Art Journal 2016

Paintings and Stories of a Watercolor Landscape Artist Living in Japan


The Climb to Yusuhara Shrine

I took a trip to Yusuhara shrine to paint a “New Year” scene. I think I never reached the top of all the steps because I got so interested in painting the people making the climb to the top. There is actually a road that goes all the way to the top but many like to do the climb to the top.


"Sunlight in the Train" / Beppu to Oita train / Watercolor / 31.8 x 41 cm (12.5" x 16").

Sunlight in the Train

I saw this wonderful arrangement of heads upon a train. I can’t find this image yet so here is another of a train image that was probably influenced by the same train trip.


Lake Kinrinko in Late Winter

I visited Yufuin and did a painting of lake Kinrinko. The name of this lake means “golden fish scales”. I loved the warm color of the grass and leaves.


View from Katsuma Island

I went on a family trip to Katsuma in Fukuoka. This is a wonderful island. It is reached by a long stretch of road going out across the sea from the mainland to this island; there is just a narrow bank of sand on either side of the road. There is a famous surfing beach here and the atmosphere is wonderful. We, then, traveled around the whole island, which only takes about 20 minutes or so, and on the other side of the island I saw this wonderfully dramatic cluster or rocks and brilliant sunlight – it’s the kind of stuff I love. Hopefully, we’ll go there again soon.

Simple Watercolor Painting of a Snow Scene.

A Simple Snow Scene

I was practicing painting scenes with the fewest materials possible. I think I did this painting with just one brush. I was delighted with the simplicity of this painting.


Bird’s Eye View of a Rural Japanese Road

On a family trip near Ota in Oita prefecture we walked around a reservoir and I saw this wonderful view from the top of the reservoir embankment. And this painting sold very quickly which was nice!


Fisherman by Oita river Early in the Morning

This river, called Oita river, is right next to my doorstep and I often walk by this river in the morning and enjoy seeing the sunrise. In summer though the sunlight is dazzling and intense. I find myself walking along a path that has become a worm graveyard with endless numbers of worms fried hard on the path – some still have a bit of wiggle in them and these I sometimes throw into the grass. But back to the painting. This is one of several in which I paint the dazzling and intense sunrises you get on this river in summer. I could be wrong but I do think the light here in Oita is very intense and this intense light has become a fundamental element of my work.

Fisherman on a Beach in Kunsaki at Evening Time

Kunisaki is a very interesting place in Oita prefecture. It takes several hours to drive there. There is a feeling of remoteness about the place. And I think the average age of the few people who live here is about 60 or 70. There are many beautiful beaches in this rather mysterious place and this is one of my favorite places for painting the tide coming and the appearance of those sand banks. I particularly like the long poles in this picture; I have no idea what they are for but they really helped make for an interesting painting.


Rural Japanese Shrine in Bungo-ono on a Hot Summer’s Day

It was summer time and in Japan that means super hot. So we took a family trip to a pool in the middle of the countryside to cool down. The place is called Bungo-ono – I know this name sounds ridiculously childish. But this prefecture Oita was originally called Bungo. I find the name amusing but it sounds a lot more interesting than Oita. There were a lot of people in the pool and the water was really cold but it was very refreshing to step in. I, being antisocial and somewhat selfish as usual, took a short walk around the area which was a very rural, farmland area and found the idyllic shrine in the painting above. 


Early Morning in Stow-on-the-Wold, Cotswold

During this month I returned to England with my family. We had a lovely time. To be honest, just the cool climate of England was one of the greatest delights. I felt like my body was being healed. And it made me think that in a Japanese summer my body is probably having to work very hard to keep me going. During our stay we visited the Cotswold. It was my first time. And I got the chance to see old England. Beautiful. It makes you realize just how ugly modern England is. The place above is called Stow-on-the-Wold and we stayed here one night. I actually managed to get up early in the morning and take a walk around this place. We also went on a trip to Anglesey, an island off the coast of Wales.


Airport in South Korea at Dusk

I did a painting of the airport at evening time on the way back to Japan from England. I think this is in South Korea. 


Yufudake at Evening Time

A beautiful sunset on the slopes of Yufudake. I realized you don’t have to climb to the top of the mountain in order to find a good scene to paint.


Watercolor Christmas card of a magical moonlit snow scene

Snow Scene

I started painting a snow scene that I would turn into a Christmas card and I got carried away and made many. Above is one of my favorites.


Elevated Train Line

This view is right next to my daughter’s kinder-garden so I see this view almost everyday and I’ve often thought it might make a good painting. On this day, it was very sunny and I really liked the sharp edgy slits of glinting light created by the roofs as well as the random and tiny touches of light from various other objects. Around this time I started to paint a lot of dramatic urban scenes and I guess this is one of the early ones – although I’m not sure you could call it urban, perhaps a kind of “rural urban” – hmm.