Young children "do" art for the experience, the exploration, the experimentation. In the "process" they discover mystery, creativity, joy, frustration. The resulting masterpiece, whether it be a sticky glob or meritorious gallery piece, is only a result to the young child, not the reason for doing art in the first place. Art allows children to explore and discover their world. Sometimes the process is merely feeling slippery paint on the fingers, other times it is the mystery of colors being blended or the surprise of seeing a realistic picture evolve when blobs were randomly placed. Art can be a way to "get the wiggles out" or to smash a ball of clay instead of another child.
Sometimes adults unknowingly communicate to a child that the result is the most important aspect of art. Encourage discovery and process by talking with a child about his or her artwork. Following are suggestions to help start the conversation:
Tell me about your painting.
What part did you like the best?
You've used many colors.
Did you enjoy making this?
How did the paint feel?
The yellow looks so bright next to the purple!
How did you make such a big design?
I see the painting is brown. What colors did you use?
Providing interesting materials and watching what a child can do on his or her own is better than saying, "Paint a green fish in blue water." It can be far more exciting to paint on a peice of frozen paper or to paint with a feather instead of a brush, with no idea of what will happen, then to follow an adult's idea of what to paint.
Process art is a wonder to behold. Watch a child discover their capabilities and the joy of creativity.
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