How to Create Haiga (With Paint Blots)

Often called Zen Art, Haiga (hi-gah) combines Haiku and drawings on the same page. The poetry and the images work together to strengthen one another. Japanese poets often created Haiga in ink with simple brush strokes. In my book, How Do You Haiku? A Step-by-Step Guide with Templates, we explore Haiga through paint blots. A swipe of paint on paper feels much like the brush stroke the masters used. This project is fun for the whole family or classroom! Enjoy!

Simple Instructions

  • Grab a small piece of paper or an index card.
  • Round up some acrylic paint in any color.
  • Find a palette knife (if you don’t have a palette knife, the edge of a used gift card works great!)
  • Place a nickel or quarter sized amount of paint on the page.
  • Ready, Set, Swipe the paint across the paper a couple of times (in different directions if you’d like).
  • Now turn the card sideways and upside down until you see a picture in your paint blot.
  • When the paint is dry, outline the image you’ve found with a fine tip marker.
  • Write a haiku on the card (You can create one or use a favorite haiku by another poet that relates to the paint blot image).
  • Congratulations! You have created Haiga!


I created three paint blots and wrote a haiku for each one. It was fun to find images hiding in the paint. I found a frog (I added flies and another front leg), a hummingbird (it’s amazing that the paint is raised right where the eye should be!), and dolphins (okay, they do look a bit like whales :)).

More like this

If you had fun with this project, please check out my book, How Do You Haiku? for more Haiku crafts like this. It is packed with fun templates to create haiku comic strips, a poetry on the go game, a season word mini booklet and more!


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