For Day 17 of #WorldWatercolorMonth and our prompt of “Music,” my mind drifted back to the 80’s and the amazing music listening contraptions that existed then. In short, the boombox which was a marvel of music technology and came in frighteningly large versions. The handle let you know that despite its incredible weight and girth it was indeed meant to be somehow portable. My own version is based on an actual Sharp boombox that came out at the very beginning of the 80’s and one that I coveted but never received. So, I’ve painted it with the popular hues of the decade to make it a bit more festive, and had there been one in these colors I would probably have found a way to acquire it, most likely putting in on layaway. Not surprisingly my everyday palette is already filled with colors that easily evoke days gone by. The very fact that I chose pink over purple for my set of secondary colors is no doubt because I was a teenager in the 80’s. This was a decade where guys could suddenly wear pink and it was considered cool. I happily wore pink, but was still never considered cool. I didn’t mind. I think it’s always good when you’re not exactly like everyone else. Granted, I tend to veer off in a very different direction in the things I create and ideas I come up with, but for me, that makes the journey much more fun!
The 80’s had so many memorable music hits, it’s quite impossible to list them all. I loved listening to the music and did actually have my own boombox even though it wasn’t as fancy as the one depicted here. The thing about the music is that it was all catchy and memorable. You could hear a song once and immediately be walking around singing it the next day. Indeed, there are many of those songs that we can still sing, if only in the shower these days. What was most notable was that all of the people singing those hits let their hair grow out. For a time, it seemed like you couldn’t possibly make the top of the charts unless your hair came down over your ears. If you didn’t have the sort of hair that would lay nicely, there was an iconic perm waiting for you to fix that. I didn’t have that sort of naturally thick and wavy hair, so I once tried a perm back then. It was hideous and looked like a feral poodle had curled up and died on my head. I only vaguely remember the reactions from my friends during this unfortunate hair experiment, but most, as I recall, were tinged with a bit of shock mixed with genuine loving concern.
Perhaps that’s why I really enjoyed watching Stranger Things on Netflix. It was fun to go back to an era that held so many memories. Not all of them were awesome, mind you, as I was a teenager, and those years are filled with plenty of tragedies that only I could properly understand. But, when I look back, it was actually a rather glorious time, even with all of the confusion and heartaches that I was quite sure only I had ever experienced. Now that I’m older, I know that everyone on the planet experiences a rather similar thing during this time. Yet, when you’re in this pivotal moment, everything seems like it’s only happening to you. That’s why, I think, that decade when we were teenagers, whatever that might be for you, is always a rather magical one. It’s filled with all of the decisions and foibles that will ultimately set a course that becomes the life we are living right now. Sure, there may be regrets, but mostly those memories have become something happy and golden. For me, I only regret what I didn’t DO, never what I tried and failed at doing. That’s just how I learned to take a different path. But even today, when I close my eyes, I still hear that music and experience that thrill of infinite possibility. The insanely optimistic hope I had for the future that I might create, when I was still just learning how to become something more like an adult, back in the 80’s.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Opus (Vivid Pink), Quinacridone Red, Benzimida Orange, Cobalt Turquoise, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen 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!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!