Painting in Japan

I’ve always admired plein air artists. Painting en plein air is the art of painting outside and it’s no easy task! Although I haven’t had much experience painting outdoors, I was eager to paint while visiting Japan for the first time.

After dismissing the idea of painting in Tokyo (because I was jet-lagged…with an equally jet-lagged baby), I decided to paint at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove just outside of Kyoto. Marc found a big rock for me to sit on then he took baby Peanut for a walk. I was alone, feeling inspired with a paintbrush in hand.

For some reason, I always feel like painting while on vacation, being outdoors made it so much more fun. Outside the comfort of an art studio, the scenery is never as perfect as a reference photo, nor is it ever still – a light breeze changed every light and shadow, tourists were coming and going, sometimes blocking my view. It was up to me to decide what to leave out and what to keep with my paintbrush.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan

I got self-conscious a few times when admirers came over to peek at my notepad. I tried to block out distractions because I loved the feeling of being in my own little art bubble. The only thing that ended up bursting it was baby Peanut’s cries, telling me to wrap it up.

Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan

These paintings are by no means perfect, but I had a lot of fun doing something I loved in a fascinating country full of history. I’m writing this post to remind myself that sometimes it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to paint freely, with spontaneity and zest, just trying to capture a moment in time.

Koi fish with Holbein watercolors
A simple replica of the Great Wave by Hokusai

More Japan posts coming soon! Thanks for reading et à la prochaine!

Xo,

Mary

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