Well-traveled watercolorist Keiko Tanabe finds inspiration in her own backyard.
When she isn’t traveling the world, Tanabe is a passionate plein air painter on her home turf—San Diego, Calif.— where she has lived for almost 25 years. “I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else,” she says. “Even growing up in Japan, I lived in several different places. When I’m here, I love to paint outside. The weather is almost always ideal for it.”
Tanabe acknowledges that the warm climate attracts many tourists and visitors to the area, but as a resident, she understands that the city is large and complex. “It’s a travel destination, but it’s also a military town,” she says. “There’s plenty of industry. San Diego is the second largest city in California, larger even than San Francisco. For a landscape painter, there’s a variety of subjects: beaches, mountains, hills, deserts. This suits me, because I love painting many different things.”
Tanabe’s choice of subjects reflects this interest in the variety of life in and around the city. She chooses views that incorporate some of the rich layering of the city—with its juxtapositions of economic, tourist and social life—where palm trees and beaches exist alongside construction cranes, working docks and office buildings.
Tanabe shares some of the San Diego watercolors here and in the June 2017 issue of Watercolor Artist, available at northlightshop.com and on newsstands April 18.
Jean Haines shares how to discover negative shapes using watercolor: