When I was young, I could sometimes be found climbing trees, our art challenge prompt today. This was long before I developed my current fear of heights, of course. It was back during that wonderful time before we learn to fear things. The house I grew up in had a large tree outside with a space between the bottom branches where you could also simply sit. But this space equally could provide a head start to venturing out upon one of those branches and climb higher. I didn’t get very high, not because I was afraid, but because I was horrible at climbing trees. I lacked much of the athleticism of my friends and my arms just didn’t work that way. But, anything above the ground was still an improvement. The view was very different there and I imagined myself to be like a bird, spying on everyone that passed by. I was only a little ways above those who passed and far bigger than a bird, so I was the worst spy ever, but I felt like I was invisible. Like I’d managed to see something incredible that nobody else had seen before.
I could sit or lay on that branch for quite some time, simply looking at this incredible new world that I’d discovered. It was, indeed, simply my own yard and house. Mundane things I’d seen every single day to the point of memory. But a slight shift in perspective made everything look vastly different. Nothing had changed at all, but suddenly I could see things I’d missed before. Like that crack in the cement patio that I could now see clearly resembled a monkey eating a banana, or maybe a man playing the trumpet. I wasn’t sure which, but it didn’t really matter. It was just wonderful to see my own world transformed into something new. This is the same feeling that most of us report when we start creating art for the first time, or return to it after many years. Each little glint of light and shadow is amplified and we become hyperaware and see things we’d managed to overlook before. This is indeed why you can always find me sketching stuff each day.
There’s little chance you’d find me climbing a tree like I did back then. Heights make me squeamish and I’m far happier on the ground. But, thankfully, I don’t have to climb trees anymore to see what that little boy saw. An ordinary world turned extraordinary simply through careful observation. I guess this is why I’ve tried to get everyone on the planet painting daily with me. I think the world is a far more interesting place when filled with different points of view. No matter how many people look at the same thing, each person will see it a bit differently. Like those days when I had time to lay in the grass and simply stare up at the clouds. My friends and I would point out shapes and then playfully argue over what they actually were. And no matter what we chose, the best part was, we were never wrong. It was our belief that made it true. So, whether we’re high in a tree or standing safely on the ground, it’s indeed the way we optimistically choose to look at the world, that can provide us with the best view of all.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Benzimida Orange, and Cobalt Blue. 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!
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!