Tag: Impressionist painting

Impressionist’s Approach …painting water

Impressionist’s Approach …painting water

Rules. Basics. Secrets. More rules…..

For the beginner watercolorist, it can be, all very overwhelming to try to remember it all!

You don’t have to.



Painting Water

My thoughts on painting water.


Keep it super simple.

For Beginners:  Short easy sessions,  that you focus on just one technique at a time are the key.


Just one process you want to get down.

Not the  whole shebang at once. 

You can have a lot of fun, keeping it simple,  learning to paint water. 




Impressionist Approach

Keep it nice and loose.

Carefree.  Fun.

In an   Impressionist’s approach. 




impressionist approach painting water, watercolor land and water easy techniques, debiriley.com
Impressionist Moods of Water


Its really about Your impression of the subject you paint.

Its more about how you are feeling about the subject that makes the difference.

Its how you personally are interpreting it, what dialogue you have between the two of you… that counts most.

Just let us know,  show us.



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paint emotion



Sometimes the water appears bright and tropical,  fun and summery. Light and easy.

So.  Paint it that way.

Utilise white sparkles of the paper shining through,  to accent and highlight this point.

Don’t allow it or yourself, to get all bogged down and tight; the work filled with hard edges won’t capture the fun loose and carefree vibe.




Sometimes the water appears dark.  Choppy.  Moody and Sullen.

Well,  paint that feeling!  cool, stormy colors with short choppy strokes will evoke this sensation.


beginners impressionist watercolors, painting water in watercolours for novice painters, debiriley.com
practice…water techniques




Leaving white of the paper is a big help.

Painting a few squiggled lines for ‘ripples’ is another fast and simple method that works quite well many times.

Graded washes,  light -mid – dark tones in your water,  is another key factor to remember.


The other thing to remember about water, is that the farther away it is –   white waves will be ‘greyed off’ not stark white,   and the less detail, the less color intensity,  the less contrast,  the less strong dark deep tones it will have.

That right there,  is worth jotting down!



beginners watercolors painting water techniques and ideas, debiriley.com
water techniques


Beginners Watercolors

Beginners at watercolor,  may find it useful and easier,  to begin with simpler designs.

Simple basic easy shapes.

Starting right at the beginning.


Nothing too complicated or complex, no matter how much our minds are leaping to do so.

I know.

We are yearning to…. paint that busy harbour scene filled with action.

Boats, sailors, shipping lines, cargo carriers, seagulls in flight, reflections shimmering, sailboats flying in the wind.



But,  I have discovered, small steps.

One thing at a time, works.

Sinks in.


So that week by week,  month by month we do see incremental improvements.

Then, we can paint the more involved scene.

Such as the shadowed fir trees reflected in the misty early morning waters of the Pacific Northwest.





follow on posts….

Watercolor water 

Watercolor loose and free and easy 

Watercolor Impressionist  –   John Peter Russell    





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.








Joy: Dawn’s Early Light

Joy: Dawn’s Early Light

Joy. This is one of my favorite words!

And early morning is my favorite time of the day.

It IS filled, with joy.


What does ‘Joy’ mean !?



oil painting, sky clouds, dawns early light, debiriley.com
Dawn’s Light, oil painting



For me,  “Joy” can be interpreted as:

cheerfulness,  warmth, sunny, happy,  contentment,  satisfaction.

A  resilience of will,  regardless.

A deep abiding inner wellspring of light and hope.


Joy,  it appears, has a multi layered meaning for me. It does go beyond that surface appearance of the smiling on the outside or being outwardly ‘little miss sunshine.’


Rising early, I see the first light.

Dawn… with all its many faces, adds to my joy.

The day sometimes, may not proceed quite so brilliantly. However, I have had my touch of dawn.  A taste of Joy.






A beautiful thing.

To glimpse the predawn glow.

To see the gilding upon the sky.

To see Hope painted in wide brushstrokes for all who would see.


o, say

can you see

the dawn’s early light?



There is joy and satisfaction found within hope.  There is contentment in the knowing that all things change.  Seasons change.  Just as moon sets and the dawn rises.  All things change.





Oil Painting

This oil painting is large. 4 foot x 3 foot.


However, I must confess:

whether an art image is a miniature 1inch square or a massive 12 foot mural…. is irrelevant to me.


What matters is IF the image sings,  OR NOT.

Does the image speak to me, does it touch me in any way?

IF NOT, then how big or small it is, is totally meaningless to me.


The message in the painting. The Content. The essence, The Spirit. The Heart and Soul.

Its these things that truly mean something to me. These things have the value I need.   Anything else is, less.


And, yes.  I have many, many paintings that do Not speak well nor sing. But croak sadly. I’m being honest.




What dictates the size of the art image on the day?

  • How much time I have available.
  • Whether it is summer or not.
  • If I can paint outdoors, or not. If its hot summer, I can’t paint oils outside its too hot!
  • And when I close my eyes… what does the subject tell me to do?!




Capturing Color Part #1

Capturing Color Part #1

Bright mango orange, cerulean blue and lush decadent emerald.

Colors… they delight the soul.


creative photograph designs, debiriley.com
Creative Design, debiriley.com



The Eloquence of Color

With orange and black bands peeping and curling around the corners, I can almost be fooled into thinking a tropical clown fish is hiding in an vintage aquarium.  But no.

Its only my camera and I.  What Fun!


What Camera?  What Lens?

I’m just using my old,  Canon Rebel 600d with  the 100mm f2.8L macro lens.

This older camera with an updated lens – its helping me to see in new ways.

Learning to “see differently.”

I like it.




Below:   This is how it looks as is, regular. A “Normal” look.

I do,  Love the colors and the reflected glass details.

The Pineapple motif in the front glass, is different.

My antique cerulean Kanwha glass vase in the back with its crackle glass, definitely vintage!

But the photo is,  all in all…. a fairly regular traditional style and look.



I’ve Captured the Colors,  but I haven’t  Said much else.


I wonder. How to go about ‘saying something’ in a photograph…… What could I do?  I might just Pause;  and think on some options.

I often use this same approach for painting as well.

I pause.

I walk away from the artwork for a few minutes.

It helps immensely.


colored glass, orange pineapple design, debiriley.com
Cut Glass Design, Orange Pineapples… debiriley.com



Interpretation, improvisation.  Adding that bit of ‘extra’ to the recipe.  Ad libbing. Giving that little bit extra, and going the extra Step.

Ad libbing. Improvising. Interpreting for myself.

I truly love this. It is a walk into creativity.  Whether it is cooking, cat training, photography, mixing some colors, painting. Or simply…… going for a zen stroll.


I like,  going that extra step.  You never know what beauty and adventures lie just around that next bend.

Sure. It could lead to trouble.

But, generally Not.  And nothing in art, is ever truly a life catastrophe… is it!


A Pleasing Philosophy:


Painting. Creating an art image.  Taking a photograph.

These are all ….  kind of like writing a fiction book.

You –  get to make up all the characters.

You make up and control all the scenes. Everything.

Whatever colors you want.

Whatever shapes, objects, things you’d like – they can be –  in what ever locations you choose.

YOU  are the author.

We forget this!!




Improvise More

Photo #2  Emerald  Reflections

This is just a bit closer.

Same Pineapple glass.

But I’ve found a gorgeous green plate to lay underneath.

The deep emeralds and jades that I’ve captured look exquisite in this abstracted version of Real Life.


#seedifferently2016, canon rebel 600d, 100mm macro f2.8 L, creative photos, debiriley.com
Emerald Designs, debiriley (c)



Colors and Imagination

And finally….. letting some imagination loose.

The Impressionist Painters loved their dreamy paintings and ever so soft,  blurred edges.

I’ve taken it to just a bit beyond.

Yet,  there is still a hint of a focal point that the eye can travel to. To connect with.

creative photograph designs, debiriley.com



With this image I zoomed right in with the 100mm macro lens.  I chose to give it an ultra soft, abstract look.

This image lends itself especially to oils or pastels. With the dominance of soft blurred edges either would be ideal.

The Scarlet – Orange is in many places diffused.  Greyed down, desaturated.  And with the background being in lovely soft Greys,  it presents a smoother and less jumpy visual effect.




Capturing Color

3 approaches I was led to use today by the lovely Muse of Color

  • Captured Color  by using the complementary pair:  blue & orange
  • Captured Color by changing/improvising the colors  I wanted in the reflections
  • Captured Color by choosing to diffuse, blur and desaturate  colors I wished to




This is Part #1  of  Capturing Color,   stay tuned for Part #2!



Painting Impressionistic Landscapes

Painting Impressionistic Landscapes

Loose, free, colourful, impressionistic – thats how I love to paint landscapes.  Using the Impressionistic  approach I’ll use my hand, my brush, a colour to put my own personal interpretation of the subject into the paintings.  I enjoy bold colour applied with confidence, something that looks like I was having fun!

Impressionistic Watercolour debiriley.com
Impressionistic Watercolour -Western Australia Landscape debiriley.com


I really don’t want my work to look as if  I’d laboured over it, or been tortured to get it done.   I constantly remind myself, that confidence will carry the day – even if some minor technical aspects may have gone astray.  Impressionistic painting style suits me, is a much better fit to my personality. I’d be overly negative, full of angst, way too harsh with myself if I was…. a botanical artist, or had to do photorealism. My brother is very much a photorealist artist and he is quite happy to spend months on one image. That would drive me insane.  He works in black and white, rarely in colour.

Impressionist Landscape Oils debiriley.com
Teal Inlet Impressionist Oils debiriley.com

I love Colour! Impressionist Colour paintings in watercolour, oils, acrylics and pastels draw me in every time.

impressionistic acrylics debiriley.com
Acrylics Impressionist Beach and landscape debiriley.com
Impressionistic watercolour trees debiriley.com
Impressionistic Trees Watercolours Indigo Cobalt teal debiriley.com

I find at times, that my love of colour can blind me to the need for tonal value balance as I paint away.

Then, of course I must resolve the tones when I do my assessments.  Sometimes I don’t mind, especially if I’ve not been able to paint for awhile and I just need to let loose to paint and get it out of my system.

wet in wet, impressionist sky debiriley.com
Wet in Wet, Impressionistic sky debiriley.com

In other words, I work with, this tendency.  I know it. I have strategies to try to prevent some of it from occurring. But, I accept it as part of me, who I am as an artist. I don’t get bogged down with critical, negative thoughts.

miniature watercolour impressionistic landscape debiriley.com
Miniature Watercolour Impressionistic Landscape debiriley.com


Instead,  I think positive. Can I turn the accidents into assets?  Which one of the 101 ways that I know can Resolve a painting shall I try this time?

I always feel more inspired,  freer, more confident when I paint my landscapes with the Impressionist approach.