Catching Fireflies

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of flying firefly on white background with shadow

I’m running horribly behind tonight, but just managed to create this quick doodlewash. Our #NatureDoodlewash hike has brought us to this firefly which has been singled out from its many companions who are currently lighting up outside my window. Though I really hate the heat that summer brings, I love the magical light show that appears each evening as hundreds of fireflies flash their way through the night. Little bits of light appearing in a way that causes the silhouettes of grass and trees to sparkle like some kind of fairytale movie.

As kids, we called them lightning bugs and were fascinated that they could glow. It was like they had special powers or were battery-powered without the need for batteries. It’s actually a chemical reaction that causes their butts to glow, but that wasn’t as fun to think about. Philippe had never seen so many fireflies at once until he moved here from Paris. It was fun to watch his excitement at seeing them. All those memories of childhood came flooding back to me. Running after them and hoping to cup them in my hand to see the glow, before they flew away. I realize now this probably just terrified them or pissed them off, but if was really fun back then.

You know, I think I’ll stop babbling now and simply stop and watch them, resisting the urge to actually catch one. If you have them outside your window, feel free to join me. They’re a wonderful reminder of just how beautiful nature can be on a warm summer night.

Join me throughout the month of June on a virtual nature hike! Show everyone what you love most in nature with a watercolor sketch or painting and tag your images #NatureDoodlewash so we can all enjoy it with you! I’ll create a featured artist gallery of our global hike at the end of the month! 

World Watercolor Month is coming in July! Click here to learn more!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold, Azo Orange, and Neutral Tint. Sennelier: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Curious to the Max 6 years ago

    I’ve never seen a firefly . . . until now.

  2. Laura (PA Pict) 6 years ago

    Funnily enough, my kids were out collecting fireflies tonight. Being relatively new to living in America (2.5 years) they still seem magical to us.

    Your painting is lovely. I like all the detail.

    • Author

      Thanks, Laura! 😃💕 Yeah, I realized I sort of take them for granted having grown up with them. I bet your kids had a blast!

  3. Jodi 6 years ago

    Such fond memories of “lightning bugs” from my childhood. Long day at the office for me too today – but a smile seeing your doodlewash!

  4. Carol 6 years ago

    Charlie, I am with you about the summer heat, and the high humidities sometime suck the joy from my soul – thank goodness for air conditioning! However, it sounds like my childhood was much like yours as far as the magical lightening bugs. They fall into the same category as lady bugs in that they were one of the few insects I didn’t run away screaming from 🙂 We would play a spooky game of Ghost in the Graveyard and end the evening catching lightning bugs. When my kids were small, we would visit our friend who live out in the country. They had so many lightning bugs that their bushes appeared to be lit for Christmas! At this very moment I am sitting in our screened-in porch, sans mosquitos, and watching the lovely lightning bugs twinkle throughout the back yard. Oh, and I have a table fan blowing on me because the humidity is so high. I would have made a terrible pioneer ;). Love your doodlewash and as always it is a spectacular specimen with an even more amazing shadow. Happy Wednesday!

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much, Carol! 😃💕Sounds like you’re in a perfect spot tonight! Actually, our windows of our row home overlook a large historic graveyard so that’s where we see them. So we get ghosts and lightning bugs all at once! Hehe Happy Wednesday!

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    OMG, I LOVED fireflies when I was a kid and filled many a glass jar with them, watching them light up the evening with their magic. I was a bit too young to realize that stuffing them into jars meant I was snuffing out their lives. They are one of the very few bugs that don’t terrify me.
    Your art is amazing. I cannot believe how much detail you get, how accurate your proportions are, and how much life is in every single picture. This guy is ready to fly off your sketchbook page.
    Do you teach art, Charlie? You should.

    • Author

      Yeah, they’re not terrifying like most bugs…I totally agree!! And I did the same…didn’t realize that probably wasn’t good for them, but they were soooo pretty!! And Awww thanks, Sharon! 😃💕What a wonderful compliment! I used to teach multimedia at the Kansas City Art Institute, but just started traditional art last year. 😊I also taught tap and jazz dancing years before that! Lol But no, haven’t taught fine art. I still have so much to learn. I enjoy sharing instructors I admire here though.

  6. Margaret Parker Brown 6 years ago

    Oh that is one thing in my life that is missing! I had my first experience (boy that sounds loaded!) when I was 17 travelling to see relatives in Kentucky, I had no idea how beautiful a night can be with fireflies. Talk about magical! Since then, it has been a long 12 years since I have even seen one, they are truly amazing little critters….now I envy you! 🙂 a stupid question, but are there fireflies in Europe? You mentioned Philippe not having seen so many at once…..I must know! great Doodle by the way!

    • Author

      Thanks, Margaret! 😃💕They are really incredible when there’s a lot of them at once! And yes, Philippe would see them in the country in France, but not really in Paris. We also have more squirrels here as well, so that was equally a treat! Hehe

  7. Teri C 6 years ago

    Fireflies are magical and you have completely captured that magic with your Watercolors. I think every kid needs to have a night out with fireflies.

    • Author

      Aww thanks so much, Teri! 😃💕I always pick weird poses and realize they’re more difficult than I expected. 😊lol Glad ya liked it!

  8. Arts & Rhymes 6 years ago

    Beautiful! I love fireflies, but it’s little early for them up here. They usually appear in July and August.

    • Author

      Thanks, Sibella! 😃💕Yeah, they usually really show up in July, but they’re everywhere here now. It’s also as hot as July and August already, so maybe they’re just confused. Hehe

  9. Catherine Johnson 6 years ago

    Great firefly! They are so magical.

  10. Jacob 6 years ago

    This is wonderful! Great choice; I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any fireflies first hand, which leaves me inordinately jealous of all who have. Magical stuff.

    And I’m with you completely on summer heat – I don’t feel the cold, but I sure as heck feel the warm! Anything in the region of 25C and I’ll be getting quite irritable/melting. With the non-event summers here, I probably get off lightly!

    • Author

      25C?!! Sign me up!! It’s 32C now and it’s late…says it “feels like” 36C…ugh. Luckily we’re inside with cool air, but outside it’s wet and humid. Yuck! But back to fireflies…this could sadder than not seeing Star Wars. You need to take a trip to see them!! New thing to add to the list! 😉

      • Jacob 6 years ago

        Oh my!!! I would melt faster than the bomb pop! It’s 17C here, at after four in the (very muggy and wet) morning. I’m struggling with that to be honest. The prices one pays for being such hot stuff…!

        Haha, Star Wars – I thought you’d forgotten that! I’ll probably try and find the fireflies first. 😉

        • Author

          I never forget!! Lol Though I am easily distracted. And why are you up at 4 in the morning?!!

          • Jacob 6 years ago

            I’m always up! Well, I was doing some 3D, and you know how time flies when you have fun… but yes, I suppose I ought to go to bed now.

          • Author

            Hehe…you’re a machine!! Sleep you fool! Wait…I meant of course to say…sweet dreams!

          • Jacob 6 years ago

            Thank you… and I suppose it’s the right time to say the same to you – may your dreams be sweeter than the citrusiest Polo. 😉 Night!

          • Author

            Thanks! Equally elusive! Dream of fireflies! 😉Night night!

  11. Jill Kuhn 6 years ago

    I’ve never seen a firefly in person. I bet they would be so magical – just like your doodlewash! 😍💕🎨

  12. I had no idea of what these little fireflies looked like, now I know, they are like little magical fairy’s. Great detailed work. I really want to see one of these. We get glow worms here, and I am told these are flying bugs and not worms at all…..never seen either, maybe they are the same thing? I will have to look them up.

    • Author

      Thanks, Rebecca! 😃💕Yeah, they come out at dusk and you can see them pretty well then, but the fun happens at night when all you see is the flashing light!

  13. Phil Cooper 6 years ago

    Magical creatures, and such a great sketch, actually show us what they look like, lovely!

  14. Celia 6 years ago

    We really miss seeing them here…it is so nice to see your beautiful sketch!

  15. brushparkwatercolors 6 years ago


  16. memadtwo 6 years ago

    Thanks for the close-up! Haven’t seen any this year yet, but some years they are plentiful. I’ll be on the lookout now…(K)

  17. I don’t think I’ve seen any this year yet either but I’ve not really been looking for them. Thanks for the memories Charlie. We always loved them growing up. We’d bring them inside to be our night lights. 💜 just one more thing we have in common, I hate the heat, summer is just bah to me. Love the long nights tho, lots of light for art! So there is something good about it.

    • Author

      Thanks Laura! 😃💕You really can’t miss them here… it’s like we’ve been invaded! Which is sooooo cool!! Hehe

  18. Angie 6 years ago

    Such a beautiful doodlewash of the firefly. I’ve only seen fireflies once, and I’m hoping to experience it again soon!

  19. Snehal Kank 6 years ago

    Yeah even I grown up with them 😀 They are like some magical stuff!
    Very detailed doodlewash Charlie! 🙂 🙂

  20. Cathe 6 years ago

    Oh, fireflies! Summertime joy for sure. What a really wonderful Doodlewash. It makes me feel like a little kid too!

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