Journals, Journals, Journals

The thought for this article came from a Creative Workshop that I missed attending yesterday, which was being held by the Wollondilly Arts Group Inc, of which I am a member. I was unable to attend due to a family commitment.

The Creative Workshops always have a theme and apart from the main theme, this time members were asked to bring in the various types of Journals that they had used.

I am at a kind of a crossroads in Journal-use. I started off with a sketchbook for drawing, then I started to write poetry, then became interested in painting so I had different books for different mediums. A couple of years back, I decided to have it all contained in one, purchased, Ivory coloured-page A4 Journal.

I must say that I have been very happy using the ‘one-journal-contains-all’ for quite a while now.

With my increased interested in Watercolour/Pen & Wash, on 26 January this year, I decided to embark on a Watercolour Sketch a Day project and have been using an A5 Watercolour sketchbook and thus have partially moved away from the A4 Journal as far as Watercolour goes. I still do the odd, small Watercolour sketch in it and have been mulling over what to do?

It would have been very interesting yesterday to see what other people were doing with regards to Journal usage.

Something else I have been thinking about over time is to create my own Journal with various types of pages for various mediums.

I would be interested in anyone’s thoughts on types of Journals and how they use them, please?

Written by David Johnson
10 February 2019

The Human Spirit

It is a pleasant surprise when reading the news, to come across a ‘good news’ story, because as we know ’The News’ is often filled with depressing stories, fact and opinion.
For some time now, I’ve been accessing my News via ‘Google News’, which allows me to set up filters on things that I am interested (apart from the normal News), like Photography, Painting, Poetry, Public Speaking etc.
Recently, I was pleased to find an article titled ‘Paintings by Syrian children display of hope.’
Despite the war, senseless destruction and being forced to leave their Homeland, it was pleasing to read that the children, when creating Art, created paintings filled with vibrant colours, white doves, the latter symbolising peace.
Through their Art, these children are creating a new life, a life full of hope and love.
We, as adults, owe it to the children of the world to build a better future for them.
I’ve included a link for those who wish to read the full article.

Styles, Schools and Movements

One of my favourite books on my Art shelf is “Styles, Schools and Movements” The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art by Amy Dempsey.

Commencing with Art in 1860 to the present day, it explores 100 styles, schools and img_5984movements in depth and contains a brief description of 200 more.

Each chapter includes a headlining quote from an Artist which offers food for thought, a detailed analysis on the ‘style, school or movement’, example images, references to key collections and books for further reading.

I find it an absolute delight to ‘dip into’ and it provides a great deal of inspiration for my own Art, Poetry, Writing and Photography.

I have the First Edition. A link to the Second Edition can be found below. Enjoy!

David Johnson
October 2016

“Solitary Moments”

This blog post is inspired by a Photography Exhibition I went to today.

The Exhibition featured the images of Chris Donaldson, Frank Alvaro, Ray Finneran, Enrico Scotece and Paul Dorahy, three of whom I have known personally for many years. They specialise in Medium Format Monochrome Film Photography, and develop and print their own images.

“Solitary Moments” for them are those moments when they pre-visualise the idea and image, then spend the time photographing the scene, with the camera on a tripod. It is quite likely that they may only take 1 – 4 images in a day… Their “Solitary Moments” continue in the act of developing the negatives and seeing the finished prints appear ‘like magic’ in the developing tray.

Having experienced the above, I can certainly identify with the “Solitary Moments” they are speaking about.

Shooting Medium Format Film from a tripod-mounted camera slows you down. This helps you get a feel for the scene that you want to photograph i.e. the greater connection you have with the subject the greater chance you have of communicating what you want to say. Here the pre-visualisation continues as you imagine what the final image will look like before you take the photo.

It is later, in the Darkroom that you continue the process to achieve what you set out to communicate initially.

It reminds me of the “Solitary Moments” I have and am experiencing in my aim to become a better writer of Poetry and my fledgling steps of becoming an Oil Painter.

The processes whilst different in terms of the technology used, have some parallels.

I remember on my last trip to Joadja, a historical Shale Mining town in New South Wales, Australia. I took my camera gear and a visual art diary, pens and pencils with me.

These days I shoot digital and whilst the urge was there to do what many do with DSLR’s these days, i.e. shoot a 100 shots and then move on, I decided to sit down and ‘get a feel’ for what was in front of me, absorb the sense of history whilst studying the light and possible compositions.

The pencils came out first and I began to make some rough sketches after walking around the subject. I jotted down in a few words about how I felt and what I was seeing (which later became the poem below). The camera came out next and I again walked around the scene, pausing to take it all in before I started to shoot.

Through The Mists Of Time...

“Solitary Moments” are precious things to experience.

They also come whilst I am fleshing out an idea for a poem, when I sit at my canvas and endeavour to communicate what I feel I want to say, or when I am writing a speech.

I, like the photographers in today’s exhibition are looking forward to many more…

Written by David Johnson
1 May 2016

Exhibition details:

The Bowral Art Gallery – home of the Bowral & District Art Society & BDAS workshops. 1 Short Street, Bowral NSW Australia (02) 4861-4093
April 27 to May 10 Solitary Moments – Chris Donaldson, Ray Finneran, Frank Alvaro, Enrico Scotese and Paul Dorahy.

For more “Solitary Moments” click on the following links:


I’ll Read It Later…

One of the challenges of modern living is all the information we have at our disposal i.e. books, magazines and, in particular, the Internet. There are millions and millions of pages of information on probably everything imaginable, and some probably unimaginable.

We all live busy, demanding lives and all have family, interests, hobbies, sports etc. on top of our business or work commitments.

168 hours every week is what we receive to fit in ‘all of the above.’ Given that we need to prioritise and work out what is most important.

As a lover of the information/knowledge I enjoy reading articles on the Internet, particular if they anything to with photography, public speaking, painting, writing, poetry and music. Therein lies the problem. There is only so much time and too much information…

For many years now we have been able to enjoy this and often, faced with a perceived ’shortage of time’ I have come across articles and videos that I have deemed would be of great interest to me but didn’t have the time to read at that moment.

A great idea a ‘creative’ came up with was to invent things like ‘Read It Later’, ’Save To Pocket’,and Facebook has the capacity to ’Save’ things to read or view later. When things like this first came out I thought, ‘brilliant!’ Unfortunately now, I have so many things I’ve ’saved for later’, I don’t know when I will get to read them.

When does ‘later’ come?

These are all wonderful tools. I just need to learn to use them better, for at some time in the future, I will ‘run out of later….’

Perhaps the following may help me (and any others out there like me):

  • Clear out anything you have already saved for later, longer than a week old
  • Discipline ourselves on ‘what we save for later?’
  • Set a time aside for reading/viewing this information

Perhaps you might have some suggestions to help as well! If you do, please feel free to add them. 🙂


Written by David Johnson
March 2016

When The Student Is Ready…

We’ve probably all heard that quote, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear…’

Over the years (being the Library addict I am) I sought out different books on the subject of Writing, as I kept thinking that I would like to write someday. Time always seemed the enemy, though perhaps it was not high enough on my priority-list… Photography was still my main interest at that time and, in terms of interests, not much else got a look-in.

I purchased the book ‘The Tao Of Writing’ back when I was working in the City of Sydney in 2008. I had a Coffee Table book 20150815-IMG_2510-1called ‘The Tao Of Photography’ which I liked and I thought it would be interesting to read how The Tao applied to Writing.

Commencing the book I found that it ‘did not resonate with me.’ The words were just words on a page that could not seem to hold my interest. It remained in my bookshelves. A couple of years later I tried again. Same result, yet I held onto the book through moving house/book culls.

In 2013 I ventured into my first two Blogs, ‘Light Inspired’ (Photography) & ‘Observations & Other Writings’ (mainly Poetry with a few articles) and over the past two years I have enjoyed writing for both of them.

In May this year whilst scanning my bookshelves, there it was…‘The Tao Of Writing.’

It stared at me and I stared at it. I picked it out and started to read and it began to speak to me in ways that I could not imagine.

It has inspired me to:

  • start to formulate and idea for a reference book. I have the outlines for 2 chapters done
  • progress on my idea of a Short Story book project. I have the outlines of 4 stories
  • think about the way I communicate in various forms
  • develop this new blog, combining my interests

Was this the same book? Indeed it was and I enjoyed each and every page that I read, and the exercises at the end of each Chapter.

Why the difference? I guess I was not ‘ready’ to see and begin to absorb what Ralph L. Wahlstrom had to teach me.

I class myself as a ‘beginner’ in the writing world and have much to learn!

I’m really looking forward to attempting the 70 exercises in the back of the book, and I know I will be revisiting the book time and time again.

Something told me years ago ‘to hang onto that book.’ I’m very glad I did!

Written by David Johnson