Art Journal 2019

Paintings and Stories of a Watercolor Landscape Artist Living in Japan


Japanese Fishing Boat

I visited Saiki with my family. While my wife met her friend and went to a school reunion I took at trip to the port and saw a really lovely fishing boat. The sketch on the left done with pen and watercolor paint was much better than my “proper” painting. I have to realize that my sketches are better than my proper ones!

Watercolor painting of Lake Kinrinko in Yufuin, Oita prefecture, Japan. Painted in January 2019.

Lake Kinrinko in Winter

I visited Yufuin. I was hopeful that I could sell some of my calendars and even some of my prints. What actually happened is that I sold nothing and one of my precious prints got blown by a gust of wind into the lake. The only person to talk to me was another artist who told me about her exhibition! 

Cyclist by Oita River

Japanese rivers are very different to the rivers I know in England. They are very shallow and very wide. They also have very high artificial embankments. I really hate these embankments as they make it difficult to paint a nice picture. I have tried though many times to paint beautiful images of these Japanese rivers and even of these embankments. Over the years I have also begun to see potential aesthetic aspects to these embankments – this is one of those attempts. 


Watercolor painting of Kuju, Oita prefecture, Japan in December 2018.

Gold and Mist Moment in Kuju

Visited Kuju in December to collect my paintings from an exhibition where I sold not one painting! Returning from the exhibition I took a detour through Kuju which is a beautiful national park. It was a gloomy, rainy day but suddenly the sun came out and changed everything into gold and mist.

Water Jet Feature by the Train Station

This water jet feature is so visually interesting. The play of water, mist, light and running children is amazing. I love the way shapes partially disappear into the mist and the broken reflections. This water jet feature changes the ordinary into a surreal image.

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Farm Fields Near Yanagawa

I don’t know exactly when I painted this, it could even possibly be the end of last year. This is from a photo I took last year when I went to Yanagawa, in Fukuoka prefecture, with my family. It was a wonderful trip and the icing on the cake was the beautiful scene of these farm buildings that I saw in the car on the way home.


Sunlit Fields in Kitsuki

This came from looking at photos on my cell phone and seeing an interesting countryside image of a place called Kitsuki that I visited in 2018. This is a one off experiment. I’m not sure if it worked. But I wanted to capture that feeling of a brilliant beam of light – which is on the right – that just cuts through everything.

Beautiful Shrine in Yufuin

I did many super loose paintings of a shrine in Yufuin. Most of them I will just throw away but they were fun to do. I like the strange arrangement of the benches in the image above and I liked leaving the image like this – a kind of abstract image.

Resurrecting a Dramatic Urban Scene Painting

I had some paintings of urban scenes done in one color. Although these paintings weren’t good enough to show at the same time I found them visually exciting. I decided to spruce one up by adding some strong darks and a few other touches and I was delighted with the result – it’s so much more powerful than my normal urban paintings. I love to paint urban scenes but I’m not sure buyers like them so much.

Dramatic Sky Series

I decided to paint a picture of a rickshaw. But to begin with I practiced doing different kinds of sky for that picture. I got carried away though and did a small series of skies – this is one of my favorites. I was surprised by how dramatic they became – but I was going full out and not being careful.


Cherry Blossom at Shidaka Lake

Went to Shidaka Lake to paint the Cherry Blossom. I was surprised by how so many hills nearby had been covered in solar panels. I thought it was a shame and ugly – to be honest.

Rickshaw Series

Haunted by a painting of rickshaw. I love this painting but the sky isn’t quite right. So I tried to paint it again and ended up painting a totally different picture. So at some point I’ll try again – probably.

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Psychedelic Tree

I was practicing painting a tree with just 2 color and 2 brushes for my 2 brush method course. At some point I decided to add a colorful background – just a bit of arty fun – and this was the result. Perhaps a bit too psychedelic. And sadly my post on this subject, called “Psychedelic Tree” is my far, by far, my most popular post. What am I doing here? I should just do crazy stuff as it will be more popular. But is that compromising? The challenges an artist experiences can be soul wrenching at times.


Watercolor painting of a mountain path. This is Kuju mountain in Oita prefecture, Japan.

Climbers on a Path Going up Kuju Mountain

Climbed Mount Kuju with my family during Golden Week. This is the third or fourth time that I’ve climbed this mountain. We were surprised to find lots of ladybugs near the top of the mountain. My daughter collected some in a plastic container. And we had lunch just before the final ascent to the top because we thought it would be colder at the very top but actually when we had lunch it was very cold and when we got to the very top it was quite warm and mild.

Sea Sparkle in Sasebo

My obsession with Sasebo returned and I did many paintings of this wonderful place. Read more here.


Japanese Shrine in Yufuin

I’ve done a lot of very loose watercolor sketches of the shrine above which is in Yufuin. I visited this place several months ago. I really like the arrangement of the benches in the foreground.


Beautiful Street in Valencia, Spain

Trip to Spain! When I told my friend Mark he said: “You lucky bastard”. It’s great to have a friend who makes you laugh. Last year I went to Valencia in Spain. It is a beautiful place. Above is one of the streets I saw. This time we are going to Southern Spain.


Road Cross at Evening Time

This is a new road. I walk by it everyday and so I get to look at it a lot. And in the evening it sometimes looks very beautiful and so I did a painting. It might not be beautiful to you, I don’t think my wife would think it beautiful, but I guess I look at it is as a cluster of shapes and colors and for me it is a beautiful cluster of shapes and colors. I must have been inspired by this view because I did a series of paintings of this scene.


Oita River in Yufuin at Evening Time

I took a trip to Yufuin. I can’t remember what I did there but I did see the river at evening time and it was very beautiful. I loved the way the light was catching and adding a warm hue to the edge of the tree. This led to a series of paintings.


Field of Cosmos Flowers

In this month, I went on a family trip to Nakatsu to see a display of Cosmos flowers. It was really beautiful. I did many paintings of these fields but I’m still not happy with them.


Rural Country Road at Evening Time, After the Rain

I don’t know where the interest came from but I had the urge to paint a rural country road just after it had stopped raining and when the glistening surface becomes reflective and shiny. And I thought having a car with its lights on coming down the road would look very powerful as well as the light of the sun now coming out from behind the rain clouds. I’m still not satisfied with this painting but I think it is a good start.


Snow Scene

In December I often do a snow scene. This time I took a photo I had of Yufuin and which I had done a lot of painting of and turned it into a snow scene. One of the exciting things for me about this image was having part of the tree bark glowing a warm orange as it catches the light of the evening sun. It seems that one of the themes during this year was objects partially glowing with light from the evening sun.