Monday, May 19, 2008


I just came across this great children’s book published in 2004 entitled ISH, by Peter H. Reynolds. It’s such a great testament to the creative process that I just had to give it a mention.

The story is about a boy named Ramon who loved to draw. One day, Ramon draws a vase of flowers and when his big brother sees the picture he laughs at him. Ramon is understandably upset, and from that moment on, he has trouble drawing. Everything he draws doesn’t look right anymore and he throws them all away.

So, after trying for months to make his drawings look “right”, he decides to give up. He soon discovers that his sister has been taking all of his discarded drawings and taping them to the walls of her room. She points to the vase of flowers that Leon laughed at and says it’s her favorite. Ramon complains that it doesn’t look like a vase of flowers. His sister says, “Well, it looks vase-ISH.” Ramon agrees, seeing his work in a new light.

Suddenly, Ramon feels his creative juices flowing again. Instead of trying to draw perfect reproductions of the world around him, he starts to relax and draw “ish-ly”. His work becomes comfortably abstract. He finds his style.

One morning he wakes up with a feeling that can’t be captured and decides to just enjoy the feeling instead of drawing it. And as the story ends, he “…lives ishfully ever after.”

I won’t belabor the points the story is making, but here are a few things I’m taking from it:

1) Art is subjective. So obvious, but so easy to forget. It’s a given that some people will love your work and others will hate it. Don’t be discouraged when they do.

2) Don’t strive for perfection. It can be paralyzing. Give yourself permission to experiment and fail. Instead of trying to nail it right away (which is an all-or-nothing pursuit), strive to get ever closer and closer to your goal.

3) The process is just as important as the outcome. ‘Nuff said. And don’t feel that you have to turn everything into art. Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and enjoy life.

1 comment:

Miss Mae said...

"Ish" sounds delightful. There's so many good "older" books that I wish were still in existence today. :)