Since I’ve already sketched quite a lot of “Tomatoes”, our prompt for today, I decided to paint the first thing that came to mind when I thought about them. Once, Philippe and I tried to grow our own tomatoes, but often, before we could get to them, we’d find one or two half-eaten already. In our case, they were simply pots of hope, since we live in the city and don’t actually have a yard. The culprit was a squirrel who merely enjoyed sampling them. In many ways it was all quite civilized, as rather then eating the entire thing, he’d just taste one a few times and scurry away. It was as if he thought eating the entire fruit would be quite rude and instead left the majority behind for others to enjoy. Well, since Philippe and I weren’t really keen to eat after a squirrel, we were not the others, and we were not particularly pleased. We often like to joke that our dog Phineas has a squirrel for a friend, since one is often looking through the glass door that leads into our kitchen, and we’ve named him Michael. I showed Phineas my sketch for tonight and though he’s a silent basenji dog, his eyes betrayed him and I could see him thinking, “that’s classic Michael.” But, after a season of sharing our summer harvest with Phineas’ friend, we’ve yet to try growing tomatoes again.
In many ways, I have to admire Michael. He seized the opportunity and chased after his prize. Sure, to him, it was entirely primal, but it made me think about my own approach to opportunity. My moral compass wouldn’t allow me to steal food from others, of course, but even when I see a good and fair chance, I don’t always take it. I’ve had so many chances in life to try something new or reinvent myself entirely. Sometimes, I’ve chased after them, but other times, I’m less eager and more uncertain. Many times, it’s a simple decision as I merely doubt the opportunity itself. It’s something that just doesn’t feel right, and, quite like Michael, I’ve always learned to trust my instincts. Yet, other times, it’s not that I doubt what I could do next, I simply doubt myself. I worry that, although this chance has presented itself, I’m not the right one for the part. There are others that are far more competent in whatever it is, and I should just let them do it instead. This self-doubt has held me back many times in life. While most things become a truth after we experience them, doubt becomes a truth because we simply don’t try. The very act of not trying something confirms that doubt and it becomes a fact.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve worked hard to challenge those facts that I’ve decided about myself. One of which, you’re experiencing right now. I didn’t think I could draw at all, much less paint, and though I wanted to write, I thought that was better left to others more talented as well. That’s three things I told myself I couldn’t do, that I now do each and every day. And truly, there are still lots of people out there way more skilled and triumphant than I, but for once, I chose to show up anyway. I’m defying my own inner critic each and every day to appear here and share my sketches and stories. And one would think I’ve proved myself worthy by this point after nearly four years of consecutive daily posting, but I’m still just practicing each and every day. I could never call myself an expert in anything yet. I’m not sure I ever will be, and truly, I’m not even sure what being an expert really means. What I DO know is that I adore being a student of both life and art and I’m eager to show up to class each and every day. It’s not at all that different than when I was a little boy, ready to learn everything possible. I’ll grab for knowledge and bits of information with glee, tasting as many things as I can as I move along in life, like a squirrel stealing tomatoes.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. 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!