A Generous Gift – Italian Handmade Watercolour Paper

Last year, a good friend, business associate and mentor, left for a business trip over to Europe. On her return, She presented me with a gift, a pack of “Amalfi Hand Made Watercolour Paper.” Alison said she saw this paper and thought of me. Thanks, Alison!

I was indeed very grateful as for one, I wasn’t expecting a gift at all and certainly not a pack of fine Italian Watercolour Paper!

Last year was an extremely busy and life-changing year and I struggled (particularly in the latter half of the year) to find, not only quality time but the state I wanted to be in to try the paper.

Today, for my Day 1,431 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day, I thought I would do it. Today, is New Year’s Day Holiday in Australia (as NYD fell on a Sunday), so it seemed like the perfect time to try the paper.

When trying any new paper, I’ve read that it is a great idea to try some small samples so I cut one of the 30cm x 30cm sheets into 6 pieces and I shall use them for my next 6 Watercolour Sketches a Day. This way, I can see how the paper performs, how it takes water and colour etc.

I also thought I would sketch a subject I had done before. It will take time for me to get used to the paper as it is many steps up from what I have been using up till now.

Here is Day 1,431 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day.

Written by David Johnson

2 January 2023

Seeking To Engage

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

Practice, practice, practice!

I’ve recently started another sketchbook and as mentioned in the previous article on this thread, I am using a Moleskine A4 200gsm where the pages are made up with 25% Cotton.

I haven’t found one yet, but I would love to find a sketchbook where the pages are made up with 50% Cotton. Judging from my experiences so far with 100% Cotton and 25% Cotton sketchbooks, 50% would be ideal.

I’m still enjoying Line and Wash. Today is Day 1,055 of a Watercolour Sketch a Day and am still posting them each day on Instagram. It is fascinating to look back at where I’ve come from, acknowledging though, that I still have a long way to go in terms of where I want to be. I’ve also been pushing myself to do mainly images from my imagination and the occasional reference image, rather than tutorials.

I have included some of my recent Watercolour Sketches a Day below, done in the Moleskine.

Have a great day!

Written by David Johnson

21 December 2021

Learning Into Practice

Over my Watercolour Sketch a day journey, I have done a number of tutorials by Artists such as Peter Sheeler and Nil Rocha Art. These tutorials have taught me a lot about colour mixing, types of brushes to use in different situations, shadows and much more.

During lockdown in 2020, I chose to do a tutorial every day for 120 days straight and it really opened my eyes and stretched me. In hindsight though, I would have been better off do a tutorial a week as it would have allowed me more time to absorb the new information and techniques that I was being exposed to. Since then, I have been doing them sporadically.

For today’s Watercolour Sketch a day, I decided to do a tutorial by Peter Sheeler (see first image below). I have done some Snow-related images before but none this layered. I had a lot of fun doing it.

A5 – Day 942 of a Watercolour Sketch a day.

Armed with some new techniques, I cleared some time this afternoon and completed an A4 (my Watercolour Sketch a day’s are only A5 size) Watercolour as I was keen to try to implement things that I had learnt in this morning’s tutorial. See image below.

A4 Watercolour Line and wash

I’m very happy with the result, acknowledging that I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be with my creations.

Creating Art is not my full-time profession and I embarked on the Watercolour Sketch a day as I wanted to create a daily Art practice so as I can improve quicker. Each day, I look forward to be able to do my Watercolour Sketch. On weekdays I spend up to an 30 minutes to 1 hour maximum, on weekends it is longer.

Along with doing my daily sketch I am planning to do one A4 Watercolour as well, per weekend.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

29 August 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

There’s No Business Like Snow Business!

This post was inspired by a friend’s recent ‘Snow-misadventure…’

Back in the 1980’s, I was part of a 18-35years Church Social Group and one of adventures was to the Snowy Mountains in southern NSW, Australia. It was one of those hurried 3 day weekend trips that saw me (briefly) on Ski’s but mostly on a Toboggan, which (for me) at the time was a lot more fun, that is until a had a slight ‘run-in’ with a creek. That was my first time in the Snow. I was satisfied with that. Visit to the Snow ticked off the list.

The very next year (1984) I was invited back to the Snowy Mountains by a small group of school friends who were planning to go for a whole week. Sounded fun so I agreed.

We stayed at Jindabyne and travelled to the ski fields from there. Jindabyne is basically the closest town to the ski fields but is not actually in them.

The previous year I had an hour ski lesson but I thought it was prudent to have another, and so I did, only this time it was snowing fairly heavily and to this day I wonder if I perhaps missed some ‘key technical points’ that would have helped immensely later on?

Most of my friends had Skied before and one friend in particular, David was a bit more experienced but he decided to hang back with me whilst I was endeavouring to ‘glide’ down the run called the ‘Pretty Valley Triple’ at Perisher Valley.

Needless to say that after a short time, I thanked David for staying with me but said that he would probably have more fun if he went on and left me to my own devices as I didn’t want him to get bored…

Off he glided down the hill…

Thinking back to the Ski lesson, I remember the lessons on how to ’Snowplough’ (or stop) & they taught us about weight control/which way to lean if we wanted change direction. It seemed fairly easy where we did the lesson. It was relatively flat ground.

Thinking back, I would have weighed about 55Kg and was 185cm tall so I didn’t have a lot of weight to throw around.

When you fall skiing it’s not as soft a landing as would think and in my first journey down the Pretty Valley Triple run I fell seventeen times. What would you do?

David & David Skiing @ Perisher 1984 – I am the David on the left.

I went back up to try again. This time I only fell seven times, an obvious improvement, though the 24 clashes with Mother Earth had left me bruised and battered. Somehow though, I had managed to miss every tree.

My mistake that day wasn’t that I had fallen 24 times attempting to ski, it was the fact that I made the decision to return my gear to the ski hire place and go to the local bar for three beers (muscle relaxant). I haven’t skied since….

On pondering why I stopped, I remembered I hated the icy weather, the ski boots – I found them painful to wear around the ankle section of the leg, much of me was sore & I was skiing on my own. Given that and the ‘person I was as a 21 year old’ I can see why I gave in.

It is easy to look back and say ‘I would have done it differently’ but I can honestly say that if I was the person I am now, I would have gone back up and maybe only fell 3 times and so on… That’s not to say that I would be down the Snowy Mountains skiing every year, but it would be fun to have the option…

My wife, Susan has mentioned ‘going to the Snow’ a few times over the years as he has skied before. At 53, I wonder if the time for skiing has passed?

I would still like to go back to the Snow but this time it probably would be a photographic expedition, but you know what they say…’never say never….’

Written by David Johnson
23 July 2016

Jewels Of The Street

The rush of the wind
The falling of snow
Street lamps flicker
Causing the night to glow

The shops are like jewels
Along the streets
Like ships in a harbour
An organised fleet

Silently they stand
In the still of the night
Waiting for morning
For people to take flight

Queuing they will
For the lowest of prices
Ready to snap up
Those wonderful appliances

Through the hustle and bustle
Of that long-sales-day-grind
The staff will try to be
Both patient and kind

And when it’s time to close
The sales day is done
People return to their homes
And look over what they’ve won

The street returns to silence
The night begins to fall
The shop goes to sleep
Until the next sales day calls.

Written by David Johnson
27 December 2015

© CommunicatingCreatively/David Johnson 2015