The Joy Of Painting Fantasies

Day 17 - Siamese Fighting Fish Watercolor - Doodlewash

Today, while looking for something to sketch for our prompt of fish, I stumbled upon various photos of Siamese fighting fish. They are very beautiful and each one was wildly colorful and so different that I didn’t know how to choose one to paint. So, instead, I simply closed my laptop and sketched a couple from memory, having a blast making up my own little imagined fishy duo. I’ve no idea if all of their parts are there or in the right place, but I liked the way the composition turned out on my fantasy fish. I’ve only previously sketched dessert like this, since I’m much more familiar with that. It took a bit of courage to see if I could attempt to memorize the idea of something, which I’ve rarely ever painted, and then create my own version. Though these fish are known to fight with one another, I decided that in my fantasy world they would be good friends. That’s the beauty of art. We get to tell whatever story we choose. And though I’m known to tell stories of just about everything in life, I’m a devout optimistic. This way of living has the uncanny effect of always delivering a very happy ending.

This afternoon, Philippe and I went to go see The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which was silly and ridiculous and a perfectly wonderful way to spend some time. It was also a rather sweet movie that was really about having a good heart and working together. And, of course, since it’s a Lego movie, it was equally meant to inspire infinite creativity and imagination. It was a good reminder to play a bit more and trust my own creative instincts. Many times, when I sketch and paint, I can get a little lost in my references rather than focusing more on the painting itself. In truth, I don’t quite trust myself to draw everything properly and the photo references become a bit of a crutch. But, thinking back to my days playing with Lego as a kid, I remembered that although I would follow the instructions to create the set I received, I’d quickly ignore them and set off making whatever came to mind instead. It didn’t even occur to me that this wasn’t exactly what I should be doing next. It was wonderful to be told just how to do something, but it was even more wonderful to simply play and enjoy the surprise of the unexpected outcome.

I’ve so much more to try and do on my own art journey. And playing a bit more like I did today is definitely on the menu, along with more desserts of course. I’m still learning to trust myself and my own instincts. In other words, I’m still learning how to be the kid I once was and sketch and paint without overthinking things. I truly believe that learning to make art is more about relearning all of those things that we were born doing. Those innate skills that allowed us to grab that crayon and gleefully make marks on a page. While I actively and energetically recommend that people take all of the art classes that they can and learn the proper methods of drawing and painting, I think simply playing is always good to do as well. In between all of those tutorials and online classes, I think another fabulous exercise is to unplug and simply play with your art supplies. It’s a rejuvenating experience that allows one to reconnect with that inner child. Once you’ve had this adorable reunion, you’ll be rather surprised by the results when you take your next online course or follow along with that next awesome new tutorial. Never forget to take that inner child along with you on this art journey and revel in the joy of painting fantasies.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Benzimida Orange, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, and Indigo. 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!
Day 17 - Siamese Fighting Fish Watercolor Drawing - Sketchbook
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
24 Comments
  1. Susie M 6 months ago

    I really like your fish…. the color, and movement, and the fantasies they evoke. For some reason they remind me of mermaids!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much, Susie! 😃💕hehe… mermaids? That’s awesome!! I don’t often paint people, so that’s really cool! Love it!

  2. Sharon Nolfi 6 months ago

    Great rhythm in today’s sketch!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed it! I’m playing a bit more these days. hehe

  3. Sandra Strait 6 months ago

    I love your fantasy fish and they’ve got absolutely everything they need. I have to admit, that I do a lot of drawing strictly from my head, and I actually think it’s my best work. But I always feel the need to paint from references as well – they’re the challenge for me!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 Yeah, I agree… when I sketch and paint just looking at the paper, I’m often more pleased with what comes out. But, yep, painting from references is building a nice little visual library in my head, so it’s definitely fun to be able to use it!

  4. Mary Roff 6 months ago

    Fabulous fish, Charlie! Play is a good thing and painting from the imagination can be an adventure :-).

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Mary! 😃💕 Truly! I’ve been having some fun this month trying new little things. It’s been a blast!

  5. glacken2016 6 months ago

    Love the composition of your fish and the beautiful colors. Like Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much!! 😃💕 Yes! I live by that Picasso motto. It’s so true. Nobody needs to learn how to be an artist, they just need to remember the artist they once were.

  6. smzang 6 months ago

    Those Betas are breathtaking, the colors, the graceful movement conveyed, the way the lips are blowing bubbles (I can hear the water rippling and see the bubbles rising to the surface.) A new favorite!

    Charlie says, “I’m still learning how to be the kid I once was and sketch and paint without overthinking things. I truly believe that learning to make art is more about relearning all of those things that we were born doing.”

    Oh so very true. This painting and article are Little Charlie and “Old” Charlie in total harmony. beautiful! (ok…let me change that to “older” Charlie. )

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Sarah!! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed my Betta Fish! I’m trying some new things this month! hehe And haha! I’m find with Old Charlie… lol… it sounds wise, though I now all of his wisdom comes from the “Little” version.

  7. Lisa 6 months ago

    I was amused to watch Angela Fehr paint a demo without a reference. To be fair, she does that all the time, but recently she painted two mountains, some clouds, a cabin beside a big pine tree and and a path leading from the door of the cabin toward the viewer. It made me laugh because since I can remember, that has always been my go to drawing. And I don’t even live by mountains.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      hehe! Love that, Lisa! 😃💕 Yeah, I think that little cabin in the mountains is a dream inside all of us at some level. It’s a beautiful thought indeed!

  8. Claire McArthur 6 months ago

    Love your fish, the sweep of the tails, the colours, I love it all 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much, Claire! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed this… it was a bit of an experiment on my part!

  9. Snehlata Maheshwari. 6 months ago

    Lovely 🎏 so beautiful colours.

  10. LoriCtoo 6 months ago

    These fish are beautiful. I love the movement of their fins and tails. I use pictures as references all the time. I used to try to do it exactly like the picture, but lately I have let go of the exactness and it is freeing! Who will know if I changed it anyway?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 And exactly! It’s so much more fun to let the reference be only a reference and then play on from there! hehe I’ve been doing that a lot lately!

  11. memadtwo 6 months ago

    My younger daughter had a series of beta fish…they are just as beautiful as your painting shows! Swirls are the perfect pose. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Playing with lines and composition a bit more these days. Cool your daughter had them! I only had one, but I loved it!

  12. June Hadaway 6 months ago

    Love the Betta fish. The swirl of the tails and their cute little lips are so fun and creative. I had a Betta named “Harold” for quite a while. He actually looked a lot like the blue one in your painting. References are my staple but I prefer using pictures I take….thinking it may give me my own flare…..maybe!!!! 😁

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      Thanks, June! 😃💕 Aww… I love that your fish was named Harold. What a great name! And yeah, I use my own and other’s references, but this month, I’m adding more from my imagination. It’s so fun!

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