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Perfect Artistic Imperfections

Process Art Process art provides an experience that is “child-directed,” “choice-driven,” and based on discovering what can happen when a variety of objects combine with various types of paper and paint. The process of doing the activity outweighs the final product in importance.

  • Process art enables a child to think creatively and work independently.

  • The child learns about physical limitations and the possibilities of materials. Critical thinking skills are reinforced by discovering what she can do with various materials.

  • Motivation and interest often generate many curious questions from children.

  • Children will embrace experimentation.

Examples of Process Art Activities

Examples of process art activities include making collages with leaves, glue, and thick paper. Placing stickers within a hand-drawn frames. Making handprints and footprints on a cookie sheet with tempera paint.


Possible Items for Process Art Although the materials a child can use for process art seem to be endless, a few commonly used items are listed below.

  • Paper in various sizes, textures, and color

  • Sponges cut into a variety of sizes and shapes

  • Paint brushes

  • Fingerpaints

  • Tempera paints in primary colors and white

  • Popsiclesticks

  • Gluesticks

  • Crayons

  • Squeeze bottles (to hold paint that children can squirt on thick paper or cardboard)

  • Strings

  • Sequins

  • Oatmeal (for texture)

Meri Cherry owns an art studio where she teaches classes and produces birthday parties for toddlers. She also makes the following suggestions.


  • Keep art supplies in containers that children can access easily.

  • Protect surfaces.

  • Protect children’s clothes as much as possible.

  • Arrange a place for art to dry.

  • Establish a way for art to be displayed.

  • Remember that although the result may or may not be beautiful, the emphasis remains on the act of creating.

  • Model appropriate amounts of glue, paint, or other materials to use, and allow children to experiment.

  • Do not attempt to teach the child how to create anything specific. Just allow the process to unfold.


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