How would you expect a child to “think outside the box” when they are asked to colour inside it?

In early childhood, art is a language children speak naturally. A piece of artwork will not look like another child’s art or even look like you think it should. Every squiggle tells a story and your child finds joy in exploring materials, textures, colours, lines and form. This is called Process Art – Where the process of creation is more important than the final beautiful picture.

Process art is playful and engaging and there is no one right way to do it. Creating process art allows children to explore and have a greater sense of ownership over their art because it is all their own creation. In the process of uninhibited expression and exploration they are constantly making choices, taking risks and developing self esteem. They are also fine tuning their motor skills and expressing their emotions in the form of images. It’s a moment of pure joy!

In this act of creation, as adults we can allow this imagination to blossom by allowing free expression or hinder the process by our own inhibitions and thoughts about what art means to us. When a child creates their art a child would come to a parent in excitement and say… Look what I made!  At that moment, we  as adults can be  facilitators who provide questions, encourage deep thinking, and help spark an excitement for discovery.

5 Simple Ways to Encourage Process Art at Home

1.      Create a simple art space, we call it the Dabble space. It is a fixed space in a cozy corner where a child can access easily. Just like you plan for a dining space for a child to eat, an art space is a place to express using images and colours. Most parents are concerned that a child will mess up or draw on the wall. In my experience, the child would do that only when they don’t know where to do art. It’s about setting boundaries and encouraging a child to make the right habits to explore in a place set aside for this purpose.

2.      Keep the art materials accessible. Create a little space to display Blank paper, finger paints, crayons, palletes, chalks, pencils, cloth rag for cleaning etc that is easily accessible to your child. Less is more… so do not clutter it with too many things.

3.      Choose primary colours – Red, blue and yellow to begin with. Using these colours , children can create a large spectrum of colours on their own. Through the process of exploration, they not only learn colours but also the science of colour creation. They do not need too many colours, most times it’s the adults who feel the need for too many options, not children.

4.      Allow your child to choose what they want to draw. Drawing images is a way of expressing their thoughts and feelings. If your child wants you to draw, you could use your non dominant hand and draw. Else, your child may get intimidated by what you can do, or may copy your idea which could hinder his/her originality

5.      When a child has drawn something, instead of judging it by saying very nice or telling the child what colour it should have been, ask open ended question to know your child’s thoughts. Example; Questions such as – Tell me about what you have made ?… I can see 3 lines here, what’s this? Through this process, you allow your child the freedom to express their individuality and in the process encourage self expression.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. 

– Picasso

As a parent, we can play a role in early childhood by creating a space for our children to
nourish their individuality by encouraging this self expression with the medium of  colours.

From the Founders Desk

Author – Karen Saldanha                                                                                                                   

Art Enthusiast,  Trained in Expressive Arts