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An Art-ISH Activity

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011 in Art


What You Need for this Art Project:

  • White Paper(watercolor or card-stock) or  A Sketchbook
  • Black Sharpie(water based pen will not work)
  • Watercolors
  • The book, Ish, by Peter Reynolds

I didn’t come up with this activity.  Our girls came home from art class the other day talking about this project, and we just had to do it as a family.

It’s a particularly good activity if you have a child who’s doubtful about their art abilities.  Or, if you are one of those moms who tell me all the time that you can’t draw.  Now you can draw-ish with your kids instead.  You may not be able to draw a horse, but you can draw something that is horse-ish.

First read the fabulous book, Ish, but Peter Reynolds.


Ramon delights in drawing until his older brother makes a rude comment.  After that moment, his enjoyment of drawing changes and he becomes super-critical of anything he tries to draw.  Finally he’s ready to quit when his little sister-Well, I won’t tell you the rest.  Read the book..

Next, grab a plain piece of paper or a sketchbook and with your black sharpie, draw 8 rectangle-ish boxes, leaving room beneath each box for a title.

(You can pre draw these boxes for a younger child, my almost 6 year old had a little trouble spacing his out and making each box big enough to draw a picture inside.)

IMG_5162Continuing with the Sharpie, draw simple sketches inside each box, titling each picture.  You might start with nouns, giving examples such as “House-ish” or “Dog-ish.” After nouns, we did feelings. “Sad-ish, Silly-ish.”

(You might help your younger child spell out his words.  I’m not big on correcting spelling, but with these it is more effective if you can easily read the titles-you’ll notice some mispelled words on the sample from our house, but the words were still decipherable.)

IMG_5163Finally, take your watercolors and enjoy filling in the pictures.  Watercolor is forgiving as it crosses lines.  It will look great. (Show your child how to blot extra paint or water with a paper towel.  Show him how to use more water than paint and then blot the brush on the towel before painting, to get a lighter color.)

You can also use black paint to add shadows along two sides of your boxes.

from the 8 year old-


From the 10 year old-


from the almost 6 year old-


From the Daddy year old-


From the Mommy year old-

_MG_5130These are completely addicting and very freeing if you keep in mind that they just have to be close-ish.

A few more examples:




Bring on the comments

  1. As you know, I love this book. One of my favorite books ever for its portrayal of sibling relationships, art and life. Love this activity – we may do it tomorrow for (yet another) snow day.

  2. jimmie says:

    Sounds fantastic! I am adding ISH to my just now created library list. Oh, I love the sound of that… a library list!
    Your ish drawings are adorable.

  3. Bella says:

    WOW,,, what a GREAT FUN BOOK. I LOVE all the ish drawing everyone did…. they did turn out GREAT-ish,,, LOVE it.

    I just stumbled upon this because you linked up to my party REAL MOMS, REAL LAUGHS,,, and I am so happy you did. This is a GREAT blog, so happy I found you!!!

    Bella :)

  4. Library Lady says:

    Fabulous! I love the rectangle-ish touch, and ish-ish. So creative and fun. Be sure to also check out Peter Reynolds’ “The Dot,” the book that came out first, and you’ll know why I am so grateful my son’s talent for art was fostered by teachers as gifted as you are.

  5. Ami says:

    Oh, I love this! You have so many great ideas and things posted, Aimee! I just love your blog. I need to remember to frequent it. :-)

    :) Ami

  6. aimee says:

    Ami, I was just visiting your blog (newly designed since the last time I saw it) the other day! I had it in my head to sign up for your rss feeds, so I’m so glad you stopped by!
    Thanks for the kind words..and thanks for all of your wonderful posts..

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