Day 9 – #WorldWatercolorMonth – Climbing Mountains

Day 9 - World Watercolor Month Climbing Mountains Binoculars - Doodlewash

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.

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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!
 Day 9 - World Watercolor Month Climbing Mountains Binoculars - Doodlewash


Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Sharon Nolfi 4 years ago

    Cool reflection in the binoculars! Clever take on the prompt.

  2. Claire McArthur 4 years ago

    Love your reflections on life and really enjoy the freedom of your prompt interpretations. You have me thinking outside the box 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Aww I love hearing that! Thanks, Claire! 😃💕 yeah, I think prompts should simply be that… something to prompt you to make whatever comes to mind next!

  3. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    Your Ghost Town sounds like the sort of place I would have loved as a kid. In my case, it was my mother who had a fear of heights, but more in relation to my brother and I. She’d freak if we came anywhere close to an edge. She’s always been timid, and as kids, we teased her mercilessly. As an adult,I appreciate how far she pushed herself to be there for us..

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 And that’s a wonderful story… it’s so wonderful to look back on all those times when we thought our parents we silly in some way and realize, they were just being their amazing selves and always for us.

  4. Jodi 4 years ago

    Love this seeet memory.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕It was a wonderful time to remember.

  5. SnehLata Maheshwari 4 years ago

    I loved your binacularn, n decent story.

  6. Lisa 4 years ago

    Great field glasses. I was using mine today to watch birds in the birdbath that I had just filled. It sure is hot here! Your connection with the past through your doodlewashes is great. I did a lot of that through my poetry. There is a poem in one of my books that is not very complimentary about my mother. Thing is, she never got that. And though we had a strained relationship, I’m glad that she didn’t.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, I think we always see what we want to see in words and images. So, I’m sure she saw what she wanted to see. And that’s likely always a great thing.

  7. Dodie Davis 4 years ago

    I’m seeing a depth of vision through yo lens, Mr. Charlie. 🙂

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 years ago

    Such a wonderful and loving memory of your father. Climbing a mountain trail is exhausting and time consuming and has its own moments of fright. But straight up in a tram? Yeah, would make my grab the rail. Isn’t it amazing what parents will do for their children, trying to safely bring the world to them no matter how much they might fear it.

    I like the way you painted the view of the landscape in the lenses of the binoculars – clever and engaging.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon!! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, parents are rather amazing. After we took the trip up in a ski lift, my dad didn’t want to take the ride facing outward, so we took the train. It was far more terrifying! 😉

  9. slightlyunnerved 4 years ago

    Great watercolour and anecdote. Remember though, it’s not the going up – it’s the coming back down again you need to be wary of!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 hehe… so true, the ride back down that mountain was a bit scary!

  10. Mary Roff 4 years ago

    Love the reflections! Thanks for being a wonderful “guide” on this watercolor journey.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Aww… thanks, Mary! 😃💕 That’s the best compliment I could receive! I just want to be that guide along the way. And enjoy what everyone does as we go along!

  11. Sharon Mann 4 years ago


  12. Karen Howard 4 years ago

    Hi Charlie, I’m painting and posting every day but I don’t see them. I’m posting on the group Facebook site and using the hashtag?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Hey there Karen! Yes, Facebook has become a rather closed system and doesn’t let me pull the hashtag in to Doodlewash anymore. So the Facebook Group site is the main gallery if you’re posting there. 😉

      • Karen Howard 4 years ago

        I’m posting in Facebook but don’t see them. Hmmmmmm

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

          To be honest… Facebook has been a bit odd lately and I’m not sure that it’s even showing all of the posts in the World Watercolor Group Photo gallery there – – It won’t let me pull in posts of any kind to Doodlewash, but if you post right here on Doodlewash, then it will show up in the Doodlewash Club Gallery at least. I’ve tried to make other options available since Facebook doesn’t seem to want to show all posts lately.

  13. lisas 4 years ago

    Ohhhh love this so much, especially the reflections! Reminds me of the pair of binoculars my grandpa gave me. And hope to make it to the Smokies someday!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕Aww that’s such a nice memory and you totally need to make it to the Smokies… it’s SO beautiful!

  14. smzang 4 years ago

    I absolutely love the vista reflected in the lenses.

    “a bit of time spent with my dad, climbing mountains.”

    It is the understatement of that phrase that makes it unforgettable.

    Your paintings not only return you to the days of your youth, they
    return others to their childhood days too. Thank you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      You really make me so happy with your comments, Sarah! 😃💕 I can’t thank you enough. You see and “hear” things in my words that I’m not even sure I knew were there. And it’s a gift to receive your comments my friend!

      • smzang 4 years ago

        You put a lot of light in a lot of people’s lives, mine included for sure… You make a huge difference in this world. I’m so glad I found your magical world.

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