Lately, I’ve been thinking about role models and though I’ve no idea if frogs have them, they were our prompt for today. When I was growing up, I definitely saw my mother as a role model. She was always so smart and crafty, quite literally, as she could make anything on the planet out of cloth or yarn. I watched her create all sorts of things and I wanted to learn about all of it. I tried crochet, needlepoint, and sewing, to name a few, managing to make a few things that didn’t look completely awful, but I never quite had the talent for it. I think I only remember attempting to use the sewing machine once, but it sort of fascinated and terrified me at the same. Later, in school, I would discover drawing, and for the first time, I felt like it was something I both loved and could actually do properly. My continuous contour line drawing of a pair of sneakers won first place and was featured in the school art calendar. I then remember having dreams of becoming an illustrator one day, but that dream was mingled in with a long list of a million other things I wanted to do. I just had a deep desire to make things, thanks to my mother, who inspired me more than she ever knew.
As I grew up, my role models began to increase in number exponentially. There were writers I discovered that wooed me with each word they put to paper. Well, it was always paper back in those days, at least. I still remember reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto when it came out back in 2001, even though it wasn’t a book I would normally have chosen. As it turns out, despite a main plot that has terrorists invading a birthday party featuring an opera star, the book was really about love and friendship and the lyrical prose was like watching an actual opera. I remember being dumfounded that someone could make something like that. And I remember vowing to myself that I too would make a book one day. Though I knew it would not be in the soaring prose that once inspired me, I didn’t mind. That’s the beauty of role models, they are only meant to shape one’s intention, the rest is entirely up to the student. There were so many other writers who captured my attention, including the classic wit of Oscar Wilde, a fellow Irishman. Literally nothing I pen is remotely close to their genius, but they inspired me to pick up a pen in the first place.
And when it comes to art, I have so many role models it’s almost dizzying. My favorite illustrators are the ones from my favorite books from childhood. They include Quentin Blake, Peggy Fortnum, Beatrix Potter, Shel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss. The latter three, of course, not only illustrated the books, but also penned them. These illustrators mostly produce illustrations that are slight and whimsical and really nothing like my own, but they are still my role models. An artist far closer to these would be the brilliant artist Luke Scriven who was featured here a couple of years ago. And even though this stylistic direction was my favorite, I discovered several hundred other approaches in the over 500 guest artists that have been featured here. In short, I realize now that no matter the style, every one of these artists is one of my role models. That’s perfectly crazy, I know, but my own style is a strange amalgamation of everything they’ve taught me over these last few years. Just like when I was a kid, I watched and blended ideas that I saw pass by me. I didn’t mimic them exactly, I just loved them and let that love find it’s rightful place in my own style. It’s been a wonderful way to approach art and life, and I have my mother to thank for starting me down this path. It’s always a glorious thing to have someone to look up to.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Benzimida Orange, Leaf Green, 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? 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!