MTYH #1: Process art is just for little kids. Yes, process art is developmentally appropriate for children ages 2-5, and toddlers/preschoolers are at the perfect age in which to engage in this kind of exploratory art. But here's the deal. Children and adults of any age will enjoy and benefit from process-based art experiences. Not having to worry about a final product and just enjoying the process of creating? Sign us up!
MYTH #2: Process art is always messy. Yes, process art can be messy if you want it to be messy. But messy is not a specific characteristic of process art. And look, if making a mess just isn't your thing (and we know this is true for many of you), we can suggest a wide range of supplies that are virtually mess-free. Hello Kwik Stix! Plus, we have quite a few tricks up our sleeve that will help you manage art explorations so that you're more focused on the creative process and less worried about the mess.
MYTH #3: Process art is chaotic, and there is no structure. Yup, process art might look chaotic to an observer, but there is actually a lot of thought and planning that goes on behind the scenes. Every single process art experience is created with the artists' interests, needs, and developmental ability in mind. Materials are laid out in a thoughtful way to encourage open-ended exploration.
MYTH #4: Materials are readily available and accessible to artists all of the time. More isn't better, and process art is not about using everything but the kitchen sink! Materials and supplies are carefully selected, depending on the experience we are curating, and they are offered in small amounts at different times during the creation process. Putting everything out all at once is not going to work (believe us, we've tried it). But putting out a few materials at a time, and then introducing one or two new ones halfway through an experience, creates excitement. It also alleviates the "I'm done" attitude, because you can challenge artists to incorporate this new material into their work.
MYTH #5: Process art doesn't yield a finished product. This can definitely be true. Process art isn't always about having something "pretty" to take home and hang on the refrigerator. If we had a dime for every time a parent left us with their artist and on the way out the door said, "make me something pretty while I'm gone," we would own ten studios. Process art is not about a finished product. It's about making decisions, exploring materials, using your senses, asking questions, learning through play, and enjoying the process of creating. And yet sometimes an artist WILL have a finished piece to take home. And a parent might not think the piece "looks finished." And sometimes the parent might wonder why their child is bringing it home, because it might not appear as "pretty" as the parent had hoped it would. But that's because the parent was not a part of the process. They didn't see the level of engagement that took place, or hear the laughter, or experience the joy that occurred when a new material was offered. At the end of the day, it is ALWAYS up to the artist to make the decision on whether or not they will have a finished product and if so, what that work will look like. prompts and specific language are given to inspire children and to open their eyes to new ways of thinking. MYTH #6: Process art is only about free exploration, and children are free to do whatever they want without rules or expectations. Process art is a meaningful, organic, and open-ended way for artists to explore new materials and think critically. However, as facilitators of the exploration process, it's our job to engage with artists, ask questions, and guide them through the creative process. Through prompts and very specific language, we encourage children to take risks, find new ways to think about old ideas and view things from different perspectives, make decisions, and learn about the world through the creative process. Although we do learn the most when we sit back and observe children, we do not remove ourselves completely from the creative process. There are always guidelines in place including a respect for materials, a respect for other people's artwork, a way of talking to one another in our creative space, and expectations for cleaning up.
MYTH #7: Process art is completed in one sitting, and children don't revisit their work. Like anything, it will depend on each individual child. Some children will try something once, declare "I'm done," and never want to return to it. Why ruin perfection? However, process art does not have to be a "one and done" piece of work. Like any meaningful creation, it can always be revisited, revised, added to, and reworked. Listen to your artists and let their interests and engagement be your guide. You can't go wrong with that!
And if you're still unsure, process art supports: • Critical thinking skills • Problem solving and decision making skills • Gross and fine motor development • Creativity and self-expression • Risk taking and confidence building • Patience and perseverance • Emotional wellness • Math, science, social studies and literacy integration
Now do you believe in the power of process art? We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Nicole & Raygan