Gareth Naylor

Atmospheric paintings of Japan

Watercolor painting of a dramatic sky by Oita river by Gareth Naylor

Watercolor painting of a dramatic sky by my local river

Watercolor painting of a dramatic sky by Oita river
“Dramatic sky by the river”

I wanted to paint the sky today because it was very dramatic. 

It was a very cloudy sky but now and then the sunshine would burst out. It was inspiring stuff for me. 

So, I went to the river as this is one of the best places for painting a sky picture. 

The long horizontal lines and low verticals you get at the riverside give the viewer an unobstructed view of the sky. 

Also the low vertical features by the riverside mean that the ground area in the painting doesn’t take up much vertical space and so this can be given to the sky area.

And when you want to paint a dramatic sky it is important to give as much physical space on the paper as possible to the sky.

I went to the river by bicycle because it’s quicker than walking. 

My bicycle also acts as an outdoor mobile studio because my bicycle basket can hold all my art equipment. 

I took the largest watercolor pad I had (45.5 x 53 cm) even though it is awkward to ride with and when it is windy it can even be dangerous to ride with. 

A few months ago, when I was cycling in the city with my big pad I got smacked in the face by it. It was very painful as well as embarrassing.

But there are two good reasons for carrying a big pad. 

Firstly, because I enjoy painting big. 

And secondly, because it is good for competitions where big paintings are the norm and where a normal size painting looks like a postcard. 

I also get the feeling that the small paintings don’t win prizes.

It was February and it was cold by the river. 

A constant cold wind was blowing against the backs of my legs and as I began painting my fingers slowly started to go numb. 

But I love to paint outdoors and to paint directly what I see, such as a dramatic sky. 

There is a feeling of aliveness because the scene is changing moment by moment and as I paint I feel that I am alive in that changing scene. 

I finished the painting with chattering teeth but a feeling of satisfaction. 

I felt satisfied with my painting because it captured a little of the dramatic mood of the sky.

And finally, when I came home, it was a nice surprise to be greeted by a delicious meal made by my wife. 

It was much better than the breakfast that I threw together in my haste to get outdoors and paint.

That’s all for now,



This story was originally written in February of 2014. 

I have edited it substantially as it was too wordy. 

Also I changed the painting! 

Sadly, I no longer had the original painting. 

I must have thrown it away. 

I did have an image of the original painting. 

But it was a small image. 

I tried enlarging it in an image editing app and then sharpening it but it still looked blurry. 

I didn’t want to show a blurry picture. 

So I replaced it with a painting from the same year.

Fortunately, this painting showed a dramatic sky with the sunlight bursting out of the clouds by the river which I described in the story.