Though I adore train travel today, those silver bullets that sail through Europe these days aren’t what I remember from childhood. Back then, I had several toy trains that were incredibly intricate and cool with a little bell on top. Some even made sounds which made things even more awesome. This started a lifelong fascination with trains and as an adult, makes me whimsical for those old-fashioned toy versions of my youth. Granted these were trains pimped out in extra colors that were always a touch brighter than anything that exists on actual trains. So, that’s how I decided to paint this quick little doodlewash of a train today. There was just something magical about these old steam trains. There seemed to be so many extra parts and adornments that were completely unnecessary in function but made the whole contraption feel very high tech for the time. Even when I’m inside those more streamlined trains of today, I like to imagine that somewhere way at the front, there’s a little car like this making it all happen. This is not what’s actually happening, of course, but it’s way more fun to live life with a bit of imagination.
Back in the late 90’s I read an article about a new children’s book about wizards who traveled by train to go to school. That was all I had to hear to pick up a copy and give it a read. Though being in my late 20’s I was far too old for the target market. There was this little kid named Harry Potter, who was a bit different from his family and well, rather geeky. I felt an immediate connection with him and adored the book, which read more like my beloved Roald Dahl books that never talked down to kids. I had no idea at the time it would end up becoming a classic, or indeed a worldwide phenomenon, but looking back I’m not surprised. Traveling by magic train aside, it was just stellar storytelling, complete with all the imaginative backstory and substance that truly good fiction brings with it. Like all great stories, the subject matter and scenery were simply a backdrop to tell a more effective and exciting coming of age tale. I rather like that I read it as an adult, because I could then enjoy the fact that it really wasn’t about magic at all. At least not the kind reserved for wizards. Instead it was mostly about that everyday kind of magic that all of us can enjoy if we stop thinking so much and just let our true feelings guide us.
It’s now been over 20 years since I read that first book, and I went on to read every other one as soon as it was released up until the last one, 11 years ago this summer. The books got much thicker as they went on and even more geared for an older audience. It was a fun experience to get to grow up all over again with those stories. And it leaves me longing for a childhood where I got to ride to school by a magical train rather than a yellow school bus. Stories have always provided my favorite form of travel. I love jumping into a new land and discovering what awaits me there. There’s much we can learn from facts, but sometimes, there’s even more wisdom to be found in fiction. In truth, it’s a blurry line indeed, as all good stories comes with truths that make them matter to us all. Most all of my stories are based on fact, but my memory isn’t perfect, and so I’m sure I must be filling things in with a bit of imagination. But, the wonderful thing is, it doesn’t really matter. What I can assure my dear reader is that all of my stories are based in truth, and that, in the end, is all a story should ever strive for. My own truths are born out of my heart, soul, and imagination. To this day, I’m still riding around on toy trains.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, 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!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!