Journal To Discovery

It never occurred to me many years ago to keep a Journal, not a Diary, but a Journal of thoughts and ideas. It would have been great to be able to delve into now to see what sorts of things I was thinking of way back when.
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The idea to keep such a thing only started to enter my thinking around 2010. I started a small one for photographic ideas that I would definitely need the use of Photoshop to engineer as they were moving towards ‘Conceptual Photography.’ I would write a few brief notes and then do basic drawings or a sketch. Ironically, these days I seldom use Photoshop, but that’s for another article…

At my core I am ‘an ideas person.’ I have a lot of them and sometimes the phrase, ’shiny object syndrome’ comes to mind. Through 2003 – 2009 I was traveling 4 hours return by public transport to work in Sydney, Australia, was in two Photographic Societies, on committees and had lots of things on the go. Over the years, I have many ideas and some of them have progressed but many are still there, waiting…

In 2008 Toastmasters arrived in my life and I was being exposed to new things, ideas, people. Evernote became my ’Typed Journal.’

I began to revisit Sketches (that were not connected with Photographic ideas) which led me to keep a related Sketching journal, which led to me completing a basic Drawing course. Up sprang another type of Journal!

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Drawing led to me wondering if I could Paint? Up sprang a small Painting ‘Journal.’

In August 2013, I started writing Poetry, so yes, enter my Evernote Poetry Journal. Two years ago I realised just how much I was missing the ‘actual act of writing’ and so I bought an A5 journal that I handwrite poetry in. As I was halfway through my 4th poetry journal, a thought came to mind… Instead of having all these different Journals, why not combine them?
Research began on what type of journal to buy? This went on for a few weeks…

I ascertained it had to be able to be good enough quality paper to be:

  • Written on using a Calligraphy (or similar pen)
  • Able to withstand Watercolour and Acrylic Paints
  • Sketched or Drawn upon

As I found out, there is a whole industry devoted to Journals/Journaling. Here is one of the links that were indeed very helpful to me, as I hope it will be for you.

The next decision was, ’should I buy a ready-made’ product or make my own?’

I decided to go the ready-made route. I feel that my next one will be one I make myself. It sounds like fun!

The Journal I have chosen to combine all my Artistic, Writing & Poetical ideas is an A4 Ivory paper journal.

In this Journal, to my Heart’s content I can:

  • Write Poetry
  • Write small articles
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sketch
  • Formulate Ideas
  • Paste photos

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As I get on in years it is going to be so much fun delving back, re-engineering ideas and seeing what thoughts and ideas I have had. When I am no longer on this Earth the Journals will be left to relatives/friends who I know will appreciate and gain enjoyment from (and who knows) may progress some of the ideas and be inspired to record their own Artistic Journey.

Do you keep a Journal of your Art, Thoughts & Ideas?

If so, what do you use? I would be interested in hearing about your Journal of Discovery!

As for me, I believe I can hear my Journal calling me… Bye for now.

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Feeding The Dream

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Viewing Life

Back in the year 2000, my wife and I were touring around southern NSW and visited (among other places), Yarrangobilly Caves. They are but one of a number of beautiful examples of limestone caves here in Australia.

We received a guided tour that day and apart from the memory of the caves, I remember a conversation I had with the tour guide as he, like me, was into photography for a great part of his life. This was until one day, after a 20 year love affair with the medium, he gave it away, citing that, ‘he was tired of looking at the world through a rectangle…’.

I didn’t think of this again until recently when I began reflecting on my photographic journey. Unlike the tour guide, I have not given up photography (as I will love it till I pass from this world), however I now have other interests as well and these days I am a bit more selective of what I photograph with my DSLR (and at this point I’m refining my ‘Light Inspired’ photography business as well). My phone is with me just about everywhere and images from that end up on Instagram.

Starting my photographic journey in 1982, I too have looked at the world through a rectangle via 35mm and through a square via a medium format camera. When I wasn’t with family, friends or at work, I was involved in photography in some way, shape or form since that time, either photographing, developing, printing, editing, reading about the subject, attending a Camera Club (or two) or judging photography. The ‘other’ interests I speak of are Toastmasters/public speaking (since 2008), drawing/painting (since 2010) and writing/writing poetry (since 2013).

Whereas once I would only be thinking and communicating about the world via photography, I now attempt to do this in a number of ways (depending on how I feel that I want to communicate it) and it is a lot of fun.

Life is about having experiences, fun, creativity, overcoming challenges, helping others, growth and communication.

I now enjoy seeing the world in different ways, not just through a camera. In some ways, I feel like my journey has just begun…

Written by David Johnson
June 2016

A Journey To Personal Style…

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

 

Links:
https://www.instagram.com/sandrablackburne/

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=colour+in+your+life+tv+show

 

 

Where Is The Mystery?

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