Those Tap Dancing Days

Day 13 - Tap Dancer Watercolor - Doodlewash

Years ago, in what now feels like an entirely separate life, I was a dance instructor for a few years. Though I taught classes in both tap and jazz dancing, my favorite of all was tap dancing. It was incredibly fun, and while I don’t think I was ever quite to the level of Fred Astaire or Danny Kaye, I was pretty good and learned quite a few fun tricks. For my younger readers wondering who the heck those guys are, feel free to pause here and google them. Trust me, they were awesome! What strikes me as funny is that I didn’t so much dream of wanting to be a dancer as much as simply exploring a dream of wanting to trying dancing. This was during a time when I was very interested in pursuing musical theatre and I hoped that having a bit of dancing skills would help me in that path. I could sing rather well and act somewhat believably, but the ability to dance made me much more competitive. In that world, having this third skill is what’s known as a “triple threat.” In reality, to truly earn this title you had to be able to act, sing, and dance with equal aplomb. In my case, each talent was a bit touch and go. I realize now that I fell into the “jack of all trades, master of none” category which, in the the end, is a threat to nobody at all. But, I had a fabulous time in the process!

Mine is a story of a kid who never really quite knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. It’s a story of trying, failing, and trying again to do something of interest in this crazy world. Back then, I just wanted to make a mark of some kind. I actually liked having my name appear in the newspapers as it made me visible in some small way. Fame actually terrified me for all that comes with it, but I was happy that I’d managed to make a little spark in the world. I have to admit now that I really didn’t make any sort of global impact, but at the time, there were many people who were happy to see my name appear in the credits of their program. It was probably just a hundred or less, but that, to me, was amazing! The very idea that all of those people thought what I was doing was something worth showing up for made me so happy. I made them feel something and they returned the favor by making me feel something as well. I felt proud. And, I know that pride can come with many pitfalls, but I was just genuinely thrilled that this tiny crowd of people were moved in some way by what I’d created.

Fast forward to today, and little has changed. I still perform each and every day by posting and writing about whatever comes to mind. It’s not in a theatre and no tickets are required to purchase, but it’s very much the same. And, I’ve converted some of my favorite posts into a podcast called Sketching Stuff. And my latest episode entitled “Sketching Food” just launched, so please check it out when you can and leave me your comments! Instead of reading lines that other people wrote, today, I read my own. They may be a bit rambling at times, but sometimes, they just might shine with a bit of truth. It’s quite a feat to figure out what you actually want to be when you grow up. I’m so impressed with people who seem so focused and have found their true calling. My journey has instead been a bit more circuitous. I’m still that little kid who sees a fun path and chases down it giggling like a maniac. This is certainly not an adult-like behavior, to be sure, and that’s why I adore the paths I choose! I continually make my life needlessly complex by stacking more dreams onto it than one life can possibly bear. But, that’s where I get all of my joy. I juggle each thing as best I can, skipping to the next just in time for the following beat in the dance. After all of this time, I realize that I’ve not changed one bit from those tap dancing days.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio! Click Here To Purchase It!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen 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!
Tap Dancer Watercolor - Doodlewash
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
39 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    I’m impressed! I always wanted to learn to tap dance, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without leaving my chair, lol. I also had a hard time knowing what I wanted to be growing up, except that I didn’t want to be a professional artist because that was what everyone told me I was going to be. Nuh uh. Nobody tells me what to do, lol.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕hehe… you can tap dance from a chair!! I’ll teach you when we meet one day! And yay for never letting anyone tell you what to do. I think we both on on the track to redefining what it means to be a professional artist. It can take so many turns! 😉

  2. Purnima 5 months ago

    Dont know why, but everything you write,i can relate to.The childhood ambitions, the want of a little fame, the newspaper thing, being a jack of all trades!( In my case janet!),many things that you have mentioned except tap dancing, well,in my case i went for Indian classical dance called Bha- ra-ta- nat- yam.( Syllables for correct pronounciation). I learnt this dance for about 2 years and still wasnt very good,when my interest in it began to fade and i stopped the classes.It is a lovely post that you have written once again,Charlie!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Purnima! 😃💕Nothing wrong at all with being a Janet of all trades! So fun you tried classical dance. I think life is made of up those wonderful moments of trying… succeeding is a great reward, but it’s the moments of trying that truly define us!

  3. Lisa 5 months ago

    I didn’t think there was much you could write that would really surprise me. Plenty of things I don’t know about you, of course, but no real big jaw dropping surprises. So tap dance instructor gobsmacked me! LOL! And please say it was in an Arthur Murray type situation and you were teaching adults because that’s the picture I have in my head, and it’s delicious. So, when you finally get around to writing your novel, if there isn’t a scene of two set in a dance 💃 studio, I, for one, will be very disappointed! 😁

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      hehe! I’m so thrilled that after all of this time I can still shock you, Lisa! 😃💕 Yes, I was a tap dance instructor. And it was rather proper and more like Arthur Murray. But at the same time I taught a boy’s street dance class as well. This was all early 90’s and I actually won a choreography competition! hehe

  4. Lisa 5 months ago

    BTW, the straw hat shadow in you painting is cool!

    • Ellie 5 months ago

      Thanks for pointing out the shadow – I completely overlooked it and it’s wonderful!

      • Author
        Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

        Thanks so much, Ellie! 😃💕I’m still playing with shadows and trying to get them just right. They’re harder than the main event!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 I figured I should add that little bit to show it was all a bit old school!

  5. LoriCtoo 5 months ago

    A man of many talents! Wow! I am a two left footer. Hahaha! I love how you have your shadow in your sketch. I am so behind on my sketching. I don’t seem to be finishing anything. (I’m in charge of our challenges this month with my Disney girls and have fallen behind there too.) However, I am still doing a little bit. 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕I’m at a least a man who never says No to things and tries them anyway! lol I’m not always good, but I feel good for having given it a shot! And no worries on falling behind… it happens.. but don’t let it become the habit! This from a guy who has crazily shown up everyday for almost 4 years now! 😉 Anything is possible!

      • LoriCtoo 5 months ago

        I was able to knock out 5 sketches last night once I got past the hurdle that was slowing me down……family memory. Funny how that happens. 🙂 Still behind, but feeling much better about it!

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

          hehe… 5 sketches?? You are a superhero in my eyes. I can only do the one each day! lol So I’m impressed and SO thrilled for you!! Yay!! 💕

  6. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    Wonderful composition and color choices! I love the rhythm of the pant legs and shadow – definitely seems like dancing.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 So thrilled you liked this. Humans are not my thing… even when I don’t have to deal with faces. So, I’m so happy you enjoyed this!

  7. Mary Roff 5 months ago

    Circuitous routes take us down interesting side roads that perhaps we would have missed by following a straight path. I prefer to think of it as taking the scenic route :-). Love your doodle and especially that shadow.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕Aww… I adore that!! I think that’s how life should be lived properly. Just a trip that always ventures down the scenic path!

  8. Sharon Mann 5 months ago

    Keep on dancing Charlie!

  9. Jodi 5 months ago

    Love it – keep dancing any way you can Charlie O!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕I think my whole life has been a bit of tap dance. But it’s so much fun!

  10. memadtwo 5 months ago

    What a great drawing! The shadow is sublime! I can picture you dancing forever, Charlie, even if it’s just around the house. Or in your mind’s eye. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks Kerfe! 😃💕 Hehe… yeah, I still dance a bit in my mind, though these tap shoes are long gone by now. But, like riding a bike, it’s all still there!

  11. smzang 5 months ago

    Charlie says, ” It’s a story of trying, failing, and trying again to do something of interest in this crazy world”

    That sounds like the pathway to contentment and to success.

    I think you just might be the most prolific and diverse artiste that I have had the honor of knowing.
    You constantly amaze with your talents and your zest for doing.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      That’s so sweet of you say! 😃💕I try to be diverse, but if nothing else, I’m indeed prolific! hehe And I’m so happy to know you as well!

  12. hootiebirdsartjournal 5 months ago

    I also find you relatable Charlie. I think that’s the charm that keeps us coming back to read your posts day after day. I too used to tap in my youth, but alas, I don’t think I could get both feet off the ground at the same time anymore!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks my friend! 😃💕 I’m so happy you enjoyed this! Yeah… I haven’t tried tapping in actual shoes, but sometimes, when nobody is around, I try a little time step. It’s not as beautiful as I remember, but I it still feels beautiful every time I DO!

  13. Fatima Chamkha 5 months ago

    Amazing you were dance instructor for a few years, i like also to watch irish stepdance and i kow Danny Kaye i watch his movies when i was teenager and of course i like you doodle of tapdancing .

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Fatima! 😃💕 To set the record straight, I was never as talented as Danny Kaye, but I really had fun trying!

  14. June Hadaway 5 months ago

    Love the tap dancing shoes. You are so creative and talented in many ways. I like that you have followed your dreams and admire your stamina and courage to do what your heart desires.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, June! 😃💕That’s such a sweet thing to hear. Some days, I truly just feel crazy. But my heart doesn’t let me rest. I figure my tombstone will read, “Well… he tried a lot of stuff” hehe

  15. Anita Sinha 5 months ago

    Now I can understand why you sound like a movie star when you read your own blog posts in your podcasts…..After all those talents of acting, dancing and singing has helped you …maybe indirectly….

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thank you so much, Anita! 😃💕That’s so sweet of you to say! I do think it’s helped me in many ways. The weird bit in all of it is that I’m quite shy actually. I did those things to help me break out of that a bit. But it’s still a clever kind of hiding, becoming a different character, so it didn’t help with the shyness, but it gave me a world of knowledge in empathy.

  16. Viki Banaszak 5 months ago

    Wow! Tap dancing has always amaized me. I seem to be too heavy on my feet for it. I remember the days when to work in Hollywood you had to be able to sing and dance and act. So much tallent back then.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks, Viki! 😃💕 Yeah, I always loved tap dancing. And yes, I enjoyed those movies of that time… it’s wonderful when a story comes with a bit of dancing! hehe

  17. rubiescorner 5 months ago

    I am always trying to find artwork that others have finished. Yours is profound.

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