There’s a rather curious tale known as The Frog Prince. Versions of the story have appeared in folklore and one of the more commonly known is Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s version. In this telling of the story a spoiled princess loses a golden ball, a frog helps her retrieve it, she makes a promise to be a companion to the frog, tries to break it, then is told by the king she shouldn’t be such a jerk and break her promises. It all ends rather alarmingly with her throwing the frog against the wall in desperation and he magically transforms back into a prince. Oddly, in all of the original written versions of this tale, there’s never a mention of any kiss breaking the spell, though the violent ending was thankfully later replaced with having the frog spend three nights on the princess’s pillow. Despite it never being a part of the story, somewhere along the way the idea that the princess kissed the frog to break the spell became commonplace. That’s the fun of folk tales. And it also prompted the phrase, “sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.”
I’ve always been fascinated with folk tales, mostly because the story we often know today is so different from the original. This is probably good in the case of The Frog Prince as there’s even a Scottish version where the princess takes an axe and chops off the frog’s head. The weird part here is that it immediately says “behold, there stood before her a handsome young prince” and we have only the word handsome to assume he even still had a head. Seems the modern retelling of a kiss is probably the best bet in the end. And just the idea of kissing a few frogs to find a prince is a fun concept. In fact, I often feel like that’s the case with my daily paintings. Some turn out really well and others are just so-so, but I keep right on going, frog after frog, until that one that breaks through and feels a bit more exceptional. And like a good folk tale, I learn a little something with each painting and each story along the way.
In truth, sometimes I learn a lot more from my less successful illustrations. Things I take to heart and do differently the next time. And for that, I rather love those little bloopers that I have along the way. They teach me so much! Oh sure, I’ve had some watercolor paintings that I really did want to throw against the wall like that princess in the original fairytale, but I never do. Instead, I post them, whatever came out and ramble on here with whatever comes out next. By the way, I do rather like how my frog turned out today. The first frog I ever painted was an Aprils Fools Day optical illusion that was more of trick than a true study of a frog. But, as you know, I like to have a ton of fun along this journey! To me, it’s all a lovely game of trial and error and one I always find so rewarding. There’s no pressure when I know I’ll find that prince of a painting every few weeks. Until then, you’ll always find me, unashamedly and happily kissing a frog.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
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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!