One of my favorite things to paint is often the ridiculously average objects of everyday life. That, and shiny things, are what you’ll often find in my repertoire so a chance to combine the two is a lovely day indeed. Though I started sketching the usual full scenes that one thinks of when painting in watercolor, I quickly moved on to just sketching stuff. Bits and pieces of life that are usually in the background and not the star of the show when it comes to paintings. In truth, I’m more of a watercolor illustrator than a painter, but even if I jumped out of my sketchbook and created something large one day, I think I would still want to immortalize the mundane. These everyday things hold the best stories, which is also part of what I hope to deliver. Being served a baked potato wrapped in foil is like getting a wonderful gift to unwrap. Sure, you already know what’s inside unless you’re suffering from severe amnesia, but still, it’s a wonderful experience. And the butter is often just the start as chives, sour cream, cheese and bacon might not be far behind.
Even as a kid, a load baked potato was a real treat. This is the kind that lives up to its name by obscuring the potato entirely in favor of toppings. The potato then serves merely as a thickening agent for what becomes a mess of gooey ingredients. It’s amazing. There’s literally nothing healthy about this treat, but the joy it brings is indescribable. And, as ever, it’s more of memory than something I’ve experienced recently. In fact, it’s been years since I had a baked potato that wasn’t just topped with a square of butter and lightly salted. As I sit here now, I can’t think of much else besides trying a proper cheese covered one again. And bacon is a must with these! Of course, as a kid real bacon was not the addition when this treat was made at home. Instead, a bottle of the popular “imitation bacon” was pulled out of the cabinet. This mixture of soy, chemicals and dyes was meant to replicate the real thing exactly, but failed miserably, and tasted more like crunchy bits of smoked salt.
To me, the best way to imitate food is by painting it. I prefer the real thing over alternative versions carefully constructed in a lab. But most of the food I consumed as a kid was made up of chemicals meant to mimic real life. Today, thankfully, I enjoy whole foods that are mostly organic and created with a bit of sunlight and proper watering. But, I still love to mimic real life in my watercolors. To create the illusion of some everyday object with just a quick little bit of sketching and a few layers of paint. Yeah, I never wait for my colors to dry fully as I never have the time. I’m sure, if I did, these might turn out a bit better. But tomorrow is a new day, and I will choose something else to scribble down on paper. Some ephemera of life that probably isn’t the first choice of subject matter for most. While other artists might bring you a forest at sunset, the creation of Adam, or a reclining nude, in my little gallery you’ll find something far more profound, like a baked potato in foil.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Blue, and Payne’s Gray. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!