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The Steps You Take

Art, Politics and Self-Expression

The inspiration for this article came from a Facebook group I am in where a participant yesterday posted two images, a line drawing before and after Watercolours were applied.

The subject matter was met with angst from some of the group as it was about ‘Black Lives Matter.’ There was a torrent of negative commentary from some in the group eg; ‘Political posts are not welcome in this group, “I come to the group to get away from the world and Politics’, ‘Art has nothing to do with Politics…’ and ‘We see enough of this stuff on the news…’

*Thankfully, the Admins have stepped in and advised that Political Art (and comments about the Art) are acceptable, just not Political commentary.

I would like to thank Krishna Patel for allowing me to use the image in this article. It is very much appreciated.

Krishna Patel BLM

I would like to address a couple of points in relation to this:

Art:

Each of us must (either intentionally or unintentionally) process these feelings every day and how we communicate this in our daily lives varies. Those of us who are creatively inclined express ourselves in some artistic or literary form.

It is called self-expression.

Krishna obviously felt drawn to this subject and had some feelings that she wanted to express and we should be grateful (whether we agree or not) that a person has taken the time to express an opinion.

Art, Politics and News:

I was quite intrigued by the comment, ‘Art has nothing to do with Politics’, in fact I laughed when I read this. Art and Politics have been intertwined for Centuries.

I do understand how we can be overloaded with (bad) news, though. Out here in Australia, after the horrific bushfires then Covid-19 and all the negative that surrounded those two events, I think we all felt like we were drowning in bad news so I can understand (to a certain extent) those who ’seek shelter’ in a group, hopeful that the world’s issues will not be raised.

A few days ago, I decided to ‘not look at the News’ for a period of 7 days. It was a refreshing experience that I encourage everyone to do from time-to-time.

Art is a way of expressing how we feel about things whether that is the painting of pretty pictures of flowers, an architectural delight or something that is happening in the news… Art has many different meanings and interpretations but I think we can all probably agree that whatever terminology we apply to the word it is about the self-expression of an individual or group and then the reaction of the audience.

The way we all see, feel and interpret the world is very different. There exists darkness, light, fun, sadness, joy, anger, peace, war and beauty but to name a few.

The subject of the Art-work is in the news because obviously there are issues that still need to be resolved.

We observe behaviour and then we internalise it and subsequently have to deal with our emotions and how it makes us feel.

In Closing:                                      

Art (in whatever form it takes) can be a powerful tool in instigating change. We should be thankful that people care enough about the world and what is happening in it, to stand up and express their thoughts and feelings.

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ – Margaret Mead


Written by David Johnson

14 June 2020

Eyes Are Burning

Eyes are burning3

Creating New Habits, Not Resolutions – Part 2

Back in January this year, I published a post on this blog titled, ‘Creating New Habits, Not Resolutions.’

I related how that there were certain positive changes that I wanted to implement in my life. I set up a spreadsheet, listed the new habits and proceeded to (over time) introduce new habits one-by-one, so as not to overload myself. Each day, I checked the ones off I had done.

It seemed like a great idea at the time, however, as life does (when you set goals) all sorts of challenges came up, notwithstanding the biggest which was family related involved the health of my wife’s parents (which is ongoing).

By the time all 11 new habits were in play, I only managed to achieve all of them done, 5 times i.e. there were 5 days when all 11 habits were checked off. The rest of the time some were and some weren’t…

Some of the new habits were, meditation, walking, exercising, watercolour sketching…

By the time June 2019 arrived I began to realise that it just wasn’t working. One of the problems was that I seemed to be ‘just checking them off to say that they were done…’ and it became a chore rather than the seamless inclusion in my life that I was expecting.

Watercolour sketching was the only habit that I checked off every day. As of yesterday, I have completed a Watercolour Sketch 228 days in a row.

Observations from this exercise are:

  • I was putting too much pressure on myself
  • Watercolour sketching is now my meditation
  • I’m now aiming (one at a time) to add 3 new habits into my life
  • I believe there is enough pressure in life without us putting more upon ourselves.

We are a week into Spring in Sydney, Australia. It is starting to warm up a little so I think regular walking will be the next habit I introduce.

Keep smiling!

Written by David Johnson
11 September 2019

Mental Life-Jacket

Mental Life-Jacket1

State Of Mind

When you go out to photograph, what ‘state of mind’ are you in?

Do you go out with an idea in mind, or do you ‘free-wheel?’

Both approaches are valid, depending on what you want to achieve. I have to say that for many years I would either pick a subject e.g. I might choose to photograph a Sunrise but have no real goal of what I wanted to capture, and so I would come home with anything, or sometimes I would just set off with my camera and ‘follow the light’ and see where it would take me.

IMG_0456Both of the above approaches produced some excellent images, some average images and of course many ‘learning experiences.’

One day at a meeting of a ‘Photo Group’ I was involved with, we were viewing a of my images when one of the members, Chris Donaldson asked me ‘what I was trying to communicate with the image?’ My answer was that “I wasn’t trying to communicate anything” I just merely  took the image for fun.

As Chris mentioned, whether or not I was intentionally trying to communicate anything, didn’t matter as I was still communicating. That day, I changed the way I viewed photography. Up to that point (even though subconscious1016358_10204241084941073_5423550170437646927_nly I knew I was communicating) I wasn’t photographing for that reason. I was just photographing because I had fun.

I still have fun to this day, but since that conversation I have approached photography in a different way, in a more thoughtful way.

Next time you go out to photograph, think about why you are going and what you want to communicate?

Written by David Johnson
November 2016