Most of these scenes are of Beppu bay in Oita prefecture, Japan. I have cycled many times from my house to the sea to paint these pictures. It only takes about 20 minutes. I sit on a really high concrete wall that has a series of neck-breakingly narrow and steep steps on the inner side and a huge pile of concrete tetra pods on the outer side. It’s ugly, but dramatically so and you can walk along this very wide wall for probably a kilometer or more. From the gaps between the tetra pods you get these insects called funamushi in Japanese, they are long things with many legs. They are harmless but they like to run up your arms and legs which is “distracting”. But this concrete wall is also the perfect place for seeing the sun set over the sea. As the sun sets you also see the ferry coming out and going to Kobe. There is a wonderful sense of space and peacefulness as the sun in a slow and majestic manner descends. On my right hand side away from the sunset you get ships coming to the huge steel factory. And there are often fisherman who stand on the lowest tetra pods. It’s an interesting place.
Some of these paintings are of Sasebo in Nagasaki. This place is famous for having over 200 islands. I went there several years ago on a family trip that my wife organized. Part of the trip was a boat cruise around some of the islands. I was delighted by the beauty of this place and although I only visited this place for one day I have done probably hundreds of paintings from the photos I took. I find the small islands with the fir trees growing on them particularly interesting and beautiful. They also sometimes have long rocky bottoms and a dynamic outline. It’s the first time I’ve seen such rocks and I hope in the near future to go back to Sasebo and see more of these islands – but the years pass and I still haven’t gone back.
I also love to paint beaches. I can paint such scenes – although sometimes not as well as I wish – but it is still difficult to express in words why beaches are mesmerizing. Perhaps they fascinate me because I am fascinated by surfaces. And the surface of a beach is probably one of the most changeable surfaces you can imagine. The reflections in the wet sand are beautiful broken up by layers of sand, sea and sparkle. I wish I could say more but words fail me – maybe one day.
Below is a video of me painting a picture of Sasebo in Nagasaki.