Our prompt of butterflies was rather fun since it made me think of spring. Today, it was anything but springlike here as we endured freakishly cold weather in the Midwest. It snowed for part of the day today as well, but it was truly lovely to watch. I actually had to keep myself from looking out of the window as I immediately grew mesmerized and minutes would pass without getting any work done. There was a weather advisory warning people to not walk outside as frostbite could occur within 20 minutes. We decided not to risk getting the timing wrong while walking to lunch, so we just had it delivered. Thankfully, the temperatures are creeping back up again and, by this weekend, will be above freezing before plummeting once again next week. This time of year is a bit of roller coaster when it comes to weather and it’s difficult to know when spring actually begins. By the time we can rest assured there won’t be a really cold day, it suddenly seems that summer is already here. But, the return of the butterflies is always a good sign that we’re heading into beautiful outdoor weather again.
As I think I’ve likely mentioned before, I get a bit tired of winter by the time February arrives. After Christmas is gone and the glow of the New Year starts to fade a bit, it’s all just severely cold without that hint of magic. So, I make a little magic of my own each year by escaping into my sketchbook and drawing things I wish were there. I hope many of you will join me in February for our flora and fauna challenge, which includes lots of flowers that I hope will usher in an early spring. As many of you know, flowers are not something I paint very often so it will be nice to practice a bit. I have a rather bad habit of avoiding things I don’t care for sketching or I feel I’m not very good at sketching. Flowers and people, which are ironically some of the most sketched things by others, are always a bit of a struggle for me. My high contrast style is tougher to implement on things that are softer and less precise. I actually started my art journey sketching architecture quite a lot, because of the strong lines there. The reality, of course, is that any style can be used to sketch anything at all! So, I’m going to be a bit bolder in tackling subjects I normally avoid in the future and maybe even return to painting scenes on occasion. Two years ago this February, I challenged myself to entirely fill the pages of my sketchbook each day with paint. I almost succeeded, painting 25 out of 28 doodlewashes using the full page.
I’m not yet sure what I’m going to try this year to spice up February a bit. But, I want to try some new approaches in my sketching, even if it’s something subtle, that only I might notice. One of the things about my style is that it’s born out of necessity. Whatever I do, it has to be fast as I simply don’t have very much time to sketch and paint each day. Yet, I still love adding a bit more detail than one finds in a quick and looser approach. I want the best of both worlds. To make it happen I employ little tricks like painting in a circle so one area just barely dries before I attack it again with color. Or, painting a wet in wet background first and finishing the main subject matter before the background even has a chance to fully dry. I usually have to clean my scanner daily because my doodlewashes are often a bit wet when I go to scan them. This is a ridiculous way to sketch and paint, I’m sure, but I adore the freedom of it. It’s not an arduous process, but a gleeful little escape from the day to make a little something new. Rambling through a sketchbook and then a blog post is simply a way to add a happy to my day, and I hope, to yours. I’ve no expectations and no goal in mind. I just enjoy showing up and taking that little butterfly break.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, and Indigo. 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!
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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!