Painting a Hauntingly Soft and Beautiful Sea Scene

Today it was very hot and humid. When I think of Japan this is how I imagine the country. Perhaps the drama Tenko had an influence upon me or some Kurosawa movie, I am not sure.

It was evening and the sun was shining in a silvery grey sky. It was quite strange but beautiful and I wished that I had a camera but no such luck.

I rushed home, took a quick swig of juice, sorted out my art gear, and then I was off to the sea by bicycle in order to paint that sky.

Yet when I came out of the house that particular magic moment had gone and I was just looking at a dullish sky now as the sun had sunk behind the clouds.

But I was rolling so I decided to keep going and besides, I reflected, these sunsets can change if you hang around long enough.

In fact quite amazing and surreal things can happen with an evening sky if you are patient.

So I got to my painting spot and I finished one painting. Although the sky was not quite so spectacular now I added some of that earlier magic that I had seen and produced a painting that I was quite happy with.

Ironically after I finished it the sky suddenly started becoming redder and redder until it lit up like an enormous flame.

It was glorious. 

The color and glow were amazing to the point of feeling surreal.

I took photo after photo intending to use them later in the studio.

I was so moved by this scene that I decided to do another painting. This was perhaps a bad idea as I had one very unhappy wife when I returned home. Well, there is the matter of my 2 year old daughter to consider!

So even though it was getting dark I just had to paint one more picture and capture that magical and surreal sunset.

I finished in the dark with a soft white moon above me – magical.

And I had had a wonderful time and I was quite happy with the painting too.


This story was originally written in July of 2014. I am editing it in April of 2021. It was such a joy to read this story and relive this moment. The story needed very little editing and I am very happy with the painting here that came from this magical experience. During this year I went many times to the sea and created a lot of evening seascape paintings of Beppu bay.

Gareth Naylor

I am an Englishman living and painting in Japan. I have now been here for over 17 years and have been painting for all that time. I love to travel around the Japanese countryside and find beautiful places to paint.

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