Finding A Little Waterfall

Little Waterfall Watercolor Illustration

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.

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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!
Little Waterfall Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
20 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 5 months ago

    Charlie, your waterfall is very much like the ones in many of the brooks of my childhood. Swimming, catching frogs and watching little fish try to hide are memories that come to mind. One family camping trip the cousins and I tried to catch fish on safety pins tied to string using american cheese and hotdogs as bait. Most of us gave up and decided that sliding down the small waterfall in our bathing suits was more fun even though the brook water was very cold.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Yay! Thrilled this brought back good memories, Karen! 😃💕hehe… yeah, I agree.. sliding down the small waterfall was always the best part!

  2. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    Your waterfall scene is is quiet and serene! I was talking with someone just the other day who proudly told the story of his third grade experience where he told the teacher that he ‘didn’t do art’. His parents backed him up and he was allowed to take another class during that time period. I found it all rather sad. I don’t think the school or parents did him any favors.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 Oh… stories like that make me sad. Art isn’t a choice of something we “can” do, it’s just a choice of something to DO! And that’s why it’s my goal to make as many people as possible choose to DO it (again!). 😉

  3. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    Wonderful interpretation of “comfort zone.” And a nice little waterfall.

  4. Lisa 5 months ago

    As a total water child, I love this. I even thrilled in the hard rain we got today. Lol Having grown up in a swampy area, very near Lake Michigan, and really within a 15 minute drive to all different sorts of watery places, I applaud your little waterfall.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Aww thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 These types of scenes are no my usual thing, so I’m thrilled you enjoy it! Especially since you’re a water child!

  5. smzang 5 months ago

    Charlie says, ” 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. ”

    just reading those words puts me in my comfort zone…or at very least makes me comfortable with whatever is around the bend.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 I’m so happy you enjoyed that bit. I truly believe that. At least now, as I’m growing older and hopefully wiser. And I can only think that my best comfort zones are yet to come! 😉

  6. Jodi 5 months ago

    WOW! Look at that beauty!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Aww thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕 I really appreciate it… landscapes… are not my thing! Glad you liked this!

  7. LoriCtoo 5 months ago

    Beautiful! Living close to the Columbia Gorge, we have lots of inspiration. I have always admired people who could paint waterfalls. I challenged myself this summer to start trying them. The first hike my son took me on, we visited 3 falls. I have painted the 3 falls and I have learned along the way. Each a little better, but still not where I want them to be. I watched one video for inspiration, but need to watch more!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I agree… I’m no master when it comes to landscapes or waterfalls. They’re challenging to be sure! As ever there’s a super cool tutorial here on Doodlewash of painting a waterfall… definitely check it out if you haven’t yet – https://doodlewash.com/paint-a-waterfall-watercolor/

  8. Mary Roff 5 months ago

    Wonderful waterfall and story, Charlie! It brought back memories of the waterfall in the creek behind my grandparents farmhouse. That waterfall seemed so big when we were kids. The pool under the waterfall was crystal clear water and the bottom was all sandy while the rest of that creek was,of course, all rocks and pebbles. Thanks for bringing back a very happy memory.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕Yay! I’m thrilled this brought back those creek memories! That’s what I was hoping for! Such a wonderful time!

  9. memadtwo 5 months ago

    It recalls some childhood walks of my own. I remember how special the light through the trees felt. And quiet! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      I know! 😃💕 The light and the quiet was so incredibly magical!

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 months ago

    This is so beautifully painted – a landscape is an unusual subject for you but you did a great job on a complex scene. Your challenge to try things unfamiliar to you is proving that you’re very capable.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thank you so much, Sharon! 😃💕 I truly appreciate that! I do tend to shy away from certain subjects… so I’m thrilled you enjoyed this one!!

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