CONNECTION is more important than PERFECTION...

"But it doesn't LOOK like a ________!"

Any time I start working with a new group of students on a regular basis, I make it a point to get on the same page about mistakes early on.  I want my students to feel like they are in a safe place to create. I do this by letting them know that I see their perceived mistakes as:

  • Proof you are trying!
  • An important step to getting where you want to go.
  • An opportunity... (SO many opportunities there).
  • Marks that sometimes evolve into the BEST part of the art.
  • Fabulous teachers.
  • "Happy little accidents"- Bob Ross

This week I launch a new series with some young explorers- the MAIL MAKERS & I will most certainly have  plenty of opportunities to discuss being brave with our lives and art work. This is of particular importance because these works of art are GIFTS- the intention of our work will be to give it away...   

Make it.

Stamp it. 

Send it.

To do this we must remember what it feels like to RECEIVE mail.  It feels GOOD.  Really, really GOOD.  Anyone who receives mail knows that the CONNECTION is more important than PERFECTION- the fact that you got it in the mail is the best...  In my smaller classes I like to include a handmade, handwritten card to each child rooting them on in their growth and sharing that I make mistakes and that I know and celebrate the fact that they will too.


The following is but ONE way I have used to open up a discussion regarding mistakes... (please forgive me if there is a mistake below).



  • Plastic tub or tray with sides
  • Card Stock or paper for under card
  • Blank Watercolor Postcards (Any Giddyup Post Card works)
  • Postcard Stamp
  • Address of someone you want to open a conversation about mistakes with.
  • Liquid Watercolor or India Ink
    • Dropper/ pipette 
  • Colored Pencils
  • Hair Dryer
  • Colored Pencils
    • (For early Elementary Students) Book: Beautiful OOPS by Barney Saltzburg
    • (For early Elementary Students) Straws
    • (For older Students) Art by Stefan Bucher DAILY MONSTER
    • (For older Students) Straws or Compressed Air


The activity is simple: 

Often I start the session reading Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg (younger) or showing Stefan Bucher's artwork (older) or BOTH! Which leads to great conversations about making mistakes...  then we explore what we can do when we just PLAY with our art.  What if we just go with the flow?

Place the paper in the tub- drip some ink drops on the postcards with your India Ink or Liquid Watercolor and blow it around with either the straw or the compressed air. Let dry! 

After the ink drys (sometimes I use hairdryer to speed up the process), use colored pencils to make the Oops card incredible...


This is a lesson it never hurts to repeat- Not only can mistakes be fun to play with, it feels so freeing to remember that they can actually HELP us.  Art teachers have been reinforcing this idea for years...

"Ever make mistakes in life?  Let's make them birds. Yeah, they're birds now."  -Bob Ross