When I was a kid, I was fascinated with hot air balloons, our art challenge prompt for today. Seeing one floating through the sky was such a thrill! I still remember being with a group of kids, chasing it from block to block, trying not to lose sight of it before it disappeared. Much of the thrill came from the entire concept of flying via balloon while riding in, what it seemed from the ground at least, a very, very tiny basket. The entire thought of it seemed impossible which only added to the allure. I remember thinking just how many helium filled balloons I might need to launch myself into the air. Not to necessarily soar above the clouds like the giant balloons, but to even have the experience of my feet being lifted off the ground for just a moment. I asked my mother for 20 balloons once, as I estimated this would produce the desired effect, but she only smiled and told me to just pick one out in my favorite color. My favorite color at the time was actually blue, but I chose a fiery red one thinking it might possess a bit more lifting power. It didn’t. It only bobbed alongside me gently, not once threatening to launch me into the sky. I was a bit disappointed.
I always dreamed of actually riding in a hot air balloon one day. When I was about to graduate from college, my friend and I made a pact that we would rent a hot air balloon and take a flight together on graduation day. When the day finally came, we’d failed to plan anything at all so the maiden voyage sadly never actually happened. As much as I’ve always wanted to fly, the irony of this idea is that I’m terribly afraid of heights. Though the thought of soaring amongst the birds is so alluring to me, I don’t like being more than three stories up in a building. Like most of my fears in life, I overcome them by simply ignoring them entirely. So I can happily board a plane, but prefer to sit in an aisle seat, and I’ll take a spin on a roller coaster but tend to keep my eyes closed on that horrible incline to the top. The thing I’ve learned is that I don’t really fear every bit of an experience, just a silly little part of it. That part, is something I can easily overcome with enough positive thinking.
I once took a helicopter ride with my mother around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and was perfectly delighted and terrified the entire time. This was followed by riding to the top of the Gateway Arch itself inside a tiny and rickety little elevator, which is a creepy and claustrophobic experience. Yet it so amazing to do! At the top, the view is always more expansive and incredible, so I’ve found it’s definitely worth the climb. These days, though I tend to prefer staying well and truly grounded, I still dream of taking that flight one day. In my mind, it’s never too late to try things that seemed to have missed their opportunity. New opportunities present themselves each and every day, so it’s only a matter of time before I might just choose this one again. A chance to fly high in the air in a beautiful balloon, showing me a view of the world that I’ve not quite seen yet. I could then be the amazing thing that little kids are now chasing through the neighborhood, wondering how that little man could possibly be so high in the sky, riding in a basket.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Benzimida Orange, Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. 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!