Fly On The Wall by Charlie O'Shields

Today’s page in my Cabinet of Curiosities sketchbook ended up with a fly on it. They were still buzzing around when Philippe and I were trying to enjoy the last few nice days on our terrace, so of course I thought, I should doodlewash one. I used to do macro photography and found that close-up versions of these guys were sort of interesting and weird.

Flies typically look like little black annoying blurs, but in close-up they are often quite colorful, if not a bit creepy. Oh well, it’s Halloween month and creepy things are all the rage, so this little giant should fit in perfectly. I really wasn’t sure how to handle the transparency of the wings so I just sort of whisked on some white gouache at the end.

But the real secret is that I have always wished I could actually be a fly on the wall. Perhaps it’s my introverted, living-in-my-head-all-the-time nature, but the idea of being able to watch people from a safe distance or overhear a conversation always fascinated me. That, and the ability to actually fly, which would probably be the coolest thing in the world if I didn’t have a severe fear of heights.

I remember actually trying to fly as a little kid, thinking if I could just flap my arms really fast it might happen. I didn’t expect to soar through the clouds, I wasn’t stupid, but I did think that I might be able to stay afloat for a few extra seconds at least. I would jump and begin frantically flapping only to come down at precisely the same rate of speed as normal jumping. This was disappointing.

My most vivid memory from childhood is actually a dream or daydream. It was so real, that I almost believed it actually happened. I was ascending the short flight of stairs to my bedroom in our split-level home, and tripped. That wasn’t the cool part, I was always a bit clumsy. No, the cool part came when instead of hitting my face on the stairs, I flapped my arms and for just a moment I hovered there… I was actually flying!

I don’t remember what happened next. Most likely I hit my face on the stairs… even my dreams were always irritatingly tinged with reality. To this day, I just remember that brief moment and how great it felt to hover there, even if it was just a couple feet off the floor. Time stopped and I felt such an amazing sense of euphoric accomplishment.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite the same feeling as an adult. Perhaps that’s why I remember it so vividly. It’s also likely because I eventually stopped flapping my arms around like an idiot, trying to fly. My kid brain was growing up and starting to realize that I looked ridiculous and worried what other people might say.

I now know it doesn’t matter what people say about you and they’re never likely to tell you how they really feel to your face. It’s probably better that way. But if you ever felt brave enough to discover those secrets, all you’d have to do is ask that fly on the wall.

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!

61 replies on “Fly On The Wall

  1. It is amazing that you made a fly look beautiful! I understand the human desire to fly, I just can’t do it. Not only am I height challenged, I hate that feeling of losing control like riding a roller coaster. I can’t even enjoy Disney’s Soar because I get motion sickness.. Lol. But I admire your tenacity and love your vivid imagination!

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  2. Oh, what a fantastic fly, Charlie! 😊 I like how colorful he is and how you painted the wings. Enjoyed hearing about how you wanted to fly as a kid. I think that most kids did. I can’t really remember flapping my arms around but I do remember how swinging on a swing set and how when you got super duper high and jumped off really quick, you could fly briefly or so I thought. Lucky I did not break a leg. Hehe! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think there is another image from that movie… one with the fly and human hands (maybe sticking out from beneath someone’s shoe – I could be wrong about that). But that would mean you could draw hands instead of a portrait. I’d have to watch the movie again to be sure…

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  3. You really conveyed the iridescence! How did you do that? I hate flies, but yours is really awesome!

    I have flying dreams all the time and they feel so real. Once I dreamed I was flying from Australia back to the U.S. and it was so real, it was freaky…I could smell the sea foam and feel the cool condensation of the clouds on my face and when I had to fly over a mountain, I woke up. Just as well…LOL!

    It’s too bad there is no demand for fly portraits because you would have a great new career! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! What, Teresa?! No market?! Well crap! Since I can’t do people portraits then I guess I’m screwed! Haha! 😊and your dream sounds sooo vivid and cool! Glad you like my fly! ❤️😃I was pleased with the iridescence…wasn’t sure how to do it so I just layered a little more slowly and painted what I saw! 😊

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    1. Thanks so much Beverly!! ❤️😃And WordPress is doing crazy things!! I just realized in all my clicking around I mysteriously unfollowed you!! Ugh!! I think the little follow button must be too close to the name for my fat fingers! 😊All fixed I hope!! 👍🏻😃


  4. Ohhh, I saw this bugger on IG first and thought, no, yuck a fly, damn a good looking fly, but still a fly…where has that fly been (stop)?!? Clearly I have issues with flies but your fly is quite handsome. As for flying, I fly in my dreams often, and I’m really good at it (apparently). I’ll have to keep an eye out for Teresa!

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    1. Haha…yeah…this fly was like the spider I drew. I had fun getting lost in the contours, but then realized…ewwww….I made a big fly!! 😳😳I don’t like them either! Lol But super fun to doodlewash! And yeah…be on the lookout for Teresa!! Haha! 😉👍🏻


  5. Hmm, this is certainly a curious box of curiosities emerging, Charlie. I fear for the fly, given there’s already a spider in there…

    Lovely job; I’ve always enjoyed how they turn that metallic green sheen in the light. Just goes to show that even the most irritating pests have some endearing features!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jacob! 😃 Yeah I thought about the fly and the spider…would have been cool if they ended up on opposite pages. But the spider looks nicely creepy opposite from the cat I guess. (And Sparky looks like he’s about to eat fruit! Lol) And I agree…irritating pests are super interesting to draw. I may have to try more!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I like how the random order is providing its own narrative!

        Please do more. You could turn it into a series! It’d be like an encyclopedia of minibeasts and insects, but with your anecdotes replacing the scientific (much more entertaining!)

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