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.
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!
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!