A Shadow Of An Idea

Light Bulb Idea Watercolor Illustration

As we celebrate Day 9 of #WorldWatercolorMonth and our prompt of “Shadow Play,” I truly had no thought in mind of what to make for this one. It could, after all, be anything at all. It’s a prompt that just needs an idea in order to flourish. Yet, I was rushed and running late getting home from my day job and hadn’t come up with anything to create. So, it was the perfect time to paint a light bulb, which I seem to paint whenever I’m at a loss for an idea. Paying homage to the very icon of an idea itself. In this case, I tried to make it a bit more challenging by having multiple light sources and casting of three different shadows and then set about painting it in only two colors. In my mind, I meant to use more colors, but when you start without an idea, then anything can happen. I think it rather gets the visual across, albeit in my usual quick and scribbled style, best viewed from a safe distance in order to create the illusion. This magical effect of watercolor is why I adore it. Even though my style seems a bit more realistic, it’s just a light scribbled pencil sketch, doodled over with ink from my fountain pen, and then colored with watercolor. Yep, just a coloring book image I made for myself today and then gleefully colored with watercolor paint. It’s why I call them doodlewashes, and why I have a blast sketching stuff every single day!

Thinking of a light bulb to represent an idea is not remotely creative, but painting said lightbulb in 45 minutes with glass, metal, and shadows was certainly a fun and challenging exercise. That’s pretty much all I had in my head when I went to make this, and I mention it because what more should I ever need? I general notion of something I want to try is more than enough to give it go! This particular challenge I set for my self at the eleventh hour was super fun to attempt. Mostly, because it was so last minute and I had no time whatsoever to talk myself out of it. To me, that’s one of the best approaches we could ever take when trying to create something and why I actually DO enjoy deadlines. Though random ideas may have been flitting through my mind all day, it’s that final moment when I know there won’t be any other chances that enthralls me. Since I was running late today, choosing something this complex is likely something only a crazy person would attempt. Or, as I like to think of it, simply the very thing I needed to try next because my heart led me there. That’s the beauty that can be found in creating something spontaneously. It’s a surprise to me as well when I look at it, which makes it even more magical.

I’ve been asked many times if I offer online courses, but at this moment, it’s not something that I’m planning to do next. First, I do all of this as a side hobby and sneak time just to practice my single sketch and bit of writing for the day. And second, what I want to teach you is what I share each day in these posts. Herein lies all of my wisdom that I hope will help you create whatever you want in your own unique style. It’s why when I finally did make an instructional book, it ended up as an Activity Book for all ages meant to help people reconnect with their inner child. To embrace that awesome innate creativity and skill that’s in all of us. Even for children, by the way, since around the age of 9 we start saying things like “I can’t draw,” or “I can’t paint.” And it’s equally why I founded World Watercolor Month as a charitable event to support arts education and get art supplies for underprivileged kids. Please help me make a difference this month by donating to The Dreaming Zebra Foundation and/or also purchasing something beautiful from the World Watercolor Month Shop! I started this site and founded this month with very grand ideas, but at the heart of it all, I just think that by coming together we can make a positive difference in the world. It’s been a joy to see the difference we’ve already made, and here’s to even more positive change in the future! It’s a wonderful thing indeed when you follow your dreams, even when they might only begin with a shadow of an idea.

Want To Sketch Stuff With Me? Check Out My New Activity Book!

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Vermilion and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!
Light Bulb Idea Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended8 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
29 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 1 week ago

    A light bulb is perfect and I would not have thought of using it. Great post as always!

  2. June Hadaway 1 week ago

    That lightbulb looks like I could just pick it up and put it in a lamp….so shadowy and shiny., definitely looks like glass. Lots of nice shop items to help support the Dreaming Zebra Foundation.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Aww thanks, June! 😃💕 Yay! Glad you liked my light bulb. And super glad you enjoyed the World Watercolor Month Shop this year! So many pretty things! (yeah… I bought all the pouches. 😊 I’m such a fan boy of these artists! hehe)

      • June Hadaway 1 week ago

        They will all love you for that….all are so very nice!

  3. Sandra Strait 1 week ago

    I love the cold light of your light bulb! The colors may be in the cold range, but as usual the warmth of your personality lights up the words in your ramble!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕That’s awesome you mention it! This one did get a bit cold since it was only two colors and missing yellow. I thought about adding some, but I liked the starkness. hehe

  4. Lisa 1 week ago

    As of today, two of the three bulbs in my overhead kitchen fixture have burned out. I hate when that happens because I’m a creature of light and hubs is not. So I have to nag him incessantly for weeks to get him to change it. I really need a maid/helper to do little jobs around the house so I don’t have to be the naggy bitch.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      haha! Oh to have a maid! 😃💕 I would love that! lol Since I don’t actually cook, I’m always the maid right after I post! lol

  5. memadtwo 1 week ago

    Another great painting…reflections on glass and shadows, one of your specialties! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah, I just have a thing for glass and metal… I’m not sure what that says about me actually! hehe

  6. Mary Roff 1 week ago

    Great light bulb!!!

  7. Sharon Nolfi 1 week ago

    You are the emperor of shadows! Lightbulb is exceptionally beautiful.

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 week ago

    I can’t stand it – 45 minutes to paint this masterpiece, from someone who says that all he does is doodle. I knew you were going to say something like this. I’d still be filling my water bowls.

    You’re completely right about kids and adults claiming they can’t draw, but they’ve simply never been taught. Isn’t it amazing that people can learn to play violin, solve geometry and calculus problems, bake macarons in 12 different flavors, but remain convinced that they can’t make art. It’s proving them wrong that brought me such pleasure in teaching art. I loved that moment when a kid held up a painting and said, “Look what I made!”

    Unfortunately, most adults draw no better than the average untrained 12-year-old. Yet in some cultures, art is considered an essential subject. I worked with a 5-year-old child who’d just come to the US from China. She already knew at least 4 hand positions for holding a paintbrush. She was extremely shy and we didn’t hear her voice until second grade, but she’d learned everything she was taught.

    Now you know how many people you’ve reached and encouraged to attempt the joy of watercolor. What an opportunity you’ve exposed to so many lucky people, Charlie.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Aww thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Hehe… I always tell people to zoom into to the sketch… all is revealed… it’s a big old mess! lol An illusion that works when viewed from afar. And SO true! We humans DO so many amazing things and yet somehow “art” is something outside our grasp. I love the story of your child from China. That makes me so happy to hear. I love that she could paint to communicate before traditionally communicating. That’s why I made World Watercolor Month a non-profit. I hate that art programs are being removed and that future children might not experience the real power of their intellect.

  9. Fatima Chamkha 1 week ago

    Awesome great idea for shadowplay!

  10. LoriCtoo 1 week ago

    Wow! What a great lightbulb! A clear one at that. Amazing! The last two days I have felt my sketches have been just ehh. Partly because I have been short on time. Thanks for the inspiration to push through it!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕To be honest, on these challenges… I usually knock it out of the park the first few days and then get a bit tired. lol This month… I started a bit tired and then thought… I can do better than this!! So, Day 9 sort of pulled me out of my funk! 😉

  11. Sharon Mann 1 week ago

    Brilliant Charlie!

  12. Laura Kate 1 week ago

    I think the three shadows were painted very successfully.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Laura! 😃💕 It makes me so happy to hear that… it was crazy complex and I wasn’t quite sure if it read like I intended. 😊

  13. smzang 1 week ago

    Charlie says, ” I started this site and founded this month with very grand ideas, but at the heart of it all, I just think that by coming together we can make a positive difference in the world”

    Yes, Yes and Yes!!

    I love the way you gave the glass both sheen and shadow, exactly as if one were viewing the object and not a painting of it.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕Glad you enjoyed this! And yay… what a wonderful comment on the bulb. I always hope to create a true illusion of the thing and not just a painting of it, so that made me really happy to hear!

  14. Robert J. Coleman 1 week ago

    The light bulb was a great idea….:-] The way you painted the shadows on top of each other shows how superior watercolor is; I can’t imagine how one would do that so perfectly with oils or pastels. As far as teaching a course online, you are doing that right now! Most courses give you inspiration and the techniques to make them real. This blog does just that: it is a wonderful course in itself, just what many of us need. Thanks for all you are doing.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Oh wow! Thanks, Bob! 😃💕 I can’t tell you how happy that makes me to hear! I do feel like I’m still teaching something valuable along the way through these posts and my unorthodox Activity Book I published. hehe… I’m glad you find it inspiring!

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