Today was a gray day outside, with a slow and steady rain combined with endless clouds casting a dark pallor over the entire city. When I looked out of my office window, I searched for something of interest to sketch in the all of the grayness. There were the usual cars in the parking lot and walls of buildings covered in graffiti, but nothing inspired me. Then, for just a moment, a glint of sun appeared and I noticed a pigeon, calmly standing alone in the middle of a puddle. The light caught a tapestry of colors that I’d never really noticed before in this city bird. I stared at it and studied the lines, and while I did, it almost seemed to be staring right back at me. I read somewhere that pigeons are much smarter than we might think. They did after all, manage to carry messages for the US Army during the World Wars and they have better eyesight than humans, making them a huge help to US Coast guards in spotting orange life jackets at sea. This pigeon, however, just seemed perfectly happy to be standing in a pool of rainwater. Though I was cranky about the gray day, I immediately had to smile.
As a kid, I wouldn’t have just been standing in that puddle, I would have been gleefully jumping up and down in it. I’d watch each time as I displaced the reflections and would then stand still for a moment to watch everything magically come back into focus. It was amazing! I doubt this bird was really all that interested in me, but for just a moment, it felt a bit like he was trying to tell me something. Whether or not that was the case, I was once again happy for the reminder to ignore my cranky adult mind and just enjoy the day. It’s funny how tough that is to DO some days. Even though I’m admittedly a big kid at heart, my heart has to scream at me sometimes to be heard over my mind. And my fat little friend in the puddle was just the sign I needed to purge those thoughts and follow my heart instead. Though the rain continued and the day got even grayer, I found myself happy again. It’s wonderful to take a moment and look at the shadows to see all of the wonderful colors that are hidden there. It’s proof that no day is ever really gray and also a good reminder when painting to always add some more colors to those darks to bring them back to life a bit.
It strikes me that as impossibly optimistic as I am, I can still find myself succumbing to the effects of a gray day. This, to me, is simply once again proof that growing up is totally overrated. Thank you Little Charlie for getting me through these days and showing me how much fun life can be if you simply always look for for the fun. Though I feel horribly behind in every project I’m currently working on, that little kid I once was wouldn’t ever let it bother him. I had to stop and wonder why, but then realized that as ever my thinking was entirely backward. I was focusing on what I didn’t DO, and a little kid only focuses on what they actually DO. So, today, I managed to show up once more with another little doodlewash and post. And I’m thrilled and proud that I was able to do so. There, Little Charlie, isn’t that better? I have to giggle when I think that most of the time, whenever I’m feeling stressed or even like a perfect failure, the solution is simply the opposite approach. That’s the kind of wildly simplest solution that my little self would cheer on with glee. And the very solution that I’m going to constantly remind my older self to choose more often. Like today, when the only thing sparkling was the unexpected appearance of a pigeon in a puddle.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermillion, Indigo, Leaf Green, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Turquoise. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink 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!
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!