For our Doodlewash prompt of “Squirrel,” combined with the Inktober prompt of “Wild” I opted for a squirrel going nuts over an acorn. Actually, a few days ago, when I posted an illustration of our dog Phineas and his friends, the squirrel got sort of lost in the background. So, I figured since Michael the squirrel is Phineas’ best friend, he needed his own illustration. Michael comes to visit often and it’s quite fun to watch him just outside our kitchen window. If there was one word to describe this little guy, it would be “curious.” He’s always looking through our flower pots while standing on two legs in the most adorable way, or crawling about reaching for whatever treasure he might find in his path. If we go outside, he doesn’t run off, but just stops and stares in that same curious fashion. As I mentioned, I’m sure it might be a different squirrel on some occasions, but we like to imagine it’s the same curious friend popping by for a visit. And, I for one am quite inspired by Michael. He’s a constant reminder to always look at the world with fresh eyes and grab for all the shiny acorns life brings.
That would be acorns in a metaphorical sense, of course, unless you happen to be really into nuts like Michael. Part of the reason why we assume he and Phineas are best friends is that Phineas doesn’t chase after him. If they meet up outside, they just stop and stare at one another and don’t seemed phased in the least. Once, while Phineas was outside and Michael was in a nearby tree, the squirrel did start shouting at him, but Phineas just pretended he didn’t hear him. No doubt, it was some quarrel over yesterday’s poker game and Phineas’ refusal to give Michael the nuts he’d won in it.
There’s a glass door in our kitchen that leads outside and we’ll often find Michael peering through the glass. Sometimes, Phineas will wander over and they’ll just stare at each other again, as if communicating telepathically. Not surprisingly, Phineas gets bored first and will just wander back and lay on the couch. Michael looks noticeably miffed, as he was most likely expecting an invitation to come inside. But, he eventually wanders off in search of another nut.
While I’m not entirely sure this is normal behavior for a dog and a squirrel, there’s one thing that makes this unusual pairing possible. Their curiosity is apparently stronger than their fear. I think that’s why I find their little relationship so inspiring. It’s a wacky reminder to always push past my own fears and try new things. This is what I’ve been doing all month long, and in many ways I guess this is my thank you to dear Michael. I’ve always thought of myself as a curious person, of course, but acting on that curiosity hasn’t always been my next step. When it comes to my art, I have tended to stick to things I know well and skip ideas when they require too many references or too much of my own imagination. I truly didn’t think I had the talent to make a sketch from an idea that was in my head. As it turns out, by dutifully sketching stuff each and every day these past four years, I’ve got quite a visual database that allows me to fill in the gaps when references fail to deliver. I’ve still lots of practice ahead, but it feels like I’ve made bigger strides forward this month. I can’t give all of the credit to a squirrel, of course, but I can say that there’s no better skill when it comes to making things than the simple act of staying wildly curious.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Terra Cotta, Ultramarine (Green Shade), Cobalt Turquoise, Benzimida Orange, Opus (Vivid Pink). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen (Broad Nib) 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!