Gareth Naylor

Atmospheric paintings of Japan

Watercolor painting of a giant column of clouds by Gareth Naylor

Watercolor painting of a giant column of clouds

Watercolor painting of a giant column of clouds
“A beautiful column of clouds”

These spectacular cloud formations are one of the positive side-effects of the heat and humidity in a Japanese summer.

During this season I wake up in the morning feeling 90 rather than 43. I have a dry throat and I feel weak, tired and too hot. I start feeling better about six or seven in the evening.

And that’s not so bad. Some years I have felt like I’m dying during this season.

But let’s talk about these spectacular cloud formations. They are called nyuudougumo in Japanese. I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful.

I’ve wanted to paint a nyuudougumo for a while. They are so beautiful. And eventually about a week or so ago I saw this spectacularly colorful one by the river. 

It was a real challenge to paint this though, especially the beautiful bright edge of the clouds. I tended to paint too many cloud shadows and thus not leave enough light areas. Trying to paint less rather than more is surprisingly difficult.

And this painting was preceded by many that did not make it! 

But these attempts helped me, through trial and error, to finally achieve a good result. I say that just to let you know that these paintings don’t always magically appear from the first attempt.

And just in case you are interested these are the Chinese characters for nyuudougumo: 入道雲; the three characters respectively mean: enter/ join, road, cloud. So a ‘poetic’ description might be: “the road of joining clouds”.

That’s all for now except to say that if you are also hot then try, like me, to enjoy the wonderful cloud formations that the heat makes.

Oh, I forgot to ask, can you see the birdie? My oldest daughter always notices them.

And I will just add that I really enjoyed painting that river. It’s interesting to me how I have spent so many years struggling to paint sparkling seas and rivers and that now it comes fairly effortlessly.

That’s all,



I originally wrote this story in August of 2014. I am editing it in 2022. 

I should add that not long after I painted this picture, I sold it to a man in Germany. 

Also, even after 8 years I am still very happy with this painting.

And finally, I don’t know why, but I haven’t painted any Nyuudogumo since. Hopefully I will do so again at some point in the near future.