Why Process Art is more than just getting messy?

Updated: Nov 4

One activity we love doing in class is Process Art but what is it and how does it differ from Product Art?


Simple, Product Art is the kind of art that produces a recognisable piece of 'art' to take home with.

Process Art does not necessarily produce a finished piece as it is more about the process of creation and through this process children are able to not only develop artistic skills but also developmental skills and wider learning.


Sounds like Process Art just involves getting the paints out and getting very messy then..? Well sometimes it can be that but not all the time in fact 'messy play' is a great way to experience different senses for the little ones and is a great photo opportunity but how many times does little Billy need to play slip and slide in some shaving foam? And what about those children (mine being one) that have a melt down when the spaghetti gets placed on their tummy? It wore thin fast which is why I looked into Process Art.


Process Art is about stepping back and letting children just create.

In Process Art we give the tools, give guidance/support and then step back and in stepping back children do something wonderful, they use their own brain!

Who would have thought it!

They develop their own style of creativity, they explore with their senses and they learn what they like and don't like and therefore also problem solve. Such massive learning for little ones.


So often I have heard someone say 'I just touched their painting up to make it look a bit more finished'... I am guilty of this too sometimes!

It is really hard when you have something in your head, the perfect Mothering Sunday card or something else and it just wasn't quite right, but just think about what message that action is sending to your child, that it wasn't quite right because it wasn't how YOU wanted it to be... The great thing about Process Art for you and for the children is that you don't know what it should end up looking like, its all about the process.

We use Process Art in class in 2 ways.

1st, and probably the least used method is to just give the materials, no theme and just let the children create. As our classes always have a nature theme we usually do the second instead.

2nd is we tie it in with the educational element, and its unbelievable how well it works! This way it doesn't just do all of the usual Process Art learning and skill developments it goes further by reinforcing the educational element too.

For example we may just give a prompt, such as use these chalks to create a Northern Light scene. Or we may give stencils/stamps and then the prompt. Such as using sticky tape as Resistance Art with a Process Art on top to create snowflake shapes. What is lovely about this method is the children often have something to take home, to stick on the fridge, that to anyone else may look like 'mess' but to the children 100% looks like a snowflake, or what ever else we were creating!



You can see from our photos Process Art can be done in many mediums and can be done on an individual scale or in groups. I love seeing the children interacting in group Process Art, or what I would call Collaborative Art, as you see them use verbal and non verbal communication to collaborate. Sometimes there is conflict (a difference in artistic opinion lets say) but more often than not the children just support each other and see the wonder not only in their Art but that of the other children which is fabulous for teaching an appreciation of other peoples thoughts and feelings too.


Process Art is more than just messy play, it can be done in so many ways and mediums and teaches children, and adults, so much, not least to have fun and be creative so for that reason alone get stuck in and make Process Art!


Ps. Don't forget to tag us with your work @NatureMakers we love seeing what you do.


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