A Journey In Watercolour

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!

Written by David Johnson

2 February 2019

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Day 1 – “Gum Tree”
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Day 2 – “Viewpoint”
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Day 3 – “Channel”
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Day 4 – “Paradise”
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Day 5 – “Citiscape”
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Day 6 – “A Favourite Art Book”
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Day 7 – Reflective”
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En Plein Air – A First For Me!

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

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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

Wollondilly Arts Group Inc Revisted

A little over 5 years ago, I was a member of Wollondilly Arts Group Inc. I moved away from the area but not far enough away that I couldn’t have stayed a member. Life sometimes happens, however, and at the time I had to let my membership lapse due to other commitments.
WAG started in 2004 and they are a creative group of Amateur and Professional Artists who get together on a monthly basis to create, share ideas and generally help and inspire each other in their artistic journeys.
There are a mixture of mediums being worked by WAG members e.g. Acrylic, Oil and Watercolour, Drawing, Paper-Making, Textile, Drawing, Sketching, Photography to name some.
Yesterday, I went back for the long-awaited visit to the monthly Creative Workshop I used to enjoy going to so much and wasn’t disappointed.
Although our artistic journeys are of an individual nature, many benefits can be gained from regularly mixing with other artists, and this is what I believe I have been missing out on over the past 5 years.
I have been slowly increasing the amount of time allocated to drawing and painting over those years but have been feeling something was missing.
Yesterday proved to me how much I need to be a member of WAG again. They are a friendly bunch of down-to-Earth creatives who are there to share their thoughts, tips and encourage each other.
In just being there I felt inspired. It also felt like I had come ‘home.’
In the next 2-3 years, we do intend to move back into the area/further away from Sydney as well.
I am excited to be rejoining Wollondilly Arts Group Inc and look forward to the many years of friendship, encouragement and inspiration that lie ahead.

 

Written by David Johnson
15 July 2018

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