laughing dormouse

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Loving dormouse watercolor painting


The kind promise for this month is “I will live with joy for no apparent reason.”

I googled joyful animals and discovered this laughing dormouse. It’s a little out of season, since it is a spring picture. Spring makes me happy anyway so, why not draw this?


First I sketched the image. The dormouse face was the most difficult to capture, but I eventually got a version that satisfied me

I painted the background in watercolor paints. I very much like the way this turned out.

Then I used the watercolor pencils for the foreground stems and the dormouse. I wasn’t happy with the flowers because they are white and it was hard to make them out. The same thing was true of most of the dormouse. I decided to use ink to make things more obvious.

I’ve also been working with the Joseph Campbell quote this month: “we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is for us.”.  I need to be willing to let go of my internal image of the project, along with my plan of my ability to make smooth careful marks with the pen.

Because my head shakes and also makes surprising marks when my leg spasms, my marks look very shaky and discontinuous. (You can see that most easily on the leaf that stretches toward the right of the painting.) This made the lines of the project scumblier then I would wish.

I tried to add dimension by making some lines thicker and adding shadows underneath some flowers and around the base of the dormouse.

The kind of mark I can make means the image lost some of the cuteness of the photo and means things like the mouse’s hands are not as finely represented as I might hope.

However, looking at the finished project, you can see a laughing creature.


  • I am learning more about how to use watercolor. I like the brighter colors that it allows.
  • While the watercolor pencils give me some detail, they are lighter and therefore more difficult to see.
  • While I like the unexpectedness of the ink marks I make, I would like to get better at envisioning them before I choose and plan a project.
  • Next time I use ink, I would like to plan some for the corners of the project.
  • Next month’s promise is about well-being and I would like to find an image of some plants or flowers to paint/draw. That should enable me to do more painting (as in the background of the dormouse image.)
  • Note also that my ability to paint is dependent on PCA staffing in the morning, so that may be a challenge in February. (An alternative to painting would be to create something using the computer. I may try that first as staffing issues evolve.)

photo credit: Andrea Zampatti


Posted on

January 28, 2019

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