Chasing Leaves

Day 15 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Chasing Leaves Autumn Winter Leaf in Puddle Water Ripple Watercolor - #doodlewash

When I was a kid, I loved watching a dry leaf float down the edges of the street after a good rain. The moment a leaf would fall and hit the water, I would impulsively chase after it. I’ve no idea why, but watching it bob along on the water, ducking under bits of debris only to reappear a little ways down the hill, was totally mesmerizing. I would often grab a curled, dried leaf and gently place it on top of the rushing water like a fragile little boat to watch it zoom away. Eventually, the little boat would slide into a storm drain and disappear from sight and I was off to find another leaf. This love of the journey followed me into adulthood, where I would happily bounce from one new thing to the next. Perhaps, if I’d chosen a path early in life and stuck with it, I would feel like I had developed some body of masterful skills. But instead, I find myself following ideas just to see where they might go next. The mystery is the lure for me, not the mastery.

This month, I’ve been attempting to use the whole page of my little sketchbook, simply as something to try. There’s no grand plan behind it, or hope that this or that might happen. I just picked an approach that I’m trying to stick with until the end of the month. For me, it seems like less pressure to think about “filling the page” than think about something like, “make a beautiful painting.” This way, I’m literally just trying to make decisions on how to cover a page with paint. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m now half way through this little experiment and I’ve learned a couple of things. I just barely have the patience to fill a page, and often my colors get a touch muddy because I simply can’t wait for them to dry properly. Some of the subject matter I’ve chosen would be better served if it were completed over a couple of days given my little hour or less to paint, but the thought of looking at the same subject two days in a row makes me crazy. This is not something I can easily fix or change, so it has instead, simply become part of my style.

All this to say, the mystery of what might appear each day is what keeps me excited for the next. It’s a thrill and a challenge to make these little posts on a daily basis. I’m sure they could benefit from some sort of planned approach, but I just really suck at planning things. I love to live in the moment and love whatever comes my way. There’s so much I’d like to learn when it comes to watercolor, and still more things I’d love to try. Maybe one day I will. Maybe I’ll take a workshop or spend the afternoon working on a particular technique. Maybe I should. In the meantime, you’ll find me sitting at the end of my kitchen counter each evening, rapidly sketching and splashing paint, then quickly typing whatever just came to mind. But, in that little moment, I find that I feel a bit like a kid again and realize not much has really changed. After all these years, I’m still just chasing leaves.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Quinacridone Gold, Dioxazine Purple, Perylene Maroon, Phthalocyanine Blue, Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine Deep, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with sepia ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 15 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Chasing Leaves Autumn Winter Leaf in Puddle Water Ripple Watercolor - #doodlewash
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!
23 Comments
  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 months ago

    Love the detail of this autumn leaf and the concentric movement of the water. An enchanting image.
    Keep seeking, Charile – it’s what makes you who you are, a man always looking under the new leaf to see what’s there.

  2. Carol 3 months ago

    I hope you are still a kid at heart into a ripe old age; that’s my plan! I love the illusion of light shining through the leaf. Excellent!

  3. Jill Kuhn 3 months ago

    I love the transparentcy of your leaf dancing on the water, Charlie! 🍁 I always enjoy your posts and seeing what you create! 💕😄 You are very talented my friend!

    • Author

      You’re too sweet. Thank you Jill! 😃💕 Been so busy lately that I’ve been lucky to get a post made at all. hehe Glad you’re still enjoying them my friend!

  4. picklejuicesoda 3 months ago

    Very nice! I never was much of a painter, I love to draw and I get it! I’ve actually recently told myself that it’s ok if I don’t master my hobbies. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid but in later years I started playing a few instruments and most recently wood carving and making canes and walking sticks. Do what you enjoy and be in the moment! I sometimes walk away from a drawing when I get frustrated with the details or when I’m just anxious to finish. Enjoyed your story!

    • Author

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Yeah, I think just having hobbies is the real key. hehe Simplyt doing something is far more fun than trying to excel at it. You should try adding a little watercolor to those drawings! 😉

  5. anna warren portfolio 3 months ago

    I love the idea of the mystery not the mastery – you will always find satisfaction if your imagination keeps asking you to investigate round the next corner. Always investigate, never stick with the mundane, and it means you are constantly learning. Fabulous!

  6. I love the almost transparent look of your leaf, the detail shining through. Now all we need is spring to arrive and those trees start showing the small glimpse of bright greens, before they bloom into giant veined plates, to feed the tree with sunlight….and we thought we humans had invented solar panels?

    • Author

      Thanks, Rebecca! 😃💕 Lol… we humans think we did everything, but nature has always been one step ahead of us! And yes to Spring… I’m ready!!

  7. memadtwo 3 months ago

    The light is really shining through your leaf. I used to like piling them up and jumping in them myself…it made raking the leaves a long job, but much more fun!
    And I’m not good at planning either. I like the surprise…(K)

    • Author

      Thanks, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yay to jumping in piles of leaves! I almost talked about that until this memory popped into my head instead. So fun! And planning is overrated… much better to life in the moment.

  8. ramaink 3 months ago

    Cheers to that! Living in the moment, feeling like a kid again (that simple, unbounded joy!), and loving the mystery rather than the mastery!

  9. Jacob 3 months ago

    WHOA Charlie, that leaf is photo-realistic! Crazy crazy. I used to enjoy chasing floating leaves too – it is a curious thing. I never did get one of those flash remote-controlled boat dealies, so maybe it was the next best thing! 😉

    I like mystery over mastery – a fine motto!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jacob! 😃💕 Glad you liked this! Oh my gosh… those little boats would have been amazing. We didn’t have the money, though, so it was dried leaves all the way! lol

  10. Teresa Robeson 3 months ago

    I think your no-planning, ADD method is working rather well, Charlie! 😉 Each of your pieces have been beautifully rendered and look like you’ve put lots of thought behind it, so…win!! 😀 <3

    • Author

      Awww thanks, Teresa!! I’m th😃💕rilled to hear that! hehe… they sort of just come out like my posts, but I have to admit to thinking a bit more while trying to make them happen in an hour! 😉

  11. hmunro 3 months ago

    “The mystery is the lure for me, not the mastery.” I’m no expert, but I think you’re mastering a lot of things as you pursue their mystery, Charlie! Thank you for a particularly charming painting and post.

    • Author

      Aww thanks so much, H.! 😃💕 I’m not sure I’ve got any real mastery, but I at least see small improvements here and there. I’ll take it! lol Glad you enjoyed this one!

      • hmunro 3 months ago

        I’m no expert, Charlie — but in my eyes anyone who paints better than I do is a master! 😉

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