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

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

Illuminate!

A local Festival not far from us that has been going every year since 2016, (except for the Covid-19 years in 2020 and 2021) is the Illuminate Festival.

It is held in Picton, New South Wales, Australia which is located 90 kilometres/56 miles South West of Sydney. Picton is about 10 – 15 minutes drive from where we live.

You may have heard of or seen the Sydney Vivid Festival, where works of Art are projected onto buildings and other structures at night.

Picton is a much smaller version of that, and it also has Art and Craft market stalls, food stalls and all manner of other stalls plus live bands and the Annual Wollondilly Art Exhibition. It is held late May and Susan and I attended it recently.

The Art Exhibition and the projected lights are the biggest drawcard for me however, on the day/night a live local Blues group called, ‘Monkey’s Uncle’ was a definite delight!

Here are some iPhone images from the Festival.

Written by David Johnson

3 June 2022

Oh The Fun!

Last weekend, my Wife and I stayed with our friends at Millthorpe, NSW, Australia as my Wife had been invited to a Baby Shower in Bathurst, about 20 minutes drive away.

Whilst my Wife was at the party, I ventured into the CBD and started to look for a suitable subject to sketch and paint.

I came across a lovely-looking building with a dome which turned out the be the Courthouse however, I chose to sit in the park and view it from behind. I quite liked the busyness of the structures in front of it that were set against the backdrop of the dome.

For me, it was rather a challenging subject as I am still endeavouring to learn ‘how much I want to leave in or leave out?’ One of the other challenges I had on the day was it was quite chilly with a wind blowing. The light was just beautiful though, so I sat there and attempted to sketch and paint it, well my interpretation anyway…

I will definitely have another go at this subject at some point. It was the first time out using my new Winsor and Newton Field Kit which has a mix of Winsor and Newton, and Daniel Smith paints.

After I finished the sketch, I set off with my DSLR camera and (of course) my Phone camera to see what I could capture in the beautiful late afternoon light. Below is one example from the iPhone camera.

All in all, I had a very enjoyable couple of hours in the late afternoon light.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

3 May 2022

Daily Art Practice Continues…

Since reaching Day 1,091 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day (3 years) recently, I’ve been endeavouring to do less tutorials and using reference photos, i.e. do original sketches. When time permits, I will do ‘on-site’ sketches. Most of these will probably be done on weekends.

Here are a few of my latest sketches.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

13 February 2022

1,091 Days and Counting…My Daily Art Practice

Today marks the 3rd anniversary since I started my ‘Daily Art Practice’ of a ‘Watercolour Sketch a Day’. For my 1,091st day I decided to sketch/paint a subject that I really seem to enjoy, a Lighthouse.

“Afternoon On The Coast”

One day, I will gather up all my Lighthouse sketches and put them in a blog post for no other reason than to see them altogether. I think it would be fun!

Looking back, I was pleased to do 7 days in a row and when I reached 1 month I really had no expectations of being able to keep up this daily Art practice for 1 year, yet alone 3.

My goals for the ‘Daily Art Practice’ were:

  • Aim to do one Watercolour Sketch a day (and look no further than that)
  • Be a Sponge
  • Improve my skills through practice
  • Lean from my mistakes
  • Practice, practice, practice!

I don’t believe I am ‘naturally talented’ in sketching and painting. Like all children I did draw at school and at home though I am not one of those Artists ‘who have been drawing/painting all throughout their life’, studied Art and are now full-time Artists. (I’m actually a Mortgage Broker and co-run our business with my Wife, Susan and have an additional Mentoring role for Small Business startups. I’m also involved in Toastmasters {Public Speaking}, and BNI {Business Networking}, as well as two other associations).

From 1982 – 2016 I was firmly entrenched in Photography. In the 1990’s, I briefly had an interest in drawing but that didn’t last long as Photography was ‘still King’. In 2010, I took a basic Drawing course and began dabbling in Watercolour (briefly) before dabbling in Acrylic and Oil over the years. In 2016, I decided to concentrate on Oils but it seemed difficult to find the time, consistently.

In 2018, I rediscovered Watercolour though finding the time seemed difficult again. I had a ‘real desire’ to learn it and started looking for ways to allocate more time to it and was (over the course of time) attracted as well to Line and Wash. On Australia Day, 26 January 2019 I decided to aim to do a Watercolour Sketch a Day.

Along the journey so far I’ve:

  • Learnt about some sketching, drawing and painting techniques
  • Colour mixes
  • Brush use
  • Colour Theory
  • Made an innumerable amount of mistakes
  • Increased my belief in myself that I can do this
  • Sold 3 A4 paintings (unexpected)
  • Joined Red Point Artists Association, Port Kembla
  • Made some great connections through Art groups

What’s next?

Well, I still have a lot to learn (and there’s more fun to have) so tomorrow I’m aiming to a Watercolour Sketch and the day after, another one…

My Daily Art practice with Watercolour has also re-inspired my Oil Painting practice so I am aiming to allocate time to that on a regular basis now and am planning to enter some Art Exhibitions and submit my own Art to the next Members Exhibition of the Red Point Artists Association.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

26 January 2022

My Watercolour Sketch a Day images can be found at:

https://www.instagram.com/communicatingcreatively/

My larger paintings can be found at:

https://www.instagram.com/light.inspired/

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

Music To My Ears!

The idea for this post came from a post I did on my Facebook Newsfeed some time ago…. I cannot play a note of music but I so love listening to it.

I thought I would expand on my choices on this blog. The following are in no particular order.

THE BEATLES: I was born in 1963 so I was only 7 years old when The Beatles broke up. I have a Sister, Cheryl who is 10 years older than I and Cheryl was 11 years of age when they toured Australia. As you can imagine, Beatles records were played all the time and my young ears heard them ‘all the time’ and I loved their sound and still do to today. The melodies, the voices, the Chuck Berry inspired music still strikes a chord with me.

LEE KERNAGHAN: Lee is one of Australia’s best known Country Music artists and I first started to listen in 1992 when he released “The Outback Club.” Some 17 albums later Im still enjoying his music immensely. I’ve seen him in concert once. I love putting his music when out driving, particularly as we are ‘heading on down the road…

LAMBCHOP: This is a band that I stumbled upon by accident. I was attending a ‘Photo Discussion Group’ session at a friend’s house and there was this music that I had never heard before playing in the background. My friend described them to me as, ‘Lounge Jazz.’ The next day (in the early 2,000’s) I went out and bought the album. I now have 6 albums and they are are favourite that I play when sketching and painting.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & (THE E-STREET BAND): My Brother, Larry was an early fan back in the early to mid 1970’s, having purchased his first three albums. At the age of 12 I heard the Born To Run album and I was hooked. We were thrilled to see him in concert in 1985 (4 1/4 hour concert including 6 encores). I saw him again in 2013 and 2014. I have 20 of his albums and never tire of listening to his music.

AMY GRANT: Back in the early 1980’s I started working in the Sydney CBD and it was a fascinating place to explore and discover things. One lunchtime I remember coming across a Christian bookshop which sold music. LP’s and Cassette Tapes still ruled back then and as I flipped through the Tapes I came across, ‘Amy Grant.’ I hadn’t heard of her before and a discussion ensued with the salesperson who very kindly played part of the Tape for me on a Cassette Deck (boy, am I showing my age)! Out of the Deck came one of the sweetest voices I had heard in a long time. The album was, ‘Amy Grant – The Collection.’ Years later I purchased it on CD. I have purchased more of Amy Grant’s albums since and still find her voice quiet calming.

ELVIS PRESLEY: My Brother, Larry was a big influence here. Four years older than me, he was ‘right into Elvis’ and so (similar to The Beatles), in my younger years, Elvis records were played a lot. I particularly love the period between 1954 and 1961, and 1968 to 1977. The ‘Sun Sessions’ are Golden , as is the period up until 1960. Another artist I never tire of hearing.

BONNIE RAITT: I came across Bonnie Raitt in the late 1980’s and was introduced via the ‘Nick Of Time’ album. I read later that Bruce Springsteen had ‘opened’ for her back in 1971. Her style of R & B really appeals to me and if you get a chance, check out her duet with John Lee Hooker on ‘I’m In The Mood’ on YouTube. Brilliant!

TOMMY EMMANUEL: The Australian Guitar maestro! I first heard his music in 1990 via his debut album, ‘Dare To Be Different.’ Tommy Emmanuel does not sing and doesn’t really need to as the magic he does on his guitar stands on its own. A favourite of mine when I sketch or paint, or am writing Poetry, his music can be calming and also inspirational.

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN: Introduced to his music in the mid 1980’s I have been a fan ever since. His music captures me and his energy and fluent guitar playing, especially in the instrumentals are Gold. Sadly, gone from this Earth too early.

STATUS QUO: Again, my Brother had a bit of influence here as he was already a fan with one of their albums, ‘Piledriver.’ I purchased ‘On The Level’ and I was sold. Their heads-up-all-in-boogie sound has always made me feel great and if I’m feeling a bit down, it raises my mood.

What Bands/Singers can you not do without in your life, and why?

Written by David Johnson

2 December 2021