The magic of the brush

A tool I can’t live without: the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

I’ve been using these Pentel Pocket Brush Pens for years now. Whenever I get lost or start bombing with my notebook habit, I pull one of them out and start playing around. They’re just kind of magic. I made a video of me using one for a diary entry, if y’all would rather watch than read:

I first became aware of the power of drawing and writing with a brush from my hero Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! Lynda begins the book with a comic about how she discovered the Japanese sumi-e brush and ink method. At the end of the book, she shows everyone how they can paint their own demons.

If you head over to Lynda’s YouTube page you can also watch videos of her explaining sumi-e ink and also a brand-new video of her taking her own pocket brush pen for a spin.

I used to think that the best way to “freewrite” in you diary was to write really fast


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One of the biggest things I learned from Lynda was that writing extremely slowly with a brush is a way to give your “monkey mind” something to do, freeing up your subconscious to send stuff to your hand that you didn’t even know was there. (I keep one of her manuscript pages up in my studio as inspiration.)

Above, for example, is yesterday’s diary page. (I draw the ghosts until words come.)

Sometimes I start drawing and no words come at all, so I just keep drawing. (I’ll often copy a photograph if I’m really empty.) Here’s a suitably spooky page from a few years ago.

I love to hand the brush over to one of my kids and see what they do with it. Above is a comix jam in my diary I drew with my 6-year-old. (The figures on the right are me, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the 6-year-old.)

The only problem I have with these brush pens is that I burn through the ink cartridge refills like crazy. But I recently learned you can refill them with your own pot of ink and a syringe. (Watch here.)

Happy drawing, y’all! Feel free to ask questions, share other tips, and tell me what you think in the comments:

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