Curiosity, Confidence, and Creativity through “Process” Art
What is Process Art?
Process art focuses on the process of creating artwork rather than on any predetermined or planned outcome. The emphasis is on the experience of creating unique and original artwork. Process art encourages creativity and independence, along with the discovery of various materials, techniques, and tools.
- Child-directed, choice-driven
- No step-by-step instructions
- No example work to follow
- No wrong or right way to create
- Embraces experimentation and mistakes
- Values children as creative, sensory explorers
What are the benefits of process art?
Process art offers children opportunities to build confidence, to develop intrinsic motivation, to use critical thinking skills, to ask questions, to embrace their mistakes, and to find innovative solutions.
Becoming immersed in an unencumbered creative process evokes experiences of enjoyment, focus, relaxation, and emotional expression – very similar to what may be described as a “flow state.”
Potential language and literacy benefits of process art are realized when children tell the stories of their creations or when they opt to add writing to their artwork. Additionally, process art offers physical benefits as children develop their fine and gross motor strength and coordination through the exploration and manipulation of various tools and materials.
What are some ways to facilitate and support children in process art?
It is necessary to understand the role of the adult in process art and what it means to act as a facilitator. When the adult is a facilitator, knowledge is not bestowed upon the child; instead, the facilitator participates in a shared experience with learners in which neither need know the answer.
“The teacher’s task is first to nourish and assist, to watch, encourage, guide, induce, rather than to interfere, prescribe, or restrict.”
(Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)
The primary role of the facilitator is to prepare the environment and offer an open-ended invitation for creative exploration.
Display a variety of materials for your child to choose from. Take care to do so in a way that encourages independent access. Rotate through your supplies, changing up how materials are presented and offering new, unfamiliar tools from time to time.
Grant your child more freedom. Allow them plenty of time to create, and give them the opportunity to come and go from their artwork as they please. Let them make choices about what they are doing and how. Allow them to follow their interests and say “Yes” to their ideas as much as possible.
Stay playful and joyful – your mood can set the tone for the experience. Remind yourself that it is their artwork, not yours. Create an inspired atmosphere – offer to play music in the background and consider displaying artwork in the space.
Communicate – Ask your child open-ended questions about their artwork and comment objectively about what you see and notice. Let them narrate their process and discuss their vision.
Art Workshop for Children (2016) explores the reasoning behind child-led, open-ended art-making for children. Rucci and McKenna offer practical suggestions to help caregivers become facilitators and ignite curiosity and excitement through process-art invitations.
Play, Make, Create: A Process Art Handbook (2019) is an upcoming release that will be available on June 11th. Meri Cherry, an educator with 20 years of experience, has created this in-depth guide for parents to create meaningful and enriching process art invitations for their children. It looks like a great resource with a wealth of valuable information and ideas!