For Day 20 of World Watercolor Month and our optional prompt of “Focus,” I made a quick little sketch of a mouse waiting for a Polaroid picture to develop. I remember waiting with anticipation to see how these types of photos turned out. It was a slow process, waiting for the colors to appear and then the contrast to see if it was going to be a perfectly captured moment or nothing much at all. Indeed, it’s a bit like creating with watercolor. And today, I lost all focus and was caught up in a bunch of different projects at once so I nearly ran out of time to make this post. I don’t stress much about it, as it’s equally fun to just start scribbling something and see what appears there. A mouse is always the easiest thing to use as a human stand-in due to their diminutive size, which makes them simple to add to any scene. I’m not sure if a mouse would have the patience to wait for a Polaroid picture to appear, but perhaps curiosity would prevail.

These days, the idea of “instant” is a much faster thing indeed. We can snap a constant stream of photos with our phones, making it an immediate experience that doesn’t require any wait time at all. Yet, all of those digital memories get sort of locked into the tiny box of a phone. There are so many times when I’m wanting to show someone a photo and find myself frantically scrolling through photo after photo never to find the one that I was hoping to show. There’s something to be said for scarcity when it comes to creating things. When it’s not easy or inexpensive to create something, we might make less, but what we create has more meaning. I think that’s why I love making things in a sketchbook. It’s tangible and if I make a mistake, I can always turn the page or just scribble through it. Though I do sketch and color really quickly, I’m still slower than a Polaroid picture. It’s far from instant, but it instantly lightens my mood and lifts my spirits, so for me anyway, it’s definitely a more lasting and memorable way to create an image.

Philippe and I used to take so many photos when we first met, but we’ve stopped taking so many over the years. Those early days include a complete chronicle of not just our own faces, but everything we cooked or ate along the way. I haven’t gone back to look at those photos in years, but knowing that they exist brings me a bit of comfort. It’s nice to know that one day I’ll be able to look back on the very beginning of us and remember all of those wonderful moments we spent together. I’ll also notice that I’ve gotten older, fatter, and grayer, but inside I’m still the same guy that I was all those years ago. I’m still trying to create new things and come up with new ideas. I’m still wanting to be something when I grow up, but I’m constantly redefining what that something actually is. Perhaps, I’ll never quite figure out what I want to be, but I know who I am, and that’s all that matters. I’m just a kid with a sketchbook who likes to make lines and paint with colors each day, eagerly waiting for that wonderful moment when things start coming into focus.

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Waiting For A Polaroid Picture To Develop Mouse Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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13 thoughts on “Coming Into Focus

  1. Your mouse looks very proud of taking whatever picture is coming out of that camera…maybe a bit impatient too.
    Somewhere recently I saw a sticker or something that said “Don’t Grow Up, It’s a Trap” and it definitely made me smile.

  2. Charlie I can see who you are. You are a caring guy who just wants to love. Just like God told us to.

    Yes taking pictures. I tried this morning on my stomp to retake a couple of shots of day lilies to make sure I got the colour right, so I can paint those, but when I got home all I had were pictures of my head leaning over. Dark glasses. Mask. And sun blindness. I obviously pushed the wrong button or something.

  3. There have been a recent series on the news about ‘decision fatigue’, caused by the stress of deciding what to spend money on during inflation. I think I’ve been suffering from it with all the projects I have going. I get to a point where it’s hard to focus on any of them, so I’ve been jumping from one to the other, doing a little here and a little there. Not as satisfying but it gets the jobs done. Usually.

  4. Hello Charlie,

    The little mouse can barely wait to see how the picture turns out! Your rambling about the instant pictures on the phone reminded me of my best friend’s grandmother. She was 94 (this was in 2001), and she had Alzheimer’s. Her memory of a photograph being taken was ‘only on special occasions’ and then having to wait quite a few days to see the picture. One day my friend clicked her picture on his digital camera and showed it to her. She used to sit by the front door of their cottage. That day she was literally like a child, squealing ‘my grandson knows magic! He can make a picture right away’. Hardly anyone understood but her joy was infectious. Thanks for bringing back such a sweet memory Charlie.


  5. Haha, such a funny whimsical painting. I was kind of young for the poloroid era, but I do remember as a young kid having a poloroid taken and waiting to see it develop in front of my eyes. You really captured the shape and accuracy of the camera well in this painting. I like how you used a lot of greys and neutrals in this painting.

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