Art Journal 2015
Paintings and Stories of a Watercolor Landscape Artist Living in Japan
Wet, Winter Day by Oita River
So, on a cold and windy day I went painting by Oita river - it’s very near my house. Probably not a good idea unless you want to catch a cold. But what a great scene. I was delighted by the silvery reflective quality of the path.
Trip to Kuju in Winter
Took a trip to Kuju to see a cafe owner about doing an exhibition. Not only was the owner a nice guy, not only did I get a free cup of delicious coffee but I also ended up selling 8 paintings. And on the way there I saw this beautiful scene. I just love the golden color of the grass.
My love for Sasebo returned and I was painting those beautiful islands again. This time I wanted to focus on the light catching the top of the island trees. Sunlit island might be a good title for this picture.
A trip to a cafe called Mizushi no Mori on a very wet and atmospheric day. I went with my friend Mark. We stopped on the way back so that he could get out and have a smoke. And that's when I took this photo. I added the figure. I remember giving Mark an umbrella so he wouldn't get wet, but the thing was broken and it would open properly and it was also torn. I couldn't help laughing as I looked at Mark smoking a cigarette, holding this broken and torn umbrella. I wanted so much to take a photo (it was like an image that appears as a symbol - the symbol in this case being something like hopelessness or despair) but he told me where to go and quite right too. But he was such a funny sight. And I think I drove him a bit nuts by saying every 5 minutes the word atmospheric - but that's how I felt when I looked at this scene, it was so amazing, so atmospheric - by which I meant there was an incredibly powerful and distinctive feeling created by the weather and I was just in my element gazing at it.
Beautiful Beach Surfaces
Went on a trip to Kamae, or perhaps Saiki, still not sure, both of which are famous for their beautiful beaches.
Tried to capture a beautiful, hazy spring scene of Oita river in the morning.
Yes, I'm back to painting Sasebo.
Family trip to Tsunoshima in Yamaguchi. Saw a wonderful beach.
Visited Kaguramekko in Beppu by myself. Saw a beautiful display of irises.
There’s always one right. Well, I have no idea when I painted this picture but I’m showing it because I like it. It’s a crossing in a beautiful, rural area called Shonai - famous for pears! It also looks like it was done around summer time and as I can't find any other paintings for this month it got chosen.
I went to this place maybe 5 or 6 years ago and it left a deep impression upon me. It is a long river with many beautiful waterfalls. And even in a Japanese summer the water is surprisingly freezing cold. I wanted very much to go back to this place and paint it again. At last, this month I did it. It was a really wonderful trip as you go over a caldera at a place called Aso.
I did a series of paintings of the river at Kikuchi Keikoku. One of the problems I had was the intense amount of foliage and it was so important to simplify this as much as possible.
I visited Innai to paint one of it’s famous stone bridges. That didn’t work out well at all and I was very disappointed by my painting which now no longer exists. But on the way back home I found a wonderful waterfall by chance called Higashi Shiiyanotaki. I just saw a small sign indicating a waterfall and decided to investigate. At the time there was some tape saying don't enter but I just wanted a peek. But then once I entered I just kept walking and waling and walking. It takes a long time to reach the waterfall itself. In fact, it took so long that at times I was running to get there and see the thing. And it was well worth it. It is dramatic. I was also enchanted by the stone steps cut out of "living rock" - it reminded me of Tolkien. I understood the reason for the warning tape when I came to a section of the path that had been blocked off by stones that had fallen down the rocky side. But it was fairly easy to scramble over them. Though this rock fall was somewhat worrying as sometimes you are walking under a rock overhang! You just have to hope - after all rock is fairly stable stuff. I think the painting above is from my second visit to this place. I was hoping for the sun to shine into this narrow gorge, but it is so narrow I'm not sure if the sun can reach inside and so I was disappointed in that respect.
Walk by the Castle
Wow. I was busy this month. So one of my favorite paintings of the year was this one of a sunset by Oita castle. I just love the light and simplistic, abstract feeling of the painting. I use to hate the wall on the right I thought it was an ugly, lumpy concrete monstrosity. But then I saw how from the right angle it actually looked beautifully. As I rewrite this in 2019, I was surprised and a little disappointed to see that they have now replaced this wall with a simple metal railing.
And then I went to Kuju, a national park, at a buyer’s request and found a beautiful place to paint and experienced a wonderful sunset. I also wandered around a field and saw some bulls - luckily they were quite far away.
And then I did another painting of Kuju. This was the scene I saw just before reaching my car.
We went on a wonderful family trip to Miyajima. I really enjoyed this unusual angle.
We’ve had some wonderful sunny days this December and this was painted on one of them in the morning. I cycle past this temple gate nearly every day taking my daughter to nursery school. I just love those gnarly trees.
The air is so clear in Japan in winter time. I like to think that this painting captures that beautiful clear light you get in winter.
Buy a Giclee print of any of these paintings on Canson Aquarelle Rag (watercolor paper), 8 x 10" (20.3 x 25.4 cms), $60 (includes shipping). Full refund if damaged during delivery. Please include the title of the painting.