For our prompt of “Blueberries” today, I opted for a few on a bush with a blue jay to keep them company. I adore eating blueberries, so I almost opted for muffins or a pie, but painting too many sweet things can become a bit tortuous when I don’t have those treats heading my way anytime soon. I actually only get blueberry muffins once a year on Christmas morning. I read once that a blueberry bush can take up to three to four years before they produce any fruit. It was memorable because it feels a bit like my own sketching journey. After dutifully showing up to sketch various things every day, it wasn’t really until I passed the four year mark, last year, that I really started combining a lot of references and making things up from memory to fill in the gaps. For me, those first few years were just about building a visual database and practicing, a lot. My progress often seemed a bit slow. But, I knew that if I kept at it then one day, like a blueberry bush, I’d start to produce a bit of fruit.

And though the results can still vary a bit, it’s been fun to begin to feel a bit more confident about branching out and creating the images that I see in my mind. It’s all still so challenging to DO, but that’s equally why it’s so much fun. Last night, Philippe wasn’t feeling very excited about making dinner, so I suggested we just boil some pasta and throw cheese on it. He shrugged, nodded and went over to the stove. The kitchen is, I realize, his sketchbook. And some days, just starting to do something, anything, is all the catalyst he needs as well. What seemed like not much time at all later, he produced two bowls that looked like they’d come from a 5-star restaurant. It was, actually, cheese and pasta, but he’d transformed the idea into something that was nothing like mac and cheese. Instead it was warm and cool pasta dish with spinach pesto and a sprinkle of cheese flash-melted with a torch. It was insanely good! “How do you know how to DO things like this?” I asked, amazed. To which he shrugged again, and simply said, “I’ve been doing it for years.”

There are no secrets to improving one’s skill when it comes to anything in life. It just takes lots and lots of regular practice. Sure, some will then talk about the quality of that practice, but that’s too much to consider. In my view, if you keep showing up to DO something you’re going to DO it better and better. For my own work, it’s also been about doing more detailed and more complex things in the same short amount of time I have. I stumble far less over decision-making, because I now have more of the answers. Yet, despite this, I have lots and lots of questions. And I’m thrilled to start a new year once again answering them, little by little, bit by bit, each and every day. It’s a quest that never ends, but one that is filled with so much joy and excitement along the way! And though I may not be an overnight master, I take comfort in the fact that the fruits of this practice will always appear, like blooming blueberries.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners 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!
Blue Jay And Blueberries Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail


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29 thoughts on “Blooming Blueberries

  1. Wonderful post Charlie! I want to thank you for this space for us to come and DO! This daily practice increases our skills while having fun. It helps me with the other art that I produce as I don’t always get to actually paint daily in my studio as administrative tasks or preparing paintings for exhibiting and selling takes me away from painting. But I always take time each day to DOodle! Thanks Charlie!

  2. Grrrrr…..looks like what happens to my blueberry bushes each year. They peck at them to see if they are rip, if not they move onto the next berry. Dirty dogs! It took mine 10 years to finally produce and produce they do. I wish you lived close to me because I would let you come over and pick any time you wanted. My bushes are 6 feet tall because I was always afraid to prune them in fear I’d have a bad year. I of course can’t reach the upper levels, so you would be a good picker! Well this Spring I am pruning them! I am tired of them and I don’t care if they produce. I have about 10 gallons in the freezer right now.

  3. You are absolutely right, Charlie! Just showing and DOing something everyday will make you a master. What is more, if you just let it happen you’ll develop your own style more easily and you might be surprised at what it turns out to be.

  4. I’m a very good cook. People ask me the same thing, how do you know what to put together. And the answer that I’ve been doing it for years seems too simple, but it’s true. Plus, adventures eating, so that you understand what works together, is a big part of it. Then it becomes muscle memory.

  5. The Painting is gorgeous!!

    Charlies says, “There are no secrets to improving one’s skill when it comes to anything in life. It just takes lots and lots of regular practice. ”

    I think practice is the aerobics of that creative child inside.

  6. I really like the blue tones in your picture.
    Must be so nice to have built that internal catalog of different objects you can now draw from memory!
    Sort of related. I made two dozen medium to large blueberry muffins spiced with cardamom on Sunday afternoon. Between the 5 of us here, they were gone at snack time on Tuesday. The 1 year old was seriously one of the biggest eaters.

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