Process art for children.
I hosted some workshops over the December holiday time and what beautiful fun it was!
It was all about the process and not the outcome and it gave the children a taste of freedom in a safe and supportive space.
They were creative and expressed their artistic and natural ability to create something, with ease. For them it was just play and fun.
They loved the outcomes, no matter what it looked like. Sometimes it just ended up being a nice splash of paint that was played with.
They giggled and laughed in the process of exploring the transformation of the colors.
In the workshops they got no instructions on how to do the activities. They simply got the art supplies and they created spontaneously.
The only suggestion was given in the theme for the day, for example that they should make a robot.
No adult assistance was given to the children, except when they used the glue gun!
We played with all the senses and brought in movement and awareness of breathing.
This calmed down their nervous systems – without them noticing it.
There were also a few silent and no movement moments to “just be”.
“What a special process to facilitate. I for sure learned a lot from my little fellow friends in letting go and just having fun, no judgement and no expectations.
What is Process Art?
Process art is not about teaching children how to do art. It’s about creating a space for them to discover it for themselves. Process art is about freedom, not rules.
With a practice of process art, we’re more interested in how the art is being created than in what the finished product is going to look like.
What’s wrong with a focus on a product, on a craft? Not so much. There is a place for, and a long history of, crafts. Crafts focus more on a particular skill, technique, or end result. For children, crafts can be a playful way to work on other skills, such as scissor skills or listening skills, or to learn about concepts such as shapes or symmetry.
Crafts may include a process art element, and can be a way to ease in to process art. Crafts can also result in beautiful decorations, gifts, and community events. But process art is different, and much more about a child’s own discovery, rather than adult-directed learning. It doesn’t mean you can’t all be inspired by a topic and sit down together to each create a ‘cat’, for example. It does mean to encourage everyone to freely choose the materials, color, shape, size, and design of their idea of a cat.
Process art is all about the experience: how you feel as you experiment with your materials, the ideas that you get, and the opportunity to try new things.
If the end result looks beautiful, consider that a bonus. But it is the doing, trying, thinking, and experimenting that is the main focus here. Sometimes you will consider the end product ugly. Great! You’ve learned something about the materials, colors, technique, or your own relationship to art. These mistakes are just as valuable to your art practice and development as an artist. Keep these ‘mistakes’ in your art journal or on display as much as you treasure your ‘masterpieces’.
The benefits of process art?
Process art is freeing. It’s a wonderful way back into art for adults who have been switched off from art, perhaps at school, and who think “I can’t draw”.
For children, process art is where we want to begin, introducing them to materials and techniques with an attitude of play and discovery.
Process art links strongly to science discovery. You are trying out materials, ideas and feelings, and discovering possibilities
How does this paint work / change / react?
Why does this happen?
I wonder what would happen if…?
This kind of art is about thinking. Artists work hard, take risks, make connections, daydream, turn old ideas into new ones, look at things closely, notice details, see the big picture, generate ideas, and try new things. These are all qualities I want my children to have and skills I think our future society and workforce will need.
Studies have shown that integrating the arts into the school curriculum results in increase attendance and better performance across a wide range of subjects – such as English, science, mathematics.
This knowledge leads us to want an art program which is available to all children. A focus on process over product can engage all children, regardless of previous experience or perceived talent. The limitations children feel elsewhere in life or learning can disappear when exploring process art, as each child can engage with the art in their own way.
Looking forward to have many many more messy art sessions in the future.