A Happy Chameleon

Chameleon Watercolor Illustration

For our prompt of “Chameleon” today, I have to admit that the first thing that popped into my head was the 80’s Culture Club song “Karma Chameleon.” It’s one of those songs that’s incessantly catchy and nearly impossible to shake once it gets stuck there. And the song took me back to the days just before high school when I was sort of freaked out and scared to go. I was, and still am actually, a touch shy. So it kind of stressed me out. Thankfully, there were my fellow geeky friends who I knew would be in the same classes that I was taking. But, I didn’t know everyone, and I wanted to be able to simply blend in like a chameleon. As it turns out, however, chameleons don’t really change color to match their environment. Color changes reflect their emotions. This would be more than a little embarrassing in high school, so it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t like a chameleon after all. The thought of wandering down school hallways as a human mood ring would have really terrified me back then. Today, though, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I actually love the thrill of new adventures.

By the time I was a senior in high school, I felt like I was truly relaxed and confident enough to be there. I was finally comfortable in my own skin. Of course, by that point it was just one little year before starting college and a totally new set of people ahead. My closest friends had either selected other colleges or completely different majors. Starting as an English major, I eventually ended up with a degree in Art and Art History. My professors wanted me to apply for a Masters of Fine Arts program and so I did, and was accepted, but I had no desire to be in school anymore. So, I got out and decided to start my life as a… well, honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure. There were so many things I was doing at the time, included professional singing and acting, so I just sort of kept doing them all. It strikes me now that I never really made a choice. I just let the DOing show me the way to the next step. And I’ve no regrets at all, because it was one heck of ride!

I still remember those first years out of college. I kept myself so busy that I was generally always in a rather good mood. But, there were many times that I was terrified. Other times when I was just flat out confused. Had I been like a chameleon, I would have been changing colors at every given turn back then. I’ve often wondered what advice I would give to myself if I were able to travel back in time. What would I tell someone starting out on a brand new life journey? The very first thing that came to mind isn’t particularly productive at all as the words that popped into my head were, “buckle up!” But, upon further reflection, I don’t think I’d tell my younger self to do anything differently. I rather like where the course of things has taken me. Yet, if I could tell him one thing, it would be more about how to feel. Of all those stirring and conflicting emotions that spin in circles when entering uncharted territory, there’s only one that truly matters. So, I guess I’d just say, “never lose sight of what you love.” Stupidly simple, really. I’m not sure he would have listened. But, life turned out just beautifully anyway. And perhaps that why, I always keep my colors bright, like a happy chameleon.

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Chameleon Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail


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  1. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    This happy guy looks like he’s off on a fantastic adventure!!

  2. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    I took me a bit longer to get over my shyness. I refused to go to my graduation ceremony because I couldn’t stand the idea of getting up in front of people. Same thing when it came to getting married – it was a very small wedding and only that large to keep my mother happy. By I finally decided enough was enough and I’ve stood up and given speeches to whole rooms of people and was President of local business group for a while. The shyness is still there, but sometimes you just have to tell it to shut up and go away, lol.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      haha! Yeah, enough is indeed enough! 😉 Large groups and speeches I’m fine with… it was kind of acting. lol But mingling… ugh… that’s when the shyness comes back!

  3. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    Aweeeeeeee so super sweet!!!! I love the smile!!! i was very shy growing up but not so much now. That does not mean i am the life of the part gal lol. I tend to be good one on one or with a small amount of people. i like cozy little connections over massive groups lol. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕Yay for cozy connections… they’re definitely my favorite as well!

  4. Zertab Quaderi 3 years ago

    Same here about remembering and humming Karma Chameleon! Lol!

  5. Margaret Parker Brown 3 years ago

    Awww sometimes it takes a while to become a happy chameleon! My 95 year old father-in-law is hard of hearing. I take him into town to shop and for his doctor appointments. He always wants to go eat somewhere. I used to be very self conscious and don’t like attention drawn to myself. I have been diagnosed as having social anxiety. The other day I realized that I have come a longs ways when I got to thinking how I don’t think twice about my having to raise my voice in public. I just do it without a hitch!!!! Woah crazy 😲 so I suppose time does make it better, and of course hard work. Wonderful post, Charlie. I am done now lol

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Margaret! 😃💕 Yeah, I think practice is the real key to just about everything in life! hehe Some things just take a bit more time!

  6. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    I love your happy chameleon Charlie and thanks for getting that song stuck in my head.🙃 It’s funny to look back and see the paths hat we ended up taking throughout our lives. It’s also good when we make peace with it all and settle in to a good place.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Karen! 😃💕 hehe… and glad you enjoyed the song! Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to figure out just when paths forked, but it’s fun to look back!

  7. Fatima Chamkha 3 years ago

    Great happy hopping Chameleon!

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 years ago

    Your chameleon looks like he’s doing some kind of Disney dance – every Disney film that features animals has some kind of whacked out dance scene with critter legs and elbows and knees flying about and their human counterparts getting into the act with even less grace. But it’s all fun, as you remember from your wild and crazy youth. Even if you really were a shy kid who blossomed vibrantly a bit late.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      haha! I love that! He probably is doing a Disney dance…. I’ve always loved Disney films with animals! 😃💕 Thanks so much, Sharon!

  9. Lisa 3 years ago

    We’re just the opposite in our college majors. I started out as an art major and ended up an English major. My only regret about that is I would love to be better at some things that further art education could have helped a lot.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Oh wow! Yeah, I just couldn’t decide and in the end… art is just all about practice and once I left school I went on to do other creative things and stopped sketching. I wrote a little, but it’s nice to practice both every day now! 😉

  10. Sharon Nolfi 3 years ago

    Delightful little creature! Yeah, my 20s were filled with lots of changing moods and situations, too.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 I think that’s the perfect definition of one’s 20s! hehe

  11. Claire Randall 3 years ago

    Wow beautiful

  12. smzang 3 years ago

    Charlie says, “never lose sight of what you love.”

    and I say Awesome!

    and then I say you’ve got Karma Chameleon playing in my head, my feet are tapping to the rhythm. This could last for days. No wonder that chameleon is so happy.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      hehe! Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 Yeah… hope you were a fan of that song. Once it sticks… it doesn’t leave lightly! lol

      • smzang 3 years ago

        No it doesn’t leave. the good thing is, it’s a ‘feel good’ song. I’ve always loved it.

  13. LoriCtoo 3 years ago

    Thanks…..how long will I be singing that song. Not a fan of reptiles,(that’s why I did Pascal from Tangle ;p ) but yours has a bit of cuteness to him. I was watching Oregon Art Beat. There was a woman wood carver on. She said, “An artist is a child that survived.” I was so taken by this quote. It describes so many of us in the art world. Why hadn’t I heard or remembered this quote? Apparently the creator of this quote is Dr. Fleron and not Ursula Le Guin…..that’s an interesting little story in itself. Happy Friday!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 Hope you’re having a great Friday! Yeah… I think chameleons are what I’d call ugly cute. Like ET! And love that quote. It’s definitely true for many artists!

  14. Gary Middleton 3 years ago

    Brilliant I love this. The only trouble is you spoilt my illusion of chameleons disappearing into the background like my picture, lol.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 And so sorry! lol Actually, chameleons were still made to blend in well though! And it’s just way more fun to think of them like we’ve all heard! But if you truly want something that can change to match the environment… an octopus has that sort of magic! 😉

  15. Jacob 3 years ago

    Haha, that’s awesome. Who couldn’t smile at such a chirpy creature? He’s so happy! And Karma Chameleon is a definite earworm! I haven’t heard it for a while now but, back when I was delving into 80s music, I became totally hooked on that song.

    I laughed when you wrote about settling into high school as a senior, partly because I know the feeling, but also because I remember my Graphics tutor telling my parents he felt I’d truly settled in now… about a month before college was over!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      haha!! I knew we had much in common! 😃💕 Love that story. Yep… that’s truly a late bloomer indeed. It just takes some of us more time to settle in. As for Karma Chameleon, that song is now back in my head and probably won’t leave for a few days! lol

      • Jacob 3 years ago

        It’s so catchy! Thanks to this post I played it yesterday while working, for the first time in years, and can’t help but feel it was both a massive mistake and a stroke of genius at the same time 😛

  16. Linda Calverley 3 years ago

    He looks a cheeky chappy.

  17. Priscilla DeConti 3 years ago

    He looks happy and ready to go on his next adventure! 🙂

  18. shawnthompsonart 3 years ago

    Nice Chamelion Painting, He actually looks psycadellic! Especially with the eye and the tounge.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Shawn! 😃💕 lol.. he does look a bit psychedelic! Love it!

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