Un-Blackout Poetry Drawing

Despite having one of the worst titles on my blog, this book drawing project is one of the most fun things you can do with a ripped-up book.

*Pause for those of you who need to click away due to your anti-ripping-up-book beliefs*

old book pages

Now. Back to this amazing old encyclopedia that I’ve used for so many art projects I can’t even count them any more. I’ve used some pages in encaustic paintings, in a paper bookmarks project, for book page flowers, and so much more.

I declared the time was right to try my hand at blackout poetry. You’ve seen this before, haven’t you? You take a book page, lightly circle the words you want to keep, and black out the rest of the page. Here are the directions in bullet point form.

How to do Blackout Poetry

  • Take a book page or photocopy of a book page (or newspaper)
  • Lightly circle the words you want to keep (your ‘poem’)
  • Black out the rest of the words on the page, leaving only your poem visible

I found a lot of examples of blackout poetry, from the very simple to the really cool and artistic. I’m sure blackout poetry has been around for a while, but Austin Kleon played a big part in making it popular. (Check out his awesome book, Steal Like an Artist if you haven’t already.)

Ooh, and here’s his book of blackout poems:

Yet again, my attempts at making something took me in another direction, and I quickly got bored with blacking out a book page. I grabbed some Sharpies and our new favorite water soluble crayons, and got all draw-y!

book page drawing

drawing on book pages

drawing on old book pages

This was much more fun.

Fen joined me in drawing, but she stuck to drawing on white card stock with the crayons. She fell in love, and now I do believe she’s squirreled them away in her bedroom. Wait, let’s go take a look.

Yep, busted:

Caran D'Ache

But it’s worth it when she makes drawings like this one:

space drawing

I ended up making copies on white card stock of the book pages so they would hold up to the crayons and Sharpies. That way I could also make multiple copies of pages I liked a bunch, i.e. the pages with illustrations on them.

I really didn’t focus on making any sort of poetry, instead I circled some random words I liked, let the illustrations on the pages guide my design, circled numbers, made other designs, etc. Basically, ‘blackout poetry’ became ‘super colorful drawing’ instead.

If you try the crayons, you can keep them dry, or you can go in with a small watercolor brush dipped in water and play around with their water solubleness. I lightly brushed some of the lines around with water to blur them. I always end up preferring them dry – the colors are so saturated and wonderful.

caran d'ache drawing compare wet and dry

Materials Used:

Old Book

White card stock

Caran D’Ache Neocolors


As always, I’d love to see if you try these, so tag me on Instagram @craftwhack, or show me in the comments! Maybe you’ll like learning to draw a labyrinth now?



4 thoughts on “Un-Blackout Poetry Drawing”

    • I tried it today 🙂 it reminds me of when we use our poetry magnets to make up kooky and sometimes dirty and irreverant poems or sayings on our dry erase board. Lol 🙂 I love doing that and I loved finding words on the page to make my own weird sentences. I’ll see if I can post it over on your FB Craftwhack page 🙂


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