Watercolor sketch of a Japanese river bank on a sunny day in winter

Watercolor sketch of a Japanese river bank on a sunny day in winter
“Taking a stroll along the river bank on a beautiful sunny day in winter”

Today was a beautiful sunny day in January. 

It was a perfect day for outdoor painting. 

But maybe not if you have a one and half year old toddler. 

I had a plan though. 

So, I took my toddler, Annie, down to the river where we could play. 

But I also took my sketchbook so that if the opportunity arose then I could also do some sketching. 

You have to use your nous right. 

But Annie wasn’t going to make it easy for me to do some drawing. 

Whenever I stopped to sketch she would stomp her feet, point ahead and make lots of impatient uh, uh, uh sounds. 

What can you do?

So I made some very quick and super rudimentary sketches when I got the chance. 

However, these attempts were not in vain because from these crude marks I could create some watercolor sketches at home. 

And I’m really happy with them. 

I feel they capture the beautiful clear light you get in Japan in winter time.

Anyway, my strategy of taking my sketchbook with me when I’m out taking care of and playing with my daughter and then later turning those sketches into paintings proves that it is possible to make art in all manner of circumstances.

Annie, though, was playing her own strategic games. 

The riverbank has a road at the top of it and there are concrete steps leading up to the road at various points along the river bank. 

Annie wanted very much to climb up those steps. 

But I shook my head when she pointed at the steps. 

I thought it was too dangerous because of the cars.

However, Annie then sat on the bottom step and pointed to the space next to her and said uh, uh, uh. 

So, I sat next to her. 

As soon as I did, she ascended to the next step, sat down and repeated the sit here daddy strategy. 

This continued all the way up, or most of the way up as at some point I gave up and just helped her the rest of the way up. 

To be honest, you only get the occasional car on this road. So it wasn’t really that dangerous.

And when we got to the top of the river bank I saw a nice scene for a sketch.

I did my best to memorize it so that when we were safely back down the steps and on the path I could do a sketch from my memory. 

This became the watercolor sketch above and this is my favorite one. 

It may also be my only one because I couldn’t find the other watercolor sketches I did.

I’ve probably thrown the others away.

Later, my wife took care of our daughter so I could dash back down to the river and do a large outdoor painting.

Often when I paint outdoors I produce my best paintings, but in this case I thought that the quick watercolor sketches I did at home were much better than the large outdoor painting.

I’d love to show you the large outdoor painting so you can compare them but I can’t find it. I think I threw it away.

That’s all for now,



This story was originally written in 2014.