Experimenting with Brush Pens in Barcelona
Let me preface this story with three things: Brush pens, unicorn floaties, Portuguese men. If that isn’t a hook line I don’t know what is… Let me explain.
I have always been afraid to try watercolors and ink pens because of their unforgiving nature. So I stayed where I was comfortable and safe (like I did with a lot of aspects of my life). Pencils, charcoals for years. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago when I was about to go on my huge European trip that I bought a couple packs of brush tipped markers and started experimenting. I was stepping out of my comfort zone physically by travelling to over 10 countries for a little over a month. Why not grab some art materials I’m not comfortable with either? Seems logical right? I’m going to tell you a story on how brush pens made for one of my favorite stories.
One day, the second time I cracked open my sketchbook to play with those markers, I was sitting on the beach of Barcelona on my 26th birthday (like how is this real life?). There was a group of gorgeous, Portuguese men in front of us. They were having a ball. One guy was obsessed with his unicorn floaty. He was dancing around, wearing it constantly, not caring what anyone thought of him. Now these boys were loud, rowdy and having a grand time. So while I sat on the beach and had some mojitos with the group of people we were travelling with, I pulled out my sketchbook and started to draw my surroundings, the unicorn floaties and umbrellas.
Now I still wasn’t comfortable with these markers so I used a pencil to do an underdrawing before jumping in. Some people have the skill to just go right in and start, and that is AMAZING to me. You do you.. But for folk like me whose art takes a little more lovin’ I like to sketch out lightly before I draw it out.
So I sat there for about 20 minutes and here’s what I created; the famous unicorn floaty.
I showed my friends the drawing, it was worth a good laugh and something to keep for memory sake. For what it is worth, before this trip, I had never been to Europe or much of anywhere for that matter. And here I was, drawing on the beach in Spain. It was already a memorable moment. What made it more incredible was when one girl on the trip said, “Why don’t you go show them?” Now, I’m not that shy, but I am completely out of my element in a foreign country, where I don’t speak the language. So I was a lot of hesitant. But at the same time, here I am, on an adventure of a lifetime, so screw it. The two of us walk over there, and I said, “I have something to show you”. I didn’t even know if they spoke English. Their eyes got huge as the 8 of them are staring at us, like ‘what is this girl going to show me’. (as I’m writing this, I am laughing) And I flip the sketchbook around to show the unicorn floaty drawing I just finished. And guys, they ate it upppp. So now we’ve got this group of sexy Portuguese men all excited over this unicorn floaty. They all wanted to sign the picture, so they took turns passing around the sketchbook and put their names (and penis drawings; some things transfer from culture to culture I guess). We hung out with them for a while and talked, they found out it was my birthday, this group of men started singing their version of ‘Happy Birthday’ and one guy threw me over his shoulder as they were singing. ALL because of this drawing. Well, let me tell you… That was the most memorable birthday I’ve ever had.
Here’s three things I took out of this experience.
Even if you’re not traveling abroad, go to a public area to create. It can be a park, coffee shop, or anything in between. You don’t need to be drawing your surroundings, you can be sketching anything you like. People will always be a little nosey and interested if they see someone creating. People will always look over your shoulder at what you are making. It sparks conversation with people you may not talk to otherwise. Most conversations I’ve had about my artworks are when people spark the conversation first. So if you’re too shy to approach others, others will approach you as well. But my advice is take that leap of faith. It can lead to the most unpredictable, memorable times.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with something you are not comfortable with. Do things that are out of your comfort zone. You don’t even need to be good at art. If it is something you want to observe and take in, draw it. I find that you remember more of what you are spending time observing.
Start where you are comfortable and build up confidence. Every artist is different. Just because one artist does something one way, do not feel like you need to do the same. Be confident that you have a different skill set. Use it to your advantage.