August is the height of blackberry season and my neighborhood hasn’t been in short supply, so the other day when I was feeling kind of down about all of the packing and cleaning my husband and I have been doing since we moved into our new house, a new idea popped into my head: What if I tried drawing with blackberries?
For the record, I’ve tried drawing with edible things before. I love experimenting with materials that are hard to control, because the lack of rules is very freeing, but at the same time weird mediums come with their own unique set of limitations. With blackberries, I wondered if I could crush them into an ink, or use a brush to paint with the juice. So, I got started by mashing up berries with a toothbrush and dragging it around to make strokes that looked like fur.
Maybe I should try drawing bears? Bears eat blackberries, so that makes sense, right? The juice went on lightly but then got darker as it dried, and would change to an indigo color on more acidic papers. I sketched with a pencil and laid down some details with watercolor, and then looked up other animal references to try out techniques on wrinkles and feathers. I overworked some pages into a soupy mess, but it didn’t matter because I was having fun.
If you can get your hands on some blackberries, I promise that they’re fun to play with even if you feel like you don’t have any drawing skills. Just go crazy with making marks—with your fingers, a toothbrush, a stick, or an actual paintbrush—and give yourself permission to make a terrible mess. And best of all, you get to eat all the leftover berries! I’m excited to play around with it for as long as the season lasts.