There’s nothing I enjoy more than rainy days, our World Watercolor Month prompt for today. They’re a perfect excuse to hang out indoors and read a book or, of course, paint with watercolor! Two of my favorite things to do! Today’s doodlewash is of a little hummingbird getting a drink after a rain. What fascinates me about these little birds is that they have a tongue that’s longer than their beak. So long in fact, it actually wraps around their whole skull when not jutting into a flower to retrieve some nectar. Scientists had long believed hummingbirds drank via a capillary action, the ability for liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of or sometimes even in opposition to gravity. Like what happens when we draw up water into our paint brushes. Only relatively recently, did high-speed photography reveal their forked tongues actually uncurl when hitting the nectar and then curl back up, trapping the fluid inside. It’s thrilling to know we don’t always know everything about our world and that more discoveries are happening all the time.
Certainly painting with watercolor feels much like this as well. No matter what I think I learned that day or now “know” going into the next, things will always surprise me. If one is a perfectionist, this could feel rather frustrating, but if you’re a just-have-fun-ist like myself, then it’s all just a wonderful part of the joyous experience! I’ve never been a perfectionist. I’ve always looked at the big picture when it comes to things, and once an idea seems nicely manifested, I feel quite satisfied. Sure, a million tiny details were sacrificed in the process, but none of them really mattered to what I was hoping to accomplish. While I love exploring details in my illustrations, it’s really the illusion of detail that I’m actually presenting. Zoom in on my doodlewashes and you’ll see just what a glorious mess of lines and color they’re actually made from. They’re never precise, but precisely a proxy for whatever it was I was attempting to sketch. And I learn a little something new each day!
My discoveries are nothing breakthrough like discovering how hummingbirds actually drink, but far subtler epiphanies. Seeing a more pleasing mix of a particular color, simply because I mixed less of this or that. Beginning to add a bit more color to my shadows to give them a touch more life. And, best, of all, remembering bits of life itself during the process. Like the time when I was a kid and a hummingbird zoomed past me and I screamed loudly and ran, because I thought it was a giant insect. Truly, though, in my defense, they fly more like horseflies than birds so it’s super weird. Delightfully weird now, of course, as I’ve learned to know what I’m really seeing. And this is how my mind drifts and turns each time I sit down to paint. It’s always a surprise to me and that’s what keeps me interested and coming back for more. If I had a plan, it would be possible to fail. Since I don’t, it’s all just a ton of fun. Like spending an afternoon stuck indoors doing whatever comes to mind without regret on one of those lovely rainy days.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Leaf Green, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click Here!
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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!