While thinking about our prompt of pets, my mind immediately leapt to a puppy and kitten. I adore watching any baby animal explore the world for the first time and discover new things. It reminds me of my own grown up life and that no matter how much I think I’ve learned, there’s always something new to discover. And better than that, there’s those things I often take for granted worthy of reviewing again with fresh eyes. It’s tough to have fresh eyes as an adult. So much of what we see is already emblazoned into our brains with a preconceived notion. We already “know” what this or that is and it’s tough to stop and look at something without all of those rules rushing to mind. Beyond the visual cues that protect us, like “don’t touch fire, it’s hot and it will seriously burn you,” there are tons of other bits of knowledge that can block our ability to see the world through the eyes of a child. A world of wonder and possibility that just takes a lot of trying and DOing to make it even more wonderful! As many of you know, I really don’t like to hear about “Don’ts” only “DO’s” and that’s the very core of the manifesto I used to create Doodlewash. Unless you plan to save someone’s life in the process, telling a person not to do something is simply a matter of opinion. I love and support all sort of opinions, especially when it comes to art, but I never let them stop me from continuing to see the world with my own fresh eyes. And forge my own path in the process.
Much of my life, I’ve spent saying yes to new things. I’ve tried a million different things from professional acting, to singing, to producing movies. In every case, I had no proof whatsoever that I would actually be able to DO these things, I just thought they’d be fun to try. And, though I wasn’t the most notably amazing at any of the things I’ve tried, I worked hard enough to be sure I wasn’t the worst, so I was pleased with the outcome. Yes, focus has and continues to be an issue with me. Were I to focus all of my energy into a single thing, I’d probably be much more successful. But, I’m not built that way, so I have to do things my own way instead. I created little hacks in my approach to life to compensate. Watercolor included, of course, as I break lots of “rules” in my approach to it. But I realized something recently when I quizzed my friends who had tried watercolor with me and loved it at the very beginning. These were the folks who attended those Doodlewash Dinners I instigated when I first started blogging, and the same people who rushed out afterward to buy more art supplies. Not one of them is still painting with watercolor today. Why? Everything we try is fun in the beginning until we actually learn how it’s supposed to be done. So, how did one guy out of that group keep moving forward and paint each and every day since that time? Was he simply crazy? Perhaps, but I think the real answer lies in that one guy’s approach to it all.
“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
~ Edgar Degas
He learned all he could, and still does every day, but whenever he felt frustrated he just went back to the beginning. Yeah, that guy is me by the way. Throughout my art journey, I’ve experienced moments where I just wanted to quit. I’ve felt like I wasn’t getting any better, that I was stuck in rut, and that what I made simply wasn’t unique or relevant at all. Yeah, none of that is true, is it? If you’ve read this far, then you must feel like what I show up with is indeed relevant and unique. See how that adult mind works? It can block us from moving forward. And thinking back to those Doodlewash Dinners and my original intent when I started this site has been rejuvenating. It’s given me my place is all of this. I’m the guy you come to when you have those moments of doubt. The big silly kid who doesn’t play by the rules and sits just outside of all the various memes and trends. While not remotely cool enough to be considered a rebel, I’m just the voice of reason. If you don’t like something, stop doing it and try something else instead. But, if you don’t like the “rules” of something, try changing them first before you give up. That’s what I did. And it’s why I’m still here showing up each day. Sure, I follow those “rules” sometimes when it brings me joy and to practice and one day I’ll go back to all of them and have another go. But, today, I just spend each one enjoying the world for the first time again.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Indigo. 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!
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!