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

Journey Of A Lifetime!

Photography has been a passion of mine for 35 years, though since 2010 (when I did a basic Drawing course and started dabbling in Painting),  Drawing and Painting have been slowly increasing in interest for me.

For the first time ever, this year, I have spent more time painting than I have photographing… Wow!

They are two very different mediums, with some similarities, particularly since Digital impacted photography. Painting cannot compete with the immediacy of photography, however, photography (since the Digital onslaught) has become almost machine gun-like, in that where a lot of photographers churn out numbers in the hundreds and the thousands when they go out to take photos.

There are or course photographers who do not take this approach to photography. They give serious consideration to the idea before they even pick up their camera to shoot the image or image series.

These photographers remind me of the painter who gives serious consideration to the idea and plans the painting accordingly. They need to decide on the composition, the story, the colours and the lighting etc. They pre-visualise just like the Black & White/Monochrome Darkroom photographers of yesterday did. Some still do.

Sitting in front of a computer (for me) editing image after image just isn’t as exciting or as fun as sitting in front of the canvas and creating.

This did surprise me somewhat, being a passionate photographer for as long as I have been. Recently, a photographer friend went on an overseas trip for a few weeks and took 8,000 digital images. 8,000! Having to review that many images from the trip are a real turn-off for me.

I’m still passionate about photography, though in different ways than above.

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“Abundance Of Joy” Acrylic & Oil 90cm x 30cm

So, why I am attracted to Drawing and Painting?

  1. They slow me down. They force me to think about what I am doing, what I am endeavouring to create, much like using an old TLR (Twin Len Reflex) on a tripod and taking the time to explore a scene with the eyes and the mind instead of firing off shot after shot with a DSLR…
  2. It really takes you back to basics i.e. just using the mind, the limbs, pigments and paper/canvas. It is a challenge to create something uniquely yours without the high-flying technology. This excites me!
  3. We, humans, spend our lives these days ‘tied to technology’ via our ever-present mobiles (cell-phones), tablets and other digital devices. Sitting in front of the canvas or creating in my Journal allows me to disengage.
  4. I was thinking the other day that one can’t get much closer to the raw beginnings of hand-made Art than Drawing, Painting (or indeed Sculpture). The cave-dwellers picked up a rock or some other pigmented material and started to draw/paint.

Drawing and Painting takes one back to the early days of Art, the person, tool, pigment and the imagination.

What you draw, paint or photograph depends on your genes, your environment, what influences your thoughts and actions and your beliefs etc just like those cave-dwellers.

In that respect, only the tools and Mankind’s thoughts and advancement have changed.

In regards to drawing and painting, I am in the early stages of my journey. I feel it’s a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life. Exciting times are ahead!
Written by David Johnson
30 December 2017

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“Journey” – incomplete. Oil – 16in x 20in