Floating Below The Surface

Sea Turtle Watercolor Illustration

Today, for our prompt of “Underwater,” I decided on a quick little sketch of a sea turtle. I tried it rather fast to see if a looser style might appear, and because that’s all the time I had, but this is apparently as loose as I get. I’m always quite enamored with the details in things. There’s so much to explore and discover when you take a moment to really study something. I find it difficult to choose the most important bits, because I rather adore them all. This is precisely how I approach life in general, which is probably why I end up with so little time left to sketch in the first place. I just can’t help myself. Each time I imagine a plan of what I’d like to do next, I quickly get distracted by all of the little details and, very often, something else entirely. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy reading mysteries so much. There’s always something lurking in the background that’s precisely what we should have noticed all along. As I sketch each day, I’m mostly just building a visual library of things that I’ll use one day to create something truly amazing. I’ve set no timeline for myself as to when that should occur, and instead just keep exploring the world of details in front of me, one sketch at a time.

In truth, since my art is only a side hobby, I do end up playing a bit more. But, I have to think that playing is a really wonderful way to approach art. That’s definitely the approach I took when I finally released my first instructional art book and by creating my Sketching Stuff Activity Book. This is truly my approach to art. I show up each day and Scribble, Doodle, Color and have a lot of fun in the process. I’ve learned that this process is what’s gotten me through each day and kept me doodling and coloring each and every day for almost four years now. I’ll celebrate year four just after World Watercolor Month begins in July! And instead of surging forward to try to continually improve and become spectacular each and every day, I’ve taken a more circular path. Each time I sit down to make something, I always go back to the Scribble as though I’m doing it for the first time. It’s not a matter of starting over, it’s simply a matter of starting fresh. My mind and muscle memory gets smarter about things each and every day. There’s nothing I need to do in order to make that happen short of simply showing up to create. But, each time I see something a bit new, I always find something that I never noticed before.

So yeah, I’m the guy telling people to go back to the Scribble. That very moment when we were kids and grabbed a crayon to make a first mark. We were masters at whatever we created in those days. And it’s my goal to remind as many people as possible of this fact. And moreover, remind people of what they already know. My own style of teaching isn’t about taking you to the next level, I’ll leave that to my own amazing instructors that I happily recommend! No, I simply want to help you build confidence in your own natural ability so you can always ace those real classes like a pro! Yep, I’m just that crazy little kid on the playground you hang out with to have a bit of fun before going back to school! I want everyone to feel like they can indeed DO whatever creative thing they feel like they want to DO next. For my own part, I show up and DO each and every day. And honestly, if I can DO this, then literally anyone on the planet can as well. I have the attention span of a flea combined with the wild exuberance of an actual 5-year old. If nothing else, I’m constant living proof that all dreams are indeed possible, if we just take a moment explore and enjoy what’s floating just below the surface.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Vermilion, 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!
Sea Turtle Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
25 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 3 months ago

    Wonderful turtle Charlie! Thank you for encouraging us to Do everyday!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕So happy to know you’re encouraged!

  2. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    Your turtle looks like a wise old patriarch of the seas! Loose is the hardest thing to do and it’s funny. It’s a bit like the statement about wriiting – ‘I’d have written less but I didn’t have time.’ It takes longer to figure out how to do less. Says something about human nature.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕Yeah, this is a wise old turtle! And wise words! I agree… it takes much more time to edit things down, so I think I’ll always end up on the edge of excess! hehe

  3. Lisa 3 months ago

    I got my undergraduate degree in English from UW -STEVENS POINT. One of the buildings on campus houses the college of natural resources. I tried to go through that building at least weekly because it had a room sized terrarium on the main floor with turtles and finches in it. It was such a pleasure to watch them on cold winter days!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Oh wow! That sounds wonderful, Lisa! 😃💕I would have done the same… what a cool place to explore!

  4. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 months ago

    Aweeeeeeeeeeee so cute 🙂

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 months ago

    Playing is how you discover the art in you. Otherwise, just take a photo – also a wonderful medium.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      So true! 😃💕 And I loved taking photos as well. It’s fun to see what each person’s eyes see!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 3 months ago

    Beautiful turtle! I love your approach to painting.

  7. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    Wonderful turtle!! Doing a “loose” painting would pretty much be a happy accident for me. Painting is much more fun if I just DO without trying to paint in a particular style and that lesson I learned right here. Thank you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Mary! 😃💕 SO true! hehe… it’s way easier to paint in a way that comes naturally. And I rather like my “loose” versions… hehe.. even if they have a crazy amount of detail! lol

  8. LoriCtoo 3 months ago

    “Dude!” Ah, it’s Squirt! I wish more people would take your attitude about sketching! They don’t know what they are missing. It is such a relaxing calming hobby. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper. You can do it anywhere. I have been able to inspire a handful of people, friends and students. I might get to a few more this fall when we change my art journal class to another type of class!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe!! Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, it’s funny with art.. it often shift quickly to something very serious and specific. Techniques, we’re suddenly meant to use or we’re not doing something right. I say, bah! Art should be something we look forward to doing because it’s just so fun to DO!

  9. Robert J. Coleman 3 months ago

    Love the turtle, like the ones for whom the beaches in FL would be closed for nesting season. It’s good that some people still do care. And you care too; you encourage your readers to give art a try and you are so excited about it. Caring also shows in the recommendations of teachers like Birgit O’Connor, Stephanie Bower and Shari Blaukopf, super Urban Sketchers.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Bob! 😃💕I’m so excited about making art! And yep… I happily recommend my teachers. Even if I paint nothing like them now, they each taught me something amazing and I hope others will be inspired by their teaching!

  10. Sharon Mann 3 months ago

    I just got back from Maui and saw these beautiful sea turtles up close. Your art is amazing Charlie.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 I’m sort of jealous, I must admit! hehe… that sounds like an amazing trip!

  11. memadtwo 3 months ago

    I love turtles! Great colors, Charlie. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Glad you liked this! I love turtles as well!

  12. delaramartdesign 2 months ago

    Nicely done

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