Come join our art class with art teacher Gill Haggis!


Making art out of mistakes

The Book: Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg   

I read this marvel of a book to every child who comes to create with me because it’s so incredibly freeing. In the most surprising, delightful and imaginative ways, Barney Saltzberg banishes the fear of making mistakes and every ‘oops’ he makes becomes an adventure in possibilities.

I just love the way my Imaginators’ faces light up as a torn piece of paper is transformed into a crocodile’s munching mouth, or an accidental paint spill becomes a purple elephant. Every page of Beautiful Oops is a magical invitation to embrace mistakes and play with them – and that’s really empowering!

Materials Needed

Scrap paper marred with an ‘oops’ or two. Coffee stains, ink blots, dirt streaks and paint spills make excellent ‘disasters.’ Torn, crumpled or dogeared paper is fun to transform too.

‘Transformation tools’ can range from coloured kokis to paint, from crayons to gel pens. Whatever mark-makers you have on hand will work well. Keep scissors and glue handy too!

Step by Step  

Step 1

Preparing an ‘oops’ to be transformed is great fun, so be sure to let your children loose on your stash of scrap paper. They’ll enjoy the spilling, tearing, staining, blotting process as much as the transformative one.

Step 2

In my experience, children see creative possibilities in an ‘oops’ straight away, but you may need to ask questions that spark careful observation like “What does that shape remind you of?” or “If you turn your sheet of paper and look at it from a different angle, what can you see now?”

Step 3

Let the fun begin! Encourage your children to transform their chosen ‘mistake’ into a gorgeous picture Barney Saltzberg would want to include in his next publication.

Picture Credit: Glenn Haggis

Some more Oops! creations from our talented young artists:

Another lovely idea is to suggest that your children make a Beautiful Oops book of their own, using all the artworks they’ve created, to share with a friend who feels anxious about making mistakes.  Listen to Bernie Saltzberg read his book and explain how he made his own beautiful oops’s.

Meet Gill Haggis, art teacher extraordinaire

My name is Gill Haggis, and I’ve been exploring and delighting in the creative process all my life.

During my years as a Foundation Phase teacher, my greatest joy lay in being able to inspire, facilitate and celebrate the imaginative, creative adventures of the pupils in my care. I’m passionate about books too, so stories and poems were the heartbeat of every lesson. I also loved   what happened incidentally while the children were happily engaged in making ‘stuff’. There was growth in self-esteem, excited exploration of new mediums and techniques, lots of creative problem- solving and decision making, eager experimentation and plenty of fun and laughter added to the mix.

Through my IMAGINATE classes, I seek to offer children a safe, nurturing space that is rich in possibilities and which provides a strong support for the joyful process of   creative expression. Whether it’s through a cardboard box that’s become a rocket   bound for space, or a giant sheet of paper exploding with colour, I want to empower those who IMAGINATE with me to express themselves freely and creatively.  Book classes with Gill in Johannesburg.



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"I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in"


Robert Louis Stevenson

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