For our prompt of “Paddle” today, I first thought of dog paddle, which is the very first technique even we humans had to master when learning to swim. I was never very good at swimming as a kid, but appreciated this particular move as it kept my head above the water. At the time, going underwater was a bit scary and so I would just paddle about on top while at the pool. Thankfully, I managed to one day hit those fears head on and eventually learned to swim a bit better. I think my art journey has followed in a similar fashion. I’m only now diving in to see if I can make things that are swimming around in my mind. And, I think dogs are cute when they swim, especially when they’re heading right toward you in a pool. The focus and determination on their faces is really quite inspiring!

It’s actually been quite a long time since I’ve found myself in a place where I could swim, and longer still since I’ve actually done it. I’ve mentioned before that public pools are not something I enjoy, even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. Paddling around in a smelly human soup just isn’t my idea of a good time. But, I’ve been thinking lately about how much I miss snorkeling in the ocean and would love to try that again. I guess not much has changed since I was a kid. I still prefer to stay close to the surface while swimming. But the view is amazing and so I’ve never forgotten that memorable experience. I ran across photos that I took that other day with an underwater camera and it was fun to reimagine being back there once again. Indeed, the fact that I’ve not snorkeled since then is still a bit of a broken promise to myself that I’ll have to rectify one day.

My own dog Phineas doesn’t really like the water at all. I couldn’t imagine seeing him jump into a pool, lake or ocean to enjoy a bit of swimming. He can’t even stand it when it’s raining and a sudden light sprinkle of rain on a walk will send him rushing back home again. Though I don’t like being caught out in a downpour, walking in a light rain is actually a lovely thing indeed. I tend to always be busy with a constant list of things I have to do next, but lately, I’m taking a bit more time to just relax and worry about nothing much at all. While there’s definitely something to be said for completing all projects, there’s equally a lot to be said for prioritization. So, as long as I don’t get too terribly far behind, those precious extra minutes I snuck in to paint is always just a happy interruption. I guess in the end, I’m not really much of an overachiever. Instead, I’m perfectly happy as long as I can keep my head above water.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink),  Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine (Green Shade), Terra Cotta, and Indigo. 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!
Jack Russell Terrier Swimming Dog Paddle Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail


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36 thoughts on “Head Above Water

  1. What a cute doggie! 🐕🐕 I will be honest, I am not sure that I know how to doggie paddle. I never learned to swim, but I was literally just thinking about searching for adult swim classes. Literally just now. It’s a sign!! haha haha
    Such a great painting. I love his feet. While I do NOT like human feet, I love to smell doggie feet. They smell like dirt. Of course, Monster’s feet smelled like pee-pee. He peed crooked, I guess. You know, maybe I shouldn’t have shared that little tid-bit about myself. Nobody judge! haha haha haha I have a friend, who loves puppy 🐕 breath. It takes all kinds. haha haha haha

  2. He’s adorable! I come from a family of coon hunters. One thing we attended when I was young was hunting dog trials. They had this long moat filled with water and a cable stretched over it from one end to the other. The racoon was in a cage attached to the cable. The dogs were released at one end and they swam/chased the coon as it was pulled across the cable. First dog to the end howling, with two feet up on the pole where the coon was suspended was the winner.

  3. Super portrait of Phineas, with that subtle smile! I love the perspective too. You might want to avoid snorkeling in nearby New England shore waters – lots of sharks, big big sharks!

    1. Thanks so much, Bob! 😃💕 This isn’t actually Phineas… hehe… I chose a Jack Russell instead because they’re easier to sketch. (shhh! Don’t him though! lol). And snorkeling with sharks? Yikes! Yeah, I might skip that area then! lol

  4. Hello Charlie,

    Wow!!! The expression on the puppy’s face and in his eyes is so real! Made me feel like Im in the pool with him. I love your “smelly human soup” description of a public pool (and I agree). Ha ha haaaa…. My parents got me to learn swimming when I was ten but I didnt enjoy it at all. Despite being a Cancerian, I somehow don’t like to immerse myself in waterbodies. Like you, I love walking in the rain and getting drenched. And if that can be followed by a mug of hot chocolate or coffee and cookies, that is my idea of a day well spent. 🙂


    1. Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Glad I’m not alone there… yeah… pools are not my thing at all, unless it’s just me and few people I know. But I’d rather brave the rain and have that hot chocolate! 😉

  5. Our dog was so terrified of water that she’d walk around a splash of water on the sidewalk and had to lift one paw when being bathed. But most dogs seem to enjoy swimming as much as your little paddler here, happily surfing the waves.

  6. Ah come on! He is adorable! I’m not much of a water person either. Just my feet and I am happy. We survived the wedding. Now to wait for two weeks to see if we come down with something. There were about 200 people there and about 90% were not wearing masks. So annoying. We kept ours on and didn’t stay for the reception. It would have been a lovely wedding if it hadn’t been for the heat. It was at a beautiful home on 80 acres surrounded by trees. The backdrop of the wedding was Mt. Hood. Unfortnately we have a fire going in the Gorge and it made for a hazy view.

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 It sounds like it was still quite lovely… what fabulous scene. But yeah… lots of people who didn’t get the memo is always frustrating. Here’s to happy, restful and healthy days ahead!

  7. What a delightful painting.the expression on the pups face is again priceless…I think a lot of folks are keeping their heads above water in these trying times..Thank goodness for the daily getaway of drawing painting, creating!!! Have a great day!

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