Violin by Charlie O'Shields

Hopefully it’s clear that this doodlewash is of a violin, but just in case, that was the intent. I was recently attending a Kansas City Symphony performance and I noticed somebody I went to high school with there and it got me thinking about the only instrument I learned to play well. I started playing the violin in 4th grade and continued all the way through high school. Just before giving it up for good, I had the unique opportunity to play on stage at one of the world’s most famous concert halls – Carnegie Hall in New York City.

There’s a famous story that has become part of the folklore of the hall: A New Yorker is approached in the street near Carnegie Hall, and asked, “Pardon me sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” To which the New Yorker glibly replies, “Practice, practice, practice.” It’s less of a real story than a retold joke, but it’s something I always heard while growing up. And I was lucky enough to find my way there by being in a top high school orchestra at precisely the right moment.

Another thing that reminded me of violins was my trip to Missouri Town. While standing on the steps of an old house there, I remembered that I used to play old time fiddle for local festivals as part of The Fantastic Fiddlers Four group. Angela, the only female fiddler in the group and I were brown-haired, big-eyed and looked like brother and sister. The director was often worried the matching outfits would make it look too much like the Donny & Marie show.

Angela was also our concert mistress at Carnegie Hall, which means she was first chair, first violin and played the “A” we would tune to, not the second definition which would imply she was a having an extramarital sexual relationship. She wasn’t. But she was an amazing violinist, and I was always so impressed by just how much better she was than me.

I would spend my life feeling that same feeling of inadequacy about various talented people I would encounter through my many adventures. Why are they so good? Why I am not so good? But I was somehow disappointed to discover that they just had a unique passion for that craft and did it every single day. No secrets, no shortcuts to be found. They just started focusing on something and worked really hard to get really good at it.

Now, whenever I find myself wondering whether or not I’m good enough, instead I just ask myself if I’m actually doing enough. For the first time in my life, I’m doodlewashing (and even writing!) daily and I’m loving it. I feel like I’ve discovered something that I can actually commit to and with daily practice I’m getting better and better (mostly… sometimes it’s a couple steps back before moving forward again). But whenever I’m discouraged, I just remember that mastering any art form is done in precisely the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice!

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!

60 replies on “Carnegie Hall

  1. You’ve played Carnegie Hall? Great Scotland Yard, Charlie, another string to your bow (pun very much intended.) How amazing. That must have been daunting!

    Yes, we often overlook the simple fact that those we enviously view as better than us have mostly just devoted more time to their craft than we have. And they’ve met failure. Many times. I especially seem to forget that.

    Good for you on your doodlewash diligence. I don’t know how you manage to get it all wrapped up every day, but I’m jolly glad that you do!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Awww thanks so much Jacob!! ❤️😃Your continued support means a lot! I need it! Hehe…it’s super hard to keep this going. I switched to objects thinking it would be easier, but it’s just as challenging. Lol oh well…I just need more practice!! 😊 who knows…in a year this will get easier, right? Lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I stopped putting in all the technical stuff since most of my guests have that covered. Hehe 😊 and I’m not super technical, but this time I did layer up. And used Burnt Sienna, Maroon and Alizarin Crimson on top of the gold with some more mixed in. (Tried to do it while avoiding Raw Umber entirely and still get a “brown” across) 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow…this: “whenever I find myself wondering whether or not I’m good enough, instead I just ask myself if I’m actually doing enough”…just some of the most awesome advice I’ve read! I will give you the biggest hug if and when we ever meet up, my friend!

    Playing at Carnegie Hall is almost as good as being King of Iceland! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely violin painting, you captured the warm reflective surface nicely. Your story of introspection and reflection is wonderful with timely advice, inspiration and motivation to keep “doing” and of course “practice, practice, practice.” The exact reminder I needed. OH, and the image of you playing a violin…perfect fit. Thank you Charlie…Peace.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m loving the Charlie-ism. That really strikes a chord (A-major chord, my favorite). I love Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell and I swoon over David Garret. Violin is a lovely instrument. And your doodlewash is fabulous! Must have been thrilling to play at Carnegie Hall!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well written and well said. Practice, practice, practice is the best advice for anyone wanting to do anything well.
    Congratulations on making it to Carnegie Hall. That is one awesome concert venue.

    And that is a great doodlewash of a violin.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aahh, dreams…for me, it would be singing at Carnegie Hall, or the Sydney Opera House, whichever came first! You’re a multi-talented person, Charlie…when the urge takes you at some point in the future, I’m sure you’ll just grab the nearest violin and just start playin’.
    Your doodlewash is excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Singing only in school days, but most enjoyable and reasonably good enough for school musicals and revues, alto soprano, all types of music except rock. Today I occasionally sing along to a Celine Dion or Barbra Streisand song…dreaming…wishing….you know how it goes…l.o.l. !

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No rock, then…now would be a different matter; school rules and all that. I have no delusions about today’s singing, believe me, but thanks for the encouragement, Charlie! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So that explains my “fail” at playing the flute, I was a fraud and avoided practice, I just thought I looked cool walking around with a flute…after all, my older sister played the flute, she could cover for me. I’m so impressed that you played at Carnegie Hall! I love your violin, its beautiful and rich and fills the page with joy. I’m a fan of the 10,000 hours concept. I have a very long way to go, but this time I practice everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe…practice is u fortunately the only way, though I always wished there was some little cheat! 😊 I think it’s also a matter of finding what you truly love to do. Passion is a prerequisite! Thanks! I’m so happy you like this doodlewash, Cathe! It was fun to paint and remember.❤️😃


      1. Unfortunately no… This kind of violin is very hard to get. In addition, the cost of buying the fiddle in Norway is very high. Hardanger you can not buy in a music store, you need to find a good manufacturer or craftsman. I have only classical and electric violin as well. Hardanger have a beautiful ornament and you should try to doodlewash one 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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