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

The Moment It Clicks!

There was a time when I would haunt the local bookshops where I worked and spend time sifting through all the Photographic books, building a wish list of books that I would love to have on my bookshelf one day.

I still have what I consider to be a treasured collection of Photographic books at home (about 60+), being Coffee Table, on practical and theory etc. Many of them date back to film days with a sprinkling of Digital. Most are on theory, aesthetics, ways of viewing/thought processes, movements and individual subjects.

These days, I’m most likely to not head straight to the Photography section whether I am in a shop that sells new or used books, but I head towards the Art section and Poetry first.

With the introduction of Digital it seems there were far more books being produced on the art of manipulation than there were before, most of them dealing with how to tackle Adobe Photoshop. There seemed less on Photographic aesthetic which I think was a shame. Book after book after book lined the shelves about Photoshop or similar. 

I was in a second-hand bookshop recently and after visiting the Art/Painting and Poetry sections, I wandered over to the Photography section and was delighted to find, ’The Moment It Clicks – Photography Secrets From One Of The World’s Top Shooters’ by Joe McNally.

’The Moment It Clicks’, what a perfect title for me. Even before the advent of Digital Photography, for me, Photography was about the ‘moment of taking the picture’ and indeed the lead-up to it. I used to take Slides and Black & White, doing my own developing and printing in my Darkroom. Whilst the Darkroom was fun and I enjoyed it, it didn’t override the moment of taking the photo for me.

I’ve often had discussions with my fellow photographer-fiends on this subject as they don’t quite understand my view on this. I shoot Digital as well and have a couple of books on manipulation, but that is all.

With Slides, there was no ‘after-process’ if you like, unless of cause you developed them yourselves (which few people I knew did). You just sent them away for processing.

But back to the book, purchased for AUD$3.00, a real steal.

This edition was published in 2008, it covers the following:

  • Shoot What You Love
  • Keep Your Eye In The Camera
  • The Logic of Light
  • There’s Always Something To Bounce Light Off
  • Lighting Tips/Camera Bag/Lighting Gear
  • The Bar Is Open (a collection of 25 further tips covering Attitude; Choices; Aesthetics; Courage and more).

It is packed tips, recommendations and touches on thought processes and it doesn’t even mention Adobe Photoshop in the Index, indeed it only mentions the phrase, ‘photo editors’ once, on page 164. Bliss!

It’s been quite a few years since I had purchased a Photographic book and I am more than delighted with my latest purchase as it is exactly what I look for in a Photographic book.

Written by David Johnson

28 February 2021

Calming

My Photographic Journey – Part 3a – Camera Clubs/Photographic Societies

Camera Clubs/Photographic Societies were such a huge and integral part of my journey in Photography and those experiences cannot be summed up in just one post as there were several facets that I would like to cover.

When I walked into a Camera Club for the very first time, I was an extremely shy 23 year old (I can hear Perc Carter laughing now…). I’ll never forget my early visits to Campbelltown Camera Club in 1986. I joined in June of that year.

Logo from a T-Shirt members proudly wore around advertising our Club.
I still have the T-Shirt, though I doubt it would fit me these days!

Apart from ‘not being comfortable in a roomful of strangers’, as the prints started to go up on the print stands, I felt both inspired and inadequate at the same time.

I had been shooting for about 3 1/2 years and was starting to feel a bit more happy with what and how I was shooting. I knew there was room for improvement though. There always is…much more improvement when I saw what was in front of me!

The images in front of me were awe-striking. I had no knowledge at that time of how long some of my fellow members had been involved in photography. I had arrived as a member just in time for the ‘Top Shot’ Competition. I had never even considered going into a competition with my photography. Photography was just for fun.

Charlie Cowell won the overall Top Shot that year with a Still-Life image that had a background where ‘light just disappeared’ into the background.

I had been trying to shoot various Still-Life scenes but my backgrounds were awful. I sat there wondering how he did it and commented so to another member. The member said, ‘why don’t you ask him?’

Summing up the courage, I did. ‘Black Velvet’, Charlie said & proceeded to tell me what to buy and where to buy etc. I still have that piece of Velvet 35 years later…

I started to enter the competitions about a month later. Club competition entries, if successful, were awarded a Merit or Credit by the visiting Judge who evaluated the images on display and suggested points for improvement.

Myself being presented with a Bronze Medallion for 25 Merits in Monochrome c1990’s by then President, Enid Duncan.. I went on to achieve 75+ Merits in Monochrome; and 205 Merits in Slides which was/is a Club record for that medium. Wish I still had the hair!

I learnt so much going along to Campbelltown Camera Club in many ways, the competitions being just one of them.

It certainly helped build up my ‘photographic confidence’ over time and also, being exposed to a new group of people helped start me on the road to ‘general self-confidence’ too.

Over the next few articles, as I continue write about my Photographic journey, I will explore other facets of my wonderful experience of being a member of a Camera Club/Photographic Society.

A few years back, Campbelltown Camera Club changed it’s name to Macarthur Photographic Society. To find out more about MPS and how being a member can improve your Photography, click on the following link. https://macarthurphotographicsociety.org.au/

Till next time.

Written by David Johnson

27 February 2021

One With The Pen

A Beautiful Place

Last Sunday, after enjoying a nice afternoon tea at one of our favourite cafe’s in Picton which is about 15 minutes drive South from where we live, we decided to head out to Lake Burragorang which is part of the Sydney Warragamba Dam Catchment, Sydney’s main water source.

We are so fortunate to have such a majestic and beautiful spot that is only 32 minutes drive away.

Lake Burragorang is a man-made reservoir that was created by a Dam. Unfortunately, to create the reservoir, it was necessary to relocate residents who had lived farming towns in the Burragorang Valley since the early 19th Century. The lands actually belonged to Gundungarra Aboriginal tribe.

Construction of the Warragamba Dam commenced in 1948 and was completed in 1960 and is surrounded by a 3km exclusion zone to ensure the integrity of the water supply. It is sad that such a beautiful spot was created in this way, however, the end result is certainly a jewel to the eye.

My first visit there dated back to the 1980’s when I was just getting into Photography. I’ve been back there with social clubs and with my SLR/DSLR on a number of occasions. It has BBQ facilities, seats, amenities and is a great place for a picnic.

My previous visit was back in 2018, a year before those horrendous bushfires ripped through various parts of the state, including the Burragorang Valley. Even the though a lot of the green has returned in the past year, down in the valley, you can still see clear through to the ground where there is still little or no undergrowth. It will take time, but it will eventually recover.

The only camera I took this time was my phone as I wanted to concentrate on sketching and also writing some Poetry (if the mood captured me). My wife, Susan took her Crotchet with her, and after a brief walk we settled down to enjoy the surroundings for the next 2 1/2 hours.

The light was impressive throughout the afternoon as it danced and highlighted different sections of the landscape intermittently. I felt so relaxed.

I went away with the feeling that ‘I had indeed been away’ and not just been on a Sunday drive. The light, the ambience felt almost Spiritual.

We certainly won’t be leaving as much time between visits next time.

Written by David Johnson

16 February 2021

Sources of Historical information:

https://www.theland.com.au/story/5702018/painting-revives-rich-burragorang-history/ ; https://historyofaboriginalsydney.edu.au/south-west/location/burragorang-valley ; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/how-sydneys-water-needs-drowned-burragorang-valley/9390170

Visual Delight

Story To Be Told

I’m Not Trying To Be Perfect, I Just Want To Be Me…

Last month, I purchased the book, ‘Watercolor 365 Daily Tips, Tricks & Techniques’ by Leslie Redhead. Already, I have seen the benefits of having this book to refer to.

One of the tips within the book is to, ‘stop using a pencil and eraser to draw with and instead use a marker instead.’ 

I wouldn’t call myself ‘naturally talented’ in drawing or sketching. It is a skill I am endeavouring to get better at and so, I have been practicing with ‘a pencil accompanied by a trusty eraser,’ though probably not as often as ought to have been. The thought of drawing/sketching with a non-erasable marker was quite daunting.

Apparently, using a marker instead of the pencil/eraser combination will result in gaining skills in drawing/sketching quicker and these are skills I can build my paintings on.

I took up this challenge this week, grabbing an A5 110gsm sketchbook and started sketching away. It is quite a refreshing experience, I must say. If I put a mark/line in the wrong place, I have to be creative and work out ‘how to save’ the sketch.

When I did a basic drawing course 11 years ago, the instructor looked at my drawings and said that, ‘I was a line drawer, not a tonal drawer and that my lines were so straight they looked like an architectural drawing.’

This is not necessarily bad, though. I guess its a style. One of my goals has been to try to ‘loosen up’ and not draw so many straight lines. I quite enjoy looking at the style of many Artists and hobbyists who draw/sketch/paint in a relaxed style.

We’ve all probably heard the line, ‘practice makes perfect.’ I’m not trying to be perfect I just want to be me’…and I am having fun exploring exactly what that means in terms of drawing, sketching and painting.

I’m practicing my sketching/drawing now more than ever and I am endeavouring to let go of the thought that the lines need to perfect.

It will take time and patience, but I’ll get there.

Written by David Johnson

February 2021

Cool Summer Mornings

Curtain Of Rain

Watercolor 365 – Daily Tips, Tricks & Techniques

Today, I visited my local Art and Craft shop, Eckersleys Art & Craft to spend a gift voucher I received for Christmas.

When I receive a gift voucher I always like to buy something memorable. It would be easy to spend it on more paints etc but those paints get used up and there’s nothing really left to show for spending the voucher.

Whilst surveying the shelves in the Art shop, I came across a book called, “Watercolor 365 – Daily Tips, Tricks & Techniques” by Leslie Redhead.

Buying any sort of ‘How To’ book can sometimes see us buying things we’ve already bought. They are so many books out there about Watercolour, when one buys a book, often the same material is conveyed, albeit sometimes in a different way.

Upon closer inspection I found that the ‘Tips, Tricks & Techniques’ contain: 

  • 52 Mini step-by-step instructions
  • 52 Q & A’s
  • 52 Troubleshooting tips
  • 52 Bits of creative advice
  • 52 General tips
  • 52 Definitions
  • 52 Exercises

I was impressed enough to buy the book. It looks very interesting and in viewing the book there are a quite a lot of things that I didn’t know (I’m not a full-time Artist). I believe I am going to enjoy using this book to help me in my Watercolour journey. Thank you, Leslie for producing this book. 🙂

Written by David Johnson

24 January 2021

Warmth Of The Sun

Gauging Improvement

Sometimes along a journey you wonder whether you are improving or not. I remember this happened with Toastmasters early on. I was going along to meetings, writing, rehearsing and giving speeches, taking on roles etc and after three months, I wondered it was having an effect?

A colleague I worked with at the time suddenly said one day, ‘David, you are appear to have greater confidence these days, what’s the secret?’ I knew then that going to Toastmasters had started to affect me in a positive way.

With my Watercolour sketches I have wondered the same thing, although it is easier in one way to gauge improvement as I have tangible evidence in the form of previous Watercolour sketches.

During lockdown last year I did 120 YouTube tutorials in a row and occasionally, I do more. One of the ways I am trying to gauge improvement is to go back to a tutorial but not actually ‘do the tutorial.’

Instead, what I do is sketch the image and do the painting without watching the tutorial. This way, I am trying to gauge what I can do without the step-by-step instruction to see how close I can get to the one I did when I did the tutorial.

Today’s Watercolour sketch (Day 727) is an example of that. I did the tutorial (Nil Rocha Art) back on Day 500. I have added a couple of shrubs and there are some other elements which I have changed but I am pretty happy with the result. I would love to reach the skill level of the tutorials. More practice required!

Day 727 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day – Without the tutorial
Day 500 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day – With the tutorial

I’m happy with my progress with Watercolour in general and with Line and Wash, however, I am looking forward to the time I can do a face-to-face Watercolour course with a professional. I was due to start a 10 week course like this when Covid hit.

I’ve been using Winsor & Newton Cotman Half-Pans for over two years now. I’m thinking that maybe it is time to jump to Artist quality paints and have purchased a set of Primaries.

Still have so much more to learn. Still having so much fun! 🙂

Written by David Johnson

23 January 2021

Process

Books

Delight

Wonderful Atmosphere

Drifting

Day 706 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day

Back on 26 January 2019 when I started this ‘Daily Art Practice’ I could never have imagined that I would do it for 30 days straight, let alone 706…

I have no ‘lofty number goal’ in mind, I just aim to do ‘a sketch a day.’ Mostly, they are done upon rising, sometimes during the day and, less often at night these days. I believe it’s a great way to start a day.

From very early on it was like a form of meditation for me. I also wanted to learn the Watercolour and the Line and Wash mediums and was frustrated that I was only getting to do a sketch every 1-2 weeks because I thought, ‘that I didn’t have time…’.

We often think that, ‘we don’t have time’ for things. Often, when they become a priority, we do have the time.

I was asked a question recently in one of Art groups I’m on Facebook. ‘What is the one thing that you have learnt so far?’ My answer was that, ‘I have learnt that I have still so much to learn.’

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about this more and I feel that I could add some more answers to that question for the answer is more than, ‘just one thing’ so here goes…

  • It appears that I am in the process of developing a style or two
  • Favourite subjects to sketch and paint are starting to appear
  • From tutorials (especially) I am learning all sorts of wonderful colour combinations
  • Prior to embarking on this daily art practice, painting shadows were a weak point for me (still have a way to go with them but I’m improving)
  • The practice is encouraging me to ‘go outside my comfort zone’ in terms of subject matter and technique

On top of this it is building my confidence in sketching and painting. When I was a child I wasn’t very good at sketching, drawing or painting. I’ve dabbled over the years and my last real attempt (at sketching) before now was back in the early 90’s but as ‘Photography was King’ in my life it didn’t get much of a ‘look-in.’

Prior to lockdown I was about to do a 10 week Watercolour course which was, of course cancelled so during lockdown I did a YouTube tutorial for 120 days in a row. I’ve subscribed to two artists, Nil Rocha Art and Peter Sheeler. I would highly recommend both.

Recently, I started going back and re-doing some of the subject matter in the tutorials but without doing the actually tutorials as I want to see how much I’ve learnt and how I am applying it to the subjects.

Below are a few examples from the last 300 days:

Looking forward to Day 707 and beyond!

Written by David Johnson

2 January 2021

Glimmers Of Light

This is, essentially, a hard post to write as 2020 obviously has not been a very good year in terms of the raging bushfires that caused destruction and death here in Australia early in the year and in other places around the world as well.

Then, of course, Covid-19 arrived seemingly, resembling a bad B-Grade Sci-Fi movie script that is causing illness, death, isolation and financial troubles etc.

I see a lot of posts on Social Media saying things like, ‘Farewell 2020, what an awful year,’ etc. This is quite understandable given what has happened/is happening.

Whilst overall, 2020 has been an awful year I believe it is a good exercise to turn the microscope on your own life and see what positive things have happened to you individually in this remarkable (for the wrong reasons) year.

We were not affected by the bushfires ourselves, though some people we knew were which did set the emotions running. Covid-19, however, affected our livelihood with both the Finance and Marketing sides of the business taking a huge hit due to lockdown etc. 

Things on that front are in recovery mode now thankfully, largely due to my wife, Susan on the Finance side and an awesome group of people that she is working with. I have recently become part of that team.

The following ’things that went right’, although insignificant in the world as a whole, were significant to me/us.

Business/Work

  • Completion of my Certificate IV Finance & Mortgage Broking course which allowed me to become a Finance Broker (after leaving a part-time role with a Bank) in December and better support Susan
  • Attaining a new part-time role as an Entrepreneurship Facilitator (mentoring/assisting start-up businesses)
  • Am currently studying the Diploma of Finance & Mortgage Broking 

Toastmasters

  • My involvement in Toastmasters International is approaching its 13th year early next year and this year provided a few highlights including achieving the following:
  • Distinguished Toastmaster (highest education and leadership level)
  • Completed my High Performance Leadership Programme
  • Completed by role as an Area Director
  • Completed my role as a Club Coach
  • Completed my role as President of Gledswood Club
  • Received my first Triple Crown Education award
  • Received a Leadership Excellence award
  • (My Club), Gledswood Toastmasters achieved 10/10 becoming a President’s Distinguished Club. My Co-Club Coach Rhys Tague, the Executive and all the members contributed here and we are all continuing to grow the club
  • I was the Toastmaster for the first time at a Division Contest

Creative Pursuits

  • Joined Red Point Artists Association at Port Kembla, NSW
  • (At date) have completed 704 Watercolour Sketch’s a Day in a row. The goal back on 26 January 2019 was to acquire the habit of a ‘Daily Art Practice’
  • Starting using Dip Pens for the first time
  • Had a group of my Paintings on display for the very first time
  • Sold my first and second paintings this year
  • Recommenced Oil Painting
  • This year I managed 100 posts on this blog for the first time ever
  • Have now written in excess of 400 Poems (300 on this Blog)

Some ‘not so good things’ have also happened this year, presenting us with challenges we have or are in the process of overcoming in health and other areas. I think it’s important to learn from them but not dwell on them.

If you would like to, apply that Microscope to your own life and see (despite what has happened this year on the world stage), what good things have happened to you this year? If you want to, list them in the comments below or just comment generally.

Thanks to May @ Forever and Everly for the inspiration to do this post. You can check out her Blog here: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/59870465/posts/3090980068

Wishing everyone a Happier 2021!

Written by David Johnson

31 December 2020

Mother Nature – Artist

Walking is something I love to do, however, unfortunately, it is something that has only happened intermittently of late due to all sorts of reasons and maybe a couple of excuses.

What better time to restart the activity than the time between Christmas and New Year.

Unlike last year here in Sydney Australia (when bushfires and thick smoke continued for months and 40C/104F+ temperatures), this Christmas has seen downpour after downpour and (so far) cooler temperatures 23C/73F – 33C/91F for Summer.

This morning I walked approx. 3km/0.62miles just ‘as a starter’ as it has been nearly 2 months since the last one. With cloudy skies and recent rain it was ‘cloudy bright’ overhead which delivered nice, even lighting.

On my travels today, I found some interesting tree bark patterns and thought I would share them. Mother Nature certainly provides us with a range of designs and colours. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Written by David Johnson

29 December 2020

Summer Skies