Today, I had a commission to paint, so that left me with even less time, but I managed this little doodlewash of a canoe since it’s the next thing on the prompts list. I rather like having prompts as I didn’t have a clue as to what I should paint next and it was like the decision was made for me. This is a prompt I can speak to, however, because I’ve actually been in a canoe before, but it’s been years. What I remember most was that it was a lake with really green water and I spent the majority of the trip terrified I would tip into it. While I love taking a dip in the waves of an ocean, lakes sort of freak me out. They’re muddy and the water always seems like it’s been sitting too long. It’s like being in a toilet that never flushes. But as is often the case when navigating a canoe, before the end of the trip, I had indeed tipped over. And that’s when I realized it’s actually the fun part.

Tipping a canoe feels like equal parts failure and giddy exhilaration. On one hand, you failed to navigate properly, but on the other hand, you’re suddenly splashing and screaming and having a generally awesome time. Never has failure felt that good. Granted, the last time I attempted to maneuver a canoe it’s also possible I was also holding a beer in my hand at the time. Though drinking and driving is generally considered something to be avoided, drinking in a canoe is rather accepted. This is probably because it’s highly unlikely to cause much damage while traveling at only 3 miles per hour. But a few beers does help ease fears of what might be lurking in the lake water.

I admit that my fear of lakes is probably irrational, however, and I blame the cinema of my youth. According to movies, if you were near an ocean, you were likely to get eaten by a man-eating shark, but that’s not particularly unexpected. Lakes, however, were always home to bizarre serial killers and should be avoided at all costs. This was particularly unfortunate because I grew up in an area that only had lakes. I’m realizing now that I was denied beaches as a child and yet allowed to watch movies that demonized lakes. Not sure whether that would be considered ironic or simply sad. But none of that would stop me from experiencing the sheer joy of traveling at excruciatingly slow speeds, just moments away from the thrill of tipping a canoe.

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About the Doodlewash

M. Graham Watercolors: Cobalt Teal, Permanent Green Pale, Cobalt Blue, Pyrrol Red, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
 Day 18 #WorldWatercolorGroup Canoe on a lake green water
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!

36 replies on “Tipping A Canoe

  1. Really wonderful painting of that canoe and it’s foreshortening.
    I laughed at commentary because I grew up around lakes and loved to be in them. Until I sat on the Dock one day looking in the water and saw a blood sucker that looked about a foot long. My uncle told me it was from a turtle and when the turtle finally dies those suckers are that big. Yup, no more lake swimming for me. I had nightmares about that thing.
    Your experiences always manage to bring back memories for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha ha, canoe memories, shikes! Scary lakes 😱… got the look of the green water just perfectly yucky! I would not enter water like that. So typical of many deadly lakes. ‘ what lies beneath’?
    I learnt in a sea water swimming pool, huge, and I thought safe, but when I fell out I landed on a creature deep beneath my toes…,turns out the crabs etc also thought it was a safe place…loads of them all over the floor of the pool, for a split second I screamed and my brain decided it was a giant man eating crocodile!! We don’t even have them here! Needless to say, I only tried canoeing twice…..Charlie I am now intrigued to what your Commision is? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hehe… that sounds perfectly terrifying!! LOL Oh my gosh… yeah.. there’s nothing worse than finding you’re not alone in the water. Eeek!! 😳 As for the commission, it was of a pet portrait of a dog. I like how it turned out, but can’t share it yet until it’s been given as a gift! hehe

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOVE canoeing and your Doodlewash reminds me why – so beautiful to drift down a river without a pressing schedule. All those luscious blues and greens, the reflections, the invitation to jump in the boat – ahhhhhh.

    Congrats on the commission!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just discovered Doodlewash – wonderful site, thanks so much for all your inspiration – and looking at your Flickr photos, I was very struck by how quickly your paintings improved. You seem to have had a sudden leap in technique after the first 20 or so paintings you posted. What’s your secret?! Did you use x any watercolour books or online lessons that you could recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thanks so much, Jane! So happy you like Doodlewash! 😃💕 And that’s so sweet of you to say… a lot of the improvement just comes from a commitment to daily sketching. The only book I used was a little one called Watercolor Sketching by Paul Laseau which I loved! As for online lessons I looked at a few YouTube tutoirals, but mainly Craftsy classes from 3 instructors, all urban sketchers (even though I tend to paint indoors! You can learn a lot from urban sketching techniques!).

      Here they are with links to their Doodlewash feature as 2 of them provide 50% off discounts in their post! 😉 (also, if you’re a member of World Watercolor Group on Facebook, you can search “craftsy 50%” in the group to find an additional discount to try Craftsy. I’m not affiliated with them… just think they’re cool and they thought the group was cool so they gave us a one-time use discount! hehe)

      Shari Blaukopf:

      Marc Taro Holmes

      Stephanie Bower –


      1. Thanks so much for the detailed reply, I will check out the Craftsy classes. I already had the Paul Laseau book on my bookshelf and on my ‘To Do’ list – but as you say, the quickest way to improve is to actually Do, and use these resources, so I’m off to get the book off the shelf and use it! Hopefully will feel confident enough to post some sketches in the FB group soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll never view lakes and canoes in the same way again! But your description of the water is spot on.😛 Hmm, well doesn’t this canoe looks ominously inviting, “no serial killers here, honest…!” Great fun!

    Yay for commissions – another victory for the Doodlewash Army!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha! Tippacanoe and Tyler, too. (No, I’m not old enough to remember that slogan but I am old enough to have heard it on school.). Great colors – and that foreshortening! Of course, your story made me smile – unflushed toilets…..

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too was a campaign slogan in the mid-1800s. It sticks in my mind from something my dad said when I was a teenager and then I think we must have read it in government class. Forever in my brain. But now it’s accompanied by the image of a wonderful Doodlewash!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. oh Charlie we have got to get you over this irrational fear of lakes. my husband and I got a canoe right after getting married and put it on top of whatever vehicle we had at the time–once even a VW van! and hauled it to all kinds of lakes, some man-made, some natural, Northern California. Lots of fun. Once you learn how to balance, it’s really fun. One time we canoed up a river, with ocean tide going in, but it was still coming in when we came out and that means constant paddling or we went backwards! ugh! so tiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. HOW did you manage to capsize a canoe??? There must have been some shoving involved methinks. As for demonised lakes – it’s the weeds and loch Ness monster waiting to drag you down into those green depths you’ve got to worry about – not the serial killers. (Cue the banjo!)

    Liked by 1 person

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