Art and language are often thought to live in separate worlds but if an individual is able to combine both he creates an atmosphere that brings together those who would have otherwise stayed apart. Charlie O’Shields does just that in his blog the Doodlewash. He has created an online journal where he can share his thoughts and artwork. He captures the simplicity of life with his bright watercolor pictures and insightful thoughts. His childlike openness makes him easy to respond to and makes a person feel as though they are having a one on one conversation with the blogger himself. Throughout his journal he seeks to connect with his readers through his thoughts and paintings.
A journal is a personal belonging that is not commonly shared with others. However Charlie has decided to share part of his journal with his readers. An important element of his blog is that each individual post is related to the main object in each of his painting. When he reminisces about when he had to use training wheels he painted a red bike with the training wheels. In his blog about fruit he portrays a full picture of all types of delicious looking fruit, such as a pineapple, grapes, and kiwis. This is very important, as it makes sure that not only adults are able to enjoy his blog but also children who cannot read yet. They are able to enjoy the bright and colorful pictures even if they do not know what the words are. For those who can read however will notice that the pictures are the focus of the text and this allows the reader to better understand the meaning behind Charlie’s thoughts by being able to visualize exactly what he is describing.
By sharing his thoughts with his readers Charlie invites them to respond. Each journal entry is three medium length paragraphs long. This allows the reader to read the thought without it becoming extensive and uninteresting. Throughout each paragraph he uses first person, which reminds his readers that he is a living human with a real life and real problems. People will be more inclined to respond to what he has written about if it is done in a way that is inviting and open. Charlie achieves this by talking about times when he would wake up on weekend mornings to a full plate of pancakes or how he loved to get packages in the mail if only he could pop all the bubble wrap that was inside. He creates the atmosphere of listening to a short story, a story that a friend would share with you.
One example of this connection is in his piece entitled “Training Wheels.” This blog envelops many of the aspects of Charlie’s creativity. He usually begins each post with a personal event that took place sometime in his childhood. This ranges from what he did, ate, played with, saw, and much more. In this particular post he begins by explaining how as a child he hated his training wheels and how hard he tried to get rid of them as soon as he possibly could. “The training wheels were embarrassing, and so I didn’t go very far on them back then.” He was envious of the other kids who didn’t need them. By including a glimpse into his childlike mind the reader is able to relate to him as someone who has once been young and filled with energy. He then goes on to express how he wished that he hadn’t taken his training wheels for granted and instead been thankful for them. By reflecting on his past thoughts he is able to explain how he now understands his childlike behavior: sometimes foolish and yet sometimes wise. He pulls out lessons he has learned during his transition from childhood to adulthood. His application of using training wheels even now reminds his readers of the importance of childhood and learning.
Charlie’s blog consists mainly of reminisces of times gone by and includes many stories from his childhood in his daily posts. His journal styled blog seems to almost be like a giant storybook full of coming of age experiences. In his “Something Fruity” post he includes many different facts about the types of fruit that he has included in his painting. His addition of knowledge makes the blog post not only fun to look at but also mind-boggling as the reader learns new things about everyday items. For example, “Apples are actually a member of the rose family, along with peaches and raspberries.” His inclusiveness of all things interesting and unique makes what could be a boring account something that the reader will look forward to.
Another important aspect of Charlie’s blog is the way he writes to his readers, encouraging them to discover things for themselves and to branch out and try new things. He demonstrates this in the blog, “A Bug’s View,” by reminding his audience that it is ok to wonder what our purpose is here on earth. He describes how he once thought that being a tiny insect would be fun and exciting and then later in life how it might possibly get him out of work and trouble. “The idea that one could be shrunk down to an impossibly small size for a brief period of time is enthralling.” Charlie often talks about how he struggled with not being a good enough artists. He was jealous of others and envied the works of other people. In many of his posts he admits this but then concludes with the fact that he is now ok with not being the best. He has learned that it is ok to be “small”. That it is ok to be afraid of what life is bringing and not knowing what tomorrow holds. He looks up to other artists and wants to learn from those who are better than him because he knows at that time he will truly grow. In fact he says “But I never get discouraged as I now realize they all have something to teach me.” He is the best he can be and all he can do is practice over and over again. Even if he isn’t a great artist now he can still admire and learn from the best without feeling like a failure.
He has worked with photography and drawing but he has found his true joy in being able to watercolor. He lets his readers know that he has never had patience for directions “I like to have fun in whatever I do, and for me, that usually means just jumping in and trying things without reading the manual first.” Ironically however he has provided his readers and fellow artists with a vast amount of art tutorials and art supply reviews. This shows that although one thing may not work for him it doesn’t mean it won’t help someone else out in the long run.
One other thing that he adds to his blog is his monthly art challenges. He not only wants his audience to enjoy his stories and paintings but he also wants them to take part in it themselves. His wish is for others to be able to express themselves through any type of medium. He only hopes that he can be of assistance in guiding them to discovering what type that is. As an artist he knows what it is like to be frustrated. Each of his posts allows the reader to get to know the author as someone who has known what it is like to feel like they aren’t good enough. Charlie doesn’t fear though. He knows his potential and he has faith that everyone that comes across his blog will find his own.
Charlie isn’t a glamorous writer. He doesn’t write just to fill up a page or try and make himself sound as though he knows it all. His writing is simple yet at times profound, pulling at the innermost parts of the readers mind. He writes trusting each person that reads his blog will feel as though they have gone through the same experience. He wants to build others up and share his love of language and art with everyone. As a writer he draws people to him by sharing things that matter most to him. As an artist he pulls people in by expressing himself through a medium that speaks without words. Throughout each picture and each story Charlie has made an effort to connect to people. He has encouraged creativity and togetherness through words and art. He has created a place where people can come to teach and to learn from each other.
Make sure to check out his work!