Feeling Lucky

Two Koi Fish Watercolor Illustration

For our prompt of “Fish” today, I opted for a couple koi and painted them using lots of different colors. There’s a large koi pond at our local zoo and it’s mesmerizing and relaxing to watch these fish swim around. I have to push myself to move along and not spend the day there. Also, koi fish are said to symbolize luck and can also symbolize abundance and perseverance. I like the last one best, because perseverance is always the perfect path to abundance and feeling lucky, even when luck has little to do with it. Often in life, the best things simply come from a lot of dogged determination. This is certainly how I’ve approached my own art by just showing up each and every day to make a little something. There are many days where what I made doesn’t match what was in my head. I’d imagined a completely different result than what appears on my sketchbook page. This never bothers me in the least. And, more often than not, I liked what suddenly appeared there even more. So, that’s why my single greatest piece of advice continues to be, “show up and make something, no matter what!”

You’ll notice that I don’t qualify or describe what gets made. I never think about making something “beautiful” or “worthy” or “better than the last time.” I hope it turns out to be any of these things, of course, but it’s never, ever the goal. If it were, I doubt I’d show up at all as it would always seem a touch terrifying. Thankfully, what I’ve learned is that little improvements happen no matter what when I show up and make something. Some improvements are so microscopic that I have to go back and look at things I’ve sketched more than a year ago to truly notice them, but they’re always there. And that always makes me feel good. There’s no such thing as a waste of time, when it’s time spent doing something you love. And if that something is a creative endeavor, then the more you DO, the better you get. This is exciting to me! So, I just keep showing up with whatever little doodle happened each day. That said, if you want to get better at a specific subject matter faster, then focusing only on that helps. I haven’t painted fish in ages, so I’m not on any path toward mastery. But it’s fun to show up and try my hand at sketching them again.

I’m not sure if I’ll personally ever find that one subject matter that I’ll do on such a regular basis that I can speed my way toward perfecting it more. There are just too many things I want to sketch. So many different things that inspire what I write. And tonight, I’m enjoying a glass of wine with Philippe while he watches another documentary. This one is in French, so I only understand every fifth word, and can mostly just appreciate the pictures. But, this is our little life. It’s nothing incredible, and consists mostly of a burning joy for each new day. Each day is a chance to make a little more, dream a little more, and love a little more. And while I do dream of amazing things that might happen in the future, I would be remiss to ignore this very moment. Its significance can be difficult to spot, to be sure. Philippe and I are doing nothing remotely more interesting than last night. But it’s our night, and our own special way of living through life together. And, to me, that makes it the most incredible thing of all. So, it’s in these moments that I realize that I’ve managed to make the best dream of all come true. And, why I start each and every day, feeling lucky.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners 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!
Two Koi Fish Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    Nice post tonight, Charlie, and I love the detail in your koi.

  2. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    I love that your koi are so colorful Charlie!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 I have no idea if they actually come in these colors! hehe

  3. Lisa 3 years ago

    This is the second time this week that luck had come up. The other was a Facebook friend asking if people believe in luck. I said that it’s a matter of perspective. If I dwell on the bad things that happen I feel unlucky. If I dwell on the good stuff, I feel lucky. And I always go for the good stuff because that’s the way my brain is wired. So yeah, I’m the luckiest girl in the world!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Sounds like you’re the luckiest girl in the world, indeed! A beautiful way to think about things! 😃💕

  4. Zertab Quaderi 3 years ago


  5. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh fabulous!!! Love the colors !!! Gorgeous!!!! 🙂

  6. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    Many people feel that you make your own luck. I don’t totally agree with that – but you do make luck by making good choices. I love your choice of doodlewashing every day and coming here to ramble, because I can then choose to visit and enjoy what you’ve done! Good luck for us both!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Aww thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 Yeah, I think we’re always a part of making life lucky for ourselves and others in some way or another!

  7. ~M 3 years ago

    It sounds like a wonderful life! 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 I think we all have one.. it’s the simplest version of life that’s always wonderful!

      • ~M 3 years ago

        I couldn’t agree more! 😉

  8. Claire Randall 3 years ago

    Beautiful like a yin yang symbol, very pretty

  9. Tazzie 3 years ago

    Hi Charlie, for me I like your blog, I especially “show up and make something, no matter what!” my mental illness and great fear stifle so many things. I want to do but anxiety takes over. So sometime not sure when i will show up and make something. I am taking that as a mantra.

    I loved what you wrote of your relationship with Phillipe it is so special when just being with each other is so wonderful. A little life nothing incredible ..new day joy. I kind of feel so many people expect a relationship to be so much more than being content. Content in life, content with life with each other, and joyous to be together. I shared a incredible realationship with my partner, and though death has taken him, I mourned, but am so content that I had such an simple, unconditional love it is the best feeling. To have known what you have and be joyful

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      That’s such a beautiful way to look at life! 😃💕 Love whenever it comes in life is always a beautiful thing. And, I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and I DO hope it gets you to show up and make something! Actually, today, I have yet to paint for my post and it’s something I’m not adept at doing. So, I’m not at all confident of a good result, but it’s going to be sure fun to try! 😉

  10. Gary Middleton 3 years ago

    My friend has koi and when he’s on holiday I feed them for him. I’m mesmerised watching them swim around. Seeing the colours disappear and reappear when they dive down. Beautiful painting.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Gary! 😃💕 That’s so cool! Yeah, they’re just so awesome to watch!

  11. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 years ago

    Beautifully painted koi. I also love watching them though they usually swim in ponds where I only get to see them when they’re near the surface.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, the pond I visit has a ton of them. And if it’s feeding time then there’s always a colorful flurry of activity!

  12. CATHY 3 years ago

    quel beau texte ! merci pour ce partage qui fait du bien !

  13. smzang 3 years ago

    Charlie said, “perseverance is always the perfect path to abundance”
    Yes! That is the key to PhDs (for the sake of the rhyme) and for any dream
    worth keeping.

    Charlie also said, “And while I do dream of amazing things that might happen in the future, I would be remiss to ignore this very moment.”
    and that is the key to joy.
    The fish are exotic and lovely.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed this one. As it turns out, it’s so easy to find joy!

  14. LoriCtoo 3 years ago

    These a cool! It’s the simple things in life that truly make us happy. We are bombarded with so much these days. Our minds need time to stop and reprogram. Lately my husband and I have been listening to music instead of the television and I have enjoyed it!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 I love that!! Philippe and I will do that on occasion as well. It’s such a wonderful change of pace!

  15. Walter F Pierluissi 3 years ago

    Good one Charlie, I use to have a 75 gallon tank with 7 koi fishes inside and the grow to almost 10 inches… But I sold them to a guy that hat a pond on his backyard… After all these years they still around and growing….

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Walt! 😃💕 Oh wow… that’s awesome that you had koi! And even cooler that they’re still around!

  16. Heidi S. 3 years ago

    “show up and make something, no matter what!”
    Well… I can’t, I couldn’t, I have beaten myself over it & now I can say: so be it
    But I’m glad to read that you can live by your motto and I think it’s inspiring to others too.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Heidi! 😃💕 hehe… well, I post everything and encourage others to do the same, but that’s my core motto. It still works even if you’re the only one that knows you showed up! 😉

  17. Linda Calverley 3 years ago

    I like what has appeared on your sketchbook page Charlie.

  18. yeshuaschildart 3 years ago

    Where do you find your prompts? They are great ideas for working on pieces.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much! Glad you enjoy them! 😃💕I usually have a broad theme each month that I think up, and then I just think up the words that come to mind that fit it! 😉

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