A Colorful History

Heirloom Heritage Carrots Watercolor Painting

For our prompt of “Carrots” today, I opted for a quick doodle that includes the heirloom or heritage variety for a bit more color. Though orange carrots are what seems to be the most common today, they didn’t start out that color. Actually, like other things that grow underground like parsnips and turnips they didn’t have much color at all and were mostly white. The root wasn’t the primary purpose thousands of years ago as they were cultivated for their leaves and seeds. Farmers later began to grow more colorful versions, but these were yellow and purple. The orange carrot was introduced by the Dutch, but the exact reason seems to be something of contention among historians. A favored story is that the orange carrot was created for the royal family, the House of Orange. This seems like a perfectly wonderful explanation, but without proof, it’s a bit more of a legend. Yet, the fact that such a commonplace vegetable is the stuff of legends, makes the humble carrot unexpectedly fascinating.

Today, Philippe and I experienced a color transition of a different sort. There was an orange rug under our dining table that was made up of various carpet tiles and looked a bit shoddy. Its color had faded a bit with age and it didn’t quite have the same lovely look anymore. Phineas agreed recently and showed his displeasure by doing something he’s never once down in the house before. He peed on the corner tile. Though these tiles are meant to be washable, we instead took his odd and severe decorating advice and decided to replace the whole thing. We shopped for a new color this time and I was surprised at just how quickly Philippe and I were able to come to a consensus. The new tiles are thin stripes of about 6 different colors and look much better than the previous flat orange. Though the overall color is a sort of deep red. It’s similar to how I often like to paint with watercolor, splashing in bits of unexpected color to help add a bit more energy and personality. And laying down 20 tiles together, Philippe and I discovered we can be a bit more domestic when we apply ourselves. We simply hope, of course, that Phineas approves of this one and doesn’t offer up any more unwanted advice.

Our house has lots of different colors in it as Philippe and I both enjoy lots of interesting variations. And we both eat mostly vegetables, so even our dinner plates are also full of lovely colors. It was snowing all day today and we were trapped indoors, so it was fun to have a project to work on together. Even though this sketch of carrots has literally nothing to do with what happened today, I’ll still remember this day when I look at it. I was flipping through old sketchbooks recently and lots of unexpected memories came flooding back to me. A sketch of a teddy bear reminded me of the business trip I was on as it was sketched in a hotel room in between meetings. A bottle of Perrier took me back to Paris and the little apartment Philippe and I shared on that particular trip. There are a few sketches of actual places in the moment, but it’s mostly the act of sketching itself that locks things into my memory. It doesn’t matter what appeared on the page, the image brings me back to that day and time. Granted, my visual art journals would appear like hieroglyphics to anyone else who might discover them one day. But no matter what, one thing is certain, I’m certainly creating a colorful history!

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Heirloom Heritage Carrots Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    I love that you did heirloom carrots Charlie! Sketchbooks are great fun to pull out now and then and spend time with. I am hoping that when my husband and I start traveling I will be able to document our travels with quick sketches. I also want to be able to paint upon returning home using the sketchbooks to help me remember the feel of where we went.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕That sounds so lovely! Sketchbooks are a wonderful way to travel indeed!

  2. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    Normally, if a dog suddenly started peeing in the house, I’d suggest a vet trip but then you said it was snowing out, so Phineas may not have been commenting on the tile, but on the weather. One of my friends little girl went on a kick of eating nothing but carrots – after a couple of weeks she turned orange. Truth. Perfectly harmless, but all that carotene can show up on the skin!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      hehe… yeah… it was just the extreme weather on Phineas’ part. But he is getting a little grumpy and opinionated as he ages! lol 😉 And yes!… I’ve read about people turning orange. It’s crazy!

  3. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    Nice carrots and sounds like you found an excellent way to spend a snowy day!

  4. smzang 3 years ago

    I love that Phineas, He is a most discerning gentleman.

    As for your snow, at least it is the right time of year for it.
    It was 70 degrees here today and rained all day. I’m not
    sure if the gods were trying to prove early on with those insane
    temperatures that I need to cut calories before shorts season, or
    if they were being kind by sending rain so I wouldn’t prove it.

    I think your information on the carrot is really interesting and
    the painting is grand. I grew up on a farm and did not even realize
    that carrots were any color but orange. DOodlewash is all gem!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed this! I’ve learned a ton of wild trivia while figuring out what the heck to write about my illustrations each day! hehe And Phineas is indeed a unique and wonderful gentleman. hehe

  5. Sharon Nolfi 3 years ago

    Phineas rules the roost! Yay. As it should be. Very lovely carrots, especially the pink one.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 hehe… Phineas indeed does! Glad you liked the carrots!

  6. Lisa 3 years ago

    Joe brought home a bag of baby carrots the other day. I’m not sure why, because I don’t like carrots except raw ones that are full size because they taste better, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Joe snack on any kind of carrot. That said, I have always wanted to try a purple one because they look cool!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      hehe… so I guess you’ll just have to see who ends up eating those baby carrots then! And I agree… the purple ones are just the coolest! 😃💕

  7. Ellie 3 years ago

    In honor of the day’s prompt, I bought some colorful heritage carrots….now I just have to sketch them before I eat them all!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Yay! Thrilled to hear that Ellie! 😃💕 Yeah.. sketch quick, though… carrots are soooo good!

  8. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    Wonderful carrots!! 🙂 LOL sounds like Phineas has a strong opinion. It is wonderful if we can look back at things and get taken back to the moment it happened. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕 Phineas is the most opinionated dog on the planet to be sure! lol

  9. shawnthompsonart 3 years ago

    Nice painting, and interesting history on Carrots!

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 years ago

    How wonderful that all your Doodlewashes are your life’s memories. That’s a really outstanding result of all that observation and paint. I sometimes buy the multicolored carrots but to my taste buds, the sweetest are still the orange ones, no matter the mythology of their origin.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, I bet the orange carrots are sweeter… the more modern version of things the sweeter they tend to get. I’ll have to do a taste one day and see!

  11. nitinsingh 3 years ago


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