When I was young, I played the violin and loved listening to orchestral music. One of my favorites was Flight Of The Bumblebee, which is a frenetic interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900. So, today, we have this little 2 color doodlewash of a bumblee. Listening to this orchestral piece, you could close your eyes and see the bumblebee soaring through the sky, and it actually felt a bit like you were being chased by an angry one. Though as bees go, bumblebees aren’t typically aggressive, this song had all the energy and frenzy to create quite a battle in a little boy’s imagination. Later, when I was in high school, I would get to play the song myself in an orchestra. That’s when I realized it’s also insanely difficult to play, unless perhaps you are actually a bumblebee and therefore quite used to flapping your wings at 200 times a second. But I was determined, so I just kept right on practicing.

In general, practicing something when I was young was not my forte. I would get very easily distracted by something else I wanted to try, and drop what I was doing before any sort of mastery occurred. There seemed to be an endless number of things that I hadn’t yet done and I wanted to experience them all. This, of course, didn’t happen either, but I did manage to jump from one type of creative project to another much like a bee pollinating flowers. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed that classic interlude so much. It was like my soundtrack, a bustling and crazy bit of music that just blasted forward until suddenly ending. Looking back, I wish I had managed to discover something I loved enough to stick with it. By my current ripe old age, I would be quite amazing at whatever it was I might have chosen. But nothing in particular was ever selected and everything was simply tried on for size.

Luckily, there was always that one song I wanted to play more than anything, even if I wasn’t terribly good at any of the others. Then, in uncharacteristic form, I would steadily put in the practice and hope that each day I would get a little bit better. Today, I think watercolor has become that song for me. Only, in this case, I’ve no idea how the song should actually sound, it’s just the playing it that I cherish. Some days, I have time to sit and take my time while others, I’m rushing madly to make something appear on paper. Sure, I could skip a day, but why do that? It’s always possible to make something new, no matter how little time there seems to be left. More times than I can count, when I’m feeling rushed, I simply play that maniacal interlude in my head. And the battle to make something begins. Happily sketching and splashing paint, hoping that something recognizable will show up, spinning onward through my flight of the bumblebee.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Quinacridone Gold and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink and second pen with sepia ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 22 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Flight of the Bumblebee White Background Watercolor Painting Insects
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!

29 replies on “Flight Of The Bumblebee

  1. Charlie,

    Love the Bumble Bee illustration and commentary.

    I can identify with your experience…”very easily distracted by something else … and drop what I was doing before any sort of mastery occurred.” (I have a basement full of projects in various stages of progress!!)

    When I began painting watercolors a few years ago, I realized I’d finally found something that could hold my interest (at least for a few hours). So, I retired in order to have more time to practice and paint. I’m loving it. And I love the monthly World of Watercolor Challenges –

    Looking forward to viewing and reading each of your daily posts.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Lois! 😃💕 Thrilled you’re enjoying the art challenges. I think they’ve definitely helped to keep me painting, personally. Some days I’m so busy, it’s nice to just look at a little list and say… okay, I’ll just go with that then! But watercolor is definitely something that holds my interest… it’s so rewarding!!


  2. Your painting of the bumblebee is absolutely beautiful, so detailed and charming. I think they are not supposed to be able to fly – their wings are too small for their body mass – and yet they do. Truly a miracle of determination and hard work.

    It’s wonderful that you set your sights on a really challenging task and worked to achieve it, even if you never got as good as you wanted in playing The Flight of the Bumblebee. I played piano as a kid and was a decent if recalcitrant pianist. Then I gave it up in favor of rebellion and now wish I’d kept at it. I keep saying that one day I’ll learn to play again – along with all the other skills I wish I’d mastered. If only we knew the gifts we are offered when we have a chance to really use them.

    Good for you for all the violin practice and for continuing to learn watercolor techniques.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah… I truly have some regrets that I didn’t work harder or practice things more. I took 2 years of piano lessons as an adult in an attempt to get back to it, but lost interest after time. Or I should say, I wasn’t getting better anymore and it discouraged me. I feel like I’m always playing catch up as an adult. Watercolor is definitely the first thing that’s held my interest so much. So I’m thankful I finally discovered it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bravo, a great doodlewash….I do love bees so much, and as for the writing 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 your story has got me. Brilliant my friend, I am so pleased I can enjoy your bee song. Interestingly I have a part of a symphony orchestra coming in to work next week for our patients, they often play the flight of the bumble bee….if they do my first thought will be you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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