The Allure Of Shiny Things

Allure Of Shiny Things Spinyfin Fish Watercolor Illustration

For our Doodlewash prompt of “Fish” today, paired with the Inktober prompt of “Bait,” I ended up with this little silver spinyfin. A fish I would place in the ugly-cute category, much like E.T. The Extraterrestrial. And there’s certainly a lot of aliens waiting to be found in the ocean depths. I’d not really heard of this fish before, but saw an article recently that said that this big-eyed deep sea fish has a greater diversity of rod photopigments than all other vertebrates. What that geeky bit of trivia actually means is that despite its home in the deepest, darkest bit of the sea, it can not only see better in the dark, but just might be able to see color in the dark. In particular, to better see what researchers speculate is their favorite dinner consisting of delicious little shiny shrimp that emit bioluminescent light. What I find truly intriguing is that the deep sea is actually the largest habitat on Earth, but the one we’ve studied the least, because it’s rather difficult to access. And it’s equally comforting to know that this little fish isn’t very likely to encounter many fishing lures in the safety of the deep sea. Were that to actually happen, of course, he might just get distracted by his own reflection and miss the real danger entirely.

For my own part, I don’t share the amazing vision of the silver spinyfin, and can barely see in the dark. But, like this little fish, I do really enjoy shiny things. And though I adore color to make my shiny things just a touch shinier, here’s how this little fish started out his life as an ink sketch.

Allure Of Shiny Things Fish Inktober Drawing

After sketching this, I honestly had no clue what the message was meant to be. It could be anything from a message on man’s constant invasion into the natural world to a metaphor for the dangers of vanity. Or, it could just be a weird fish encountering a lure. However, you personally interpret it, you would be correct! What I DO know is that I’m having a blast trying truly new things that are very much outside of my comfort zone. This sketch was created by using 10 different reference images and then creating my own composition from what I visually learned. This is the type of approach I’ve always wanted to take, but the fear of not being able to DO it always stopped me. So, I finally took the bait, and I have to say, I’m totally hooked!

Equally tonight, I felt a bit smart because I questioned the way I originally wrote my bit of trivia about the spiny fish in the beginning of this post. So, I had my PhD scientist husband Philippe help me fix it. Some articles talked about having lots of genes, but having a gene doesn’t account for everything. It’s all about how they are expressed. This is a bit similar to art and creativity. We can have lots of wonderful tools and supplies, but they can only create magic when we combine that with our own unique self-expression. The way we each see the world, the way we compose sentences, and the way we make marks on paper is a beautifully rare and wonderful thing. No matter how many styles we try, our own style always appears to remind us of who we really are. There’s no way to escape that wonderful uniqueness that is the essential you!  And, there’s absolutely never a good reason to try. What I’ve learned on this journey is that our best work comes when we let it happen as it naturally demands. Sure, there’s always that rockstar with an awesome style I really love, but that’s just not me. It’s not my style. It’s their style. So, I learn what I can and then go back to making things my way. And whatever my art lacks in finesse and skill, it can always conquer with a bit of heart. That’s my journey. One filled with lots of excited trying as I take moments to occasionally stop and appreciate the allure of shiny things.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Vermilion, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen (Broad Nib) with black 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!
Allure Of Shiny Things Spinyfin Fish Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
21 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    Love your little guy Charlie! I’ve been trying to DO in just ink but I’m not sure that I will make it through the whole month. Likely soon I will DO more sketching, take a picture and add the color with watercolor. I know it is all good and the limits we all set are self imposed. Got to keep an open mind!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Yep, I jumped ahead because there’s seriously NO way I could ever go without color, or would ever want to entirely! hehe… but it’s be a blast to add a bit more ink and share both. Best of all worlds! 😉

  2. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    I LOVE the expression on your spinyfish! I’m really enjoying seeing the initial drawing. It was interesting how the color brought out even more of the confused look on the fish’s face.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 Glad you’re enjoying these. Yeah, I’m realized I have quite a few watercolor tricks that I don’t quite have in ink. I liked how much more confused the fish became as well!

  3. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 2 months ago

    So super cute!!! Well all we do with our heart will take us so much further 🙂

  4. Lisa 2 months ago

    Years ago, when Joe and I were dating long distance, I found this mailing tube shaped like a fish. And it was pink! You put your letter inside, put the two halves together, taped it shut and mailed it. I put in a silly letter filled with fish puns of course. His roommate at the time got it out of the mailbox and tossed it to Joe, saying, I’m guessing this one’s for you. Lol

    I love your fish and lure!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕 Aww that’s a fun story! hehe… I bet Joe enjoyed it very much!

  5. smzang 2 months ago

    Charlie says, “So, I finally took the bait, and I have to say, I’m totally hooked!”

    I love the joie de vivre!

    Charlie also says, “We can have lots of wonderful tools and supplies, but they can only create magic when we combine that with our own unique self-expression. ”

    Hear ye! Hear ye!

    both the color version and the black and white are eye catching. I can’t decide which I like best. Honestly I think they should be paired in some way…they compliment each other.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Glad you loved my pun moment! hehe Couldn’t resist! lol 😃💕 Thanks! Glad you liked the fish… yeah… these are interesting. My ink drawings aren’t usually made to be stand alone, so now it’s tough to chose between the two!

  6. Stephanie Louise 2 months ago

    Nice sketch. very interesting

  7. micropris613 2 months ago

    Love your sketches and your posts! thanks

  8. Loan Anh Pham 2 months ago

    What could you do with this spinyfin? I’m sure you help it’s more beautiful than it was 😉. I’m glad because I didn’t paint a goatfish in this article, Charlie. Your spinyfin is so impressing and I love the story about underwater (my loving region)❤️

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Loan! 😃💕 Yeah, I wanted to paint an ugly fish… hehe… I always go for the prettiest ones, so I figured that was a good way to push myself a bit.

  9. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Didn’t have time to see your post last night but what a delightful way to start my morning!! This colorful little guy put a huge smile on my face!! 😍

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Yay! Glad I could start your day with a smile!

  10. LoriCtoo 2 months ago

    Only you could turn ugly into cute! The bottom of the sea scares me. Deep, dark and a ton of water on you. Panic sets in just thinking about it! I watched a show on public tv the other night about a marine biologist who decide he wanted to study an octopus closer, so he had a huge tank in his living room. It was very fascinating and I have a new love for those little guys

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I agree… I’m totally fascinated by the deep sea, but documentaries will do nicely! hehe… I saw that show with the guy and the octopus as well! I can only assume it was the same one!

      • LoriCtoo 2 months ago

        Lol. He had a 16 year old daughter. I loved the part wear it changed colors. I never knew they did that. The octopus wash named Heidi. 😉

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