For our prompt of “Marbles” today, I somehow stumbled across videos of kittens playing with them. So, after finally pausing the videos long enough to sketch something, that’s what we have for today. As many of you know, I’m actually allergic to cats, but I adore them, so sketching them always makes it feels like I get to have one of my very own. Watching cats playing with marbles is strangely satisfying and I love seeing the determined and focused expression as they hunt them down. And, well, marbles are simply something I’ve always adored. I never played the actual game they’re meant for, but loved making elaborate marble runs as a kid and watching them roll and twist their way through whatever contraption I created. One of the best things about being a little kid, or little cat for that matter, is that everything is always so wonderful and new. There’s so much to learn, but much of that learning is done through simply experiencing the world. And lots and lots of playtime! In case you haven’t noticed, nothing much has changed with me. I still think that play is the best way to learn something new and I still love to play each and every day. So, thanks for stopping by my sketchbook playground to see what this big kid made in his sandbox today.

Throughout my life I’ve gone through sudden spurts of wanting to learn all I could about something or another. I spent one year studying screenwriting, for example. This included attending a Master’s level course at a university. I loved this class! On the first day, the professor showed us clips from classic movies and then pulled out the key concepts of each and how they applied to story structure. Then, he told us to go write a 5 page script. Many of the other students were noticeably rattled by this sudden assignment and complained that they had not been given the proper steps involved. I wasn’t even sure what they meant, since there are no specific steps in the creative process for me. It’s always been just learning the key concepts, proceeding to leaps of faith, playing around at something, jumping right in before knowing much of anything, failing, trying again, and then suddenly making something new. It’s a messy process, to be sure, but it’s so freeing and fun! And it’s precisely the same process that we all used as kids. So, I appreciated this professor’s approach tremendously because it allowed me the opportunity to experience my own intuition.

Sure, this moment came back to me while I was watching a kitten playing with marbles. That’s totally ridiculous to consider, but it’s equally kind of awesome. When I’m playing, there’s never a way to DO something incorrectly. There are no rules to follow and therefore no rules to break. That feeling of intense joy and freedom is something I remember vividly as a child. The only thing certain was that I would certainly have a bit of fun if I tried something new. As much as I’d love to say I can always recapture this feeling as an adult, I have to admit that it’s difficult sometimes. Yeah, even the big kid struggles with this one. I will still often worry that what I’m DOing isn’t the right approach. I question myself and this stops me from taking that next leap. So instead, I’ve started asking myself better questions. What would Little Charlie do in this situation? Instead of wondering what would happen if he failed, he would only wonder what would happen when he succeeds. This certainty is something we adults call confidence, but when you’re a kid, it’s just learning to play.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Marbles And Kitten Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail


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29 thoughts on “Learning To Play

  1. How much fun to watch kittens and puppies play! Great post Charlie!
    I agree that figuring out the bare basics and then letting creativity take over is so much fun. It is how I have approached my art. Part way through the beginning of a painting I have a quick little talk with my inner nervous adult. She has to be reassured that I am not wasting time and art supplies on nothing. My inner child then steps in and says we are just going to play for a while and see what appears on the paper. I get out of the way and before I know it a real piece of art has taken shape. Everyone is relaxed and life is good. Sounds a bit strange as I write this but that is just my nervous adult trying to step in. 😉

  2. I love kittens! We used to have lots of feral cats here. Every year we’d do our best to snag a litter or two of kittens so we could tame them and give them away to good homes. What that meant is that we got kittens in the house every spring. We made a giant cardboard enclosure in the dining room, so we could keep them contained. We’d let them out every evening to play with them and watch them explore. Sideways hop was always on the top of my list as my favorite kitten move!

  3. It would be fun to watch a kitten chasing marbles. I love to watch our 13 year old cat chase stuff around the house. As for playing, that’s what I feel like I have been doing this month with my sketches. I’ve thrown caution to the wind and just sketched whatever, however, not worrying about the techicalities of watercoloring or what people will say about them. And it has been fun!

  4. The cat playing actually does relate to the way you do art. Play is play and your mind will utilize the same approaches. Something just occurred to me as I thought to tell you about my manner of doing Math. It would terrify some people (I do it in my head. Calculators argue and make mistakes. Drawing lines on paper so I can carry this and that is stupid. My head goes like this. NOT 2×9=18 but 2×10 minus 2. Now, try that with larger numbers. It works). So I have it all figured out in my head before I do it. I also shop like that, checking out beforehand what store has what I want and how much they charge and then planning out the modus operandi for getting there and back in as little time as possible. I do it with writing — I have the story in my head before I start. The whole thing. Stuff develops yes but the basic structure is laid in foundation. What you do informs everything else you do. PS: Much as I dislike cats I shuddered at the thought of one choking on one of those marbles. Yikes.

    Awesome. Keep DOing

  5. Little Charlie as a kitten – fun to imagine. I think we all wonder what we’d be like were we a kitten or dolphin or sunflower. This little furball is on the hunt but still an innocent baby as well. A charming painting.

  6. Charlie says, ” Instead of wondering what would happen if he failed, he would only wonder what would happen when he succeeds.”

    There you go again, maestro!

    As for the kitty, just super!

  7. Charlie you just touch my passion in life: Cats… Actually I like all felines, specially the Pumas and Tigers, but it will be a little extreme to have any one of them at my home, So I do have two females cats, well – including my wife will be 3… and I am the MACHO of the house…. I will always do whatever they want me to do!!!! jajajaj. Good painting…

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