For our prompt of “Narwhal”today, I opted for a quick little illustration of one decked out for the holidays. I’ve always been fascinated by these creatures. What appears to be a horn is actually an elongated tooth, which just makes them even more endearing. Though it looks like a handy weapon in real life, it’s not used for hunting and its actual purpose still has scientists a bit baffled. Of course, from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance their tooth was much sought after. A rather nefarious trade developed around the act of selling unicorn horns. These sea unicorns were often killed for their horns which were passed off as genuine unicorn horns for incredible prices. Queen Elizabeth apparently purchased one of these unicorn horns for a price that was much higher than the cost of a castle at the time. And like unicorns, they are rather elusive creatures. All attempts to hold them in captivity have failed as the narwhals die within months. But, left alone, they have a life expectancy of up to 50 years. While I’m not sure if they celebrate the holidays, it’s fun to take a little moment to celebrate them.
This particular rendering of a narwhal is a much looser, quicker and more animated style than my usual fare. That’s because my own little narwhal tribute had to be completed in less than 15 minutes. But, when the idea of narwhal popped into my head, this is what appeared there. Something a bit smaller and cuter. Even if they were very tiny, of course, you couldn’t really carry a narwhal around in your pocket safely with that long tooth. But, as I’ve mentioned, this is one creature that refuses to ever be held captive. That spirit of freedom at all costs makes them even more alluring. And even a bit magical. And as the holiday season creeps forward to its amazing finale, I’m in the mood to believe in all sorts of magic. In reality, I’m about to head into a long vacation from work, which I plan well in advance each year so I can enjoy the holidays properly. I still have that little kid feeling that the holidays should involve a bit of an extended break. Yet, even with all of the pre-planning, it’s a race to get everything done before I leave.
So pausing, even very briefly to splash around some paint and make a little narwhal was just what I needed today. I’m still not quite sure how I’m going to get everything done in time, but for just a little moment I only had one little sketch to worry over. That to me, is a wondrous thing indeed! I’ve yet to find anything I could possibly DO that’s more magical than sketching stuff. Instead of spending time worrying over adult deadlines, I stole some time to sketch a sea unicorn. And this bit of stealing is one that even Santa would approve of, I think. One doesn’t lead a bunch of crafty elves without understanding the importance of creating things by hand. That’s why you’ll always find me returning to my little sketchbook each and every day. I just show up like I hope you show up to these posts. Simply taking a moment to see what happens next. And if you too want to start a daily sketching habit, therein lies the secret. It’s never about making a masterpiece, but simply about making something appear. It’s a gift to make something materialize out of nothing but white space, and today’s little offering was humbly inspired by the wonder of the narwhal.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, 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!