Seeking To Engage

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

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

Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink – Domestika

Last week as I was scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed I happened upon a course through Domestika. I had registered an account with them some time ago but never actually purchased a course.

This particular day a course came up called, ‘Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink’. This of course, ‘was music to my ears!’ Amongst other subjects to sketch and paint, architecture is right up there so my interest was piqued almost instantly. Even better, it came up as a ‘Weekend Special’ and was reduced from AUD$79.00 to $12.90 so it was too good not to take advantage of.

The course is being delivered by Alex Hillkurtz, a Storyboard Artist in France who has worked on over 20 Feature films.

At date, the course has been completed by over 114,481 students and has a 99% rating.

Thus far I’m on Unit 2, Preparation and am looking forward to doing more of the course on the weekend. When I finish the course I will post the end project here.

In the meantime, here is the link if you would like to check out the course for yourself.

https://www.domestika.org/en/courses/1092-architectural-sketching-with-watercolor-and-ink/course

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

30 June 2022

The Journey Is Victory

Holiday Inspiration!

One of the many benefits of our recent trip away to Norfolk Island was the ‘change of scenery’ in regards to the type of subject matter I had been sketching/painting since I started this journey.

I had been doing a lot of sheds, houses, the odd seascape/landscape, farms and trees. Many were inspired by tutorials, (my own) reference photos, free images of my imagination. There were not a lot from ‘plein air’ sketching.

Whilst I was away, I did some rough pencil sketches in an A5 Moleskine sketchbook, took some reference photos and also kept up my Watercolour Sketch a Day practice however, I chose to use a different paint brand/quality. I took away a Sennelier Student half-pan set. It was a bit of a challenge as I limited myself to only 12 colours and they had some different shades to what I was/am using with the Winsor and Newton Artist quality half-pans.

Sennelier Student Half-Pans

It forced me to think differently in terms of mixing eg for shadows. Normally, I would use Ultramarine Blue and Sepia however, I did not have these colours available so I had to work to explore a different option.

Below, I’ve included the Watercolour Sketch a Day’s I did on the trip.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

27 March 2022

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

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