Since I’m not really a landscape painter, for our prompt of ‘climbing mountains’ today, I opted for a handy pair of binoculars. Certainly a wonderful companion whether you find yourself at the bottom of the mountain or exploring vistas from the top. There are no mountains where I live, and even when the topography manages to jut up towards the clouds in a noticeable fashion, this miracle is simply referred to as a ‘hill.’ We have lots of those. So, whenever I’m traveling and see an actual mountain, I have to stop and admire it with great respect. It’s truly a beautiful sight to behold. Nature’s way of reminding us that humans were not really meant to be the main event in this life. But, instead, friendly and hopefully helpful spectators. And people often refer to the idea of climbing a mountain when talking about something that feels challenging. If you’ve taken on the full 31 day World Watercolor Month challenge, then please know I’ll be hiking right along with you every step of the way. Don’t stop now! Beautiful things await us! And I’ll see you at the top!
As a kid, I visited the Great Smoky Mountains once with my parents. It was a car trip so there were many stops along the way, but the primary destination I remember most was a place called Maggie Valley, which boasted an unusual theme park called “Ghost Town In The Sky.” It was extremely popular in the 70’s and 80’s, but sadly, it closed in 2002 and is now an actual ghost town. But, rumor has it that it will be reopening as “Ghost Town Adventures” next year. The thrill of the park was mostly a side effect of its location. It was on the very top of the mountain and the only way to access it was via a ski lift or a somehow more terrifying tram that pulled people straight up the side of the mountain. I rode up with my father, who is no longer with us now, but was terribly scared of heights. Yet, he was determined to take his son on an adventure. Along the way, I was happily pointing out little beavers I saw below while he kept his eyes forward at all times, hands on the safety bar, in a pure white-knuckle terror. I thought it was funny at the time, but would later grow into my father and develop my own fear of heights. I barely remember the park itself, but it wasn’t particularly amazing. What I remember most was a loving father, who on one special day, risked his life to make his son happy.
And that’s what I’ve loved most about my current adventure in watercolor sketching. All of the memories that might have escaped my mind entirely have come flooding back to me. Each bit of stuff that I sketch unlocks another special moment that might have never returned to me without my pen, watercolor, and brush. For me, this is my memory at its truest. I rarely paint full scenes, because I don’t remember everything that should be there. What I mostly sketch are simple little objects that take me on a journey back in time. I hope to share not the places that I’ve been in this way, but the places that we have all been at some point in life. The white paper that shines where the background ought to be can be filled in with more personal memories. A bit of illustration, I call a doodlewash, and piece of a story. That’s my art, if it can count as such. Sketching stuff and dreaming back to a forgotten once upon a time. Like a time long ago, when I was too young to know just how important a moment really was, and thought it was nothing more than a bit of time spent with my dad, climbing mountains.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, 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? 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!