One of the joys of blogging each day, at least the way I approach it, is that I have absolutely no idea what will appear here until the very moment that it does. Today, in answer to our prompt, we ended up with a quick little doodlewash of a duck reflected in the water. There’s something so wonderfully calm about seeing a duck swimming by. They seem to move in an enviably effortless way. I wish I had half of that grace, but I’m generally quite clumsy. Much of the time, this is caused by my horrible impatience. My excitement about moving forward makes me rush into to just about everything that I do. I take only a few minutes to mentally prepare for a project and then happily jump right in and start doing it. This can be considered impetuous to someone who likes to make a solid plan, but it’s really just a “build to think” approach. I come up with ideas by actually jumping in to DO them and learn as I go. This doesn’t always create an environment of smooth swimming like this little duck is enjoying, but it does make creating incredibly fun! I prefer my messy process, because I adore being astonished along the way. Life, to me, is never better than when it’s granted the ability to surprise and delight us.
I’ve tried many times to sit down and truly prepare an idea. I’ve attempted to fully outline all of the steps and carefully think about the outcome I would like in the process. This is something I’ve attempted for books I wanted to write, for example. Each time I try, however, my brain sort of shuts off part way through and I’m left with nothing much at all. It’s just not how I think. I sometimes feel I’m a bit like the first watch that Philippe bought for me. The kind that runs, not on batteries, but on physical movement. When I’m in the act of making something my brain is firing at full speed, and everything happens automatically. But when I stop to think about it or, as is more often the case, overthink about it, nothing much happens at all. Weirdly, I actually adore learning about processes and structure, but I prefer to overlay that knowledge on something I’ve already created than to begin there. I simply use those ideas as a gauge to determine whether what I’ve done is the best that it could be, but not to get there in the first place. Many times, I’ll come up with something that doesn’t quite fit the mold while approaching life this way and those are the best moments of all.
Yet, also, I can often find that what I create doesn’t quite fit into the accepted paradigms that came before me. I’m back to being that little boy that I once was, who didn’t quite fit in, and whose work couldn’t be so easily categorized. For example, I’ve always had a dream to write a fictional novel, yet most of my ideas and concepts defy the standard categories that exist today. One might think this could be considered breakthrough, but the reality is that successful breakthroughs are extremely rare. In truth, it’s usually far better to plan a bit in advance and ensure that what you’re doing is going to fit inside some predetermined mold. It’s honestly the best way to guarantee success. But, for the life of me, I can’t seem to function this way. Instead, you’ll find me just doing whatever comes to mind each day instead. I’m not planning so much as bumbling forward in search of that next bit of personal truth. And, just maybe, that’s the very definition of an artist. Or, at least, I’d like to think so in these thoughtful moments of reflection.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue (my “Shiny” Trio!) + Cobalt Turquoise. 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!
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!