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

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

The Journey Is Victory

Looking To Stretch Myself!

Aside from doing my Daily Art Practice aka a Watercolour Sketch a Day (mostly A5 size), for a while now I’ve been doing A4 size Watercolours. In my daily art practice I try new things (and make lots of mistakes) and occasionally, I will do one that I would like to do a larger version of. I still make mistakes when I do the larger ones, though. I’ve never agreed with ‘practice makes perfect’, I think it should be ‘practice makes better’. Hopefully, over time I will continue to get better!

I’m looking to stretch myself in my Art-practice at every opportunity.

  • Arto Watercolour Paper 300gsm Cold Pressed Medium Surface – 100% Cotton Acid Free
  • Winsor and Newton Artists paints
  • Neef brushes
  • Manuscript Dip-pens
  • Art Spectrum Artists Pigmented Black ink

These are my latest:

“Reeds In The Snow”
“Barren”
“Coastal Wash”
“Dreaming”
“On The Coast”
“Cliff-face”

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

February 2022

Sketchbooks – 2 favourites so far

It’s not so hard to imagine that there is no such thing as ‘the perfect Sketchbook’.

In my Watercolour/Line & Wash journey thus far I’ve tried a few different types and I would like to discuss two of my favourites.

Before I start though, I should mention what I use to do the line sketch as that alone can determine which type of sketchbook I use. I love using Dip Pens and also Pigment liners and as I’ve found, sometimes I have to use one or the other depending on which sketchbook I choose to use.

Moleskine: I’ve enjoyed using both A4 and the A5 versions. Currently, I’m using the A4 version as it will allow me to do 240 ‘Watercolour Sketch a Day’s’ in it. My daily sketches are mostly half A5 in size and the A4 sketchbook has 60 pages. The book is 25% Cotton and 200gsm which allows me to use both the Dip Pens and the Pigment Liners and it will take water, not a huge amount but some.

Winsor and Newton Visual Diary: I’ve only a couple of pages left in this one so I will soon be purchasing another. It is 100% Cotton and 200gsm in weight and so it takes substantially more water than the Moleskine, but interestingly, I cannot seem to use the Dip Pens in it so I use the Pigment Liners.

I’ve also tried the Strathmore Visual Journal in both A4 and A5 in both 90lb/200gsm and 140lb/300gsm and the latter copes with a lot more water but I found the paper doesn’t show the colours off as well as the two sketchbooks mentioned above, to me anyway.

Interestingly, when I use Art Spectrum waterproof ink in the Strathmore sketchbook, it takes longer to dry (up to half an hour) than if I use it in the Moleskine sketchbook.

I would be happy to hear people’s thoughts about any other sketchbooks that they would recommend that I try.

Written by David Johnson

16 December 2021

Journey To 1000!

Last Wednesday, I completed my 1,000th Watercolour Sketch a Day in a row. All of them are posted on one of my Instagram Pages – Communicating Creatively.

When I first started this Watercolour Sketch a Day journey way back in January 2019, it was for the following reasons:

  • I wanted to foster a daily Art practice
  • I wanted to improve my sketching, drawing and painting

It has been a journey of fun, challenges, (lots of mistakes), experimentation, learning and practice, practice, practice!

Day 1 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day – 26 January 2019

I remember completing 7 days straight and I was really pleased…could I make it to two weeks? Throughout the journey, I have just kept my eyes on the current day and aimed to do a sketch a day. Many people have asked me what is the end goal? Is it 1,000, 5,000, 10,000? The answer remains the same, ‘I’m just trying to do ‘a sketch a day and improve my skills’.

About 8 months of the 1,000 days we were in lockdown so I couldn’t get out to sketch en Plein Air so I completed tutorials, mainly by Peter Sheeler and Nil Rocha Art, and used reference photos (some of which were my own) and sketched from my imagination. On business days it normally has to be from the imagination or a reference photo.

It would be great to say that I improved with each sketch but that did not always happen as I felt, at times, that I plateaued for longer periods than I imagined would happen. Somedays it would seem that I was going backwards, too…

It was also a challenge doing the sketches some days due to tiredness from the business of the working day (I co-run a Finance Broking business and have a part-time role as an Entrepreneurship Facilitator, am involved with Toastmasters International and Red Point Art Association) plus more. There have also been health challenges in our family, and extended family to deal with, including losing three of them.

The practice of doing one a day was also quite meditative. More often than not, I would be playing music softly in the background. With all that has been going on in the world at large and our own world it has been quite a calming experience. I highly recommend it!

Day 1,000 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day – 27 October 2021 (Peter Sheeler Tutorial)

Mostly, I did the sketches in the morning as I was fresher. To get this done before the working day started, I rose earlier. Sometimes, I would get the line sketch done and do the painting after the working day was done. During the week, the sketches are A5 size and on the weekends sometimes larger.

One of the challenges I have in front of me is to be able apply the techniques that I have learnt during the tutorials to my own original works so the journey continues.

Today is Day 1,004 so I will leave it there as I hear my Watercolour Sketchbook calling me!

Written by David Johnson

31 October 2021

Emotions Harnessed

Inspiration Plus! – Books

I’m always on the lookout for books that will inspire me and/or stretch my thinking/skills.

My post today is about two books I have recently acquired, one being a gift and both relating to Sketching/Drawing.

The first is “Everyday Sketching & Drawing” – 5 Steps To A Unique and Personal Sketchbook Habit by Steven B. Reddy.

As someone who is trying to ‘loosen up’ in terms sketching/drawing lines, this book has been a revelation! Not only that, there are suggestions for overcoming blocks, time issues, tips and techniques and much, much more.

The second book is, “Rendering In Pen and Ink” by Arthur L.Guptill – 60th Anniversary edition – The Classic Book On Pen and Ink Techniques For Artists, Illustrators, Architects, and Designers.

The amount of helpful content in this book just blows me away! This book is aimed more at Dip pens, Quills and the like, however, the techniques could as easily be applied to the modern day pens.

I see many hours of enjoyment coming my way as I absorb their knowledge and do the exercises in each book.

If you are interested in improving your skills in these areas, I would highly recommend both books.

Written by David Johnson

16 May 2021

I’m Not Trying To Be Perfect, I Just Want To Be Me…

Last month, I purchased the book, ‘Watercolor 365 Daily Tips, Tricks & Techniques’ by Leslie Redhead. Already, I have seen the benefits of having this book to refer to.

One of the tips within the book is to, ‘stop using a pencil and eraser to draw with and instead use a marker instead.’ 

I wouldn’t call myself ‘naturally talented’ in drawing or sketching. It is a skill I am endeavouring to get better at and so, I have been practicing with ‘a pencil accompanied by a trusty eraser,’ though probably not as often as ought to have been. The thought of drawing/sketching with a non-erasable marker was quite daunting.

Apparently, using a marker instead of the pencil/eraser combination will result in gaining skills in drawing/sketching quicker and these are skills I can build my paintings on.

I took up this challenge this week, grabbing an A5 110gsm sketchbook and started sketching away. It is quite a refreshing experience, I must say. If I put a mark/line in the wrong place, I have to be creative and work out ‘how to save’ the sketch.

When I did a basic drawing course 11 years ago, the instructor looked at my drawings and said that, ‘I was a line drawer, not a tonal drawer and that my lines were so straight they looked like an architectural drawing.’

This is not necessarily bad, though. I guess its a style. One of my goals has been to try to ‘loosen up’ and not draw so many straight lines. I quite enjoy looking at the style of many Artists and hobbyists who draw/sketch/paint in a relaxed style.

We’ve all probably heard the line, ‘practice makes perfect.’ I’m not trying to be perfect I just want to be me’…and I am having fun exploring exactly what that means in terms of drawing, sketching and painting.

I’m practicing my sketching/drawing now more than ever and I am endeavouring to let go of the thought that the lines need to perfect.

It will take time and patience, but I’ll get there.

Written by David Johnson

February 2021

Day 706 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day

Back on 26 January 2019 when I started this ‘Daily Art Practice’ I could never have imagined that I would do it for 30 days straight, let alone 706…

I have no ‘lofty number goal’ in mind, I just aim to do ‘a sketch a day.’ Mostly, they are done upon rising, sometimes during the day and, less often at night these days. I believe it’s a great way to start a day.

From very early on it was like a form of meditation for me. I also wanted to learn the Watercolour and the Line and Wash mediums and was frustrated that I was only getting to do a sketch every 1-2 weeks because I thought, ‘that I didn’t have time…’.

We often think that, ‘we don’t have time’ for things. Often, when they become a priority, we do have the time.

I was asked a question recently in one of Art groups I’m on Facebook. ‘What is the one thing that you have learnt so far?’ My answer was that, ‘I have learnt that I have still so much to learn.’

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about this more and I feel that I could add some more answers to that question for the answer is more than, ‘just one thing’ so here goes…

  • It appears that I am in the process of developing a style or two
  • Favourite subjects to sketch and paint are starting to appear
  • From tutorials (especially) I am learning all sorts of wonderful colour combinations
  • Prior to embarking on this daily art practice, painting shadows were a weak point for me (still have a way to go with them but I’m improving)
  • The practice is encouraging me to ‘go outside my comfort zone’ in terms of subject matter and technique

On top of this it is building my confidence in sketching and painting. When I was a child I wasn’t very good at sketching, drawing or painting. I’ve dabbled over the years and my last real attempt (at sketching) before now was back in the early 90’s but as ‘Photography was King’ in my life it didn’t get much of a ‘look-in.’

Prior to lockdown I was about to do a 10 week Watercolour course which was, of course cancelled so during lockdown I did a YouTube tutorial for 120 days in a row. I’ve subscribed to two artists, Nil Rocha Art and Peter Sheeler. I would highly recommend both.

Recently, I started going back and re-doing some of the subject matter in the tutorials but without doing the actually tutorials as I want to see how much I’ve learnt and how I am applying it to the subjects.

Below are a few examples from the last 300 days:

Looking forward to Day 707 and beyond!

Written by David Johnson

2 January 2021