Keys That Once Opened Doors

Day 22 - Antique Door Keys Watercolor - Doodlewash

When I was young, and still today actually, I was fascinated by old keys. I had a few of them at one time, collected from antique stores. They were only sold for their visual appeal, of course, as their original use and the door they once opened remained a complete mystery. I used to love imagining what each key might have opened. A door in a mysterious old mansion that led to a secret room or simply the door of a cabinet that contained years of collected curiosities. Each time I would imagine it, the stories would shift and change in my mind. It always felt like I was holding a piece of a puzzle that needed to be solved. And the very act of dreaming about the solution was as satisfying as if I had actually solved it. In many ways, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to know the truth. It might not be as intriguing and grand as the fiction I’d vividly imagined. As I got older, I began to lose my fascination with keys a bit. The modern versions weren’t as ornate and seemed to posses all of the function, but lacked any understanding of the emotion there. The very idea that something needs to be locked up means that it must surely be special in some way. Or at least, that was always the case for the stories in my imagination.

Today, when I see an object that poses lots of questions, I still invent little tales in my mind before attempting to google my way to an answer. This, for me, is still the most satisfying. There’s a very fine line between fact and fiction. A really wonderful fiction will invent a million possibilities while still managing to tell the truth as well. It can sometimes reveal more about what something actually means than the mere facts of the matter. Though, don’t get me wrong, I adore my facts and trivia! But, I really love the stories that only I could write. Bits of imagination mingling with information that produce a truth that is far more powerful than facts alone. In my own little stories, like the cookbook Philippe and I created, my mother told my sister that I exaggerated when I said my father ate all of the meat in our stew, rendering me a young vegetarian. I assumed this must likely be true, until my sister on a recent phone conversation said, “Nope, he totally did that!” I was vindicated and yet it would have been just as true had I only felt that he did. And either way, it made me adore him all the more, and I still think it’s rather funny.

It’s so phenomenal to me what the human mind is capable of imagining when given the space to do so properly. For me, I think the best moment happen when I sit down and begin sketching stuff each day. My mind wanders to places that I never knew it needed to go. Certainly, these posts are evidence of that, as they bend and turn through a single moment of imagining. I don’t start out with a point, I only hope to find it on the journey. Each flick of my fountain pen and wash of color from my brush adds the subtext that I wasn’t aware of, only a moment before. It’s then my job to discover what I just learned in the process. Today, I’ve learned that old keys are more than the mysteries they evoke. They’re a self-portrait of my own fears, concerns and worries of how to unlock my future. Which one will open the door to success? And how on earth do I even define success? But as ever, I retreat back, to have a conversation with my inner child. He tells me that all of the answers are right there and I’ve known them all along. All I have to do to unlock them is to embrace my past self and use those keys that once opened doors.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio!). 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!
Day 22 - Antique Door Keys Watercolor - Doodlewash
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!

20 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

    Hopefully, you’ve written some of your ‘key’ stories down because I bet they were fascinating!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      hehe! I never wrote any of them down! 😊 Ugh… I didn’t start really writing until I was well and truly and adult and even then it was sporadic. Doodlewash is the most I’ve written in my entire life! hehe

  2. Sharon Nolfi 3 weeks ago

    I love your writing about keys and how they nudge the imagination. Your painting of the old metal is wonderful, too.

  3. Lisa 3 weeks ago

    I love fluid conversation, and fluid memory. But I especially love fluid writing. My poetry was known for that. I would start the reader with an image, drag him around through all kinds of muck and bears patrolled forests, and finally come back to the point of there was one. Fun to write, fun to read. And fun to unlock with a rusty old skeleton key.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Aww thanks, Lisa! 😃💕 And love the idea of bringing the reader through all kinds of muck to finally reach a point. I think it’s the perfect definition of what I write each day! hehe

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 weeks ago

    We are often unreliable narrators, telling the story the way we remember it, and always being self righteous about the facts. It’s our feelings that make the most impression. Your ancient skeleton keys unlock your imagination, sometimes factual and sometimes imaginary. Such a fun read today, Charlie.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, I enjoy writing because it reveals so much about how I feel, not because of any pure facts it brings to mind. I hope, the mix of bits of fact and pure emotional truth combine to make something that is, in the end. probably the truest account there is!

  5. smzang 3 weeks ago

    Charlie says,”old keys are more than the mysteries they evoke. ”

    so very true, and that is a great title for a Charlie mystery.

    The painting is as true as a photograph. The arrangement piques
    my curiosity. It’s almost as if they wait for dark when the house
    is still, and then get into their secret formation.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 I did think this title would make a good short story! hehe And love your interpretation of the keys… definitely sounds like the beginning of a story!

  6. Anita Sinha 3 weeks ago

    Nice doodlewash of metal keys with your vintage trio. I really like the old fashioned keys than these modern card keys. Your keys did unlock some wisdom hidden behind the closed doors (of our minds ) !!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Anita! 😃💕 Yay to unlocking wisdom! Glad you enjoyed the post! And yeah, I’m seriously addicted to my newest trio! hehe… as I ink a bit more during Inktober, it’s the perfect combo for adding bits of color.

  7. Mary Roff 3 weeks ago

    Beautiful keys,Charlie! Love the colors you used. The front door of my parents house opened with this type of key…actually, most of the houses in the neighborhood used them….way back when. Have always found the shapes fascinating. Our little, old house here in Florida has doors with glass door knobs and this kind of key.

  8. mlaiuppa 3 weeks ago

    Something is wrong with the Doodlewash settings again. I am getting inundated with posts. Half a dozen about who Anita Sinha is friends with and posted and the same for Sharon Nolfi plus a lot of other people. Is there any way to control this from my end? If not, I am going to have to unsubscribe my WordPress account and I just can’t have this amount of traffic hiding my other favorites in my WordPress Reader.

    Seems to have started yesterday.

    I am getting sitewide traffic and I don’t want it. What do I do? Can I do anything?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Yes, so sorry my friend! 😊This is a bug with WordPress.com and I’ve just checked with support and they’ve fixed it again. It occasionally happens, but they’re not sure quite why yet. Hopefully it’s fixed again now! Sorry for the issues!

  9. mlaiuppa 3 weeks ago

    I have keys like this. They lock the rooms in my house. My house was built almost 100 years ago and the interior doors are original and still have the mortise and tenon locks with keys. The front door used to but had been converted to a more modern lock. Pity, as I think no modern burglar would be able to pick this old style lock whereas I’ve heard “bump keys” can open pretty much any door.

    The timing of this post is interesting. Today I got an e-mail from the Met Museum and the subject was also keys. It included a photo of the various antique European key reproductions they are selling in their jewelry collection and the post said “Key Stories.” I guess the Met also has a collection of old keys simply for their aesthetic value.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Wow.. that’s such an awesome story! I love that you live in a house that old… such a wonderful history! 😃💕 I’ve often thought that those old locks would be much harder to penetrate than the new ones. And cool that I’m of the same thinking as the Met. Guess something about keys must be in the air lately.

  10. June Hadaway 3 weeks ago

    What a great idea! I never thought of painting keys. And these look like they would open doors for sure. I have always loved old keys.

    • June Hadaway 3 weeks ago

      Your story is so cool!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, June! 😃💕 Yeah, I totally started with a door in mind, but then drifted as usual to something else! hehe… glad you liked it!

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