Winston Churchill Day

Winston Churchill as a painter - doodlewash and watercolor sketch holding a paint brush and smoking a cigar

Today we celebrate Winston Churchill Day, and a rare attempt by yours truly to make a doodlewash of a human being. Though primarily known for his political career, Winston Churchill was also an accomplished artist and wrote a book called Painting As A Pastime. After facing depression during his working career, which he referred to has his “black dog,” he decided to pick up a paint brush for the first time at the age of 40. By the 1920’s, he would send 5 paintings to be exhibited in Paris under the assumed name of Charles Morin. Four of them sold for £30 each.

“Just to paint is great fun … Try it if you have not done so – before you die.”
– Winston Churchill

Churchill first started painting in 1915 when he was at his country home in Chartwell. Up until this point, his hobby had been brick laying and he would build walls as a form of relaxation. While in the country, he happened upon his sister-in-law, Gwendolyn, as she was painting with watercolors in the garden. Seeing that he seemed to have a bit of interest in trying it for himself, she gave him her young son’s paintbox and encouraged him to give it a try. Though watercolor started it all, he ultimatedly decide on a different medium. He later wrote, “Experiments with a child’s paintbox led me the next morning to produce a complete outfit in oils.”

“We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint box. And, for this, Audacity is the only ticket.”
– Winston Churchill

He had an outward flippancy about his painting and continued to exhibit under assumed names, including Mr. Winter, but he privately took learning very seriously and set out to master his skills and discover all he could. He loved the challenge of art, but also the peaceful tranquility it gave him. Though he started half way through his life, he would continue to paint for more than 4 decades, producing over 500 canvases before finally setting his brushes aside. In 2014, a collection of 15 of his paintings sold for an incredible £11.2million at a Sotheby’s auction. His modesty about his ability in life never stopped him from simply continuing to paint for the sheer love of painting. And that’s something definitely worth celebrating, each and every day.

“When I get to heaven, I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so to get to the bottom of the subject.”
– Winston Churchill

Join me any and all days you like during April by celebrating a National or International Day with a doodlewash! Tag your image #doodlewashaday and I’ll feature everyone who played along on doodlewash.com at the end of the month! 


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, and Nuetral Tint. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
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!
Published in By Charlie
62 Comments
  1. The Leaf Diary 1 year ago

    That is nice!

  2. Brilliant, Charlie. You’ve really captured the old boy.

    • Author

      Thank you Michael! So glad you think so! I’m not really a portrait artist so glad you think there’s a likeness! 😃

  3. Richard Eric Disney 1 year ago

    What Mr. Richards said…really nice! 🙂

  4. Kari 1 year ago

    I think you did a fab job on the portrait! I have to check out his painting! The story reminds me of George W. Bush who became a painter after his presidency.. Perhaps he painted before but I remember seeing an article about his paintings., not bad.. You’re really never too old to learn something new. 💕😘

    • Author

      Thanks Kari!! 😃💕Pushing my fears with this one! Glad you liked it! And yeah…I find it so inspiring to know I’m not the only one who picked up a brush late in life! 😊hehe

  5. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    Excellent painting….recognized him immediately. Wonderful feature, some of the best and most encouraging art/painter quotes come from Sir Winston Churchill. Brilliantly done, thank you for sharing.

    • Author

      Awww yay!! Thanks Haunani!! 😃💕So happy you think I got the likeness right. Portraits scare me!! Churchill was so inspiring in his art.

      • artandmoondreams 1 year ago

        It looks like you have painting portraits and figures well under control, and beautifully so.

      • Author

        Awww thanks, Haunani!! 😃💕 I think if I try more it would help me get past my fears of them. Hehe

      • artandmoondreams 1 year ago

        Absolutely!

  6. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    11.2 million Pounds?! Holy moly! Awesome painting of him, Charlie…I’ll bet this will sell for 11 million Pounds one day, too! <3

    • Author

      Awww you’re too sweet Teresa!! ❤️😃 Hehe… I don’t that will happen. But honestly if it only happens after you’re dead, who cares! Lol

  7. Teri C 1 year ago

    Excellent job on his painting, you’ve got the scowl just right. He was a fascinating character.

  8. Damita M-S 1 year ago

    Very nice Charlie. Love the story too!

  9. debiriley 1 year ago

    great job and wonderful insights into the man!

  10. Cathe 1 year ago

    What a great and inspiring post! Love your painting, I think it’s spot on!

  11. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    Many brilliant and creative people whose careers are known as something else are also artists – not surprising. You really captured Churchill in your painting, Charlie.

    • Author

      Awww thanks Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah… I had heard he painted but never really looked into the story before. It’s fascinating. So glad you liked the doodlewash!!

  12. Jacob 1 year ago

    Well this has made my evening, for obvious reasons – your portrait is so good! I reckon he would approve, though not without a clever remark or two on the perfectly stern look. I must look up his artwork – I knew of his avid painting but I’ve not checked the works out before. I’d no idea they were going for such ridiculous amounts of money either!

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob!! That means a lot coming from the portrait Master!! 😃 I was so worried he’d come out looking like an animal. People really aren’t my thing. And yeah…I knew he painted but didn’t know he was so prolific and successful with it. Interesting guy!

  13. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    Charlie, your portrait of WC is so charming. Thanks for the interesting write up. I love Winston’s attitude about painting.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! 😃💕 So happy you liked it! It was fun to explore his painterly side. And with a little digging I even found that watercolor started it all! Hehe

  14. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    So enjoyed your post today Charlie! I love his attitude about creating! I did not know that WC was a painter. And you should paint people more often, Charlie! This is truly marvelous, friend!! 💕🎨😃👍

    • Author

      Awww thanks Jill!! 😃💕 I figured the best way to get over a fear is to simply go for it. And then I was reading about Churchill and he’s so inspiring! I guess he’s right, Audacity is the only ticket! Hehe

  15. Snehal Kank 1 year ago

    This is so excellent work Charlie! One of your best work till day 😍✌🏼️

  16. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    Good choice, Charlie- and a good likeness!

  17. waynejacques 1 year ago

    Nicely done Charlie. Excellent likeness. People are very difficult.

  18. Great choice, and well done for doing a human, I recognised him straight away.

  19. Jodi 1 year ago

    Yay for you Charlie! And you did an amazing job too!!!! I love the quote about the first million years in heaven! 🙂

    • Author

      Awww thanks Jodi!! 😃💕Glad you liked my rare portrait! Hehe… And yeah… Churchill had some really great quotes!

  20. kirkistan 1 year ago

    Great image, Charlie. And i love the commentary. Why not do more people?

    • Author

      Thanks Kirk! I’m definitely going to try to do more…practice will help me get less nervous about them I’m sure! 😊

  21. Seriously, Charlie!!! You really MUST do more people. I don’t care what you or anyone else says, you definitely have whatever “it” is, because he was instantly recognizable! Rock on, bro!!! <3 More more more!

    • Author

      Hehe!! Thanks Laura!! 😃💜 I really appreciate that. I thought this one was a bit better on the likeness, but it’s only the 5th time I’ve tried a human being. Hehe…I definitely would like to try more!! I think the black and white reference photos helped me on this one. Not distracted by the colors! Hehe

      • Hey who cares how you did it, you DID it. My husband also recognized him instantly. Well done!

      • Author

        Yay! I love hearing that he did as well! Cool!!! Yeah…I’m seriously considering attempting a whole series. Best way to conquer fears is to just go for it! 😊hehe

      • YES!!! Oh, I would love it! I miss my face challenge but even the thought of painting a face still scares the living hell out of me lol! You should do it, Charlie!

      • Author

        Haha! Being scared is probably a great thing for us artists! And your face challenge is awesome!! If only be signing up for a month, not 100, so you’re still the better sibling!! Hehe 😉💜

      • Painting a face IMO is the ultimate. I really admire you for stomping those fears. You will smash it! You already are!!!

      • Author

        Thanks sis!! 😃😃

  22. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Wow I did not know or perhaps I forgot that Winston Churchill was an artist. You really should doodlewash more people Charlie, this is incredible.

    • Author

      Awww thanks Susan!! 😃💕 I’m so glad you liked this one. I’ve been working up to these attempts and conquering the fear for some time now. I’m definitely going to try more…practice will help me get more comfortable!

  23. memadtwo 1 year ago

    I love this post start to finish. The quotes are wonderful. And yes, you can do portraits! (K)

  24. Arvind 1 year ago

    this is awesome, you really captured his personality, bravo

    • Author

      Thanks so much Arvind!! 😃That means a lot coming from you! Portraits aren’t really my thing. I usually can’t get the likeness right. Glad ya liked it!

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