Today, I was running late most of the day and by the time I got home from work, I was thoroughly exhausted. I hadn’t sketched anything yet and had less time to sketch than usual. My adult mind told me to just forget it already and try again tomorrow, but as you know I don’t like to listen to that buzzkill voice in my brain. So what did I DO? Well, I put down my “precious” fountain pen and handed a Sharpie pen and some paints to my inner child and told him to go out and play. This is what he made really quickly, before I even had a chance to ask him why. Once I saw what appeared, however, I realized that though I’d thought that I’d sketched all of my bicycles as a kid, I forgot my very first set of wheels. It wasn’t a bicycle, but something called a Big Wheel, due to the large wheel in the front I presume. Being only a few inches from the ground, this was the ideal ride for kids who hadn’t even started school yet. And proof that my inner child is apparently only preschool age. But I remember that age well because everything I did was amazing! Nothing was judged, simply applauded and met with a sea of smiles from friends and family. That kid didn’t have any fear of failure and could DO anything with perfection. Well, yeah, not perfect, but perfectly wonderful to those who cared about him and that’s all that mattered at the time.
To be honest, I’ve been struggling a bit lately to keep up with all of the projects I have going. I have a say, “Yes!” attitude that often gets me into a bit of a pickle at times. But, it’s the same attitude I had as a kid. Back then, it wasn’t about saying, “Yes!” it was simply a matter of thinking “Why not?” And though I can find myself a little stretched for time and feeling the horrible tingle of stress start to creep upon me, I just think back to what that kid would have done. Each time I DO, I realize, I don’t have anything to feel stressed about at all. You see, he didn’t have any stress because he wasn’t worried about what others might think. That extra layer came much later, and in may ways, it only served to slow what was once a fiercely fearless artistic mind. As as impossible as it sounds, there was once a time when we didn’t worry so much, if at all. Instead, that time was spent simply wondering and exploring things while enjoying whatever happened in the moment. I often look back nostalgically, as if those magical days were in my past, but I DO everything in my power to make darn certain those days are still happening in my present.
And as we creative people know, which is all of us, much of the time, we aren’t really comparing ourselves to others, but to ourselves. This is easy to do with social media where you can actually see the reaction to what it is you’re making each day. One post soars to the top and then the next feels like you can actually hear the crickets chirping. Never fear, though, it’s simply a robotic algorithm at play, so at worst, you failed to make a robot happy. Unless that was indeed your goal, you’re still successful because you’ve made lots of actual people happy, which I humbly think is always the best goal of all. And my own approach for my daily offerings has been to create a sort of secret society. As proof, my own posts are the least read posts on this site! (outside of my podcast, which introduced some of my posts to a whole new audience). I guess, at heart, I’m still just that little kid who prefers to build a clubhouse and invite my friends over for a little fun, creative play, and conversation. I didn’t have grand plans as a kid, and I don’t really have them now. In many ways, I’m still just living in that blissful time when I had a big wheel, and big dreams.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Turquoise, and Indigo. Sharpie Pen 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!