An Octopus Named Inky

Octopus Watercolor Illustration

For our prompt of “Octopus” today, I opted for a little doodle of one in just two colors. I made him up based on several different references and proudly showed it to Philippe. His first comment was, “there are eight arms, right?” My heart sank at first, as I honestly hadn’t stopped to count, but thankfully I managed to get all eight in there. Whether or not they’re in a remotely anatomically correct spot is another thing entirely, but I liked how this one turned out. There’s something wild and wonderful about an octopus. I’ve been fascinated by them. It’s one of those creatures that seems almost alien in form and truly unique. They’re quite intelligent creatures as well. I remember reading an article about an octopus that escaped from the national aquarium in New Zealand. He got out of his tank and slithered down a pipe that lead directly back into the sea. A bold and brilliant escape indeed, and so this sketch is honor of that curious octopus. His name was “Inky” by the way, which seemed perfectly fitting.

This all happened a few years ago, but it was memorable because the manager of the aquarium told National Geographic that “he was very inquisitive and liked to push boundaries.” I think that’s just a wonderful way to live for any creature, but if you’re an octopus in captivity, it turns out to be extra helpful. And as for Inky, he was never found, but his friends at the aquarium hoped he enjoyed his new life. I’ve no doubt that he did, or is still doing so. Even though an octopus only lives for three to five years, this was just three years ago so it’s rather possible Inky is still out there somewhere as I type this. I like to think that he is still there. Still searching for new things and exploring his world with the same fearlessness that brought him back to it in the first place. In any case, it’s inspiring for me to think about Inky. Life can be a wonderful adventure if we choose to live it that way. And even when there are obstacles, there’s never really anything stopping us from exploring the world and trying new things. 

This is something that I still have to constantly remind myself. As much I adore trying new things, I often lean toward things that seem just a touch easier and often less challenging. When it comes to my sketches, this is often the case because of a severe lack of time, but other times, it’s just a fear of the unknown. When I first started drawing, every single thing I did was completely unknown. There’s a comfort in that in that there are no comparisons to be made. These days, I secretly hope my next attempt at a subject will be better than the last. A bit silly, actually, considering that most things in life are not really that comparable. A different day, a different color, a different thought and everything comes together in a surprisingly unique way. It’s the uniqueness of the moment that deserves to be celebrated. Whether or not it’s a better moment than before isn’t really the question. For me, it’s making the very most of this moment and enjoying whatever it brings. If I do that, then I know in my heart that everything will fit into place. And, when I allow myself to push out of my comfort zone and explore, an adventure will surely await. As it turns out, there’s quite a lot of things one can learn from an octopus named Inky. 

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Octopus Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
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33 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 4 weeks ago

    I love your octopus, Charlie. Not all their appendages are visible all the time. You could have used that argument. 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, I could have! Thankfully… I accidentally managed to get them all in there somewhere! lol

  2. Lisa 4 weeks ago

    I just this evening read an article and watched a video about an octopus that was filmed while he was sleeping and he kept changing color, leading scientists to surmise that he was dreaming! Pretty cool! But dogs dream, so I don’t know why they would think other creatures wouldn’t dream.

    • Purnima Manjunath 4 weeks ago

      Nice to know this, Lisa! These molluscs have way more intelligence than what we think they have. They are good escape artists, escape from predators as well as stealthily prey on others by changing their color and texture too to match surroundings.They have a beak on their undersurface, in the centre of the web like attachment between their legs.I read up these facts only to paint the prompt by doodlewash.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Oh wow! That’s so awesome! 😃💕Yay! Yeah, I have to believe that any animal with a brain can’t quite shut it off entirely. So, they must all dream!

  3. Purnima Manjunath 4 weeks ago

    Love the way you used just 2 colors to create this awesome work!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Purnima! 😃💕 I find myself often going back to a limited palette. It’s fun to see what’s possible with only a couple of colors!

  4. kiddlescarol 4 weeks ago

    Go Inky! I hope he (or she) is out there living life to its fullest, just as we should be, but I’m surprised at their short life span. I’ve read that octopi are very intelligent (I hope that is true), and your Inky painting is spot on. 🐙 💖

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Carol! 😃💕 glad you enjoyed this one! Yeah, I’m certain Inky is still out there enjoying the world. And an octopus is quite intelligent, though often scientists are baffled as to why they are!

  5. Jill Kuhn 4 weeks ago

    Hi Charlie, I remember our collaboration of the octopus in the blender… lol! 😄 I too strive to improve just a little bit when I create art… 😊 Some days are better than others but I think it is the trying that is important. 🎨👍💕🐙

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      haha!! Octopus is a blender!! YAY! I love those days…. we need to collaborate again my friend! 😃💕 And yay to just trying… I feel like I’ve made progress, but not the leaps and bounds sometimes I expected, so I just keep sketching onward! 😉

  6. marshathepainter 4 weeks ago

    Consider me ashamed for having not bothered to learn about the octopus. Folks here on doodlewash are far more knowledgeable than I regarding these remarkable creatures! And now I have totally reversed my opinion of them and see them in a much more positive light! Golly, here I am thinking I am an open-minded person and am just reminded by you and others that they deserve my respect! I am chastened!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      I’m so thrilled to hear we could change your mind about the awesome octopus, Marsha! 😃💕 hehe Yeah, they are super awesome! And best of all, fun to sketch! 😉

  7. marshathepainter 4 weeks ago

    Very nice use of the two-color palette!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks!! I used to do a two color palette all the time so it was fun to try again! 🙂

  8. Gary Middleton 4 weeks ago

    I love this. I can almost see the tentacles writhing around. Great colours.

  9. Sharon Nolfi 4 weeks ago

    Yay to Inky’s escape! Your sketch is outstanding.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, I sort of fell in love with Inky learning about his adventure!

  10. LoriCtoo 4 weeks ago

    I told you earlier this year about that show on Public tv. It gave me a whole new look at octopuses and I love them! I always imagine them purple, even though I now know they adjust their color to their environment. Wouldn’t that be fun to do? Nice job on inky!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I watched that show! hehe And ohhhh to be able to change color in different environments. I think if I could, I be much more likely to attend parties. 😊

  11. Loan Anh Pham 4 weeks ago

    Inky is a beautiful octopus, Charlie. I hope Inky can meet my Airy & Jack turtle and Bibi octopus which alway loves to camouflage he he 😙

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks, Loan! 😃💕I’m sure Inky would adore meeting Airy, Jack and Bibi! hehe

  12. Bonnie Ottaviani 4 weeks ago

    Love him! Beautiful.

  13. Sandra Strait 4 weeks ago

    Your octopus is magnificent! All artists should be like an octopus – trying 8 different things at once and slithering in search of yet new things to try! (and wouldn’t it be fabulous to have 8 arms? Wow! Can you imagine the artwork that would be created?)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 Oh wow! If only I had eight arms! That would make things go so much faster! Unless even with 8 arms we only favored one, then they might just get in the way! lol

  14. Linda Calverley 4 weeks ago

    I liked Inky on instagram but he looks even better on my big screen.

  15. smzang 3 weeks ago

    Not only is this site a treasure trove of art and literature, it is a grand place to learn too.
    I had not known of Inky. Having read your article, I will never forget him. I join all in hoping
    that he is still healthy and happy in his natural environment.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 Yeah, Inky was such a memorable story. I love that he wanted to see the world at all costs and found a way to DO it! It’s so inspiring!

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