A Sky Full Of Magic

Dog Watching Fireworks Show Watercolor Painting

For day four of World Watercolor Month and our optional prompt of “Patriotic,” I made a sketch of our pup Elliott watching fireworks. Over the 4th of July weekend where I live, there was a huge fireworks display on Saturday very close to our house. Philippe and I were wondering how Elliott would react since he’s not quite 8 months old and has never experienced this time of year before now. Rather than show any signs of fear, he was simply curious and appeared to be in actual awe. I’ve seen so many fireworks displays in my lifetime, that I often fail to experience the awe I used to when I was a pup. It’s still a marvelous visual, and reminds me of childhood when I saw my very first fireworks show. It was like watching the sky fill up with mystery and magic. The flares of light, bursting out of the darkness and cascading downward until they slowly disappeared made my jaw drop. And, as the final chaotic finale began, I was always so thrilled. So, today when I watch those displays, I always try to reach back in time and recapture that same joy I had as a kid.

Beyond the huge professional fireworks displays that light up the sky, there are lots of pops, whistles and booms happening late into the evening this time of year. It usually starts a week in advance of today and gets progressively more intense. I kept thinking that Elliott would change his mind about those interesting fireworks, but he was never really phased by them. I, on the other hand, did find myself wishing they’d stop so I could read my book in peace last night. Then, that kind of made me feel old. So, I closed my book and closed my eyes. Suddenly, I was back on the driveway of our childhood home, lighting the fuse on a bottle rocket and then running behind a tree, since nobody can predict which direction those things will fly. Next, I was lighting another firework that zipped and zanged through the air in a flurry of flashing lights as the neighborhood filled with colorful smoke. It was incredible.

The world has changed quite a lot since I was a child. Back then, there was a hope for an exciting future of endless possibility. Now, it’s more about hoping that possible future doesn’t somehow end us. So, watching fireworks always fills me with a sense of nostalgia. It sends me back in time where I get to relive every family gathering from years’ past. I’m carrying a plate full of chips and a hot dog fresh off the grill. I’m dodging lawn darts as I wind my way to a red and white checkered picnic table to sit down next to my cousins. And, I’m feeling that overwhelming sense of anticipation that comes from spotting that first firefly and knowing the sun is about to disappear. Finally, the moment arrives and paper bags full of various fireworks suddenly appear. It’s time to celebrate. But, the sense of love and belonging that we felt had nothing to do with our nation. We were just celebrating life as a family, sitting around on lawn chairs waiting to enjoy a sky full of magic.

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Dog Watching Fireworks Show Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail

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23 Comments
  1. mlaiuppa 2 months ago

    I remember as a child running around the back yard with a sparkler. You can’t buy them any more as fireworks are illegal in California and have been for decades. I kinda miss the sparklers

    I am lucky that none of the dogs I have ever had have been bothered by fireworks, thunder or sirens. Well, Caesar used to howl in sympathy with the fire trucks if they drove by the house (the station was down the next block on the corner) but fireworks and thunder never bothered him. My parent’s previous dog was afraid of thunder and fireworks but eventually grew out of that, or maybe she just grew deaf. All of the current dogs are perfectly mellow.

    You’re so lucky that Elliot is such a lay back, mellow puppy. Of course, I believe some of that has to do with environment. You are raising him to feel secure and safe and self-confident. He is going to grow to be a wonderful dog and will have no idea how very lucky he is.

    We used to drive out to a look out point to watch fireworks, then eventually just watched them on TV, but a few years ago my Mother hosted an “exchange doctor” from Japan through her volunteer work at a local hospital. It was the week of the 4th of July so my Dad and I took him out to overlook the fireworks on the harbor. Someone parked nearby had their radio station tuned to the synchronized music for the event and the windows down so we could all enjoy it. It was really beautiful and brought back the thrill of fireworks. Sometimes it takes someone new to remind us of the thrill we once had by experiencing it through new eyes. Be they human or canine.

    You both will now be experiencing the world again through Elliot’s eyes. And oh, what an adventure you will have.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Yes, indeed, I’m definitely on a new adventure with Elliott. He’s pretty laid back indeed for a puppy, but he does wish we could play all of the time. And your trip to see fireworks sounds amazing! Those are totally the best moments to bring back all of those wonderful memories!

  2. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Happy to hear that Elliott isn’t upset by the fireworks; one of our cats is terrified of any loud noise so tonight will be difficult for her. Love those July 4th holidays from childhood; there was always a big family gathering at my uncle’s farm with good home cooked food, fishing in the pond and never ending games of throwing horseshoes. The perfect celebration.

    • mlaiuppa 2 months ago

      Have you tried the pheromones over the counter from amazon? Supposed to smell like nursing mother and sooth. I think they make them for cats too. Do they make a “thundershirt” for cat? I know I bought a snood at one point, just a tube that went over the head and ears of my parent’s dog. It muffled but didn’t completely eliminate the fireworks.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Yeah, Elliott doesn’t seem phased at all by fireworks. He gets scared of little things of no importance instead. hehe I really do miss those family gatherings though. So fun! 😃💕

  3. louiseaprimeau 2 months ago

    Happy 4th of July to you and your family! 🇺🇸

    Our Rosie wasn’t bothered by all the fireworks here this weekend either. (🇨🇦 Day July 1) However, I do remember my other dogs being frightened by the noise when they were older. I hope that won’t be the case with Rosie or with Elliott! 🐶

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Louise! 😃💕 Yeah, Phineas got a little less cool with fireworks when he was older, but still handled it well. Hopefully that will be the case with Rosie and Elliott!

  4. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    I’m glad Elliott isn’t disturbed by the fireworks. Our mastiffs didn’t mind them per se, but would try to stop us from leaving the house when they were going off., and they would be on high alert if we did. They were very protective that way.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww… that’s so sweet that they tried to protect you from the war raging outside! hehe 😃💕

  5. memadtwo 2 months ago

    Love this one Charlie. (K)

  6. Gary Middleton 2 months ago

    Lovely doodle, Charlie. I know a lot of pet owners who hate November 5th, bonfire night, in the UK.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 Yeah… if your pet gets freaked then those celebration times are a lot less fun!

  7. Marisela Delgado 2 months ago

    Happy 4th of July, Charlie! Such a cute painting! I remember lighting bottle rockets and running away so scared like a hydrogen bomb was about to go off. 😂😂😂 I think those times were so much more…..innocent? I don’t know, but it seemed safer back then. And you’re right. It feels like the future is closing in on us. Climate change, unprovoked wars like in Ukraine or a loose cannon in North Korea. I just cling to my faith and those that I love. I’m very thankful for the people that I love and who love me in return like you, Charlie. Those are the fireworks in my sky. 💜

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 Indeed! As long as we have each other then the rest of it will just do whatever it’s going to do anyway and we’ll have love to get us through it. Much love to you my friend!

      • Marisela Delgado 1 month ago

        💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜

  8. Laura Kate 2 months ago

    Charlie, your essay was very fine. Thanks for writing it. And I’m in awe that you can paint fireworks – it seems impossible to me.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Laura! 😃💕 It’s actually not that difficult to paint. I used a masking pen to draw the white lines, then painted wet on wet with the lighter colors in the middle and added really dark blues to the outside and a little just behind the middle of the bursts for contrast. Then once it was totally dry, rubbed off the masking fluid. It’s fun to try!

  9. Mugdha 2 months ago

    Hello Charlie,

    I love love LOVE today’s title!!! My first thought was a watercolor sky filled with a swirling glowing sunset. But one with fireworks is even more magical. I’m so happy that Elliott is a brave pup who isn’t scared of noisy firecrackers. My cousin had a huge Labrador who would jump into the nearest person’s lap whenever he heard any loud sound. And it sometimes resulted in very funny situations. Once a not-so-favorite aunt was doing her make-up… you can imagine the result. 😉 On that thought, wishing you, Phillipe & Elliott a Happy 4th of July!

    Love,
    Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 hehe… I imagine your aunt’s makeup was very unusual that day indeed! Fun! Much love to you, my friend!

  10. Nellie Nellie 1 month ago

    Charlie! Congrats! You and Philippe have a pup full of wonder just like you! I can see loads of happy adventures for you three! Our fourth was low key, with a toddler and an infant in the family now, we gratefully all cleared out at 7:30p, headed home and waited for the big city show. Night and morning low clouds and sooo much smoke made for spectacular colors flashing in all the clouds, like patriotic lightning! I grew up in a town with fireworks every night, all summer long, so I really miss those sparklers! I’m just grateful for our freedom to celebrate with friends and family again and paint!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Our pup is definitely full of wonder. Sounds like you had quite a show there! And yes to sparklers… they were so much fun!

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