Journal

2021

Note: I bought myself a drone as a Christmas present and this is one of the first scenes I took a photo of. This is my local river, Oita river. I hope this year to do a series of paintings based on drone images.


2020

Note: This year I did a series of paintings of Spain. I wanted to do 100! It was very ambitious. I think I managed to do about 40 – at most. I hope to return to this series and finish it.


2019

Note: This year one of the most interesting things I painted and did a series about was the waterjet feature outside the train station in Oita city center. I have many happy memories of taking my daughter here and watching her play for hours.


2018

Note: This year I had the ambitious desire to paint 100 city scenes. I think I failed to do this but I did paint over 50 scenes which I am very happy about and I painted some pictures that I am really happy with such as the one above.


2017

Note: This year I did a series on rickshaws. There is a popular tourist town in my prefecture where you can ride in a rickshaw. I took several trips to this town to take photos of rickshaws and then did a series of paintings.


2016

Note: This year I did a series of paintings of England and Wales. In the summer I had travelled to England and visited the Cotswold, the Peak District and Windsor. During the same holiday, I also went to Trearddur Bay in Anglesey, Wales.


2015

Note: I visited a beautiful place called Sasebo. There are over 200 islands in Sasebo. Although I visited this place for just one day I must have done a 100 paintings of this place – most of these paintings ended up in the bin. For me, Sasebo is quintessential Japan.


2014

Note: I often paint my local river but I think this year I painted it a bit more than normal and one of my favorites was this one of a nyuudougumo, or a thunderhead cloud, which you get in the hot Japanese summers. I also did a series of paintings on the major construction going on in the city center, also a series of paintings of a festival in the rain and a few paintings of passengers on a train.


2013

Note: This year I took many trip by my local river to the sea. At the end of the river there is a view of Beppu bay and you can see the sun set behind the mountains of Beppu – it is an amazing view.


2012

Note: I didn’t do many paintings this year and mostly I painted figures, especially my wife. But I also did a painting of Kuju mountain from a climbing trip there with an old Japanese man.


2011

Note: I did a lot of paintings around Wasada. This one is of the river in Wasada.


2010

Note: I did a variety of paintings during this year. But one of my favorite was this painting of Kitsuki river.


Earlier works

Note: I possibly painted this picture in 2005. This is an area where I used to live and is called Shinmachi in Oita city. That bridge has now gone. I’m pretty sure about the date because I wrote it. You can even see part of the date in the bottom, left hand corner. At this time, I decided to go outside and to start painting whatever attracted my eye.


Why did I start an art journal?

This is probably a waste of time. That at least is the thought that holds me back from doing this – and it could be right. Time will tell. 

So I’m writing this in May of 2019 and I’ve been painting for about 20 years and although I’ve done a blog for the last several years on and off – mostly off – I’ve near been able to keep to a consistent journal. I wonder if that will change this time.

Creativity is messy

So the reason for starting an art journal is because creativity is messy and it can soon get out of control – especially if you are creative for 20 years. So the art journal is an attempt at controlling this chaotic flow of creativity.

I became so swamped by my creations that I felt like I was drowning in them. It often surprises me to see gurus offering courses on developing your creativity – let me tell you now, there is a dark side to being creative.

I have a friend who rents a huge building that use to be a restaurant (until it got flooded, there is still wallpaper hanging from the ceiling) and it is filled with his artworks. Everywhere you look you can see his work. I vividly remember chatting with him and being aware of all that artwork around us – there must have been hundreds of pieces.

Culling my creations 

For me it was time to “cull the creativity”. Or rather “cull the creations”. So I sorted through 20 years of work. I have periodically culled my work but I still had hundreds of paintings. It was difficult, painful and time-consuming but at last I culled about, at a guess, 60 to 70% of my work. I can’t tell you what a relief I felt.

What remains of my work is stored in just 2 boxes now with silica gel to protect it from the intense humidity you get in Japan. Although I might get one more box for future creations!

However, what is left is still a substantial body of work which I hope to show here. It needs though to be organized and that is what I hope this journal will help me to do. Also I have written many blog posts related to some of these paintings that are now scattered over different sites, on my computer hard drive and in paper files that I hope to put in order.

Momentous task 

It’s going to be a momentous task – perhaps I am really wasting my time. But I will devote about 30 to 60 minutes a day. Let’s see what happens. I will stop though if the whole project seems to go sour.

One of the big problems is that I am not very sure when I painted some of my pictures. So I can’t promise absolute fidelity to the time of creation but I will try to be fairly accurate. Also some works got spread over a long period of time and became a series. Furthermore, I was working upon them sporadically so these are difficult to date. And then there are the one offs that just came out beautifully but I have forgotten when exactly I did them. Also the date of when I actually went to a place and when I did a painting of that place can be very far apart – even years apart – I will try to let you know that when I am aware of it myself.

Final hope

My final hope for this project is that it will give structure to my creativity and in such a way that it will improve my creativity and also help me learn more about the creative process.

I have the fear though that creativity and organization don’t mix well. I fear that creativity is messy by nature – we shall see. And so I fear that by trying to be organized with my creativity I might affect my creativity for the worse – again, we shall see.

I hope you enjoy this journal.

Gareth.