I’m feeling a little under the weather today and was finding it difficult to paint. Nothing seemed to interest me and I was a little lost, which made me think of a compass, so that’s what came out today. In a world of traveling that relies mostly on the GPS in smartphones, there’s something wonderful about the beautiful simplicity of a compass. I’ve been told I have a rather evolved internal compass when it comes to finding my way around new places. When traveling with friends, I was usually the one they would turn to if we ever found ourselves lost. Yet today, my internal artistic compass seemed to be on the fritz at first. Then I remembered it works differently than this contraption. When it comes to an artist’s compass, “Due North” becomes simply “DO North.” So, I picked up my pen and began to draw.

It amazes me that after all this time of daily doodlewashing, I still have days where I just can’t bring myself to get started. But the second I have my pen in hand and start drawing, every worry fades away and eventually something always comes out. Granted, I may not love what comes out as much as something I made the day before, but I always love that I succeeded in making something. I’ve never known if I actually have a true muse as some writers and artist’s do. I’d love to think that I did, but more often than not, I’ve found that it’s more a matter of turning to my internal compass and letting it gently tell me, “Draw something. Anything. Move forward. DO North!” We all have that little voice inside our head telling us how we might fail, but this little voice comes from inside the heart.

I love sketching and painting and on days like this one, when I’m tired and exhausted, it’s easy to think I’ll just skip it today. But not doing something you love every day you possibly can feels like a miss somehow. And when we really want to do something, we can always find the time to make it happen. Maybe this is the day the sketch feels like a failure, or maybe it’s that wonderful day that feels like breaking through to something new. The only way to know for sure is to try, and see what happens next. Listening to my internal compass I know I will always end up moving in the right direction. Especially on the days when I feel like doing nothing at all. Grabbing my pen, I travel inside my sketchbook waiting for that little voice to move me forward. DO North!

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About the Doodlewash

M. Graham Watercolors:  Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink and second pen with black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
Day 4 #WorldWatercolorGroup Finding Your Compass watercolor of Golden Compass

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46 thoughts on “Finding Your Compass

  1. Charlie, you have the most amazing way of taking almost nothing and turning it into something so thought provoking that I recall snippets throughout the day. I’m reminded of being Cub Scout – Boy Scout mom, and trained adult leader for about 16 years. Our two sons moved from Cub to Eagle Scouts, and now our oldest grandson has just graduated to his first year of Boy Scouts.

    One of the tasks I was often assigned was to teach the youngest Boy Scouts, just out of their cubbie packs, how to read and use a compass, an essential skill when hiking in the wilderness. The adult men in the troop used to scare the crap out of the kids till they were trembling so much they couldn’t remember their own names.

    It wasn’t my way. I would hold the compass upside down and ask for help. The little Boy Scout would do as trained – come to the aid of someone in need, and slowly I would guide him through the skills needed to learn to use a compass efficiently. They thought they were teaching me as I righted their errors and proved to them that they knew all along how to use it. Even with GPS, resolving challenges is a life long skill. Just another proof to Do North, as you say – and a brilliant concept it is.

    Love your Doodlewash compass – well used, full of stories, evocative of making progress on less traveled paths. Did you ever think when you started this that Doodlewash would take such a considered path?

    And I hope you’re feeling well enough to enjoy being in France.

    1. Thanks so much Sharon! 😃💕 I’m feeling much more like myself today and luckily France is couple weeks away yet! What a great story! I love the way you trained them to use to a compass. I agree…. those types of conflict resolution skills are so important, yet mostly today, everything is a click away from being solved for us. I’m thrilled you like my section of Doodlewash… I really had no idea where this journey would lead and it’s been so fun to see it expand and grow. I really couldn’t imagine a life without sketching and painting now!

  2. It turned out beautiful! I have noticed the same thing when I don’t feel like sketching and then force myself too. Amazing feeling. Hope you feel much better so you can enjoy your last day of staycation

  3. You always amaze me Charlie by your art stamina, always chipper and when you are feeling under the weather, you still come shining through with a different kind of chipper. 🙂 You are truly a heartfelt writer who isn’t afraid to express yourself, I truly admire that, very hard to find people such as yourself. Feel better, your soldiering through has made my day and encouraged me. Your compass doodle is tip top and your attitude is even better. Cheers!

  4. I greatly admire your work, Charlie — and your tenacity in keeping at it. Your post today reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, by Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Thank you for this living illustration in DOING North, even when you don’t really feel like it. I love your results! And I hope you’re on the mend soon, too.

  5. Your compass is beautiful Charlie! Not just the one that you beautifully doodlewashed but also your internal one you always find the right way! I so love this post it is true and I can relate with you! I listen to that little voice inside me all the time and when I hold my pen because I rarely plan what I am going to paint! The only time I do honestly is when I follow your list of inspiring subjects 😉 I always had a say during my life journeys and is “If you don’t try you never know” but this goes only with good and reasonable things not with the crazy ones or the ones that your voice says that you shouldn’t try! Lol Wish you to get well soon my dear! Rest and drink some good tea! <3

    1. Thanks, Carolina! 😃💕 Hehe… that’s so true… I guess the good and reasonable things still important to stick to when attempting anything! But it’s so true… you just have to try. I’m so darn curious that I would hate not knowing what would have happened next. Feeling better today though, thanks!!

  6. You are such an amazing human being Mr. Charlie O’Shields! Your compass is absolutely amazing, and your thoughts and spirit and words on life and your attitude just inspire me every day. Hope you feel better, and hope it is not a result of too many of those orange fizzy cocktails! LOL! And if it is, hope it was worth it 🙂 Take care and enjoy this last day of staycation. Hugs from Mars

  7. Your off day turned into a really really good writing Charlie, right from your heart!
    And I really love this blog!!!
    Also like your shiny compass as well.
    Go on, DO North.

  8. There’s definitely been a virus going around. Plus the change of seasons always inspires malaise I think.
    But you’re right…just start and something will follow. And this looks fine to me! (K)

  9. I like how you paint metal, Charlie. Nice’n’shiny!
    I’m struggling to find the time to do even the things I don’t like doing at the moment, but I’m sure things will settle down shortly. I’ve loads of new paints and brushes calling my name… but by the time I’m ready to use them I’m so exhausted I’m out of ideas (and time!) as to what to paint. Sigh. And it started so well (ahem – what do you mean? 😉 ). I hope your mojo returns soon!

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