A Duck’s Life

A Duck's Life Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of a mallard duck standing casting shadow on white background

Today on our #NatureDoodlewash hike I had to stop and sketch this duck, as it’s also Draw A Bird Day hosted by the lovely Laura (and my sister from another mother) over at Create Art Everyday! Not sure if I’ve mastered all the proportions in this as I sort of freaked out when I realized a duck has more layers than an onion. I’ve skidded past some and attempted others to hopefully get to a final piece that’s rather duck-like. I’ve always liked looking at ducks, but this is the first time I’m tried to doodlewash one. They always seem to be so content with life.

We were at the park this weekend, walking our dog Phineas and walked close to a pond full of ducks. Phineas leaned his head over the edge of the water to inspect a group of baby ducks who were poking around for food. When one got a little too close, mama duck screamed loudly causing all of us to jump as the little ducks followed her away to safety. They were adorable, swimming in little lines staying close to their mom. And in less than 60 days, they’ll leave their mother’s side and venture out on their own which is kind of amazing.

It made me think about humans and how it’s not super rare in these times to be with your mother almost 30 years before going out into the wild on your own. I can’t imagine learning everything you need to know to survive in only 60 days. I’m not sure I’ve entirely learned it yet but have been on my own for years. But those little ducklings will soon be on their own, creating their happy little duck life doing whatever it is ducks love to do most. Which, as far as I can tell, means swimming and eating nearly anything they can find. Actually, a duck’s life sounds pretty amazing when you think about it.

Join me throughout the month of June on a virtual nature hike! Show everyone what you love most in nature with a watercolor sketch or painting and tag your images #NatureDoodlewash so we can all enjoy it with you! I’ll create a featured artist gallery of our global hike at the end of the month! 

World Watercolor Month is coming in July! Click here to learn more!


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Azo Yellow, Gamboge, Azo Orange, Cobalt Blue, Permanent Green Pale, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Pyrrol Red, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

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! If you'd like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
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88 Comments
  1. I love how you got the luminescence in its head and wings. The depth, layers, and colors are lovely.

  2. Jessica Seacrest 1 year ago

    Fabulous sketch Charlie! I used to have a duck, is was cantankerous. It usually sounded like it was laughing. When one of my little dogs would walk by it, it would try to poke him with it’s beak.

    • Author

      Yeah…it was totally laughing I think! lol That’s funny…ducks are cool. But I’m sure your dog didn’t think so! Lol Glad you liked my duck, Jessica!! 😃💕

  3. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    You have amazed me again Charlie!

  4. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    Oh, Charlie! This is just ducky!! 😉 Hehe! All silliness aside, this is really an AWESOME duck! Your talents just amaze me! 😍🎨✨💕

    • Author

      Hehe! Thanks Jill! 😃💕 Awww I’m so glad you liked my duck! Whoa…that was close…autocorrect almost made me sound naughty! Lol Really must be careful. Anyhoo…thanks so much for the lovely compliment my friend! 😊😃

  5. YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

    This is a beautiful Duck very detailed I love the feathers colors such a great piece is wonderful! I hope that you like what I made for today! 😉 <3

  6. Teri C 1 year ago

    Omg! Gasp! Totally awesome! Totally!

  7. Carol 1 year ago

    Such a handsome mallard, and you did him great justice! Little silly birds like ducks and geese sure know how to intimidate us, don’t they? it is all in the name of protecting the young; such a parental instinct 😍

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Carol! 😃💕 Yeah, that parental instinct is strong! They’re such beautiful creatures. Loved seeing the little baby ones. Hehe

  8. Laura (PA Pict) 1 year ago

    Your painting is superb. I am impressed with the glossy sheen you’ve achieved with the plumage. I really don’t want to imagine having lived with my parents for 30 years. Although I love my parents dearly, 17 years of living with them was quite adequate to convince me that the ducks have got the idea right.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Laura! 😃💕 The sheen requires layers which I typically don’t have the patience for. But there was other duck parts to complete so I could let the head dry properly. Hehe 😊Yeah! I was out at that age as well. The age you mentioned…not the duck age! Lol

  9. jmnowak 1 year ago

    He is cute! I think you’d like a Mandarina too…much bolder and more extravagant in the finery!
    PS: You’re not alone, you have Philippe!! *wink

  10. Okay….don’t laugh Charlie, I have a duck story 🙂 oh before I do that, (steal your thunder) I love your duck! A beautiful mallard, gorgeous colors! now, the story. We had bought a gaggle of domestic geese, I think 4, very young ones and very fluffy. We would bring them into the house and put them into the bathtub and watch them go crazy with joy and splashing and frolicking….what memories! When all the fun was over, that part of the fun, that is, we would have to dry them because they didn’t have all their feathers in yet and they get cold easily. So, I whipped out the hair dryer! It is the perfect tool for a duck’s need for getting dry. I would put them on a towel, and turn on the hair blower and they would start to lean into the blowing action. That wasn’t all, they would stamp them little webbed feet at the same time, and so very fast and so funny! We would blow them dry until they were all fluffy (and kissable). lol……let me know if these stories are annoying because I get a feeling that I will have more…..and by the way, I do have a skunk story, so don’t get tricky on me. 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks, Margaret!! 😃💕Never stop sharing stories!! That’s the Doodlewash way!! Hehe… I love this one!! I can totally picture it and it sounds adorable cute. I would totally be wanting to hug that fluffy little duck!! Love that it leaned in… so pampered. I guess even a duck needs a spa day! I think I do as well, but my feet are too big, so I don’t look as cute stamping them. 😊

    • Judith 1 year ago

      LOL! What a story. I can see the little duckies stamping their feet. Baby ducklings are so adorable. My mother-in-law had a pair on her back porch, and they were so much fun to watch.

      • I loved ducks but the local wildlife loves them as well, therefore, no more duckies 🙁 but they were fun while we had them! I often think back to the blow drying years. lol

      • Judith 1 year ago

        Yes, my mother-in-law lost her ducklings, too. Someone gave her more, and so far they’ve survived. They hang out in the chicken house, scratching and pecking away.

      • I used to have chickens but now we have bear that makes trips through our property, too much trouble trying to protect chickens. Oh well, chickens were a lot of work and trouble, they were fun to watch though.

      • Judith 1 year ago

        I like chickens. When I was young, they used to sell them through the catalogs, and I always wanted a flock. My grandfather wouldn’t get me any chickens, though. I enjoyed the chickens that were down on the farm when we visited his brother and sister in the summer. And of course it’s great to have fresh eggs. My mother-in-law keeps us fairly well supplied.

  11. Jacob 1 year ago

    It does look an unenviable challenge, but I think you did a great job; the glossy feel is spot on! While I’m not totally convinced a duck’s life is all it’s quacked up to be, I think they do often come across as though they’re making the best of it. I’d like some ducks! 😉

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob!!😃 Double points for the fabulous pun! Lol And you should definitely get some ducks. But they are rather bitchy, so you must promise to not let them torment the poor seal.

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Aw, Simon Seal and Douglas Duck would get along famously I’m sure. There’s probably a kids book in there somewhere!

      • Author

        Would be a great kid’s book! Yay!

  12. Arts & Rhymes 1 year ago

    So cute, I love the colors! 😊 That’s actually a boy duck, a girl is always brownish color. We have a couple visiting every spring while our pool is covered. They swim in the water collected on the top of the cover. They have been coming for at least 6 or 7 years.

    • Author

      Thanks Sibella! 😃💕Yeah…this isn’t the mom that squawked at us. Lol Too dull for a doodlewash…I wanted to use my Viridian! I paint from photo references after work and just before dinner. It’s the only time I have to paint and I’m never sitting in front of what I want to paint at that time. Lol So cool you get recurring visitors!! That’s awesome!

      • Arts & Rhymes 1 year ago

        Haha I figured, it wasn’t the mom! I always paint from the photo reference too. I have never been a model or plein air artist, just never worked for me….

      • Author

        Urban sketching is super fun and I still do it from time to time. I just can’t commit to only doing that! Lol (too many cool critters to paint in Australia, for example, and I’ve never been, yet! hehe) I started Doodlewash to bring all the methods together in one place. No matter how you choose to paint that day, you can at least know you’re always a doodlewasher!😉

      • Arts & Rhymes 1 year ago

        Yeah, sketching is ok and it’s quicker than sitting somewhere for hours and painting… It never worked for me maybe because I’d get distracted with other things going on around lol
        For me is important to paint every day, even just for 30 min. Today I actually didn’t paint, but I practiced some calligraphy and I baked, but it’s still being creative. Yeah, love being a doodlewasher! 😀✌🏼️

      • Author

        Yay!! Love hearing that! 😃

  13. A very good Duck Charlie! You made his head shine, always stunning colors on a male duck’s head! But I didn’t always liked them, when it was breeding season they go sometimes with three or more males at once after the female ducks, and they sometimes drowned! But I love your sketch!

  14. Amazing duck Charlie, they are hard with all the layers, but you have caught this little feathered friend perfectly, I love his curly tail…..it’s the only way I can tell male from female. Great stance. One day when I grow up I would like some ducks, he he.

  15. Wow! So beautiful how brilliant you captured all those color variations of this proud guy! Great work!

  16. corinnebekker 1 year ago

    Wow, Charlie you’ve really captured the color and shine on the feathers. Awesome shading. And some splatter? I love the way it looks like it’s up to something too. Wonderful. 🙂
    Oops I forgot about Draw a bird day… totally into abstract trees. The are all in acrylic. Doesn’t count for #naturedoodlewash does it?

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Corinne!! Yeah…tiny bit of splatter there. Hehe. Glad you liked it! 😃💕 I’m still keeping doodlewash about some inclusion of watercolor just to keep things focused. There’s still plenty of time left this month though! 😉

  17. debiriley 1 year ago

    my oh my! the brilliance of the green shimmering duck’s head is amazing Charlie! beautifully done duck in doodlewash!
    amusing duck in the park story too 🙂 at least it did not chase you down like a rabid raccoon!!

    • Author

      Thanks Debi!! 😃💕So glad you liked this! Actually the raccoon we had was on our roof. Maybe I should doodlewash one! Lol

      • debiriley 1 year ago

        yes…. the evil one! lol

  18. ann christina 1 year ago

    This is a wonderful duck and I really enjoyed your story to it! My dog would have probably jumped right into the water – but I guess Phineas was on a string, otherwise he would have probably jumped too. He´s a terrier, isn´t he? I love the light on your duck´s feathers, it´s so pretty! 🐥 There´s a nice song of Charlie Winston I had to think about reading your post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZlkz9JN0YI

    • Author

      Thanks Ann! 😃💕 Yeah…Phineas doesn’t seem to like the water so I think he would have run the other way! Hehe… thanks for sharing the song!! Nice!

  19. Jodi 1 year ago

    Amazing mallard Charlie! So striking!!! Love it!!!

  20. Oh yeah this is beautifully done, Charlie! Really gorgeous and I do imagine it was quite time consuming to get to all those details you love so much! Wow and thanks for the mention too, my bro and pal! They are not easy to paint either, so double yay!!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, sis! 😃💕 It was still under an hour as that’s all the time I ever have. I’ve gotten good at cheating the details in with bits of dark! 😊hehe

      • You’re talented Charlie. Seriously good! I’m glad you got back to WC because it suits you beautifully. Oh and Q about July. Do watercolor pencils count? And do Neocolors count? Or does it have to be watercolor as in pan or tube paint? Just checking with the Grand Master of World Watercolor Month 💜💛💙💚💕🎨

      • Author

        Awww thanks! Actually I didn’t go back to WC… just picked up for the first time last July! Lol I’m such a newbie at this, but everyday practice makes all the difference as you know! 😉💕

        Actually… good question. I’ve been struggling with what’s really considered watercolor since I started this blog! I’ve been telling people watercolor or gouache should be a featured part of their art! (this could include watercolor pencils I’d think… it’s in the name at least?). Mixed media is perfectly fine though too, as long as watercolor is a featured component.

      • I was just thinking water-soluble media in general, but I can see where you start blurring the lines pretty easily. Would be pretty easy to combine WC pencil with straight WC also, or even to combine Neos with WC. Thanks, Charlie. I’m going to try and put together a series of posts leading up to July 1 about WWM linking back to you. As my/our(?) dad would say – if the good Lord’s willin and the crick don’t rise! I think I may be reacting to more foods and dealing with fatigue issues, hoping it’s not that at all and just insomnia that’s gone on too long instead lol. Wish me luck! I shall link back to you (of course)!

      • Author

        Wish you luck and love, sis! My poor dear… I’m sending you a million positive healing vibes that should do the trick. We need you well and making art! 💜💜And for July, yeah, it can get so blurry, but mixed media means… throw some watercolor on it too like you mention, and solved! hehe

      • Thanks so much, Charlie <3

  21. Judith 1 year ago

    What a good-looking duck! Those colors are fantastic, Charlie. Your doodles are amazing.

  22. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Great glow on that duck head Charlie! Another beautiful rendering. Love your duck story too. (K)

  23. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    A glorious and colorful duck, you even capture the irredescent green feathers beautifully. Bravo Charlie, thank for brightening up my morning.

  24. kungfunaomi 1 year ago

    It’s so pretty!!

  25. Nicola 1 year ago

    Ducks are so common but when you really look at them you realise how interesting they are and how varied and colourful their feathers. A really good job on this one

  26. Marieanne COURSEN 1 year ago

    I love your sketches! I have been wondering if you draw and paint from a photo reference or from life. I apologize if this has already been asked. I have wanted to join the fun of doodlewashes from nature but animals and insects are too challenging unless it is a photograph.

    • Author

      Thanks Marieanne! Glad you like my doodlewashes! 😃💕 I do whatever I feel like! hehe… that’s the fun of doodlewashing, there aren’t any rules, save using watercolor in some way. This was from a photo as are many of mine, since the things I want to sketch are rarely in front of me when I feel like sketching them! You don’t have to be exclusively an urban sketcher or plein air painter to be a doodlewasher, it just requires a love of painting with watercolor, so by all means, join in!

  27. […] Charlie at Doodlewash doodlewashed a duck in watercolor for us […]

  28. QuinnCreative 1 year ago

    Love the way you blended those colors!

  29. L U C I D 1 year ago

    I wish I was noticed

    I wish to be heard

    A ducks life is simple

    It’s one of a bird

    I loved your tale of a duck, I have written some ‘beautiful’ duck related poetry which I really hope you could take a look at:

    https://lucidlifeweb.com/2016/10/13/ducks/

  30. creativeworldm 9 months ago

    Hope you’ll like my post ^Goldy^

  31. creativeworldm 9 months ago

    Btw beautiful blog

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