For our optional World Watercolor Month prompt of “Valuable,” my mind jumped back in time to when I was a kid. My mother had several tiny antique jewelry boxes that fascinated me. They were so small that they could only hold one precious little treasure, and had ornate designs that made them seem magical. For scale, we also have a hamster coveting a pearl. I’ve no idea if hamsters are particularly into pearls, but I just really felt like sketching one. As for those antique boxes, I don’t think they cost much money at the time, but they seemed so valuable to me. They were such cool little pieces of art. My mother ended up giving me one, most likely so I’d stop peering into hers all of the time. It was a gold box that could only hold something about the size of a quarter. Indeed, a coin is exactly what I chose to put in it, this wasn’t any ordinary coin. It was one I used for magic tricks. It looked like a real quarter, but was cut into three parts and held together by a tiny rubber band. This meant it could be dropped into impossible places and would magically return to its normal shape. Pure magic!
As I think back, it strikes me that the allure of those boxes wasn’t just the impossibly miniature size. It was the very idea of choosing only one little thing to treasure. Just one thing out of all of the possibilities. This might have simply been a particularly shiny rock that I found while walking along the train tracks. It wasn’t special until that moment I decided that it was. It became more than a rock, because my heart chose it, and it was now something priceless. I like this word better as valuable tends to mean things that are worth a great deal of money. But, when it comes to the things that I’ve truly cherished in life, they’ve never been worth much money at all. Indeed, I think my favorite things have always been precious simply because of the stories they bring back to me. Moments in time that are captured in spirit by an everyday object that keeps that narrative alive.
I still have some of those little things that I adored as a child. And each time I see one, that same warm feeling returns. It’s like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in years. You don’t have to be reminded of why you adore them, it’s just something you feel in your soul. Yet, the best thing about seeing those tiny special objects again is the beautiful reminder that it doesn’t take much in life to be truly happy. As it turns out, it’s the stories we create and keep that become the most important pieces of our lives. And we can keep those stories for years just by saving the tiniest of souvenirs. Even just a little sketch. A little thing that creates a giant spark in our hearts. And to this day, I still get a tingling thrill each time I see a tiny antique jewelry box. I immediately begin to imagine what precious thing I might keep there. While there are still wonderful things that are actually worth money in life, I’ll always have the strongest love and appreciation for those magnificent little treasures.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia 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!