For our prompt of “Olives” today, I decided to doodle an olive branch with various colors of olives. Not sure if all of these varieties would live on the same branch, but since an olive branch is a symbol of peace and unity, it seemed fitting to include them all together. Indeed, I’ve often said, and truly believe, that while it’s wonderful to have things in common, it’s our differences that make life so interesting. I’m always excited to see what everyone creates for these prompts, as it’s truly a fabulous celebration of uniqueness and creativity. And most of all, it’s so inspiring to draw and paint together. The world has become a wild and uncertain place these days, so it’s nice to know that some things remain consistently wonderful. I hope everyone out there is staying happy and healthy during this time. And yes, if you find yourself at home more, then I absolutely think a sketchbook is one of the best things we can have in our possession to keep things interesting. There’s always something new to experience with a little bit of line and color!

For this particular sketch, I decided to use only four colors and create greens that are a touch more natural than my usual bright leaf greens. I still ended up with bright and jewel tones, as that’s always my preference, but it was a fun experiment. In truth, it was a busy and stressful work day so I enjoyed getting a bit lost in making leaves and olives. I didn’t have a single reference, but just sort of glanced at some photos of olives and then made up my own little olive branch from there. This is something that I had always longed to do when I first started sketching stuff. I wanted to be able to sit down and just make anything that came to mind. But, I couldn’t do that yet, so I dutifully sketched each reference and learned ideas about light, color, and shape. It’s been nearly five years of daily sketching now, which if you told me it would take me this long at the beginning I might have just given up. Instead, I simply resigned myself to the process, knowing that one day it would happen if I just kept practicing, one day, while making one little sketch at a time.

Looking back, I remember all of my internal dialogue that I had with myself during those first few years. I would cheer myself on in the same hopeful way that I would do for others, but would secretly be rather tough on myself. Some days, I dreaded posting what I made, because I didn’t think it was very good at all. Other times, I would post something I thought turned out great only to have no time whatsoever to sketch the following day and feeling like what I made was rushed and inadequate. Interestingly, I remember some of those “failures” far more than any of those “successes.” When I see them now, I see things I missed seeing back then. Little choices of line and color that even if rushed, were rather inspired. Indeed, some of the rarest sketches that I spent more than my usual precious 30-45 minutes making, aren’t always better than the ones I leapt through quickly. There’s always something more than technique happening that makes a certain bit of art special. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling that’s hard to describe. Yet, I’ve learned that, more often than not, we do need to be gentle with ourselves when creating things, and whenever possible take a soulful moment to extend an olive branch.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta,  and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!
Olive Branch Colorful Watercolor Painting Botanical Illustration Sketchbook Detail


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40 thoughts on “Olive Branch

  1. Wonderful Charlie and a symbol of peace is much needed now. I seriously don’t want to leave my little piece of the world right now. People seem to be supportive and hopeful here. We try to support the local businesses as best we can as we have a special area here and are a bit isolated from the chaos that seems to be getting worst. I agree that continuing to focus on art helps. Stay safe!

  2. Ray Bradbury used to say that the whole point of learning technique was so that when the time came, you could step back and let your muse use them. It certainly feels sometimes like my muse is doing that. Then, at other times, she do not want to play!

  3. “There’s always something more than technique happening that makes a certain bit of art special. ” Charlie, I highlight these tasty morsels of wisdom because I think they are so important. That statement holds true for anything creative. Studying technique is great but the magic has to come from somewhere!

    and those olives would taste so good in my salad!

    1. Thanks, so much, Sarah! 😃💕I truly believe that art of any kind becomes awesome for reasons well beyond technique. There’s something visceral there. And that’s why it’s fun to create to see what might manage to happen each day!

  4. Greenest toward the tip, darkest toward the trunk. one of my friends had an ornamental Russian olive in her back yard. Nothing wrong with it in general, it just smelled so bad I couldn’t stand being around it in the spring. A friend and her two daughters were here today. We walked down the trail and the girl’s curiosity was so cool to watch.

  5. The coloring on this is so beautiful. I’ve been sketching/painting on sketching paper. It is a challenge because it is not very forgiving if wetted too much. However, I noticed when I went back to watercolor paper, I was able to get better results easier than before. I also like using my big sketchbook because I feel like a kid with a big ol’ coloring book, no fears!

  6. Once again, beautiful art and words. Gentleness and magic seem to enjoy each other’s company. Thank you for reminding us Charlie!

  7. Love it!!All the pretty colors you included…and I feel a kindred spirit here even though some of my sketches/paintings are not very good..I know if I keep at it one day at a time things will get better and so will this time!

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