The Magic Of Misfits

Sloth On Tree Branch Watercolor Illustration

For our Doodlewash prompt of “Sloth,” combined with the Inktober prompt of “Misfit,” I ended up with this little drawing. I’ve always loved sloths and find them to be remarkable creatures. They have the distinction of being the slowest animals in the world. This also makes them a bit of mammal misfit, in many ways. While speed in movement is not their strong suit, they also have the slowest digestion of any mammal. With a diet of mostly leaves, this doesn’t give them enough energy to move about quickly, so instead of evolving to eat a more nutritious diet, they simply evolved to do less. They aren’t exactly lazy, they just figured out a way to make things work for them. The slower they move, the more energy they can conserve. Many times in life, I’ve felt a bit like I didn’t fit in. Like I wasn’t one of the cool kids, or did things a bit too differently than others, or at least not in the way that was currently trending. I’d become part of groups only to discover they had rules I couldn’t always commit to following on a regular basis. But, much like a sloth, I learned that it’s my own unique qualities that make me interesting. And, though many times my art journey has felt like I’m moving at a sloth’s pace, I’m quite content just learning at my own speed and trying whatever comes to mind as I go along.

I’m enjoying this month tremendously as I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. But, I’ve also been reminded that this is all just a side hobby for me and I don’t have any more time than I did before to draw and paint. So, I’ve taken a tip from the sloth and just evolved accordingly. This month I’ve spent more time drawing and adding color quickly at the end. This typically gave me more time to create the drawing. Today, however, I had no time, so I had to sketch the world’s slowest animal as quickly as possible.

Day 18 - Sloth On Tree Branch Inktober 2019 Illustration

I wanted to show a sloth in motion as that’s not something normally depicted. A lot of preliminary sketches would have made for a better approach, but I like to just jump in and go for it. Though I had very little time, I’m not sure more time would serve me well. I have a ridiculously short attention span that works in bursts. I have to switch to different things all of the time or risk losing focus entirely. But, I just compensate and DO things in a way that works for me.

As I’ve gotten older, I worry less and less about whether or not I’m doing things “correctly” as it applies to groups of people. Instead, I focus on doing things in a way that feels right to me personally. If I do something backwards, like painting dark to light in watercolor as I’m often prone to do, it’s just fine. Sure, this approach has meant that I can’t share my works in certain online groups as I didn’t follow a strict process or approach. But, that was easily solved by simply creating my own group instead! Beyond the selection of certain mediums, there’s no process or approach championed over any other on Doodlewash. If, like me, your process is a bit different, than that’s just fine! There’s so much more than our personal style that defines us as artists. How we DO things is part of our work as well. There’s no one right way to approach any medium or one true method for creating any type of art. I’ve tried to do things in a way described as the proper approach when I started, and got really frustrated. So, these days, I just follow my own path and slowly move through my art journey inspired and comforted by the magic of misfits.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, Ultramarine (Green Shade), and Cobalt Turquoise. 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!
loth On Tree Branch Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail


Recommended8 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Sandra Strait 3 years ago

    Your sloth is adorable. You know the prehistoric sloth was about the size of an elephant. They’ve slimmed down a bit, but the fact that they still exist is proof that doing their own thing has worked and worked well.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕And yes! They were gigantic! I think this guy knows it… he turned out a little more crazed than I expected! hehe

  2. Mary Roff 3 years ago

    Great sloth, Charlie!!

  3. Karen Fortier 3 years ago

    I love your little sloth Charlie! Thanks for bringing us all together for this wonderful journey!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 And yay for this wonderful journey!

  4. Carole Duet 3 years ago

    A baby sloth! Who would have “thunk” it? Such an ugly animal made into a lovable little beauty! And, me too…I’m a slowpoke and I basically do everything whenever the spirit moves me. I’m hoping your great watercolors etc. will move me to get back into painting. I’ve been more into writing for the past few years but your lovely works are motivating me to “move” again. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Carole! 😃💕 Glad you liked this little sloth… I’m playing with perspective this month so this was a fun and funny challenge. I hope you will be inspired to DO some watercolors! I love writing as well, so I just do a little of both each day! 😉

  5. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 years ago

    So cute!!!! And here is to being unique in the world!!! I think it is fun to find our own way creatively. If it interests me I just jump into it and see what happens.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Yay for the misfits! hehe And just jumping in to see what happens next!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 3 years ago

    Adorable sloth – a favorite animal of mine!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕Yeah, sloths are just the coolest!

  7. Lisa 3 years ago

    I learned today that the pangolin is the only mammal in the world with scales. I would argue that the armidillo has a form of scales, but evidently, I’d be wrong. Hmm.

    • Gaina 3 years ago

      This really stumped me so I did some more research, and apparently it’s to do with the structure – pangolin have ‘true’ scales made of Keratin whereas Armadillo ‘scutes’ grow on dermal bone. Thank you for this question and allowing me to unleash my inner geek. Have a good day! 😁

      • Author
        Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

        Awesome!! Thanks for the clarification, Gaina! 🙂

      • Lisa 3 years ago

        Ha! I love your inner geek! As a retired librarian, I can relate to the need to look stuff up! 😁😁

        • Gaina 3 years ago

          Librarian would be my dream job. I love books. 😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Hmmm… Yeah, I would have though they were more like scales on an armadillo as well. Pangolins are the most interesting creatures!

  8. Kelly R. Wilson 3 years ago

    I love your sloth! Sloths are a difficult creature to paint/draw because if they aren’t done right their faces look flat and one dimensional. But, you nailed this in every way capturing the cuteness and cuddly looks of our sloth friends! I relate to your words too and feel like the sloth is my spirit animal.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Kelly! 😃💕Aww thanks! Glad you liked this! Yesss! Sloths are so tough to sketch and then I decided to try a young one at a weird made-up angle! hehe… thrilled you liked this!

  9. Gaina 3 years ago

    Gorgeous. 😊 I know a lady who’s a biologist and Sloths are her speciality – she’s written a few books about them if you’re interested. Her name is Lucy Cooke.

    It’s lovely getting to the age where you finally understand how you ‘tick’ and you’re totally comfortable with that, isn’t it? 😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks so much, Gaina! 😃💕 I’ll have look her up. And yes, it’s a wonderful time indeed when we finally feel comfortable with our own uniqueness!

  10. memadtwo 3 years ago

    Love that face! (K)

  11. Ellie 3 years ago

    Adorable sloth – and one in motion! Of course, you will take the path least taken, Charlie. It’s fantastic!! I was fortunate to see sloths in their natural habitat last May in Panama – you have captured the image of one I saw perfectly!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Thanks, Ellie! 😃💕 Half way into this one I sort of wish I’d taken the tried and true path. It was tough to visualize! hehe Yay! Thrilled it reminded you of one you’ve seen!

  12. ljcillustration 3 years ago

    Love your little sloth, what great nails he has.

  13. jmlandin 3 years ago

    Oh my goodness, Charlie! We are totally on the same wavelength (you were much faster than me, as usual). I can’t believe we both picked the “misfit” sloth. Ha!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 years ago

      Yay to the sloth misfit! 🙂 hehe… they’re such awesome creatures! 😃💕

  14. Wer ruft an 3 years ago

    This sloth really knows how to get attention 😀

  15. smzang 3 years ago

    Charlie says, “With a diet of mostly leaves, this doesn’t give them enough energy to move about quickly, so instead of evolving to eat a more nutritious diet, they simply evolved to do less”

    A creature after my own heart!

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