Thursday, November 28, 2019


Leaving Hokkaido (and our nephew and his wife who had to return to Hong Kong), we took a local flight to Tokyo and then on to our spectacular hotel in the main business district of Shinjuku. The Tokyo train system is a bit overwhelming and took a bit of getting used to. Thankfully our niece Emma and her husband Jack met us in Tokyo and took over as tour guides. They were very helpful in generally getting us around and we went on a few trips outside Tokyo on most days. The first was to the Southern town of Kamakura, somewhere I had always wanted to go due to Yabusame (Japanese archery from horseback). There was so much to see there and is a popular tourist site. The main temple in the town was outstanding (with views overlooking the sea) but I managed only a few studies as there were so many other places to visit. This view is of a temple roof facing south towards the coast, again, size is 5" x 7".


At lake Utonai looking right and into the sun, I saw how the lakeside foliage was back-lit and the way that the sun reflected off the water created a wonderful effect that I couldn't resist trying to paint. This smaller study will be the basis for a larger painting that I'm working on at the moment. It too will have geese in flight with hopefully the same lighting effects as this one. I did this watercolor a little larger that the others. Lakeside study, Lake Utonai, 6" x 9".

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


As mentioned earlier, Lake Utonai was a wonderful place to visit and I certainly didn't run out of things to paint. Here the view is looking across the lake to reed beds nestling below the tree line. A few geese while away their time near the far bank. I'm planning a larger version of this scene with geese in flight heading down to the far end of the lake.


Nearby the Hokkaido Shrine were a number of mature trees, some of which were ringed with ropes and paper motifs. My study of one such a tree had a younger oak growing amongst the roots of a tall tree and I wanted to show the differences between the young sapling and the older oak.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


These temple lamps surround the Hokkaido Shrine in Maruyama Park, Sapparo. We stayed only one night in Sapparo but found the city interesting and diverse. The Hokkaido Shrine was spectacular and I could have spent days there working on paintings.


In this study, I zoomed in on the swan since it was so close and did a head study. The marking on the beak are unique to each bird and can be used to identify individuals. Like most of these studies, this one is also 5" x 7".

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Travelling South by train, we spent a day on the shores of Lake Utonai which supports a wealth of birds. After an amazing lunch of tempura and sashimi over rice in the visitor center cafeteria, we headed towards the lake shore. Whooper swans were the first to be spotted and so tame that one could approach them closely. There were also many geese on the lake, both Bean and Greater White-fronted along with various duck and a single Mute Swan. An Eastern Marsh Harrier made a brief appearance but soon drifted away. There were hiking paths around most of the lakeside which also went through some decent woodland where we found a few other birds including thrushes and warblers etc. All in all, a very enjoyable place to visit - must be fantastic in Winter.
I finished this watercolor study of a Whooper swan seen resting on the lake shore in our hotel room that evening - size is about 5" x 7".