Play Days

Somedays, I play before “getting down to work”, experimenting with different papers, brushes, and materials. I can get too fussy, too absorbed in drawing it “right”.

Subject matter comes from some object on my desk, a collection of old “Golden Nature Guides”, a “New Yorker” cover, a book about old wire kitchen implements, favorite picture books, a garlic bulb from the garden. 

random birds with brush pens

The process of play allows me the freedom to muck about, there are no mistakes, only observation, and curiosity about the results. I make marks on paper, I test new brush strokes. I contemplate them. I like them, I don’t like them.  

I experiment with color, dropping paint into water on the page, swirling two colors together. I make notes about how I achieved a color or I don’t. I create staring birds and happy scarecrows. I make dark black shadows around delicate sketches. I watch the ink flow out of the pen. I press hard, the line is thicker. I don’t, the line is thinner. 

Somedays I grab a random item from the house and draw it with ink and then scrape away at the image with an old credit card (see below).

scraping ink with card

I find there’s an abundance of information in my life. If I’m not careful with the internet, with Facebook, I am soon immersed in too much wisdom and advice, in too many details of people’s lives.  I feel like there are hooks in my attention, all clamoring for some action or emotional response. My energy and my focus get scattered way too thin to be creative. 

Messing about with art is such a great purposeless use of time, yet it centers, motivates, and inspires me. I produce something wonderful or I don’t. It carves out space for wonder, for reflection. There’s time for staring out the window. I take a pause from the busyness of each day, and somewhere in my random observations, the doing nothing of importance, new ideas come. There’s no rush, no stress, nothing to accomplish, no deadlines.

Sometimes I play with one aspect of art, such as line, or space, other times I mess with repetition or embellishment. I try different pen nibs, use kids’ paints and crayons and see what results I get.
happy scarecrow and fox

Every time the process is enjoyable. It always generates questions. What if..? Isn’t that fascinating? What else could I try? Where might that take me?

It inspires me to keep drawing and painting, to be more reckless. I am delightfully surprised when something exciting happens. 

Garlic with china marker

Above – Trying out a china marker. Pulling the pencil slowly over the paper creates interesting lines.


  1. This is great inspiration. I don’t understand what you did with the ink and credit card. The picture is great, but I don’t understand the technique. Can you explain it with before and after photos so I know what you are talking about. It sounds like a fun exercise!

    • Rather than post photos, I’ll link you to the video I watched about the process. The artist gives a good demo and states below the demo, “When a wash is still damp you can scrape out shapes with a credit card or other object that has relatively sharp and flat edge. Use scraping to create new and interesting lights that are not of pure white. When scraping, the paper needs to be the right amount of wetness: too wet and the paint will creep back into the shape, too dry and you won’t be able to push it around anymore.”

      Let me know how it turns out!


Patricia Bentham
Phone: 250.474.7162

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