Decked!

AKA Painting Alaska from the deck of a cruise ship

Many of you know I recently took a cruise to Alaska. Since this was our fourth cruise to this destination, I wanted to concentrate on painting rather than touring and sightseeing. We embarked out of San Francisco, and was our first cruise where we didn’t have to fly to the embarkation point, so I considered taking my oil paints rather than the usual acrylics I travel with. In the end I took my acrylics as I didn’t want to smell up the cabin with drying oil paints. I did take a Strada mini easel, which is the first time I have taken an easel on a cruise.

I won’t turn this blog entry into a travelogue, but just concentrate on the painting.

 


Ketchikan

Creek Street,9x12,acrylic on canvas
Creek Street,9×12,acrylic on canvas

Our first stop was Ketchikan, called ‘the first city of Alaska’ because it is always the first stop north. I made a beeline to Creek Street. Creek Street is infamous as being Ketchikan’s red light district during pioneer days and is actually a boardwalk mounted in stilts on a high slope on the east side of Ketchikan Creek.

I painted for a couple hours and then it started to drizzle, so had to pack up. I wasn’t sure it was finished, especially the water. While I was painting, the water level in the creek had dropped several feet! I assume it was the tide but possibly some controlling dam upstream. Here’s a few pictures from the morning. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–

 


Juneau

Douglas, 9x12, acrylic on canvas
Douglas, 9×12, acrylic on canvas

It was a bit of a drizzly day, so in the morning just painted from the Promenade Deck on the ship. Looking across Gasteneau Channel is the town of Douglas, and behind that Mt. Bradley. While I was painting, a crew member told me several humpback whales had been playing around the ship all morning. Sure enough, they were still there, and I would occasionally see them surface, spout, and play around. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–

It cleared somewhat in the afternoon, and the sun occasionally broke out which was first time on this cruise which was already almost half over, so I went into town for a bit, and took a ride up the Mt Roberts Tramway, which gives spectacular views of the ships, Juneau, and the areas beyond.

 


Skagway

Taiya Inlet, 9x12, acrylic on canvas
Taiya Inlet, 9×12, acrylic on canvas

It was another drizzly day with clouds hanging around the mountain tops and valleys so I spent the morning painting from the ship deck looking across the channel to a mountain west of Skagway. The sun was spraying light here and there through the clouds, which make for dramatic scenes, and good paintings. The top of the mountain was obscured by clouds, so didn’t really see it until the end of the painting. By the time I finished, it had mostly cleared off. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–


Skagway, 9x12,acrylic on canvas
Skagway, 9×12,acrylic on canvas

I headed into town, hoping to do another painting before the ship sailed. I walked to the end of the main drag, Broadway Street, found a bench to spread my materials out, and did a painting of a mountain and the street. I mostly finished the mountain, but the buildings were not complete when it started to rain. It was almost time to head back to the ship anyway, so packed up intending to finish the painting later. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–

 


Even though it was overcast most of the cruise, it was still a great time being on board the ship, visiting a few familiar places, and painting!


Next up is the Los Gatos Plein Air Show June 16-17!


Painting in Japan

Korakuen Morning, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Korakuen Morning, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

 
Most of you know my son lives and works in Maniwa-shi, Japan, a town in the mountains of Southwest Japan about an hour from Okayama. I recently visited him again, for the third time. He had moved to a new location since my last visit, so I was anxious to explore around his apartment in rural Japan for painting practice! It also happened to be cherry blossom time, so was anxious to see that!

On international trips, I usually take a small acrylic paint set. Acrylics are water soluble, and dry in minutes, so they are easier to travel with than oils. Since you cannot take turpentine on a plane, if you want to paint oils, you have to find a place to buy it after you arrive at your destination. Here’s my setup on the road—

My acrylic traveling kit
My acrylic traveling kit

 
I won’t turn this post into a travelogue and go into all the details of the trip, some of which I posted here on Facebook, but concentrate on the painting in this blog entry. In retrospect, I wasn’t satisfied with most the paintings on the trip except the last day, but here goes anyway…

My son’s new place is a little further out of the central town area, mainly surrounded by rice fields. There is a Shinto Shrine close by, so I did two paintings there on different days.

Shinto Shrine 1,8x10,acrylic on canvas
Shinto Shrine 1,8×10,acrylic on canvas
Shinto Shrine 2,8x10,acrylic on canvas
Shinto Shrine 2,8×10,acrylic on canvas

These are not the main shrine, but other structures in the courtyard. Although it was a relatively small shrine, I could have done quite a few paintings in the little nooks and crannies of this small area.


 
We decided to visit Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, and about a 4 hour bus ride away. Our hotel happened to be right by Dotonburi, the most famous district and party spot in Osaka. We kept quite busy around Osaka and a side trip to Kyoto, so I didn’t have time to paint except for one day. On that day while the others shopped, it was pouring rain, so found a place under a bridge on the river to paint. I also don’t usually do urban scenes, and it was a bit smelly as you know what people do under bridges in party areas…even in clean Japan!

The piece was going nowhere, but as it got darker, the lights started coming on, and I put them in as my focal point which helped brighten things up.

Dontonburi, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Dontonburi, 8×10, acrylic on canvas
Dotonburi
Dotonburi

 
Upon returning to Maniwa, the blossoms were still not out, and due to the rain and cold, they kept pushing back the projected blossom open date. I did find one close to my sons place, so painted that…

Maniwa, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Maniwa, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

 
So far I was not really satisfied with any paintings done the the trip and we only had a few days left. We spent the last part of our trip in Okayama. One trip was to Kurashiki Bikan, an old historic district near Okayama. It was a scenic spot, and I started a painting while the others shopped and looked around. There were just a few blossoms, so did a painting of a bridge in the district. We got there late, and I didn’t have much time, so the painting only got about half done.


 
One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan is called Korakuen (Koraku-en). Located in Okayama, Japan, it was built in 1700 by Ikeda Tsunamasa. We saved visiting Korakuen Garden until the last day so-as to catch the blossoms. Although they were not in full bloom, there was enough to paint, so did a painting in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

The morning painting is shown at the top of this blog entry. Here are a few pictures of the area–


 
The blossoms were not fully open yet so I painted the trees a little fuller with blossoms imagining what they will look like.

The afternoon painting was a little more interesting scene and turned out pretty well, but could use some touchup later.

Korakuen Afternoon, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Korakuen Afternoon, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

Too soon we had to depart for home. I left all the paintings with my son in Japan so he could show them to friends and students.