Meet Charlie O'Shields, Founder of World Watercolor Month
Hi Charlie! First off, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how watercolor came into your life?
Sure! I’m a Creative Director by profession, and even my own mother doesn’t quite understand what that actually means. Basically, I’ve spent my career overseeing the design and concept of various creative projects from digital, print, product development, animation, and television movies. I have a degree in Studio Art, but became a director at a very young age and didn’t sketch or paint anymore. Cut to over 20 years later and my partner, Philippe, brought home a tin of watercolors one weekend in July 2015. I’d never tried watercolor before so I asked him if I could play, too! I was immediately hooked! I started at little blog the next day that I called Doodlewash to commit to learning and practicing by making something each and every day. The following year, in 2016, I founded World Watercolor Month in July and the Doodlewash blog has since become a thriving community where artists across the globe can share their stories, reviews, and tutorials.
Can you give us an overview of World Watercolor Month for those who might not know about it? How can one get involved?
World Watercolor Month in July was founded as a way to bring the world of watercolor lovers together for a month-long celebration of the medium. It features a 31 watercolors in 31 days art challenge, but that bits optional and anyone in the world can participate at any time by simply adding the hashtag #WorldWatercolorMonth whenever they post any and all watercolor art on social media during the month of July!
It was also founded as way to create awareness for arts education. It’s a non-profit event and people are encouraged to donate to our charitable partner The Dreaming Zebra Foundation to help get art supplies for underprivileged kids. The cool part about this charity is that they have a recycling program where people can donate their gently used art supplies as well as monetary donations. We always have really fun souvenirs for the event on sale as well and 100% of the proceeds go to Dreaming Zebra.
What is the most surprising thing that you’ve learned from this new global community of watercolor artists?
I think one of the most surprising and equally wonderful things I’ve learned is that there are hundreds of ways to use watercolor! When I first started it seemed like there were just a handful of techniques that everyone was using. Seeing people all over the world paint in their own unique way, opened my eyes to so many different approaches and possibilities that watercolor has to offer. And also, no matter how differently we use the medium, the love we share for it is the same and brings us each closer together, no matter where we might be in the world.
What is your favorite thing about using watercolor as your primary medium?
Though I should start with all of the wonderful and unique properties of the medium, honestly, it’s the simplicity and easy clean up that makes it the only painting medium I can use. I don’t have an art studio or space for one, so I paint on the edge of my kitchen counter each day. I set up my tiny studio, make my sketch for the day, and take it down again with ease. And the transparency of the colors, along with mixing them to constantly discover new colors, is relaxing, exhilarating and fun!
I’m an illustrator and always start with an ink sketch first, and then color with watercolor. Makes me feel like a kid again, like I’m coloring in a coloring book, only one I made myself this time! Watercolor is definitely my favorite way to color!
What is your favorite thing to paint?
I love painting all sorts of stuff! Actually, my personal brand has become “Sketching Stuff” because that pretty much sums up what I do. I create an illustration each and every day to accompany a story, or a bit of a written ramble that comes out that day. Some of my favorite stories that have appeared on my blog are what I share in my Sketching Stuff podcast. I love nature, animals, and food most of all, but also retro objects that remind me of my childhood. I usually just sketch one thing on a white background so there’s not too much context added. This way people who view the stuff I sketch and paint can add their own personal memories to fill in the blanks.
What advice do you have for those who are interested in using watercolor, but may not think they are a good artist or are hesitant to start?
DO it! Okay, that’s rather simple advice, but our Doodlewash community was started with a manifesto that includes a list of 10 DO’s and absolutely no DON’TS. We were all artists once, when we first held a crayon and made that first scribble on a piece of paper. And we thought we were amazing because we were! Nothing really changed as we’re still that little kid, just a bit more grown up now. My advice is to just try watercolor and have fun! And then take some classes and have more fun! Follow your heart and what makes it sing. If you ever get frustrated, go back to the beginning and start playing with color again to remember why you started in the first place!
How did you become connected with Royal Talens?
I was introduced to Kyle Richardson about 3 years ago by a friend at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff (also a World Watercolor Month Official Sponsor!). And I’m so happy to connect with such a great company!
about Charlie O’Shields
Charlie O'Shields is the creator of Doodlewash®, host of the Sketching Stuff podcast, and a big kid at heart. For more than 1,400 consecutive days, he has created a little watercolor illustration in his sketchbook and shared a story about whatever came to mind that day. In 2016, he founded World Watercolor Month in July, a charitable event to support arts education that features the 31 watercolors in 31 days challenge. His true passion is inspiring as many people as possible to sketch and paint and help artists of all ages reconnect with their inner child, natural creativity, and just have tons of fun!
World Watercolor Month (July): worldwatercolormonth.com
Podcast & Books: sketchingstuff.com