Gareth Naylor

Atmospheric paintings of Japan

Watercolor painting of a paddy field in an urban area

An unexpected meeting and a moving story

Watercolor painting of a paddy field in an urban area
“An urban paddy field”

Recently, I met my friend Mark and we went to a restaurant for lunch. Mark and I both intended to have an exhibition at this restaurant. And we were checking out the place.

After lunch we went and looked at the exhibition area. And here we met a woman who was doing an exhibition. And we were both surprised to find out that she was a friend of Mark’s.

And then we were further surprised and intrigued to learn that the exhibition was of her late husband’s artwork. 

She told us how every year she holds this exhibition around the time he died, which happened to be father’s day.

She had quite a story to tell.

I don’t know how people recover from such tragic events and how they can even seem to still be happy people. The human spirit is amazing. 

She also happened to be fluent at speaking English and a very engaging person.

One thing she said really stuck with me which was how these exhibitions often bring people to her who used to know her husband. I think that connection is very important to her.

In a way, she gets to know her husband again through another person’s encounter with him.

And this was the case with us because it turns out that Mark, although not aware of the artist at first, after 10 or so minutes of looking at his work suddenly realized that he had bought two paintings from this artist about ten or so years ago.

And this happened with us. Because Mark, after 10 minutes of looking at this artist’s artwork, suddenly realized that he had bought two paintings from this artist about ten or so years ago.

This artist had produced a lot of beautiful artwork. 

One of the things I particularly liked was a handmade map of Beppu. We could see and hold the original. It was beautiful. 

He had also painted a starry night time picture of Beppu bay. I think that was my favorite landscape painting by him. It had a magical feeling to it.

It was quite a profound lunch.

After this I dropped Mark off and then I parked in the neighborhood and started walking around looking for places to paint. 

It is an interesting neighborhood and I should perhaps mention that Beppu is famous for its natural spas. I was by the river and I could see natural steaming hot water pouring into the river. It was quite a sight.

The painting above is one of the scenes I did near Mark’s house.

I know this isn’t your typical beautiful scene. But I’ve had to learn to adapt to my environment and develop a less conventional idea of what’s beautiful.

What I liked about this scene was the irregular assortment of building shapes. I also liked the rice field in this urban environment.

That’s all for now.

See you again, or as they say in Japanese, Mata ne.



I originally wrote this story in June of 2014. I am editing it 2022. This cafe has since closed. I don’t know if the owner retired or became sick. 

I’m a little sad about that because it was one of those rare places that had a special place just for exhibiting paintings. It was a room added on to the cafe with a curved wall. It was perfect for showing artwork. 

And I think I saw the lady that I talked about here again four or five years later. There was a big festival in Oita city. I think it was a cultural festival. The Japanese love their festivals. And in one of the city parks there was music and people dancing. 

She was one of the people dancing. She was dancing alone. But she looked very happy. It made me think that we should enjoy every day the company of our loved ones because at some point they won’t be there any more.

And finally, I can’t believe I threw away the painting above. When I edited this story, I looked at the image and thought it was quite nice. But in the past I decided the actual painting was not so great and binned it. 

All I have left now is a small image. I had to blow this image up and then sharpen it in a photo editing app. But I think it turned out quite nice.

And here’s one more painting I wanted to include. This picture is of a place in Beppu but I didn’t have a story to go with it. I forget the name of the port but I love the shape of these boats.

Watercolor painting of two fishing boats in dry dock
“Boats in Dry Docks”