Northern Lights

Polar Bear Mother Baby Northern Lights Watercolor Painting Illustration

For our prompt of “Northern Lights” today, I painted an aurora being enjoyed by a mother polar bear and her cub. I grabbed a larger sketchbook than usual for this one as I wanted to really play and splash around a lot of color. I couldn’t find my masking fluid so I just used bits of masking tape to jaggedly tape over my polar bears like a lunatic. My inner child was having a blast! Though, when he decided to happily start spraying on stars with a toothbrush, my inner adult had to jump in and clean things up before Philippe came downstairs and saw the mess. I’m not fastidious when it comes to my art. I just like playing with color as a child might. Though, I’ve never seen the northern lights, also called polar lights, in person. Indeed, it’s one of those bucket list things I’d like to do someday. Nature always comes up with the most magical ways to impress us.

Philippe and I were talking about how it’s been so long since we’ve had a proper vacation or taken a trip of any kind. We didn’t quite get one scheduled last autumn as intended and now, well, things have really changed on that front. We’ve discussed the idea of a road trip, but the only safe options these days involve someplace remote and uninhabited. And, while that’s alluring and it might make for a lovely way to spend the afternoon, we’d still like to be home by dinner if we’re not able to freely sample a local restaurant. So, we’re just staying home these days, and dreaming of what we’ll first do one day. It’s strikes me that the benefit of this little break in life is that one can begin to prioritize a bucket list. There’s so much magic to be found in the world, what would I most like to experience next? I’m not sure of the precise answer to that question, perhaps you’ve thought about it and already know. I’m just taking things one day at a time and taking my own sweet time in figuring it all out.

One thing I know is that I’m still loving sketching stuff each day. And, I’m determined to grab a few extra precious minutes when I can. I want to learn so many things and I’ve so much practice ahead of me. Today, was only the second time I’ve ever attempted to paint an aurora and this one turned out a bit better than the last. Indeed, if one wants to matter such a thing, one should take more than a couple tries at it. But, I’m not certain it’s an aurora I want to master in painting, I simply want to see one in real life. For my sketches these days, I want to keep making up my own little compositions and sketching stories. Or, at least the start of a story. This one has a thousand possibilities, like those thousand twinkling stars in the sky. Trust, there were a thousand, but not all of them made it into the painting. I think the majority ended up on the floor or the kitchen counter. Don’t tell Philippe. All of the evidence has been cleaned by now. But one day, when we can all move around properly again, I just might make that trip, and finally see the northern lights.

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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Hansa Yellow Medium, Opus (Vivid Pink), Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine (Green Shade), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink  in an A4 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!
Polar Bear Mother Baby Northern Lights Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
44 Comments
  1. dreamsgate 2 months ago

    LOL, everytime I paint it ends up on the floor, table, me, my dog and anyone else who wanders by. My husband just shakes his head and rolls his eyes.

  2. Claire McArthur 2 months ago

    Fantastic aurora – it’s on my wish list too. This was to be my year of travel but maybe next year 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Claire! 😃💕 Yes, maybe next year… and if you see an aurora let me know!!

  3. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    This is beautiful, Charlie!! My aurorat and stars ended up all over the desk, computer monitor and cat. Spattering requires exuberance and total abandon :-D.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 YAY for that! Splattering is sooooo fun!!

  4. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    Wonderful Charlie! Yes, I hope that you to get to travel and that you get to see nature’s light display in person. It is awesome!

  5. Eduardo Cabrera Campos 2 months ago

    fascinante, Charlie, me gusto, muy linda tu acuarela

  6. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    I’ve about given up on the idea of splattering because I’ve already got too many clothes and too much furniture with them, and my paintings always end up with too little of them. I’m not one to give up easily but the neighbors were beginning to talk!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      haha!! Yeah, I keep my splatter to rare moments for the same reason! 😉

  7. Lisa 2 months ago

    Every once in a while we get to see the northern lights here. I always feel lucky when we do. We used to see them over lake Michigan when I lived in Door County. I was out picking green beans today. They were delicious. I was glad though that I didn’t choose beans for my WWM object to paint. Except to eat them, green beans are kind of boring. One painting and you’ve sucked all the fun out of that subject. Speaking of subjects, I loved the guest artist today. Her bugs were amazing!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Oh wow!! That’s so fantastic you got to see the lights, Lisa! 😃💕 And so happy you enjoyed the guest artist!!

  8. Jacob 2 months ago

    Well, I think you certainly captured the magic of this natural phenomenon – and the aurora too! Totally charming. Ever considered Doodlewash greeting cards? 😉

    • Laura Kate 2 months ago

      Great suggestion, Jacob.

      • Author
        Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

        I’m still looking into it! 😉 As I mentioned to Jacob, I found a pack of 8 all the same. Not quite sure what people would want.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww thanks so much, Jacob!! 😃💕 So happy you liked this one. Yeah, I looked into greeting cards, but they weren’t available with my printer. I think they are now, but it’s a set of 8 all the same. Not sure if that’s too many or not. 😊

      • Jacob 2 months ago

        I knew you’d have it covered!

  9. Marisela Delgado 2 months ago

    I love, love, love polar bears and beautiful night skies! I just watched a PBS program on color in the universe and they followed a family obsessed with the Northern Lights. They look so beautiful! Like you, I want to see them in person. I also want to see polar bears in their natural habitat. Beautiful painting, Charlie! Love it! 😊 As for what I want to do after the pandemic, I want to go out to eat. I want to travel. In the end, I just want to walk out safely. 😊 Side note: my mother and I were watching animal videos and they showed a video of a Basenji, standing on a piano and howling. I thought of my little friend, Phineas. Does he howl? Basenjis are rumored to howl a lot.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 Yay for going out to eat again! hehe… and yeah, basenjis are known to yodel, but Phineas never really does that much. Unless he’s staying in a pet resort and there’s another basenji there. 😉 I guess he knows we wouldn’t understand him properly.

  10. Zertab Quaderi 2 months ago

    Beautiful!

  11. Gary Middleton 2 months ago

    Beautiful doodle ,Charlie. I didnt do this prompt because i can never get a smooth blend between colours, I get mud.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 I did two test tries before this one… both mud. On the last I kept my paint farther away… leaving more white. Things bled and did crazy things, but the contrast stayed at least!

  12. Mugdha 2 months ago

    Hello Charlie,

    I’ve never seen the northern lights in person either (and that’s definitely on my wish list) but Im sure you’ve captured it all perfectly. Today’s doodlewash is magical – no other word for it. I remember splattering paint with a toothbrush for an art project in school and though what I was working on didn’t come out well, my extra ‘flyaway’ splatters had miraculously landed on brown paper in a pattern that looked like a butterfly. My teacher had given me an A for the butterfly – C for the actual project. 😉 What do your flyaway splatters look like?

    Love,
    Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Aww that’s cool you got an A for splatters! I think sometimes we’re at our best when we’re not overthinking things. As for my splatters… the ones I cleaned off the floor looked a bit like bunnies again somehow. hehe

  13. LoriCtoo 2 months ago

    Soooooo beautiful! You need to do this more often. Yeah, splattering is an evil techinque. So fun when it actually lands on the projects, evil when you see some on the furniture months later. Been there done that. Look around, you might find more…..teehehehehehe.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 hehe! Yeah, I’d do this more, but it takes a lot of time and I never have that. Well, not the splattering bit… that’s just crazy fun!

  14. alice 2 months ago

    your polar bears are magnificent with the lights reflecting on them! this has to be a favorite of your paintings for me. I grew up in Newfoundland, Canada and was blessed to see the northern lights a few times. they really are this wonderful in person. I hope you get to enjoy them one day.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much,, Alice! 😃💕 Aww I’m so thrilled you enjoyed this one! So awesome you saw the northern lights! I hope to one day!

  15. Fatima Chamkha 2 months ago

    Great doodle with polar bears and the glow of colors in the back

  16. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 months ago

    Here it is – Journey to the Northern Lights, your illustrated adventure book. This is so beautiful, with the rainbow of the aurora borealis reflected in the bears’ white fur and on the ice. It’s good that you can make do with materials on hand – masking tape and splattering toothbrush subbing for masking pen. We’ve all had to make do for the past6 months or so and likely for another year during this Covid crisis. You’ve done well to make the best of what’s available in the cupboard. See, the cupboard isn’t bear at all. (I know, really stupid pun.)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed this one! hehe… yay for a pun! I’m a sucker for those… you made me smile so big! Thank you!!

  17. Susan Masters 2 months ago

    Beautifully done I adore the bears and the spatters which are my fav thing to do but I keep a lid on them cuz of the paint flinging about!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Susan! 😃💕 Yeah, splatters sure are messy fun!

  18. Nellie Nellie 2 months ago

    Yes Charlie, we’re dreaming! For now we too are enjoying your take on the Northern lights! (Not trying to figure out which bug spray is least toxic but will deter mosquitos the size if B-52s) Somehow I believe this delay in departures will make the places we head more precious and being together with our loved ones RIGHT NOW something we never take for granted again! I love the peaceful personalities if your polars, I think they may be telling us a little paint splatter in paradise is ok😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much!! 😃💕 Aww I love that thought. I’m sure that’s what these polar bears are telling us!

  19. Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

    Awesome sky and colors reflected in the bears!

  20. shawnthompsonart 2 months ago

    Nice painting, I really like how you captured the lights and the polar bears.

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