For our prompt of “Parrot” today, I ended up with three colorful macaws, because they’re my favorite kind of parrot and I couldn’t decide which version to sketch. As ever, while hunting through various references, I got lost for a bit watching videos of parrots talking. There was one parrot that knew over 350 words, spoke in complete sentences, and also in the voice of its owner. It was equal bits amazing, fascinating and creepy. To me, though, while the ability to talk makes for a fun video, it’s the longevity of parrots that I find the most interesting. The oldest living parrot on record is said to be one named Poncho who will be 93 this year, and is now retired after having worked in many movies alongside Hollywood’s biggest stars. There’s another parrot who is potentially older, but lacks the proper paperwork to prove it. This one is a 114 year old blue-and-yellow macaw named Charlie, and the owner says that it once belonged to Winston Churchill, which made tabloids quickly add an embellished story that Churchill taught her to cuss. Though the ownership was disputed by Churchill’s daughter, it’s still kind of funny to consider. And regardless of the teacher, Charlie the parrot is indeed said to have a rather colorful vocabulary.

As for this Charlie, I doubt I’ll live as long as the parrot version. If I even managed to live as long as my grandmother, who was 99 at the time of her death, then I’m about half way through my life. But, there’s no way to know exactly how long I’ll be around, so I just live each day doing what I love. Sketching birds is certainly on that list. Unlike parrots, dogs don’t live nearly as long, so this will be the decade that we will have to say goodbye to our dear Phineas at some point. But, I was talking with my friend once last year and telling her about the things I was doing and she said, “what a wonderful contribution!” I loved that expression. I think I’d just published another book or something, but those words reminded me that it wasn’t just about me. What I DO has some sort of an effect on others and my sincere hope is that it’s always a positive one. I’m not hoping for fame or fortune, though the latter is something few sensible folk would ever turn down. Instead, I’m just wanting to be a part of things and help to inspire people as I go along in life. And it struck me that while accomplishments are wonderful things, it’s the contributions we make in life that define our legacy.

That’s some rather deep thoughts to come out of watching parrot videos, to be sure, but they’re also happy ones. I truly believe that great things will happen this year and every year after that. Sure, maybe some bad things too, but never enough to shadow the sheer brilliance of the good. And it’s not surprising that longevity would be what inspires me most about parrots. I’m certainly not wanting to become a mimic and, instead, always try and keep things fresh and creative. And, more time equals more chances to contribute. Another day to make something. Another day to try something, fail miserably at it and then shrug it off and try it again with fresh hope. Another blissful day to enjoy a few moments with the ones you love most. And hopefully, in the process, make someone smile. Of all the things I’ve accomplished in life, the memories of moments involving others are the ones that stay in my heart. Sometimes, the most captivating contribution can simply come from showing up in your own uniquely colorful way, like the marvelous macaw.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners 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!
Macaws Three Yello Gold Scartlet Blue Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail

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32 thoughts on “The Marvelous Macaw

  1. You do make a wonderful contribution, Charlie! Every day you touch people’s lives and make them better – whether just cheering them up with your ramble or by encouraging them to create. It does make a difference. And on a different note altogether – talking about being distracted. I followed a thread and discovered that in 1910 – Frederick Russell Burnham, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones and the boy scouts – proposed ending a meat shortage in the U.S. by importing hippos to America. This, it was thought would be especially good for Louisiana because cattle couldn’t graze in the swamps, and an invasion of water lilies was posing a problem. The hippos would eat the lilies and the people would eat the hippos. Obviously, this didn’t work because hippos are one of the deadliest animals on the face of the earth! But I feel so much more chipper, just knowing that America could have been the home of hippo ranching – what a wonderful world we live in! Had to share that.

  2. Wow Charlie! What a wonderful sharing of how going down the rabbit hole can really truly make sense and brighten the day. I was feeling very dumpy here but your words lifted me and your parrots are a burst of colour and joy… Ty

  3. Charlie says, “Another blissful day to enjoy a few moments with the ones you love most. And hopefully, in the process, make someone smile.”

    I read that and felt myself smiling involuntarily. It is amazing what a positive attitude can do to make the world a better place.
    You day that every day with your posts.

    Love those parrots!!

  4. You are a little ray of sunshine each day! Your parrots are all so beautiful. I can see why you had a hard time deciding which one not to do! Me on the other hand, has not done mine today. A little diddy keeps popping in my head every time I think about it. “Where the flowers croon… the Tiki Tiki Room”. Then I wander to the Dole Whip counter! 😉

  5. Thanks for the excellent macaws. I was stopped cold by your note on the relative lifespans of our animal friends. Someone who takes on a parrot as a pet is looking at a lifelong partnership– all Your life long! Dogs unfortunately have much shorter lives and i once hard a child explain why: he said that dogs have happy lives because all the bad stuff is left out, so they don’t live as long as us. I hope I got that right, but you get the idea….

  6. Having turned 60 a few weeks ago I could easily be in the last decade of my life. I don’t come from a long lived family, and I have health issues that don’t help. I have a very close friend who will be 60 in March and it’s making her crazy. I myself am fine with it. I had fun. I did what I wanted to do mostly. I laughed a lot more than I cried. There are a few places I wish I had traveled to while I was still able, and a few beaches I wish I’d visited more often, but if those are my regrets, I can’t complain. You’ve put me in a contemplative space. Lol Time to go to bed.

  7. Ambitious! But I love the colors and the way the 3 birds fit together.
    You are definitely an inspiration to get up every day and make some art. Also your optimism is a good antidote to the news. Keep up the good work! (K)

  8. Beautifully painted here. I lived in Hawaii as a kid and took ballet lessons in downtown Waikiki. After the lesson, there was usually enough time to visit the International Market Place where I looked forward to chatting with the local mynah birds, who were loquacious and funny.

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