Training Wheels

Day 23 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Training Wheels Children's Vintage Red Bike Banana Seat Bicycle

One of the most memorable moments in my childhood was that wonderful day I was able to ride a bike all by myself. Before that glorious moment, I had to have training wheels which felt more like riding a large tricycle and not like being the grown boy I imagined myself to be. I dreamt of going on wild adventures and traveling far away once I was able to take a bike out by myself. Of course, I simply dreamed about being able to travel the two blocks to my friend’s place, but it still felt like an amazing thing to be able to do. The training wheels were embarrassing, and so I didn’t go very far on them back then. Looking back, I’m not sure why, as many kids my age had them, but I wanted to bike like the “big kids” and was impatient to get to that point. I wanted to try riding a bike without them any time my parents would let me, just to see if maybe this was the day I could do it. I’d wake each morning wondering when that day was going to come…

Looking back, I think I didn’t quite give those training wheels the respect they deserved. They at least allowed me to ride a bike, even if it wasn’t in the way that I dreamed. And riding a bike was pretty amazing. It makes me think about all the times in my life when I’ve struggled to be like those I admired. Whether it was an incredibly gifted and witty writer or a painter who could convey a world of emotion in just a few brush strokes. When I was in college, I took a drawing class where you were supposed to copy the work of “master.” This exercise was like a form of training wheels for drawing and meant to help you learn techniques and see things more clearly before venturing off on your own. My first attempt made me want to cry as it looked like my “master” had succumbed to a stroke in the middle of the drawing and died shortly after. It was that bad. But I refused to give up and kept redrawing the thing until it at least closely approximated the “master” during his first attempt at drawing anything at all. That was progress.

Today, I’ve built a community where I’ve surrounded myself with artists far more talented than I am. Amazing people who’ve mastered various techniques and can produce work that leaves me staring in awe. But I never get discouraged as I now realize they all have something to teach me. Each brush stroke, each line, is another clue in my art journey and I need only sit back and let it all wash over me to learn what to do next. Just like when I was a kid, I do long to be like them. To paint something so incredibly profound and beautiful that it leaves everyone gasping. But I’ve got plenty of time. Unlike when I was a kid, I now understand the power of practice. I still don’t have an ounce of patience, but I know that each day is just a practice for the next. I continue to study my new “masters” and learn bits of what they know. While sometimes chuckling to myself that it took me so many years to truly appreciate training wheels.

Join us for the January Doodlewash Adventure: Childhood Memories,
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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Perylene Maroon, Ultramarine Deep and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 23 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Training Wheels Children's Vintage Red Bike Banana Seat Bicycle
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!
14 Comments
  1. Jacob 4 months ago

    Most adorable! I like the funky seat. Ah, I remember the summer evenings trundling up and down the road with those stabilisers, and similarly not wanting to go too far for the embarrassment of the thing – I started learning quite late, and it was a bit disheartening seeing younger kids zooming by unaided. What a joyous moment it is when those training wheels come off!

    • Author

      Thanks, Jacob! 😃💕 hehe…. they called it a “banana seat”… forgot to mention that bit. They said it was more comfortable, but the tip of the banana always came up sharply in a straight spot for boys. But yay to the moment when the wheels came off!!

  2. Jodi 4 months ago

    such wonderful memories this evokes!

  3. Jill Kuhn 4 months ago

    I couldn’t wait to get rid of my bicycle training wheels too, Charlie!! 😃 Thanks for helping me remember the thrill of riding a bike on my own… Awesome Doodlewash!! I think your art is ALWAYS super FUNtastic, Charlie!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 And yes, we can ALL improve in our art but it is the JOY of the journey…I do hope I’m always learning, like you! 😍🎨👍

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jill! 😃💕 So happy you liked this one. Yeah… the thrill of riding a bike for the first time is sooooo memorable! But cheers to this journey… it’s all about the FUN of it! As you know so well!! 😉😃😃

  4. Aw the joy of learning, when do our stabilisers come off in art? I don’t think they ever will for me, always learning and watching other artists is so important, and also so much fun, inspirational and refreshing. It’s great looking at others work, and so lovely that we are not all the same, how boring art would be if it were!…so art is like riding a bike, some learn fast, some ride for fun, some go on long journeys, some use for work, some go scenic, some have all the posh gear, some have an old rickety hand me down, others just use it now and then, some daily? …..keeping balance is the key! Doesn’t it sound familiar 😀Your bike is so so cute, I would have loved it as a kid, but you can take those stabilisers off Charlie 😀😀😀😀

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! 😃💕 Lol… I have no idea when the stabilizers come off in art… hehe… hasn’t happened for me yet! But I’ve just learned to enjoy the ride as that’s the most fun anyway. As yes, art is definitely like riding a bike as you described so eloquently. Each person is so different and yet, once you learn how to ride in any way you do it, it’s impossible to forget how.

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 months ago

    I can tell by your charming painting how tiny this little bike with training wheels is – just right for a 2 or 3 year old. Learning to ride a bike is one of the most memorable moments of a young child’s life, surpassed perhaps only by learning to walk and then to talk. Learn to walk, talk, bike, and the child is ready to conquer the world. Of course, that world is only from his house to the sidewalk, but still…

    • Author

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 This one is such a wonderful memory for me. And yes, talk walk and ride and you’re ready to take the world by storm. The world is always only as big as it seems at the time. I liked when the world felt a little smaller and more conquerable.

  6. memadtwo 4 months ago

    I like your analogy. I think we never get out of “training”. (K)

    • Author

      Yeah, I really think so too, but learning to love the training is the real key! The journey is so rewarding! 😉💕

  7. […] O’Shields, Charlie. “Training Wheels.” Doodlewash January 2017. Online. February 11, 2017. Available. https://doodlewash.com/2017/01/23/training-wheels/ […]

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