For Day Six of World Watercolor Month and our optional prompt of “Perform,” I ended up with a quick little sketch of a singing hamster. Many, many moons ago, I used to perform quite a lot, singing on stage at theaters and theme parks. These days, I just sing in my car or in the shower. When I was visiting a friend a few weeks ago we stayed up late into the night singing karaoke in her basement. It was a total blast, but I realized that I didn’t really know the words to that many songs. My eyes were glued to the screen watching every word that appeared there. I was beginning to think my memory had grown poor with age, but I realized that I was simply out of practice. I used to sing those songs all of the time, but these days, I don’t sing very much anymore. Sure, I might belt out a tune every so often, but it’s not something I regularly practice. Another reminder that practice is everything!

Philippe and I sometimes watch the gameshow “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” where people sing karaoke and the lyrics disappear from screen at the end. It’s only a few words, but it’s surprising how difficult it can be sometimes. The contestants are asked if they’re sure about the missing words they sang and if they want to lock in their answer. Though they were often very confident while singing the song in the moment, being asked that question immediately causes them to doubt. I found that really interesting. When we’re in the zone of making some art, for example, we don’t question every little thing we create. Afterwards, however, when we’re looking at what was created, bits of doubt tend to creep in. What seemed perfect in the moment suddenly reveals its little flaws. Or, at least, that’s how it can feel sometimes. I always try to resist the urge to fuss over fixing things I find in my paintings. If those flaws were right in the moment, then I think they deserve to be there.

That’s why I love truly live vocal performances. They may not be absolutely perfect, but they sound really wonderful. I despise the autotune tech that makes humans sound like hollow robots. I’m not sure when perfection became a goal, but I think it’s the imperfections in life that remind us that we’re living it. When things are too perfect they lose all sense of personality and vitality. I’ve received comments in the past on my own paintings that there were such clean lines in them. I always told them that it’s simply an illusion, and to zoom into my art and take a closer look. There, you’ll find the frantic splashes that breach the drawn lines, going places they shouldn’t, and color transitions that are quite sloppy and rushed. Bits of color will be tossed into places that make little logical sense. But, it’s that messy approach that creates my own style. It’s my way of painting and sketching, formed as a habit over the years. From a technique standpoint, there are even bad habits there. Yet, I enjoy the way I make things, and I think that’s the most important thing. It’s what brings me back each and every day, grabbing that paint brush, ignoring every trend, and just singing my own song.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.:  Opus (Vivid Pink), Hansa Yellow Medium, Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click Here!
Hamster Singing Microphone Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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18 thoughts on “Singing My Own Song

  1. That
    That’s right Charlie and art is the only work we will ever do that bears only our own rules. As for singing I never could and always did. I do not care whether my voice sounds like a cross between a screech and thunder. I like making that noise. Period. Hey just like art!

  2. One of my favorite recordings, that I’ve unfortunately lost track of, is of a young Sumatran girl singing a folk song. I have no idea what the words mean, and like most children her skill is evolving. But the tune is haunting, and she’s giving it her all. I think it’s one of those recordings that says something to everyone, no matter where or what their background is.

  3. Love the hamster! I also love that you are so overwhelmingly positive and cheerful Charlie. It sounds like you have led an interesting life and have many talents other than drawing and painting (I was reviewing your new book). I’m so glad you started Doodlewash. I really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing yourself with all of us.

  4. Nice doodle Charlie. I’m trying to imagine the hamster’s voice. I had the opposite to you, when I got my Amazon Echo, and subscribed to Amazon Music. My wife and I were asking for obscure music from our teens and singing along. I played music I haven’t heard for forty years and still remembered the lyrics.

    1. Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 Aww that’s awesome! I wish I had that kind of memory… I think I know the lyrics, but then I forget. Or, I just changed them in my head… I used to do that and make up funny lyrics. hehe

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