Today, for our prompt of playground, I made this quick little 3 color sketch of one of my favorite pieces of playground equipment as a child. The so-called “tornado slide” was just really super cool and when you’re very small, seemed gigantic in scale. Since, I’m in Kansas City where actual tornados occur, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, its name was a bit ominous to be sure. This was not a ride to be taken by those afraid of heights. As a kid, I had no fear at all of heights, but as an adult I started to acquire that fear. Of course, the height is never the actual fear as it’s really just the fear of falling from that height that causes me to go weak in the knees today. I had none of these silly fears as a child. No fear of falling, nor any fear of failing at something. I knew that I could simply try again so never really made a fuss about doing so. As a kid, I was always in a constant state of trying things out and figuring out what I could along the way. As an adult, I end up comparing everything I’m about to try to a long history of the things I’ve tried before it. While I adore history, this bit of history is a pain in the butt. It often blocks me or stops me entirely from trying something new I’m considering. They say we get old and wiser, but I still find most of my true wisdom comes from my inner child. The kid who had no fear of racing down that giant slide.
As many of you know, my focus is writing and illustrating and I’ve not shared much of what I do in my actual sketches. When I do, I’m rather shy about it because it’s often a bit backwards from the approaches used in modern watercolor painting. I’ve always had the inability to wait for paint to dry, and rarely have the time to wait for that to happen, so I’ve developed an approach that mostly took that waiting bit out of the equation. Though, sometimes as I rush to the scanner to quickly make my daily post, the glass of the scanner gets a little painted in the process. That’s why I eagerly support the actual watercolor and drawing gurus as they are the folks you should be learning from if you want to better understand the proven techniques of watercolor painting and drawing. I’ve never functioned in a step-by-step manner, preferring to take in everything as an idea or concept and then apply it where I see fit. I was the exact same as a child. I would get perfectly excited by the concept I had in my head and often rush the execution in my attempt to make it come to life. Rushed, sort of became my style. And though I know there’s a more fastidious way to approach things, it’s just not me. I love ideas and stories and concepts. Intangible things that swirl in my mind and manifest tangibly in whatever way they see fit in the moment. Sort of like my podcast, and a new episode launched this week called “A Sketch A Day,” so I hope you check it out if you haven’t yet and leave me your comments!
In many ways, my own art practice is exactly like a playground. I often find myself straying from my own habits just to see what might happen next. It’s that “what if” question that controls pretty much everything I DO in life. Yes, I tell myself, that’s exactly the “correct” way to do this or that, but, “what if…” And the thought trails off to oblivion as I spin many different scenarios in my mind. I honestly never worry about finding the one true solution, I just love staying in a world where anything is possible, and learning all I can along the way. So, I fear I’m not very good at telling others exactly what they should or shouldn’t do. I instead excel at telling others to simply DO and find out what they love most for themselves. Later this month, for the first time ever, I’ll be sharing my own approach to coloring with watercolor in a fun little book I’m creating. It’s not at all like any other instructional art book currently out there since it’s born out of my “what if” mindset. And the adult in me is sort of freaked out by the idea of even attempting to share my own crazy approach to sketching and coloring with watercolors. But, my inner child is thrilled and excited to finally make that weird idea he’s had a reality. Yeah, he’s totally confident it’s awesome. And for my own part, I just have to take a deep breath and assume it could be right, while thinking back to those days spent braving the tornado slide.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Blue. Photo Reference: Nels Olson. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!