When met with a prompt of cityscape today, I wasn’t quite sure what to sketch, but looking out of my window at work, I saw this building and was suddenly inspired. This is a doodlewash of the original TWA headquarters here in Kansas City, a now defunct airline that was wildly popular when I was a kid. It’s now home to an advertising agency, but I decided to restore it to its original version circa 1956. This was when Howard Hughes installed the rocket ship on top of the building, which was an homage to his partnership with Walt Disney. From 1955 through 1962, you could find the so-named TWA Moonliner as part of the first futuristic exhibit located in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. It was a towering 76 feet (23 m) tall and the tallest structure in the theme park at the time. In 1998, it was reinstalled in Disneyland at one-third of the original size, with the same red stripes, but this time in support of Coca-Cola. Though the rocket was removed from this particular building as soon as the TWA sponsorship ended and Hughes sold the airline, it was restored in 2006, minus the TWA signs on top, and is now an extremely cool view from my office window.
There are many Disney connections like this one in Kansas City as Walt himself moved here at the age of 9 and later began his career here. He created a company in Kansas City called Laugh-O-Gram Studios, which sadly went bankrupt in 1923. But during his time here, as the stories go, he met an actual mouse that lived in his desk drawer who would later become known as Mickey and transform into one of the most popular cartoon characters of all time. The kid in me adores stories like these, of course, and I’ll happily assume they must be true. I now live just blocks away from this original studio and it’s inspiring to think that such imaginative history was being made there years ago. I grew up enjoying all of those Disney stories, the kind of story where bad things may happen, but everything turns out beautifully in the end. These are still the only stories I love to tell. To me, they aren’t idealistic, but actually the truest stories of life, if we can stop to consider everything that’s really happened. No matter what happens in life, hope is always there like a shy person in the corner of the room, just waiting to be noticed.
And each time I look out of my office window and see a rocket ship, I’m reminded of those grand ideas of the dreamers who came before me. The only real limit we face in life is the limit of our own imagination. If we can dream it, it’s actually quite possible. As long as we commit to pursuing it with all of the heart and effort required to make it a reality. So many times in life, I find myself stopping short of doing something that I think would be a wonderful idea. It’s inspiring to think about people who didn’t take that moment to pause and second guess all of their actions. The ones who plunged forward, chasing the craziest of ideas and ultimately making history as we know it. I often look at them with awe, but have to stop and wonder if we’re really all that different in the end. Their stories share a common notion. They never once stopped to question things, but were driven to make the seemingly impossible happen. Daunting still, to be sure, but I have to be inspired when my mind suddenly drifts to a TWA Moonliner & Disney dreams.
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? Click Here!
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!