I just taught a workshop to child educators on Process Art Making. Process art is making art with focusing on the process not the product. It is important because it encourages children to find their own unique expression in a relaxed, playful atmosphere. Children are encouraged to be experimental, curious, playful, open, and adventurous in their exploration of art materials, techniques, instruments and methods of working. This way of creating is body and emotion centered where children are welcome to use their whole body and emotional response in their creative work. The group I worked with did the art activities that I often do with children so they could experience the process.
Central to this way of working, is to provide children with interesting materials and enough instructions that they feel confident to create but not so much that they feel that there is ‘one way or a way’ to create. The teacher is not the director or authority in this process, they are there to assist or help the child’s emerging process. The teacher needs to be playful, open and free of their own judgments or ideas of how the art or creative process should unfold. The creative work does not have to be anything, it may have been an experiment with the tools, or a hour of interest in mixing paint or an interest in how one thing leads to another thing when working with art materials. To be asking children what something is, limits the creative process of discovery, which takes time and is necessary before a child arrives at a finished something. To work in this way, it is helpful to have uninterrupted time in order to experiment with materials, come back to the work and rework. The environment should be inviting and free of restrictive materials that don’t allow the child to move around and create freely. Children may want to communicate to each other while they create, dance, sing, move and or use other means of communicating to get deeper into their process. There is no ‘right way’ to create.
In process art making children may be faced with what they think is a problem, ie. the materials not working they way they thought, and they should be allowed the space and time to problem solve on their own. This is important life learning that later becomes applied to problem solving in other areas in their lives.
When children are creating, they are forming their own sense of identity, They are figuring out how their externalize their feelings and thoughts. They try on different persona, roles, and they copy others. This is important to allow for identity formation through the creative process. They learn agency, autonomy, and empowerment through taking ownership of their creative process and ability to freely explore and grow.
I did a activity that I call “Creativity Musical Chairs.” I set up 40 different art activities that they could move around the tables and experience. I played different kinds of music and after each song (about 5 minutes) they move to the next activity. After awhile people become playful, open and in the flow. They found that different music inspired them to create differently, as did the materials, and the people that they are working beside. Once in awhile I would interrupt the process and have them close their eyes and image a favorite place and then return to their art making, get them to use their non-dominate hand, or hop on one foot, etc. People find that having a variety of materials to explore, different music to inspire them and no rules opens up their creative abilities in amazing ways.
If you are interested in Arts in Education this is an interesting story "10 Salient Studies on the Arts in Education."