For our prompt of “Vegetables” today, I opted for a bit of broccoli. This came to mind simply because it appeared in my Thai dish at lunch, and also because I rather enjoy sketching it. That sounds like an odd thing to admit, but the way I sketch it is to scribble with glee and then dot in color in homage to one of my favorite artists, Georges Seurat, who applied distinct dots of color in patterns to form an image. My own approach is hundreds of times faster and in watercolor, not oil, but it evokes the same idea. Dots of color combine on the tops, tricking the eye into seeing what it expects to be the color of broccoli, and then I use a more traditional watercolor approach for the stems. It’s very therapeutic to simply play with dots of color, letting them dance together. Seurat once said, “Originality depends only on the character of the drawing and the vision peculiar to each artist.” I love those words, not only for the ode to individualism they champion, but the very use of the word peculiar. It’s a word that also can be used to mean strange, odd, or unusual. A set of inscrutable quirks that I think we should always champion in ourselves as well as other artists.
Though I adore the techniques of Seurat, my own approach is more akin to another Frenchman named Marcel Duchamp, who took absolutely ordinary things and presented them as art, up to and including a urinal. I’ve yet to sketch one of those, but if a story presents itself to me, I’m certainly not above doing so. What I love about creating is that we each get to make the call of what we make next. Even if you follow my prompts, your own peculiar way of thinking about them will reveal something very different. And, should we end up painting the same thing, it will still be perfectly peculiar to our own individual approaches and style. That, to me, has been the most amazing and wonderful thing on this art journey. No two paintings are alike, just as no two artists are exactly alike, no matter how many similarities they might share. I actually learned this first in art school when assigned to recreate the works of Renaissance masters. It’s an interesting assignment, but one that lacks the actual presence of the masters themselves. Instead of a school in Florence under the tutelage of Leonardo Da Vinci, I was in the Midwest with a teacher, though rather wonderful in his own right, knew very little of the specific techniques and took his coffee with whiskey.
But, I truly adored those drawing classes. It was an escape into a world that happened years before me, filled with art from people I still admire to this day. People I’ve never met, of course, as they are all long gone by now, but people who left their mark on the art world and continue to influence us today. And, as for me, I’m still just the eager student, playing with styles and enjoying the process. I don’t think I’ll make a mark on the fine art world with a little sketch of broccoli, but that’s not my goal. I want to reach everyone else. The people reading this who just want to create something. Those who have a passion in their hearts that propels them to grab for that pencil, pen or brush each day, often with no clue as to where that might lead them next. It’s a beautiful thing indeed to chase a passion before determining its purpose. I’ve always been confident that doing so will eventually lead me in the right direction. And I’ll always adore the surprise of where each impulse leads me next. Like a child, constantly changing his mind about what he really wants to be when he grows up. There’s time to figure all of that out. Right now, I’m just happy sitting down to enjoy a world filled with bits of color and light.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, Leaf Green, 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!