Those Things We Have In Common

Two Seahorses Watercolor Illustration

Today, we have a prompt of “Seahorse,” and so I decided to sketch two of them. I’d once read of some seahorse couples that stay together for life and this to us humans often seems quite romantic. Indeed, for them, it’s more of a smart survival mechanism as they simply get more successful at breeding the longer they are together. But, I do like to anthropomorphize creatures in my mind and a touch in my sketches, and imagine them becoming the characters I loved in storybooks as a kid. Those fairytale places were every animal could talk and some even sported fancy clothes. You can actually watch a child grow bored while an adult is trying to give them a teaching moment, but let an animal do the talking and everything changes. This is why Aesop’s fables were so popular. When it’s another form of ourselves telling us what we should do, it’s just not as much fun. But when it’s true love and we’ve just found our soulmate, it’s a wonderful feeling indeed. It’s like the sun is suddenly shining down only to spotlight our amazing luck. Though, yeah, we still don’t really like for that wonderfully special person to actually tell us what to do all the time.

It’s quite true that I never liked being told what to do as a kid. Later, I realized it was more about how things were shown to me. I loved being shown what I “could” do very much! I just never liked dogma and rules. This revelation changed things for me when it came to taking art classes. I looked at each bit of instruction as, “well that’s a cool thing I could do next!” and not as “that’s exactly how I must do it at all times henceforward.” This shift in thinking made me go gaga for art instruction and I’ve watched way too many videos to count. The result is what you see in my posts, and yeah, it doesn’t look anything like the instructors who taught me their techniques. Some ideas I discovered along the way felt like a revelation to me. Not, because of the specific bit of technique that was introduced as much as the approach of the artist. That thing they said that made me think, yeah, that’s just like me! And then I took all of those techniques, thoughts, and styles and put them in my “ME blender” and waited to see what came out. Of course, it was a completely different look, since it was indeed my own unique style. That’s been the part of this journey that’s been the most fun. My sketches have improved over time, but they’ve never lost that bit of me that made them special in the first place.

In art school, I dutifully tried to copy the paintings of masters. That was the challenge set to me by my teachers. I learned in the process that I’m no Leonardo da Vinci. I lack the finesse and patience. Yet, I’m thrilled about that, and though I’m a total fan of his, I’m totally cool with just being me. Crazy, clumsy me isn’t a half-bad artist after all. And I know I have much more to learn and experience along the way. For me, that’s the most exciting bit. If I thought I’d actually mastered something, what would be the point in showing up to do it every day? Even the masters I adore know that it’s a title that means they’ve only managed to learn and achieve a bit more than the rest of us. But, they are still learning each and every day as well when they sit down to sketch and paint. In the journey of life and art, we only reach milestones, and nothing is ever conclusive. There’s always more we could have done. And that’s the very beauty of life itself. Nobody, not even the masters, are capable of doing everything that’s possible in life. And this gives me great comfort. So, I’ll just keep sketching on, enjoying the wonders that my teachers have to show me while happily celebrating those things we have in common.

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Day 7 - Two Seahorses Watercolor Illustration_IG
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
24 Comments
  1. Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

    Lovely seahorses! One of my favorite marine animals. Another interesting fact about them is that the males carry the babies during gestation, then release dozens of tiny seahorses into the water.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕I know! They are such interesting creatures. I find them endlessly fascinating!

  2. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    I love that you painted a pair of seahorses Charlie.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕yeah, it was a bit ambitious, actually… seahorses are rather challenging to make! hehe

  3. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 months ago

    Aren’t seahorses such incredible animals? Up there with dragons and unicorns – only they’re real. My eyes popped wide when I saw your little lovefish – I painted a nearly identical pair on a card for one of my grandchildren, even the same colors. As for rules – they’re only to give you a foundation, not to define you. Good thing you’ve spread your wings and learned to swim – (wait, that’s not right.) Anyway, you’re now a teacher. The rules are yours.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Seahorses are so odd and awesome… I love them! 😃💕And so cool you painted a similar set… great minds! 😉 And thanks for saying I’m a teacher, even though I still just feel like ones of the kids. But, I will always own my own rules! And teach others to DO the same! 😉

  4. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    All too often, ‘mastering’ something means doing the same thing over and over until you get it just right. For me, that lasts about 5 minutes and I’m off doing something else. I’ll take a ‘jack of all trades’ over a ‘master’ anyday!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      hehe! Yay to that! 😃💕 Wait… that’s brilliant… we’re just seeking a Masters Degree in Jack Of All Trades! That’s something I could definitely work for!

      • Sandra Strait 2 months ago

        Lol! We could probably get the degree based on life experience alone!

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

          Exactly! I think we can already print it out and hang it on the wall! 😉 lol

  5. Lisa 2 months ago

    And the males carry the babies! 😂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      I know!! 🙂 lol Can you imagine if a human male was told he had to do that? Sure, maybe after years of evolution, but today, women are far superior. 😉

  6. Robert J. Coleman 2 months ago

    Ah, being “told the proper way to do something”, the perfect way to kill creativity, from one’s youth right up to today. Picking and choosing from the cafeteria of art ideas and techniques, that’s what makes our work unique to each of us. You got it working alright! bob.c

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Bob! 😃💕 So thrilled you agree! Yeah, that’s why I created a fun Activity Book when prompted for something more educational. hehe… I was literally the only thing that I could think of that celebrate that a la carte idea!

  7. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Lovely seahorses! I remember thinking, as a child, that seahorses were imaginary and magical..like unicorns.
    I think I learn something new every time I pick up a paintbrush and for me discoveries and ah ha moments are part of the joy of painting. Even the “oh, NO” discoveries have a lesson in them somewhere hehehe.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 hehe… I totally agree! Truthfully, those “oh, NO!” moments are a gift! It’s far easier to know when you’ve botched something than when you’ve just gotten something a bit off.

  8. LoriCtoo 2 months ago

    They are definitely a wonder of the world. My sister had some for awhile when I was younger. Yours are much prettier!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 Mine have a lot of artistic liberties applied, but I’ve always adored these creatures. So weird and wonderful!

  9. Doreen Bowers 2 months ago

    Such graceful and mystical creatures… l love your colors…. and love your facts on them too…

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Doreen! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed this! Yeah, seahorses have always been fascinating to me!

  10. smzang 2 months ago

    Charlie says, “In the journey of life and art, we only reach milestones, and nothing is ever conclusive. There’s always more we could have done. And that’s the very beauty of life itself.”

    Yes!!
    I love the interaction you painted between those two seahorses. So much said in those brush strokes. Beautiful!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 I was hoping their silent conversation said something. Yeah, I can’t imagine feeling like I’ve done everything I could in life. Even at the end. 😉

  11. memadtwo 2 months ago

    Great seahorses Charlie. They definitely look like they’re in love!(K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 yay! It’s always a good day when you can paint love!

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