My Favorite Person

Day 17 #WorldWatercolorGroup My Favorite Person Leonardo da Vinci Aerial Screw

Of course my favorite living person would be my partner, Philippe, but long before we ever met, I’ve been a fan of Leonardo da Vinci. When I was young, I was fascinated by the reproductions of the intricate drawings from his sketchbooks. These, I would find in National Geographic magazines, art books, and encyclopedias because the internet didn’t exist yet. He was a much more prolific sketcher than he was a painter and his sketchbooks are a treasure trove of ideas. This is the unfortunately named aerial screw which many people credit as being the first time someone came up with an idea for our modern helicopter. An invention that would come over 400 years later. This one, mysteriously powered by four men working the crank at the bottom, would never have actually worked, but it’s a beautiful example of what it looks like to dream big.

Leonardo da Vinci inspired me to always look for new solutions rather than simply be content with what the world is currently delivering to me. Unlike, da Vinci, however, I would write down my ideas as words rather than images. I always envied the people I worked with who could sketch things. It seemed like such a magical ability and a much more effective way to envision ideas. My early attempts at sketching in my notes were horrific. My sketches of ideas looked like a group of stick figures got drunk at a party and decided to culminate the evening with a suicide pact. I assumed I was just a man of words and would leave drawing to those who were more talented. Until last year when I finally decided to go for it and start sketching and painting regularly. That’s when I realized something important that da Vinci was trying to teach me. Practice.

The countless sketchbooks that he filled were not only a means of getting ideas onto paper, but the very method of becoming a skilled draftsman. Looking at his earliest drawings you can see that there are hints of talent, but they pale in comparison to his later works. Heralded a “genius,” the reality is that he simply never stopped making things. If you make something each and every day, you’ll continue to improve. It’s a sinisterly simple formula. When others look at da Vinci and see someone with immense talent, they forget that they’re looking at someone who really just had immense discipline and a true passion. This is what drives me today. I’m not trying to become a great painter or sketcher so much as simply trying to learn something new each and every day. As da Vinci once said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.”

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M. Graham Watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Gamboge, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.

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45 Comments
  1. Jodi 1 year ago

    WOWWWWW! Seriously Charlie?! What a challenging subject you tackled to paint and rocked it! And what an inspiration you are with your words AND talented art! Blown away – – – again….

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much, Jodi!! 😃💕 Yeah… I’m no da Vinci! hehe… so wasn’t sure about trying this one. Glad you liked it!

  2. amazing doodle Charlie and thank you for the reminder of practicing drawing, of which I have yet to tackle seriously. I always get swayed by wanting to paint….again here’s to Leonardo and you!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Margaret! 😃💕 Yeah, I think drawing is at the base of all art. Even abstract! Hehe Leonardo had a great idea!

  3. Teri C 1 year ago

    DaVinci was certainly an amazing and inspiring person. And you are a great example of that. Your piece today is pretty darn amazing also!

  4. Jacob 1 year ago

    A fine answer to this prompt indeed – I’m sure Philippe won’t mind too much! 😉 Your doodlewash has all the ambition and wonder of Da Vinci’s vision – beautifully done, and looks as though you and he are on a similar wavelength!

    • Author

      Thanks, Jacob! 😃 Hehe… yeah… I dodged the human portrait pretty well with this I thought! Lol I saw this one come up and I’m like… yeah… I put that in there for other people who like that sort of thing. I’m sticking to things and gadgets!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Haha, yes, I thought that too! (shakes fist) Sneaky devil!

  5. Oh how wonderful this is Charlie! It took me right back to my visit to Leonard De Vinci’s last home in the Loire Valley of France.

    There I saw quite a few of his wonderful sketches, design plans, and his yard was filled with many contraptions that he’d built. One was flying machine! I had my photo taken with that one I think. I’d have to look back through my archives to find that image. It was quite a few ago now. It was a fantastic place to tour. I’ve never forgotten it, and would love to return there one day.

    I splurged and bought two of the same book about his works and life one in English and the other French while there.

    Your watercolor of his helicopter is just as good as his drawings!

    • Follow up: It was in 2008 that I was at Da Vinci’s last home in Amboise, Fr. …way too long ago! I did have a snapshot taken under his helicopter! The very same image you have so brilliantly painted!
      The town is wonderful. I’ve longed to go back and stay a bit longer than I did that trip.

      He was a man who lived here WAY BEFORE HIS TIME! Truly he was avant garde! Thanks for the memories Charlie! xx

      • Author

        hehe… just caught up to this comment!! I was wondering about that… It was Amboise for me as well!!

    • Author

      Awww… that’s quite a compliment, Deborah! Thank you!! 😃💕 There was actually a da Vinci exbibit here, but I enjoyed the one in Amboise, France the most! It’s his house and final resting place. Unfortunately, they were fixing something so I didn’t get to see the upstairs. Maybe next time!

  6. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    WOWZA!! You are so right, Charlie!! Practice does make a difference! 🎨💕😍 I also believe that finding something that brings you JOY makes the journey so much more enJOYable! Wonderful post today – both art and writing!! 💜🌟🎨

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jill! 😃💕 So glad you enjoyed the post! yeah… it’s something we all know, but after a year of daily non-stop practice I figured I could confirm… it works way better! hehe… but yep… you gotta really love it!! Whatever it is you’re wanting to master!

  7. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    No need to choose
    Nothing to lose
    Phillipe lives in Charlie’s heart
    Leonardo in Doodlewash art

  8. jpeters6248 1 year ago

    Wow! I can’t believe you didn’t seriously start sketching until last year. That’s amazing. Your sketches and paintings look like they are done by someone who has been sketching all their lives. Makes me want to start drawing and painting again. I have always been too critical of my drawing, but I guess if I can finally start writing the stories I have always wanted to write, then I guess I can draw too. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Author

      So thrilled you were inspired!! Yay!! 😃💕 You should definitely draw and paint again. If you love it, of course! That’s the real key to practice… it only works with things you truly love. I was the same with writing… and this blog has also meant I’ve been writing daily (well… rambling on in words really), so it’s been a fun experience!

  9. GeorgieMoon 1 year ago

    A great story and a wonderful sketch. I love the colours!

  10. Yes, here, here, for the great man himself, I must admit to never having seen the ‘ screw’ an impressive invention, despite its inability to function in accordance to its intended use, steampunk era at its best, lol, discovery and invention, a very interesting time in history. All the time thay must have had to be constructive before the big time wasting internet popped up, he he….I think he would love to see the helicopter, a more modern version that works. The screw may have been poor in its function, but he was right practice pays off!! Art blogging is proof of that to the world, beginner to expert Charlie 😀

    • Author

      Awww… thanks, Rebecca! 😃💕 It’s been an awesome journey so far! And yeah… I wonder what da Vinci would think of the world today. He’d probably think we aren’t thinking big enough or moving fast enough still. hehe

  11. An astonishing painting and another thoughtful post. That curiosity and love of learning something new is essential to a life well lived, I’d say.

  12. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Wise words, and another beautiful rendering. What a mind he had! (K)

  13. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Malcom Gladwell wrote in Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours of learning one’s craft to become masterful. No surprise that Leo got better the more he sketched. No surprise that anyone gets better with lots of practice. Though I do think Leo had a genius mind to begin with.

    • Author

      Yeah… I read that about the 10,000 hours and it was just depressing. Lol Based on my little hour a day it looks like I won’t have become a masterful painter/sketcher until I’m 72! LOL

  14. Phil Cooper 1 year ago

    great words and a great image Charlie, a lovely post, thank you!

  15. Josh Glover 1 year ago

    Excellent post with a beautiful sketch to accompany the well crafted words, da Vinci truly is an inspirational being and my favourite person of history. Thanks for sharing!

  16. brygydmyry 1 year ago

    I was just thinking you have such good writing skills! You come up with a composition everyday, not just a drawing.

  17. […] I read a blog post by Charlie O’Shields titled “My Favorite Person” where he talks about being inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, a man that worked on and pursued […]

  18. jmnowak 1 year ago

    I’ve a bone to pick, Charlie! My favorite person = a drawing of the first helicopter, not Philippe or even da Vinci! My favorite restaurant = a plate of food, not the exterior of the restaurant itself. What’s going on?!! ‘Tho I must say I liked the gadgets in your favorite place at home, the kitchen. There was a metallic E.T. in there, if you look closely — I liked that one! <3

    • Author

      Haha! You know I dislike painting portraits, and as for the building. I had every intent of sketching the restaurant but realized I didn’t have a good source photo or time to go there and sketch it! Lol Also when you only have 30 minutes…food is way faster than whole buildings! 😊😊 As is anything without a background! It’s a trick that keeps me painting even though I have less time lately. But I’ll be sketching buildings and scenes again when I got to Paris next month!! 😃

      • jmnowak 1 year ago

        OK, I guess I’m gonna have ta forgive ya! LOL. Parisd and seriously brief building sketches are fine with me! Paris in early Fall should be spectacular; enjoy! I expect to see a series of ‘postcards’ from Paris…. 🙂

      • Author

        hehe… we’ll see what comes out! I never know until I start sketching! 😉

      • jmnowak 1 year ago

        Keep the idea in the back of your mind and it will come naturally, after a while! Check thirtyninepines blog for an idea or two. Cheeri-pip. ‘Tis late and I must get my beauty sleep…hahaha!!! 🙂

  19. Margriet Bierens 1 year ago

    Your buildings Charlie? I will look forwards to it! And Paris, yeah that,s my town, paint it many times in acryl so did not post it here.
    This post and painting of Leonardo was different from your other posts! I didn’t know what to answer although I find it a good post and painting, also interesting. Perhaps it was because I expected to see a longlasted portrait from your hand?
    Still it!s a story to think over (hope that,s the right word)
    I am studying for many years now art/architecture history and buildings got my special interest from the beginning of thuis fantastic study.

    • Author

      Thanks, Margriet! 😃💕 Yeah… I don’t enjoy painting portraits of people at all, so I tend to avoid them entirely. I’m not sure why exactly, but it just doesn’t inspire me! 😊 But I started out painting buildings last year… doing sketches of France and my home city of Kansas City. Last time we visited friends and family in Paris I wasn’t sketching or painting yet so it will be fun to go back next month and sketch! I don’t like painting on location as much though, so I usually add colors later indoors with my glass of wine. 😊hehe

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