A Generous Gift – Italian Handmade Watercolour Paper

Last year, a good friend, business associate and mentor, left for a business trip over to Europe. On her return, She presented me with a gift, a pack of “Amalfi Hand Made Watercolour Paper.” Alison said she saw this paper and thought of me. Thanks, Alison!

I was indeed very grateful as for one, I wasn’t expecting a gift at all and certainly not a pack of fine Italian Watercolour Paper!

Last year was an extremely busy and life-changing year and I struggled (particularly in the latter half of the year) to find, not only quality time but the state I wanted to be in to try the paper.

Today, for my Day 1,431 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day, I thought I would do it. Today, is New Year’s Day Holiday in Australia (as NYD fell on a Sunday), so it seemed like the perfect time to try the paper.

When trying any new paper, I’ve read that it is a great idea to try some small samples so I cut one of the 30cm x 30cm sheets into 6 pieces and I shall use them for my next 6 Watercolour Sketches a Day. This way, I can see how the paper performs, how it takes water and colour etc.

I also thought I would sketch a subject I had done before. It will take time for me to get used to the paper as it is many steps up from what I have been using up till now.

Here is Day 1,431 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day.

Written by David Johnson

2 January 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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