When it was time to make a sketch today I was at a loss for what to paint for the prompt of “texture.” Then I remembered what my friends at urban sketchers have taught me and simply looked at what was in front of me. In this case, it was my glass of grapefruit juice, sitting all alone on the kitchen counter, just out of reach so I don’t dip my brush in it. It wasn’t a particularly interesting object, but it’s a sunny day and light was streaming in through the window causing it to cast really fabulous shadows. So I decided I would try to paint the shadows (and the glass of course as that would be a bit weird without it). I’ve always been fascinated by shadows, particularly when they’re emitting from glass. The shapes and textures are never quite what you’d expect to see, proving even the most ordinary of objects still have a few secrets to hide. I often opt for subjects that I’m only dreaming about, like dessert. But I could never let a dessert go uneaten this long, and as it turned out I ended up pouring out the rest of the juice because it had been boiled by the sun.  A small price to pay for a fun exercise in direct observation.

When I was a kid, I could be rather talkative in some situations and then, depending on the group, get suddenly very shy. This meant I was often averting my gaze to avoid interaction. Staring at the shadows on the floor, as one might stare at the clouds in the sky, I would look at the shapes they made and try to imagine what they looked like. The mean guy, who was just a punch short of being the official school bully, cast the shadow of a horrible monster, while the nice quiet kid’s shadow looked more like a bunny. I wasn’t so much seeing shapes in the shadows as imagining the real personalities of the people who cast them. Looking back, I’m not sure if it was only a way to avoid them, or simply my way of trying to understand them better. Of course, it was still my imagination forming an idea of what I thought about the person. I wasn’t learning anything new by looking at the floor. Eventually, I gained more confidence and was able to look people in the eye, soon realizing that’s really where all the secrets hide.

But since that time, shadows have always fascinated me. They’re used in scary movies to make people afraid, but I’ve never found them frightening, just intriguing. When I was living alone after college, I would often end up alone at the close of the evening, usually writing something by candlelight. The flickering shadows kept me company and added a little life to what might have otherwise been a rather lonely time. Staring at the sun pouring through a isolated glass today made me a bit reflective as well. I began wondering why my mind always jumps backward to thoughts of when I was young. All of those memories are just shadows of the past now. Then I realized, I’m simply reminding myself of that time when I was never afraid to try new things. It’s not how I look back, it’s how I push myself to move forward. Each day is still a chance to experience and discover something entirely new. Even if it’s just tiny little flecks of light that surprise you, while admiring the texture of shadows.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Red Orange, Opera Rose, Phthalocyanine Blue, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.
Day 19 - #WorldWatercolorGroup - The Texture of Shadows Glass of Grapfruit Juice Casting Shadow Watercolour - #doodlewash

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19 thoughts on “The Texture Of Shadows

  1. Oh Charlie! ‘Each day…. discover something new’ – if that’s not Beginner’s Mind I don’t know what is! Those shadows are just wonderful – such a lovely reminder to look at what’s right there in front of me. And shadows are so important too – draw something without its shadow and it isn’t really there. I’m going to have a closer look at shadows! 🤔

  2. Shadows and glass are very tricky but you rose to the challenge! The color of the juice mixed with the glass is excellent. I know what you mean about shadows. I’ve always found them fascinating as well. There is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson called “My Shadow” that was a favorite of mine as a child and who hasn’t made shadow puppets on the wall! That was one way we entertained our children whenever the power went out and we were forced to sit by candle light.

  3. I was going to go all gung ho about how wonderful this Doodlewash is, because it’s really exceptionally beautiful and detailed. But the post got me a bit weepy and thinking back to all the times I looked at shadows instead of facing people directly. You made me realize how sensitive some kids can be. I hope I wasn’t the one who made some other little kid look at shadows instead of looking at the people around. It’s both awful to be the one who makes a kid feel lonely as to be the lonely kid.

  4. Once again, wonderful read. Very interesting hearing your thoughts on how you dealt with those awkward social moments. I can relate to that. And as far as drawing what’s in front of you I used to do that a lot when I couldn’t think of anything to draw. Once when I was 20 in a coffee shop in Orlando I was looking at the paper for a job. Put the paper down and drew the table with my cup on it and wrote “I need a job” and left my phone number. Did it jokingly but with a slight hope they would see it and think, hey, we could use an artistic guy! It’s been a while since I thought of that and your post reminded me and gave me a smile with that memory. Oh, I never received a call from them,lol. Not much of a resume I guess! Great work as always!

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