A Squirrel Stealing Tomatoes

Squirrel Stealing Tomatoes Illustration

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.

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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!
Squirrel Stealing Tomatoes Sketchbook Illustration
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
28 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 3 months ago

    Michael looks eager to reap his reward for getting to taste the tomatoes just as they ripened but before the humans.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Hehe! Yes! 😃💕Michael the squirrel never lets an opportunity pass him by!

  2. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    I don’t know. Squirrels can be rather ornery, Michael probably thought they were Phineas’ tomatoes and was looking through the window to taunt him. ‘Ha ha! Your tomatoes are my tomatoes! I have bite them with my little squirrel teeth!’

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      haha! So true! 😃💕 I honestly can’t understand why they’re friends at all! lol

  3. Lisa 3 months ago

    I love tomatoes! I have 11 plants in this year. Five more than I wanted, but when I bought them, the grower had extras in the packs. Tomato horn worms are my biggest pest. I hate them and squish them gleefully. When we first moved here I planted strawberries and waited anxiously for them to get ripe. The night before I would have picked them, a raccoon came and took bites out of the ripe ones. Damn things! Now I just buy my strawberries from a nearby strawberry farm.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Wow! 11 tomato plants! That’s awesome, Lisa! 😃💕And ugh… yes… raccoons and squirrels are not a gardener’s friends to be sure!

  4. Sharon Nolfi 3 months ago

    I love Michael, whom, you’ll recall, I met at one of Phineas’s secret parties. You’ve done a lovely portrait of hime.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Hehe… and so thrilled you got to attend of of Phineas’s parties. I hear they’re amazing! lol

  5. Susan Killian 3 months ago

    Sweet mischief! love this one!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Susan! 😃💕Yeah, this little squirrel if up to a bit of mischief indeed!

  6. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 months ago

    “I chose to show up anyway.” I think this line really defines you, Charlie. You are here, doing what you think you can’t, trying new things, challenging the rest of us, making it work. Whether writing, painting, going after your one true love, and despite your doubts, you do it anyway. I don’t think this is Michael the Squirrel – it’s you, your alter ego, the brave little guy going after the gold even if the gold is just a tomato. And, BTW – this is a terrific painting – the expression on the squirrel is fabulous. Part rebel, part hunger.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Aww thanks, Sharon! 😃💕What a beautiful and uplifting comment to receive! That’s quite true… maybe I am a bit more like Michael than I think. Perhaps my whole art journey could be summed up as part rebel, part hunger. 😉

  7. Joanne 3 months ago

    This was a great post. I am glad you show up eagerly every day to write and paint. Your writing is a joy to read and the artwork is pretty awesome too. You should be very proud of yourself.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Joanne! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled to know you’re enjoying these posts!

  8. Robert J. Coleman 3 months ago

    One point you stress so often is to take the leap, try the jump, trust yourself. It means so much to us that take inspiration from your work: just give it a shot. I’ve seen the squirrels raiding my birdfeeders in the back yard, literally making that jump, and sometimes not succeeding. But they get up and run back into the trees for another try. Time to go fill the feeders again……..

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Bob! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled you’re inspired by these posts. Sometimes I feel like I’m just repeating myself. I do think that taking that leap is the only important step. There are others, of course, on the way to mastery, but DOing is the most important step of all!

  9. Victoria Ballinger 3 months ago

    Wow!! My inner critic has said those exact same things to me on those same three topics. I gave up art and writing for years because I did not feel good enough. Looking back, I have to wonder what I thought good enough really meant. I’m working now to overcome physical barriers to my goals of returning to my hobbies I’m passionate about, as my health has thrown road blocks in my way. Still, I work on my studio reorganization project as much as I physically can and have discovered people like you who strongly inspire and encourage me. I’ve made connections in the art world that I never would have had the courage to reach out to back when my inner critic was in charge. My daughter being a young artist also helps keep me driven to do what my body allows to keep plugging away towards my dreams and she supports me as much as I support her in our artistic adventures. Physically, a surgery and finding a support wrap that works for me on my dominate hand has helped me a lot!! I have a lot of bigger issues to battle, but battling I am, so I’m going to get there to where I can do art daily again. Charlie, people like you that put yourselves out there hoping to help others have a huge impact on keeping so many people like me encouraged and inspired to keep going towards our goals. You very much make a difference!! Thank you for all you do!! I’m so very thankful I discovered your books and this blog!! It’s funny that I found everything within a week or so and didn’t realize all were your work until after exploring here. 🙂 I now look forward to new post emails in my inbox every day. You are so positive and encouraging, create beautiful artwork and share such wonderful stories that it’s become a highlight of my day and I look forward to each day’s new post!!

    I loved your squirrel story too and the friendship your dog and Michael have made me smile:). If you ever want to try growing tomatoes again, maybe you can keep Michael out of them by providing a more inticing alternative. When I was a small child, my grandmother was frustrated trying to keep a crafty squirrel out of her songbird bird feeder. He defeated many attempts to thwart his emptying the feeder. We ended up discovering through trial and error, that putting out peanut butter toast covered in regular bird seed for him on the picnic table across the yard finally did the trick. He even brought friends after awhile. Every morning, we toasted wheat bread, spread a generous layer of store brand peanut butter on while the bread was hot, then dipped it into a bowl of birdseed. We made 2 slices for him. We left them whole and took them out to the picnic table on our way to fill the bird feeder. We did this around 9:30am and if we ever ran late, the birds would wake us chirping away wanting their seed and that squirrel would come up on the deck railing and scratch at the screen door while chattering at us. Watching him eat his special toast often provided more entertainment than bird watching and always more laughter. Thank you for reminding me of such special memories!! Maybe Michael will enjoy special toast. I am pretty sure we had called our squirrel friend Charlie:).

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Wow! I’m totally overwhelmed, Victoria! 😃💕 You’ve just made my day and summed up my entire reason for being in your comment. I’m so touched and thrilled that you’re inspired by my posts and books. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted out of this journey. When I started, I only secretly wanted to make books, but doubted myself all along the way. So, I doubled down and just kept at it instead. Today, I feel wonderful… thanks to comments like yours that tell me I did the right thing. And it empowers me to continue to spread the good word and let everyone else on this planet know that they too can make that dream happen. And I adore that you left a special treat for your squirrel… hehe… I’m totally sure that watching him enjoy it was the best moment of all!

  10. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    We have a very active squirrel population in our yard who love to taste test the tangerines. One of them has taken to taunting the cats from its vantage point on the step outside our kitchen sliding glass door. They are cheeky little critters.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Hehe.. yeah, they are totally cheeky those squirrels! But I have to admire their gall! 😃💕I’m quite sure there’s something to learn there for the rest of us.

  11. Squirrellyartmama 3 months ago

    Yay a squirrel.. love this

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe! Dedicated to you my friend! 😃💕 So happy you liked it!

  12. smzang 3 months ago

    It is wonderful to hear more of Michael! One of my favorite doodlewash stories is the one about Phineas and his friends.
    I believe there was a somewhat unappreciated cat named Cindy and Bob the raccoon and Michael of course.You do have
    an extra special gift!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 Oh wow! You know the whole cast! That’s awesome… I read you comment out loud to Philippe who was equally impressed. Yep… that’s the gang of Phineas and one day I hope to right a story about them. hehe

      • smzang 3 months ago

        You gave them all such personality in just a few words. They really captured my imagination, heart and soul!

  13. bakerskid1 2 months ago

    Hi Charlie…I’m new at reading your blog and seeing your paintings…the phrase you write in this post..”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 chose to show up anyway…bingo…just what I needed to hear…have written an index card with the words ‘I Choose to Show Up Anyway” and have it where I can see it every day. Thank you for the inspiration and the chuckle I get every time I read your posts and see your paintings.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww that’s fantastic! I’m so thrilled and happy to know you were inspired by this post! Yay! 😃💕 And a big yay to never giving up and always showing up with what we create each day!

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