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
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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

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

Poetry – Music To My Ears!

As a child, I was interested in Poetry, and that interest grew throughout my teens, into my twenties and beyond to the current day.

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I love Libraries. I have lost count of the number of poetry-related books I have taken out of libraries over the last 45+ years.
Somewhere along the line, I acquired a taste for rhyming poetry and it is still my favourite kind, although I am starting the explore non-rhyming poetry of late.
Libraries are still great, apart from the obvious problem of having to return the books!
The Internet is, of course, a Goldmine. I’ve listed some sites at the bottom of the post that readers might like to explore.

Whilst the Internet is a wonderful resource, I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still love the feel of holding a book, and so, over time I’ve picked up the odd poetry book.

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I picked up two more books to add to my collection, last weekend.
– The Golden Book of Modern English Poetry – Everyman’s Library – 921.
  It features 500 Poets.

– Selected Poems and Letters of Emily Dickinson – Edited by Robert N. Linscott

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Reading poetry helps me to tune out from the world. I disappear into the poem and let my imagination run wild.

On August 2013, I started to write my own poetry. I write to explore my thoughts and feelings that I have about life, the Universe and everything.

Poetry is really ‘Music to my Ears!’

Written by David Johnson

28 November 2017