Coloring Book Memories

Rainforest Animals Watercolor Illustration

For our prompt of “Rainforest” today, I opted for a little sketch featuring a few of its creatures and plants. I decided to try more of a coloring book composition for this one for a bit of fun. As a kid, I used to collect cards about nature and various animals and I was always most fascinated by the inhabitants of the tropical rainforests. There were just so many cool and amazing creatures to be found there. So, this was also one of my very favorite subjects to color! I never got to actually visit a rainforest when I was young, but it was fun to learn about it and imagine visiting one day. I also loved books about nature and various colorful illustrations found in them. I remember thinking that I’d love to make illustrations like those when I grew up. Life ended up taking me on a creative path for jobs, but more about directing concepts, and so I stopped drawing after school. Now, after all of these years, getting to make my own coloring book pages is a dream come true!

As I’ve mentioned before, I actually started college wanting to be a journalist. In my heart at the time, I thought that one day I’d work on the cool documentaries I so enjoyed watching. None of this actually came to fruition, of course. The biggest barrier was that I didn’t love fact-finding as much as I loved story-finding. And, I would find my mind wandering into a story before I had checked all of the facts. I wasn’t daunted and just moved to a creative writing class instead. But, I think all good stories are never really fiction, because they’re always grounded in truth. I remember coloring in my coloring book when I was very young and I made an elephant pink instead of gray. It wasn’t a pale pink like a reflected sunset, but a bright pink. When one of my classmates asked me why it was pink, I told her it was because the elephant was very shy and blushing all over. Looking back, this sounds like a quickly made up story on the surface, until one considers the facts.

As a kid, I felt extremely shy. So, I would compensate and try to hide it by being more outgoing. This continued well into adulthood and my professional career. It strikes me now that my pink elephant was also a self portrait. If one blushes in just his cheeks, the secret is revealed, but if I was blushing all over, nobody could tell I was shy. And I’ve just realized that I still color a bit like this today. In many of my creature sketches, you’ll often see this bit of blush. A touch of pink in the cheeks or indeed, sometimes, all over. The difference today, of course, is that I’m proud to be who I really am. Still a touch shy and no longer trying to overcompensate for it. These days, my palette creates a world that’s all a bit brighter and more colorful than reality. But, it’s my truth. It’s a mixture of how I see the world and the story of how things make me feel. It’s not a photorealistic representation, but something I like to call faux realism. It’s precisely what would happen if I could take a photograph with my heart. And, each time I sit down to sketch with my inner child, it’s always a joy to relive those coloring book memories.

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Rainforest Animals Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
43 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 9 months ago

    Your daily rambles and artwork are a source of enjoyment for many of us, Charlie. I know you are a source of inspiration for others who are shy or who might hesitate to DO new things or share their art and lives with us.

  2. Karen Fortier 9 months ago

    Your coloring book style works great for this Charlie and yes the rainforests are filled will so many wonderful creatures! I wanted to visit at one point in my life but my fear of snakes and certain crawling creatures won out. Sketching is as close as I will go.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Sketching is always a great way to travel! 😉

  3. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 9 months ago

    I love it so wonderful!!! 🙂 I know you were hesitant about doing sketch book revival but I am so glad you did as it brought me here to this wonderful community that I cherish so much. We all need community too. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕I’m so happy to have done Sketchbook Revival… it was a wonderful experience! And so thrilled it brought you here with us!

  4. Sharon Nolfi 9 months ago

    I love this composition and the bright colors, especially the little frog peeking out.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 I almost wondered if the little frog got a bit lost. Glad you spotted him!

  5. Tazzie 9 months ago

    Oh Charlie, thank You for this. I am currently working through where my inner child fits into my life. Sharing your own experiences and your delightful doodleart that makes me smile genuinely sometimes even chuckle is part of my day now.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Aww! Thanks makes me so happy to hear! 😃💕 Thrilled these posts are inspiring! That inner child can do some awesome things… I use mine literally all of the time! hehe

      • Tazzie 9 months ago

        every time I see your doodles I feel stirring in my blood.

  6. Lisa 9 months ago

    I would have loved a jungle visit. I can’t even imagine how exciting it would be to see a toucan in real life. It’s been a while since I looked in on the jungle bird cam. I’ll have to remember to do that. It’s funny but I don’t remember coloring much as a kid. We were more into glueing things together and making crafts. Maybe if I had been gifted with the giant box of crayons with the built in sharpener I would have colored more!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      A jungle bird cam sounds perfectly awesome! 😃💕 And yeah, I did a lot of glueing as a kid as well. Fun! But coloring was always my favorite! hehe

  7. Gary Middleton 9 months ago

    I love this painting Charlie.

  8. Mike Powell 9 months ago

    Photographing with my heart–I like the way that sounds, Charlie. That’s a pretty apt description of how I try to approach my photography. There are a huge number of creative choices that I have to make as I frame my subjects and select the settings for the desired effect. For me, it is a whole lot easier than sitting down with a brush or a pencil in front of a blank piece of paper–that still is a little terrifying for me. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      That’s so wonderful, Mike! 😃💕 That’s what makes a wonderful photo indeed! It’s all the same, really, just another medium. So, yeah, with that same eye, you can totally conquer a blank piece of paper! 😉

  9. Shermy Coleman 9 months ago

    I really enjoy reading your story and get inspired by your daily painting. You are not only an amazing artist but also spiritually evolve with your selfgrow. I learn a lot from your words and painting, thank you so much for sharing it with us. My soul food ❤

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Wow, what a wonderful affirming and inspiring comment! Thank you so much, Shermy! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled you enjoy these posts!

  10. Mary Roff 9 months ago

    Wonderful, Charlie! This just speaks “happy”. Love it! 😍🥰

  11. Claire Randall 9 months ago

    So beautiful, well done

  12. LoriCtoo 9 months ago

    Such beautiful colors!! So that is why I put cheeks on everything! I was a shy kid too. As far as coloring stuff any color you want….you go for it! I was just having a discussion with my boss the other day about unicorns. We were in deep discussion on what color a unicorn’s horn is. (I was to do a sample of a unicorn for our store.) I wanted to paint and glitter it’s horn pink. In my mind, unicorns are colorful. She wanted me to paint it gold. Finally, she said, “Unicorn horns are gold.” And, I said, “Yeah, and unicorns are real!” So if you are ever in Craft Warehouse in Gresham, OR you will see who won that discussion…….the one who painted it.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕hehe! Yay! Thrilled you won that discussion! And adore discussions like that. I often have them with my creative team at work! Unicorn horns are whatever color the artist feels they should be! That’s the magic!

      • LoriCtoo 9 months ago

        I am going to tell my boss that! Hahahaha!

  13. shawnthompsonart 9 months ago

    That is a really good illustration, if you had the outline, it would be perfect for a colouring book!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Shawn! 😃💕Glad you liked this! I DO keep my ink drawings. hehe I actually post my ink outlines on my Instagram account along with the color version. 😉

  14. Laura Kate 9 months ago

    Very successful composition.

  15. ljcillustration 9 months ago

    Love the composition and colouring.

  16. Fatima Chamkha 9 months ago

    So beautiful this drawing and amazing rainforest animals!

  17. Priscilla DeConti 9 months ago

    Your picture is lovely and your words are always great!!! Thank you!

  18. smzang 9 months ago

    The painting excites and soothes all at the same time.
    The colors give me wings! Absolutely super,..and
    the article. Warm and open and engaging. It is you
    at your best, which is where you always seem to be!!
    Keep DOing!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 Aww… you’re always so affirming and wonderful. I can’t thank you enough. It’s not easy to show up each day, but you make me feel like it’s worth it.

  19. coloring4covid 6 months ago

    “Now, after all of these years, getting to make my own coloring book pages is a dream come true!” Cheers to making your dreams come true! Never stop coloring drawing and creating art ever again 😉 :). Such an inspirational story!

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