Keiko Tanabe, Miyama, Kyoto, Japan I, 13 x 19 inches, Watercolor on Paper

Keiko Tanabe, Miyama, Kyoto, Japan I, 13 x 19 inches, Watercolor on Paper

Capturing the Essence of Japan

Friday, May 15, 2015

Keiko Tanabe is a watercolor artist living in San Diego, California. Keiko was born in Kyoto and grew up in Japan. As a young child she enjoyed the artist including drawing and painting. Unexpectedly, Keiko went to college for international communication and education where she began a career in a Japanese trade organization, and eventually a law firm in San Diego. She knew that in her heart she wanted to be an artist. After travelling around the world, the self-taught artist began to explore plein-air painting using watercolors. Her paintings of Japan capture the light and atmosphere of a brief moment in time. Her swift brushstrokes add to the essence of  her subject and with a careful eye she allows the watercolor to blend ever so slightly to add depth.  This emphasis’s the movement across the painting.  

Keiko’s watercolors remind me of the skill it requires to create kanjii. The cherry blossoms in her “Spring” painting are bright and full of vibrancy against the deep blues and purples of the landscape. When looking at her watercolor paintings, I was transported back in time to catch a glimpse of the peaceful countryside of Japan she witnessed.

Learn more about Keiko Tanabe at

—Katie Bethge


Katie Bethge is a second semester graduate student of SUNY Buffalo State College. She is a new mom to a daughter, Mackenzie. She currently is a substitute teacher in the Hamburg, Iroquois, and Holland districts.