Gareth Naylor

Atmospheric paintings of Japan

Dramatic watercolor painting of a seascape

Powerful watercolor paintings of the sea

Dramatic watercolor painting of a seascape
“Atmospheric seascape”

During 2013, I would often get on my bicycle and cycle to the sea. 

It was just a 10 minute cycle ride. 

And at the sea, I had a spectacular view of Beppy bay. 

I would usually go at evening time and paint the sun setting over this bay. 

It was a wonderful experience. 

And here is a collection of the paintings I did of Beppu bay during that year.

I have no idea now what order I painted these pictures.

So I will show the one above first because it is my favorite.

I have the vague notion that when I painted this picture I was just playing around.

This is always a good way to be when painting because you relax.

And relaxing often leads to exciting things happening.

And for me this painting is really exciting. 

It has a vibrancy that is much stronger than in my usual work.

I have tried to paint this picture again with the intention of capturing that vibrancy but I couldn’t.

But I will try a further time because I want so much to paint a sky with such vibrancy.

Watercolor painting of the sea at dusk
“A fishing boat returning home”

I am also very happy with this painting. 

It has a lovely feeling of peacefulness.

It’s an unusual painting for me in capturing a moment after the sun has gone down. 

Normally I paint dramatic sunsets.

And it’s almost a monotone painting except for a faint touch of yellow.

I like the composition of this painting.

Especially that cluster of clouds on the left hand side that slowly thin out towards the right.

And I like the “fluffy” edge of the clouds which gives a feeling of movement.

If you look at the composition as a bunch of abstract shapes then you can see how the boat is like a dark blob moving towards a bigger darker blob on the left hand side. 

Looking at the painting in this abstract way gives me interesting ideas for future paintings where I can imitate that abstract pattern but change other elements such as the time of day, the objects and the colors.

Watercolor painting of rays of light hitting the sea
“Rays of light hitting the sea”

For a long time I wanted to paint rays of sunlight hitting the surface of the sea. 

It looks so beautiful and dramatic.

And I think this is one of my earliest and most successful attempts at painting rays of sunlight hitting the sea.

As well as the rays of light, what I also like about this painting is the delicacy. 

Despite capturing a powerful moment this picture does it in a soft and slightly subdued way. 

And I like those little ripples in the foreground and the slight change of color to a greenish gray. 

As I look carefully, I can see that there are a lot of beautiful subtleties in this painting.

And, finally, this painting is very large and so I am also glad that it worked out.

Normally, it is much more difficult to get a good result with a large painting than with a small one.

Watercolor painting of a seascape with the final glow of evening light
“The final glow of evening”

And here is another painting I really like.

I am well aware that I keep saying how much I like each painting.

Perhaps it is becoming an annoying refrain.

But you have to remember these are the few survivors from a large number of paintings that got binned.

As for this particular painting, I like the limited number of colors.

It’s basically a monotone painting with a touch of yellow.

The yellow glow of the sky amidst those soft gray sweeping clouds and the dramatic reflection of the yellow light across the surface of the sea that is streaked with long gray shadows is beautiful.

I think the shape of the clouds has been painted very well and the final effect is extremely beautiful.

I also like that tiny fishing boat. 

It’s tiny size helps create a feeling of vast space, even a touch of epicness.

Watercolor painting of a seascape with a fishing boat on a beautiful day
“A beautiful day at sea”

This is a rather simple painting but I am very pleased with it.

The color palette is very limited consisting mostly of a warm gray, blue and black.

I like the misty background and the soft but dynamic feel of the clouds.

The ship is well painted and also catches the eye.

And there is a refreshing sparkle across the surface of the sea.

The only thing I am upset about is my signature which is too big and not very elegant. 

I want to wash it out and redo it.

However, I won’t because there is a high chance that I will wipe out the paint underneath and thus spoil the painting even more.

Watercolor painting of a seascape with ships at anchor beneath a dramatic sky
“Ships at anchor”

I did several paintings of seascapes with big ships. 

Luckily, I often see ships when I go to this bay.

There is a big steel factory by the bay called Shin-ni-tetsu and there is a regular flow of big ships going to and from this factory.

And the ships are sometimes anchored near the factory. 

I think at the time I did this painting there were three ships at anchor. 

I don’t know why I only painted two, especially as I think three would have been even better. 

And I might add another ship in a future version of this painting.

But I am very happy with this painting.

I think the sky is stunning. 

I love the intense colors and the shapes of the clouds.

For me, there is a feeling of dramatic beauty and vastness in this painting.

My only regret is once again my signature. 

I wish it was smaller, simpler and less conspicuous like my present signature which is just the two initials of my name: “G” and “N”.

Watercolor painting of a ship crossing Beppu bay with a beautiful evening sky
“Beautiful evening crossing”

Here is another painting with a big ship.

I like once again the simplicity of colors.

Essentially you have a warm red, a cool blue and the white of the paper.

And I am very pleased with the dramatic shape and softness of the clouds, the misty mountains in the distance, and the calm feeling of the sea.

But once again I am disappointed with my signature.

Watercolor painting of a seascape with a fishing boat and a dramatically red evening sky
“Red evening glow across the sea”

This painting was an experiment.

And I think there is a slightly dreamy or surreal feeling about this image.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this surreal feeling is the intensity of the red across the surface of the sea. 

It’s too red for a realistic image.

But I love it.

And perhaps another reason for the surreal quality is the softness.

Only the boat and the birds are hard shapes in this painting.

And as you look down from the top to the bottom there is a lovely transition of color and intensity. 

At the top is a very pure blue, next a mix of that blue with white and a warm gray, then this sinks into a gray and this gray sinks into a very pure and transparent red and then this red becomes combined with lines of blue and finally the red fades into a very light red and the blue becomes more dominant and darker. 

And finally I love the shape of the boat and its position in the painting.

Yet once again I can’t say I’m happy with my signature. 

It’s too big.

Watercolor painting of a seascape with a dramatic and beautiful evening sky
“Evening grandeur”

This is my final painting.

And it’s a little different to the others because of the variety of colors and that touch of orange.

In most of these paintings I’ve used a very limited number of colors and no orange.

And sometimes I’ve been extremely limited with the color and made essentially a monotone painting with the subtle addition of just one color.

But in this painting there is a lot of color variety.

In the sky, for instance, there is a light purple, blackish gray, almost pure blue sweeping clouds, orange and a very light blue. 

But even though this painting has more variety of colors than the others, it is like them all done with a soft and subtle touch.

And once again, like in a few of the paintings here, there is a feeling of vastness due to the tiny fishing boats. 

I love this feeling of vast space.

Final word

I hope you enjoyed seeing these paintings of Beppu bay. 

I am so happy to have this place on my doorstep. 

It is a source of inspiration for me.

That’s all,