Gareth Naylor

Atmospheric paintings of Japan

This scene may be from a place I visited in 2013. Sadly, I no longer know the name of this place. But I think this place is somewhere between Oita city and Fukuoka city. However, the mellow evening mood of this painting with the partially dissolved figures was from my imagination. And this painting is one of a series.

Watercolor painting of figures walking beneath a very beautiful mellow, yellow evening sky

Watercolor painting of figures walking along a countryside path with a beautiful mellow yellow evening sky.
“A walk beneath a mellow evening sky”

I love this painting.

Especially the mood. 

The soft, warm yellowy-orange evening sky and the similarly soft but cool, light gray sweeping clouds give a feeling of beautiful mellowness. 

And I feel carried away to a better place.

I like how the figures partially dissolve into the shadows.

This painting is not only beautiful for me but also mysterious.

Because I’m not sure where this place is.

Indeed, is it even an actual place?

It may be a scene made up by my imagination and the recollections of many countryside scenes that I had visited and painted over the years.

I think it might be a real place. 

For I vaguely remember a place similar to the one in the painting.

I visited this place during a trip into the countryside with my family.

And I think the path led to a distant temple.

And I think that place was somewhere between Oita city and Fukuoka city. 

But that is about all I can remember. 

And this is only a hunch.

And I’m even less certain if when I went there it was evening time or not. I think it wasn’t.

So the sky and the mood of this painting was likely from my own imagination. 

And by imagination I normally mean something like a visionary flash that is part idea, part image and part feeling all in one.

Or something like that.

And when I get these visionary flashes it’s normally a good sign of a great painting. 

And so it proved to be in this case, as this visionary flash led to this great painting which expresses so well a magical moment of evening time softness, calmness and beauty.

And I think this painting inspired the one below.

Or vice versa.

For I have no idea which of these two paintings came first. 

But I am pretty sure that both were done around the same time as they are so similar.

Watercolor painting of figures walking along a countryside path with a beautiful mellow evening sky.
“A walk beneath a mellow yellow evening sky”

If you look at the painting above and compare it to the previous one, you see a similar mellow yellow-orange sky and cool blue clouds. 

And there are similar elements such as the background mountain, the clusters of trees, yellow fields and partially dissolved figures walking along a path.

There are a few variations.

The most noticeable one is the utility poles and power lines.

 I think it’s a very interesting variation.

And I think the painting below has been inspired by these first two paintings.

Watercolor painting of figures walking along a countryside path with a beautiful evening sky.
“A walk at the end of a beautiful day”

It has many similar elements to the other two.

Firstly, there is that worm’s eye view which gives a huge expanse of sky.

Next, it is once again a warm late evening sky. Although this time with a touch of red and no sweeping clouds.

And there is a countryside path. Although this time it doesn’t meander and lead into the painting.

And finally there are figures on the countryside path who are partially dissolved into the scene. 

But there are some noticeable differences. 

For me, the most important one is that the figures and the ground are much darker. The result is almost like a silhouette.

I’m very happy with this painting.

Watercolor painting of figures walking along a countryside path with a beautiful hazy evening sky.
“Last glow of light on a hazy evening”

And here is another painting which I think is inspired by those first two paintings.

I think that this painting was just meant to be a sketch but it ended up being a beautiful painting full of atmosphere.

So in this painting, I did a portrait format.

I think that the dominant vertical format was chosen to emphasize the dominant vertical shape of the utility pole.

And although I have a warm evening sky it is quite different from the previous paintings. 

In this painting, I decided to have a heavy blue-gray cloud and below it the sun gleaming out. 

The composition is very interesting.

Essentially, there is a band of dark color above and a band of dark color below and then a band of light in the middle. 

And the focal point, which is the figures, are in front of this band of light. Well, almost. They are a little below it. 

But they are close to the light and make a strong contrast.

In this painting, I have done much bigger figures than in the previous paintings.

But once again, these figures are partially dissolved in the evening gloom.

And like the first two paintings there is a strong evening mellowness created by the haziness of the picture.

Indeed, this painting is very hazy.

I think that haziness is the most beautiful element of this painting and something I want to explore more in future paintings.

I am not sure, though, when I painted these last two paintings. 

I think they were spontaneous creations done at very different times from one another but all motivated from those two original paintings and that vision of a mellow, hazy evening scene in the countryside with a vast expanse of sky. 

Clearly the utility pole has become a major part, dare I say motif, of these new creations.

And I did one more version.

Watercolor painting of figures walking along a countryside path with a beautiful hazy evening sky.
“Peaceful countryside stroll on a hazy evening”

What you see in these paintings is an artist hitting a creative seam and then following that seam. 

I think that I still haven’t come to the end of that seam.

And I hope in the future to return to this creative seam and paint some new pictures.

It will also probably lead to new and interesting variations.

That’s all,