For our art challenge prompt of “picnic” today, I was running well short on time and just decided to dash off a quick sketch of an an imagined picnic. The kind where you have a couple of glasses of wine, some cheese and bread, complete with a romantic score playing in the background the entire time. Of course, you’d need a proper basket similar to something I’ve seen at World Market. The truth is, I’ve never had this kind of picnic so the output was a bit whimsical and strangely surreal. My actual experiences were only family picnics which were often hilarious and had more of a comedic score in the background, complete with cartoon sound effects. We weren’t quite so civilized in our approach, and instead, focused on having as much fun as humanly possible without getting a sunburn. The food consisted of hot dogs and hamburgers and whatever potato salad someone managed to make that day. Later in life, at family reunion picnics, we’d be burning in the heat amongst little wooden tables in rural America using an airstream trailer for a toilet. And I have to admit, it was totally awesome!
We didn’t have wine, only beer, and half of what we ate came out of a bag. It was a far cry from the horribly romantic picnic basket I had only seen in movies. The kind with civilized little nibbles of things and a bottle of wine with glasses made of actual glass. I assumed these types of gatherings were reserved for the rich folk, but we poor folk really knew how to live it up and make the most of a sunny day. My family is what one might describe as inelegant, lacking those upper crust skills that demand linen napkins. Life is just life after all and there’s really no need to make such a fuss about it. While others set the bar high and demanded only certain luxuries, we ignored the bar entirely and just focused on enjoying every moment as it came. And I have to believe that this is a rather amazing skill. A skill that I brought into my adult life, even learning to love wine and cheese, and forgoing food served out of a bag. There’s a time for seriousness, but I’ve never quite been able to discern when that actually needs to take place.
No matter how civilized I become, I have never become so much so that I forget to have a ton of fun in the process. My family taught me that. Just be yourself and forget about what everyone around you has to say about it. That’s the beauty of family, if you lean into it. You never have to go through the arduous process of trying to “fit in” because you already do. They are your people, even when they don’t seem similar to you at all. That’s a wonderful gift of being a painter, as you can spot similar reflections in such wonderfully unique things. For me, I think painting and sketching each day has brought me closer to my family. To begin to focus less on the dissimilarities and instead find all of the ways we are painted in common. This always brings me so much joy. We can often grow up wanting to define ourselves in a way that makes us distinct from our family. This is definitely a wonderful aspiration as well, but I still love to focus on the things that make me ridiculously me. Those things that my wonderful family reminds me of every time I have the pleasure to happily attend an odd little picnic.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Leaf Green, Quinacridone Red, 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!