How to Make Magic

Epipelagic (rhymes with magic)
Watercolor
Suzanne McDermott

Out of thin air

On Saturday, I set up a booth at the local volunteer fire department benefit. As one new collector was selecting a few of my watercolors, I distracted her 4-year old son with a wet paper towel.

"Come on", I said, "I'll show you some magic!" and proceeded to wipe the blue syrup off his lips and cheeks.

"That's not magic," he said with some disappointment. "I want to see real magic."

"Look!" I replied. "I made the blue disappear from your face and reappear on this paper towel!" He was not impressed.

"Okay, fine. How about I make something out of nothing?" His older brother overheard and came along as I dug for a pen and piece of paper.

I proceeded to draw a square with 4 lines, added 5 more lines to make it a cube and one final line for a box.

"Can you put something in there?" I asked at each stage. Both boys played right along and were suitably impressed by the end. Amazing when you think about recent technology they may always take for granted.

Those who've taken my drawing workshop will recognize the box routine as part of the section in which I explain basic mark making used to create illusions. As Magritte wrote beneath his painting of a pipe "Ceci n'est pas une pipe.", ("This is not a pipe.") No matter how much his painting looks like a pipe, no one will ever be able to smoke it. No matter how much my drawing looks like a box, no one will ever be able to put anything into it.

Still, it's pretty cool to learn to create an illusion. But that's not the real magic.

The real magic is being present in the here and now in the process of creating the illusion. The real magic is in the experience.

Any great magician will tell you that first you learn the trick and then you have to practice.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl
Let me help you learn magic

I was friendly with Ricky Jay in my early 20's. He was a regular at McCabe's in Santa Monica where he'd give awesome performances but, aside from the night he took me to The Magic Castle, my favorite memories are of random afternoons he'd stop by to toss playing cards from the alley behind the 2-story shop over the roof top and into particular targets he'd call on Pico Boulevard. Those were early days of a master practicing his craft.

We all have to start somewhere. We all learn from others.

The new documentary film about Ricky, Deceptive Practice, is partly about his master teachers. In the film, he says:

"The real key to learning is almost like the Sensei master relationship in the martial arts. The way you want to learn is by someone that you respect showing you something."

If you respect my work and have been wanting to get started with drawing and watercolor, and are willing to put your trust in me as your teacher, register for my online course starting next Thursday evening. This is the last time I am working one-on-one with a small group for the full course.

Remember, my drawing and watercolor lessons are about more than making a picture.

I want to help you believe in yourself again.
"The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens."
― Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life
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