Night Falling on Lyon by Charlie O'Shields

So I accepted another challenge from Teresa Robeson at One Good Thing to try painting the riverfront in Lyon which I really loved and this doodlewash is the result. I mentioned that I have no idea how to handle water and tend to avoid it, so we both decided it must be tried next. What I loved about the Lyon riverfront was when night was falling over the city, so I added the second ridiculous challenge of trying to recreate water at night.

I’m not even quite sure what I’ve done here as I just grabbed a photo I had taken and sort of went for it. I painted what I thought I saw without really trying to do any particular techniques. So this one isn’t necessarily a lesson of how one should paint water, there are many cool techniques I’ve seen that I’ve yet to sit down and learn (highly recommend checking out what’s available on YouTube for that).

This is more about what happens when a crazy man with a brush just starts doodlewashing without restraint (with the help of his fave 5 friends Quinacridone Gold, Naples Yellow, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue, and Alizarin Red). I can’t even describe my process on this one because I barely remember what happened. One minute it was a blank canvas and 45 minutes later this emerged. I kind of got lost in the doodlewash on this one.

I was about to sketch something and decided that yesterday’s loose watercolor was fun, and I’d been missing it. I tend to sketch what I see, but paint what I feel. My paintings lack the definition and detail I put into my sketches, and it’s fun to not really see the result until the end. It’s as close to abstract as I’m likely to get, as it’s still quite representational, but it’s a fun change. And I’m all about trying new things and changing it up!

Philippe and I stayed in a little apartment in Lyon for a full week and so it really started to feel like home. Each night we would walk down toward the river. There were always couples walking down the lane holding hands and various pods of people on blankets having a snack and chatting too quietly to hear. It was only the third time I’d even seen Philippe in person and we still hadn’t a clue how we were actually going to be together.

But in those quiet moments, walking along the banks of the Saône riverfront, I always managed to feel a sort of hope. In the glow of the river I didn’t just live in the moment, I could imagine a better future. No matter how tough the obstacles seemed, I knew somehow we were going to get through to the other side. And we did.

As we grab our brushes and attempt those things we think are impossible, those things we’ve never tried before, don’t ever lose hope. It’s really the only thing that can keep us sane in this changing world. And with it you can do pretty much anything. Even paint water at night.

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

28 replies on “Night Falling On Lyon

  1. What a beautiful painting and a lovely romantic story to go with it! I’m so glad you took my dare and attempted this.🙂 I suppose I will have to break down eventually and paint water… LOL!

    I am completely perplexed as to why your posts are not showing up on my Reader feed like it used to. Darn computer gremlins always messing with things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe you subconsciously unfollowed me because you’re scared of my dare.😉 lol… Thanks so much Teresa! Appreciate the compliments and the challenge! And yes!!! You have to now!! Tag you’re it!! I told a friend on Instagram recently that my inner child is currently in a game of constant Truth or Dare and only accepting dares. 😉lol So she dared me… coming soon…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nope, didn’t unfollow you! The top menu bar assured me I was following. Just cyber weirdness, as usual.🙂

        Okay, I’ll think about how I want to tackle a water scene! I may not get it done soon but I will get something done.🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I do like it Charlie. I think it’s got soul and energy! Water is a real challenge. I did a watercolor painting every day in July and tried to do some water scenes in a few of the paintings. I’d like to improve my techniques as well. I love your quote about painting what you feel. I think that’s what happens to me when I zone out in an abstract. It’s like I come out of a trance and finally get to actually look at the painting. Nice job with this; I hope you try more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Laura! Glad you like it! I’ve seen some great minimalistic examples of water that I want to try as well. I have lots of practice ahead! I do love the “zoning out” piece of painting. My mind tend to run a mile a minute and it’s the one time I get to slow down and go with the flow!🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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