When I was visiting the Paris zoo last month I snapped several photos of the giraffes there. I had intended to choose one from the group to sketch, but this trio proved a fun challenge and so I doodlewashed all three of them. The one in the front was perfectly happy just standing alone and seemed to be in his own little world. While the two behind clustered together as though they were gossiping about him. I’ve no idea if giraffes actually engage in such nonsense, but it was fun to consider. And crazy to attempt, as sketching that many spots and spindly legs made my eyes cross. At a glance, most giraffes look quite similar, but upon further observation, each one is incredibly different. They have a serious of spots on them that are like personal tattoos, as no two are ever quite alike, and completely unique to each giraffe. It’s very much the same when it comes to sketching and painting. Each of us has an individual way of using the exact same tools, or indeed sketching the exact same subject matter, that always produces something uniquely wonderful.
After over three and half years, there have been more than 500 artists featured here on Doodlewash. And it’s fun to see all of the unique ways that people approach their art. One of the things that many artists seek when they’re just starting out is how to discover their personal style. A look that sets them apart from other artists. The fun part is that it’s already there and has been from the very beginning. It’s not a journey of discovery so much as one of development. When I first starting painting and sketching, I was enamored with so many of the styles I saw from other artists. I had no idea what direction I wanted to go, so I just sketched my way through it to find out. And, as it turns out, I’m still finding out each and every day. Finding new little things to try. Yet, no matter how differently I approach a sketch on a particular day, when you put them all together, they are quite clearly from the same hand. No matter what I do, I always show up with a bit of a similar look, a serious of spots like a giraffe that are completely unique to me. And though I sometimes still wish I could paint like some of those illustrators I admire, I know I will always have my own unique spots and so I wear them with pride.
Over these past few years, it’s so much fun to see all of your paintings and drawings scroll by. I can often already tell who sketched or painted something before I even click on the image or read the name. Some artists have been part of the Doodlewash community since it began and it’s a joy to see your art change and morph with new styles and ideas. And, it’s even more fun to see that inexplicable “you” still there in every single one, no matter how different the style is today. That beautiful artist’s fingerprint that adds a special bit of magic to each line and brush stroke. I’m still playing and learning and will definitely try on different styles as I go along. And that’s absolutely something I recommend for all artists. It’s fun to explore and grow and change things up every now and again. And there’s a comfort in knowing that no matter what I do, I’ll always be doing it in my own unique way. There’s often a sense of competition in art as with all things, but one should never let that bother them. All we ever really have to do is show up and make something. And, of course, smile knowing that no matter what we create, we’re already standing out from the crowd.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Turquoise. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia 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!