What is Process Art?
Process art is all about the experience, rather than the final outcome. There are loads of benefits of process art and it’s perfect for children. If when planning an activity you have a preconceived idea about what the final outcome will be, it’s probably not process art. This doesn’t mean that process art can’t result in some beautiful pieces of art, but that is not the focus of the activity.
What are the benefits of process art?
Children learn through play and open-ended activities.
Process art allows children the chance to discover how things work and explore different materials. Process art works well for kids as there is no right or wrong way to create. They can create in a way that works for them, making their own decisions.
MaryAnn F. Kohl is an art educator and author of numerous art activity books. I love this video interview with her where she explains what creativity means for her:
Creativity is “a sense of freedom to think, a sense of freedom to play, come up with new ideas, new ways to do things”
Process art develops:
- Fine motor skills
- Gross motor skills and coordination
- Creativity and self-expression
- Sensory exploration
- Art techniques
- Spatial reasoning
What if I want to make a specific item?
‘Craft’ activities can be converted into more process based art activities, to increase the learning experience. For example, if you wanted to create a butterfly, the craft might involve you pre-cutting wings, body shapes and antennae and providing a finished example for the children to copy.
A more process based art approach would be to provide the materials which you may have used to create the butterfly and ask the children to create their own butterflies with them. This will encourage them to use a much greater range of skills e.g. problem solving skills, their imagination and fine motor skills to cut the materials. You will still end up with butterflies, but they will be unique to each child.
To make the same activity even more open ended and you could provide a range of materials and ask the children to make a Spring collage, allowing them to choose what they felt represented Spring.
Guidelines to gain the benefits of process art
- Don’t try to ‘fix’ a child’s work
- Provide a wide variety of interesting materials and choices
- Try not to tell a child what to create
- Emphasize the process, not the end product
- Don’t ask “What is it?”; Say “Tell me about it”
- Let children explore materials
- Let children come up with their own ideas and use materials creatively
- Do not create examples for the child to copy as this can limit creativity
- Talk about texture, colour, smell, shape, etc
- Step back and let the child be as independent as possible
- Reassure them that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way
Sounds good, give me some examples!
You could go for a walk and collect sticks, pinecones, conkers, leaves, feathers etc. then come home and set them out with some paint, paper or glitter (if you have a fear of glitter read my blog post on mess free glitter). Your child may end up painting the natural items, dipping them in glitter, or printing with them.
Set out the same natural items, with some playdough. You could add some pipe-cleaners, googly eyes and sprinkles. Your child may decide to turn them into woodland creatures, fairies, or see what patterns the items make when they’re rolled across the playdough. It really doesn’t matter what they do, they will be developing important skills and having fun!
Here are some more Process Art ideas to try at home
Squidgydoodle craft boxes and party boxes contain a mixture of process art, craft and sensory activities. For example, with the Holiday Fun Craft Box you paint with a car and an ice lolly. You’ll be splat painting a baddie with the Super Hero Craft Box and wibble wobbling a spiders web with the Spooky Art Craft Box.
If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of process art, check out this blog post from the amazing Meri Cherry ‘5 Reasons Process Art Makes Life Better’. Meri Cherry is a well respected arts teacher, who is passionate about process art.