My oldest watercolor paintings of Japanese cityscapes

Watercolor painting of a Japanese car scrapyard
“Japanese car scrapyard”

There are 4 times in my life when I did art.

First time

Firstly as a child I did a lot of drawing.

I loved using crayons. 

Every Christmas I remember how delighted I was to receive a pack of crayons. 

But what I drew is not something you’d call it art. 

For I just drew endless rectangular spaceships.

I would cover the whole paper with them.

And then there would be a big battle.

I also drew, or maybe I should say gouged, an image of a church on my bedroom wall.

It was my Sistine Chapel moment! 

However, my dad, who had just painted the bedroom wall, which was a really long room, and who had very high standards of workmanship, was not impressed. 

I later learnt that he said to my mum in disbelief: “I can’t believe it. He’s so destructive”.

I also painted the inside of the shed. This too was not well received.

Second time

The second time I did art began in my last year at school when I was about 15. 

Now I was drawing plants, dungeons and dragons stuff and pictures of nude women. 

Of course, I improved most from drawing the latter because I was very focused.

Although I passed, I spent another year at college doing art. 

And according to my lecturer I had gotten worse at drawing over this year. 

But I think that was because we were drawing things like folded strips of paper which is not inspiring. 

If we’d been drawing naked women I think I would have massively improved or even fantasy subjects such as dragons and knights.

Anyways, I was not impressed by the art lessons at college. 

And it was suggested that I should do Graphic Design which is far more cool and perhaps I could become a concept designer which sounded really cool. 

So I went and did a year in graphic design and I did a few lessons in watercolor painting in my free time which I really enjoyed and which I wish I’d continued at.

Doing the graphic design course was a big mistake. 

The director, or whatever he was titled, was a brilliant illustrator but he almost looked down upon art. 

He would say that art was for monkeys and that it was ideas that were important.

His comments saddened me because the whole reason I had started the course was because I liked art, I liked drawing and painting, and I wanted to get better at it. 

I also wasn’t very good at art or ideas. 

After one year I quit the course. 

And then for many years I did all kinds of other things but no art.

Third time

But my interest in art did come back.

I’m not sure though it was a good thing. 

I sometimes wonder if art has been a blessing or a curse for me. 

Perhaps both. 

But anyway, I was studying physiotherapy in Bath.

I had the chance at a job for life and security.

Yet, I was unhappy. 

And I had started drawing again. 

After a month, I quit the course.

I decided that I wanted to do a course in Fine Art.

Sadly I couldn’t because I had to first do a Foundation course and I didn’t have the financial resources to do that. 

So, I started an art related degree course that didn’t need a Foundation course.

But it was rubbish. 

I soon realized that and quit that too. 

A year later I started a course in architecture. 

I thought it would allow me to do my art. 

But after one year I quit architecture too. 

I was getting very good at quitting things.

After that one year, during the summer holidays, I cycled around France for 3 weeks and did some drawings. 

You can read about that story here

That was so fun. 

And I wish that I had done more travelling and drawing. 

But after that holiday I not only quit the architecture course but also the art.

After that I did a foundation course in mechanical engineering for one year.

And then I went and studied English literature. 

And I actually got a degree in English literature. 

I had even started to toy with the idea of becoming an English lecturer. 

But after 3 years of studying for my degree I wanted freedom from academia. 

I wanted to see the world. So I went to Japan.

Fourth time

And in Japan, around 1999, my interest in art returned. 

I started going to a watercolor class and an oil painting class. 

At some point I got very serious and actually started walking around the city and painting what I saw.

This is easy to do in Japan as people are pretty easy going. 

Especially if you are a foreigner.

I remember once in England I was on a street doing a drawing and a car stopped near me. 

There was a burly man in a car with his family and he was staring at me as though I was a felon. 

He was very aggressive looking. 

And he actually got out of his car. 

And in a very menacing voice he asked me, what I was doing.

England is not the country of gentlemen that the Japanese seem to believe. 

There’s nothing gentle whatsoever about the place. 

Well, there are a few kind people.

Anyway, back to the story. 

These paintings are some of my earliest artworks.

I think I painted them around 2005.

They are of a place called Shinmachi which is very near Oita city centre. 

I lived in a big apartment in Shinmachi from about 2000 to 2006. 

I think these paintings are the first outdoor paintings that I did.

I’m so glad that I kept them.

And I thought that I’d share them with you.

I simply wandered around Shinmachi and painted what I thought was interesting, such as the petrol station, the concrete aqueduct and the car scrapyard. 

The concrete aqueduct was actually painted across two separate sheets of paper which is why there is a white gap in the middle.

These paintings are now very old and things have changed in Shinmachi. 

I believe the car scrapyard has gone. 

And the bridge next to the petrol station has also gone. 

All that is solid vanishes into air! It seems to be true.

Here are all the paintings.

Watercolor painting of a Japanese car scrapyard
“Japanese car scrapyard”
Watercolor painting of a Japanese petrol station
“Japanese petrol station”

Note that this painting has a date in the left hand corner. I am so happy about that. The 05 means 2005. So I know that I painted this picture in 2005. And I’m fairly sure I painted the other pictures around the same time.

Watercolor painting of a Japanese concrete waterway
“Japanese concrete waterway”

Note the car scrapyard in the distance which I painted in another picture. I think that place is visually very interesting.


I’m writing this article in February of 2021. 

It’s cold. 

My right hand feels like a block of ice. 

My mum sent me a pair of gloves to keep my fingers warm but they are so tight that I can’t move my fingers with them on.

It cost her about 14 dollars to send the gloves.

What a ridiculously high price. 

But the sunlight is streaming in through my window and it is glorious. 

I feel bathed in light. 

And I just keep on writing. 

Today, or was it in the middle of the night, I decided to write 250 blogs, make 250 videos and to have 1000 images on my website.

I also decided to have about 10 galleries on my website with paypal buttons, which is the kind of practical thing that I don’t do. 

I wonder if I’ll do it.