When I saw the prompt of rollercoasters for today, my mind traveled back in time to when I was a kid visiting the local fairs. They had rides there as well, even tiny rollercoasters, and all of them were delivered on a truck a few days before and hastily rebuilt in time for the opening. I’m not sure if they were safe, but they were sure fun. The best part was that it was the one place you could get that deep-fried confection known as a funnel cake. So named, as it was just dough squirted out of funnel directly into a bath of hot grease. Which, to be sure, doesn’t sound appetizing, and looking at my little doodlewash, which is fairly accurate, I realize it doesn’t look super appetizing either. But it was delicious. Always served on a thin paper plate, or two if you got lucky, that could barely hold in your hands so you found yourself rushing to a table to set it down. It was always huge! The equivalent of six donuts, but served as a single dessert with no bit of irony at all. I loved it!
This is one dessert that I never once had after my teen years. It’s probably for the best, as it takes some serious metabolism to get through it all without immediately adding pounds. But this type of carnival food will always hold a special place in my heart. It reminds me of so many other things that happened on those wonderful trips. There were scary haunted house type rides and even a bizarre exhibit of strange oddities in jars. These were banned a bit later, but super fascinating as a kid. Even though this pop-up amusement park was barely fit to inhabit, it was the most magical place of all. A patch of land transformed for a weekend. Staring out of the window of my parents’ car I remember the feeling of excitement and awe as we approached. And although I think one time a wayward dart in the balloon game impaled my sister’s foot, we mostly managed to enjoy ourselves relatively unharmed. I was never scared of those rickety rides. As a kid you never have a fear of death. You’re too busy exploring all the wonders of being alive.
And as I grew up into the middle-aged man that I am today, I’m so thankful for these reminders. The feeling that life is here for happily living and enjoying each and every moment, not like it’s your last, but like it’s your first. That’s the beauty of making art. You stop and take a moment to look at the most ordinary things and suddenly find yourself studying them. Seeing tiny details that you never really knew where there before. Looking at the way shadows fall and light bounces off objects in the most incredible way. And it’s all brand new again. The perfect time to grab your pencil, pen, brush and capture not just how the world looks, but how it makes you feel. That wonderful moment when you discover you’ve captured a story on a single page of a sketchbook. And even if not everyone has lived the same tale, you’ve still managed to tell it with just a few splashes of paint. Experiencing the same incredible wonder that a little kid feels when enjoying those amazing funnel cakes at the fair.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Red, Perylene Maroon, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.