Getting Out Of The Fishbowl

Day 5 - Two Goldfish Bowl Illustration - Doodlewash

Today, for our prompt of “goldfish,” I opted for a couple of them swimming in a glass bowl. After sketching the first one on the right as rather content, I decided the other fish surely had dreams of getting out of the fishbowl and experiencing the world beyond. I can’t imagine that swimming in circles all day would be exciting even for a goldfish. Yet, there have been many days lately where, I too, find myself just swimming in circles. Since sketching stuff is the only thing I’ve found to ease my crazy mind, I’ve taken to just scribbling things in my sketchbook whenever I find myself a bit blocked. Well, not really specific things. I just let my mind wander a bit. The crazed little fish on the left was born out of one of these scribbles. No doubt a bit of an autobiographical view of my state of mind at the time, but I loved this little fish. He finally saw what I couldn’t quite see at the time. A huge world of possibilities waiting for me, just outside the bowl. The bowl in my case is only metaphorical, of course, and simply describes my “safe place.” A place I go to for all of the comfortable knowing that it brings. The place where I personally still break a lot of rules, but only certain ones. Some are still in my head, swimming around there like facts. But are they really?

People have often used the term “facts of life” to refer to sex in general, for example. Those of us old enough to have experienced it know that those facts only apply to the scientific procreation bit. The rest is just a mess of emotions, hoping he or she will call you back, good intentions gone awry, and when finally performed correctly, a lovely night. The “facts” don’t really do much to answer all of the questions involved in the actual process. As I learn more and more about painting, pigments, and techniques, I realize my mind is indeed swimming with the various “facts” of watercolor. Yet, the truth is, this was a medium only used by masters as a study for oils and they used it in a very different way than the approach of contemporary watercolor painters today. Whose “facts” are we to believe? The answer is painfully simple, of course. They’re all perfectly correct! When someone finds a method or an approach to a medium and shares it with all their heart, they’re absolutely right. The way that they DO it is a fact of life. Their life. And should you find it fits your own life and style, then it should happily become a fact of yours as well. But, it’s still not a universal fact. That’s left only for the purely scientific bits of life, and simply doesn’t apply to preference, technique or style.

This is why I passionately tell people to take as many art classes as they possibly can! There’s no better way to discover the styles and approaches that feel like universal truths to you. But, if you’re trying something that doesn’t feel like a good fit, then take a break and scribble your way through it. Think of something else, try anything else, and then come back to what you were doing before and experience the difference. Whenever it feels like we’re blocked or at a loss for what to do next, it’s likely because some of the wrong “facts” are getting in the way. The ones that you don’t feel passionately about, sort of devilishly want to defy, and simply accepted somewhere along the way. I’ve learned that if you feel strongly that you’d like to break the rules, then DO it! Just see what happens! That’s what art has always been about. When lots of people agree on something in art, we call it an art movement. But, these shift and change with every century. In the end, it’s about self-expression, which comes with no real rules at all. Just a constantly alert and creative spirit that allows us to see all the possibilities beyond what everyone else is doing. That’s my hope for this community. To always look for new ways and new ideas when it comes to art and find the sheer joy that comes from finally getting out of the fishbowl.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, 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!
Two Goldfish Bowl Illustration Watercolor - Doodlewash
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
19 Comments
  1. Gaeyle Gerrie-Boss 4 months ago

    so sweet, their faces tell a story..

  2. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    I LOVE the reflection on this one! Both of the painting and the ramble, actually.

  3. memadtwo 4 months ago

    I would love to know what those goldfish are thinking…(K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      hehe! I love to sketch creatures with a bit more of story going on. 😉

  4. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    Lovely water and glass reflections! I like the fish who wants out.

  5. Lisa 4 months ago

    Cute fish! I have a small water feature out back with fish. They all began as orange and orange and black fish, but genetics. Now I have orange ones and dark brown ones. My favorite thing about the pond though is toads. In the spring a bunch of toads come to the pond and croak very loudly about the facts of life. Soon there are strings of eggs, then hundreds of tadpoles. The fish feast on them I’m rather sorry to say, but that’s another fact of life–everything eats. And in the fall, I always spots a few baby toads hopping around, so Kumbaya.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      So awesome you have a water feature with fish… I’ve always wanted that! Lovely! 😃💕Aww… yeah those facts of life aren’t great for tadpoles to be sure.

  6. Mary Roff 4 months ago

    Excellent bowl and goldfish! Love the expressions on the fish. Good advice too. A minute ago I happened to notice a flyer for some new art products (uh oh) that is sitting on my desk…at the bottom it says “ARTISTIC CREATIVITY IS NOT GOVERNED BY RULES!”. I kinda like that 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Glad you liked this. Yeah, I definitely love that quote! So true!

  7. Ellie 4 months ago

    Great fish – and those expressions! Thanks for the links to the classes – I’ve done several and am working on Steven Eddy’s ink drawing class now. I particularly like that he doesn’t worry about realism, just the joy of drawing. Like you, Charlie – just joy!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Ellie! 😃💕Yes!! hehe… these are the classes I enjoyed so you know they’ll just be fun and inspirational!

  8. June Hadaway 4 months ago

    These are the sweetest little fish. I kind of feel like them sometimes….swimming in circles!!! Thank you for the links.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks, June! 😃💕hehe… yeah, you and me both! lol I think swimming in circles is just part of the fabulous art journey. We always find our way out eventually! 😉

  9. smzang 4 months ago

    The first thing that caught my eye was the glass bowl and the way light plays on it and makes shadows that intrigue. Then the goldfish. I enlarged the painting because I was taken by their ‘posturing’. I thought there might be trouble in paradise, considering they ‘turned their backs’ to each other. I love them both and had begun ‘thinking their story.’The ‘bug-eyed- one looks a little frantic, but the other one looks just plain irascible. I spent quite a while studying them, and an inkling of a poem began to grow. I don’t have a handle on it yet, but I’m thinking I will.

    Then I read the article. When I got to the Charlie says,” The “facts” don’t really do much to answer all of the questions involved in the actual process.” I got the giggles. It was as if you had crept into my head and were telling me ‘you got the story all wrong’. Now I know I must write my version of Two Little Fishes. You are so inspiring!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      hehe… I adore your comments, Sarah! 😃💕 You always see past the rambles and notice the real story unfolding. The one I can’t predict, and simply let happen as it unveils itself. Yep, those two fish have their own story, a second story. I hope you’ll write theirs! 😉

  10. smzang 3 months ago

    the poem is up…

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