I’m not sure if I truly have something I consider a precious family keepsake. Nothing seems to come to mind. The first thing that popped into my head was a brass hotel bell in the shape of a turtle that still sits on my mother’s front table in her house in Texas. A rather silly thing, to be sure, but it’s a fond memory of my childhood. If you’re not familiar with such bells, they were originally on the service desks of various places and used to get the attention of people working the front lobby. Simply wind a mechanism on its belly and then press either the head or tail for an amazingly loud and shrill ring. I loved playing with this thing as it fed my joy of all things mechnical and I was continually amazed by what it could do without the need for batteries. Plus, it was in the shape of a turtle, which pretty much sealed the deal as I love all types of animals and reptiles.
These types of bells were also magical because they were bizarrely ornate. I’ve avoided ever attempting to sketch one because of this, but figured I would just grab 3 colors and go for it to see what happened. It’s not perfect, but it gives me the same thrill looking at it that I had when I was a kid. I just want to press the little turtle head and hear that wonderful and equally awful sound. Each time I visit my mom, I can’t pass it without doing the same. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I ever learned the origin of this object. Origins don’t really matter as much when you’re a kid. You’re just focused on the thing itself and fascinated by what you can discover about it. Or, at least, this is the type of kid I was and the same adult I grew up to be today.
It made me think about the real tools of an artist. Fascination and curiosity. No matter how many art supplies we have, without these other two important tools, it would make painting a rather difficult task. I sketch and draw simply because it let’s me take a moment to explore something more deeply and look at things in a new way. It’s the process I cherish and the thing I made is posted here and then uncermoniously folded back into a sketchbook. My art is simply a side effect of my fascination and curiosity. I’m not trying to make any certain style or statement for the world. I’m just stopping to take a moment to truly see something as though it’s the first time. Even something random that catches my fancy, like this little brass bell, shaped like a tiny turtle.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
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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!