When thinking about our watercolor painting and sketching prompt of “stars” today, my mind began to wander a bit. I thought of stars in the sky and also the fact that it’s Star Wars Day today, so if you’re celebrating that, May the 4th be with you, but ultimately, I ended up in the sea instead. A starfish caught my eye today, so I made a quick little 3-color doodlewash of one. They are also called sea stars, a name preferred by scientists since they aren’t really a fish at all. Next, of course, I got lost in learning about these odd little creatures. They have no brains and no blood, just filtered sea water, and yet they have a complex nervous system, so they could still feel pain. Little tiny tubes are what they have for feet to move about, rather quickly actually, and there’s an eye at the tip of each of the points of the star. But they have rather poor eyesight and don’t see as well as we humans might. Unless it’s me without my glasses or contacts, then it’s probably rather similar. But, I finished my quick research with a newfound appreciation for these little critters.
One of the weirder bits of info I stumbled across was that they can regenerate their limbs. If they’re under attack by a predator, they just leave a leg behind and spend the next year slowly growing it back. That’s both ingenuity and commitment. What’s stranger to me still is that most of the time, we think of them not alive and skirting around in the water, but simply a lovely object of art. Like sand dollars which seem so lovely, and we don’t even really think about the fact that they are also living creatures that are actually part of this same family. But starfish are gorgeous and can be found in over 2,000 varieties so it’s no wonder they’ve become one of the most popular icons of the ocean itself. Just looking at one makes me think of the beach, and that always makes me smile. It’s so curious the creatures that exist in nature and I’m always fascinated by all the wild and wonderful things that appear there.
I wonder what it would be like to live as a sea star. Having no brain at all must be quite satisfying at times. Nothing to actually fret about or think through, just a life lived entirely by instinct. Yeah sure, being able to regenerate limbs could be a cool bonus, but just floating along and letting life do what it does it a provocative proposition. I have a horrible habit of letting my brain get in the way much of the time. As much as I live life without a lot of actual preparation for things, I spend tons of time playing out scenarios in my head. What would happen if this or that occurred. Or what if I tried this thing, or no wait, maybe it’s this other thing I should do next. In truth, it can get rather exhausting and get in the way of just enjoying whatever little thing comes next. I’m quite happy to have a brain, but if I could just shut it off at times I think it would be a wonderful thing indeed. I could just float about in no thoughts of any kind and for at least the briefest of moments, enjoy the curious world of sea stars.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, 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!