generally are unaware of all this brain traffic going on.





UWA campus grounds, doors and windows, historic buildings, old buildings Perth, debiriley.com
Historic building, beautiful doors and windows.  Perth UWA


Painting and Drawing Selections

Decisions are made, as we draw and paint.  Actually, even before that.

When we are choosing… the doors.


We’re choosing if,  the door is to be wide open.

Or shut.

Locked up, with bars and padlock chains.

chains across doors, debiriley.com
Chains across the Doors



Should the door be left slightly ajar, just hinting at openings and possibilities?

Should we choose the door that’s wood, single door or double door?  Maybe the door has a window in it with a beautiful winged, design?

Or do we choose to paint a door that is carved with lions and protective icons as symbolic guardians?


A steel door, that would be significant as well.

What about a lovely colored door in soft gentle welcoming pale butter yellow?

You see, all the choices we make will influence the rapid fire pathways the viewers’ minds take. Their feelings and perspectives.


UWA archways debiriley.com
arched doorways



If the door is closed, is there a handle or a key? What type of door knob is this?  Does the door, have a doorman, A gate keeper?


We face a closed door.

There is a decision to be made.

Do we turn away, or make the attempt to enter into this new place?


Doors opening.  Invitations. Opportunities.  New adventures.

The door of opportunity might be represented, if open or slightly ajar.

The doors of transition may be left ajar for us, or left unlocked.

Doors often symbolise a transitional change of some type.

We may have to delve, to discover the exact nature.


Doors closed.   “No, go away.”  Stay out.  Impasse. Protection and safety of the residents.

Doors locked.  Security is prioritised.  A Test of will and motivation,  decides what comes next.





Many artists of the past have painted great masterpieces, with doors, taking a major role in the work.

(art books Delacroix..and more)


John Frederick Lewis… (one of my favorite artists)

The Coffee Bearer

An Arabian Chief, seated in Cairo bazaar 



Antiochus and Stratonice 


Jean Leon Gerome

The Green Portal 



The Kasbah Gate 


John Singer Sargent

Venetian Doorway





I have constructed an art board, on my Pinterest site “Doors and Window.”

You can find dozens of brilliant paintings there.

Its dedicated to all things regarding doors and windows: paintings of the Masters, modern paintings, watercolors, oils, pastels. + Photography.


I hope my Atwell classes have found this article explanatory as to  “Why”  I chose this theme for the term.

And indeed, why it was, that a “theme” was appropriate for us now.

I’d like to think that while we paint with the aim to touch and move others, we also become more in touch with ourselves in the doing.






Finding Art… in Singapore

Finding Art… in Singapore

Where might you see art in Singapore?

Two words….

“its everywhere!”



I didn’t expect fascinating art creations, sculptures, installations, etc.  to literally be around each street corner in Singapore.

That was,  A Surprise.

It was fun, to see artsy things pop up around pretty much where ever I looked.


art in the garden, Singapore flower dome, travel asia, debiriley.com
Art, in Singapore


Art Singapore



Singapore did surprise me.

I found so much more here, than I thought I might.


Too much almost.

You’d need to visit more than a week to take in adequately all that is available.

I went to two art exhibitions that were stunning. (More on those in a later post.)

The river cruise, animal park, Orchard district shopping – kept us busy.

My camera card was filled.  My hand, sore.

So many photographs – but truly I couldn’t resist.




Gardens by The Bay

My featured shot for the flower dome seems straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

It does capture the mood perfectly.



Gardens by The Bay info

The design team for the project included WilkinsonEyre, Grant Associates, Atelier Ten and Atelier One.

Located in the central area of Singapore, is a 250 acre park of reclaimed land.


The idea behind creating the gardens was to transform the city.

To change it from a garden city…… to a

City in a Garden.  



Yes, they did.



Singapore Garden by the bay, flower dome, debiriley.com
Flower Dome Garden by Bay Singapore



With family now in Singapore, I think we will have a few more visits in the future.





Ink in October

Ink in October

Old work, remodeled.

Some of you, might be smiling about now.

At any rate, I always enjoy the challenge of transforming previous, older art images into something different and new.

Something with a refreshing look to it, that catches the eye.

It IS Possible.


cobalt teal blue water, watercolor landscape with ink, debiriley.com
Cobalt Teal Blue and Ink



Watercolor and Ink

Ink in October   started this week’s series.

Now I want to do something with an older piece.



Changing it up.

By cropping a significant portion off the top, which previously was very distracting, the eye now drops down into the image.


The right side was altered as well.

At first with paint. Then,  when that was ineffective, another significant crop went into place.

The left side has a very slight amount of cropping.



I used the ink with a pen this time.


The snow patches on the mountains, I chose to change.

Going  from soft and gentle snow areas to Sharp, abrupt and very Abstracted patterns.



Directional Line Movement

Also,  you might take notice that the 3 directional lines are in place in this image.

Lots of diagonals, which create movement, action, energy.

A few horizontal lines to create solidity, stability, calm.

Some verticals are in there too.

But these are much more subtle in their placement. They are there though. Verticals act to provide some sense of energy, action.

The diagonal creates a more intense sense of energy, action than does the vertical.


Balancing the 3 directionals is a good tip for us to try to remember when we draw, paint, create.

It provides a more balanced and interesting design.





Something Different

I wanted the watercolor landscape

to be different. 


To be something you don’t see all the time.

Everywhere.    And then forget in 2 seconds.




For artists,  remembering that you can  recreate things is liberating.

You can turn shapes (ie snow on mountain)  into Abstract patterns and shapes.

This is one of the easiest ways to start learning how to paint and create abstracts too!






Calligraphic Watercolor

Calligraphic Watercolor

Watercolors are always on my mind.

They may not be my favorite medium, I don’t have one!

Watercolors don’t always suit my mood, nor suit the subject.

Every subject is different, and requires thought.  Insight into what specific tools, techniques, colors, design, textures will succeed in telling the story.


watercolor calligraphic abstracts, creative brush use, playing with watercolours, debiriley.com
Calligraphically…. watercolor


Affinity with Watercolor

Watercolors do lend themselves quite easily to the calligraphic approach.

They’re fluid like inks.  The brush I use handles similar to the Chinese types of brushes.

And Watercolor and I do have an affinity….Together.



Today’s abstract calligraphic approach with the brush, was directly inspired by

“mixed up media”

Toko Shinoda, and 



Calligrapher Nakajima Hiroyuki

Nakajima Hiroyuki, a contemporary working artist/calligrapher of outstanding skill and depth.


“standing in a meditative state over a blank canvas, and then when inspired….

Nakajima uses one sharp stroke of the brush to create the abstract form of nature: moon, soil, mountain.”  [2]


He explains,  the one stroke of a brush  is carried out with a single, condensed thought to bring about the forms and lines of a moment in time.[3]


Nakajima has said, “Every work of “Sho” is created in one continuous motion, and therefore cannot be repeated or re-written.


The power of “Sho” lies in this feature of non-recurrence.

Even if you draw the same letter ten times, ten different forms will arise spontaneously.”[1]





I find the process, of engaging the mind, soul, hand together – in swift and sure strokes to be a beautiful form of art and a beautiful form of peace bringing, meditation.




Fast and Fun

This was a fairly quick, very fun and relaxing painting approach.

The key was to not over think.

Nor to over load the paper with marks and colors.


But to simply keep it as clean as possible, for the biggest impact.


I did,  think and make decisive active choices.

Once the decision was made, I acted quickly with the brush.

Never once going back.

Even IF, I saw a mistake. A spot, a cauliflower. A “something not quite right.”





Directionals in Design

What I enjoy about this image (besides the Colors!)  is the design.


Directional Movement 

This simple abstract has vertical movement, horizontals and it also has diagonals.

I find when a painting combines these 3,   there is a sense of improved balance and harmony to the image.

That means, its less boring and repetitive than ….. all horizontals.


There are interesting shapes, great negative spaces to make things more interesting and the circular ‘color spots’  add visual interest too.

The variations of color within some of the marks you see, also keep things energised.






The watercolor paints used:

Ultramarine blue pb29

Winsor Lemon py175

Permanent Rose pv19


The warm yellow, looking like gamboge or indian yellow,  is simply winsor lemon with a tiny tiny pin drip of permanent rose.

The blood red, is permanent rose with a  wee ‘dash’ of ultramarine blue.


The paper used was Saunders 100% cotton rag Cold Press 300gsm

And I used my Rekab  320s   #2    Perfect, for the calligraphic mark making I wanted to do!




watercolor abstract with ultramarine blue, calligraphic watercolors, debiriley.com
squared format is interesting as well




I’m feeling Inspired!

Maybe I’ll do some fun, bold trees in watercolor next.

Maybe some glad wrap foliage; or experiment more with Daniel Smith paints… Serpentine and Zoisite.  I guess I’ll go find out now.








Frayed Its Monday

Frayed Its Monday

Frayed.  A beautifully textured black and white photograph.


For Monday.



black and white photograph of frayed ropes, textures in black and white, debiriley.com
Frayed its Monday



Black and White Photograph

I used my old Canon 600d with a 100mm macro lens for this.

Alterations were made when processing it later on the computer.


A relatively simple subject, close up, that I hoped would portray the richness of  detail and texture seen.




Learning Points

  • depth was created, with its: background-middleground-foreground
  • conveying a story, or a message with art through subject choice & palette choice
  • black and white imagery creates a very powerful form of communication
  • the very high ratio of texture is balanced, calmed by monochrome approach




Partner Posts

Invite Imagination out with black and white

Expressing your self through paint and art 

Black and White photographs

In Harmony  multi-colored twine and ropes on the fence




coloured patterns of twine debiriley.com
Many Colors and Patterns of Twine




Watercolor Cool Opposites

Watercolor Cool Opposites

It began as a test strip, mixing watercolor blues and greens.

Then I just started having fun with it.

Abstracts,  are Fun!



watercolor abstract cubes, debirley.com
Watercolor Colored Cubes


Watercolor Design Points


repetition of shapes  

I’ve used rectangular, cube shapes  throughout; with the cube inside the cube repeated 8 times top to bottom weaving the way through the design


cool dominance 

the selected temperature to dominate was cools, using blue/green for a calmer feel to offset the multitude of cubes and squares in the design



4 rows of gradually increased width to them, in a horizontal placement;  a few verticals and some diagonals occur along with the white border helps to balance the image as well

in other words, I designed this to have my 3 directionals (Horizontals, Verticals, Diagonals)  in it,  and at play – in order to create some movement and Balance


color opposites 

the blue green dominance is harmonized by the addition of their opposites (orange/red) in strategic and judicious placements  throughout





Abstract Art

This is one style, one way to approach abstract painting.

There are so many.  And sometimes, we feel the urge to venture onto the path we haven’t travelled before.

I do not normally go for angles, cubes and sharp edges.


But, this day…….. I did. Art is a great avenue for being able to choose random roads, as we will. And see where it leads us!




Watercolor Paints:

I’ve used 5 colors


ultramarine blue,

cobalt teal blue,

permanent rose, winsor lemon, phalo green, white.




Abstract Art  definitions