Tag: watercolors

Creative Art Inspirations

Creative Art Inspirations


Stella Terrill Mann,

“Every time we say, Let there be! in any form,

something happens.”

I’ve been away.

Not literally, but figuratively. Taking a …. Pause. Reflecting.

Many of you, readers, customers, students and friends ask with increasing frequency, “When, are you going to post again?!”

“Soon, When it is Time.” Has been my response.

Artists, creative people in general go through cycles, and bursts of productivity.

Then, seemingly endless – long empty dry, droughts.

Where nothing is happening. So it seems on the surface.

But look deeper. And you discover all the myriad ingredients simmering and merging together quietly.

They just aren’t ready yet.

We have to learn patience.

It will happen. We will not be stuck in the drought or winter, forever!

Winter isn’t really a time of sleeping. Its a very busy time. Underneath the layers of earth, major preparations are being done.

Side note…..

I have been away for quite some time, so I decided to freshen the blog up a little.

I’m testing out a new WP format, and I will just have to press publish to see how it all goes. I like experiments!

I hope you like the change.

Thanks for your patience and continuing to ‘check in’ while I have been on pause and reflecting.

Cheers, Debi

How Much Do You Paint?

How Much Do You Paint?

“No, I don’t really paint, as much as I used to do, ”  was my response the other day.

I wished I’d had a camera to capture all those expressions from my group, right then!   You could see a million things running through their minds.

Shock.  Say it isn’t so. How is that, possible?   But….


Paint Time

It is true.  I don’t “paint”  anywhere near the amount like I did 10, 20 years ago.

Or even 5-6 years ago.

I was insanely prolific.


watercolors the impressionist approach, painting day, debiriley.com
fun, free, Letting Go painting day:   several “on the go”

I’d get my paints out and think nothing about whacking out 5, 10, 15 images in one sitting.

There could be 100 images in a week.

No,  definitely not all of them worked out.

That’s alright.


I learned things.




When I step back after a painting day, I think about the numbers,  the percentages.

What %  of 100  is an acceptable number for me?

I liken it to baseball stats.  Or to  photography stats, or even … to sales. How many times must I do something before I hit a home run?

Why should I think, to hold myself to an even higher standard,  than say,  those big hitters …. Babe Ruth – Hank Aaron – Ken Griffey?


It was and is  about the process.

Expressing the moods and emotions,  that which was within,  and externalising it.


And if one of those images was presentable, as a whole, I’d smile.  Even if none of them, were fantastic, I’d still smile.

As the process was and is what  drives me.


The need to communicate, to externalise,  the primary driver.    (Most of the time.)

I just enjoy paint, color, the physical act of creating.



Art Definitions

What changed?

Why am I not painting 100 per week now?


I have slowly changed my ideas about art, about what ‘art’ means to me.


What defines art, to me?

Art now means much more than just a paint brush and paints.



Art takes so many forms.

And I enjoy art every day. In one form, or another.


Sometimes I go into my garden to pause and reflect on the colors, aromas, the sounds that it brings.

creative photography, nature flower abstract photo, debiriley.com
dreams in the garden – just sitting



Other times I write.  Or photograph, or draw or, doodle.

This. Is art.


I’ve come to think of my art classes, the curriculum and lessons as a form of art in itself as well.  It often involves research of new methods and new tools; of the masters that are relevant to the specific group I’m currently teaching.

iphone 5 photos, glass bottles mini minarets, debiriley.com
glass minarets …class subject to paint        “at work”

My work… has become,  in a sense another form of art.



A Changed Lane

I could, indeed feel bad or guilty about not painting like I used to.

But I am,  still creating.


Still Inventing.

Looking around the corners for new shapes, subjects, colors, ideas.

I haven’t stopped, nor has this slowed down one bit.

Not at all.


It merely has changed lanes.

I’m Still going in the same direction….

The laneway is slightly different.  Thats all.



I think we are quick to judge ourselves many times too harshly, without need.

When asked that question about not painting as much now….  at first, I mentally was judging myself.


But I like to take the time to discover the  ‘why’  of a thing.

To dig for the answers.

Because I find in most cases, the root truthful answer, is far less troublesome than the surface answer, the one we assume to be the case.




So even though I’m not putting out 20- 50-100 images a week now;  I am still just as active, just as creatively engaged as I have been at any time in the past.

Its good that I took the time to dig.

Finding the answers to nagging ‘background’ questions –  sets us free to Create.


Releasing constraints and criticisms, ie  negativity  that would impinge upon our  future creative endeavors.




Art, is funny like that.

Most of us work better, do better, Create better,  in a positive, uplifting, and free environment.



Fun and Fast  Watercolor  Landscape

A Simple Impressionist Landscape created from a positive and free mindspace.

Done directly upon coming in from my Garden sitting. I felt positive, uplifted,  liberated….


True, it was on not nice,  cartridge paper that soaked in the paint and left marks of the brushstrokes visible.

Unliftable. Permanent marks upon the surface.


But this made it,  liberating.

It was either going to work or … not.  So why bother to over think it?!


I felt free to do what was needed, to put down,  what needed to be expressed.


Faint pale hints of sky, then several strokes of blue for hills and mountains.

Ooops…  oh well!     hmmmm   – boo boos there.


Next,  went in some gentler  cool browns to serve as a transition area, just dashed in, real quick.


And then,

the super fun part.


Splattering warm siennas, moss greens, golden umbers across the stark white foreground.

Now, that was fun.


mountain landscape easy and fun for beginner painters, watercolor beginner techniques, hills, mountains foreground watercolour, splatter, debiriley.com
blue mt splatter foreground   –   cropped  section














Color of Imagination…. Purple 9

Color of Imagination…. Purple 9

So much fun to be had with the color purple.

Our imaginations take flight more so, with this one magic and mysterious color.

And, at last,  the left brain….takes a seat.


“What,  IF….”  is the dominant theme with 9  “purple, violet, magenta, lilac, lavender”  images below.

No rules, just play.



watercolor test color swatch, daniel smith amethyst, watercolour purples, creative art techniques, debiriley.com
purple test strip  – its a great way to warm up


Magic of Purple Paints

I love that there’s an infinite amount of Purple subjects to work with:  flowers, hills and mountains,  ponds and fanciful shadows… with an endless variation of warms and cools, lights and darks.


Purple is the color of magic. Of freedom.

Of mystery, of the arts, of creativity, of the archane.

It is a liberating color to use.


Don’t let any preconceived ideas and thoughts about ‘purple’ sway you.

Thoughts of  wishy washy faded wallflowers and pale shrinking violets;  or stroppy, SHOUTY purples;  or even the dreaded  “grandma purples.”

Ignore those thoughts.


You want New Ideas!



So,  allow yourself to play, for awhile.

To be free and imaginative, with the color purple. 



Thats enough talk.  Enjoy the 9 images!




creative imaginative art techniques, use purple paints, debiriley.com
shadows, purple background



purple rose photograph, debiriley.com
purple rose  – a great source of painting inspiration!



inspiration of nature flowers, purple rose photograph, debiriley.com
inspired by purple roses



watercolor with a palette knife, amethyst daniel smith paint, debiriley.com
amethyst with palette knife:   creatively, a Vertical format



lily pond in deep purple, nature photography, cool palette blue green and lavender, debiriley.com
Deep Purple and Blue – a pond, a little bit of magic


watercolor landscapes tree reflections, painting morning on the water using watercolors, creating mood with paint, debiriley.com
Serenity with Watercolors…  calming lilac and lavenders




shadows of violets, purples, painting, debiriley.com
Mysteries in dark violets and purples  – this is a bit of glad wrap technique





impressionist landscape mountains and water, purple lavender, cobalt teal blue waters painting, debiriley.com
Impressionist Landscape: Purples and Teal Waters  … debiriley.com (c) 2018







Walk on the Calm Side: 55 minutes

Walk on the Calm Side: 55 minutes

I pulled over into the nature reserve’s parking bay. Quickly glancing down at my watch, 7:08 am, (just double checking.)  Mentally going through my morning checklist.  Organising the sequence of events.

Wondering if I, really, should be taking this time.

Should I, be using this time to enjoy,  a short walk on the calm side.




The Walk Begins

The Walk begins with limitations,  with less than ideal circumstances.


I’m going to do it regardless.

And  make the most out of it.



I grabbed my camera, locked the car, stuffed the keys in my pocket.

Mind’s in overdrive.

Be in the car and back on the road, by 8 am.

Be at the first appointment at  8:15

Yes.  That is doable.

OK. I’m set.



Strange way to begin a walk meant to relax, meant to be restorative, meant to de-stress.

All the while, thinking:  stick to the plan, move in the ordered sequence.

Get all the items marked off,  finished.


At least today,  I allowed my self more than 7 minutes.




Does any of this, sound familiar?

Anyone else, ever ‘over structure’  their time to relax,  their zen time so   that it just might not be  so very zen after all?


Usually I approach my walks, well, more like Zen Strolls.

But. You know….. the holidays.

Then, there is the sun.


Early mornings are still around 80 degrees right now and nice.

5am would be ideal.

I just don’t want to get in the car then.

I need my coffee.

It IS  about priorities.




Continuing….  Back To The Walk


The target goal is back in the car in 45.

Hop to it.

My first pause was the bridge again.


You saw it differently in the last post.  Here, I am.


nature walk photography in the park, debiriley.com
Bridge and reflections

Today’s bridge photo features the cool calmness of green, the reflections rippling.

Advising me perhaps, to “slow down.”



Calm Cool Florals  by the wayside

Lovely lavender – blue agapanthas were scattered around the parkland reserve.

The morning light, was perfect.

I stopped.

A few minutes went by………….

I was enchanted by the colors, the soft light of morning.


I felt myself relaxing.

Breathing in nice, big,  deep breaths.


soft light in morning photography, flower agapantha, nature walks, debiriley.com
Soft Light, Agapantha



Sit, Reflect.  Meditations

A park bench was right alongside the footpath.

I glanced then kept walking.

Thinking,  “No Time.”

I reluctantly walked on by another 30 meters.

I turned around.

Back to the bench and sat myself down.


After all,  this,  is going to be A Walk on the Calm Side.




Time – Spent

Tick Tock.

Ten minutes went by.

It was calm, meditative.

I was enjoying this.

Blood pressure was going down, I was going to be refreshed, energized.


Time was being spent, wisely. 

Not wasted.  Not sliding, careening away, forgotten.

Each of the moments here, I will, remember.


I jotted down color notes.

I engaged all my senses.

I wrote notations on the flowers, trees, the wind, the sounds, the temperature, the shadows, the softness of light.


rough bark photograph, canon eos, debi riley art, art basics

Even how the bark would feel, and how the petals did feel.


color and raindrops on flower, debiriley.com
Soft as Silk the petals…..


I made these minutes relevant.


I spent my time. It definitely wasn’t wasted.



On The Way Back

I still had to make it around the small lake, though, back to my car.


The rust colored fence  with curved metal bars, intrigued me.

I loved the shapes, the tones, the forms.  I liked the depth of field.



light red iron fence in park, water fountain, nature photography, debiriley.com
Light Red, iron fence


I thought of how Light Red watercolor paint would be perfect for this fence.

I thought of how this image would be ideal for class interpretation.

How easily they could see the tonal values, light and shade in the shapes and forms.




Calmer Reflections

The next pause, was the quiet reflections.

Again, the hints of light red played a role, but it was softer in this.

Less dominating. Calmer.


calm gentle water reflections, debiriley.com
calm, gentle reflections



I’ve stepped up my pace marginally.

Not a brisk walk by any means.

No more sitting.




Abstractions on the Lake

Then my eyes caught the design,  the patterns, the light on the calm side of the lake.

I had to stop. 


The subject was right up my alley.


Swirling patterns, and so nearly monochromatic.


The most striking feature was the sense of peacefulness it seemed to evoke.


nature photography, water and shoreline, zen strolls in nature, debiriley.com
here.A  moment of Peace


Right Here.

I was here, for a much longer time.


The subject demanded it.

And who am I to refuse a subject, a Muse…. when she calls?



patterns close up, lake and water photos monochromatic and abstracted, debiriley.com
close up and abstracted





calm lake photography, debiriley.com
Serene Calm


Back on the road – 55 Minutes

Taking the last shot, I flipped the camera off,  put the lens cap on.

Grabbed my keys.

Glanced at my watch……..


8:03 am

55 minutes


In my car, on the road.

55  Memorable  Minutes.


A lovely Walk on the Calm Side.









The Deepest Sky

The Deepest Sky

Infinite depth.  A sense of timelessness and vastness that is compelling.  That is what I  find so captivating about skies and clouds. The featured black and white cloud study keeps pulling my eyes right into its depths.

clouds and sky, photograph, debiriley.com
Infinite Depths


The Depths of the Sky


In these 3 skies,  2 photographs and one watercolor that I’ve chosen,  their strong bold mood is conveyed.


This Break of Dawn photo,  has a rather unique shape within.  the dawn’s light at the horizon just peeking out has created a bird shape.  Almost like a Kookaburra.


I thought it was so odd.  And I loved the indigo, indanthrone colors in the sky!


dawn sky, deepest sky darks, photo, debiriley.com
Break of Dawn




Watercolor Sky painting

storm clouds, sky painting watercolors, debiriley.com
The Wind and The Storm

The Wind and The Storm is watercolors wet in wet, with the deep purple slashing downwards like a squall is coming in.     I left areas white, so as to not overly dull the image down too much into mid tones.



More  SKIES?!

I’ve just added some brand new sky paintings today,  to the page Watercolor Basics,  look at the section Frequently Asked Questions for skies.  Question 9.


And,  I have also added  3 fresh new watercolor skies in, Inspired by the Clouds for you to check out as well.




Watercolors with Strelitzias

Watercolors with Strelitzias

Wednesday Watercolors. Today I’m using brushes, pens with Inks, palette knife, acrylics and watercolors.  And working in two very different painting styles – one using a botanical style and the other, a loose free flowing abstraction of the flower forms.

watercolor Strelitzia with ink, debiriley.com
Watercolor and Ink Strelitzia

My silly Strelitzias on Saturday inspired a few photographs and doodles, and my efforts today for Wednesday’s Watercolors.

Strelitzia flowers are also known as the Bird of Paradise, a gorgeous tall bright orange petalled creation with sharp swords of french ultramarine that draw the eye. Even so,  with their stunning bright plumage, they’ve always been a Happy Orange flower!


Watercolor Paintings  Strelitzias

My botanical style watercolor painting was created on a lush watercolor paper,  Fabriano Soft Press.  It is 100% cotton rag and is wonderful for watercolor, ink, printing, pastels, drawing….  One of my personal favorite papers.

If you’re a watercolor beginner, and would like some information on papers, materials, just pop over to Watercolor Basic Tips and you’ll find some good basic tips and guidelines. Also, on this page I’m addressing frequently  asked and ‘Searched for’ questions you may find helpful!


Palette and Colors Used

The colors I’ve chosen to use for this flower were few.  Winsor Lemon. Permanent Rose.  Cobalt Blue, genuine.   French Ultramarine.

I painted quite sparingly. Using very few strokes and fairly pale.   So much so, that the image demanded that I get my ink pen out and “judiciously”  (ie  not outline)    accent areas here and there.

This helped the image radically!  Before it was a rather dull, plain jane.  With a bit of ‘lippy and blush’  she looks marvellous now.


You can see in the close up, how loose and free the pen was applied.  It takes practice, as at first, the inclination is to tightly follow the outline.  But, perhaps by trying the pen on a newspaper photo til you get the hang of it and loosen up,  will work for you.


Close up of the botanical approach of the strelitzia flower,  (Bird of Paradise.)

bird of paradise flower, strelitzia, watercolor and inks, debiriley.com
Close Up



Bird of Paradise  Strelitzia  Photos

Both of these  photos have a very sculptural feeling to them. The colors on the petals were nearly gone, the movement of the forms was what captured my interest here.   I saw this as being more of an abstraction of movement than of anything else.

Strelitzia photograph in zen sculptural pose, debiriley.com
Strelitzia Zen


photo of bird of paradise, strelitzia, for painting, debiriley.com
Macro Strelitzia



Bird of Paradise Flower – Strelitzia

As I mentioned, the two reference photos above really inspired a more abstract approach on my second go at painting.

My first wash was a light peach of watercolors, on Arches watercolor paper,  which I let dry.

After the  watercolor underwash was dry,  several Very thin acrylic glazes of naples yellow and white were applied.  Drying completely in between.

Prussian blue in a dilute form with a fraction of white on the palette knife followed those glazes.



The objective for me in this,  was to convey Movement in an abstract fashion.

Viewers might interpret the subject in many ways. There could be figures, nudes, birds, hills, etc.   Engagement, wonder, hints and mystery are always a good thing.

Bird of paradise,Strelitzia Abstraction, watercolor, acrylics, debiriley.com
Watercolor Underwash

I just like the colors and the abstraction of movement. To me,  they are happy and free,  cheerful.





Friday’s Fun Photo: Freckles and Speckles

Friday’s Fun Photo: Freckles and Speckles

Speckles, freckles and splatters.  Quail eggs, tin foil and a watercolour painting backdrop. Frenetic? maybe. But, I kinda’ liked it!

texture and patterns, quail eggs, photos, debiriley.com
Quail Eggs and Foil


Quail Egg Art Props

I’ve been wanting to get some quail eggs as art props for quite awhile, but kept putting it off. I hadn’t been able do the ‘cost justification’ on this one. Over here for just a few teeny quail eggs, is $8 or so.

Well, as you see I finally bought them.

A couple dozen photos are in my visual library at the ready, and I won’t need to make more quail egg purchases.

After thoroughly cleaning every tiny egg out, spick and span, I now have their sparkling, tidy shells stored for use later.

I’m doing ok on my ‘cost justification’  issue I’m happy to say.




Reflections and Textures

This second photograph is much Smoother,  softer and more subtle.  The background is more blurred and the tin foil a wee bit smoother as well.

Look at the reflections and notice how blurred and soft the edges are.

The delicate blushing tones of the background make the quail egg speckles appear to have even more contrast.


reflections and patterns, photo, debiriley.com
Reflecting Shells


Texture, patterns reflected into the slightly crumpled tin foil give it a less perfect mirror image than if it was perfectly flat.



Design With A Twist

By choosing to use these props in this manner makes the images Different. I’d be surprised if I saw another quail egg photo with this same set up!

This design has an interesting ‘twist’ with some added abstraction thrown in for good measure.


textures, reflections, egg, leaves, debiriley.com
Egg, Foil, Leaves


The backdrop is still the splatter painting but now is Super soft focus;  I added old dried leaves to increase the textural effects and retained the crumpled foil base.

Interesting designs.

I loved playing with these elements.  Moving them around, deleting and adding at random. Just to see “what if….”


In each of these photographs I had a main objective.

I needed to create depth in a small ‘short’ space and create a Background, Middleground and Foreground.  With a Focal Point.

Nearly nailed all of them!!



DIY  Egg Freckles

For those in North America with access to white chicken eggs,  you could probably create your own quail egg “look alikes.”  Boil the eggs. Dip in tea for a pale stain. Let Dry.

For the Splatter – use toothbrush with instant coffee granules.  Or….  splatter a soy/Worcestershire dark  thick mix.   Use edible ingredients so you can eat the egg after you take your photos!


Art Materials used for the watercolor backdrop:

Arches Hot Press paper, Indigo, Quinacridone Sienna, Buff Titanium, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Orange splattered.


A fabulous Information packed post on  watercolor materials is Watercolour Guide Materials.   Very Useful especially for beginners.