Flying Machines

Steampunk Flying Machine French Bulldog Watercolor Painting Illustration

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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Steampunk Flying Machine French Bulldog Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. suzruth 2 years ago

    What fun, Charlie! Love your flying machine!

  2. Mary Roff 2 years ago

    Might be fun to take a spin in this flying machine!!! Especially if that cute puppy was the pilot. You have the most wonderful imagination!!!

  3. Susan Feniak 2 years ago

    Wonderful 🎨

  4. Sandra Strait 2 years ago

    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!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Aww thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 Was hoping you’d enjoy this one… I’ve always wanted to try something with a little steampunk and it was so much fun!

  5. Walt. F Pierluissi 2 years ago

    It brings me memories of a movie I enjoyed in my youth… Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!!!!!

  6. Karen Fortier 2 years ago

    I love this Charlie! Perfect post for this prompt!

  7. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 2 years ago

    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 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕 Yes to that! I adore all things vintage for that reason!

  8. Fascinante, que buena muy bonito

  9. Marisela Delgado 2 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Aww thanks, Marisela (and mom)!! 😃💕 So happy you enjoyed this one. Yeah, the flying elevator in Willy Wonka was scary… but also kind of scary cool! hehe

  10. Lisa 2 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕 hehe… love that! Yeah, I’m more more illustrative sketches for story starters. I figure one of them will become something one day!

  11. Sharon Nolfi 2 years ago

    I much prefer mechanical things to digital. Mechanical devices can be observed and understood in real time, while the inner workings of digital technology are hidden from the end user.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      So true, Sharon! 😃💕 That’s why I love exposed clockwork in things… it’s so fascinating!

  12. Hninn Hninn 2 years ago

    Oh…how cute it is!

  13. pushpa more 2 years ago


  14. Julia Tara Fürst 2 years ago

    I just imagined waking up and opening the window in my bedroom and then seeing this guy flying by… Just your usual monday I guess haha. Great painting!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Julia! 😃💕 Aww yay! That would be so cool to see! Well, and maybe a bit disconcerting at first. hehe

  15. Susan Masters 2 years ago

    Such a terrifically fun image! I just love it!

  16. heila 2 years ago

    Ha ha so sweet!

  17. LoriCtoo 2 years ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      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!!

  18. youjustneverknow504 2 years ago

    First thing I did when I saw this was start to sing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Aww fantastic!! Yay! 😃💕 Now, of course, the next thing will be trying to get that crazy catchy song out of your head! hehe

  19. Gary Middleton 2 years ago

    Your imagination is amazing Charlie. This is one of your best doodles.

  20. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 years ago

    What a fun painting! A happy, inventive approach to possibilities.

  21. Mugdha 2 years ago

    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. 🙂


    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Yeah, I thought flying by umbrella looked scary… no floor! hehe But I like all kinds of magical flying machines, so I’ll have to check that one out!

  22. Fatima Chamkha 2 years ago

    Excellent love this image you created👍

  23. Priscilla DeConti 2 years ago

    How wonderful!!! The magical stuff dreams are made of! Thanks again for a lovely painting and a great inspiration through your writing!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Priscilla! 😃💕 So happy you enjoyed my flying machine my friend!

  24. Mao 2 years ago

    Beautiful sketches, I like the Gummy bears 💝

  25. shawnthompsonart 2 years ago

    Nice flying machine, I like how it is floating with balloons and an umbrella, the only extra thing the dog needs if flight goggles and a scarf to make him more areodynamic.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Shawn! 😃💕 Well, the goggles are on the hat, but yeah, a scarf would have been a nice touch!

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