Shadows & Light

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

actors on the sky stage

One of the things that I must admit that I haven’t done for a long time is lay on the ground at gaze at the clouds as they drift on by…

It is something that I remember to be quite a meditative experience. One such time was during a bushwalk (hike) in the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney Australia. We were on our way out to a place called ‘Ruined Castle’ which was a rocky outcrop that looked, from a distance, a little like a ruined castle.

On the way out we came across a large expanse of flattish rock so we stopped for a rest and I remember laying back and gazing at the sky. So relaxing. Only the sounds of Mother Nature apparent with a gorgeous blue sky as a backdrop to the clouds, changing shape as they did, moving about like actors in a Play.

Sitting here typing this, my mind is cast back even further to my school days back in the 1970’s when, at lunchtime, I used to lay on the grass sometimes and gaze at the clouds. Again, so relaxing. My mind would drift off and be thinking of great memories but also thinking about the future as I lay there in the present.

Of course, clouds have entranced me in other ways as well. My Photography interest dates back to my childhood but in particularly from the early 1980’s when I became serious about it as a key interest.

The images included with this article are all taken on a phone and have been captured mainly on my walks over the past few years. Clouds have fascinated me for as long as I can remember and will continue to do so. Light, and its effects on objects fascinates me too, but more on that another time.

Below, I have included some cloud images that I found particularly interesting. Sit back and enjoy these actors as they dance across the stage of the sky!

Written by David Johnson

October 2021

Tentacles Of Life

Things That Attract My Eye

As those of you would know who follow my Blog regularly, one of my interests (dating back to 1982 when I bought my first serious camera) is Photography.

Whilst I still enjoy photographing with a DSLR, many photos are taken also with my iPhone. Currently, I possess an 8Plus which is getting a bit dated now but is still handy to have when I don’t have my DSLR with me.

My aim within the next 12 months is to purchase a high-end compact from the Sony RX range for the type of photography below and I’m also looking to say goodbye to me DSLR and go Mirrorless, but that’s another story.

As we have our phones on us nearly all the time these days it is very easy and convenient to photograph interesting things we have come across on a daily basis.

In the past couple of weeks, I started a new album on my Facebook page called, ‘Things That Attract My Eye.’

Here are the first 9 images in the album.

The images were taken when visiting the local Hospital, in my backyard, on walks, waiting for a Take-away food order, visiting an Art Gallery and whilst doing a ‘driver changeover’ on a motorway. All would have been missed were it not for the trusty phone camera.

Over time, I will put up more images.

I hope you enjoy, ‘Things That Catch My Eye!’

Written and Photographed by David Johnson

28 June 2021

Wonderful Atmosphere

New Light Emanating

Freedom Through Sketching and Painting

I love the freedom Sketching and Painting gives me.

One basically starts off with no image on canvas or paper. You might have an image in mind and then you set about creating it from your imagination or a memory, or indeed a combination of both.

If you are using a reference photo you already have a basic framework though, generally speaking and unless you are into Photo Realism, you will come up with an interpretation of the image at hand.

The Photographer has a scene before them. Certainly, (they can create an image in Photoshop from other images) but they don’t have to create shadows or the image when they are ‘live’ to a scene.’ Many scenes are already presented.

They choose the composition and begin shooting.

The Painter on the hand has to sketch/draw (mostly) the contents of the image, creating the effect of shadows, light, shape, texture and form with essentially 3 things, canvas, brush, pigment and a skilful hand.

Painting en Plein Air is the closest relation to Photography, I feel. Both the Painter and the Photographer have a scene in front of them and it is up to them what they distill from that scene, composition-wise to come up with an image.

The Photographer manipulates through camera, lens, lighting, angle, filter and later Photoshop or similar, using their imagination as well.

The Painter manipulates with their choice of canvas/paper, brush, pigment, line, angle, light and uses their imagination as well.

Back in the studio both can finish off their piece.

I’m not trying to say that Painting is better or is more creative than Photography though as each medium is irreplaceable. Painting cannot replace the immediacy of Photography. Photography can capture that ‘moment in time’ in less than a second, Painting cannot.

On a personal level, I have been photographing since the early 1980’s, although not as much these days. Sketching and Painting has certainly taken over, particularly in the last 2 years.

One of the things that I love about Sketching and Painting is the freedom it gives me and also the challenge of creating an image using basic tools. 

In an article a while ago I wrote called, ’There Are No 36 Megapixel Brushes’ I wrote about how someone can take a photo with something as simple these days as a phone camera and, due to the technology available, come with a technically decent image. Composition/imagination is another story, however.

As a Sketcher/Painter, we cannot go out and buy a Brush and Pigment that will give us a technically brilliant sketch or painting.

Yes, there are electronic Sketching and Painting apps but you still have to have the technical and artistic skill to create the image.

I still love Photography but it takes up a different place in my life these days. Equipment-wise, I’m heading towards Mirror-less cameras and a high-end compact that I can take anywhere.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my journey in Sketching and Painting and I can see myself continuing this journey for many years to come.

Written by David Johnson

11 October 2020

Shades Of Green Delight!

Years ago, I remember being in my Art room one day and upon looking out the window, in overcast lighting, I began to notice the different shades of green on our property. I noticed that the longer my eyes stayed fixed on the scene, the more ’shades of Green’ I noticed.

To the glancing eye there would have been about 3-4 shades. To the discerning eye there were 11. The shades of Green that you will see obviously depend on the type of light i.e. early morning light, late afternoon light, middle of the day, sunny conditions and overcast and indeed in the rain. They will all render the same Green in a different light.

Even as I look out my window today, at some smaller Gum trees, some leaves are in shade, some are half-backlit and others are totally backlit, giving a stunning array of shades of Green.

How often do we stop and realise just how many shades of the colour Green there are? Not often, I would expect.

As firstly a Photographer, my awareness of light interacting with the world increased and now that I am Painting, my awareness has evolved even more, I believe.

The colour Green means ‘renewal and growth’ and it is one of the most restful colours that we can lay our eyes on and it can also mean ‘balance and harmony.’*

I find it one of the most interesting colours to look at, particularly when I am out on my walks. It is often a colour that provides a great background to (particularly) the brighter flowers of the colour spectrum. The contrast it supplies ensures those flowers stand out even more!

On its own though, for me, is where its real power is. So many more subtle shades. So relaxing to look at.

The next time you go on a walk, take the time to slow down and ’study the Green’ that is before your eyes. It will open up a whole new world to you, as it has done for me.

Written by David Johnson

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Stepping Into The Light

Stepping into the light 1