When the prompt of river came up for today, I wasn’t sure what I would make at first as I don’t usually paint landscapes and that was the first thing that came to mind. Rivers and lakes are the only large bodies of water that I grew up near living in the Midwest. There are many lakes nearby and though I find them beautiful to view, swimming in them always sort of freaks me out. Jumping into deep water off a boat can be fun, but if you enter from the shore, you’re likely to find yourself knee deep in mud and other mysteries. The ducks, however, always seemed to be enjoying themselves, slowly gliding across the water, stopping only occasionally to tend to something ruffling their feathers. When a row of ducks decided to grab a bite to eat under the water at the same time, they’d all partially disappear and you’d suddenly be greeted with a row of duck butts. It was a joy to watch and comical at the same time. I almost sketched that, but when painting a mallard duck, the head is one of the prettiest parts.

One thing I think is rather interesting is the term used to describe these types of ducks. The ones that bob under water and go bottoms up to eat vegetation, insects and larvae. They’re called “dabbling ducks” which is referring the first definition of dabble, to immerse a part of your body in water. But the more commonly used version seems to refer more often to the second definition, to take part in an activity in a casual way. People often talk how they dabbled in something when they were young to refer to a something they no longer do. One of these things is often drawing or painting or other forms of art. But, for me, part of the fun of making something each day has been because I’m still just dabbling. I’m not trying to feverishly learn the absolute correct way to paint with watercolor or to correct way to write each day. I’m just jumping in with childish glee and having a lot of fun. While I do think it’s wonderful to study and pursue learning more of your craft as an artist, you’ll learn the most about yourself if you, if during the times in between, you just keep right on dabbling.

When I first started painting, I jumped in and took a lot of wonderful classes that are wonderful! You can find them all by clicking here. It was a blast and these instructors are amazing, and literally nothing I made looked anything like what they just taught me. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying it immensely. I’ll happily take more in the future when I have some extra time, but in the meantime, I revisit these courses and just keep right on dabbling. That word sounds like someone who isn’t taking things very seriously, and in my case, you’d be right. I’m not a serious person. I love to joke, and giggle and try whatever comes to mind in the moment. When things get too serious it sucks all the fun out of it for me. I don’t think making new things should ever feel stressful. Like the stress we can put on ourselves to try to constantly improve. Why? It happens whether we like it or not when we create something daily. I say, DO what you love with the same casual joy that made you start doing it in the first place. Sometimes, it’s always good to remember that it’s perfectly okay to still feel a bit like a dabbling duck.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Phthalo Green, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Blue.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 18 - A Swim In The River - Duck - Doodlewash

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32 thoughts on “Like A Dabbling Duck

  1. Your duck painting is loaded with charm, Charlie Dabble. As I’ve nearly always lived near one oceanic coast or the other, lakes make me squeamish, partly for the icky feel when strolling in. I’m also frightened of being in water where I can’t see the bottom, so you can tell I don’t go far into the ocean. But there is much to be said for standing at the shoreline, whether sea, lake, or river, and watching the water as it ripples or crests or laps in place. I like the way you painted the concentric circles around the mallard, interrupted by his shadow.

  2. I love your dabbling duck! I’ve always had people urging me to try selling my work, and when I was younger I tried a few times – only to find I suddenly hated what I was doing. It made me come at what I was doing from someone else’s perspective instead of my own and I would quit art all together. Nowadays, I just nod when people suggest I sell and tell them I’ll have to think about it.

  3. I love this mallard duck. Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay, I remember quite a few decoy carvers and bird painters. Mallards were one of their favorites to paint or carve. You have done a great job with the colors and the position of the ducks head….just beautiful.

  4. Great painting of the mallard. We’ve been lucky a few years when a couple would hang out in our yard and pool. Weeks later the female would appear with ducklings in tow. They would all be swimming in the pool, but the ducklings would be too small to get out, after jumping in. We would have to rescue them with our skimmer net! Once out, mama would keep them away, at least until she had a new brood the following year.

  5. I so agree with you Sandra, I’m going to be doing a small art show (maybe) in March. But I don’t really care if anything sells or not, I paint for me. I am fascinated with paint and color and Ihave dabbled a lot! I’m still dabbling to really just play but I do love learning and I try lots of things.

    1. Yes to that Karen! 😃💕 I think that we should always make sure we’re still painting for ourselves and not just for others. It’s definitely possible to do both at the same time and that’s what I always strive to do!

  6. Charlie, I love your dabbling duck. AND your philosophy of life. You sound like afun guy.
    I love to laugh and have a good time. Painting is soooo much fun I feel like a kid again when I’m painting. I am fascinated at how good you are and you said you haven’t been painting that long. Looks to me like you can just sit down and whip out a painting of anything. I am intrigued.
    I might add You are a really interesting writer. Love to read the posts. 🙃

    1. And you’ve got me blushing all over with that string of wonderful compliments! 😊 Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 I’m actually an Art major, but it was in computer graphics. I took one acrylic class in college and that was the extent of my painting. Over 20 years later, I decided to give it another go and thank goodness I found watercolor. It was the medium for me!

  7. Love that duck…perfectly realistic…I’m thinking that dabbling duck is a mallard.
    The green head caught my eye. I’m guessing you know that green has been
    proved to be a mood elevator. You just proved that once again. The writing
    is a joy too.

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