For our prompt of “Leaves” today, I felt like sketching some of the tropical variety and added a wrinkled hornbill because I had yet to ever sketch one. Yes, like so many of the planet’s interesting creatures, it’s sadly endangered due to human deforestation. Yet, birds like these fascinate me as they’re nothing like the birds I might find where I live. I guess that’s that the very reason travel is so fascinating, and I definitely want to take another trip to a rainforest someday. Since I wasn’t able to jump in a plane and travel to exotic locations, I decided to try something a bit different. While I sketched, I listened to a video loop of the hornbill’s call and it was actually rather awesome. I felt transported as though I was actually there, face-to-face with one. I think I love to sketch birds so much because the little boy inside loves that they are actually living dinosaurs. Or, at least that’s a view shared by most paleontologists today based on their traits. In any case, birds are quite fabulous, and tropical environments just have the coolest leaves ever!

Now that I’ve been sketching my own prompts for a few years now, I’m starting to branch out a bit. I’ve sketched a lot of leaves on their own, so I’m making up little scenes instead. Prompts are a wonderful opportunity to take the idea it represents and combine it with the things you love most. This particular little sketch is a continuation of the style of sketch that I did at the end of last month. It’s a coloring book approach where I use several references to make an ink outline. After that, I don’t look at the reference at all and just start coloring. Doing this scared the heck out of me when I started. I was a slave to my reference and dutifully tried to replicate all of the colors I saw there. What I’ve learned is that things get a lot more interesting and a lot more fun when I select a small palette and then use ALL of the colors throughout my sketch in different levels. This, to my eye, made this one feel more colorful and true to reality than even reality. I sketch what I see, and I love trying to capture all of the little details. But when it comes to coloring, I rely more on perception. I color what I feel. For my approach, pigments don’t matter as much as that lovely little color wheel we all learned about as kids.

This is another reason why I love birds and tropical environments. I just really love color and I love to color each day! Sure, some might end up looking a bit like paintings, but for me, it’s all still just coloring in a coloring book like when I was a kid. The coolest part, of course, is that I made the coloring book page this time! And I get to travel wherever I choose that day. It really makes me so incredibly happy and it’s why I always show up with a new post each day. I know, it all sounds like the ramblings of a man child. Someone who somehow failed to really grow up. But, is that such a bad thing? My real eyes may be getting older, but I’m thrilled they can still see what I saw as a kid. Life paints itself in more colors than we can probably ever actually recognize. My goal is to simply display my own perception of what I think might be there. And, I have to admit that it feels rather amazing to go wherever I want, when I’m in a tropical mood.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine (Green Shade), and Indigo. Staedtler Pigment Liners 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!
Wrinkled Hornbill Endangered Tropical Bird Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail


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34 thoughts on “A Tropical Mood

  1. I just got the email with the March prompts, and had to tell you again how much I am enjoying sketching everyday with you! I have a weekly feature on my blog called Fearless Friday that is all about art, techniques and tutorials and just wanted to tell you I often mention Doodlewash, the challenges and link to you 🙂

    1. Aww thanks so much Jenna for helping to spread the word! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying the prompts. They’ve really been the only way I’ve managed to sketch every day myself. Now, I can never say I don’t have anything to draw! And when everyone plays along with me, I can never say I’m not inspired! Thanks SO much for sketching stuff with me!! ❤️

  2. What a wonderful Doodlewash, Charlie. I really like your hornbill – he’s got an inquisitive personality. Thank you for the insight about your approach to drawing and coloring. I like to create my own colors. For instance, I rarely use black, preferring to make a black tone with a purple-orange or ultramarine/yellow blend, a common method but reliable.

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed this post. Yeah, I agree… I never use black or white actually… hehe… I love to mix up my own versions. And sometimes, my “blacks” are just darks as I don’t always use the same recipe. It usually works somehow, though! 😉

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