For our prompt of “Magpie” today, I have to admit that I wasn’t very familiar with this bird so I had to do a bit of research. I’ve never previously sketched one. As it turns out, scientists have discovered that magpies can actually recognize themselves in a mirror. While this might not seem like an incredible feat for us humans, it marked the first time this type of self-recognition was observed in a creature of the non-mammalian variety. So, I ended up with a little magpie stopping to take in its own natural beauty. Like so many things in nature, we’re still learning that humans aren’t the only creatures who possess certain skills. And while self-recognition is a wonderful thing to observe in animals, we’ve no way of really knowing if they’re truly self-aware. Whether they possess a conscious knowledge of their own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Indeed, knowing all of those things for absolute certain can sometimes seem like a daunting task, even for humans. But, I like to imagine that magpies are aware of these things and might just have some lessons to share with us.

When I was younger, I would often struggle with figuring out who I really was, or at least, what I wanted to become in life. I dreamed of the most incredible things. Things I really thought would come true, simply because I believed that they would with all of my heart. My story was all written and I was excited to start the next chapter. As I got older, I also kept thinking that I had it all figured out, only to have life change in an unexpected way and challenge all of my confidence on that front. As I get even older, I realize that actually knowing what I want to be when I grow up is overrated, and it’s quite possible I might die without ever really figuring it out. What I stick to instead is simply a far easier approach. I just tune into my joy and follow it wherever it leads. What makes me truly happy? And how can I make more of that happy happen? Yep, the same approach a child might take, but that’s how I choose to approach my life.

And it’s once again Friday, so it’s time for another lovely weekend, and of course, pizza night! This is one of those little things that definitely brings me lots of joy. My dog Phineas isn’t a huge fan of pizza night, however, since he feels like he should get some as well and not simply his usual treats. After all, a family night should be special for the entire family. I think we’re planning a popcorn movie night soon, so he’ll simply have to wait for that. For the record, they say that dogs can’t recognize themselves in the mirror, but with mine, I’m never entirely sure. I’ve caught Phineas admiring his reflection on more than one occasion. Perhaps, he doesn’t realize it’s him, but the admiration for that wildly attractive dog he’s viewing is unmistakable. Indeed, I truly believe that knowing what pleases you is certainly a wonderful start down the path to being self-aware.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Ultramarine (Green Shade), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink  in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click here!
Magpie Bird Self Aware Looking In Mirror Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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33 thoughts on “Being Self-Aware

  1. I like that you painted a Yellow-billed Magpie, which is only found in certain parts of California. They are smart looking birds with that yellow bill, as compared to the more ubiquitous Black-billed Magpie. I too chose a yellow-billed Magpie to paint.

  2. Fabulous Charlie and I did not know that! I hope you enjoy your pizza night. I had an interesting day and was filmed in my studio painting a watercolor for a segment on a show being put together about our little city for public TV. The show is really about the new mayor and city council members who are much younger then those of the past. The fellow who was here filming was covering local artists and some of our video might be used as background to the actual interviews. Maybe I’ll be on tv! His daughter is a developing artist so I mentioned Doodlewash as a potential for them to explore.

  3. Have a wonderful weekend, Charlie! “Date night” here…streaming a movie and something to eat that I don’t have to cook. Tonight it was a “Monster Club” sandwich I picked up at a small restaurant that is struggling to stay open (after 50 years) and a huge salad that my husband made. Delicious sandwich and one sandwich was enough for both of us tonight and still some leftover for lunch. Nice start to the weekend.

  4. Hi Charlie, Not so long ago there was a video wherein they put a mirror in the jungle and noted the animals’ reactiions to their own image. Some are smarter than others — forget now which is which. Hilarious to watch. Maybe google it and see if it comes up.

  5. I didn’t decide what to become until I was out of college. Then I decided to become a librarian. I might have become a chef, or a writer, or even an artist. But I did all of them as hobbies, so I guess I did become all of them.

  6. One of my mastiffs used to spend lots of time looking at his reflection in the glass cabinet we had. I’m not sure he ever realized it was himself, because he always seemed puzzled. He was always so aware of what was around him. If there was a strange car in the neighborhood or someone made a change to their yard – moving bushes,etc., he’d always stop when we went for our walks, just to check it out.

  7. So beautiful, Charlie. Just gorgeous! I love how you painted the mirror! 😊 I laughed imagining Phineas admiring himself in the mirror. He sounds like a super smart dog so I think he knows that he’s hot! haha Monster was afraid of the mirror, but I watched a nature show on PBS , where they placed a mirror in the pool where dolphins were kept. They flocked to look at themselves. The adolescents, though, would gather in groups to look at themselves and appeared to admire and laugh at themselves. It was so cute and funny.
    I agree with you. You just need to live the moment that you are in because life can change super quick. Those changes may sometimes be scary or unwelcome, but they can lead to fabulous endings. 😊

  8. Apparently, Charlie, with magpies, if you make friends with them, they remain friends for life. Give them a chance and they give you one. They are very clever birds.

  9. Yet another wonderful sketch! I love him looking in a mirror! I know cats don’t recognize themselves. When our cat was a kitten, she would scare herself when she walked by the mirror. So funny, forgot about that. Now she just doesn’t care because she knows she’s queen of the house. It is going to be 102 here today, We have to go to our niece’s outdoor wedding at 4:00 p.m……our hottest time of the day. I have been dreading this for weeks!

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, cats have no clue it’s them. I got lost watching videos of cats looking at themselves in mirrors once! lol Oh wow! That’s way too hot! But hope the wedding was lovely!

  10. Hello Charlie,

    Lovely Doodlewash as usual and thank you for teaching me a new thing today! As far as not knowing what I want to become goes, like you, I knew what I wanted, then life happened and Im back to knowing what I want to do next. The only hurdle is I dont know and cant see what I can do to step in that direction. So, I’ve decided to continue believing in magic as I’ve always done and wait for the path to appear. Hopefully it’ll show itself soon. Fingers crossed!


    1. Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Aww I think you’re on just the right path then. If you really want to DO something, then just keep doing it and that magic glittering in the distance will get closer and closer!

  11. Hi Charlie, Christine from Australia. Beautiful work. Do you have a patreon page where we can download the line drawing and follow you painting? I know you work as well & busy. It can uploaded once a week and could just be a simple video with no voice over.
    Ps: is the activity book sold online as a pdf?

    1. Thanks so much, Christine! 😃💕 I don’t have a Patreon page or do videos currently. I just can’t find the time to do that on a regular basis and still practice my writing and art! The Activity books are currently only available in a printed form, but they have all my little tips in them!

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