White Space

White Cat Watercolor Illustration - Doodlewash

Today, for our prompt of “Snow White,” though I was tempted to paint a half-eaten apple, I decided to play with my “whites” a bit by using a few subtle colors, with just a few pops of paper white. I often add lots of colors to my blacks, so I wanted to play with that effect in the inverse. The result is that my kitty looks a bit shocked and uncertain as though it actually knows it was just used in an experiment. Sorry kitty, but it is rather cool that the cat still looks white even if there’s almost no pure paper white used at all. In my day job, that’s focused on graphic design, it’s called white space, which is also sometimes referred to as negative space. That part of a design where there’s nothing at all. Of course, this space could be any color at all depending on the background. In watercolor, it’s deliberate, as unless you use masking fluid, a white pen, or white gouache, there’s no other way to achieve pure white. My propensity to keep things simple means I don’t use any of those extra things, and stick to ink and watercolor only. And it strikes me there’s another kind of white space I love. The kind when active thoughts fall to the background and I get to experience just being in the moment. It also strikes me that these times seem to be a bit more rare than they should be, considering how wonderful that experience really is. So many things seem important, but it’s sometimes the things that aren’t there at all that matter most.

For writers, artists, actors and other creative folk, the “art” isn’t as much what you chose to include as what you choose to exclude. Those “choices” that we make in the process of creating something. I’ve not yet learned how to simplify in the way that sends me into awe like the masters I admire. But, in my journey, I’m continually practicing the act of editing things out. In my writing, I’ve deleted whole sentences on the fly and then rambled on from there. It’s still quite real-time and unedited in the traditional sense, but my watercolor sketching has made me reconsider those bits that simply don’t matter. Not to say everything I write now matters, of course, as I’m still working on that each day as well. But, I love the idea that each time we sit down to create something, we have choices. And I love even more the thought that those choices are always very personal and unique to each of us. What we choose to include or exclude is the very definition of our own personal style. It’s bits of how we see the world mixed with bits of how we react to what we see. And the result is always something interesting and wonderful, giving us a glimpse into the artist.

As for Snow White, this made me think of Disney’s first animated film and today we watched the live-action version of Aladdin. This movie was panned by critics, but most all critics are super-critical of Disney making live-action versions of their classics in the first place. So, Philippe and I just ignored them and went to see it anyway. It was a very enjoyable movie and lots of fun! Sure, the animated version is still the clear winner, but I have to appreciate the choices that were made in creating this version. There were some very clever turns and creative things added, so I found it totally wonderful to watch. When I first started, I painted something very different each and every day. It was literally the first time ever that I painted this or that thing. Today, I’m revisiting many of my own classics and trying something a bit different in the process. And it makes me endlessly happy that I’ve now been sketching long enough to have nearly run out of things to paint for the very first time. I’m now in my second phase of my art journey. The one that involves bits of reinterpretation and going back to paint things I’ve enjoyed over again. I’m not trying to make them better, I’m just enjoying the happy chance at a reunion. And still, showing up each day to make that day’s choices, dancing once again with a bit of white space.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia 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!
Day 25 - White Cat Watercolor Illustration_IG
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
22 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    Coming from the Zentangle world, it’s really hard for me to simplify. Often what attracts me most is the pattern and density of things and I struggle to satisfy that love with keep it simple. But then – that’s half the fun. I’m looking forward to both Aladdin and the new Godzilla. We seldom go to see first-run movies but I want to see that one in 3D!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yeah, I adore details… it’s so much fun to spot them and try to recreate them. hehe… I don’t think I’ll ever go very abstract. 😉 And we don’t get out much to movies, but Aladdin was fun! Didn’t see the 3D version though. That would have made it cooler!

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 months ago

    The illusion of white – excellent.

  3. Karen Fortier 3 months ago

    Inquisitive kitty, well done Charlie

  4. Sharon Nolfi 3 months ago

    Nice whites, but those eyes are electric!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 hehe… yeah the eyes came out a bit charged… lol… that adds to the confused alert expression.

  5. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 months ago

    You rocked the whites but moreso the kitty. so beautiful. 🙂

  6. Lisa 3 months ago

    This is one sad sack cat. He looks like he just bellied up to the bar and is about to spill his guts to the bartender. But you’re right, the color reads as white and is very cool! Have a great weekend!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Lol… yeah, he turned out way sadder than I wanted, but that’s what happens when you’re moving quickly. Hope you have a great weekend as well!

  7. LoriCtoo 3 months ago

    He is so wonderful! Any time I need white, I just shadow with light blue, but I like how you incorporated the other colors to ad depth. This will be one I use for reference! Well done! I of course sketched my favorite Princess Snow. 😉 As for Aladdin, I will be seeing it hopefully on Tuesday. I have loved most all of the live actions.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I started by only using blue in my whites, but it’s fun to play with other colors… gives it a bit more interest and depth. Hope you enjoy Aladdin… I still prefer the animated version, but this was is still really fun for fans like us! 😉 hehe

  8. Karen Howard 3 months ago

    Ihave areally heard time with leaving white. I think it comes from coloring with crayons so much as a kid, lol, when we filled all the spaces! So I tend to overwork and not leave enough white.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yeah, it’s tough to preserve whites! 😉 Though it’s also about “lights” … if you want something to appear lighter, what’s near it needs to be darker. Though I struggle with making things too dark at times in order to compensate! hehe

  9. smzang 3 months ago

    Just an experiment? No…your brush and pen gave birth to a tangible being. She does seem to have something on her mind. hmmm, I wonder what it is…

    Charlie’s wisdom is extra-special today…” What we choose to include or exclude is the very definition of our own personal style. It’s bits of how we see the world mixed with bits of how we react to what we see.”

    It truly is!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕Glad you liked that bit… sometimes when I ramble a thought, I’m not always sure it even makes sense, but it feels right to me in the moment! And glad you liked my kitty…. it came out more shocked and sad than I intended… hehe… but it was fun to make!

  10. J.S - WEW 3 months ago

    In my view, your kitty want to say you something, but has some fear that’s why sitting silently also. Good idea of painting.

  11. memadtwo 3 months ago

    I must say that cat does look a bit distressed! You know how to convey emotion with the eyes. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah, this cat looks far more distressed than I intended… hehe… but as long as there’s emotion there, I chalk it off to a success! 😉

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