For our optional World Watercolor Month prompt of “Machine,” I decided to make up a flying machine with a touch of steampunk and a French bulldog pilot. Yeah, it’s anyone’s guess how my mind leapt to this when seeing this prompt, but I have always been fascinated by impossible flying machines. These are the kind that couldn’t really fly in real life, as they would require a bit of magic to get off the ground. I’ve always loved the idea of things like this. From that car in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the flying bed that Angela Lansbury used in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I assume the magic would also work to ease my fear of heights as well. If something is impossible to fly in the first place, this must mean it’s equally impossible to fall. As a kid, I’d craft all sorts of little contraptions that looked like they should work. I was no engineer, and only interested in the aesthetic appeal. But, I’d always imagine those machines sailing off on the most amazing adventures.

I love vintage machines because there are so many ornate parts. Everything these days is made on the cheap and all of those extra embellishments have disappeared. That’s perhaps why magical machines in storybooks still tend to have a bit of a vintage flair. It’s just cooler. I remember my first manual typewriter and how cool it looked and then later being disappointed by the look of its electric cousin. And my mother had an antique sewing machine that was so beautiful. It was by far a more interesting object than the actual sewing machine she used each day. Mechanical parts from gears to clockwork have always intrigued me. Even the machines that were real seemed almost impossible as I watched them do the things that they did. With just a bit of creativity and ingenuity, though, the most incredible things were indeed invented. Some of these things don’t get a lot of use today, but they still managed to change the world in their time.

I think it’s always good to remember what came before us. As technology zooms by so fast that it seems to be changing every day. And some of the machines from those “simpler” times were insanely complex and not so simple as well. They were things born by incredible feats of human engineering that left people stunned and in awe. I think we don’t get quite as impressed anymore when a new machine arrives. We’ve seen so much by this point that it’s almost as if we were almost expecting it to appear. There just aren’t quite as many technological surprises these days. But, if we jump inside our imagination and create a little something fun for a French bulldog to enjoy, then those surprises can still happen. It’s still possible to make something unexpected in a sketchbook. And that always makes me happy. Even without actual magic, it can still feel a touch magical soaring through the air in my mind, while dreaming of flying machines.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine (Green Shade) 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? Click here!
Steampunk Flying Machine French Bulldog Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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50 thoughts on “Flying Machines

  1. Oh, I’m in love! This might be your best painting yet! I love old machines as well, especially the ones with a steampunk aesthetic. As the song goes …just put a gear on it and call it steampuuuuuunk!

  2. ohhhhhhhhhhh so super cute!!!! This is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! I hear you loud and clear I love love love things that are full of character and made to last!!! Plus they are so beautiful ahhhhhhhhhhhh lol 🙂

  3. So beautiful, Charlie! I was so in awe of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a kid. Other than the scary guy catching children, I loved that movie. It seemed more feasible than the flying car in Grease and not as scary as the flying elevator in Willy Wonka. 😊 Beautiful painting, Charlie. My mother liked it also.

  4. This is great! It would make a wonderful illustration for a kids’ book. A French bulldog detective story. The Bark and Growl Files. He should have a Siamese cat as a secretary.

  5. Wow! This is great! I always loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I remember singing the songs in elementary school. So fun. Most people think it was a Disney movie, but it wasn’t. Just a lot of “Disney’ people. Speaking of vintage machines, Google Glove Wernick record cabinet. An amazing piece of antique mechanical! We have purchased 4 Wernick lawyers bookcases in the past year. My husband discovered this piece when researching our newest purchases. Very cool how it works.

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and it was such a wild combo non-Disney combo. Based on a book by a James Bond writer Ian Fleming and screenplay by my fave children’s writer Roald Dahl. Gotta love it! And those bookcases sound awesome indeed!!

  6. Hello Charlie,

    What a fun flying machine! Made me wonder how a piggie would look in it. My favorite ways to fly have been Mary Poppins’ umbrella and more recently a flying machine I saw in a story called “Above & Beyond” by Peter Reynolds – in case you still like kidlit. 🙂


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