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What is process art and 5 reasons kids love it!

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

My 2 and 4 year old working with watercolors

First let's talk about what process based art is. Process art is art that is focused on the process of making art, not a finished piece. It is a child led learning activity. With process art, students get to fully explore tools, techniques and materials without worrying about an outcome.

Process art could be as simple as giving your kids some watercolors, paper, brushes and showing them how to use them before setting them free to create whatever they like!

Here are 5 reasons why kids love it:

  1. Process art makes children feel confident! There is no right or wrong way to do it, each child's experience is their own. This creates a sense of "I can do this" as opposed to "this is too hard."

  2. The experience is fun, relaxing and even therapeutic! Kids aren't busy worrying about if it looks right, instead they are enjoying the feeling of creating something new and original. They will think "this is fun" instead of "I did it wrong."

  3. The experience is self-directed and they can complete the artwork by themselves! Oftentimes children's arts and crafts projects require adult help, but with process based art they do it all on their own. This creates a huge sense of accomplishment! They will think "I can do it by myself" instead of "I need an adult/example/image to help me make art."

  4. They work at their own pace! They are allowed to work for as long as they want, and they are done when they say they are done.

  5. Their artwork looks like no one else's! This is the definition of creativity! Taking tools, materials and techniques, and creating something new! Instead of "I want to make mine look just like the teacher's" they think "Wow, my art looks cool!"

So is process art all that our kids need? What about structured projects? I believe that with preschool age children, process based art should be the focus of what they do. This is not to say that I don't believe they should ever do crafts or structured projects. With structured projects they can learn to follow directions among other things, but only process art will help build an early confidence and love for art.

Children will naturally begin to start drawing representational art in preschool and elementary school and this can also be encouraged and taught with some guidance, but only when the child is ready. I'll talk more about teaching representational drawing in a future blog post!

If you would like to learn more about process art projects, check out my blog or click here for project ideas!

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