When met with our Doodlewash prompt of barn, I only thought of various animals and living creatures that I encountered on my grandparent’s farm. I first considered painting a goat, as I really loved them, especially the babies, but I ended up with a barn owl instead. These are wildly strange and beautiful creatures, made to precisely mimic the wooden surroundings they are hiding in. If anyone tried the Doodlewash and Inktober mashup, you’d have ended up with a “scorched barn” today, which could be rather dramatic, but not really something I wanted to sketch. I would just spend all of my time worrying about those poor goats inside. And though there were many animals I experienced in the various barns on that farm during my visits, the owl somehow still managed to be the one in charge of things. I’m not sure why really, but that somehow innocent face combined with the insight and talons of a pure predator made it the most intriguing creature in the mix. But yeah, I still think the goats were my favorite, but I will always have a profound respect for that creature in the barn.
What I miss most about being an adult now, is that I don’t have a farms to visit anymore. Though owls will occasionally make their home outside our window, I miss seeing the cows, goats, chickens, and pigs. But perhaps, what I miss even more is the escape that a farm provides. I live in a the city and though it’s not quite yet the dense concrete jungle of larger cities, it’s certainly heading in that direction. The term “concrete jungle” always makes me giggle, as most things in America today are all created “on the cheap” now, so new structures are never really built of sturdy concrete. They’re instead built of a lot of cheap wood, fewer nails, and bits of hope. There’s a large complex of new apartments going up near us and we’ve watched the progress while taking our dog Phineas on walks. It reminds me of the story The Three Little Pigs each time we pass it. I’m rather certain that the house built of sticks isn’t the winner of that particular story. It strikes me that nearly everything in life these days is built to last only a small amount of time. Something better and more, whatever, will surely come to replace it in the future.
Perhaps that’s why I often gravitate towards living things and other odd items that have managed to survive over the years. I like life best with a bit of lineage. A past that can connect with present to create the full story. Though I adore experiencing all of the “new” that the world has to offer, I experience it for what it is in the moment. I’ll have to wait 20 years or so from now to decide if those things are still fascinating or even worthy of discussion. Most will become forgotten relics, but some things will become timeless and wonderful. It’s impossible sometimes, in the moment, to tell which things will achieve such grandeur. Yet, the natural word, remains ever fascinating to me. In many ways, it’s never really changed that much over time, yet still holds so many unanswered questions. Each time I hear an owl hooting in the distance, I’m transported back to that barn in the middle of nature and all of its vastness. A place where I didn’t have to worry about the demands of my so-called “modern” life and could just relax into the exquisite joy of owls and other stories.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click Here!
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!