Blooming Blueberries

Blue Jay And Blueberries Watercolor Illustration

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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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


Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Claire Randall 3 years ago

    Oh lovely message, encourages me to keep at it. Beautiful painting 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Claire! 😃💕 So happy this inspired you! Yes!! Keep at it!

  2. Hninn Hninn 3 years ago

    Gorgeous !

  3. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    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!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Karen! 😃💕 My pleasure! So thrilled you’re enjoying it here on Doodlewash! And yay for taking a moment to doodle each day! Life is just more fun that way!

  4. LoriCtoo 3 years ago

    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.

    • LoriCtoo 3 years ago

      Ripe! Not rip….ugh! Also your picture is beautiful!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Oh wow! That’s so cool that you have blueberry bushes. And 10 years! Sounds like it was well worth the wait! And oh to live closer… that would be awesome to have fresh blueberries! 😃💕

  5. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 Yeah, just DOing is so much better than forcing it. It’s surprised me where I ended up going and I still don’t know where I’ll end up! hehe

  6. Lisa Cihlar 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Yeah, it’s just practice in the end! And so true… some things I can sketch well and I realize muscle memory kicked in… others.. well… I need more exercise! lol 😉

  7. StickyMangoRice 3 years ago

    What kind of medium do you use? Is it watercolours or alcohol markers?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Just watercolors and ink pens! Using Da Vinci Watercolors.. very vibrant! 😉

  8. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    So beautiful!!! I love the color combos. Ohhhhh sounds like a fabulous meal too. 🙂

  9. Gary Middleton 3 years ago

    Fantastic painting Charlie.

  10. smzang 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 hehe… it is!! love that way to look at it!

  11. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    Love this post, Charlie; full of encouragement for everyone! Beautiful bird and blueberries too! 😍

  12. shawnthompsonart 3 years ago

    Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Arrrrrrrrrrr nice bluejay! I like how you did the detail on his back, as well as on the berries.

  13. Linda Calverley 3 years ago

    Lovely blues

  14. Mamabror 3 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕Oh wow… now I can only think of blueberry muffins!! Love them! And that spiced kind sounds delicious! I would probably get that 1 year old a run for the money! hehe

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