One of our beloved classes is Story Book Art, where we explore a different children’s book each week. A project is designed to allow children to take ideas and inspiration from the story and illustrations and then create their own art works.
We recently read A Big Mistake, by Lenore Rinder. In this story, a child splatters his paintbrush accidentally while making a painting. This upsets the child until he sees how much fun it is to create clowns and circus animals from the blobs of bright color. He continues to add to and change this “mistake”, and ends up with a picture he is very happy about. He shows his friends that with a creative and experimental attitude they, too, can enjoy creating art from everything, even when they make a mistake. This book teaches young artists to be okay with mistakes they make and understand that “there really are no mistakes in art.”
For our project related to the story, we tried to make mistakes! We picked our drawing topics out of a hat (a car, a house, a cat, a tree, a person, etc) and then drew it with our eyes closed. We then created a second practice drawing of a new topic. It was a great surprise to open our eyes to finally see what we had drawn! Finally, the children chose their own drawing topic, drew it in black sharpie (with their eyes open) and completed their pictures by using watercolor paints to add color.
We especially love this story and project because they so perfectly exemplify our belief that there are no mistakes in art! Children often get upset when they cannot get heir artwork to match what they picture in their head. Being able to appreciate whatever they create and embrace the mistakes (or “happy accidents” as we like to say) gives children a way to accept change and be open to creative possibilities.