Canowindra & The Arts!

One of the Towns that we visited whilst we were away recently was Canowindra, which is pronounced ‘ka-NOWN-dra’ and is a Wiradjuri Aboriginal word for ‘Home or Camping Place.’ It is located 307km West of Sydney, Australia.*

It is often referred to as the ‘Balloon Capital of Australia’ due to a Hot Air Balloon Festival that is in held in April every year.*
 
We stopped in there on the way home from Wyangala Waters and found it to be a delightful town with a small but enchanting main street dotted with many historic buildings and friendly town-folk.
 
When we are away touring it is a delight to come across the local Art and Craft Gallery or indeed a second-hand bookshop. It’s also good to have a friendly chat with the locals.
 
We were indeed delighted to come across a display of the Canowindra Arts Society who are currently displaying their creativity in a B & B (Bed & Breakfast) which happens to be in an old two-story Bank building.
 
They have a wide range of creative ventures on display such as: Oil, Watercolour, Acrylic paintings, Drawing/Sketching, Pottery, Sculpture, Textile and Wood-related Art/Craft.

The Canowindra Arts Society are currently looking for a permanent home (a challenge that a few Art Societies have) to display their Art and Craft and they hope to grow their Society along the way.

If you are visiting Canowindra, make sure you drop in and experience their creativity and have a chat with some friendly locals.

Click on the link below to find out about more of the things that you can see and do in this lovely little Town.

 
 
 
Written by David Johnson
24 November 2018
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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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A Little Town Called Boorowa

Last month, my wife, Susan and I decided to take a short, 5-day break from our small business and head up to Millthorpe and Wyangala Waters State Park in country NSW, Australia.

They are both inside 4 1/2 hours drive from where we live. On the way, we stopped for a picnic lunch in a little town called Boorowa.

‘Boorowa’ (originally called ‘Burrowa) is an Aboriginal word meaning ’Turkey’ and it purportedly comes from the Wiradjuri tribe. It has a population of 1,694 (@ Census 2016) is a tidy, friendly little town with a lovely picnic spot beside a small river.

As I like to do, I had a chat with a couple of the locals and took a wander around the streets. One store we went into was a second-hand bookstore that was connected to an Op-Shop (charity store). The lady there told me that in the space of 12 months that (from sales), they were able to donate $26,000.00 to 10 charities in the area. Pretty impressive from such a small town.

It was a very hot day so in terms of ‘optimum photographic light’ the light was quite harsh so I took a few images on my phone and only a couple on my DSLR. There were a couple of buildings that I wanted to sketch/paint later so I took a few reference photos of them.

We enjoyed our brief stay in Boorowa. A picnic by the river and some time spent in a small country town is the perfect way to recharge when on a driving holiday.

For further information on Boorowa, visit the link below.

Written by David Johnson

Photo Inspiration – Southern Highlands Photographic Society!

Back in 2004, I was one of 9 founding members for what became known as the Southern Highlands Photographic Society Inc. SHPS (as it has become affectionately known as) continues to be a thriving Photographic Society at East Bowral in the Southern Highlands region in NSW, Australia. Currently, they have approx. 50 members.

I moved further away in 2013 and in 2016 sadly relinquished my membership due to an inability to get to any meetings due to business and other reasons.

Last weekend, we ventured down to Bowral to see (not only the Tulip Time Festival) but SHPS’ Annual Tulip Time Photographic Exhibition which is held in the Old Bowral Town Hall, Bowral. It was finishing that day.

Put simply, the Exhibition, in terms of quality gets better and better each year. There was a stunning array of subject-matter and treatments in the 3 sections, Monochrome, Colour Print and Projected Digital. There were 120 images on display.

One of the great things about the Exhibition was that 83 of the images were mounted prints in frames. In these days of imagery, where most of what we see is on the Internet, it was so refreshing to see images hanging on a wall.

I can see SHPS being around for many, many years to come. There is such a wealth of photographic and artistic experience there and it is certainly a place where one can be inspired and educated to improve their Art and Craft.

If you are looking for a progressive Photographic Society to visit and/or join, may I wholeheartedly recommend visiting SHPS.

Please visit the website below for more information on SHPS, including their newsletter, ‘On Photography’, Galleries and Programme details.

Southern Highlands Photographic Society – Dedicated To The Art Of Photography

Venue: East Bowral Community Centre, East Bowral
Days: 3rd & 5th Tuesday each month
Time: 7.30pm
Website: www.shps.org.au

Written by David Johnson
6 October 2018

Tiptoeing Through The Tulips!

Yesterday, my wife Susan and I ventured down to the Annual Bowral Tulip Time Festival which has been running since 1960.

The centrepiece of the Festival is Corbett Gardens, where they plant up to 100,000 Tulips and 15,000 Annuals each year. Across the Shire, they plant another 40,000 Tulips.

Apart from the Floral attractions, there are Brass Bands, Choirs and an array of garden-related sculptures and other forms of Art as well as market/food stalls.

If there is one sticking point, judging by the reviews on various sites, it is the $12.00 entry fee as it is a relatively small area.

When compared to the Floriade Festival in the Nation’s Capital, Canberra which is many, many times larger in area, the $12.00 fee becomes questionable as entry into the Floriade Festival is free. Some activities inside Floriade do cost, but that is up to the individual.

The Bowral Tulip Time Festival has more of a ‘village-feel’ to it. I think $5.00 would be plenty if they had to charge at all. It seems to have become a real money-making exercise.

I have been to the Festival many times before and thinking back, I remember a time back in the 1980s when there was no entry fee and I arrived there just after Sunrise. The gardeners allowed me in (prior to the opening) so I could take some photographs and I spent 1 1/2 hours doing just that. Bliss! It wouldn’t happen these days, though.

Still, it was great to go and visit after several years absence. I made the choice to leave my DSLR at home and just shoot with a camera phone. I was glad I did this as there were just so many people there. The colours (as always) were so vibrant and the background sound of the Brass Band and then the Choir created such a wonderful atmosphere on a  glistening Spring day!

Written by David Johnson
1 October 2018

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

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