What is Process Art?

22 June 2019

You will hear me use the term process art frequently when I describe what we do in our classes at Creative Makes, and so I also have the question ‘what is process art?’ come up often.

In very basic terms Process Art is when the process of making the art is the focus of what we are doing, rather than the outcome of what we will be making.

For example, when children come along to one of our Micro Makers classes, it will be based on a theme of either a children’s book or an artist, and we will provide the materials and tools to create. What we don’t do is ask the children to all create something that looks the same as the last persons, or tell them what colours to use where, or how to use the tools. The children are provided with everything they need to then interpret how they choose.

The younger the child the easier they find this, and I have noticed that as children become older and their education becomes more structured, or a person enters into adolescence and then adulthood the idea of process art, and creating for the sake of creating, with freedom and inhibition becomes less and less natural. ‘What do I do next, how do I do this, what are we making?’ are common questions and the pressure to ‘get it right’ and for it to be perfect the first time, can sometimes become overwhelming, causing people to not even want to try in the first place for fear of failure. This is why I love process art for people of all ages, there is no way you can get it wrong.

A great quote that I came across recently that sums it up perfectly for me is this

‘Process art is about the discovery, investigation, and enjoyment of the materials without the notion of an end result’

-Barbara Rucci – Art Workshops for Children

I challenge you, when you are next watching your child creating, or when you are doing so yourself, let go. Don’t worry about how you think something should be done, just allow it to happen. Don’t correct if you think it is ‘wrong’, just wait and see. Don’t focus on what you want it to look like when its finished, enjoy the process.


Painting with String

Materials needed:


1. Tie one 15-20cm length of twine or string onto a pop stick

2. Repeat this so that you have one for each paint colour

3. Place paint in the pot then lower sting into the paint allowing the pop stick to sit on the rim of the jar keeping the end out of the paint. The child will use the pop stick to hold when painting with the string.

4. Use the end of the pop stick to push the string into the paint. Demonstrate to the children that each time they need to dip their string they can use the end of the pop stick to push it into the paint

5. Place the paper on the table and allow the children to move the paint covered string over the paper, up and down, side to side.

6. Place somewhere to dry.

7. Variation – Once they have had a good go of the above process fold a piece of paper in half and lay the string in between the folds. Place your hand on top of the folded paper and ask the child to gently pull the string out from between the paper. Other children can be encouraged to help, and take turns being the person holding the paper and the person pulling the string.

Open ended questions that can be asked during this activity: