Tag: palette knife

Playing In Perth: Palette Knife Painting

Playing In Perth: Palette Knife Painting

Palette Knife Painting and Workshops

What a wonderful creative combination: the natural environment rocky escarpments and brilliant skies! Add the magical Palette Knife PK1008 and its a perfect recipe for fun.

palette knife painting workshops, Debi Riley art, nature as inspiration, Perth art classes, debiriley.com
Perfect Palette Knife Playing in Perth, workshop August 31, 2019



Making Magic

Making Magic

We all, can make Magic.

One way, or in another. In some measure. It doesn’t have to be “Art” nor music, nor even in the sciences.

Maybe you are one of the generous ones, the kind and thoughtful ones. Sharing your enthusiasm and your knowledge freely.

That. Is a special kind of magic. People don’t forget it. I certainly don’t.

It really doesn’t matter what your job title is, your career, vocation, etc. A convenience store clerk, recently showed me…. how skilful he was at making magic. Just by being himself. Being generous. When he did not have to be.

magic of watercolor, abstract art, debi Riley art, palette knife paintings, cobalt teal blue.
Making Magic, Debi Riley & Palette Knife

Magic is Seeing, What You’ve Never Truly Seen Before

On the Art side of things, there is a kind of magic I find easy when I teach or coach a group of new artists. The kind of magic, that illustrates for them a variety of pathways and perspectives on how to see what they’ve never truly seen before.

“Is Graffiti, art?” was one question for the group. At first, many didn’t see the art in any graffiti. But, some graffiti is so breathtaking, it defies any to not call it Art.

graffiti is art, cobalt teal blue design, new perspectives in art, debi Riley art
Graffiti in Cobalt Teal Blue

I also am inspired when finally, I have been able to get an individual to feel, the art. Wow. Yes. Magical indeed the sharing of methods, techniques, thoughts, of ways how they can Feel it, and become aware of things they’d never felt, before. I do find it easy. Fun. Inspiring. Challenging. Magical.

Yes. I guess that is a type of magic that I do.

Making Magic applies to the practical side of creativity, the nuts and bolts ie the tools and materials, as well as the philosophical side.

creating landscape watercolors with a knife, Debi Riley art, abstract watercolor landscapes, hills in watercolours
Palette Knife Miniature, Debi Riley

The Magical Palette Knife PK 1008

There is a Magical tool I love.

It is the PK 1008. A very sensitive, versatile palette knife that responds perfectly. Fluidly. There is no stiff rigidity of stroke inherent to this palette knife whatsoever. It is far too sensitive for that!

Watercolour Landscape with Palette Knife, on Indian Village handmade paper 22x30"
Mountain Landscape – Indian Village watercolour paper with Indigo and Indanthrone paints debiriley.com

The Mountain Landscape is a Palette Knife painting, a bit wild and rebellious…. that I’ve mounted on my last sheet of handmade Indian Village paper.

I pre painted this in Indanthrone with Indigo for a velvety blue black to contrast my image. It worked.

With the PK 1008 the sharp angle and width allow for a myriad of very expressive movements and technical applications.

Double or triple loading the knife with a few watercolors, then boldly …. sliding it across the predampened paper – oh, my. That absolutely creates Magic!

Making Magic with the Palette Knife is most likely my top favourite technique in creating art. Nothing else quite works outs like it does. Full of unexpected delights and color melting together. Beautiful and strange pairings that should not work, but Do.

And even when the image isn’t doing so well in ‘your’ intended direction; turn it around. Maybe that palette knife, does have some mysterious magic in it after all. Many times, not only my work, but students’ as well, when reassessed in the upside down mode – it is stunningly Perfect! Amazing.

Palette Knife Magic Tips:

My Tips for those wanting to use a palette knife with Watercolors, ie not impasto style, are as follows:

Be Bold! Decisive. No fiddling, nagging, etc. Speak UP. Say it like you mean it, then leave it be.

Review your Art Basics quickly. Tonal Values, Edges, Aerial Perspective, Focal Point, Details/contrasts. Then try to stick to most, of those.

Most Importantly, use your artistic drive to make the audience FEEL Something! Don’t be content with recording the facts, the details, the accuracies.


…a few of my favorite things (palette knife & cobalt teal)

…a few of my favorite things (palette knife & cobalt teal)

I don’t think it comes as a big surprise.

Most of you,  probably felt certain you’d see cobalt teal blue pop up here!

As well as,  my handy PK1008 palette knife.



painting cobalt teal blue waters, impressionist palette knife technique, creative colorful seascapes, debiriley.com
palette knife and cobalt teal


Favorite Things in Art


For me,  both the palette knife and Cobalt Teal Blue …. are pure delight.


Providing such fun,  such joy in their use, that even if the painting doesn’t make the grade;  it doesn’t matter really, that much to me.

The simple pleasure of creating and using either one of them, often feels worth  more than what finishing off 20 paintings would.


We pay,

for enjoyment like that…..

We go to concerts, to the movies, go skiing.



Its on the least expensive side of Entertainment.

I think its  a relatively cost effective form of amusement that provides hours, of fun.



Cobalt Teal Blue –  CTB

The first image is a ‘bonus’  having used both the palette knife and CTB.


The process was fun, loose, easy.


Palette Knife

Dampening my paper prepared it perfectly for the knife loaded with color.

The paper,  was small.



Just  a  4 x 4 inch size.


And discretion is used.

Applying merely 3 paints with the knife.


With forethought;  and then complete commitment to the execution.




Admittedly,  often these days, I find my images are on the smaller side.

There are reasons for this.

They are easy for me to manage.

To pack  around. Easy to frame up.  Easy to mail off.



But I do seriously love to create on the large scale paintings….  6 foot and larger.

I itch to get the mural size canvases out.

And just let fly!



Maybe in Term 4,  if our Atwell Gallery group wants to have a bash, we will bring in 6 foot loose canvas to paint on.

That. Should be Fun!


cobalt teal abstract, debiriley.com
teal dreaming

Digital with Cobalt Teal Blue

This second image is a cropped version of a watercolor pastel abstract.

I have gone on to do some creative digital work on.

I  copied and mirrored this image.

I placed it into a large  window like matt to enhance a feeling of looking out a window, perhaps in a winter’s dream.




watercolor abstract, expressing feeling in art, debiriley.com
Solace… forms connecting

Solace in Watercolors

The third image, also has Cobalt Teal Blue splashed about!

With a wide ribbon of CTB  cruising through the back.


What I love about this watercolor painting, is the connection of shapes.


The sense of belonging they seem to create together,  a beautiful feeling of  Solace.


The bright white of the paper keeps the overall ‘tone’ from being dismal and dark.

And, thus it creates a warmer, more congenial sensibility to it that I quite enjoy.





I hope you enjoyed viewing some of my favorite things,  in art!




Watercolors Rescued… from the bin

Watercolors Rescued… from the bin

A moment of despair.  It didn’t go as planned. The result was not what was expected, wanted, desired.

And so, it was crumpled. Torn. Thrown away.  Discarded.

How many times, how many ways, how many things does this relate to? I wonder.

We often panic too soon it seems.


watercolor rescues, beginner painting tips, debiriley.com
Rescuing a palette knife painting from out of the bin  (mine)



Both of these images were “rescues.”

One  was from a student below, and one was mine.

Both show evidence of impatience, of frustration, with damage done to the papers.


The damage…. we can view as being like scars upon the landscape of the painting.


Without such scars, without the etched in grooves and lines and evidence of its character layered deep…. we might,  merely skim along the surface shallows.



Precision. Perfection.

Doesn’t quite have… the richness, the elegance, the depth of character that time, weather, and those storms  have created.


In other words, the compulsion…. to Get It Right, should be a low priority  and the higher priority should be on Expression.


How does it feel, to be in the moment, creating this?

Did you enjoy the moment?  Were you ‘in the creative zone’?

Did you  express your own interpretation of  the mood, the feeling,  emotion  of the subject?

Those, take precedence.


watercolor rescues, beginner basic tips, debiriley.com
another rescue- student’s work


The wrinkles and crumples (from the unhappy creator)  do not concern me. I like them.

It is a wonderful technique, creative and fun,  to crumple your watercolor paper before you begin!

Smooth it out best you can,  and carry on with painting.   Try it, and see.


This abstract image, I rescued is filled with lively, loveliness of color.

Such luminosity and movement.   Such spirited transitions of tone, textures.

I could not,  allow this to remain in the bin.   It needed, saving.


And,  that hint of cobalt teal blue along the bottom edge  made sure that this watercolor ink piece was rescued!





Yes… I suppose that Sometimes, a piece truly needs to be retired to the bin.

But  not nearly as often as many of us opt to do as first response.


So many of these pieces can be wonderful Rescues.

Not throw aways.


I need to alter my pattern of thinking:  to believe  I can find ways, of making use of products,  images, and things.

To be less hasty in ‘simply discarding’  anything that is frustrating and disagrees. That doesn’t work or fit into my mental vision planned.




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5 Art Techniques: shouting or soothing

5 Art Techniques: shouting or soothing

What a contrast!   The calm, contemplative quietness of previous paintings in comparison to today’s image.

With an almost aggressive stance the bouquet  leaps in front, jumps ahead of the line.


Its seems strange to think that paintings can soothe us, or can provoke us.  That  they can create mood, feeling,  ambience, atmosphere.

That they can alter us.


But they do.

Well, they can. And I think they should.


Should make the viewer react, in some way.


creating attitude and mood in art, conveying sass in a painting, watercolors with attitude, debi riley watercolour lessons, palette knife watercolor paintings, debiriley.com
Shouting out, floral watercolors


Floral Watercolors

“A Flower bouquet.… so pretty;  and in watercolors!

Oh they will be so delicate and soft,” we think to ourselves.


Do we expect them to be so strident?


High Maintenance?

No.  Not the first thing that comes to mind is it!?


We can make (construct) our paintings to emit any vibe, any response, that we want them to.   How?



5 Art Techniques That Elicit an Emotional Response

Each of these 5 techniques, cause the Viewers to have a quick, gut reaction to a painting.


Color plays a role. 


Warm colors or Cool colors.

Warm reds, oranges, yellows will be more upbeat.  Cool blues, lavenders, greens create a sense of space, coolness.

Wintery? or Sunny and cheerful?  Soft or harsh… Intensely saturated and bright or greyed off, neutral and gentled?

You… are in charge with the colors you choose.

Your choice of Colors can have a sharp “bang” to them or provide a smooth,  relaxing serenity.

Imagine Monday, flower painting watercolor, debiriley.com
Softer Sunny Flowers


Staining watercolor paints, prussian blue pb27, Impressionist watercolor landscape mountain, granulating paint manganese blue, cerulean blue, debi riley watercolor, debiriley.com
Mountain in cool Cerulean,Prussian Blue




Key is another factor.

“Key”  is another term,  for tonal values;  assessing the Overall image for tone dominance.

Is the majority of the painting on the darker side ie low key…  or is the majority on the lighter side ie high key?


High key  under normal conditions will convey a lighter, more cheerful, happier, brighter mood and emotion.

Low key often denotes a more somber, darker, ambience.


burnt umber indigo watercolour landscape debiriley.com
Low Key  – Landscape



If I had to assess my Featured, floral watercolor palette knife image, I’d call it  High Key. 

The break down of tone percentages would be roughly… 55% Light tones   35% Mid tones    10% Dark tones.




Edges are an underestimated player. 

Edges.  I love to use Edges in my art work.

They just tell the story better, create better depth, more interest to the paintings.


Soft edges that blur off provide the viewer with a sense of calm, serenity, welcome, gentleness.

These edges “invite” us in.

Hard, crisp, sharp edges act as barriers and walls.  Keeping us rigidly ‘out.’

Keeping us restrained and in place.    Defined…. and in the box.


sea shore impressionist oil painting, moods of the ocean, conveying the essence and spirit, beach painting in oils, debiriley.com
welcome to the beach, oil painting    Soft Edges


Use your Edges well.  Place them as if they were in your home; and you want your visitors in the allowed rooms, to feel welcome.



Direction, line movement another.

Horizontal line directionals convey calm ‘restfulness.’

watercolour textures, landscape, debiriley.com
Salt Pan Lake


Vertical movement in the painting will express a more energetic, assertive vibe.

Forest Painting palette knife  –   Vertical Directionals


The diagonal line is the most active.  This expresses the most ‘wildness’ of the three.

A jagged diagonal conveys dynamic energy, unrestrained.


Typically  a balance of the 3 is a great design technique.


There is also a circular directional movement you can employ, it is trickier.  But it can certainly impact the viewers’ responses.   Taking them around and inward, probing in, and leading into the image.   Its another tool for the artist to think about!

contemporary art for offices, abstract art painting, acrylics, debiriley.com
Abstract Green Sphere



Materials and Tools used also play a role.

The Palette Knife, as I used it in the Feature floral bouquet image,  has created quite an abrupt sharpness to the painting.


Brisk.  Now! A Demand is being placed upon the viewers’ eyes with each stroke of the knife.





What do we want our Audience, our Viewers to….  feel ?

That’s the question we need to ask before we begin our paintings.


fresh, no fiddle watercolors, debiriley.com
Fresh Flowers, NO fiddling!


A similar floral bouquet to the featured painting; this is also high key.

But  the shouting and stridency of the featured painting is not in this last one.

Here we have a gentler feel to the floral image.

Its softer, “homier” and more relaxing.   

I prefer, this last image, personally.



Color-filled Textures!  Watercolor class lesson #6

Color-filled Textures! Watercolor class lesson #6

Color and Texture:  Watercolor Class Lesson #6.

It was pure fun.  I always thoroughly enjoy this topic and technique.

We played with paints, palette knives, pastes, gels on sturdy boards.

We turned plain old  ‘normal’  watercolor, into a Unique Creative Adventure.


Is what I’m talking about!


creative textures in watercolor, using gel for textures, blue craggy abstracts, debi riley art, Perth gallery art lessons, debiriley.com
Creative Watercolor Textures, molding paste and impasto gel






Yes.  We used Acrylic products, for use with Watercolors!

Impasto gel  and Molding paste. 

They are so exciting, so versatile, I do love them.

They unleash your Imagination.

I’ll tell you how……



creative watercolor techniques, cobalt teal blue paint, debiriley.com, watercolor art lessons free
Creative Watercolor textures



Texture: its Function 

Creating Texture in the painting…. what purpose does it serve? 

What locations does it best serve in?   


Texture Effects will help the artist to create depth, dimension, perspective, form and space. 


Texture creates visual “Interest,” preventing the painting from being boring,  from monotony.


Selective Texture,  is especially useful in capturing and holding the viewer’s interest.

Place the Texture in preplanned Select areas.  Areas you have targeted for the viewer to look at,  then you create more contrast and texture in that area.


Art Basics.  Its a good idea to try to remember the basic guidelines.

… A regular painting will generally have a background, middle ground, foreground, and focal point;  and how Texture increases coming forward, into the front.      





Progress – with Different, New Ideas

Using  Watercolors, doesn’t automatically  mean you must only use watercolor paint products. 

There is no “rule” stating your paintings must be pure watercolor paint only.   

Using Watercolors,  doesn’t rule out creating Textural surfaces with mixed media, or acrylic mediums. 

Take your art to the next level. 

Expand,  to include the possibilities of  alternatives, taking you beyond The Beginner levels.  Go ahead, try out the the textural gels and pastes. 




Preparing the Surface

Before we apply the Texture gels and paste, the surface (in this case a wood board) needs primed.

By that, I mean triple coating with gesso.  Making sure the masonite wood board is 100% covered up and completely white. Do the sides as well.

Allow it to dry in between coats.

The masonite board is Ideal.

These boards are sturdy, (vs paper or the warp-able thin card canvases.)

They will uphold the weight of the textural mediums applied so lavishly and vigorously.   


Once the gesso is dry, apply the gel or paste using the palette knife.

Be very Generous, with the gel and paste.

Don’t try to make a “tiny bit” cover the entire board;  scraping it across, till there is no texture left at all. That won’t work.

Go on ……    S l a t h e r     it   on!


As previously mentioned,   I recommend palette knife pk1008 

Dick Blick Comfort handle style 62    soft handle



cool purple watercolor textures, viridian green, teal, debiriley.com
Cool and Purple watercolor over impasto gel


Impasto gel

This will dry clear or nearly clear. 

You will see whatever has been painted underneath.   


So if you think about it, this could work well in many instances.  An underlying ‘not quite resolved’ image, can be covered with the gel and then repainted in areas. With thick goauche, or inks, or acrylics.  


Impasto gel, acts more like the slippery, slick Yupo paper;  the paint will slip off easily. 

debi riley free watercolor art lessons, watercolor and impasto gel techniques
Impasto gel with watercolor stained on top


To counteract this slick attribute, try using either of these techniques:  


A. staining paints and rubbing the paints into the board

B. Gouache White, Opaque paints which will adhere better than the others as they are thicker, denser,  ie more like acrylics       


A bonus, is it that it is so easy to Simply – rinse off and start all over again!!        



masonite wood board art paintings, watercolor and impasto
masonite board,  watercolors over molding paste textures



Molding Paste 

This used to be called Modelling paste.


I used Heavy molding paste.

This will dry off-white and matte,  slightly gritty with a tooth to it; it is ‘absorbent.’   


watercolor landscape trees, with texture, debiriley.com
Watercolor with molding paste


Watercolors applied to the molding paste textured board – acts a lot like a Fresco

Paints are quieted, dulled a tone, slightly less saturated.

But with a lovely old world feel to them, from my perspective. 


Paints are best applied, poured on Or squeezed on… not ‘brushed’ on 

Its not a surface to dob, dab, fiddle about. 


Paints will not wash right off  – the surface is too Absorbent.

But some of the color, will rinse off. Maybe 80% or so. 





Application of the Texture Medium

I prefer applying molding paste randomly.

Freely. Loosely. With my fabulous palette knife. 

Slather the paste on. As if it was meringue.

Don’t be ‘miserly.’


craggy tactile texture in watercolour using molding paste, debiriley.com
A Mountain… emerged from the molding paste textures



You can experiment the textures, by laying a paper onto the paste then lifting, for some fun random foliage like patterns   

With both The Impasto and The Moulding paste,  they must be super dry before any attempt is made to paint.      

If, or when you reach a point watercolors aren’t working for you on them;  they are ready for Acrylics to be painted on. Or mixed media.         You can also re gesso   and reapply the paste.     



cobalt teal and rose watercolor abstract, creative texture techniques, watercolor lesson for beginners, debiriley.com
let the dust settle, teal and rose


Rewards  of Impasto Gel and Molding Paste   

I like using these as wonderful imagination builders. 


Once colors are on and dry;  “things & shapes” begin to emerge. 

Don’t be hasty. 

Allow. This process to happen.   

Things will come forth.   If you allow the Time. 


Perhaps a flower may peer out eventually. 

Or there could be a tree, a leaf, a mountain and sky….. you just never know! 


It keeps you guessing. 

It keeps you looking forward to something – 



The excitement of the Surprise, that these colors and Textures gift you with,  is almost free.      



watercolor beginner lessons color and texture, debiriley.com, Perth art classes creative watercolor, debiriley.com
wonderful white cliffs, the water below….  gouache and a light molding paste


Which Brand you ask?

Golden brand is the one I can always recommend.

It has never, let me down.

It performs brilliantly.

There are, of course many others in a wide range of prices.

I’ve experimented with nearly every brand!


In the many example shown, I have used several brands.  I found each brand has its own characteristics.  One might be toothy and gritty, the other… not so much. One might be translucent. The other, more satin.



Golden’s very useful website page describes their products.

Providing you with a Treasure Trove of great information on the texture mediums, (gels, molding paste, impasto, etc.) and how to use them.

No.  I get no ‘kick back’  rewards, payments of any sort whatsoever for my recommendation for this product.

Or for that matter, any other product I’ve suggested to you.

If I’ve assessed a product and then recommend it as being the most helpful for you; I do not want monetary gain,  to be an influencing factor.

Golden is certainly on the higher end on the budget. But, helpfulness, reliability and  a student’s consistent,  improved results has Value and Worth.





Do Your Own Thing, while creating bold color filled watercolors,  layered up with texture!   



Palette Knife Acrylic Abstract… “Scorched Wings of Icarus”

Palette Knife Acrylic Abstract… “Scorched Wings of Icarus”

I prefer the title, “Scorched Wings of Icarus.”

How about you?



palette knife acrylic abstract, Greek mythology, Icarus, inspirations to paint, debiriley.com
Scorched Wings of Icarus,      palette knife acrylic abstract


Palette Knife Abstract

I know which title is more ‘relatable,’  more ‘informative’  to the reader.

But which one is likely to generate more,  readers’  interest?   

Readers’  Curiosity?



Scorched Wings of Icarus

How is anyone supposed to figure out what’s actually in the post with a title like that?!

Interesting, but too abstract and open ended, maybe so.

But secretly,  I like this title far better.


I know, I know!!   You’re an artist, creative, imaginative. And your mind just works that way.

I can hear you,  say these things.

As well as,  “We want to know what we’re  clicking on, First!”


I understand……….




Painting Inspirations:

This abstract was inspired and influenced by a few things, people and articles I’ve been reading recently.

As follows:


David Kanigan Miracle. All of It. 

This photograph  with the blazing scarlet sun and the excerpt from Franz Kafka speaking of  ‘flying too close.’

Yes.  They were definitely  influencers.

David Kanigan seems to always come up with some thing,  new or intriguing, or uplifting or just plain humorous for his readers.

Check out his website,  I love his writing –  he writes really well.

Anyway. Go look through his posts.

Be uplifted. Laugh. Smile. Cry. Be humbled. Breathe in Life.




Aquileana  at La Audacia de Aquiles   an  impressive website focusing on Mythology.  Making it modern, entertaining, easy to read,  and Fun!

I’ve been reading her articles for quite some time and always, look forward to the extremely comprehensive and educated efforts she puts forth.

Referenced, with photographs, art works, historical sources, collaborations,etc.,   my  5 Star website to go to for mythology info.

I’ve been especially interested most recently in The Titans.

Who they were, there origins, and who came before them.

Aquileana’s site provides revealing glimpses into the mythical lives of the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, The Titans, Olympians, The Muses, The Furies and more.  All, richly described in intimate and living color.


A revealing  read,      Icarus’ Fall….    



Matthew Snowden, palette knife  Artist

The knife can be a blessing or … not.

Beginners often go in too heavy handed.

However that is certainly not the case with Snowden.

He uses the palette knife with sensitivity. Delicacy.

And a Bold Decisiveness where and when it it called for. I most definitely enjoyed his paintings, the slathering on of paint, the sure and swift marks made with the knife.

So strong. So beautiful.




And the last influence.

I needed a brief respite.

As I’m still  plugging away at my rather large post describing/explaining the Zen art “Enso.”


I almost, want to bin it.

But no I won’t, too much is invested now.

You’ll see it, then probably wish you hadn’t,  its way too long!




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