Still at the River (September, 2004)

I so enjoyed sketching by the river the previous week, I decided to go back. Just like the previous week, a typhoon was passing by on the other side of Japan, and we were feeling its influence, not in the way of rain, but by extraordinary wind. This time I took my bicycle to ride downstream to the docks, but the wind in my face was so powerful, it was too much of a struggle. So I turned around and let the wind push me upstream until I found something interesting to sketch.

This is the north entrance to the Old Nakagawa River from the mighty Arakawa River. A few days earlier I had created a new "Frankenpen" by inserting an old flexible gold Japanese nib into a Pelikan 150 fountain pen. I love flex nibs, but I also prefer piston fillers and ink view windows which can be found on Pelikans. I was determined to use this new pen today.

By the way I'm still using waterbrushes. I had been adding my observations on these wonderful tools here on this page but they took up so much space I decided to move them to a separate Waterbrush page.

I love sketching these boats! I also keep dreaming about riding one someday. In the morning I had given up on reaching the boats because of the strong wind. But in the afternoon I took a different route that gave me a fighting chance, and was able to reach the boats okay. (Yes, it was THAT windy!)

I have discovered that drawing with a pen slows me down because I feel obligated to add more details. With a pencil I can just indicate roughly or fudge a lot of small things. But I was having fun with this pen, so I let this turn into a long detailed sketch.

It was a good afternoon. The temperature was over 30 degrees celsius, but the wind kept me nice and cool. It was so strong that it often moved my arm. That squiggly left border was basically drawn by the wind. I was surprised that the guy working on the boat didn't get blown off when he walked across the roof.

I have discovered how much I love sketching water! My last few sketches of the river were encouraging, so I decided to concentrate on water this time. I don't have much experience at this, so I decided to just "dive right in" and see what happens. I had a great time! I don't know what I enjoyed more, painting the water or listening to it.

This is the Arakawa River at low tide. These things are apparently set up to protect the shore from waves when fast boats go by. They are filled with rocks. When the tide is down, they are exposed. At low tide you can also see tiny crabs slowly moving about. There were dozens in front of me, but most are nearly invisible because they are the same color as the ground. When an intruder approaches (such as an vinyl bag floating by on the wind), all the crabs suddenly dart into water holes at the same time. It's an amazing sight.

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