Cacti and Succulents – A Love That Blossomed!

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!

Written by David Johnson
16 September 2018
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Snow Gum Love!

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

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En Plein Air Attraction

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.

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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.

The Journey of Discovery continues!
Written by
David Johnson
10 September 2018

Sydney Pen Show – The First Ever!

Last week, I attended the very First, Sydney Pen Show and indeed it was my First ever Pen Show as well.

I have owned a Calligraphy Pen set since the 1980s which I use from time-to-time and I had purchased a Lamy Safari Fountain Pen in July 2017.

I use the Fountain Pen to write Poetry and do my daily journaling, mainly, though I can see that list growing as, in my opinion, there is no better feeling than writing with a Fountain Pen (as far as writing is concerned).

Having put up with the humorous comments from friends in the lead up to the Show, i.e. ‘ You’re going to a what, Show’, ‘Are you serious?’ ’They have them’, I was indeed hoping that it would live up to my expectations.

It was held at the Australian Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour on a sparkling, beautiful Winter’s day in Sydney.

In terms of Show’s that I have attended before, it wasn’t a huge Show. They were just over 30 tables, consisting of Pens, Journals, Ink, Watercolour and other assorted accessories.

In speaking with those presenting their tables, I admired the passion with which they spoke about their trade. Some were second generation owners.

There were also Calligraphy, Writing and Drawing workshops, some inside, some outside.

I didn’t attend any of the workshops this year, but will certainly think about doing them next time. No new pen purchases but I did buy a set of Sennelier 12 Half-Pan Watercolour paints (which are being delivered).

Am I a pen collector? No, I don’t see myself as one, however, I would like in time, to pick up a couple of more pens. In particular, I would like to buy a more stylish-looking Fountain Pen.

I have already marked the date, 17 August 2019 in my calendar for next year and am looking forward to a bigger and better Show!

Written by David Johnson
26 August 2018