Painting from a berth inside a train can be the most rewarding exercise in seeing. On a train that traversed the length of the North Island, New Zealand and meandered across the Southern Alps of the South Island, I made these sketches. Strangely, the jolting of the train made writing all but impossible but didn’t hinder my painting this dramatic, ever-changing landscape.
North Island and New Zealand’s longest river on whose banks lush plants grow in volcanic soil.
Climbing above the tree line where snow still lingers on the mountain tops of the Southern Alps.
A valley near Fielding, where sheep run from the sound of the approaching train.
The surprise, the first time my fellow painter and I painted on a train, was how well the watercolor sketches turned out. Back home, I not only used the sketches as inspiration for large, studio paintings, but I even matted and sold many of them. Some of the people who bought these sketches were securing a memento of a loved place or a lovely vacation. Photographs are often disappointingly matter-of-fact, whereas a watercolor sketch is expressive, conveying the feeling of a place and the thrill of an adventure.