Tag: foreground

A Monet Morning: I want the unobtainable

A Monet Morning: I want the unobtainable

Morning arises, the early light so gentle, so soft with an  otherworldly kind of glow that captivates.

My post dawn zen stroll  was magnificent  –  A Monet Morning.


blue flower agapantha, Monet art, zen strolls, early morning walks, debiriley.com
Monet Morning .. photograph


Claude Monet

I want the unobtainable.

Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and that’s the end.

They are finished.

I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat,

the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible.



Claude,  you say what I feel.

And This Morning…. the beauty was in the air.

How. To capture that?

How. To express that?

Like you say,  it is nothing short of impossible.

Still, with paints or with camera ….. it is the destination.



At The Edge of Summer

Right on the cusp of summer there is still time yet for a beautiful,  freshness in the morning.

A hint of warmth carries with it the scent of newly opening blooms: roses, agapanthas, jacarandas.

They fill the air with promise and mystery and love.



I paused, along the banks of the little creek.

Just to breathe.

To fill in my lungs with the aroma of the morning.

Just to Be.

Just to see.

Just to feel.

To immerse myself in all the things,  around.




Claude Monet  said,

the  Critic asks:   ‘And what, sir, is the subject matter of  that painting?’

– “The subject matter,  my dear good fellow,  is  the light.”




Morning Observations

Over to my right, open fields with long tall spent grass.

Golden, no longer a spring green.

But I can see the burnt umber, the  burnt sienna,   Daniel Smith…Naples yellow,  buff titanium,  indian yellow all making an appearance there in the field.


To the left a thicket, dense and tangled with branches and vines that were weaving upwards.

Spiralling just a bit,  like a spider’s web.  I didn’t enter.


Further to the left, a grove of pretty patterned trees leaned in towards each other.

I wondered what they might be speaking of this early morning.


Shifting, but still in place,  to the opposite side houses with their pretty little flower gardens.


The aromas of the morning blooms, teasing my nose as I inhaled deep.

And again for more.  How lovely.




More like ….  Monet

And this is why, I go for zen strolls.

Why I don’t go for a power walk;

no… not going for speed, nor for quantity either.


A Zen Stroll savors each breath.

The very air I breathe.


It reminds me,  to be  more like Monet.





Monet … Guggenheim 

Monet … Musee d’Orsay 



Peaceful: in my Rose Garden

Peaceful: in my Rose Garden

You and I may not have hours on end everyday to go hunting for those  very special quiet places.

Places to go and just relax.

Sometimes we must make do.

Sometimes we need to look closer to home.

Right at home, in fact. Right outside our windows, to end our search for “Serenity.”

Our quest for some little bit of Quiet time.


flower photography, creative floral shots, lovely rose photos, debiriley.com
Quiet Times, in my rose garden



Yesterday,  I shared a wonderful place with you…. Its not too quiet here.

A lovely mossy green zen space, perfectly peaceful. Sweetly serene.

But, I did, have to go hunt for it.  It didn’t just pop out in front of me.

You know me though, I don’t mind a challenge, a bit of a climb, putting in a little effort to get what I want!



macro floral photo, rose in the sun, meditative photography, debiriley.com
Up Lifted



I’ve mentioned previously,  that often I need to resort to stalking the neighbor’s flower gardens.

Usually right next door, with their wide assortment of large and aromatic roses. Yum.

But.  I must have inspired both my daughter and husband as they paired up and by Mother’s Day created a gorgeous raised bed.   Full of my own roses.

I love it and am so appreciative…. I hope you, my readers won’t tire of my many upcoming, rose posts though!


rose gardens photography, yellow roses, canon 600d, debiriley.com
In These Quiet Places



rose garden photography, debiriley.com
zen –  rose




raindrops on roses, macro photography, debiriley.com
Quietly, they Fall


It was so much fun taking these rose shots with my old Canon 600d and the macro lens.  Then editing and cropping them in various ‘poses.’

A bit of bliss.  A bit of quiet.

Just right for a Saturday. 




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.




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!


oil painting landscape with textures, impressionist oil landscapes, painting tips in oils, debiriley.com
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





Art: Splatters and Speckles Add Interest, Depth

Art: Splatters and Speckles Add Interest, Depth

Fabulous and Easy Art Techniques include creating fun, wild, rebellious splatters and speckles!

art texture techniques, spatter, rose photo, debiriley.com
Aged Rose, Speckles photo, debiriley.com


Creative, Freeing, Art Technique


It is a bit like, “Take That,  Right Brain!”

Fun, easy colorful splatters and speckles.  So lovely, so freeing.


And once those splatters are there – now that overly harsh and hyper critical side of the self,  must ‘just deal’ with all the random chaos scattered upon the fabric, tapestry, canvas, or paper.

It can be created in photographic form as well. As you can see from these first two images.


aged speckled rose petal, macro photograph, debiriley.com
Rose Petal macro photograph, debiriley.com


I like it, its refreshing.

It certainly livens things up, adding interest to otherwise dull scenes.

Giving Life, to a bored and rigid lined subject.



magenta ink debiriley.com
magenta ink debiriley.com



Splatter Textural Technique Benefits

Interest and Depth!

This dynamic duo, is so much easier on the eyes – than ‘Right and Rigid’…. by a country mile.


Of course, this is all,  merely my own personal art opinions.  I’m certain others have formed their own after years of painting too.


A friend, Josephine Ann Smith, paints wonderful beautiful, Botanical Australian birds.

She really does need to be more accurate in her line and ratio formulations. I must say her birds never seem ‘rigid’ to me though. She’s very clever in her compositions! We all have unique interests.



mixing greens in watercolor, tropical floral greens, watercolor mixing greens, easy beginner watercolor ideas, debi riley art, debiriley.com
Tropical Flora Greens debi riley




Splatter:  How, When, Where, Why

  • Simply, I use an old toothbrush loaded up with paint
  • Spray (for a finer splatter) or tap the brush  (for larger speckles)
  • Foregrounds are the best location, used to create more depth
  • Middlegrounds sometimes, if, dampened to soften the edges
  • Normally, we don’t want to draw the eye unduly, to a Background
  • Splatter Technique creates lovely dimension, added depth
  • Easily be used as a Camouflage for areas you want to Divert the eye away from



Beginners Watercolour landscapes, debiriley.com
Beginners Watercolour Landscapes, debiriley.com



texture and patterns, quail eggs, photos, debiriley.com
Quail Eggs and Foil   – splatter and speckles front and back




some useful relevant art tips, basics and guides can be found  at my page

Watercolor Basics

With loads of posts on color, materials, design, techniques for beginners.