Yesterday, I delivered a presentation at a conference at Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia.
Peppers Manor House was built in 1878 by Henry Edward Kater and was the rural retreat for the Kater family for almost one hundred years.
In the grounds there are a few buildings, one being a charming old shed that caught my eye. I snapped an image with my phone as I was keen to use it as my ‘Day 67’ Watercolour Sketch inspiration.
Both images are below. I’m thinking of doing a larger version of it, in time.
Written by David Johnson
3 April 2019
On 26 January 2019, I decided to do a Watercolour Sketch a Day.
This is the second article devoted to this. Today is Day 37 and I am happy to report that I have not missed a single day thus far.
Am having a lot of fun and hopefully learning a bit more each day and am challenging myself to often go beyond the subjects that I was sketching/painting in Watercolour initially.
I am using Winsor & Newton Cotman Half-Pan paints in a Moleskine Watercolour Journal.
Here are a selection from Day 19 to Day 33 here.
Still so much to learn, Am looking forward to attempting different subjects as time goes by.
Written by David Johnson
3 March 2019
The thought for this article came from a Creative Workshop that I missed attending yesterday, which was being held by the Wollondilly Arts Group Inc, of which I am a member. I was unable to attend due to a family commitment.
The Creative Workshops always have a theme and apart from the main theme, this time members were asked to bring in the various types of Journals that they had used.
I am at a kind of a crossroads in Journal-use. I started off with a sketchbook for drawing, then I started to write poetry, then became interested in painting so I had different books for different mediums. A couple of years back, I decided to have it all contained in one, purchased, Ivory coloured-page A4 Journal.
I must say that I have been very happy using the ‘one-journal-contains-all’ for quite a while now.
With my increased interested in Watercolour/Pen & Wash, on 26 January this year, I decided to embark on a Watercolour Sketch a Day project and have been using an A5 Watercolour sketchbook and thus have partially moved away from the A4 Journal as far as Watercolour goes. I still do the odd, small Watercolour sketch in it and have been mulling over what to do?
It would have been very interesting yesterday to see what other people were doing with regards to Journal usage.
Something else I have been thinking about over time is to create my own Journal with various types of pages for various mediums.
One of my interests is Watercolour. I had a bit of a dabble in Watercolour back in 2010, however, I was steered towards Acrylic by my well-meaning Mother-In-Law (whom I get on very well with and we have the same sense of humour), who has painted in Acrylics/Oil for more than 40 years.
About 18 months ago I started using Watercolour Pencils and Aqua Wash Pens and this led me (almost 12 months ago) to purchasing a set of Cotman Watercolours (40 Half-Pans) but I was struggling to fit in one sketch a fortnight.
There are many reasons that I love the medium of Watercolour e.g. the transparency of the medium reminds me of Photographic Slides; it is unpredictable; no two images will be the same; it is quick to do a sketch on the run and it is so much fun.
I know I have much to learn and I know that the only way to improve is to practice more, so to this effect, last Australia Day, 26 January, I decided that I would attempt to do a Watercolour Sketch a day.
Thus far, I am 7 out of 7 and have included my first 7 attempts below.
For more inspiration, I’ve also joined the World Watercolor Group on Facebook that is run by Charlie O’Shields of Doodlewash fame. Over 25,000 Watercolour Artists are members of the Group.
There is much for me to learn and I am so looking forward to continuing this Watercolour Journey!
2 February 2019
The power of Wind Chimes can be amazing.
I’m not sure if they have the same effect on you as they do me, but almost every time I hear them, one of two things happen:
They remind me of something beautiful that happened previously in my life and my mind is cast back to that time and I remember the experience with fondness.
My imagination starts to wander and my mind thinks of beautiful experiences to come.
There is also something inherently pure about their sound, too. It’s like an ‘original score’ that perhaps can never be repeated given that the wind blows in different strengths at different times from different directions.
I’ve also found them to be a great ‘mood lifter’ as well and why wouldn’t they be given the effect they have on me.
We were given a wind chime for Christmas (pictured below). I can hear it now. Such a beautiful sound.
How do they make you feel?
During Summer in Sydney, Australia, it is always best to walk early. We are expecting another day of 38C/100F temperatures.
Today, I set off a bit later than usual, at 7.00am. It was 17C/63F when I commenced.
As mentioned in previous blogs, I really enjoy walking, not only from the fitness perspective, but also because I get a lot of ideas whilst walking e.g. today, in a 42 minute walk, I came up 8 ideas for articles for this blog, all jotted down via the Google Keep app. Sometimes I get business ideas, or ideas for images, poems and paintings. If they are not recorded by some means, they will be lost…
Sometimes on a walk, I will listen to the sounds of nature, other times a playlist or a podcast, depending on how I feel.
Today, I chose to listen to a podcast by Charlie O’Shields called ’Sketching Stuff.’ I have been following Charlie’s site, ‘Doodlewash’ for some time but only recently started listening to his podcast.
I would encourage you to listen to the podcast if you are in any way interested in getting into Art or indeed, have already started.
Today, I listened to episode #10 and it was informative, inspirational and entertaining. I will be listening to it again over the weekend. (See link below.)
To finish off the walk, I chose a Classical music playlist as it suited my mood.
Sometimes, I will snap some images with my iPhone on my rounds. I took some today but they will come to light in a different article as I seemed to be shooting a theme today. I also have a DSLR, however, if I took that with me, the walk would double or triple in time!
So you see, walking for me isn’t ‘just walking’… it’s also a way of feeding my creativity!
I stopped making ‘New Years Resolutions’ many years ago.
Instead, I set goals and they cover all different areas of my life. The challenge though (as I have found before) is that in the Christmas/New Year period, when life is good, breezy and we are relaxed, we tend to create these awesome theoretical goals for the New Year.
They sound great, however, when life ‘starts happening and reality moves in’ those goals (and good intentions) tend to get consigned to history and a couple of weeks, months and beyond, we look back thinking, ‘what happened?’
So, what can we do about it?
This year, I’ve decided to do something different.
Firstly, I’ve worked out ‘why these goals/habits are important to me?’
Secondly, I’ve set up a spreadsheet with various headings for the goals/new habits that I would to introduce/reintroduce into my life.
Some examples are ‘reading from a professional development book, walking and meditation.’ Each have a heading and I’ve put in (in the case of walking) how far I’ve walked and in the case of reading & meditation, I put in the amount of time.
You might be thinking that’ it’s easy to find the time to read or meditate…’but when you are running a business, am involved in BNI (breakfast business group) and have a heavy involvement in Toastmasters as member with additional roles, family commitments and all the hobbies/interests I have, then it’s easy for it to get forgotten or become erratic.
I’m not trying to start 10 new habits at once though, I’m bringing them in gradually.
I’m 9 days in and the spreadsheet system is working well. I can access it via Google Sheets on my phone as well so I can check up at any time to see how I am progressing.
The thought is, that once I’ve created the new habits and they become part of my life, I won’t need the spreadsheet.
In a couple of months time I’ll report on how this going. Till then, have an awesome New Year!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have visited, liked, commented or followed my blog this past year and prior.
In Sydney, Australia, we saw in the New Year last night. The above is a still taken off our TV with my iPhone. We had a 12 minute Fireworks display over Sydney Harbour.
Last year, I wrote 50 poems, 13 Haiku poems and 11 articles on this blog and am looking forward to what 2019 will bring!
Thank you for being part of my journey! I am also looking forward to following your creative journey.
I would like to wish all of your Families and Friends a wonderful, joyous, creative and safe 2019!
Written by David Johnson
1 January 2019
One of the Towns that we visited whilst we were away recently was Canowindra, which is pronounced ‘ka-NOWN-dra’ and is a Wiradjuri Aboriginal word for ‘Home or Camping Place.’ It is located 307km West of Sydney, Australia.*
The Canowindra Arts Society are currently looking for a permanent home (a challenge that a few Art Societies have) to display their Art and Craft and they hope to grow their Society along the way.
If you are visiting Canowindra, make sure you drop in and experience their creativity and have a chat with some friendly locals.
Click on the link below to find out about more of the things that you can see and do in this lovely little Town.
My learning to paint journey has been somewhat intermittent. It started shortly after I did a basic drawing course in 2010. Given that my pursuit of Art is not a full-time career, I have been attempting over time to ‘fit-it-in’ amongst everything else I do.
Having had a dabble initially in Watercolour, I then moved to Acrylic at the encouragement of a well-meaning relative (my Mother-In-Law, who has been painting in Oils for 40 years, and coincidentally, we share the same sense of humour)! From there, I moved onto Oil on a whim one day and found that I loved it! Earlier this year (after playing around with Aquawash Pens and Watercolour Pencils), I found myself being drawn back to Watercolour, in the form of sketches. Along the way, I started a Mixed-Media Art/Poetry Journal as well.
On average, I get to paint for 2-3 hours a week, usually on the weekend, though I do sometimes find some more time to do it. That time includes both Oils and Watercolour.
My Mother-In-Law, Judy, has been endeavouring to encourage me for some time to ‘get out of the house’ and do en Plein Air painting. I have been hesitant to do this over time as still class myself as a beginner and had been painting off reference photos or from my imagination.
As mentioned in other articles, recently, we went away and spent a few days at Wyangala Waters State Recreation Area. Wyangala Waters (when full) holds 2 & 1/2 times the volume of Sydney Harbour. It is a magnificent place to stay.
Whilst there, I ventured out with my Sennelier Watercolour 1/2 Pans and (finally) did some en Plein Air painting.
It was a magical experience. I was in spot where there was no human activity and apart from the sound of birds, there was no sound at all on a beautiful Blue sky day. I found it to be a spiritual experience and enjoyed being out there for some 2 1/2 hours.
I managed to experience en Plein Air painting on two other occasions during the trip. The sketches/paintings are not finished yet. When they are, I will put them on this blog.
I can see myself do a lot more en Plein Air painting. Why did I wait so long!?
If you haven’t tried it yet, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so.
Written by David Johnson
4 November 2018
Poem #4 from when we were away on a short break last month. A moment I know I can keep going back to…
Last month, I had the pleasure of judging the images at Ingleburn Photography Club.
Ingleburn Photography Club is located SW of Sydney, nestled between Liverpool and Campbelltown and was formed on March 12, 2015.
Meetings are held at:
Ingleburn R.S.L. Club, 70 Chester Road, Ingleburn
3rd Thursday of each month (excepting December) at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start.
They have approx. 30 members and unlike some photographic clubs/societies, they have opted for digital images only.
I had been to the club once before to judge and upon being invited again, I eagerly awaited receiving the images from the President, John Alessi. I was pleased to receive the 61 entries for an Open Competition.
The first two images below are two of the images that received Merits on the night. The third image was judged by me as the Image of the Night. Congratulations to all those who received an award.
As with my last visit, I was impressed by the members’ professional approach to their images; the varied subject matter and the skill with which they communicate with their Art. They are also eager to share their skills with newer members and go on some very interesting field trips as well.
A great club doesn’t only exist because of the images they produce. Having been a member of two clubs/photo societies for a total of 30 years, it is the camaraderie of the members of the organisation that can make or break a club.
If you are looking for a club that is prepared to help those who are new to photography; whose members are willing to push their own creative boundaries and who are a great bunch of people to be around, pop in for a visit.
Visitors are always welcome! Contact the Club via the Facebook link below.
Written by David Johnson
3 November 2018
Poem #3 from when I was away recently. Sometimes, we just need to get away and recharge. 🙂
Last month, my wife, Susan and I decided to take a short, 5-day break from our small business and head up to Millthorpe and Wyangala Waters State Park in country NSW, Australia.
They are both inside 4 1/2 hours drive from where we live. On the way, we stopped for a picnic lunch in a little town called Boorowa.
‘Boorowa’ (originally called ‘Burrowa) is an Aboriginal word meaning ’Turkey’ and it purportedly comes from the Wiradjuri tribe. It has a population of 1,694 (@ Census 2016) is a tidy, friendly little town with a lovely picnic spot beside a small river.
As I like to do, I had a chat with a couple of the locals and took a wander around the streets. One store we went into was a second-hand bookstore that was connected to an Op-Shop (charity store). The lady there told me that in the space of 12 months that (from sales), they were able to donate $26,000.00 to 10 charities in the area. Pretty impressive from such a small town.
It was a very hot day so in terms of ‘optimum photographic light’ the light was quite harsh so I took a few images on my phone and only a couple on my DSLR. There were a couple of buildings that I wanted to sketch/paint later so I took a few reference photos of them.
We enjoyed our brief stay in Boorowa. A picnic by the river and some time spent in a small country town is the perfect way to recharge when on a driving holiday.
For further information on Boorowa, visit the link below.
3 November 2018.
One of 5 poems I wrote recently on a short break away to Country NSW, staying at Millthorpe and Wyangala Waters.
Back in 2004, I was one of 9 founding members for what became known as the Southern Highlands Photographic Society Inc. SHPS (as it has become affectionately known as) continues to be a thriving Photographic Society at East Bowral in the Southern Highlands region in NSW, Australia. Currently, they have approx. 50 members.
I moved further away in 2013 and in 2016 sadly relinquished my membership due to an inability to get to any meetings due to business and other reasons.
Last weekend, we ventured down to Bowral to see (not only the Tulip Time Festival) but SHPS’ Annual Tulip Time Photographic Exhibition which is held in the Old Bowral Town Hall, Bowral. It was finishing that day.
Put simply, the Exhibition, in terms of quality gets better and better each year. There was a stunning array of subject-matter and treatments in the 3 sections, Monochrome, Colour Print and Projected Digital. There were 120 images on display.
One of the great things about the Exhibition was that 83 of the images were mounted prints in frames. In these days of imagery, where most of what we see is on the Internet, it was so refreshing to see images hanging on a wall.
I can see SHPS being around for many, many years to come. There is such a wealth of photographic and artistic experience there and it is certainly a place where one can be inspired and educated to improve their Art and Craft.
If you are looking for a progressive Photographic Society to visit and/or join, may I wholeheartedly recommend visiting SHPS.
Please visit the website below for more information on SHPS, including their newsletter, ‘On Photography’, Galleries and Programme details.
Southern Highlands Photographic Society – Dedicated To The Art Of Photography
Yesterday, my wife Susan and I ventured down to the Annual Bowral Tulip Time Festival which has been running since 1960.
The centrepiece of the Festival is Corbett Gardens, where they plant up to 100,000 Tulips and 15,000 Annuals each year. Across the Shire, they plant another 40,000 Tulips.
Apart from the Floral attractions, there are Brass Bands, Choirs and an array of garden-related sculptures and other forms of Art as well as market/food stalls.
If there is one sticking point, judging by the reviews on various sites, it is the $12.00 entry fee as it is a relatively small area.
When compared to the Floriade Festival in the Nation’s Capital, Canberra which is many, many times larger in area, the $12.00 fee becomes questionable as entry into the Floriade Festival is free. Some activities inside Floriade do cost, but that is up to the individual.
The Bowral Tulip Time Festival has more of a ‘village-feel’ to it. I think $5.00 would be plenty if they had to charge at all. It seems to have become a real money-making exercise.
I have been to the Festival many times before and thinking back, I remember a time back in the 1980s when there was no entry fee and I arrived there just after Sunrise. The gardeners allowed me in (prior to the opening) so I could take some photographs and I spent 1 1/2 hours doing just that. Bliss! It wouldn’t happen these days, though.
Still, it was great to go and visit after several years absence. I made the choice to leave my DSLR at home and just shoot with a camera phone. I was glad I did this as there were just so many people there. The colours (as always) were so vibrant and the background sound of the Brass Band and then the Choir created such a wonderful atmosphere on a glistening Spring day!
It suddenly occurred to me this weekend whilst visiting the Succulent Garden at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens again, that I had never written any articles on this Blog in relation to my interests in Succulents.
My interest in Succulents blossomed out of a gift from my Aunt Beryl when I was 14, back in 1977. It was a Euphorbia, which sadly passed on some time ago, not being as hardy as Aunt Beryl who is still going at 92 years of age.
From then on, Succulents were around in one form or another at home. I started to group them together in large, flat pots when I was in my late teens and imagined one day of having a sprawling Cacti and Succulent Garden.
It would be a good time to point out that Cacti are Succulents, but not all Succulents are Cacti – but that is another article for another time. I particular favour Cacti but love all Succulents.
When I married in 1997, we bought a property that was 5,609 square metres (1 1/4 acres) about 100km (62 miles) South West of Sydney, Australia.
I ended up with a 35 square metre (42 square yard) Cacti & Succulent Garden with up to 120 plants in it. It was a labour of love to construct and I tinkered with it over the 16 years we lived there.
Currently, I have approx. 80-100 plants which are currently in pots, where we currently reside. When we buy our next place, I feel sure that David’s Cacti and Succulent Garden 2.0 will become a reality and I am surely looking forward to that!
Earlier in the year, I started having fun painting my interpretation of ‘Snow Gums’ in Oils. The Snow Gum is a delightful tree that is native to sub-alpine and lowland habitats in Eastern Australia.
Why did I pick Snow Gums? I was looking for a theme, something that I could have fun with, something simplistic (or so I thought)! They are indeed a challenge.
The colours in real life are vivid and a delight to the eye, particularly in the late afternoon/early morning. My paintings only ‘scratch the surface’ in terms of the colour range that the actual trees have, in real life.
My interest, at present, lays more in painting the detail of the trees than the overall image.
On average, I only get to paint about 2-3 hours a week, though I am looking for ways to increase this. I only ever thought that I would love Photography this much. My love of Painting has now reached that same level.
I can see this series continuing, over time as there is much to explore.
Written by David Johnson
12 September 2018
Earlier in the year I purchased my first set of Watercolour Half-Pans and have been enjoying them immensely.
The Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour set has 40 different colours with 5 spares and whilst there is a tremendous range of colours I have been reading where, as a beginner, working with a limited palette can teach me more about the mixing of colours.
At the recent Sydney Pen Show, I came across Sennelier Aquarelle la petite Watercolours, pictured below.
Unfortunately, they had run out of them at the Show so a set had to be posted to me. They just turned up today, very nicely packaged with a bonus Honey-based Soap for cleaning brushes and a Thank You note. The Supplier was Calligraphy Supplies Australia.
All my Watercolour paintings have been thus far, indoors and lately, I am really looking forward to giving En Plein Air a try and having a smaller pallet would be beneficial I think.