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.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Blue. 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!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!