Splashes Of Color

Cactus Blooms Watercolor Illustration

Today, for our prompt of “Desert,” I decided to make a sketch of a blooming cactus. I don’t live in a desert climate, so this isn’t a view I normally see, but when I’m traveling to the desert, it’s one of my favorites. Though we’ve had hot temperatures here where I do live lately, today was pleasantly mild. Philippe and I had a lovely lunch sitting outdoors. We ordered a burger and fries, but the burger was actually falafel, which was quite delicious. If you shape something into a circle and slap it on a bun, it gets to be a burger these days. The day was a bit overcast and cloudy, which I appreciate in the summer as the sun can be way too blistering. Days like this are what photographers call “cloudy bright” days where the light is bright, but diffused. It’s the kind of day that can seem a bit gray at first until you look around and notice all of the colors popping out more than usual. Instead of fighting the sun and fading, bright colors jump forward as if putting on a show. I love these splashes of color and it reminds me that there’s no such thing as a gloomy day. Each day is filled with color and light, just waiting for us to make the most of it.

I like to observe things when I’m out and then put those ideas into my mental journal. The way the light dances across flowers or the colors I hadn’t noticed before that I find in shadows. I don’t enjoy painting outdoors, however, unless it’s somewhere remote and the weather is perfect. I don’t like being in the middle of crowds or braving extreme weather, and prefer to simply paint in the peace and quiet of home. But, that doesn’t stop me from painting in my mind literally all of the time. I’m constantly getting ideas for ways to use color by the things I observe throughout the day. And, if there are no distractions, I’ll even make a sketch of something. When there are too many people bustling about, I just wait until I get back inside and dash something off from memory. For me, art is all about relaxation and focusing my mind for just a few minutes each day. So, I in turn, approach it a bit differently. The effect on the rest of my day has been amazing, so it’s really not surprising that I continue to show up daily.

Throughout my life, settling my mind has been a challenge. It bounces around from idea to idea and I’ve spent much of my life in a highly distracted state. I was often more in my own head than I was present with those around me. These days, I can be much more present and enjoy what’s actually happening around me rather than worrying over what’s happening next. And, even if the artist in me gets distracted by a beautiful flower, it’s no longer just an idea in my head. It can, instead, become a conversation starter. Perhaps, that’s why I’ve also loved writing on this blog. Along with the visual therapy, it’s good to attempt to take some of those ideas currently swirling through my mind and attempt to make some sense of them. Or, at least ramble a bit to see if any sense manages to appear. I’ve no idea as to the success rate for that actually happening. What I DO know, is that I feel very grateful to have my sketching habit. It just wouldn’t be the same optimistic day without taking a little time, and spending it with splashes of color.

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Cactus Blooms Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
17 Comments
  1. Linda M. Gigliotti 3 months ago

    How to come out of your head. Come up with an answer for that, Charlie, and you likely will win a huge windfall. I would love to know how to pay attention. So far in the past week I blew myself off my feet by trying to lift them both at the same time. Or something. And then I splashed hot oil onto myself. I was in my head and not paying attention. But I did manage to get a sketch done today and never broke anything. Love your articles, Charlie. Carry on!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Lol! So true, Linda! 😃💕If I could ever figure out how to actually come out of our heads, I’m win big! But for me, sketching daily has actually helped quite a lot to provide a bit of time to focus. As it seems to work for you as well! hehe… Yeah, I don’t have any big answers beyond… sketch stuff… it helps! 😉

  2. Karen Fortier 3 months ago

    Charles, I love your cactus in bloom. My sister lived in New Mexico for a while. I never visited but she would sent pictures when the desert was in bloom. I took a bus trip from Las Vegas and saw a bit of the desert but would never want to live in the heat. I’ll stick to New England. Sometimes traveling to another place makes you realize how nice home is.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕So true… we often love bits of other places, but there’s no place like home!

  3. Mireya 3 months ago

    This is beautiful!

  4. Sharon Nolfi 3 months ago

    Wonderful sketch! I love cacti and there are many in my neighborhood.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕Yeah, scenes like this are things I can only visit! hehe

  5. Lisa 3 months ago

    I painted a blue line today. I was looking at some minimalist paintings and it must have rubbed off on me. Lol My cleaning and yard girls were here today. We got a lot of weeds pulled and hubs did some mowing, so it feels like I will have time to paint more than a line tomorrow except I promised to make some Thai curry and that always takes time to cut stuff up. I like your cactus. People eat those fruit. Prickly pear I think they are called. I had some at a Mexican restaurant once. I don’t remember it well, so I guess I wasn’t too impressed! 😂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe! A blue line sounds awesome, Lisa! 😃💕 I could never go quite that abstract… I love detail! lol And yeah, I think my most memorable experience with prickly pear was in a martini in San Antonio years ago. 😉

  6. LoriCtoo 3 months ago

    Beautiful cacti. I love to really look at plants and visually disect them. They are always made up of many interesting pieces. As far as sketching in crowds, it doesn’t bother me. My favorite place to sketch is Disneyland and there’s always a crowd. I can blur out all the commotion for some reason. I figure people are so busy doing their own thing, they don’t notice me. Occasionally we have someone come over and ask what we are doing. We love it when a child comes over, in hopes we have sparked something in them. 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Aww I would love it if a child came over while I was sketching! That’s always so fun!

  7. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    Gorgeous cacti! Cactus growing in a real desert. Hmmm…something else to add to the travel list!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕hehe… yeah, a desert visit is definitely something to add to the list!

  8. smzang 3 months ago

    “I feel very grateful to have my sketching habit. It just wouldn’t be the same optimistic day without taking a little time, and spending it with splashes of color.”

    I totally get that. When I was working (that ended at 10 this morning) I realized I would rather be writing, and it just wasn’t natural for me to be juggling numbers all day. I was totally miserable. Sitting here catching up on doodlewash, I am in 7th heaven.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yay to that, Sarah! 😃💕And wow, I’m reading your story through the comments and realizing you just made a very big life-changing decision. Good for you… passion pays back ten-fold to all of the things we feel we must do. Wishing you all the best and most amazing things ahead!

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