My Unsympathetic Brush Pen

In my last post, I mentioned that I intended to limit my October sketchbook by only using a Pentel Pocket brush pen and watercolors. I’m about half way there and am enjoying the bolder lines and added contrast the brush pen produces.

Sunny autumn morning art by patricia Bentham

The pen is not forgiving. Once I put the slightest pressure on it, I make a thick, black line or blob, which may or may not enhance my sketch. It takes extra focus to produce a smooth, thin, line and when I stop to stare at what I’m drawing, I find random squiggles and marks on my paper.

Despite having to give the pen extra attention, it is still a delightful medium that yields surprises regularly. My goal is to produce rapid, fluid lines that also resemble my subject!


The leaves in the images above and below are from a tree my daughter planted from a pit many years ago. For years we thought it was a plum tree until it surprised us by producing an apricot.

The tree blooms in the early Spring with an encouraging quantity of peach colored blossoms and every year a few of the blossoms transform into teeny tiny apricots which drop to the ground after a week or two. In the Autumn the leaves transform into a rainbow of purples, yellows, oranges and reds, which is why I keep it.

Apricot Leaves Art by Patricia Bentham


When I drew the oak leaves below, I concentrated on creating quick lines with varied thicknesses. Holding the pen near the top helps reduce the tendency to produce tight, static lines and to fuss over details.

On a different image, I experimented with sketching with a pencil first and then drawing over it with the brush pen but found that the method distracts me from truly observing my subject. I noticed myself putting down lines that I thought should be there instead of what was really in front of me, or worse, just tracing the pencil lines.

Drawing outside in the bright October sunshine creates interesting shadows, which increase the contrast of the sketches.

Oak Leaves - art by Patricia Bentham


One morning, I found a delightful, creamy white ceramic rabbit on the table. My husband had recently repaired it for a collector of vintage things. I completed 7 sketches, trying to observe the rabbit from different viewpoints and then had fun playing with watercolors and blocking in some of the negative spaces with black ink.



My favorite book about color is ‘Making Color Sing” by Jeanne Dobie. It has become my color Bible and I plug away, attempting to create the fresh, glowing colors Dobie mixes in her paintings.

To find it on click the picture below.

canadian_flag  Canadians use this link to get cheap shipping…
Making Color Sing, 25th Anniversary Edition: Practical Lessons in Color and Design

(Disclosure: Just so you know, I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small percentage of each book that sells!)

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Patricia Bentham
Phone: 250.474.7162

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