Grade 4 Portfolios – “Ish” Drawings

There are lots of wonderful children’s books available today, but “Ish” by Peter Reynolds stands out as one of my all-time favorites. This is a story that everyone (kids and adults!) can relate to…. in fact, it’s so influential that I can literally see a “before and after” effect each time I read it to my students. This year, “Ish” is the inspiration for my 4th grade portfolio project.

“Ish” is the story of a boy who loves to draw until someone makes fun of one of his drawings. He then becomes self-critical and loses the joy he once had – until he learns that a drawing of a vase doesn’t have to look exactly like a vase…. just “vase-ish”. With this realization, a whole new world opens up to him and he rediscovers the joyful freedom of self-expression. An “ish” project is a great way to start the school year for any grade, just to put students in the right frame of mind. I personally need to be reminded of this at least once a year!

1. Use the pink eraser on the end of your pencil to draw a line horizontally across the middle of your portfolio.
2. Above this line, use a black UF Sharpie to draw four rectangles to represent four sheets of paper. Do the same below the line, leaving room below each “piece of paper” for the title of your drawing. Do not use a ruler to draw these…. just make them “piece of paper-ish”! To keep your drawing nice and loose, you can use sketchy lines and go around your shape a couple of times.
3. Next, use black watercolor (diluted to a nice gray) to paint a “shadow” below and to one side of each paper. Keep your shadows consistent in terms of which side they are on, so that they will look “shadow-ish”.
4. Now do a quick, sketchy “ish” drawing in each of the rectangles and title each one below it.
5. Finally, use watercolor to add a quick “splash of color” to your drawings. Don’t try to be detailed about it…. you don’t even need to stay inside the lines. Just keep it loose and simple!

Having “ish” drawings on the front of your portfolio will help you remember to keep your drawings “ish” all year long!

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7 Responses to Grade 4 Portfolios – “Ish” Drawings

  1. Karen September 17, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    …just discovered ur blog…love it!I'm trying to learn to draw and paint and this is great inspiration! Thanks!

  2. Gretchen Bjornson ART September 17, 2010 at 4:32 am #

    What a great exercise for artists of any age and experience.

  3. TeachKidsArt September 17, 2010 at 7:03 am #

    Yes, Gretchen… I need to read this every year for myself, as well as for my students!! ;)

  4. Janie B September 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    I love this book, too. My first year of teaching art, I read it to ALL 16 of my classes. Now I just read it to the incoming 3rd-graders. I think the message is very necessary and influential.

  5. Hallie September 29, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    This is great!! Ish is my favorite book!! What an awesome idea :) Love the North Star idea too!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. World Read Aloud Day | TeachKidsArt - March 2, 2014

    […] You can read more about “think­ing Ish-ly” and find one of my lessons based on “Ish” here. This clas­sic story belongs in everyone’s book col­lec­tion. And if you want to go all out […]

  2. Read Aloud and Respond with Art! | TeachKidsArt - March 2, 2014

    […] You can read more about “think­ing Ish-ly” and find one of my lessons based on “Ish” here. This clas­sic story belongs in everyone’s book col­lec­tion. And if you want to go all out […]

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Grade 4 Portfolios – “Ish” Drawings

There are lots of wonderful children’s books available today, but “Ish” by Peter Reynolds stands out as one of my all-time favorites. This is a story that everyone (kids and adults!) can relate to…. in fact, it’s so influential that I can literally see a “before and after” effect each time I read it to my students. This year, “Ish” is the inspiration for my 4th grade portfolio project.

“Ish” is the story of a boy who loves to draw until someone makes fun of one of his drawings. He then becomes self-critical and loses the joy he once had – until he learns that a drawing of a vase doesn’t have to look exactly like a vase…. just “vase-ish”. With this realization, a whole new world opens up to him and he rediscovers the joyful freedom of self-expression. An “ish” project is a great way to start the school year for any grade, just to put students in the right frame of mind. I personally need to be reminded of this at least once a year!

1. Use the pink eraser on the end of your pencil to draw a line horizontally across the middle of your portfolio.
2. Above this line, use a black UF Sharpie to draw four rectangles to represent four sheets of paper. Do the same below the line, leaving room below each “piece of paper” for the title of your drawing. Do not use a ruler to draw these…. just make them “piece of paper-ish”! To keep your drawing nice and loose, you can use sketchy lines and go around your shape a couple of times.
3. Next, use black watercolor (diluted to a nice gray) to paint a “shadow” below and to one side of each paper. Keep your shadows consistent in terms of which side they are on, so that they will look “shadow-ish”.
4. Now do a quick, sketchy “ish” drawing in each of the rectangles and title each one below it.
5. Finally, use watercolor to add a quick “splash of color” to your drawings. Don’t try to be detailed about it…. you don’t even need to stay inside the lines. Just keep it loose and simple!

Having “ish” drawings on the front of your portfolio will help you remember to keep your drawings “ish” all year long!

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One Response to Grade 4 Portfolios – “Ish” Drawings

  1. Kathy September 6, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

    Great drawing lesson. I like the sketch page format and the part about shading the edge so it looks like a separate little page.

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