Today we have a prompt of “Camera,” which in modern times usually refers to a cell phone. But, since that’s not quite as interesting to paint, I traveled back in time to a camera that was made just before I was born. It would be the year after this camera was last produced that I myself would enter the world, but I adore the look of these vintage cameras. There was so much attention to detail in them. I love details, but as ever, this one is perfectly scribbled so if you zoom in you’ll notice there’s not quite that much accurate detail at all. What I love most is that having a contraption like this in order to take a picture somehow made that picture more precious. It wasn’t instantly delivered digitally, but took a bit of processing to reveal a very tangible result. Perhaps, that’s why I love sketching with watercolor so much. It’s fun to take a blank page of actual paper and make something appear there. And like those photos from days gone by, there are little errors and bits of things that probably shouldn’t be there. But the effect is all that matters in the end, and suddenly a camera appears on white paper. It always feels a bit magical to me, A few scribbles and only three colors can create quite an interesting illusion of reality.
On a break at work this week, I got lost in videos of various magicians. It was so engaging to watch as various magic tricks were being performed. I loved trying to figure out how they actually did the trick, but most of the time, it was simply something they’d purchased to deliver a particular effect. What made it all so fun wasn’t the actual trick as much as the performance that went along with it. That was the real magic. There was always a bit of story or some other piece of pageantry that made everything more interesting. When I was a kid, I loved those little rounders in stores that had tiny magic tricks that I could buy. Well, at least I could talk my mom into buying them for me. There was the pack of gum that snapped back when you tried to take a piece and even something that made it look like smoke was flowing from your fingertips! It was a mixture of tricks and pranks really, but it was so much fun! Perhaps thats why in my own little sketches I try to add a touch of magic. I like the illusion that watercolor can create with just a few strokes to make something seem so real and detailed. Yet, on closer inspection, the trick is revealed. The wobbly lines and lack of precision are right there for those clever enough to look.
I always wanted to be a magician as a kid as I thought it would be really amazing. Kids always like the idea of magic, and it’s only adults who start out by questioning it. My littlest self wanted to believe that anything was possible while my current self stops to question everything that happens along the way. That’s why, when I sketch, I rely on my littlest self to get me through it. I have very little time, so if my adult tried to paint a camera, we’d spend all day trying to riddle out all of those details together. Thankfully, Little Charlie steps in and says gleefully, “It’s just a bunch of shapes like this!” And, I happily follow his lead. This camera was completed in less than 30 minutes, which feels a bit like a magic trick given the complexity of the subject matter. But, when I approach something through the eyes of a child, it becomes far less vexing. Those thousand lines become just a few simple scribbles and my white page produces a little vintage camera. I’m perfectly aware that I present what I DO as though it’s easy. But, that’s the truth. I don’t have a way of making what I do more difficult, nor would I want to try. It’s truly just harnessing that inner child and letting your mind DO what it already knows it can. For me, it’s not about moving forward as much as harnessing my truest creative power from that time long ago.
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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!