X Marks The Spot

Treasure Map Lantern Magnifying Glass Watercolor Illustration

For our Doodlewash prompt of “Lantern,” combined with the Inktober prompt of “Treasure,” I opted for a quick little doodle of a lantern-lit treasure map. Though finding treasure seems like the most amazing thing, I love the mystery of the pursuit the most. I remember reading books as a kid with characters in searching for some elusive treasure, pointing at the map and exclaiming, “X marks the spot!” In truth, the pursuit was the entire book, as there would have been much of a story if the treasure were easily found. I’ve discovered the same thing with my own art journey. Each day is a pursuit to find a sweet spot that feels most comfortable to me. It’s the “X” on my own artistic treasure map. Have I found it? Not quite, but this month’s adventure makes me feel like I’m getting closer and closer to understanding just where I should head next. For me, it’s always been less about the treasure and more about the story. I’m less concerned about discovering some final end result than I am about just knowing what happens in the next chapter. That moment when I turn the page of my sketchbook and try again. And as long as I keep sketching and turning pages, I know that there will always be a few treasures along the way.

I’ve always described my art journey as an adventure and that’s certainly been the case this month. Each little doodlewash is another clue as I go along. Bits of approaches I’m playing with that I might keep or could end up discarding entirely. There’s no mad dash to a box filled with treasure, but simply a steady approach of moving forward one sketch at a time.

Treasure Map Lantern Magnifying Glass Inktober 2019 Illustration

As for actual treasure maps, I always dreamed of finding one as a kid. The idea of having a mystery like that to solve amazed me. Of course, living in the suburbs of the Midwest meant I wasn’t going to be boarding a ship anytime soon and sailing off to parts unknown. But I was sure there could be some abandoned cabin in the woods that was hiding the secret to some sort of treasure. Thankfully, I was smart enough to never actually venture out alone in search of a creepy cabin in the woods. But, the idea of riddles like this were always alluring, not for the idea of winning the physical prize, but simply the idea of successfully solving the mystery.

While I’ve had a blast this month with my art, I’m still in the process of the journey itself. I have much more to learn and try still, and so I’m excited to DO so in the future. I have learned that I still lack a proper attention span, so anything that requires precision or careful line work is definitely not going to be “my thing.” I actually attempted to make a more careful line drawing earlier this month and got so bored that I just started scribbling instead. But that bit of messiness is equally part of my style. It’s much more of a doodle than a proper drawing and it’s really just washes of color, not truly a painting. The fun part is that no matter what technique I attempt, these bits of my own personality cause my style to appear no matter what. And like that kid I used to be, it’s fun to try anything and everything. Though I set out to learn which technique or approach in drawing I liked best, I’ve instead learned what I’ve always known. Simply DOing art is the actual treasure. And, no matter what shows up each day on that page of my sketchbook, I can happily smile, nod, and know that, once again, “x marks the spot.”

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta, Ultramarine (Green Shade), and Cobalt Turquoise. 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!
Treasure Map Lantern Magnifying Glass Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
22 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 1 month ago

    Nice idea for today’s prompt!!! I remember going on treasure hunts when I was a kid…quite an adventure since I’m not sure any of us knew what treasure we were actually hunting. When it comes right down to it…it’s the adventure itself that’s the treasure. IF an actual treasure chest ever was found it would mean the adventure was over…wouldn’t want that to happen. Let the adventure continue!!😊😍

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕Yay to that! Yeah, we kids had no clue what the treasure even way. There’s so much wisdom there!

  2. Karen Fortier 1 month ago

    Fantastic, Charlie! I always love a well told mystery that can keep me in suspense until the very end. Treasure hunting has its suspense too. Will there really be a worthy treasure at the end of the search? As artists we search for what makes us happy, satisfies our desire to learn and what continues to challenge us. It’s a great journey and hopefully we all have fun in the DOing!.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕Yay to always having fun DOing! It’s truly the greatest adventure of all!

  3. Silvia Elena 1 month ago

    You described your art journey beautifully in your text … and your drawing illustrates it perfectly. cute !!😍

  4. Sandra Strait 1 month ago

    In movies, the Macguffin is the object, whether treasure or the award to be won, something that the plot can hang around. It’s pretty unimportant what it is – it’s the struggle to find or win it that counts. I’ve often thought that real life is a lot like that. How much more peaceful it would be if people could recognize the macguffins and just enjoy the story.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Sooo true! I totally agree, Sandra! 😃💕 Yeah, we’ve be light years ahead then. If we could just focus on the story and forget all about that crazy MacGuffin!

  5. Zertab Quaderi 1 month ago

    Loved the post and the sketch too! The doodle sure does smell of oodles of mystery and adventure!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Zertab! 😃💕 So happy you enjoyed this! Yay to adventure!

  6. Lisa 1 month ago

    As a kid, when you’re just being a kid, you don’t know how good you have it. In hindsight, I feel so lucky to have grown up in the country with the parents I had who pretty much left us to our own devices. We were surrounded by woods and water, we had all the animals we could want, there were other kids nearby to play with, and while we weren’t rich, we had everything we needed. We explored a lot, and found loads of treasure. The home where I spent the majority of my growing up years was an old farmstead. Down in a swampy area fairly close to the house was a big weeping willow, and the farm family who used to live there had tossed all kinds of broken things under that tree. We kids would often poke around in there and find treasures galore!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Oh wow! That sounds like a childhood full of treasure! Wonderful! 😃💕 yeah, I’m so thrilled to have experienced my summers in the country. Kids in the city didn’t know what they were missing!

  7. Fatima Chamkha 1 month ago

    Beautiful done can see the atmosphere of adventures !!

  8. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 1 month ago

    Beautiful, Charlie!!!! Same always wanted to find treasure and fascinated with the knights Templar and all that from the movie national treasure lol. When I was doing research for a column I did one time I found a story about someone who was traveling in a small boat who saw a cave and had to stop and inside it held artifacts,… from many cultures. I got so excited lol. To find a piece of the past would be just a Wow experience. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 Oh wow… your story makes me so excited! hehe… that would be sooooo cool! I’ve always wanted to experience something like that. That’s probably why I like playing video games like that! hehe

  9. Robert J. Coleman 1 month ago

    The daily small victories – the day’s doodle – make the journey all the more fulfilling. And not knowing exactly where the final X is located ensures that the journey will never end! It’s a great life for sure!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      So true, Bob! 😃💕 Yeah, I love just letting the treasure appear. I know I should plan more, but it’s so fun to be surprised each and every day! hehe

  10. Loan Anh Pham 4 weeks ago

    I love your story and the way you did with this sketch 🥰. Yub, discovering some new thing like we are walking into the adventure with full of different feelings. What’s an exciting life🤩

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks, Loan! 😃💕 Yeah, it’s so fun to discover new things. This month has been a total adventure for me and my art. Something new every day!

  11. smzang 4 weeks ago

    Charlie says, “I’m less concerned about discovering some final end result than I am about just knowing what happens in the next chapter. ”

    Me too! I devour a book. At the same time I don’t want to end. I just want the story to go on and on, intriguing and enthralling, and as I type that, it reminds me that DOodlewash is the perfect book for me. It never ends and it never
    fails to excite. A treasure map is a perfect icon for DOodle wash. (and a lantern fits well with this late fall night)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 I love thinking of Doodlewash as the never-ending book! COOL!

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