The Finishing Touch

Mouse Holding Paintbrush Painting Easel Tube Watercolor Illustration Painting

For our prompt of “Art Supplies” today, we have a little mouse putting the final bits of paint on a painting similar to one I did last month starring a tiny white mouse. Though it is actually me sketching all of these and I truly don’t have a mouse helper of any kind. But how cool would that be? There are so many days where even with just a little bit of time to play with my art supplies, I feel like I can’t even see what I’m sketching anymore. I can’t tell if something is nearly finished or if I’m just finished messing with it. Usually, it’s the latter that happens first. And though I’m often pleasantly surprised that a rushed doodle turns out well, I love having a little bit of time to add a few more bits of detail. That all makes it sound rather studied and careful, but truly it’s just my way of adding a touch more dimension by gleefully jabbing bits of dark into various places.

Sometimes working with watercolor feels like waiting for a bit of Polaroid film to develop. It’s all a touch blurry at first and then things slowly begin to take shape. There have been so many times on my art journey that I wanted to do as I used to do with Polaroid pictures and just toss that one aside and take another one. Yet, I only have time to make one little thing each day. So, by the time I think it might not be going as expected, it’s far too late to start over again. In many ways, I think this routine has helped me quite a lot. Rather than get frustrated and feel like I failed something, I simply have to change course and try to make that something work out. Yet, there are many pictures that I’ve posted that I didn’t really love at all in that moment. They were my nemesis. A failed attempt. Yet, when I look back today, some of those sketches are actually among my favorites.

Since I’m an illustrator and not a painter, I sometimes have an ink drawing that I really love. Many times, it doesn’t need color at all in order to work and can stand alone. I adore playing with watercolor, of course, so I’ll always jump in and color it anyway. Yet, I have to admit that there have been many times where I was a bit terrified that I’ll screw it up. Having just one shot to make something seems like I’m putting a bit of pressure on myself, but in reality, I’m simply creating constraints. Creativity loves to have a few constraints, and that’s equally why I enjoy using prompts as well. It’s like when I was a little kid and was given those awesome assignments by the teacher where she told me I could “be creative.” Just gave me just the basic idea of what the project had to be about and nothing more. Once I know the simple perimeter of my playground, it’s far easier to just relax and have some fun. Right up until that very last energetic moment when I apply the finishing touch.

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Mouse Holding Paintbrush Painting Easel Tube Watercolor Illustration Painting Sketchbook Detail
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
33 Comments
  1. Unique Tales 4 weeks ago

    A Beautiful story. 😊

  2. Unique Tales 4 weeks ago

    I was so inspired by your Art I have just bought your nature draw activity book.

  3. Unique Tales 4 weeks ago

    To try some of the art for myself.

  4. Unique Tales 4 weeks ago

    Your sketching stuff activity book nature from Amazon UK.

  5. writerleenda 4 weeks ago

    Hey Charlie try calling them parameters instead of constraints. Your left brain won’t get uppity over that! And I have never known you to screw up so that is out the window too. Have fun!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Actually I worked with someone who called them guardrails, which was so visual that it was almost distracting! lol

  6. Sandra Strait 4 weeks ago

    Isn’t it amazing how often paintings do seem to paint themselves.Sometimes, I feel as though I’m just waving the brush around and the paint is jumping off and falling into place. Of course, there are other times, when it seems to go everywhere except where I want it. That always tells me my head in the wrong place, and that I need to take a chill pill. Unfortunately, not always in tine to save the painting.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Yeah, I experience that all of the time! Thankfully, since I’m always drawing first… I can scribble with a pencil until something appear and then “hope” I can remove all the extra graphite before I paint! lol 😉

  7. Lisa 4 weeks ago

    Time, such an interesting constraint. Being retired, you’d think I have all the time in the world, yet I still find myself running out of it. Its Joe’s fault because he is a late night person and he sucked me into his time warp. When I used to be up at 6/7 o’clock I had the whole day before me. Now I don’t get up until 11, the daylight is too short to feel as if I have enough time. I recognize the delusion, but I’m not creative once the sun goes down.

    • Susan Masters 4 weeks ago

      Oh Lisa this is exactly my situation too! After two years of retirement I am trying to break out of it.. but again time is a funny thing!

      • Lisa 4 weeks ago

        I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Yeah, I tend to be chasing the sun as well… I used to be a night owl when it came to projects, but now I’m more productive during the daylight hours. But still not mornings… I don’t know what it is with me and morning! lol 😉

  8. Mary Roff 4 weeks ago

    Adorable, Charlie!!!

  9. Karen Fortier 4 weeks ago

    Wonderful Charlie! I hate to tell you but there often isn’t enough time when you are retired either. It’s a different kind of busy.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Yeah, I think we’re prone to fill time to hilt… no matter how much extra we get! hehe

  10. Marisela Delgado 4 weeks ago

    I think we’re always hard on ourselves. We nit pick and get scrunchy, but then others ooh and ahh. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and your paintings are always so beautiful and sweet. “Mistakes” or goofs add to its uniqueness. Not that I have ever seen or noticed any goofs. Your art always blows me away. 💜 Especially those that have brought back memories that are special and tenderly sweet. You know who I mean. 💜

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Aww thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 Yeah, I’ve gotten good at hiding goofs! lol I figure if that “good feeling” is there, then people won’t look too closely to find them!

  11. Gary Middleton 4 weeks ago

    Lovely doodle, Charlie. In my art supplies picture I had the elephant I painted the other day, on the pad.

  12. LoriCtoo 4 weeks ago

    Oh my gosh! He is darling! (I seem to be using this word lately.) All the details!! Love love love. And you included your painting from the other day….wonderful! I seem to have more fun when I just let go of the fear. I tell myself, it’s just paper. However, I know you have a time limit. There is nothing wrong with posting your whoopsies, if you ever have them. We learn from each other, good or bad! 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I had no idea what the mouse would be painting, so he just did one of mine! hehe I honestly have posted everything I made except one. I posted that and what I replaced it with awhile back in my Sketching Stuff group on Facebook. I thought there would be others, and then realized, I only did that once! I just try to make whatever happens work!

  13. jkpringle21 4 weeks ago

    OMG Charlie you can never draw just one adorable mouse, they all have a special personality of their own. I enjoy each story you tell just buy looking at your daily art piece. Oh! I do read your actual event of how your came about with lots of humour. Memories of my Polaroid camera always brought excitement waiting for the film to develop, still have a lot in my albums, sorry none of animals. Those were the days…..very retired senior.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Aww thanks so much! 😃💕 I’m really loving painting mice… they’re fun to make. Glad you enjoy them. And I think waiting for the film to develop (and the cost of that film! hehe) made those photos more precious than digital.

  14. Priscilla DeConti 4 weeks ago

    Fabulous!!! thanks for the inspiration!!

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