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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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. (My “Shiny” Trio! Click Here To Get It!) Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black 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!
Vintage Camera Watercolor Illustration


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30 thoughts on “That Time Long Ago

  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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)!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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