The oldest book I have is truly special. It is an art book – How to Draw and Paint Watercolors by Walter Foster.
I love books and art almost equally. As a child, I loved reading and enjoyed making craft projects, drawings and paintings a lot. My father encouraged reading; he bought many beautiful books for me for nursery rhymes, later he bought comics, such as Disney. Champak was a children’s book I read on a regular basis, and Chacha Choudhary and Tinkle were picked up on every visit to the railway station which happened quite often as my dad had a transferable job.
The first serious book I owned was however – How to Draw and Paint Watercolors. This book was gifted to me by my dad on my 7th birthday. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I right away wanted to try all the paintings in the book though I did doubt very much if I’ll do a very good job at it as it all looked so good and real! The first painting I tried from the book was a landscape and I remember it was a so-so version.
As I grew older, I wanted to be an artist, and I always opted for art classes. Several times, I used the techniques given in the book. For a long time I remember painting this particular landscape given in the book which was also the first painting that I ever tried from the book at age 7. I grew better at it every time. I tried my hand at all the paintings. Some paintings were more beautiful and challenging for me, and I tried my hand at them several times so that I could master them and make them as is in the book. For my fine arts class in 11th, I remember doing a still life given in the book. I take pride in the fact that it was one of my better ‘still life’ works and came out very close to the painting in the book.
Due to my dad’s transferable job, it was not always possible to move along with all the books I had, I lost some on the way or some were given away. We even went to US for a considerable time, and due to luggage constraints, a lot of things had to be given away to make the journey between US and India and vice versa.
As I am a voracious reader, I always joined a library so I do not even own a lot of books. It’s been 19 years since I have owned this book, other favourites have also joined this book later – Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies and The Search to name some. Many of these were bought by me, infact I had to hunt for The Search a lot, as the book was out of stock in bookstores for a really long time!
Still, 'How to Draw and Paint Watercolors' remains closest to me, I really doubt that I’ll ever be able to give it away in the real sense. Maybe I’ll let my children or grandchildren use it if any of them have an aptitude for art but I will always keep it me. It will only part from me on my death. :)
Even now, if there are days when I am sad, or I want to draw or paint something but are in a dilemma as to how to do it, I go back and sift through the pages of this book. It brings a smile to my face - some days I just paint something from this book and on others; the book inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing.
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