One of the delights of going on a nature hike or just walking down the street really, when I was a kid, was finding a feather on the ground. I’ve no idea why I found this so delighting exactly, but to me, it always felt a bit like finding a treasure. A lovely piece of nature left behind. I quickly doodled some into existence for today’s prompt and I think they were lorikeet feathers to begin with, but I decided to use less colors so now they’re from a mystery bird. Since I don’t actually live in Australia, most of the feathers I would find as a kid here were usually a striped brown or sometimes a deep blackish blue. They didn’t have to be a striking color as it was simply the act of finding them that made them special. I would collect them and bring them back home, with no real plan for them whatsoever. I mean it wasn’t like I was trying to reassemble a bird in my room or anything. Sometimes the act of finding something new is enough of a reward in itself.
I still love those moments when I discover something interesting along my path. Usually something rather small and insignificant, but with just enough interest to catch my eye. It might be a little rock that has a strangely beautiful coloring or texture. Or it can even be an unusual shadow cast across the pavement. I’ve always been on the lookout for these types of things, but since I’ve started painting each day, I’m even more observant. Suddenly, the light and shadow on a leaf becomes a thing of pure wonder and I have to stop and study it for a moment. I don’t even have my sketchbook with me and no time to sketch or paint what I see, but I’m always making mental notes that I can use to help me later. Getting ideas from the simplest of things. Ways to use color, light, and shadow for the next time I sit down to paint. I’m not a notetaker, so I never write anything down. It’s just a jumble of ideas that swim around my fishbowl of a head until they’re ready to jump free.
While I know I should probably study proper technique more when it comes to painting, for now, I’m content with sketching as I go from a place of pure instinct and intuition. In fact, I can say that this approach is what has helped me to keep painting every day. It’s really just my play time. One day, when this is my only line of work, I will most certainly feel differently, but today, this is only my hobby. It’s what brings me joy and relieves the stress of the day. It’s what helps me appreciate the world for what it actually is while dreaming of what it has the potential to be. It gives me the sheer pleasure of going through life with the eyes of an artist. Watching for things that others might overlook entirely and making mental notes as I go along. I’m never on the hunt for anything, I just let life pass by me as it happens, looking for the occasional little treasure. After all these years, I’m still experiencing those inexplicable little moments of pure delight, like finding feathers.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
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!