Sentinels In The Distance

Renewal

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

Renew

Calming Influence

to tweeze or not to tweeze – yes, tweeze!

As mentioned previously on this Blog, I am a Cactus and Succulent enthusiast but certainly not an expert in this area. I was given a Euphorbia Succulent by my Aunt Beryl in 1977, when I was 14 and, if you’ll pardon the pun, my interest grew from there.

A few years back I had a 35square metre Cacti and Succulent garden. Currently, all my plants are in pots as we live in a different place, though when we move in the next two years I feel sure I will have a combination of a garden and pots.

One of the challenges regardless of where they are planted is weeds. Some Cacti (particularly) are harder to weed than others which gives rise to another problem i.e. the enthusiast getting stabbed (usually more than once) with Cacti spines. These spines can range from less than a millimetre or two to over three centimetres long, and regardless of the size, they are all quite painful. Sometimes, you cannot see them with the naked eye.

So, what is the solution or workaround?

Gloves are the obvious thought, however, trust me, they offer little protection against the stronger spines i.e. the spine will go straight through them. Maybe a pair of flexible Kevlar gloves would be good…

I often weed in and around Cacti bare-handed and work slowly, methodically and carefully as I can though even then I still get stabbed and sometimes you cannot see the spine or it may have broken off inside your skin…but you can certainly feel it…

In the event of getting stabbed by a smaller spine, and particularly ones not visible to the naked eye, I have a bottle of Ichthammol 25% w/w Drawing Ointment at the ready. As it says on the bottle, it is a ‘Drawing Ointment’ meaning you apply a small amount to the area where the spine went in and it draws it out overnight. Just pop a bandaid loosely over the affected area and next morning the spine is magically gone!

Not surprisingly, I get a lot of use out of this product…maybe too much!

I have also tried using a pair of Long-Nosed Pliers with varying degrees of success.

This Christmas, my Wife Susan surprised me with an additional mini-present within my actual present and it was a set of unusually long pair of straight and angle ‘Tweezers’ for pulling out weeds around Cacti that she had stumbled across online. There are 27cm in length and made of steel.

I road-tested these last weekend and must say that I am delighted with them. One of the Cacti I have the most trouble weeding is from the Echinopsis family, pictured below. The weeds seem to come up between the ‘Balls’ of Cacti and can be most difficult to remove. Today it was relatively easy.

Obviously, the goal is not to let the weeds get as bad as this but as usual, life gets in the way sometimes or it rains for long periods or we get so busy etc.

Now that I am armed with these tools I just need to ‘get onto the weeds’ before they get too big and unwieldy. At least now, I can look forward to my hands getting punctured less. That is, in itself a great way to start a New Year!

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

discovery & adventure

One of the presents I was very grateful to receive yesterday for Christmas was the book pictured below. I had spotted it in my local Art store and (as usual) when approaching Christmas, my Wife, Susan said ‘do you have any ideas for presents just in case anyone in the family is stumped for what to buy you?’

I only started keeping a sketchbook regularly at hand in the past 3-4 years and have been searching around for ‘that elusive all-purpose sketchbook’ that apparently does not exist.

We are so spoilt for choice these days in terms of Art supplies, including sketchbooks, not so in days gone past.

The book is beautifully presented and highlights 70 Explorers and what they used to document their journeys and their discoveries. The sketchbooks go back as far as the 1600’s to the 21st century.

I imagine they were ‘not spoiled for choice’ back then in terms of sketchbook and paper types. I think sometimes ‘we have too many choices’ and ‘get too wrapped up’ in the myriad of tools available. Maybe we should apply the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple) method more often?

I am looking forward to diving in to read about not only the Explorer’s adventures but also what they used to record their adventures and discoveries. It is going to be a fascinating journey!

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

26 December 2021

A Way To Escape!

One of the ways I’ve been ‘escaping’ in this current lockdown environment is my walks which are allowed, currently within 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) from home. We are blessed to have access to the Nepean River at Camden which is a beautiful spot to walk through (and picnic in normal times).

During lockdown and due to time constraints of the working day, I only get to go down to the Nepean River, Camden on a Wednesday and on the weekend. On other days, I just walk around the suburb. This may sound quite boring, and it could be if not for my nearly 40 years training my eye, firstly via photography and now via sketching and painting as well.

By ‘training me eye’ I mean looking within the scene and the way light interacts with a subject. There is just so much beauty around in seemingly mundane surroundings.

The following images are taken within the suburbs of the 5 kilometre radius we are are restricted to at present.

There are many benefits to be obtained from walking, with exercise being just one of them. I get ideas whilst I walk, for paintings, photos, poetry, articles and business. I either listen to Mother Nature, podcasts or music.

It is quite an immersive experience and a perfect way to ‘escape lockdown.’ I get to walk more days than not during the month. I’m not a good ‘cold-weather’ walker normally so to know that I commenced my latest walking programme in July, which is the middle of Winter in Sydney, was quite pleasing for me.

In programmed walks I have walked 51 kilometres (31.6 miles) in July, 72 kilometres (44.7 miles) in August and am around the 40 kilometre (24.8 miles) mark in September so far. In Winter I walked more towards the middle of the day and as it heats up during Spring/Summer I will walk earlier or later in the day.

Once lockdown is over I shall continue my walks and continue to view the beauty that surrounds!

Written by David Johnson

19 September 2021

A Stunning Display

Cacti & Succulents – Gone Potty!

In a blog article I did back in September 2018, I explained where my love of Cacti and Succulents came from…a gift from one of my Aunts at the age of 14. I fell in love with their uniqueness and beauty and started off with just a few plants in a low, Terracotta pot whilst living at my parents home to a 35 square metre garden when my wife and I lived at our first location.

We live in a different location now on a much smaller block so currently, all my Cacti and Succulents are in pots. When we move in the future, I’m sure I will have a garden for them as well as keeping some in pots.

With some recent additions early in the year, I now have 133 plants of all different shapes and sizes. Some of the species include: Cereus, Lobivia, Echinopsis, Cleistocactus, Astrophytum, Parodia, Mammillaria, Echinocereus, Corypantha, Cotyledon, Crassula, Agave and more.

Three things that I am looking forward to are:

  1. Growing Cacti from seed.
  2. Sketching/Painting my Cacti and Succulents.
  3. Growing my collection.

This love affair with these unique and beautiful plants has now been running for 44 years and will continue long into the future!

Written by David Johnson

20 June 2021