Just 8 Minutes Drive…

One of the benefits of living in Camden, NSW, Australia is that we have in the vicinity a wonderful place to unwind and relax. Just eight minutes away is the scene below…

Nepean River, Camden

We are blessed to live so close to such a beautiful place and I have been down there many times over the years to walk, to relax and do other activities like, photograph, sketch, paint or read. Sometimes, my Wife, Susan will come down there with me as well to walk, sit and or Crotchet (an interest she has taken up in the last 12 months).

There is a Bike/Walking track (up higher) that runs alongside the river and on most days it is frequented by individuals or families to exercise or just have a leisurely outing. There are plenty of places along the 5km/3.1mile track for people to enjoy picnics, ball games etc, though during lockdown at present, the latter is/are not allowed.

Bike/Walking Track, Camden

Nothing seems to get people out to exercise like a lockdown, though. We went down there yesterday to get some exercise and there were quite a few more people exercising in one form or another.

The images in this article are all taken with a phone, however, over time, I have taken my DSLR down there in the early morning or late afternoon if there is something specific that I want to capture.

I’ve only started sketching down there in the past twelve months and I look forward to doing more. I’m quite challenged with the subject matter down there which is good as it will stretch me.

Here are some more images that I have taken over time.

One of the other activities I mentioned that I do down there was reading. It is such a great place to take a book. Often, I will take a book of poetry when I am going down there to sketch or paint.

All-in-all, I’m sure you will agree that it is a wonderful place to visit and relax and in particular, having a place like this so close takes on even greater value when we are in lockdown.

Till next time…

Written and Photographed by David Johnson

25 July 2021

Peacefulness Comes

Are You Aware?

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog my love for walking and the reasons I enjoy it, namely:

  • Exercise leading to increased health
  • Idea generation
  • Relaxation
  • Listen to music, podcasts of Nature
  • Time out to think
  • Photographic opportunities

I’m located approximately 60km South West of Sydney, Australia and as I sit here today, we are entering week four of the latest lockdown, this time for the Delta strain of Covid-19.

Walking is a fairly regular activity for me and I generally see a few people out walking in normal times, however, as a friend posted recently on Facebook, ‘nothing spurs people more than a lockdown to take up exercise…’. As a result of the lockdown, there are many more people out exercising.

Whilst it is great to see more people out and about exercising, it’s a shame that it takes a lockdown to ‘spur them on’.

It probably goes without saying, but I carry my phone with me with to:

  • Measure the distance walked
  • Listening activities
  • Photography

Today, I will focus on the photographic opportunities.

As we all know the ubiquitous mobile phone has become an indispensable tool in modern life, sometimes too much so. People seem to be slaves to them. One of its most usable features for me is its camera.

I have an iPhone 8 Plus which is probably getting ‘long in the tooth’ now, technology-wise and we will probably update them in the coming twelve months. There are better camera phones out there for sure but this one is doing ok at present.

The camera I would really like to be taking on my walks is one I haven’t bought yet as I have had other priorities. More on that in a later blog.

For the time being I will make do with the phone camera.

Taking up photography in the early 1980’s increased my awareness of what is around me in terms of beauty and design. Taking up sketching, drawing and painting I believe has increased my awareness even more.

Below are a few examples of the things that attract my eye as I go walking. When I go walking, I seldom see other people taking photos on their walks. I wonder if they are aware of the the beauty and design that surrounds them?

Are you?

Till next time…

Written by David Johnson

19 July 2021

Our Mental Fuse

Looking For The Light

Renewed

Tales Of The Unexpected!

Way back in the 1970’s, a television show called, ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’ hit our screens here in Sydney, Australia.

Tales Of The Unexpected was borne out of a series of short stories written by a master of the macabre, Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl was a British Novelist, Screenwriter, Poet and wartime fighter pilot. He also wrote many bestselling Children’s books. For more information on Roald Dahl please click on the link at the end of this article.

The TV show was my introduction to Roald Dahl and later searched for the books that the television series was based on (see below).

I read these books many years ago and they were thoroughly engaging. Some time ago I purchased another collection which had all four volumes plus eight more stories and for reasons unknown has sat on my bookshelf for too many years untouched. There is only so much time and so many books, I guess.

I’m in the process of remedying that now as I am reading the book from cover to cover. Some of the stories I have read before, however, there are a lot I haven’t. Just as they did many years ago, these stories leap from the page and hold my attention, tantalising me, drawing me into the story and setting me up for that ‘unexpected end.’

If you like short stories with a twist, I highly recommend you seek out the Author’s work. Some of the episodes are on YouTube and I’ll include the link below so that you can get a taste of the type of stories.

Till next time…

Written by David Johnson

9 July 2021

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tales+of+the+unexpected

https://www.roalddahl.com/roald-dahl/about

Navigating The Reef

Refined By The Sea – Creativity Spotlight

Welcome to the third article in this series!

Today I’m showcasing, ‘Refined By The Sea’ which is operated by Stephanie Thackray. Stephanie, like Helen and myself is a member of Red Point Artists Association in Port Kembla.

Stephanie is another member who displays her Art and Craft at the “Art & Craft On The Grass” which is held on the second Saturday of the month at Red Point Art, 100 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla, NSW, Australia.

Stephanie informed me that she spent five years collecting the raw materials that she then crafts into Jewellery (as displayed in the images below).

On a previous visit to “Art & Craft On The Grass” I purchased a set of earrings from Stephanie for my wife. She loves them!

If you would like to see more of Stephanie’s Art & Craft, her details are below.

Written by David Johnson

29 June 2021

*I receive no monetary benefit for promoting other Artists. I just love promoting creativity.

Things That Attract My Eye

As those of you would know who follow my Blog regularly, one of my interests (dating back to 1982 when I bought my first serious camera) is Photography.

Whilst I still enjoy photographing with a DSLR, many photos are taken also with my iPhone. Currently, I possess an 8Plus which is getting a bit dated now but is still handy to have when I don’t have my DSLR with me.

My aim within the next 12 months is to purchase a high-end compact from the Sony RX range for the type of photography below and I’m also looking to say goodbye to me DSLR and go Mirrorless, but that’s another story.

As we have our phones on us nearly all the time these days it is very easy and convenient to photograph interesting things we have come across on a daily basis.

In the past couple of weeks, I started a new album on my Facebook page called, ‘Things That Attract My Eye.’

Here are the first 9 images in the album.

The images were taken when visiting the local Hospital, in my backyard, on walks, waiting for a Take-away food order, visiting an Art Gallery and whilst doing a ‘driver changeover’ on a motorway. All would have been missed were it not for the trusty phone camera.

Over time, I will put up more images.

I hope you enjoy, ‘Things That Catch My Eye!’

Written and Photographed by David Johnson

28 June 2021

Each Generation

In Each Given Moment

Cacti & Succulents – Gone Potty!

In a blog article I did back in September 2018, I explained where my love of Cacti and Succulents came from…a gift from one of my Aunts at the age of 14. I fell in love with their uniqueness and beauty and started off with just a few plants in a low, Terracotta pot whilst living at my parents home to a 35 square metre garden when my wife and I lived at our first location.

We live in a different location now on a much smaller block so currently, all my Cacti and Succulents are in pots. When we move in the future, I’m sure I will have a garden for them as well as keeping some in pots.

With some recent additions early in the year, I now have 133 plants of all different shapes and sizes. Some of the species include: Cereus, Lobivia, Echinopsis, Cleistocactus, Astrophytum, Parodia, Mammillaria, Echinocereus, Corypantha, Cotyledon, Crassula, Agave and more.

Three things that I am looking forward to are:

  1. Growing Cacti from seed.
  2. Sketching/Painting my Cacti and Succulents.
  3. Growing my collection.

This love affair with these unique and beautiful plants has now been running for 44 years and will continue long into the future!

Written by David Johnson

20 June 2021

Watercolour Sketch A Day – The Journey Continues…

I’ve realised that its been a fair while since I did a post relating to my, ‘Daily Art Practice’ aka, ‘A Watercolour Sketch a Day.’

Today is Day 872 and I chose to revisit one of my favourite subjects, a Lighthouse, though in this case the Lighthouse isn’t the main subject, it merely makes up a small part of the scene.

Day 872 ‘On The Point’

Recently, I purchased a book from the Book Depository, ‘Rendering In Pen and Ink’ by Arthur L. Guptill, edited by Susan E. Meyer. The book was written some time ago and the techniques were written for Dip Pens and Quills, though they can be applied to modern drawing tools. The book is an inspiration and I’m so glad to have it as I use it on a daily basis, practicing different techniques it discusses.

I have grown to love using Dip Pens and Ink from sketching and prefer to use this combination rather than use Pigment Liners when at home. When I’m out and about, Pigment Liners are far more manageable, though in the future I would like to develop/find a way to use the Dip Pens/Ink combination when I’m away from home.

I cannot really explain why I like using Dip Pens over Pigment Liners except to say that, ‘it just feels good and right for me.’

Here is another selection of recent, ‘Watercolour Sketch a Day’ efforts.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

20 June 2021

Designed To Renew

Earthly Composer

Oasis In The Jungle

Each And Every Day

Intangible Revenue

Not Just For Display

Gentle Notes

Communicative Manifest

A Remarkable Journey

Inspiration Plus! – Books

I’m always on the lookout for books that will inspire me and/or stretch my thinking/skills.

My post today is about two books I have recently acquired, one being a gift and both relating to Sketching/Drawing.

The first is “Everyday Sketching & Drawing” – 5 Steps To A Unique and Personal Sketchbook Habit by Steven B. Reddy.

As someone who is trying to ‘loosen up’ in terms sketching/drawing lines, this book has been a revelation! Not only that, there are suggestions for overcoming blocks, time issues, tips and techniques and much, much more.

The second book is, “Rendering In Pen and Ink” by Arthur L.Guptill – 60th Anniversary edition – The Classic Book On Pen and Ink Techniques For Artists, Illustrators, Architects, and Designers.

The amount of helpful content in this book just blows me away! This book is aimed more at Dip pens, Quills and the like, however, the techniques could as easily be applied to the modern day pens.

I see many hours of enjoyment coming my way as I absorb their knowledge and do the exercises in each book.

If you are interested in improving your skills in these areas, I would highly recommend both books.

Written by David Johnson

16 May 2021

Illuminating

Investing In Self

Mental Citadel

Precious Moment

What Treasure Lies…

We Give Them A Salute

Journey Of A Book

A Trip To The Country – Part 3 – Millthorpe

We have ventured up to Millthorpe a number of times since 1995 as it is the home of one of our great friend’s ‘the Dixons’, in fact Susan and Diane have been great friends since their school days.

This time, we were up there for the Wedding of their eldest son. I’m going to leave the wedding to another post, in fact, I will wait till the official Wedding photos arrive.

Millthorpe is a historical village classified by the National Trust and was originally called, ‘Spring Grove.’ More details about the name change and further detail about the town can be found in the link below.

Even though we have been going up there for a many years it is really only in the last two or three visits that I have actually been able to walk around the Town. Mostly, we have been up there for Family celebrations of one type or another.

A rather strange thing happened this time…My DSLR did not come out of the bag. Instead, armed with a small sketchbook, three pigment liners and just my phone camera, I took the chance to do some rough sketches and took many reference photos.

Millthorpe’s buildings are older ones and have a lot of character and I seem to love sketching and painting architecture. I’ve come back with quite a few ideas for sketches/paintings and the camera phone is good enough for reference photos for the moment.

As with any town there are a few Churches as well. I can see myself tackling these types of buildings as well.

I didn’t get a chance to go into the Museum this time around but was delighted to see some Art forms and industrial machinery on the outside.

The weather this time was beautiful and sunny on the Friday and Monday, however, Saturday and Sunday were very cold with single digit temperatures in Celsius.

Usually, we stay with the Dixons, however this time they had a full house so we stayed at a local Air BnB, ‘Millthorpe on Morley.’ It was the first time staying via Air BnB and it was extremely comfortable and very friendly.

The view from the front verandah below (where I was able to sit and journal) on the Saturday morning was very beautiful.

As always, I look forward to our next visit to Millthorpe!

Written by David Johnson

18 April 2021

For more information about Millthorpe, visit:

Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

A Trip To The Country – Part 2 – Book Treasure

In my last post (in this series), I mentioned that we stopped off in Boorowa, NSW for a spot of afternoon tea. Prior to our scrumptious Devonshire Tea, we popped into a ‘charity bookshop’ at the other end of town.

We had only visited this bookshop once before and basically (at that time) stumbled upon it just before closing time. That was three years ago…so we were keen to check it out this time around and we were so glad we did, for there was certainly some ‘Book Treasure’ to be uncovered!

I purchased five books, as follows:

  • Leaves Of Grass – Walt Whitman
  • Collected Poems 1936 – 1970 – James McAuley
  • Enjoying Poetry 1 – Silver and Gold – Chosen by E.W.Parker
  • Paint Luxurious Textures In Watercolor – Jennifer Sheffer
  • Creative Watercolour Artist – Readers Digest

Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman

I had heard about this anthology a while ago and have wanted to get a copy of it for a while now. This is the ninth edition, the first having been written in 1892. Walt Whitman’s name first came to my attention when I saw, ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ starring Robin Williams. I am thrilled to add this to my Poetry Collection.

I look forward to delving into more of Walt Whitman’s work.

Collected Poems – James McAuley

I would to say that I had heard of this Australian Poet, however, I would be fibbing. Perhaps I have heard his name before but had forgotten it… It turns out that he was born in Lakemba (where I grew up). My research shows that he was a ‘Australian academic, poet, journalist, literary critic and a prominent convert to Roman Catholicism.’

Flipping through the pages at the bookshop I was not aware of who he was but quite liked his style of Poetry.

Enjoying Poetry 1 – Silver and Gold – Chosen by E.W.Parker

I already have a few ‘collections of Poetry’ so it can be a bit tricky sometimes buying, ‘another collection’ as one doesn’t want to be merely, ‘buying the same Poems all the time…’ It is inevitable that some will be repeated, however, I quite liked the format and illustration of this book. It turns out that there are three in the series and I shall ‘keep my eye out’ for the other two.

It is only a small, thin book that can be easily tucked into a bag so it will be a great book to ‘dip into’ from time-to-time.

Paint Luxurious Textures In Watercolor – Jennifer Sheffer

I am just about to do a ‘book cull’ and started off with a five or six ‘general-type’ Watercolour books. In recent times, I’m not looking at these generalist books much at all and have been looking for specific things/techniques within the Watercolour medium. This is where this book fits in.

It looks well-written and inspiring. An easy decision to buy it.

Creative Watercolour Artist – Readers Digest

I happened across a Goldmine in this book! It is a book, small easel and comes with a ‘Watercolour Wheel’ as well. The Paint Set was not with the book but that’s no problem as I already have paints. It says it has, ’12 Sunning Watercolour Projects’ and it is true to it’s word. It also has split-page/cross-referencing to (as it says), ‘giving you instant access to all the techniques you need to create each of the projects). 94 techniques are displayed, demonstrated and discussed!

This was a ‘no-brainer’ purchase as well.

Five pieces of ‘Book Treasure’ from one second-hand bookshop in a Country town we love to stop at. It is roughly three hours drive from where we live. Looking forward to our next visit!

In Part 3 of ‘Trip To The Country’ I will be focusing on Millthorpe, where we stayed for the wedding.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

17 April 2021

A Trip To The Country – Part 1 – Boorowa

Last weekend, my Wife, Susan and Susan’s Mum were away for the weekend. We were attending one of our Godson’s Weddings (between us we have 7 Godsons and 6 are with the one Family) at Millthorpe, a small country town some 3 1/2 hours drive from us.

The Mother of the Groom went to school with my Wife so they have been Family Friends for many years.

On the way, we stopped at one of our favourite places, an even smaller town called Boorowa. Boorowa is rich in Irish history with the “Irish Woolfest’ in October each year being one of it’s premier attractions. Boorowa is also part of the ‘Hilltops Wine Region’ and so there are a number of wineries in the vicinity.

The original custodians of the land were the Wiradjuri people. Boorowa was originally spelt, ‘Burrowa’ and although no-one is exactly sure, that name may be a Wiradjuri word meaning, ‘Turkey.’

We have stopped for lunch a couple of times in the past by the side of the river, however, this time it was just for Afternoon Tea. A wonderful place to do this is the, ‘Arts and Crafts Magistrates Tea Rooms’ which are local in the old Boorowa Courthouse, a magnificently majestic building just outside the centre of the town. Amongst other things they serve a scrumptious Devonshire Tea and they have books for sale, the proceeds going to a local charity.

It is also the local Tourist Information Centre and they have Art and Craft made by members of the local community there.

There are a number of shops (that we are yet to investigate), however, one shop we did not want to miss out on was the charity bookshop. All proceeds go to local charities and as we are all book lovers it is a place we did not want to miss visiting. Some more ‘book treasure’ was uncovered but I will cover that in a separate post.

There is something about small Country towns that I love. They don’t have the ‘hustle and bustle’ of larger towns. The quieter streets tend to lend themselves greater to visions of a quieter time, perhaps when the Horse and Carriage was the main form of transport.

In my next post (Trip To The Country Part 2), I’ll be highlighting the ‘Book Treasure’ that was uncovered this trip.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

17 April 2021

For further information on Boorowa, please click on the following link.

Morning Sun On My Face

Pen To Paper

Staring At The Sky

Mental Balm

More Book Treasure!

Last Sunday, we were down in Goulburn, NSW which is approximately one and three-quarter hours drive South of where we live. We were down there for a celebration Birthday Lunch at one of the local Chinese Restaurants. Four of our Family members have a Birthday within 6 days of each other.

We had a marvellous time and afterwards, my Wife Susan and I paid a visit to one of our favourite second-hand bookshops, the Argyle Emporium in Goulburn.

I have written about this bookshop before on this blog. Just a quick recap: it is situated in a rather stately, old Police Station and the owners have operated it for some 21 years and it holds some 500,000 books.

This time we were only in there for one and a half hours. Realistically, I could spend all day there. We just love these old second-hand bookshops. They have a certain quality about them.

So, what treasure did I find this time?

Three books, one on Haiku Poetry and two on Watercolour.

“Writing and Enjoying Haiku” was just sitting horizontal on top of some other books on the Poetry section and my eyes fell upon it straight away. It was as if it was there ‘just waiting for me to come along!’

I’ve enjoyed writing the occasional (Japanese) style Haiku Poem and the book talks about that style but also other styles as well. It looks a very interesting book.

With regards to the Watercolour books, ‘Painting Weathered Textures in Watercolor” and “Watercolour Fast & Loose”, they took a bit of finding as the Art section is massive at the Argyle Emporium.

Over time I’ve noticed that I think I ‘have moved on’ from some of the early books I had on Watercolour. They seem to general in nature and I am starting to find that I want to learn more about specific topics within the medium. I also want to learn to paint and sketch in a greater, relaxed style than I am currently doing.

All-in-all, it was another fruitful visit to the Argyle Emporium. We are in Goulburn fairly often as my Wife’s parents live about 25km (15.5 miles) SE of Goulburn but we don’t call into bookshop every visit (although I must admit it is tempting)!

If you are down that way, and are a book lover, make sure you visit the Argyle Emporium, you won’t be disappointed.

Written by David Johnson

30 March 2021

Transformative Thoughts

Helen’s Acrylic Pours – Creativity Spotlight

Last weekend I was at Red Point Artists Association’s, ‘Art On The Grass’ monthly event. Amongst the Artistic stalls on the grass was ‘Helen’s Acrylic Pours’ which is owned and operated by Helen J. Purdy.

I came up with the thought of having a new segment on my blog when I was chatting with Helen last week and she kindly agreed to be the first Artist in this new segment. Thanks so much Helen!

Helen (like myself) is a member of RPAA and you will find her regularly displaying her creations at the monthly event which are for sale.

Helen displaying her Acrylic creations.

Helen is a self-taught Acrylic paint-pouring Artist and she uses canvas and a wide variety of materials. Helen is also prepared to give one-on-one lessons. Her creations are certainly eye-catching and unrepeatable.

I love talking to Artists and hearing/seeing their passion for creation. Helen’s certainly shines on through!

Thank you Helen for allowing me to feature you on my blog.

If you would like more information about what Helen does, would like to purchase some of her Art or would like a one-on-one lesson, please contact Helen via one of the options below.

https://www.facebook.com/Helens-Acrylic-Pours-104730084391759

Written by David Johnson

20 March 2021

*I receive no monetary benefit for promoting other Artists. I just love promoting creativity.

Reservoir Of Life

Creativity Spotlight

My Wife, Susan and I yesterday visited Red Point Artists Association at Point Kembla, NSW, Australia. They were holding their monthly, Art On The Grass event.

Although I had been visiting their sporadically over the past 10 years, I only became a member of this wonderful organisation in July last year. I hadn’t joined previously as I had many things (as we all do on occasions) competing for my time.

Red Point was formed in May 2008 and it’s home is a small precinct of (what were once) retail shops set in a ‘rectangular horseshoe formation’ with a rectangular grassy area in the middle with a few established trees which provides an ideal location for their ‘Art On The Grass’ event.

Within this precinct is a Takeaway Food shop on one corner, a number of Artist studios (some shared), a main Gallery plus a smaller Gallery and a Workshop that is used for demonstrations.

Art On The Grass features Art and Craft that is for sale and the tables are manned by the Artists Craft-makers themselves and there are a wide variety of things to look at and buy.

There are always Exhibitions on from Red Point members in both galleries. The whole atmosphere is relaxing and is often complemented by live music in the form of an Acoustic Guitarist or similar.

From the moment I first visited Red Point Artists, I could feel that there was something ‘special’ about the place, the Art and the people in it. I feel a ‘sense of connection’ down there and never fail to be inspired by something or a Artist when I visit.

I’ve written on my blog previously about visits to Art On The Grass and whilst I was down there this time, I had an idea for a section on my blog that highlighted individual Artists and Craft- makers that I come across in my travels. This would also from time-to-time include Art and Craft associations as well. For more information about Red Point Artists Association, please click on the following link: https://redpointart.org.au/

Why would I do this?

I love Art and Craft and find it very interesting to see what other Artists and Craft-makers imaginations can create. I will always ask their permission to firstly, photograph them at their tables or any of their table setups before posting on this blog. I would like to help them promote their Art and Craft. I receive no monetary benefit for doing this. The benefit I receive is the enjoyment in being able to promote what other people’s imaginations have created. Hopefully, it will help them too.

I will be including their contact details and/or website so that if you like what they do or want to find out more information about what they do, you can contact them directly.

My next article in ‘Creativity Spotlight’ will be about Helen from ‘Wall Art & Resin Homewares’, whose Artistic endeavour is ‘Acrylic Pouring.’ Helen is a member of Red Point Artists Association.

Looking forward to seeing you then.

Written by David Johnson

14 March 2021

Your Personal Hemisphere

Cast A New Mould

Writing On Our Pages

Running Water

Expressive Ability

Summer Afternoon