Finding The Keys to Success

Piano Keys Watercolor Illustration

In keeping with the theme I started yesterday of sketching things I’ve always avoided, for our prompt of “Keys” today, I opted for a set of piano keys. This was wildly challenging, but fun to try! Piano keys are actually an everyday thing in our house as a piano sits on the other side of the room. What isn’t an everyday thing, unfortunately, is the act of either Philippe or I actually playing it. Yes, we both play piano, or I should say now, once played piano. These days, it’s become more like a bit of décor, sitting in the living room like a memory. I used to play the piano all of the time when I was a kid, and then tried it again for a three year stint as an adult. But, like many things I try in life, I just wasn’t really that good at it. I loved it, and could play lovely things that would elicit a lovely reaction from guests, but I never got any better at playing it. I peaked at lovely and in tune, but never really went beyond that. Of course, the real issue was my lack of practice. Once I stopped practicing, my skills began to atrophy. Each time I tried again, I was only slightly worse than the time before and had to practice my way back to where I had stopped. So, when it comes to sketching stuff, I realize now that the real key is to never stop in the first place.

With anything creative we try, it’s always a dance of a sort. The choreography is much the same, with a steady beat of one step forward and two steps back. Indeed when it comes to art, this is the dance we perform each and every day. The key is remembering that it’s all simply a dance in the first place. Like all good dances, it’s never simply an act of moving forward. No, the music compels us to move sideways, backwards, and stand on our heads at times. That’s why I’ve always approached my art like music. I listen for the tune and the rhythm that I’m feeling that day and let it lead me forward. I’m not as much concerned with getting a particular outcome so much as simply showing up for the dance. From the scribbles I make to create a reasonable facsimile of something, to the addition of watercolor which has a mind entirely its own, I just love this dance. There’s always music playing in my mind or in reality, and I take each note in stride. What happens next is anyone’s guess, including my own.

I’m never remotely sure what will appear in my sketchbook when I show up each day. But, in many ways, that’s exactly what keeps me coming back. And, truly, I hope that it keeps all of you coming back as well. After all of this time, I’ve never really quite settled on an exact visual approach to what I share. I always add a bit of white space, most typically, simply because I find it pleasing. Yet, in the end, you’re just seeing the scan of my sketchbook I made each day. The thing that just happened. The thing my heart made me make today. I’ve no idea really if this qualifies as art in the real art world, but it my own mind, it’s definitely my personal art. Both the doodlewash and whatever words I managed to create in this moment are my own bit of performance art. Another term that I think normally requires a costume, but instead, I just show up as me. I hope you enjoy these performances, even if, these days, they don’t come with a piano accompaniment. When we finally stop to choose what really makes us happy, it’s the greatest moment ever. It’s the start of a beautiful journey as we suddenly experience the true thrill that comes from finding the keys to success.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, 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!
Piano Keys Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
18 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    Great piano keys! I too took lessons for years as a child until a horrible case of stage fright at a recital which caused me to not to be able to play either of my pieces or to play for anyone ever again. I tried to pick it up again a few years ago but without success. I love to listen to someone else play.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Karen! 😃💕 Yeah, piano is really quite difficult and requires constant practice, which I did for a time, but just couldn’t keep it going! I also love to listen to anyone who can play it well though!

  2. Bonnie Ottaviani 2 months ago

    Your posts really speak to me at this point in my life. Thank you for all you do! Love the piano keys. So you scan the pages of your sketchbook? I have been taking photographs Bet scanning will look better.

  3. LoriCtoo 2 months ago

    Oh look at that perspective sketching! Nice! If I were to attempt this, they would look like the piano keys on Minnie Mouses’ parade skirt. Ziggy zaggy. Lol

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕hehe… I think piano keys on a Minnie Mouse skirt sound lovely! You should totally try it!!

  4. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 2 months ago

    Lovely piano!!!! 🙂

  5. Lisa 2 months ago

    Yep, and it’s all about perspective. Both the painting and the idea for the painting. I don’t paint every day, but since discovering you and Angela Fehr, I paint a lot more than I used to do. That’s a win in my book. And I do paint a lot better than I used to too. Another win! Maybe once I recover I’ll try one a day. Can’t hurt.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      So happy to know you’re painting more, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, the more we paint, the better we get, so it’s always such a wonderful win! So, I have you done for the daily challenge coming very soon then. 😉

  6. Loan Anh Pham 2 months ago

    What’s a fabulous colored! I’ve listened to a melody playing in my mind while gazing at your piano sketch ❤️

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Loan! 😃💕Glad you enjoyed this one! Piano keys are devilishly difficult to sketch! hehe

      • Loan Anh Pham 2 months ago

        Definitely! You’re have six sense, Charlie. I used to thought how about keys of piano and felt they’re so challenging. I thought : might be next time. Then, when I saw your sketch, just said : Wow 🤩, there they are!

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

          Aww thanks!! I super appreciate that as I’ve avoided DOing this from the start! hehe… it’s SO challenging to sketch. But I’m super glad I did and even more glad that you enjoyed it! 😃💕

  7. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Wonderful piano keys!! Can just about hear the melody!

  8. smzang 2 months ago

    Charlie says, “When we finally stop to choose what really makes us happy, it’s the greatest moment ever. It’s the start of a beautiful journey as we suddenly experience the true thrill that comes from finding the keys to success”

    You write beautiful melodies and now you have given us the keys to playing them. Many thanks!

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