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Kid Art: Process

September 7, 2011

Yesterday afternoon while painting, O completely saturated paper with paint and then proceeded to tear it, with intention.  Before I could utter the words “Be careful; you’re tearing the paper,” I stopped myself.  What a thing to say to a young child!  So what if he tears the paper?

The creative adult is the child who has survived.
– Ursula K. LeGuin

You see, that’s the thing about children and art.  For them, it really is all about the process, the tearing.  When O paints (or collages, or uses crayons, or sidewalk chalk, or milk spilled on the table after dinner…), it is all about the experience.  He’s not thinking about hanging it on the refrigerator or making it presentable at all; he’s living in the creative moment.  Right now.  That’s it.  Uninhibited creativity.  It is a fantastic thing to behold.  (And such a wonderful reminder as well!)

I feel it is our responsibility as parents to foster this creativity, make room for process oriented art, not stifle it.  In doing this, children are given the freedom to explore and take risks, giving them the confidence to be creative in other areas of their lives as well.

If he rips the paper and paints on the table underneath?  Well, I guess we’ll just wipe it clean when he’s done, won’t we?

Thoughts?  Experiences?


  • More thoughts on children and art (materials and supplies) here.
  • I’ve written on process from other (more adult) perspectives here and here.
  • Quote found on a much-loved blog, The Artful Parent.
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carla permalink
    September 7, 2011 4:22 pm

    I often have to remind myself to not interfere with my little one’s creative process. I love the freedom he has to make and do in a way that has nothing to do with right or wrong, I would hate to have my perfectionism dampen his creative spirit. Thank you for the lovely reminder.

  2. September 8, 2011 8:13 am

    How fun that we both painted on the same day! I totally agree with not interrupting their creative process – I try to only interrupt my little one for safety reasons. Even though it is non-toxic, having her eat paint is not my idea of a good time :) Don’t you just love how much young kids love to always incorporate their hands (not just their brushes) in their painting!

  3. September 9, 2011 11:36 pm

    So cute, Noah normally ends up painting his arms and hands and then holding them up in the air… the piece of art he is now wearing. I love it! I agree, don’t disrupt (unless they are older and asking for instruction). :)


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