Marbles

Marbles by Charlie O'Shields

After a scary bee yesterday, I thought I would try something with a lot more color. Thinking of something that might have more color I started thinking about marbles because I think marbles are just really pretty and cool. So I tried to doodlewash them.

According to Philippe they could use more caustic light, but since I didn’t even know what that was I simply ignored what I assumed was a caustic comment. For some reason it never occurred to me that attempting to make marbles was going to make me attempt to paint glass for the first time ever.

I was fascinated with marbles growing up. There was just something so cool about them. They were like little miniature worlds sparkling with mysteries. I never played a game of marbles, I just liked to look at them and roll them around. Playing the game was too much about shooting precision and not enough about admiring marbles.

Perpetual motion intrigues me and I used to build elaborate contraptions to create my own marble drops. My initial inspiration was a game called Mousetrap where a single marble journeys through a Rube Goldberg contraption before finally triggering a little cage to fall. I didn’t care for the game and found it boring, but the pieces were perfect for my little marble motion experiments.

Many toilet paper tubes were added next, along with other random household items to create my Magnificent Marble Machines! At least that’s what I named them. Apparently I was favoring function over form at the time as the machines themselves looked less magnificent and more like someone had just set off a bomb in a bathroom.

Nothing was immune from my marble madness! Once, friends had brought my mother back a large conch shell from their recent beach trip with the usual quip, “hold it up to your ear and you can hear the ocean!” I noticed it had a tiny hole and spiral interior, so I stole a “tiny marble” from a pellet gun and dropped it inside. I thought it would spin through and come back out. But it never did. When my mother reached for her prized shell to listen to the sound of calm, relaxing waves, she was now always greeted with a tiny drum roll.

It strikes me as odd that I would be mesmerized by perpetual motion when even the mildest of repetitive tasks makes me want to jump out of a window. I think it was more about inventing something brand new that the world had never seen before – though I’m not sure the world was ready for my genius at the time. But I was happy in my own miniature world where I was a successful inventor, and all I needed was a little creativity and my magnificent marbles.

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
35 Comments
  1. Cathy Tenzo 2 years ago

    I love this! I love marbles and have lots of them around because I think they’re pretty. I haven’t yet had the courage to sketch them. I think you did great!

    • Author

      Awww thanks Cathy!! 😃😃That’s so sweet of you to say! Half way in I realized….wow…this is tough! Lol 😊I’m glad you like them! You should definitely try it!! 👍🏻

  2. Kari 2 years ago

    How fun! I love Mousetrap! I used to use the game in my 9th grade science class and had the students make their own Rube Goldberg machines!

    Your marbles are very colorful and I have to look up what caustic lighting is. 😊

    • Author

      Hehe… Glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what he meant by caustic. I guess that’s what happens when you live with a scientist. And that’s so cool you did that in your class Kari!! That sounds so fun!! 😃😃

  3. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Your marbles glow with light and color! Beautiful painting, excellent first attempt with colored glass and very inspiring. It is a subject I have long wanted to paint. Loved your story, (it made me laugh), love marbles, and still feel a rush of excitement when I find one and can add it to my marble jar. Thank you for a delightful post.

    • Author

      Aww thanks Haunani!! ❤️😃 You should paint them!! I’m sure they would be lovely! It was challenging but a fun exercise at least 😊😊hehe Glad you liked the post!!

  4. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    Your Doodlewashed marbles are magnificent Charlie! 🎨🌈💜 I loved marbles as a kid too and still have them. I just thought they were the coolest thing ever! I found a glass artist that made his own marbles so of course I had to have one! It is sitting on its own little holder. 😊

    • Author

      Awww thanks Jill! 😃❤️ Glad you liked this one. Marbles are fun to play with but tough to paint! 😳lol That’s so cool that you have a prized handmade marble! I want one!! I’m sure it’s lovely!!

  5. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Cool marbles. My older brother and I collected marbles. Somehow he could always manipulate me into giving him my cats eye marbles.
    Love the shell story. You must have just given your mother fits as a kid. Haha

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon!! ❤️😃 Hehe… Oh no…never give up the cat’s eye ones! Darn brother! And yes… I did likely give my mother fits, but thankfully she had a big sense of humor 😊😊

  6. Jacob 2 years ago

    Super nostalgic for me, I was only rich enough for a handful of the things but treasured them so! I never played a game of marbles either, not many kids seemed to have any (those weird Crazy Bones things were everywhere, though!). They truly are like little worlds; each one unique, and each one a marvel. I don’t mind the caustics – you’ve certainly captured the magnetism either way!

    It’s always fun hearing more about Little Inventor/Explorer Charlie. I too quickly became tired of that MouseTrap game, indeed I once quipped that it should be ‘Mouse Crap’ (before noting that my grandmother was present – she wasn’t pleased!), and after that I was never badgered into playing it again. 😉

    • herschelian 2 years ago

      by those ‘Crazy Bones’ things, do you mean what we used to call ‘Jacks’?

      • Jacob 2 years ago

        They weren’t jacks, but the way they were played and traded was similar to those and marbles. Crazy Bones were basically little plastic characters. I never really ‘got’ them, but they appeared to be all the craze about twelve or fifteen years ago… even teachers seemed to have a set!

    • Author

      Haha!! I’m sure MouseCrap would have been a bigger hit with little boys, but definitely not with grandmothers! Lol 😳 Yeah…the contraption was far more fun than the game (and my autocorrect on my phone just tried to change that to contraception 3 times…ugh….not the same thing) Glad you liked this post, Jacob!! 😃❤️

  7. Jodi 2 years ago

    Oh Charlie O – your marbles just leap off the screen! They are amazing! Such detail and dimension and light/shadowing… Wowza! I’m blown away…

    • Author

      Awww thanks Jodi!! ❤️😃I really wasn’t sure about them…they were so hard to do! But I was half way in and had to finish! Lol So happy you like them friend!! 😃😃

      • Jodi 2 years ago

        i don’t just like them…. LOVE them! Oh to have your talent… (sigh)

      • Author

        Lol…you’re too sweet. 😊😊Must be all the cookies! 😉❤️😃

  8. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I always love bright colors, and these sparkle. Even the shadows! (K)

  9. thepaperbaker 2 years ago

    Fabulous doodlewash!! Love the marbles….There is a super neat marble factory not to far from you 😉

    • Author

      Really?! I would love to visit a marble factory!! Would be so cool!! Thanks, Nicole!! 😃❤️And glad you liked the doodlewash!

  10. Catherine Johnson 2 years ago

    Your brightmarbles are great. I would expect they are difficult to paint with all the light going through them. Well done. I love your story. We got Mouse trap and a marble game and neither really kept together all their pieces. I might look for pieces from each and rig something up 😃

  11. herschelian 2 years ago

    Hi Charlie, I love these marbles and I think you’ve cracked (so to speak) the glassiness of them! In the UK every type of marble has a different name, loads of kids used to collect them and swap them and would never risk them being damaged by being used in an actual game!
    BTW – I have one question – what is a ‘sweat’ bee? how does it differ from a normal honey bee? Obviously its not a bumblebee as they are quite different, but your doodlewash looks different from the bees I know in the UK, more like the African honey bee (I grew up in Africa) and they are jolly aggressive little blighters.

    • Author

      Thanks friend!! 😃Glad you liked the doodlewash! And kids in the UK are smart to protect their marbles! 😉hehe… as for sweat bees, they’re just a common name for a wide variety of bees that like well…to lick sweat. I admit to taking a few liberties with the one I doodlewashed to make it look villainous so it’s a mixture of bees. 😉

  12. amaryllislog 2 years ago

    Charlie I love your marbles, that sounds a bit odd, glad you didn’t lose them! Your sketch is beautiful!

  13. kungfunaomi 2 years ago

    Love the sketch and story! 😀 Your poor mother. 😉

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