The Organic Artist

Last weekend on our anniversary celebration, I picked a book at a store in Berrima, N.S.W. called, ‘Six Impossible Things. Last year, I purchased a double-glass inkwell at the store and was delighted to see that they had moved to bigger premises.

Erica owns the store and is very helpful. I picked up a Postal dip pen nib and the book below.

The book seemed way too interesting to leave on the shelf. A few weeks back I was talking to a gallery director in Camden and he gave me a reed and showed me how to cut it so it could be used as a dip pen. Looking at my attempt I think I have more practice ahead of me. Oh well, something is worth doing badly until one becomes better at it.

In my limited look at the book since it appears to go a lot deeper into the technical details of creating such tools. I’m looking forward to exploring it more and having some more Arty fun!

Written by David Johnson

29 November 2022

Orange & Yellow

Say ‘Hello’ to my latest Cacti flowers, from my Parodia Mairanana!

I was walking up the side of the house (that we just moved to) and something caught the corner of my eye…it was the gorgeous colour of these flowers.

My Cacti and Succulents (before we moved) had grown to 160 plants. Some of them were duplicates, most not and I have realised that my hobby was getting out of hand. We intend to buy a house next year, however, after the latest move I have come to the conclusion that I need to downsize my collection.

We had a garage sale before moving and I sold/offloaded about 50 plants, reducing my collection to 110. This is still a lot of plants to move, particularly when you consider the size of some of the plants and the pots.

I am going to bite the bullet and pick out my favourite say, 30 plants and have another garage sale.

I also think that I am going to change direction slightly in terms I what future Cacti and Succulent plants I will buy, i.e., I think I will aim for the smaller, flowering plants. There will still be some columnar plants but mainly smaller Ball-type ones.

Written by David Johnson

28 November 2022

Berkeleouw’s Book Barn Treasure

As part of celebrating the anniversary of the very first time we went out to dinner (19 November 1994), we always pay a visit for a couple of hours to Berkeleouw’s Book Barn at Berrima.

Susan and I are bookworms and there is nothing better for bookworms than visiting a bookshop. Although the Book Barn has some new books, it predominantly has used books, which is part of what keeps us coming back.

This visit saw me purchase the following books:

I always seem to come away with at least one Poetry book, and in the last few years the Poetry books have outnumbered the Art-related books, but not this year.

The two Chinese Art-related books jumped out at me as next weekend, I am attending a workshop that is being run by Jo Wong Artist, who is also the new President of the Macarthur Art Group that will be joining shortly.

‘Poetry Now’ is actually a book of Poems where the authors were born within the first 30-40 years of the 20th Century and /Great Artists Explained’ was simply too good a book to leave on the shelf!

I look forward in the coming weeks to grab a cuppa and sit down and investigate all these books more.

Written by David Johnson

27 November 2022

Serene Green

A Day To Relax…

Today, Susan and I went down to Berrima, which is about 1 hour’s drive South of where we live, to celebrate 28 years since we went out to dinner for the first time way back on 19 November 1994. We were a week late in celebrating as we were moving house last week.

After all that has been happening in the last 4-5 months, it was delightful to get away for the day and relax.

As is normal, the first stop is Berkeleouw’s Book Barn which houses approximately 100,000 books. It used to be, however, the help the business survive, they kept a reduced amount of books and added Wedding Receptions, a cafe/restaurant, accommodation, and wine tasting to the business.

We spent just under two hours there and (in a separate post) I’ll talk about the books I purchased.

After Berkeleouws, we had a delicious lunch at Josh’s Cafe and Restaurant which is located in the actual town of Berrima. We have been eating there for many years and are always delighted with the food, service, and atmosphere.

From there, we ventured into a few shops (as we normally do), including ‘Mrs. OldBucks’ (jams, sauces, honey, teas, etc), ‘Six Impossible Things’ (various boutique items including writing materials, dip pens, ink, journals, books, and other tourist-inspired goodies). Our last stop was ‘Sticky Beaks Vintage Emporium which consists of a number of smaller antique sellers within a larger shop.

All-in-all a very relaxing day that helped us celebrate one of the most special days in our lives!

Looking forward to next year’s celebration!

Written by David Johnson

26 November 2022

Silent Decree

Latest Watercolour Sketches a Day!

Well, moving house is finally over. Now it’s just continuing to open boxes, sort, and set up the different rooms.

I’m a fair bit behind in posts for this month so I had ‘better get my skates on!’

I’ve included a few of my latest Watercolour Sketches a Day. That is all the art-related endeavour I have been able to do lately. Hope you enjoy them.

Day 1,386 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day
Day 1,390 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day
Day 1,391 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day

I’ve been trying to experiment with layers and letting the water do more of the work and I like the effects I am getting so I think I will head more in this direction.

Written by David Johnson

25 November 2022

More Beauties!

It has been a bit of a challenge posting in this past week as we are in the process of moving. Always a fun task, not!

Following on from my last post, I can excitedly report that two more of my Cacti and Succulents have flowered in the past week.

The first is an Aylosteria pulvinosa. It is only a small Cacti plant measuring 5cm across and has had pups and the flowers in the image are (apart from that flowered last week) the first full crop of flowers that this plant has produced.

The second plant to flower this week (in fact it bloomed today), is an Epiphyllum Hybrid which is sometimes mistakenly called a ‘Dragonfruit’ plant, according to the Cacti and Succulent Association of Australia. I joined the Society nearly 12 months ago and am learning a lot.

I love the rich, Red colour of this flower which really contrasts well against the Green foliage of the plant.

Two more beauties from my collection that have flowered so far in Spring.

I am so looking forward to the rest of Spring and Summer!

Written by David Johnson

12 November 2022

A Fleeting Beauty!

One of my other hobbies is Cacti and Succulents. As mentioned previously, I have had them as an interest for the last 45 years (since I was 14).

I’m not an expert by any means and although I collect them I do not regard myself as ‘true collector’, like a lot of the people that are in the Cactus & Succulent Society of Australia, which I joined during the last Covid lockdown in 2021.

I enjoy their uniqueness and beauty.

Yesterday, one of my Ball Cacti, of the Echinopsis variety, flowered for the first time ever and I thought that was worth of a post.

The stem of the flower has been growing for a number of weeks and leading up to the point of flowering, there is always great anticipation, particularly when you don’t know what colour the flower will be. I walked out the side door yesterday and upon walking past our cattery that holds our single Cat, Miri, the flower came into full view.

I never tire of this type of flower’s exquisite beauty! It begins to open nocturnally and we are blessed with its beauty in the morning. The flower only blooms for 24-48 hours, then its gone. A fleeting beauty.

Written and photographed by David Johnson

4 November 2022

Experimenting With Card Stock

Mostly when I do my Watercolour Sketch a day, I will use Watercolour paper (in a sketchbook), mixed media paper anywhere from 200 gsm to 300 gsm.

Occasionally, I’ll try a different type, and recently, I purchased some plain and some textured Card Stock. I intend to use it mainly for some junk journals I want to make however, today, I decided to use the Card stock in my Watercolour Sketch a day.

I quite like the way the paint moves around the paper. Below is Day 1,368.

Written by David Johnson

30 October 2022

Life’s Canvas

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Things That Attract My Eye – 3

Welcome to my third post of ‘Things that attract my eye’.

All of the images below were taken in the last couple of months on walks, excursions and as I go out my daily life. All were taken on my iPhone 8 Plus.

A famous Photographer was once asked, ‘What is the best camera to have?’ His answer was, ‘the one you have on you at the time…’. That was Chase Jarvis.

My interpretation of this comment is that we all probably wish that we could have our DSLR, Mirrorless or high-end compact camera with us every moment of the day to capture every beautiful image. This is often not possible, nor practical e.g., if I took my DSLR out on my early morning walk before I started running my business that day, my walk would take longer…and thus impact the running of my business.

With the phone camera, I just take a quick snap and I’m on my way as I have a certain amount of time allocated in the morning for exercise. That is the best camera to take the images on, given that circumstance.

Similarly, when I go out sketching, often, I will not take my DSLR with me as it can be a distraction.

Here are the latest things ‘that have attracted my eye’.

Written by David Johnson

23 October 2022

Written On A Whim

Ornaments On A Tree

Emotions React

Urban Sketchers Sydney – October Meet

Last Saturday, I went on my second Meet of the Urban Sketchers Sydney group. This time, the Meet was held in the grounds between the Sydney Town Hall and St Andrews Cathedral.

The main object of the day was to attempt a sketch of a moving subject, the newly built ‘Sydney Light Rail’, a red and deep grey, modern-style tram.

There were 40 or so Urban Sketchers in attendance and most started with the Light Rail as the subject. Quite a few of us went in the other direction and chose stationary subjects i.e. buildings or parts of buildings. I chose the side entrance/steps to the Sydney Town Hall.

Sydney Town Hall

To be honest, I found this subject challenging enough and when it started to rain a little it was even more challenging. After I finished this sketch, I did wander over to the Light Rail and started to sketch it. It was kind of weird how the subject kept disappearing… I didn’t get to finish the sketch at the time but it certainly was an interesting challenge and experience.

We then had the ‘Throw Down’ and once again it was marvellous to see all the different interpretations and styles of those present.

Throw Down

I am so glad that I came across this group on Facebook. Urban Sketchers Sydney is full of friendly and inspirational people and I am looking forward to attending my third Meet in November. I wonder where it will be? 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/groups/usksyd/about/

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

3 October 2022

Flow Of Life

Places To Learn

Sketching Loosely

The Sydney Urban Sketchers

NB: They are actually known as ‘Urban Sketchers Sydney’ however, Sketchers rhymes well with ‘adventures’
and it is the ‘adventure’ I’m writing about.

Expression

Sentinels In The Distance

The Canvas Is Awaiting…

My Creative Journey In Visual Art

My creative journey
Began with a camera
This went on for many years
I was an enthusiastic amateur

Joining and starting camera clubs
Was so much fun
I made many friends
My creative life had begun

I entered competitions and exhibitions
Sometimes I won
All in all
It was just good fun

Along the way
I became a Photographic Judge
Which gave me a different perspective
It gave my photography a nudge

Briefly, in the Nineties
I started to sketch
Though photography remained King
I felt the itch

I took a basic drawing course
In two thousand and ten
Three years later 
My photography business opened

The business ran 
For a couple of years
Then I decided 
To do something else

In the meantime my love
For sketching and painting had grown
It was battling photography
For the Title and Crown

Oil painting at that time
Was my preferred expression
It became my ‘go to’
My new expression

Joining Art groups
Has helped me to foster
My desire to create Art
They helped my creativity to prosper

Then I returned
To the first painting medium I tried
The one that had captured me 
That reminded me of Slides

Line and Wash 
Then caught my attention
It became part of me
A lifelike extension

A Watercolour sketch-a-day
Would give me loads of practice
It continues to this day
Feeding my Inner Sanctum

Oils too
Remain a passion
For me, I think
They’ll always be in fashion

Photography still
Has a special place in my Heart
It started my creative journey
Of me, it will always be a part

Though at this time
Sketching and Painting are my direction
They will for a long time
Have my attention

Written by David Johnson

22 September 2022

© CommunicatingCreatively/David Johnson 2022

Seeking To Engage

Renewal

The Light

Journey

Each Day A Page

comm

Work In Progress

Ghosts Of The Past

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Books, Books, Books – Argyle Emporium

Last Sunday-week, Susan and I made a planned stop on the way to visiting her parents, who live 25 kilometres/15.5 miles outside of Goulburn. Goulburn is about one and three-quarter hours drive from our home.

The planned stop was at the Argyle Emporium, which is located opposite the railway line in Goulburn in an old Police Station. The Argyle Emporium has been a second-hand bookshop for 21 years and houses approximately 500,000 books. ‘Book Heaven’ for book-lovers!

This time we only spent just over an hour there and the good news for other book-lovers is that upon leaving there, I left 499, 496 books at the bookshop…. 🙂

The following ones I the books I purchased:

I love books on the Visual Arts that delve into how Artist expresses what they are feeling by using tools and techniques. This one features the thoughts of 20 famous artists. I love this book!

The second book I purchased is a collection that I have been wanting in my Poetry collection for some time but just hadn’t found the right one. Over 1,000 pages of Wordsworth delight!

The third book purchased that day was also Poetry. I enjoy buying collections of poetry. It is true that sometimes the collections overlap with other collections of poetry however, this hasn’t happened too much so far… This collection breaks up the poetry into subjects and includes over 90 Poets. The book was printed in 1957.

The last book purchased that day is from another ‘like’ of mine, and that is ‘tools and techniques that inspire creative writing’. I find them a fascinating read and, by the looks of this book, I won’t be disappointed.

4 more books from from the treasure-trove second-hand bookshop known as the Argyle Emporium, Goulburn, NSW. Australia. Some of the rooms are pictured below.

I can hardly wait until our next visit! 🙂

Written by David Johnson

17 August 2022

First Time at Urban Sketchers Sydney!

Last Saturday-week, I went on my first Urban Sketchers Sydney ‘Sketch-meet’. It was held in Surry Hills, literally 5 minutes walk from the southern reaches of the Sydney CBD.

I had joined their Facebook group late last year after it popped up courtesy of Facebook’s algorithm however, life came up in one form or another between then and this month which prevented me from attending the monthly outing.

Sydney turned on some beautiful Winter weather for the day with 19C/66F forecast and predominantly Blue skies. A warmer day than we can usually expect.

I arrived a bit earlier and met up with one of the sketchers, who had already started sketching. As time went by, more and more sketchers turned up until there were approximately 40 people in attendance.

One of the leaders of the day, Julie informed us where the important things were like local amenities, cafes and pointed out buildings and other places of interest that we might like to sketch.

We are then given 2 1/4 hours to sketch/paint and once finished, we all met as a group and enacted a ‘throw down’ as they call it. This is where everyone puts their creations in a group on the ground so that we can all see the different interpretations of the scenes being sketched/painted.

After that, a group photo is taken and posted on the Urban Sketchers Sydney Facebook page.

I chose a subject with too many windows I think and it was certainly a challenge perspective-wise. It certainly was relaxing, sitting there in the glorious sunshine. One of the attractions of sketching is that it is such a meditative experience.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and I am looking forward to the next one!

Thank you Urban Sketchers Sydney for a great Sketch-meet!

Written by David Johnson

14 August 2022

Victory Awaits

Looking For The Light

Milestones

Things That Attract My Eye! – 2

One of the types of subjects that I have always enjoyed photographing since I took up Photography in 1982 is the ‘everyday things’ that we come into contact with.

Prior to taking up photography, I certainly was not aware how beautiful mundane subjects were. Photography created a new awareness within me and since I took up sketching and painting, this awareness of my surroundings has deepened.

It really is amazing at just how many beautiful subjects there are if we only would take the time to notice.

I’ve included some images below that I hope you will find as interesting and as beautiful as I do. All were taken in 2022.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

3 August 2022

Watercolour Canvas

A little while ago I stumbled across a ‘Watercolour Canvas’ product in Spotlight, a material and craft store in my local area. Not that I’m all that experienced in Art but I didn’t know there was such a thing called Watercolour canvas. I thought canvas was for mediums other than Watercolour.

It is made by a business called ‘Semco’ and although it is branded ‘Artist Quality’ I’m not sure you would class it as such bearing in mind where it is being sold, the minimal cost and the fact that the term, ‘Artist Quality’ seems to get put on a lot of materials regardless of whether it is or isn’t ‘Artist Quality’. It comes in a range of sizes just like normal canvas and is available in a board or in stretched form.

My first attempt on a board is below, an image using a reference photo I took on our third trip to Norfolk Island, earlier this year. I did a light sketch of the image in pencil, then sketched over the pencil with pigment liners then started painting. The paint sticks sometimes and glides across other times and I used about 3-4 layers in some areas.

I particularly liked the painting in weathered boat areas.

“Old Lighter” – Norfolk Island

My second attempt on the board is below, a rather simpler, straight Watercolour image. Painting the ocean was particularly challenging as the paint hardly seem to stick to the canvas with the first attempt to apply paint. After letting it dry, I applied more paint and the original paint seemed to get disturbed so, in the end, I used less water and a bit more paint and painted very lightly.

“Feeling of Summer”

I have a few more boards left and look forward to experimenting with them, though I might apply some Gesso first to see what that does. I also have a couple of stretched Watercolour canvas 8×10’s here, one of which I’m experimenting with.

All good fun!

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

31 July 2022

Grateful Moments

Winter Sun

Dusk…A Special Time

Earlier this week we were treated to some beautiful colours at Dusk.

I was inside during this time, painting and I happened to glance out of the window at just the right time. The images below were snapped with my phone as often the colours will disappear quite quickly, and as someone once said, ‘the best camera is the one you have on you at the time…’.

I hope you enjoy ‘Mother Nature’s Art as much as I did.

Written by David Johnson

28 July 2022

Aquawash Rocks

Today, we went out to Lake Burragong, which is approximately 1/2 a hour drive away from where we live. Lake Burragorang, when full (like it is now), holds 4 times the amount of water of Sydney Harbour. We have been there many times and it is a most beautiful and relaxing place.

I took my Winsor and Newton Field kit (which now has both Winsor and Newton, and Daniel Smith Watercolour paints in it) plus my Aquawash brushes and a small sketchbook.

I wasn’t all that excited about the sketch/painting I did first out there but it did give me an idea to painting a similar subject but in a different way, and more from my imagination.

Day 1,270 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day

I’ve had my Aquawash brushes for a few years now though I’ve only used them sporadically and I need to watch some videos on how to use them with greater effectiveness. I rather like how this sketch turned out, though and I will be using these type of brushes more in the future.

I’m due to go on my first field trip with the Sydney Urban Sketchers next month and I think it would great to take these brushes.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

24 July 2022

Holding On

Indelible Mark

Clearing

Discovering New Places…

I love surprises, particularly when they are totally unexpected and have to do with discovering things that you thought you would have known about, but obviously didn’t…

To explain…

Yesterday, after visiting Red Point Artist’s Association (where I am a member) at Port Kembla, we followed up on a tip from one of the other creatives. They suggested we visit an area of Port Kembla Harbour we had not previously been to.

There is a concrete breakwater that is approximately 1 km (0.6 miles) long at the harbour and I was quite looking forward to seeing and exploring it. When we arrived, the entrance was blocked off as perhaps it had sustained damage in last week’s storms. I took a couple of reference photos and we left as we wanted to take a look at the Port Kembla Heritage Park which was on the other side of the bay.

In the park we discovered Art installation (that relates to industrial action back in 1938), Tank Traps and old Battery Ports.

For me though, the best discovery of the afternoon was yet to come…

I was wandering around the edge of the park, mainly concentrating on looking across to the harbour, the breakwater and a cargo ship that was making its entrance when I turned around and saw some different shaped rocks and started to notice the different shades of colour in them plus I noticed a fair-sized rock pool nearby. It was still overcast at this point so I was looking forward to seeing them with sunlight on the scene. I didn’t have to wait long…this is what I saw.

Needles to say, I could immediately see possibilities for sketching, painting and photography and I am looking forward to going back there on different occasions, in different lighting to interpret the scene via these mediums.

I’ve included some more iPhone images below to give you an idea of just how beautiful an area it is. It is 1 hour’s drive away on a Sunday. How did I not visit there before now!? Sometimes, the best places are ‘right under our noses…’.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

10 July 2022

Day 1,249 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day! – “Boat Detail” – Norfolk Island

For my daily Art practice today, I chose to do another interpretation of a previous sketch that I had done, which was based on a reference photo that I took on Norfolk Island on our holiday, earlier in the year.

“Lighters” (wooden boats that up until recently were used to unload to, from cargo ships) continue to be an endless source of fascination to me.

Day 1,249 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day

Today I used the following materials:

  • Canson 300gsm Watercolour paper
  • ArtSpectrum Waterproof Pigment ink
  • Manuscript Dip Pen with Mapping nib
  • Winsor and Newtown Artist quality paints
  • Neef brushes
  • Perylene Maroon
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Sepia

I seem to have an attraction to peeling paint and rustic subjects in terms of sketching and painting, which is really not surprising as in my enthusiast photography days the same sort of subject matter attracted me, particularly in early morning or late after night.

Day 1,151 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day
My reference photo

I look forward to doing another version of this as I feel I would like to do one that is somewhere ‘between’ the two sketches above.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

3 July 2022

Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink – Domestika

Last week as I was scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed I happened upon a course through Domestika. I had registered an account with them some time ago but never actually purchased a course.

This particular day a course came up called, ‘Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink’. This of course, ‘was music to my ears!’ Amongst other subjects to sketch and paint, architecture is right up there so my interest was piqued almost instantly. Even better, it came up as a ‘Weekend Special’ and was reduced from AUD$79.00 to $12.90 so it was too good not to take advantage of.

The course is being delivered by Alex Hillkurtz, a Storyboard Artist in France who has worked on over 20 Feature films.

At date, the course has been completed by over 114,481 students and has a 99% rating.

Thus far I’m on Unit 2, Preparation and am looking forward to doing more of the course on the weekend. When I finish the course I will post the end project here.

In the meantime, here is the link if you would like to check out the course for yourself.

https://www.domestika.org/en/courses/1092-architectural-sketching-with-watercolor-and-ink/course

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

30 June 2022