Souvenirs In The Sand

Day 31 - Beach Souvenirs Seashells Watercolor - Doodlewash

For the final prompt of this month’s challenge, I first tried to find souvenirs around the house that Philippe and I might have collected while traveling. I quickly realized that we only get the occasional book, which I sketched yesterday, but never really bring home any sort of trinket or bobble that might make a good sketch. A few months ago, we were walking along the beach in California and admiring the shells. Though we saw many we liked, we didn’t bring any of them home with us. This hasn’t always been the case. When I was young I would load up on souvenirs every single trip I took. Most of them have ended up in a box somewhere, enjoyed only for a brief time upon my return. Many others were discarded over the years, when looking at them again failed to spark the memory they were meant to evoke in the first place. For me, the best souvenir of a trip isn’t tangible at all. It comes in the form of the stories we tell and retell after the journey. These are my favorite souvenirs that make the experience come alive for me again and again.

If it weren’t for these stories, I probably wouldn’t remember many of the trips from my childhood. Any trinkets acquired on those are now long gone. But, my mother loves to tell stories about the past, probably where I get this habit, and so I’m often reminded of those past adventures. It’s not a documentary account of every single moment, but just the best bits. Usually the funny ones as those seem to endure the most over time. This glorious way of editing makes every previous trip seem perfectly magical. I’m sure this was not the case. There had to be moments where tensions flared or participants were thinking they would rather just be back at home once more. I’m quite sure there were moments when my insatiable quest to turn every trip into an educational field trip drove my mother completely nuts. But, today, we just have the best memories to relive and enjoy. The bits that defied all of the everyday grievances and became wonderful pieces of family lore.

Today, I have my little doodlewashes and posts here to help me chronicle my life and feelings in the moment. Just like those stories of my childhood, it’s not always about the exact thing that happened in the moment, but simply a capture of ideas, moments and thoughts. Those bits that rise to the surface and demand to be shared. I think I’ve learned over the years, that capturing memories isn’t an exact science. You can write down every little thing that actually happened on a trip, and I’ve done this in the past, but oftentimes it fails to capture the real point of it all. In the end, the real story isn’t about what we do, but instead, what we feel. Life told at its best is a tale of the heart that ultimately stays with us far longer than any of those tangible pieces we might collect along the way could ever hope to accomplish. For me, at least, it’s the oral history of life that I find the most compelling. If a story gets retold, there’s something wonderful there and worthy of a second listen. These timeless memories are the ones that I want to collect, while I admire all of the others like souvenirs in the sand.

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About the Doodlewash

M. Graham Watercolors: Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Indigo. Da Vinci Paint Co.: Indigo.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia 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!
Day 31 - Beach Souvenirs Seashells Watercolor - Doodlewash
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!

20 Comments
  1. Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

    Gorgeous painting of the shells – some of my favorite souvenirs.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕The simplest souvenirs are always the best!

  2. June Hadaway 2 months ago

    The shells are beautiful. Love the colors you used. I really enjoy looking for shells at the beach. Perfect souveniers along with the stories we tell. Your story is a very nice one.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, June! 😃💕 Yeah, I adore shells… so beautiful and each one is so different. But yeah, the stories will always be my favorite souvenirs of all!

  3. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    Your shells are beautiful! I tend to remember odd things about my childhood trips – like the trip to the coast when I was 5 and my brother got sick. It isn’t that he got sick that was memorable. It’s that he was given Pepto Bismol and I wasn’t allowed to have any. To this day, I remember how indignant I felt about that, lol.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 Haha! I adore that story!! I totally get that… as a kid that pink stuff looked so cool. It’s been years since I had that stuff, but I don’t remember it tasting like a reward so you certainly dodged a bullet there. lol

  4. Zertab Quaderi 2 months ago

    A very touching and humbling read.

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 months ago

    I love shells also and have been saving the ones I collected as a kid, dragging them from house to house. I love to paint them also, often turning one shell two or three ways to get multiple views in one painting. Your shells are really lovely, Charlie, loaded with the patterns and shapes I so admire. I think these are murex shells – I have quite a few of different sizes and colors – so intriguing. The little ones are maybe clam shells – ?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 I’m not actually sure about those… I had to use a reference for this as we didn’t even take a photo for a souvenir. hehe… definitely clam shells in there, and the usual creative license so I might have invented a shell or two in the process. 😊

  6. Lisa 2 months ago

    We have had a huge influx of yellow sulphur butterflies around here. They do this thing called puddling which means they gather around drying puddles and suck up the minerals and salts. I took the young girl who works for me out to see them. Then I had her walk right into the midst of a few hundred of them. They all fly up at once and become a fluttering cloud of yellow. I was telling a friend about it and she wondered why I didn’t take video of it. I said I just wanted to see her delight in real life. I take a lot of photos, but sometimes I think we put a camera or a souvenir between us and the experience to our detriment.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      I soooo agree! 😃💕 I think just being in the moment and enjoying it is the best thing of all. Even sketching gets in the way for me, which is why I tend to work from references. Your description is wonderful though! I can certainly picture it and it sounds magical!

  7. memadtwo 2 months ago

    I, in fact, do still have a basket of shells from my various beach excursions, and this is both a beautiful rendering and a reminder that I mean to paint some of them one of these days. And fitting to finish off “official” summer too. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Kerfe! 😃💕 I like the thought of “official summer”… I realize we have more days, but I’m totally moving into autumn mode now. And yes please! Paint those shells! I’d love to see it!

  8. smzang 2 months ago

    The painting caught my eye…I declare I can hear the sea when I look at them. Beautiful.
    Would you believe the title made me cry? Don’t ask me. It found a spot way down deep
    inside and I’m thinking it was a long forgotten memory that hasn’t quite surfaced. I expect
    it will birth a poem shortly. I will come back to this one to read it, right now I’m going to
    curl up with the title. I love it!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed the title… it does seem like it should be the title of a book of poems. You’re welcome to it, if you like, I’ll never use it for that. 😉

  9. smzang 2 months ago

    Charlie,

    I stole the idea of your title and the poem was born. (https://smzang.com/2018/09/01/a-slow-fade/) By the time the poem was through writing itself, I understood why your beautiful title made me sad (for a moment). Again your work has taken me on a journey into myself. Again I thank you.

    Charlie said:”the best souvenir of a trip isn’t tangible at all. It comes in the form of the stories we tell and retell after the journey.”

    Your philosophy is always right on the mark! Souvenirs in the Sand is a special star in your well deserved crown.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 And your poem is fantastic! Love it! We have a lovely little collaboration going that’s wonderful! 😉

  10. smzang 2 months ago

    bless you!

    You inspire.

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