Watercolour Calling…

In 2010, when I first ‘heard the calling’ of painting and embarked on a basic, 6-week drawing course, I started with Watercolour. I remember my Mother-In-Law (whom I get on very well with, share the same sense of humour with and who has painted in Oils for many, many years) said ‘why did you start with the hardest medium?’

I shot slides for many years and the transparent effect of Watercolour reminds me of them. They are similar also in that you only ‘get one shot’ at doing them. If you muck them up, they stay mucked up!

Susan’s Family bought me some Student Acrylics for Christmas and off I went in that direction. I enjoyed being a beginner painter with them and sometime later, was lured into having a go at Oils by the local, friendly owner of an art/framing store.

So began my Oils journey, firstly with student paints, then artist paints. In between (as I guess a lover of art and craft does), I’ve managed to accumulate Oil Pastels, coloured pencils, Watercolour pencils, aqua wash pens, Charcoal sticks, a set of drawing/sketching pencils, Inktense pencils and so on…

I should say at this point that my artistic endeavours are not my source of income and I allocate time at night during the week and on weekends to pursue my creative endeavours so self-learning and experimentation have been a bit of slow grind but I am enjoying the journey nevertheless.

In May last year, I purchased a mixed-media A4 Ivory page journal in which I write poetry, sketch, scribble and paint. More and more I have noticed that I was using Watercolour pencil and aqua wash pens in the journal.

I am also gaining inspiration from artists on Instagram in the various art mediums. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that I am following a greater number of Watercolour artists, and feel that I am being drawn back to that medium.

I still consider myself a beginner and love both Oils and Watercolour for different reasons. Watercolour is becoming an increasing influence, so much so that I purchased a set of 45 Winsor and Newton Cotman Half Pans this past week and have been enjoying using them in my journal.

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With Watercolour, I see me doing just small sketches at this stage as there is an immense amount for me to learn. I will still do Oils though on larger paintings. That way, I can enjoy my two favourite art mediums.

David Johnson
25 February 2018

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Journey Of A Lifetime!

Photography has been a passion of mine for 35 years, though since 2010 (when I did a basic Drawing course and started dabbling in Painting),  Drawing and Painting have been slowly increasing in interest for me.

For the first time ever, this year, I have spent more time painting than I have photographing… Wow!

They are two very different mediums, with some similarities, particularly since Digital impacted photography. Painting cannot compete with the immediacy of photography, however, photography (since the Digital onslaught) has become almost machine gun-like, in that where a lot of photographers churn out numbers in the hundreds and the thousands when they go out to take photos.

There are or course photographers who do not take this approach to photography. They give serious consideration to the idea before they even pick up their camera to shoot the image or image series.

These photographers remind me of the painter who gives serious consideration to the idea and plans the painting accordingly. They need to decide on the composition, the story, the colours and the lighting etc. They pre-visualise just like the Black & White/Monochrome Darkroom photographers of yesterday did. Some still do.

Sitting in front of a computer (for me) editing image after image just isn’t as exciting or as fun as sitting in front of the canvas and creating.

This did surprise me somewhat, being a passionate photographer for as long as I have been. Recently, a photographer friend went on an overseas trip for a few weeks and took 8,000 digital images. 8,000! Having to review that many images from the trip are a real turn-off for me.

I’m still passionate about photography, though in different ways than above.

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“Abundance Of Joy” Acrylic & Oil 90cm x 30cm

So, why I am attracted to Drawing and Painting?

  1. They slow me down. They force me to think about what I am doing, what I am endeavouring to create, much like using an old TLR (Twin Len Reflex) on a tripod and taking the time to explore a scene with the eyes and the mind instead of firing off shot after shot with a DSLR…
  2. It really takes you back to basics i.e. just using the mind, the limbs, pigments and paper/canvas. It is a challenge to create something uniquely yours without the high-flying technology. This excites me!
  3. We, humans, spend our lives these days ‘tied to technology’ via our ever-present mobiles (cell-phones), tablets and other digital devices. Sitting in front of the canvas or creating in my Journal allows me to disengage.
  4. I was thinking the other day that one can’t get much closer to the raw beginnings of hand-made Art than Drawing, Painting (or indeed Sculpture). The cave-dwellers picked up a rock or some other pigmented material and started to draw/paint.

Drawing and Painting takes one back to the early days of Art, the person, tool, pigment and the imagination.

What you draw, paint or photograph depends on your genes, your environment, what influences your thoughts and actions and your beliefs etc just like those cave-dwellers.

In that respect, only the tools and Mankind’s thoughts and advancement have changed.

In regards to drawing and painting, I am in the early stages of my journey. I feel it’s a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life. Exciting times are ahead!
Written by David Johnson
30 December 2017

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“Journey” – incomplete. Oil – 16in x 20in

Poetry – Music To My Ears!

As a child, I was interested in Poetry, and that interest grew throughout my teens, into my twenties and beyond to the current day.

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I love Libraries. I have lost count of the number of poetry-related books I have taken out of libraries over the last 45+ years.
Somewhere along the line, I acquired a taste for rhyming poetry and it is still my favourite kind, although I am starting the explore non-rhyming poetry of late.
Libraries are still great, apart from the obvious problem of having to return the books!
The Internet is, of course, a Goldmine. I’ve listed some sites at the bottom of the post that readers might like to explore.

Whilst the Internet is a wonderful resource, I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still love the feel of holding a book, and so, over time I’ve picked up the odd poetry book.

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I picked up two more books to add to my collection, last weekend.
– The Golden Book of Modern English Poetry – Everyman’s Library – 921.
  It features 500 Poets.

– Selected Poems and Letters of Emily Dickinson – Edited by Robert N. Linscott

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Reading poetry helps me to tune out from the world. I disappear into the poem and let my imagination run wild.

On August 2013, I started to write my own poetry. I write to explore my thoughts and feelings that I have about life, the Universe and everything.

Poetry is really ‘Music to my Ears!’

Written by David Johnson

28 November 2017

Journal To Discovery

It never occurred to me many years ago to keep a Journal, not a Diary, but a Journal of thoughts and ideas. It would have been great to be able to delve into now to see what sorts of things I was thinking of way back when.
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The idea to keep such a thing only started to enter my thinking around 2010. I started a small one for photographic ideas that I would definitely need the use of Photoshop to engineer as they were moving towards ‘Conceptual Photography.’ I would write a few brief notes and then do basic drawings or a sketch. Ironically, these days I seldom use Photoshop, but that’s for another article…

At my core I am ‘an ideas person.’ I have a lot of them and sometimes the phrase, ’shiny object syndrome’ comes to mind. Through 2003 – 2009 I was traveling 4 hours return by public transport to work in Sydney, Australia, was in two Photographic Societies, on committees and had lots of things on the go. Over the years, I have many ideas and some of them have progressed but many are still there, waiting…

In 2008 Toastmasters arrived in my life and I was being exposed to new things, ideas, people. Evernote became my ’Typed Journal.’

I began to revisit Sketches (that were not connected with Photographic ideas) which led me to keep a related Sketching journal, which led to me completing a basic Drawing course. Up sprang another type of Journal!

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Drawing led to me wondering if I could Paint? Up sprang a small Painting ‘Journal.’

In August 2013, I started writing Poetry, so yes, enter my Evernote Poetry Journal. Two years ago I realised just how much I was missing the ‘actual act of writing’ and so I bought an A5 journal that I handwrite poetry in. As I was halfway through my 4th poetry journal, a thought came to mind… Instead of having all these different Journals, why not combine them?
Research began on what type of journal to buy? This went on for a few weeks…

I ascertained it had to be able to be good enough quality paper to be:

  • Written on using a Calligraphy (or similar pen)
  • Able to withstand Watercolour and Acrylic Paints
  • Sketched or Drawn upon

As I found out, there is a whole industry devoted to Journals/Journaling. Here is one of the links that were indeed very helpful to me, as I hope it will be for you.

The next decision was, ’should I buy a ready-made’ product or make my own?’

I decided to go the ready-made route. I feel that my next one will be one I make myself. It sounds like fun!

The Journal I have chosen to combine all my Artistic, Writing & Poetical ideas is an A4 Ivory paper journal.

In this Journal, to my Heart’s content I can:

  • Write Poetry
  • Write small articles
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sketch
  • Formulate Ideas
  • Paste photos

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As I get on in years it is going to be so much fun delving back, re-engineering ideas and seeing what thoughts and ideas I have had. When I am no longer on this Earth the Journals will be left to relatives/friends who I know will appreciate and gain enjoyment from (and who knows) may progress some of the ideas and be inspired to record their own Artistic Journey.

Do you keep a Journal of your Art, Thoughts & Ideas?

If so, what do you use? I would be interested in hearing about your Journal of Discovery!

As for me, I believe I can hear my Journal calling me… Bye for now.

Music To My Ears!

Music is such a wonderful thing. Can I play it? No, except if you count the half a song I learnt to play on my 3rd learning attempt at the age of 16, in 1979 with my Brother, Larry as Tutor.

Or in 2011, when I purchased a Harmonica as I had always enjoyed its sound, and found out that learning to play it would assist with breathing, in terms of doing public speaking. I learnt the first two lines of ‘Kum By Yah.’ The first two lines are exactly the same…hmmm. Like the guitar, I lacked the daily discipline of practice. That could probably be the end of the line as far as me attempting to play music…

Larry went on to learn 1/2 dozen different instruments, write some music, can sing, does Watercolour painting and uses soft Pastels.

I was in a shop yesterday, and The Beatles, ‘Penny Lane’ came on. My mind was instantly transported back to my early years when life seemed no doubt, easier, more fun where I had no responsibilities. Such wonderful memories flooded back!

7 years of age when The Beatles ‘called it a day’ in 1970, my music world was full of The Beatles, Pop, Motown etc courtesy of my Sister, Cheryl who was 17 at the time. My Brother, Larry (4 years older than me) was also heavily into ‘The Lads From Liverpool’, The Beach Boys, other band legends from the 60’s, Elvis and 50’s music.

Moving into the 70’s my sibling’s musical influences on me continued with Neil Diamond, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen, to name but a few.

Even though the joy of being able to play music has seemingly escaped my life, music continues to be an incredible force in my life.

Yes, I am a long-term Beatles, Elvis & Bruce Springsteen Fan but my musical tastes did broaden over the ensuing years and include:

The Rolling Stones; Tommy Emmanuel; Status Quo; James Morrison (Trumpet); Amy Grant; Frank Sinatra; Gene Krupa, Dean Martin, John Lee Hooker, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Guitar Shorty, Lambchop; Lee Kernaghan, John Denver, Galapagos Duck; Acoustic Alchemy; Vivaldi; Stevie Ray Vaughan; Fourplay, The Moody Blues, Creedence Clearwater Revival, MUSE, are some of my other favourites.

Genres include Rock, Pop, Blues, Australian Country, Motown, Disco, Swing, Jazz, Folk, Classical and some Alternative.

Music inspires me, soothes, relaxes and entertains me and for that, I am exceedingly grateful.

Written by David Johnson
9 July 2017

I Have An Addiction…

Yes, I have to admit that I have an addiction and it’s one that I have had since my school years… Well, actually I have two!

The first one is that I love Libraries, and probably too much!

Yes, I have a love of books which began at a very early stage in my life. I can remember being taken to Lakemba Library by Mum. In 1974 (aged 11) I won the Library Book-week Award.

Libraries for me were such fun places for a young mind to be. I remember being interested in a number of subjects, Geology, Astronomy, Aircraft, Ships, Science-Fiction, Movies but to name a few. Libraries are a font of information and (these days) some have questioned their relevance with the ever-present Internet now wound indelibly into our lives.

Our High School had a library (originally in an old classroom, but then a more modern separate facility was built up on top of the Science labs from memory). As soon as practicable after an assignment was given, I was off to the Library to do research and disappear into the ‘World of Books!’

I could quite happily spend hours at a Library when I was younger. As I grew up I would enjoy spending more and more time at the Library, taking as many books as I was allowed, and then enjoyed sifting through them at home, exploring and discovering worlds that I had not seen, experiencing (through books) things I had not done.

Fast forward to when I started work (1979, 16 years of age) wherever I was working I would search out where the local libraries were and join them, particularly if I was in an area for a while. Over the years I have been a member of approx. 12 Libraries.

I’m currently a member of 4 Libraries. Why still so many, and particularly when the Internet is such a force for information gathering? The Internet is a wonderful source for information for sure. Sometimes though it is overwhelming in its choice of what sites/people to take notice of?

For the amount of information, the Internet obviously wins hands down, so have Libraries lost their importance, their place in the world at large or in my world?

No, I don’t believe so for the following reasons:

1. When you walk into a Library it is like walking into an ‘inner sanctum.’ You are physically surrounded by knowledge, by the experiences of others and a sense of imminent discovery. Books, waiting on shelves, waiting for someone to accept them into their lives, to share their knowledge and wisdom. Often a library is a place of minimal noise and it is a place of relaxation for the mind. At least that is how it is for me.

2. The Internet has many people airing their views and information for all to see. Is everything on the Internet correct? There is no-one or body vetting the information before it appears there. From what I understand, the individual library will choose the books that they will have in their library so at least there is a ‘control’ to a certain extent.

3. The Library of the 21st Century is in the continual process of change to ensure it maintains its relevance in the community. Whilst at times the there is still a quietness about a Library, it now welcomes more and more groups as a meeting place. Craft, reading, discussion groups, retirees as well as the younger folk use the library as a meeting place. It is continuing to bring individuals and communities together.

It is pleasing to see change happen in libraries for without change they could quickly lose their relevance.

My second addiction, unfortunately, does not stop at ‘being a member of multiple libraries.’ My thirst for knowledge remains unabated and sometimes I have multiple books out, as many as 12 but thankfully sanity is prevailing and now don’t go above 4.

Whilst I read fiction, a lot of the books borrowed are reference books on all manner of subjects e.g. Photography, Art, Painting, Drawing, Cacti & Succulents, Sketching, Travel, Astronomy, Music, Business, Self Development, Poetry, Verse, History and so on…

Just this morning I walked out with, another 2 Art-related books which make a total of 4 this week.

At age 54, my ‘love of Libraries’ is still there!

This is one addiction that is going to happily continue! 🙂

Written by David Johnson

1 July 2017