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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About the Doodlewash

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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44 thoughts on “My Favorite Person

  1. 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….

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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

    2. 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!

  4. 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!! 💜🌟🎨

    1. 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!

  5. 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!

    1. 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!

  6. 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 😀

  7. 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.

  8. 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

    1. 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!! 😃

      1. 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…. 🙂

          1. 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!!! 🙂

  9. 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.

    1. 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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