Today’s prompt was sparkling and since I’ve doodlewashed sparkling drinks more times than I can count, I decided to look around for new inspiration. As I was looking at things in the kitchen, I realized that nearly everything has a sparkling quality to it, so my options for this one were pretty limitless. I spotted a metal colander that was definitely sparkling with reflections and light and then noticed the tomatoes sitting next to it also seemed to sparkle in their own tomato sort of way. Suddenly, the rather ordinary scene before me was transformed and seemed almost magical, waiting to be sketched. I often find myself staring at common objects around me, studying them, wondering how I might bring them to life on paper. Even without a pen or a brush in my hand, I’m mentally picturing the lines I might choose and the color I could combine to recreate that particular hue of whatever is sitting in front of me. The world just gets so much more interesting when you start painting bits of it.
My painting habit is fueled by this wonderful additional hobby of simple observation. Learning to see the world as an artist might, is endlessly engaging. Noticing colors that you never realized were there before and shapes that seem to appear out of nowhere. As much as I love jumping to entirely new subjects, I’ve noticed that when I repeat the same subject a few times, I get a bit better at illustrating it. Of course, this is what people refer to as “practice,” but I’ve always struggled with that. I have every intention of wanting to learn something, but I really get bored with the repetitive tasks it takes to do so. The way I’ve been able to make sketching work for me is to simply paint something new each and every day. I so admire people who can spend several days on the same painting, but my approach has also become part of my style. My messy layers that barely had time to dry before I attacked them again with paint. I’m doing it “wrong” but it’s equally right, because it works well for me and makes me happy.
And, it also means that I can suddenly become intoxicated by the beauty of a colander, innocently reflecting some tomatoes. It’s a difficult subject, to be sure, but I just happily start hitting it with paint until something happens on paper. I’m not trying to paint a colander, I’m just trying to share the magical flecks of light that captured my eye. And then write whatever little story hopped into my head at that moment. With no grand plan in mind, I simply dive in, just to see what happens next. It occurs to me that I’m writing and illustrating the world’s longest and weirdest memoir by doing this each day. But even the most mundane thoughts are worth preserving, much like the objects that inspired them. Perhaps, one day, I’ll look back and wonder why on earth I choose to sketch and ramble on about the things that I do. But today, as the sun shines through the window onto the bits and pieces of my life, I’m content. Thinking of nothing more than the happy fact that if you manage to look at the world in just the right way, everything sparkles.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Red, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al-Star Fountain Pen – Extra Fine, with Platinum Carbon black ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.