For Day 23 of #WorldWatercolorMonth and our prompt of “Beach Fun,” I thought about finding seashells on the beach. Not the shells that are simply sitting there in plain sight, waiting for anyone to see who happens by, but the more stealth version that ends up buried in the sand. The kind a child might discover while building sand castles. Though, I never experienced a proper beach until I was a teenager, I can imagine what the experience might be like. These seashells, to me, seem like the most magical of all. Actually, this is very often true for so many things in life. When something is in plain sight, it loses its mystique. But if it’s something that takes a bit of effort to find, that effort makes the thing more valuable and interesting. An idea that first comes to my mind might seem satisfying, but it’s the idea that strikes in the shower or in the middle of night after waking up from a dream that always holds the most allure. There’s just something a bit unexpected about these ideas, yet somehow they seem inevitable and exactly what needs to happen next. Indeed, when it comes to sketching stuff each day, I don’t worry over the technical aspects, I just want to bring that idea to life on paper.

As a kid, I would dream up impossible scenarios all of the time. At least, they seemed impossible at first. But, with a little perseverance, I could come up with a solution that made something happen. Admittedly, whatever I came up with was never as grand as the vision I had in my head. That, was likely impossible. Yet, coming up with a solution was such a fun and exhilarating experience that I never worried if the outcome didn’t quite match. And yeah, I was never a technician, even back then. I got a bit bored when things got too technical and my attention span started to fade. In my head I was screaming, “but it’s the idea that matters most! I just want to bring the idea to life!” But yes, indeed, there are some technical things to consider along the way. Later, I learned to consider them, but I still never worry or obsess over them. I know many of my sketches are done in a perfectly “wrong” fashion and that I’ve skipped layers in the interest of time, and scribbled in details with my brush at the last moment in order to get to a final result. For me, it’s just fun to sketch and color and as long as the idea is brought to life, it feels like a win. If you love and find yourself doing something over and over again, there’s a reason. And, even I know, in all of my childish impertinence, that it’s often a rather good idea to listen to reason.

Things that I’ve discovered on my art journey have been perfectly simple things that once seen can’t be unseen. Things like thicker, darker lines in the foreground will create a sense of depth and jabbing bits of dark color in places can further enhance that 3-dimensional feeling. If you like things that look less flat and more dimensional when it comes to watercolor sketching, then contrast is your best friend and the more contrast you add, the more things will pop up from the paper. See? It all sounds almost silly and childish, but if you like the way my sketches look, that’s the basic approach. There’s nothing difficult lurking there, just lots of little epiphanies I’ve uncovered over time (many I’ve shared in my first little activity book and yes, there are more to come!). For me, those little discoveries are my entire approach. If I apply them as needed, magical things can often happen. It’s not about a laborious, difficult process or an exact order of doing things, but just basic principles that I spin together as I go into a bit of artistic soup. For me, at least, throughout this wonderful and exciting journey, the best thing about art has been finding buried treasure.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!
Beach Fun Seashells Shovel Sand Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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27 thoughts on “Finding Buried Treasure

  1. In my head I was screaming, “but it’s the idea that matters most! I just want to bring the idea to life!” And this, my friend, is where minions come in! I was always the idea gal, but I wasn’t the one who liked to do all the stuff that was involved to get me to the end product. So I worked hard to become the leader and have others work for me. Viola’, I delegate!

  2. Thank you for the share. This really resonated with me! As a child, I am always like that dreaming about random, impossible scenarios as I am playing around. 😊 It does really make me miss my childhood.

    1. Thanks so much! 😃💕 So happy you enjoyed this post! Yeah, I miss my childhood as well, but realize it’s still in my heart so it’s never far. And I use that feeling every chance I can get in my art!

  3. Great info! I think being able to see where depth should be is half the battle. Your simple explanation on how to get there is frosting on the cake. Thank you! Love your seashells, makes me want to go hunting. 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 I forgot to mention squinting at your subject matter. lol When we squint at things only the lights and dark remain. See? All my hints are like they were written by a child! lol

      1. Thanks! I think there is something else you can do when squinting, but of course I can’t think of it now. If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know. Probably doesn’t have anything to do with sketching/painting. Lol

  4. Once again, you have shown that technique serves the idea and inspiration, not the other way around. So much in watercolor depends on good technique which must be second nature because of the way paint works with water. A painting that is all technique and no inspiration falls flat – yours do not, they fly!

    1. Thanks so much, Bob! 😃💕 What a wonderful compliment! Yeah… I think that’s definitely the best way to approach watercolor. My own method is just making a coloring book page in ink and then jumping in with color! It’s so fun!

  5. Charlie,

    First of all I’m logged in under an old login. It’s me. : )

    Your posts always have a double wow factor and that is true of this one too.

    Charlie says, “…long as the idea is brought to life, it feels like a win.”

    Not just a statement of art but also a statement of life. It is a great truism.

    I love the painting too. It takes me home!

  6. I love your beautiful seashells! As someone who has always lived within a couple hours of the beach, I’m always a bit shocked when someone says they never visited a proper beach until in their teens. While I understand the concept of landlocked, it just never seems real to me, lol.

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