Fly On The Wall

Fly On The Wall by Charlie O'Shields

Today’s page in my Cabinet of Curiosities sketchbook ended up with a fly on it. They were still buzzing around when Philippe and I were trying to enjoy the last few nice days on our terrace, so of course I thought, I should doodlewash one. I used to do macro photography and found that close-up versions of these guys were sort of interesting and weird.

Flies typically look like little black annoying blurs, but in close-up they are often quite colorful, if not a bit creepy. Oh well, it’s Halloween month and creepy things are all the rage, so this little giant should fit in perfectly. I really wasn’t sure how to handle the transparency of the wings so I just sort of whisked on some white gouache at the end.

But the real secret is that I have always wished I could actually be a fly on the wall. Perhaps it’s my introverted, living-in-my-head-all-the-time nature, but the idea of being able to watch people from a safe distance or overhear a conversation always fascinated me. That, and the ability to actually fly, which would probably be the coolest thing in the world if I didn’t have a severe fear of heights.

I remember actually trying to fly as a little kid, thinking if I could just flap my arms really fast it might happen. I didn’t expect to soar through the clouds, I wasn’t stupid, but I did think that I might be able to stay afloat for a few extra seconds at least. I would jump and begin frantically flapping only to come down at precisely the same rate of speed as normal jumping. This was disappointing.

My most vivid memory from childhood is actually a dream or daydream. It was so real, that I almost believed it actually happened. I was ascending the short flight of stairs to my bedroom in our split-level home, and tripped. That wasn’t the cool part, I was always a bit clumsy. No, the cool part came when instead of hitting my face on the stairs, I flapped my arms and for just a moment I hovered there… I was actually flying!

I don’t remember what happened next. Most likely I hit my face on the stairs… even my dreams were always irritatingly tinged with reality. To this day, I just remember that brief moment and how great it felt to hover there, even if it was just a couple feet off the floor. Time stopped and I felt such an amazing sense of euphoric accomplishment.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite the same feeling as an adult. Perhaps that’s why I remember it so vividly. It’s also likely because I eventually stopped flapping my arms around like an idiot, trying to fly. My kid brain was growing up and starting to realize that I looked ridiculous and worried what other people might say.

I now know it doesn’t matter what people say about you and they’re never likely to tell you how they really feel to your face. It’s probably better that way. But if you ever felt brave enough to discover those secrets, all you’d have to do is ask that fly on the wall.

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!
61 Comments
  1. Gold Standard Test 2 years ago

    Oooo both hairy and iridescent. He (or she) has that awful kind of beauty you just can’t look away from. Fabulous!

    • Author

      Haha! Thanks!! 😃What a great description!! So true with these things!! Glad you…errrr… liked it? (I felt the mixed thing with the spider I did a few posts back! Lol) 😉

  2. Kari 2 years ago

    It is amazing that you made a fly look beautiful! I understand the human desire to fly, I just can’t do it. Not only am I height challenged, I hate that feeling of losing control like riding a roller coaster. I can’t even enjoy Disney’s Soar because I get motion sickness.. Lol. But I admire your tenacity and love your vivid imagination!

    • Author

      Hehe…thanks Kari!! Glad you liked him! ❤️😃 I struggle with my fear of heights a lot, but for some reason when I’m on a roller coaster and strapped in and helpless it’s okay. Which is bizarre, I know. 😊

  3. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    Oh, what a fantastic fly, Charlie! 😊 I like how colorful he is and how you painted the wings. Enjoyed hearing about how you wanted to fly as a kid. I think that most kids did. I can’t really remember flapping my arms around but I do remember how swinging on a swing set and how when you got super duper high and jumped off really quick, you could fly briefly or so I thought. Lucky I did not break a leg. Hehe! 😊

    • Author

      Thanks Jill!!! ❤️😃 And hahaha! I did that too!! We really should have been allowed to play together as children. We would have had soooo much fun!! I nearly broke every bone in my body “flying” off swing sets! 😊

  4. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    great glossy wings and iridescent color ! also – ew! flies … The Fly movie lol

  5. Wow, this is one fantastic drawing!! It looks so iridescent and I love the purple ting on its wing!

  6. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I had to get stitches once after trying to fly off the couch.
    The size of this fly adds to the eerie beauty. (K)

    • Author

      Lol…I knew you and I had much In common, Kerfe!😉❤️ Thanks! Yeah…it’s strangely pretty this large. But definitely eerie!! 😳

  7. davisbrotherlylove 2 years ago

    Can you make one with Vincent Price’s head on it (ref: original The Fly movie), with a word bubble that says ‘Help Me’ ?
    Well done.
    j

    • Author

      Haha!! I should have done that!! But I’m terrible with portraits! Lol 😊😊

      • davisbrotherlylove 2 years ago

        I think there is another image from that movie… one with the fly and human hands (maybe sticking out from beneath someone’s shoe – I could be wrong about that). But that would mean you could draw hands instead of a portrait. I’d have to watch the movie again to be sure…

      • Author

        Lol…good workaround! I haven’t seen that movie in ages. Freaks me out! And now you’re going to make me dream of fly people tonight!! 😳😳😳 haha

  8. VE 2 years ago

    Wow ! Its incredible…

  9. That fly is sooo realistic! Love it.

  10. Jodi 2 years ago

    Awh! Cherish the MOMENTS for in them you can FLYYYYYY! 🙂

  11. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    You really conveyed the iridescence! How did you do that? I hate flies, but yours is really awesome!

    I have flying dreams all the time and they feel so real. Once I dreamed I was flying from Australia back to the U.S. and it was so real, it was freaky…I could smell the sea foam and feel the cool condensation of the clouds on my face and when I had to fly over a mountain, I woke up. Just as well…LOL!

    It’s too bad there is no demand for fly portraits because you would have a great new career! x

    • Author

      Haha! What, Teresa?! No market?! Well crap! Since I can’t do people portraits then I guess I’m screwed! Haha! 😊and your dream sounds sooo vivid and cool! Glad you like my fly! ❤️😃I was pleased with the iridescence…wasn’t sure how to do it so I just layered a little more slowly and painted what I saw! 😊

  12. Snehal Kank 2 years ago

    You made that fly so beautiful! I would never thought of this subject for painting, you did fantastic job! 👍🏼👍🏼

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much friend!! ❤️😃 Hehe…my subjects are sort of all over the place with my new theme. It’s been kind of random and fun! Lol

  13. kungfunaomi 2 years ago

    Dude, that’s awesome.

  14. thepaperbaker 2 years ago

    Outstanding iridescent display!! So cool!! Heartwarming child like thinking story 🙂

  15. Rebecca 2 years ago

    He’s actually beautiful (and I hate flies) – the brilliant shadows are what makes this one for me, though!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Rebecca!! 😃❤️ I’m with you…flies are awful, but they’re kind of fun to doodlewash! Lol Happy you like it!

  16. Nicola 2 years ago

    You’ve made an everyday thing beautiful and interesting – this is my goal with painting – bravo!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Nicola!! ❤️😃That’s been my goal as well. I love choosing less expected subjects. And it’s been really good practice!! Which I need! 😊

  17. beverlydyer 2 years ago

    Insects get such a bad rap. They are all pretty cleverly designed. Nice job capturing this buzzer.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Beverly!! ❤️😃And WordPress is doing crazy things!! I just realized in all my clicking around I mysteriously unfollowed you!! Ugh!! I think the little follow button must be too close to the name for my fat fingers! 😊All fixed I hope!! 👍🏻😃

  18. amaryllislog 2 years ago

    Ohhh, I saw this bugger on IG first and thought, no, yuck a fly, damn a good looking fly, but still a fly…where has that fly been (stop)?!? Clearly I have issues with flies but your fly is quite handsome. As for flying, I fly in my dreams often, and I’m really good at it (apparently). I’ll have to keep an eye out for Teresa!

    • Author

      Haha…yeah…this fly was like the spider I drew. I had fun getting lost in the contours, but then realized…ewwww….I made a big fly!! 😳😳I don’t like them either! Lol But super fun to doodlewash! And yeah…be on the lookout for Teresa!! Haha! 😉👍🏻

  19. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    He is just too beautiful to Swat, Flies are so remarkable! Something tells me with your curiosity, Charlie, you are already a bit of a “fly on the wall”. Heehee

    • Author

      Hehe…yeah…I’ve been known to eavesdrop a bit. 😊Chronic curiosity does that! Glad you liked my fly, Sharon! ❤️😃

  20. Scribble Fiend 2 years ago

    I am also a fan of the iridescent sheen of this fly! You did a great job with this one. Insects can actually be quite beautiful!

  21. Tori 2 years ago

    This is fantastic! I’m not sure what I like the best – the transparency of the wings, the iridescent sheen or your engaging narrative – it’s all great 😊

  22. Wren 2 years ago

    Your painting of that fly is beautiful, Charlie. SO well done! 🙂

  23. Jacob 2 years ago

    Hmm, this is certainly a curious box of curiosities emerging, Charlie. I fear for the fly, given there’s already a spider in there…

    Lovely job; I’ve always enjoyed how they turn that metallic green sheen in the light. Just goes to show that even the most irritating pests have some endearing features!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jacob! 😃 Yeah I thought about the fly and the spider…would have been cool if they ended up on opposite pages. But the spider looks nicely creepy opposite from the cat I guess. (And Sparky looks like he’s about to eat fruit! Lol) And I agree…irritating pests are super interesting to draw. I may have to try more!! 😊

      • Jacob 2 years ago

        Haha, I like how the random order is providing its own narrative!

        Please do more. You could turn it into a series! It’d be like an encyclopedia of minibeasts and insects, but with your anecdotes replacing the scientific (much more entertaining!)

      • Author

        Yeah…Philippe is the scientist. I’d better just stick to silly stories! Lol Thanks! 😉

  24. Allison 2 years ago

    The falling down the stairs daydreamy thingy happened to me too! I love the fly picture!

    • Author

      That’s sooooo cool Allison!! See?! It’s not so crazy! Unless we’re both crazy, but I say, who cares! Lol Lets fly! 😉Glad you liked the doodlewash friend!

      • Allison 2 years ago

        Ha ha! You’re welcome!

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