Gareth Naylor

Atmospheric paintings of Japan

Watercolor painting of a rough sea

Watercolor painting of a rough sea scene

Watercolor painting of a rough sea
“Rough sea day”

This week I went to the sea. It’s only a ten minute bicycle ride from my house.

I didn’t know how it would go though as it was one of those hit or miss days when the sky is very cloudy and dramatic which would be wonderful to paint and yet there is a big chance that at any moment it will rain and I’d have to quit painting and go home. 

Luckily it didn’t rain.

But it was very windy and I almost lost a paint brush as my brushes started rolling off the sea wall. 

But what an amazing experience to watch big waves crashing against the sea wall and feel the refreshing touch of sea spray on my face. 

I did three paintings but the one I’m showing here is my favorite. 

It’s almost a monotone painting with just a touch of light blue in the sky. And as I look at how powerful this small touch of color is in a monotone painting it makes me think that I should perhaps do more monotone paintings with a touch of one color in them. Never ignore your creative voice.

With the mountain I added some water to the top of it to soften that sharp edge and I think it gives it a more atmospheric and powerful feeling.

I also think some chance things went well in this painting and they might be hard for me to replicate such as the way I softened the mountain edge and the pattern of sparkles on the sea.

What I’m trying to say is that this painting is a one off.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a rough painting but at the same time it captures so well the energy of the moment. 

While I was painting this scene, I saw incredible light effects happening as the sun moved between the clouds. At times there was a thin horizontal strip of light across the sea which changed from a brilliant bright white to a murky orange green and then the sun would burst out even more and so powerfully that I had a vertical line of sparkling light coming towards me across the surface of the sea that made everything else dark. I didn’t try to capture such moments because they were so fleeting and so overwhelmingly powerful.

I should perhaps have added a ship as a focal point but I think the painting works well enough just as it is.

That’s all for now, Gareth.


This story was originally written in August of 2014. I am editing it in 2022. 

As I was looking at this painting and what I wrote, it made me think that I have to get out and paint more. Over the course of the last few years I’ve lost that get up and get out artistic drive I had. 

Instead, I’ve retreated to the studio. And although I’ve done some great things in the studio, there is a special energy that you can sometimes capture in your artwork when you paint outdoors and I think this painting is one where I caught that special energy.

This painting also confirms something that I’ve been thinking about recently which is that the divine lies not in the perfect but in the imperfect. This is not, as I wrote, a perfect painting, it is in many ways very rough, but it caught something special and is probably a one off that I’ll never be able to replicate exactly. And I don’t say this to sell the work because it has already been sold.

It was one of those rare creations that sold pretty quickly. If only they were all like that.