That Time Long Ago

Vintage Camera Watercolor Illustration

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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Vintage Camera Watercolor Illustration

 

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
30 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

    There is definitely magic in any art – creating the illusion of life and beyond that, of thought and imagination. You, sir, are a master magician!

  2. Lisa 3 weeks ago

    Just a few days ago I was looking at some used Hasselblad cameras because I always wanted a large format camera. Alas, they are still out of my price range even used. At this point in time, I’m not sure I’d get much use out of it anyway, and I’m not interested in buying dark room equipment, so I’d have to send the film out and the cost is beginning to sound out of my price range. But a gal can dream. On another topic, I was just outside as dusk was coming on and the shadows under my big sugar maple tree in the front yard were quite dark and suddenly the fireflies woke up and came flashing out of the grass in a swarm. Just beautiful!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Aww… I know what you mean, Lisa! 😃💕 Old-fashioned photography is an expensive hobby these days, but wow I loved those days of a darkroom! And yay to fireflies! They’re my favorite part of the season!

  3. Karen Fortier 3 weeks ago

    Great camera Charlie! My first was a brownie from ny Nana.

  4. Robert J. Coleman 3 weeks ago

    Another great memory rekindled! My dad was a budding amateur photographer and had the whole darkroom del going. We had a blast “helping” him in the darkroom. What you have rendered here is my favorite camera of all, the twin lens reflex; I picked up a couple of Yashica Mats over the years, cleaned them up and use them for great landscape shots. The 120 film, both black & white and color, is still around as are a few developing shops here in New England, with 4 day service. And yes, it is like magic using these old wonders of engineering to produce an image that you can say, just like a sketch, I made this (with some help and some chemicals)!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Yay, Bob! Thrilled you enjoyed this one! 😃💕Wasn’t the darkroom the coolest? It felt like magic in there… but yeah… that smell of those chemicals! lol I’ll never forget it though!

  5. Sharon Nolfi 3 weeks ago

    I like the fine detail and lovely reflective colors. Great job!

  6. Yvonne Nikolaison 3 weeks ago

    Wonderful job

  7. Carole McCleery 3 weeks ago

    This reminds me of taking photos years ago on holidays and taking them to the chemist for developing. The excitement of picking them up is, sadly, a thing of the past. Great sketch!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks, Carole! 😃💕 I know, right? It was such an event to see what and in some cases, if any, memories you captured. I loved those days!

  8. tangosbaking 3 weeks ago

    It’s funny how things change when you become an adult right? I think we all should embrace our inner child more often 😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Yay to that! 😃💕 I always think embracing our inner child will lead to something amazing!

  9. Fatima Chamkha 3 weeks ago

    Well done Charlie!

  10. Laura Hale 3 weeks ago

    Wonderful magic Charlie! Thank you for sharing.

  11. LoriCtoo 3 weeks ago

    I love old cameras and yours is a good example! My son, who is now officially a photographer has quite the collection. The earlier ones with the pull out bellows are my favorite. You are absolutely right on the details! They were not just a camera, they were a work of art in itself.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 They were a work of art, weren’t they? I miss those days. And yay to the kid with bellows… so cool! I just miss the days when objects were created with more care.

      • LoriCtoo 3 weeks ago

        And lasted longer than a year!

  12. Jodi 3 weeks ago

    ❤️

  13. Mary Roff 3 weeks ago

    I’d say there is a lot of wonderful detail in your “doodle” of this camera. A beautiful doodle and lots of good memories too!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, my details are doodled like crazy! But best viewed from afar! lol Glad you liked this!

  14. smzang 2 weeks ago

    Charlie says, “when I approach something through the eyes of a child, it becomes far less vexing”

    Always a joy to see Little Charlie engage with his older counterpart and totally awesome to slip into
    the scene.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 weeks ago

      Thanks, my friend! 😃💕It’s always a dance with me… I know that little kid as all of the answers, but I always have to ask him as an adult each and every time. 😉

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