Today we have a quick little sketch of a chameleon for our prompt of the same name. After making a pen drawing using a couple of references, I just painted using whatever colors I liked, as I’m trying to play bit more this month. My little guy looks a bit shocked by the experience, but I’m having lots of fun this month. Today, I spent the entire day running behind on things and could barely keep up, so I’m thrilled that I managed to sneak in a doodlewash in the midst of it all. And stopping to play with colors is always a welcome reward in a busy day. When I was in college I adored my drawing classes, but I was terrified of my painting classes. The idea of adding color to my sketches was daunting to me. I felt like it would screw them up rather than enhance them. This was likely because every attempt I made using acrylics turned out rather questionable if not atrocious. I simply preferred my sheet of paper and sketchbook to a canvas. At the time, watercolor wasn’t taught, so it would be over 22 years later before I finally found the colors that I loved. It’s been a joy, but I still have a lot to learn as I’m making up for lost time.
When I was young, I remember wanting to be an illustrator one day so I could make all of those pictures in my storybooks. But, my attempts at stylized drawings and caricatures where not good at all. The effect was something odd and unnatural that didn’t look like it was meant to be on purpose but was the side effect of a disastrous accident. Since I didn’t feel that I was any good at it, I did what most people do in such situations. I just quit trying. Obviously, I lacked the talent or skill for such things so I should just stick to what I’m good at. In some ways, this reaction seems perfectly sensible, but in reality it’s perfectly ludicrous. The only way to improve at anything in life is to DO it and then DO it some more. There are no actual shortcuts or special methods that will cause someone to leap forward in their mastery of a skill. It’s always just a matter of lots and lots of practice. How much practice is unique to each person. But there’s another skill that takes practice as well. This one is called courage. Certainly, some people seem to be innately braver, but courage is a skill we can all learn and master.
When I was working in my first job, I had to give a speech before a large auditorium full of people. Though I was a professional actor for a few years, the idea of being myself without the “fourth wall” and character that separates and protects actors from the audience was terrifying! I was given the usual lame advice from others including the chart-topping creepy suggestion of picturing the audience naked. I’ve no idea who that first worked out for so that it became part of public speaking lore, but it’s creepy and unsettling. What I quickly discovered was that, like most things in life, the real solution was stupidly easy. All I had to do was show up and DO it! Sure, those first few speaking appearances were awkward and I’m quite sure a few after that, but I got better. I shed the fear I once had because I gave myself the chance to learn that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. I don’t consider myself a brave artist yet, but I’m working on it each and every day. So, my act of showing you each and every thing I make as I go along isn’t an act of bravery, but simply a practice in courage. And one I highly recommend! It forms that wonderful habit of DOing that makes each day better as I show up to spend some dedicated time, just playing with colors.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Leaf Green, Vermillion, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. 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!
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!