Tag: learn as you go

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



Watercolor Techniques: painting water

Watercolor Techniques: painting water

Short and quick today.

Observing how water can be painted using watercolors.



Painting Water

In the samples shown,  I’ve created the impression, the illusion of water on paper.

Cobalt teal blue in watercolor helps, of course.

But, so does understanding the tones, the feeling, mood, and which of the common techniques to use.



watercolor techniques for water, beginners watercolour secrets for water, debiriley.com
Techniques for painting water: watercolors



We learn as we go.

Practice… repetition until a technique process becomes second nature, was the secret key to my own improvement.



Using dry brush, washes, charging, splatter, leaving White of the paper… they all combine to help with the illusion.

In the first demo,  you see a background a mid ground and foreground, along with a focal point.  These help guide the viewer and make the image understandable.


Whereas in the second demo, a mere wash of a couple colors,  we must engage more.  There is still enough information, but its less tight and structured.

More free flowing and carefree.  Perhaps, in holiday mode!   But you will observe more warmth in front, the White cresting wave in nearby, and there isn’t much action in the back.

Our minds, have decided yes, it is water we are looking at. And,  Most likely, the beach.

We’re good to go.



follow up posts

watercolor beginner basics 

11 fun water techniques 

watercolor easy techniques 

depth   via splatter


tonal value   Into the Light



Beautiful, her words….  (Words To Paint By)

Beautiful, her words…. (Words To Paint By)

Melbourne, a thriving cultural metropolis.  A mecca for Australians wanting a touch  ‘more.’

My friends, my students,  they frequent the city and bring back stories to share with me.  I’ve yet to go.

It is, most definitely, on my list.

In a city of 4.8 million people, there is an abundance of  art museums, galleries, and art shops whispering my name.


So I was looking up one of my mentors, David Taylor who teaches at Senior Art Supplies, in Melbourne.

Wondering how he is, thinking I’d love to go visit and simply, chat.  (David is a lovely man and he’s had a tremendous influence on my art journey, to which I’m truly appreciative.  If you are in Melbourne, or can go to any of his international workshops. Just Do It.)


While on the store website,  I noticed that an ‘Alison Hanly’  was listed there, teaching creativity.


You know, I was intrigued with that bit of information.

Creativity and Imagination!


pouring painting abstract, Indanthrone Blue acrylic on canvas, creative fun techniques in acrylics, debiriley.com
Creative acrylic technique,  indanthrone blue Stephanie




I went onto the web to do a little more research on Ms. Alison Hanly. 

I’ll share her so very beautiful words, her philosophy about creating art.


“My focus is on self expression (yours) and helping you figure out what and how you want to paint or draw.

I am not going to teach you my method, I don’t want you to come away painting exactly like me.

I want you to come away painting and drawing just like you.

I can teach you the principles of good image making, i.e. composition, tone, colour etc.

But that knowledge is simply to help you understand what you are struggling with and give you more choices.

I don’t believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to paint.

I don’t believe it is possible to ‘cheat’.


Art is about problem solving and trying any way you can to get the vision in your head out of it so others can see.


Art is also about experience, you can’t learn it from reading books, you have to do it.

It is experimental and sometimes the experiments don’t work, what we do then is talk about what happened and what might have worked better.


The journey you take as a creative is not all sunshine and light, it is not always playtime nor is it always easy.

I love it when it is all of those things, but it often isn’t especially when you are starting.

It can be bliss,  peace,  contentment, connection,

but it can also be frustration, disappointment, an ego battleground and just plain boring.”



Helpful Hints

It was fascinating to discover that   Alison not only is a painter, but is a musician, a radio producer and writes.


A helpful thing, which I’ve done and I’d also suggest to students,  or to any artist actually, is to print off Alison’s words.

Tape them to your easel.

Place them so you see them, each and every time you go to create… when you wish to express your voice that is within You.


Yes, she can write.

Beautiful are her words.





Partner Posts on …….   Creativity

Creativity  pass it along 

Creativity  – 10 Faces

Creativity – its many, forms 

Threads of Creativity

In the Creative Zone 

Creative Color Magician – Disney 



Edward Seago: Inspirational Master Artist

Edward Seago: Inspirational Master Artist

Edward Seago,  what can I say?

Definitely he has been under appreciated.  We all know Monet, Picasso, Renoir.

Seago? Not so much.

But let’s  remedy that now!


Edward Seago by Ron Ranson book, great art books, masters of oil painting, painting ships and seas the impressionist technique, debiriley.com
Edward Seago, by Ron Ranson art book   painting of ships and seas


Edward Seago Inspires

Both the oils and watercolors go beyond the ordinary.

Beyond good.

His brush takes you on a journey.


Edward was born 1910 in the UK.

I fell in love with his story, with his sensitivity in handling the paints, papers, canvas and brush.

Seago had an easy mastery of both oils and watercolors I admire.

Perhaps, envy…..




You will see a few of my favorite books on the studio table.

Margaret Coen, Realist Abstracts, Raw Colour with Pastels

and the Edward Seago book.


I have owned for a decade + this  lovely book featuring gorgeous watercolors and oils by the creative master Seago.


The book is available at Amazon.com  Edward Seago by Ron Ranson 

I hope you’re inspired to seek out his work.


painting winter and snow techniques, learn from the masters, Edward Seago paintings, be inspired by a master artist, debiriley.com
Seago, winter in oils… feeling the cold


Learn from The Masters

The Masters.

They are the ones who we truly need to emulate. To study from.  To look at Their Techniques.

They make the fewest mistakes.

And they,  tend not to pass off paintings with critical basic design flaws, as ‘ok work.’


And Seago was a master of both oils and watercolors, easily flipping from one to the other.







Close viewing shows us the vigor of his brush movements.  The strokes are forever etched upon the canvas. Showing us his mood, his speed in painting, telling us a little bit about the man.


By looking at Seago’s paintings you can see how he used his hard and soft edges so brilliantly to create the depth and distance.

The subtle use of color, its nearly monochromatic, creates a far more powerful impact here than if it was littered with colors and hundreds of details.


He saw all the detail that really was there…..

He chose,  to eliminate.

He made the decision to disregard all the bits and pieces.

He wanted, he needed the message to come through look and clear.


Not the clutter.   Wow.








Creativity…. pass it along

Creativity…. pass it along

The Creative Zone.

It doesn’t really matter which form of art we’re pursuing- fashion, acting, music, sculpture, painting, writing – to create well we need  to be in that zone.

We need to be feeling it….. Feeling the Creativity within us.

Did you ever think to yourself, maybe, people were having a harder time these days Being creative?

I have.


And then, of course, I Googled it.

As one does.


creativity crisis, reclaim your creativity, art lessons debi riley, debiriley.com
Finding Creativity

Creativity – crisis


Dr. JK Kim Professor at William and Mary has written about this subject,

  “The Creativity Crisis.”  


As many of my readers already know, the topic of  creativity, is one I am passionate about.

I  pretend  at work to teach watercolor, oils, acrylics.

But truly its  – Creativity of  The Individual –  that all my classes are always centered around.

I read Dr. Kim’s article twice.

Its well written, each point summed up, citing references to studies and sources.

It made me think.


There is one particular point in her article, that I keep returning to in my mind.

That when our ancestors first arrived here,  they were risk takers.

They had to be.  They had to be inventive.

They had to “Make do.”

Those early pioneer settlers had to Create things from “out of the box” tools and resources.

This fostered a culture of creativity and inventiveness that was passed down quite a few generations.   They became more and more imaginative, innovative, self reliant. They worked hard, put out effort and spent the time to do what was needed to get the task accomplished.

They were, Creative.




But…. Do We Do the Same?

Don’t we, opt for the Easy;  for the right Now;  for the comfortable; for the zero risk?

Don’t we often opt for that subtle peer pressure, to ‘conform’  to fit in;  to NOT stand out?

Don’t we want to continue in our soft and easy ways, making few waves, blending in, getting liked, staying in the comfort of our places?

Of course we do.



Creativity Demands…. Courage of the Inner Self.

Courage to be unique. To speak and express with our own voice. Our own words.

Courage to go beyond what is liked, popular, on trend.

Beyond the limits imposed and set our own rules.


Perhaps, these days,  we have not been ‘working out’ enough in those areas.

Should we have Creativity Gyms?

I think, we should.




The Creative Zone  

My home, The Creative Zone. 

I didn’t always live there, though.

Its crept up on me, bit by bit, until one day I just realised that its not my holiday house anymore.

I’m always there.

It’s my home residence, now.



We are Not, All Like You Though!

Ahh,  I can hear that thought from many of you all the way to Perth!

And you’re right.

I bet you’re pretty glad about that too, with all this –  ART art art art art…..

Color, shapes and tones.  Repeat. On a loop.


Doesn’t it ever,  shut Off?!

I find that,  difficult.

flower poems, Edwin Curran, pink gentle sweet flowers, macro photo of flower, debiriley.com
Music in Pink… Art, color, shapes, tones…    They are What I See

Degas, it seems,   saw beauty, music, art, color, shapes, tones, wherever he turned his eye. I don’t think he could shut it off.

You can not create like he did, without living and breathing art and creativity.

Degas pink and cobalt teal dancers, flowers dance, macro flower photography, debiriley.com
Degas, pink and cobalt teal dancers  – more color, shapes, tones

Imagine  –  Think. Outside the Box


“Accessorise Your Mind, with passions,  Inspirations  and  Imagination”  by Angela Clare,  Perth W.A.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be loaned this book, by the author’s mother, a student in one of my classes.

The book is available at Amazon.com  


Clare’s book, though I’ve yet to completely finish reading, is one I plan on recommending to art students.

Two chapters in.

And its helpful suggestions, can benefit artists. Art Students.  (well, people in general actually.)


Students, Artists, Creative People who are caught the doldrums. You know, left flat and motionless in the waters.

Those who need some guidance, some suggestions on how they might push beyond their current boundaries into more advanced work.

To become More imaginative, more creative.

Clare has great insight with pages and pages of steps, of how to ideas and tools,  I found quite relevant and helpful to build the Imagination and Creativity.


I read this poem of Angela Clare’s, I enjoyed the expressions, the visuals brought to mind, the inspiring nature of the poem.


An Excerpt from page 19   titled,    “The Journey”

Time   has brought me to this place,

Unrelenting in its pace;

My mind conceives, My thoughts collide,

Take a breath

for here we ride.


Lets speak through mirrors

and see through sands,

Move through mountains and desert lands,

Find the Magic of our lives,

Feel the Freedom in our eyes.


You can find Angela on many social media sites;  and check out her website:   Angela Clare at wordpress  


Art Creativity – Beginnings

How does it start?  How did it start?

School is a potential problem, to our creativity and imagination. Maybe a bit less so, in some schools, right now.  But in the past, school structuring had adverse effects for many.


At school.   I followed the rules.  Stayed in line.

Absorbed every new rule, like it was The word.

I colored and stayed in the lines; in thick dark lines,  I outlined my objects;  my skies were most definitely BLUE;   and the grass was sparkling…..Green.

Just like the rules at school told me to do. Just like the school master, told me to do.

Trouble. Never found me.

I was risk averse.


night photograph, clouds swirling, creativity, debiriley.com
By night, comes the Tooth Fairy


Then fairies arrived.

Oh.  I should clarify. The tooth fairy.

SHE.  Started It!

She left magical rewards in the night.

Porcelain miniature tea cups in floral motifs,  tiny glass animals in exchange for a tooth.

My mother described the tooth fairy with grace and infectious enthusiasm!


The clouds in the sky became a source of creativity for us, as my mom pointed out people, angels, poodles and sheep, dragons and flying horses.

It was our canvas.

We each painted in our minds, to pass the time, as a bit of fun.  We didn’t have smart phones, ipads, devices. And the television… was  “for the evenings, after dinner.”

In the car on our weekly drives, we played games. We connected.


We invented fun ways to pass the time.





There was no Time, to be Bored

I don’t remember being bored.

Or ever sulking and telling my parents, “I’m so bored…..”


We were encouraged to use and to build  our imaginations.

So I did.


I wrote stories and poems, then illustrated them.

I read voraciously. Every horse book.  Encyclopedias were grand.


Biographical novels…. Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Pericles,  Aspasia: biography by Taylor Caldwell,   works by Thomas B. Costain.

Filling my imagination.

Filling my mind with questions.

Then…. asking innocently, inappropriate questions my parents couldn’t quite bring themselves to answer a 10 year old.

Well, at least they didn’t censor my reading, leaving that to the public libraries’ board of directors.


Often I’d play the lone adventurer outdoors, studying the habitats of birds, rabbits, deer, chipmunks. I felt no need for followers or to follow, out there. I was bold and fearlessly exploring this imaginative, yet real realm.


My sister and I created indoor sleds. For the stairs. Its Amazing, What speeds  just a bit of cardboard and plastic will allow, careening down those flights of stairs.   No broken bones on these encounters. Save that, for the horse activities.


52 frog pick up.

Yes. Live jumping, leaping frogs.

ooops….. it was, in  Grandmother’s kitchen. THAT was so, exciting for everyone.



Creative Imagination was encouraged at our house.

Not once, were we punished for those. Even when it resulted in messes we were told to take responsibility for and do the clean up.


So that’s how it  began.

Over time though, with jobs, relocations, children, work deadlines, life……. you know!   That Creativity slid into the background.

Then into the basement. Then it got buried, under the basement.

Probably the same as many of you.

I know it happens all the time.



Time.. to Reclaim Creativity

All that buried treasure,  creativity, lay hidden away.


We decide to reclaim it.


Bit by bit.

Pushing away those rules.

Ignoring the trends, the commercial, to be the popular,  most liked.


Fighting for individuality;  to express  my own words, my own voice.

It is a fight.

That is a given.


It  goes against what the crowd wants from us.

What their expectations are and have been.

Indeed, perhaps what our own expectations have been.


The battle is for individuality.  For  Creativity.

To express my own self.

Not to parrot what someone else does. Or says.


Parroting is faster.

Echoing another is easier.

Copying is less risk.

True, when you parrot – If the audience doesn’t like it,  you are off the hook.

You…. were only repeating what X said or did!


To expose your real thoughts,  your real words and voice….

makes you vulnerable.




But if we are serious about moving forward in our art, this is exactly what we must do.


Blue veil gouache and watercolor, debiriley.com
The Blue Veil – veiled unveiled exposed



Ever listen to a singer who echoes the words correctly but bland, sings the words, but there is zero connection to the song content?

Then you hear a singer, passionately SING with so much feeling poured into the words, everything stops.  Just to hear more.

One takes a risk and becomes vulnerable.

One is too risk averse.


The singer Adam Lambert singing Mad World on American Idol, is a case in point.

I had never liked that particular song, before….  I’d turn it off or down.

But, Lambert’s  inflections,  the tones,  the emotional power, the vulnerability in his voice….completely changed my mind.


I still don’t like listening to the original, or other singers try, to sing it.

That one breathtaking rendition. Connected emotionally.  Why?  Because Adam Lambert took a risk.

Allowed his creative interpretation to have free rein.


Adam Lambert shared his creativity with us.

Thank goodness.

Or else, we all,  would have missed out.





nature photography, pond reflections in color, blue and purple tree reflections, debiriley.com
Upon the waters  –    a creative interpretation of the lily pond – thats Not, how it really was


It takes Courage.

To be your self.   To express with your own words.  To be, Creative.

It is difficult to not care excessively,  if the ‘crowds’  boo you,  if they don’t like you.


It takes Courage to be a risk taker.

To think how it will all work in the long term.  To play the long game.

To Imagine and to Create.



Creativity is ours to share.

Creativity is for us to … pass along.   





my 3 Creativity “shares”

  1.  Angela Clare  “Accessorise your Mind”

2.  Dr. JK Kim   “The Creativity Crisis”

3.  Adam Lambert  musician “Mad World”







Colors of a Summer’s Day

Colors of a Summer’s Day

Brushstrokes of Summer Joy.  Radiantly bright and bold.

The colors, the flamboyance, the sheer energy and freedom of a Summer day.

Speak to us, in the enchanting voice of a childhood lost and found.


abstract expressionism, art from a child's eye, painting fresh and freely, debiriley.com
BOLD Summer Day Colors, abstract by Thomas



and Create.


How easy it is for some!


When we were still children, it was easier.  This imagining and creating.

It was  a natural part of life.

Like Breathing.




Bold Summer Day Color …..  Seen with a child’s eye.

Amazing how pure those brushstrokes are.


How fresh.

How unmuddied.


How fun!





10 Learning Points and What I enjoy about this:


  1. The small hints of foliage mint greens that ‘peek’ through.
  2. The very bold golden yellow at the top, hinting… at summer sun.
  3. Cobalt turquoise… just because, I like it.
  4. The alizarin in fluctuating tones, lighter and then so deep and dark.
  5. The colors are, all, echoed throughout the image for a wonderful sense of Harmony.
  6. WHITE Space!  that is so important, don’t fill it all in. It gives us… room!
  7. The energetic attitude of the artist as he painted is clearly visible, in those brushstrokes.
  8. It has a sense of design and movement; its not flat nor static.
  9. It has fabulous ranges of tonal values within this painting.



Imagine and Create

10.    Its very Abstractedness, invites the viewer’s imagination. 

And that is the secret thing, we artists all want…

To engage you, the viewer, completely into our world, even if only for just a brief moment!





We wonder.

What was this young man, thinking at the time?

Was he looking out into the bright gardens outside?

Was he remembering some gorgeous colored birds from a zoo?


Or …maybe he had a quick flash of memory and the colors popped into his head as he thought of the wonderful stained glass window he passes by so often?



bird photography, Perth zoo, bright colored birds, debiriley.com
Bright colors



Balmain NSW colorful stain glass window, debiriley.com
Colorful Window



A thank you goes to the young artist, Thomas,  for allowing his work to be ‘on show’ for all to see.






A Confident Way ….  (art, riding, life)

A Confident Way …. (art, riding, life)

Both painting (art) and horse riding require specific skill development.

And both will require confidence.

This takes time.  Patience. Persistence….

To build the confidence and develop the boldness; that freedom to  just go do it! 


horse riding photography, forest and trees, canon 600d, debiriley.com




A Confident Way


As I watched the new horse in the arena with my granddaughter up, I thought more about how confidence needs to be built up.


horse riding, learning to ride, building confidence, debiriley.com
A bit shy….. 


Both the rider and the new horse are uncertain.  A little bit shy, perhaps of each other.

The horse not knowing if this rider is one to fully trust, or not.

Unsure of new surroundings.

The horse by its nature, needs a strong sure leader, in order to feel secure. Safe.

Will this rider, be strong,  or timid?


nature photography, forest and tree photo, canon 600d, debiriley.com
New Surroundings look scary …. to a horse




The rider, still in the learning process.

Trying to put everything together seamlessly…… but not quite there yet.

Both, willing to take a risk on the other.





Fences in the paddock….

represent our innate need for both Space and Freedom to do our own thing; yet, within a known safe Boundary.

At first. When we are first beginning to learn.  That comfort zone is where we can relax a little bit.

canon 600d camera, 100mm macro lens, outdoor nature shots, debiriley.com
Paddock Fence




Risking It… That is really another  Major key.

Willingness To Take the Risk.


There is a long way to go on whatever road we choose.

Whatever hobby, or sport, etc.  we are enthused to enough to pursue.


Its ok  to falter, stumble

and … to fall.


We all will.


We’re not perfect.

We’re not going to be.  We will, however, improve.

With persistence and soft gentle patience.


horse riding, when you fall just get back on, horse riding life lessons, debiriley.com
When you fall…



Just get up.

Get back on.


Your horse,  needs you.




horse riding, photograph riding, debiriley.com
Horse and Rider





Building Confidence

Is about patience and kindness.

Both to the other, and your own self.

Its about perseverance in spite of the many falls we will have.


Its about being excited.

Its about the enthralment of doing what you Love.

Taking risks.  And calmly dusting yourself off and learning from the falls, not sulking or quitting.







Skills Can Be Learned

I could so easily see the similarities to art – as they rode off lead around the paddock.

Neither the bold swift certainty of brushstroke nor the confident, intuitive handling of the reins will happen overnight.



But,  art is a skill.

Just like riding is.


And skills can be learned.


Repeated.  And Mastered.



We become Confident, when we know what to do.

When the techniques and skills have become second nature to us.

Tumbles, stumbles and falls are just part of the process.





I enjoyed my Wednesday.

Art takes many forms.

Even though I didn’t  “do art”  ie paint, I felt immensely creative!


Out there.

In the paddocks. Watching the riders and the horses.



We can see that these two enjoyed their time as well.


duet horse and rider, riding photos, debiriley.com
Duet-  horse and rider