When it comes to a “Waterfall,” our prompt for today, I’ve only experienced the smaller variety found in creeks. While trying to sketch a creek version, it turned out a bit more tropical as I inexplicably started humming “Bare Necessities” from the Jungle Book in my head while I was painting. This led to covering the page, which I rarely ever do, and an entire scene with a little waterfall appeared. This really does evoke the feeling I had as a kid, wandering along a creek to discover a bit of falling water on rocks. Nothing of the size of Niagara Falls, but simply a bit of water trailing dropping down as it meandered along. Though nothing particularly impressive, the fact that I had stumbled upon it made me feel like an explorer who was the first to ever spot such a thing. Or, at least, that’s where my wild imagination took me as I felt myself transported to my own wonderland of nature. There was a creek in the woods on my grandmother’s property that I used to hike along. Though green trees surrounded me, the red dirt caused the water to glow a bright sepia. The rocks were only a few feet high, but if I looked at them in just the right way, my tiny waterfall would transform into a grand oasis.
It was fun to see this scene appear in my sketchbook, though I have to admit that I was feeling a little less than enthusiastic at first. I had a blissful 45 minutes to paint something, which for me a lot, and hadn’t looked at the prompt yet. When I saw that it was “Waterfall,” I was a little set back since I don’t usually enjoy painting landscapes. I didn’t know how to abstract it down to just a thing or moment without painting a full scene. Suddenly, that extra bit of time wasn’t quite as much as I needed and I was forced to move outside of my comfort zone. What makes me giggle now is that the little kid who bravely charted a course along that creek didn’t really know the meaning of a comfort zone. It wasn’t something that had to be defined as it was usually just something I stumbled upon. A cool spot in the woods that I hadn’t noticed before, and suddenly, I was content and felt safe and without any feeling of stress at all. It strikes me that children seek out their comfort zone while adults already assume they know exactly where it is. Instead of exploring ahead to find that perfect place, it can become an act of avoiding certain places entirely.
This is certainly true with me and my sketches as I tend to avoid certain subjects that are outside my comfort zone. Yet, once again, Little Charlie returns to tell me a story about that adventurous day spent walking along the creek. That glorious moment when he spotted a waterfall and sat on the edge of the rocks to watch it pour down. At this angle, instead of towering over it, it became larger and more significant. And, he stayed on this spot for several minutes, imagining impossible things that, just for a moment, seemed possible. This, I realize now, is the perfect definition of a true comfort zone. It’s not the one you know, but the one you’ve yet to experience. It’s a fascinating and wonderful place, filled with exactly what you really need in that moment. A note to myself to continue to push forward and try things I might typically avoid. While I like to think I always see life through the eyes of a child, it’s a constant struggle with my adult mind to keep those eyes clear and focused. But, when I manage to make that happen, I’m incredibly happy knowing that I’m once again in a place to discover my comfort zone. A magical and awesome place filled with untold surprises that can sometimes even include finding a little waterfall.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Vermilion, Leaf Green, 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!
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!