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.
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.
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!