I love it when I see an Artist’s creations and they have that much of an impact on me that it changes the way I think about my own.
In this case I’m taking about the latest episode on Colour In Your Life, featuring Sydney Artist, Sandra Blackburne which was aired in Sydney last night, and which I have now watched for the second time.
I would class myself as a ‘Beginner’ in terms of painting as my creative background has been through Photography, over the past 35 years. It started as a bit of a hobby about 5 years ago, though and I only ‘painted when I could fit in it’ as I have had other full-time occupations in that time. In January this year I decided that I would allocate 2-4 hours per weekend to my Oil painting and so far I have only missed out once, and I made sure I doubled the amount the following weekend. 😃
As I watched the episode, taking notes (as I do with each one), quite a few things resonated with me and have given me food for thought, such as:
- Sandra does a few Plein-Air sketches of the subject she paints rather than photograph the scene. She mentioned that this allows herself to ‘put more of herself’ into the painting rather than be constrained by a photograph
- Sketching with Colour Gesso is a new technique to me and watching Sandra create, I can see the benefits of doing it
- The choice of colours which creatively evoke the Australian Landscape
- The concept of layering paint which helps give the image light and life
- The colours that were used and the way that they were applied. Sandra said that ‘tightening up when painting’ signals the death of a good painter
- Using Cobalt Blue on Gum trees to reflect the Blue of the rich Australian sky
My style (if indeed I have one yet) seems to be more to ’try to paint subjects in a pictorial way.’ I remember when I did a basic Drawing course 6 years ago, the teacher said that appeared more a ‘Line Drawer’ than a ’Tone Drawer.’
Part of the challenge for me I guess is that coming from a photographic background, I’m too used to seeing subjects in a pictorial presentation rather than a fluid, abstract way, i.e. when I paint a leaf, a tree, or a building I try to capture all the detail when I don’t need to…
Looking at Sandra Blackburne’s Art I see sheds, trees and other subjects as perhaps ‘how I would remember them after a period of time has elapsed’, rather than as if they are in front of me, right then.
Sometimes I paint from photographs, sometimes from my imagination. I know which is more fun! A bridge between the photograph and the imagination is perhaps a Plein-Air sketch or two, which will then allow me to ‘put more of myself’ into a painting.
Thank you, Sandra Blackburne for your Art and inspiration. I look forward to seeing your Art face-to-face. Thanks also to Graeme Stevenson and to the team from ‘Colour In You Life’ for bringing such Art and inspiration into our Lives!
The journey to find my personal style continues…
Written by David Johnson
21 May 2016
When I first started photographing seriously (early 80’s), one of the attractions of photography was the mystery of how one would be able to achieve the image. In this instance I am talking about the technical process rather than the imaginative one that is connected with the idea or desire to portray a subject/emotion.
It was (and remains) a fascinating process. Light entered the camera and exposed the film which then was developed, then printed. There were a number of variables at each stage that could alter the way the image was captured and developed, let alone the printing process in the Darkroom.
To obtain a technically proficient image one had to perfect the techniques required to obtain the best possible image in your negative or positive image.
Fast forward to the Digital world. For some years now (due to the advances in technology, and indeed the Digital format itself), it has never been easier to obtain a ’technically proficient’ image in terms of the basic reproduction of a scene.
On the one hand, this is a positive, as it allows the photographer to concentrate more on the ‘creative’ side of things, knowing that they have the initial in-camera/process taken care of. On the minus-side it has taken away skills, enjoyment and a sense of challenge that many found to be a key part of the photographic process. Learning to choose the appropriate film, exposure, development time etc to gain a negative or positive that would help produce the desired results in printing was the goal.
There was a certain ‘mystery’ connected with the early part of the process i.e. through the processing of film and the effect of light on silver halides through exposure and development (before the darkroom printing stage) which has been lost to a certain degree. Once learnt, those techniques could be applied, but of course that took time…
I am not for one minute saying Digital is a bad thing as the Digital process has brought with it many benefits, one I have already alluded to. I shoot Digital myself.
Of course we do have the wonderful world of image manipulation programmes where we have the choice to alter images with abandon, depending on what we want to achieve. This is a great thing. With all this at our disposal though, sometimes I wonder if the technical aspects of photography have been made too easy?
Even though my passion for photography is as strong as it always has been I have (in the last few years) been slowly getting interested in painting and am currently learning Oil painting. There is certainly a ‘mystery’ there in terms of getting a ’technically proficient’ image.
I cannot just go out and purchase a brush/canvas/paint combination that will give me a technically proficient image. One has to endeavour to learn the skills, practice, make mistakes, learn some more, and repeat the process. (I am aware that I could do ‘Oil’ Painting digitally but that doesn’t hold an interest for me). Once I get better at these skills I will be able to communicate what I want to say, better and in more creative ways.
I love Art and my love for photography will continue throughout my life however my love for painting has increased with each passing year, to a point where I now aiming to allocate a certain amount of time every weekend to painting.
Much like coming up for an idea for a photograph or looking at a scene through a viewfinder, I can look at my blank canvas and proceed to paint an idea or sit outside and interpret a scene.
Ultimately though, what continues to separate individual photographers and individual painters is our imagination and the ability to convey the desired idea through creativity and technical skill.
Harry Callahan, Photographer – 1912 -1999 once said:
“The mystery isn’t in the technique, it’s in each of us…” – More Joy of Photography, Eastman Kodak – 1981
Where is the mystery?
“The mystery is in the learning and application of the technique which we then use via personal expression to creatively communicate our ideas…”
Written by David Johnson
2 April 2016
A long, long time ago (when Photography was first invented) Painters were worried that this new Art would kill them off. Why would anyone need to paint when you could just take a photo?
Of course this proved to be a fallacy. The Art of Painting grew.
Fast-forward to the 21st Century, where Digital technology has seen the most wondrous advances in photo production (the Megapixel race continues), where image manipulation software turns photos into Watercolour, Oil, Sketches and thousands of other effects are possible in a myriad of combinations.
Is there a threat to the Art of Painting now?
Just like in Photography, Painting requires technical skill however (all things being equal) our individual imagination, ideas and expressive ability are what set us all apart.
In Photography it has never been easier to obtain a ‘technically competent image’ with all the technological advances that have been made. Technology however has not yet been able to replace our imagination. Photographers continue to express their ideas in new and interesting ways, based on their individuality, their environment and the influences present in their lives.
In Painting, whilst there are different grade brushes, paint and canvas options, there are no ’36 Megapixel brushes’ to give the Artist a technically-competent painting. The Painter must continue to endeavour to master the techniques and then introduce their imagination and ideas and be able to express them.
As a Photographer of 33 years and (at this point) a casual Painter of 3 years, the challenge is ahead to endeavour to master the technical aspects of painting so that I may then use my imagination to express my ideas to their fullest.
It is a challenge I am really looking forward to!
Written by David Johnson
6 September 2015
As long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed looking at Art, particularly Paintings.
Many hours have been spent visiting Art Galleries, viewing books, magazines on Art and Art images on the Internet. I love investigating the different Styles and Movements that have (& are being created).
Prior to 2010 I hadn’t really given much thought to actually picking up a brush, except that I thought I might ‘have a go’ when I retired. ‘Out of the blue’ I decided to take a 6 week drawing course at a small Art Gallery about half an hour from home.
I learnt there that I (apparently) draw by line instead of tone and had a wonderful time drawing on A5 to A2 paper using Graphite pencil and Charcoal on subjects such as Architecture, Head & Shoulder Life Portraits and Nature.
It was after the Drawing course that I started to get interested in actually trying my hand at painting. I started playing around with Watercolour. At this point I did not even realise that Watercolour is considered to be the hardest medium. From there I ventured onto Acrylic and enjoyed playing with that, though after talking to the owner of a local Art store I decided to try Oil painting.
I am enjoying Oil painting immensely! I have not had any lessons at this point in time, just tips from my Brother, my Mother-In-Law and a couple of friends. Other influences are the copious amounts of Art books I borrow from the local library, magazines and You Tube videos.
At some point I do intend having some official lessons but for the moment I am enjoying exploring, experimenting and having fun. Sometimes I try to paint from a reference photo and other times from my imagination. I think the latter is my favourite.
Oil painting has become another ‘escape’ for me, much like the other forms of communication found in this blog. It allows me to leave ‘reality’ and it refreshes me.
Sometimes, I can vividly see the scenes that I would like to create via painting, but my technical skill is a fair way behind where it needs to be to be able to replicate what I see in my mind. In time I hope it catches up! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the place I am at and look forward to the journey of self-discovery and learning.
Here are a few examples of of my paintings thus far…
Written by David Johnson
30 August 2015
Hi, I’m David Johnson and I have a passion for expressing myself creatively.
I love to observe the world and then, love to endeavour to communicate what I see via mediums I find fun!
Welcome to my NEW Blog!
In 2013 I started 2 Blogs on WordPress:
lightinspired.wordpress.com – Photography
observationswritings.wordpress.com – Poetry/Writing
Photography: Started in 1982
Public Speaking: Started in 2008
Oil Painting: Started in 2012
Poetry: Started in 2013 & have written 130 poems
Writing: Started in 2013
Photography has been the dominate interest for a long time in my life however the other interests have been ‘gaining ground’ over the past few years, and in some cases are now combining.
Seeing that the interests are all ‘communicative’ ones I thought I would combine them into one page, rather than have 3-4 individual blogs.
Some brief notes on my background…
A member since 1986 & currently a (founding – 2004) member of Southern Highlands Photographic Society.
Since 1995 with Federation of Camera Clubs (NSW) Ltd
My Fine Art Photography business
A member since 2008 & am currently a member of Camden Toastmasters & The Grange Toastmasters Clubs.
Some of the content from my previous blogs will make it to this new blog however it is my main aim to have new content on ‘Communicating Creatively.’
I hope you enjoy my latest foray into blogging! 🙂