New Brush…New Possibilities


I have a new brush, and like the new pen I recently bought it brings with it all kinds of new and interesting possibilities. It’s unlike any brush I’ve ever used before because it’s a brush that thinks it’s a pen – it fills with water like a fountain pen fills with ink, and the brush is where a nib would be. It’s called a Water Brush and it’s quite weird to use. I need practice.

I tried it out by doing a quick sketch of my neighbour’s front garden, full of winter pruned bushes all hunched and huddled in the dusk on a cold afternoon.


For some time now I’ve been trying to wake up my drawing practice from a state of hibernation, and the more I draw, the more I want to; everyday things that I see all the time are becoming things I simply can’t ignore. Colours jump out at me. Shapes catch my eye. Pattern, texture, light and shadow have my attention before I’ve even realised it. Today this patch of garden is full of dark colour; tomorrow it may well be transformed by snow.


This Water Brush is a clever thing. If you squeeze the soft plastic body of the brush, the water flows out more quickly into the bristles and you can pick up colour straight from a watercolour pan; then when you apply colour to the paper you can soften it out as more clean water flows into the bristles. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it means that you could manage without a water pot, great for sketching on location.

There are so many reasons to draw, just as there are lots of reasons to write, but they’re both things that need to be practised all the time if you’re going to do them even passably well. Andrea Badgley just wrote a great piece for the Daily Post on using a writing prompt box to kick start those times when you can’t get the words to flow. I use WordPress writing and photography challenges as prompts, but I often want to post drawings and it got me wondering why there’s no weekly WordPress drawing challenge. There are lots of artists and illustrators and urban sketchers out there who are WordPress bloggers.
Anyone else like the sound of this idea?

Note: I’ve published this post at the same time in a slightly different form on another WordPress blog of mine. If you come across it, for the record it’s not been pirated or plagiarised by anyone except me.


10 thoughts on “New Brush…New Possibilities

  1. I love this post. I understand completely the joy of having a new brush. As a writer with a husband who turns wood pens on his lathe, I am occasionally the recipient of a new pen. I hold the treasure my husband has made for me and wonder as I write my first words, what stories will I create with my new pen? I also thrill at blank sheets of paper and empty notebooks. Anything and everything that allows creative expression.

    1. How wonderful to have a custom made pen turned by your husband on his lathe! My father was an expert woodworker and made hundreds of miraculous objects (turned and otherwise) but never, to my knowledge, a pen, and I wonder why. And as to paper and notebooks – don’t get me started on those! Something we share with a lot of writers and artists I think.

  2. I’d love to send you a photo of a shop in China that sold the most amazing assortment of calligraphy brushes I have ever seen. It doesn’t look at though there’s any way to attach it to this comment 😦

  3. Isn’t it wonderful how new tools and materials reinvigorate creativity? Lovely post. I’ve been thinking of trying one of these water brushes, but I’m so unsteady and new at watercolor that I’m afraid I’ll just end up with messy brown blobs of color! You inspire me to give it a try. And oh I LOVE the idea of a wordpress drawing challenge. Go on, start one!

    1. I think you’d find the water brush less likely to give you sludgy browns than you might think because you tend to pick up just one colour at a time – or that’s what I find. And let the colours mix on the paper.
      Would you participate in a drawing challenge? The reason I haven’t started organising one myself is because a) I don’t have good Internet access all the year round and b) I do almost all my WordPress blogging now on a phone and tablet not a computer, which might make organising it difficult and c) my health is unreliable and variable and there are weeks when I can’t do much, so – this all adds up to mean that I can’t take on the commitment. I wish I could! I have sent suggestions about this in various forms to the WordPress mothership but so far have no way of knowing whether these envoys have found their way to command control.
      If anything happens I’ll post about it – meanwhile please spread the idea if you can, and let’s see if someone will run with it!

      1. Thanks for the water brush encouragement! I will definitely spread your idea about a weekly drawing challenge to some wonderful artists I know. Maybe one of them will grab it and go. or maybe one of your other readers? Is someone reading this, thinking, Hey I could do it? Hope so!

  4. I love the sketches! I hope that further practice won’t make you loose that fluid feeling, almost like unsharp photographs that have something special, just because they are unsharp. Not sure how relevant it is to compare photography with drawing, though… 😉
    I think your idea of drawing challenges is a great one! I don’t draw myself but would certainly love to follow and see what people come up with. Challenges are such a great way to push yourself, in a positive way.

    1. Glad you liked the drawings and thanks for your positive comments! I hope I can keep that loose feeling too – one of the reasons I wanted to staet working with a water brush. Your comparison with photos is a good one – do you know the blog Draw And Shoot? Photos that are just how I would live to paint!
      I can’t run a drawing challenge myself so we may not see one on WordPress any time soon. I’ve started to post on the weekly themes that Urban Sketchers do on Flikr – not the same as a blog challenge but very worthwhile doing, and fun. Thanks for all your interest!

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