An Art Teachers perspective on teaching Process Art
I remember the day well. My wife and I were sitting in our back room when she said, “We should start an art company that does process art with young kids.” At first I brushed the idea off as there are many art classes that are offered to young kids all over the place. What would make this so special? She then proceeded to tell me about process art and some of the studios around the country that are popping up. Still not really grasping the idea, I agreed and Little Humans Art Co. was born. We started conducting classes 2 months after coming up with the idea and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride ever since.
The set up was she was going to handle the business side/planning of things and I was going to teach the classes since I’m the “art teacher” and all. This sounded perfect to me since I just want to teach without having to deal with the “biz” that comes with it. So she started sending me ideas for class and the trouble began. You see the whole idea of process art is to enjoy the process of making art without worrying about what it’s going to look like. I didn’t realize that I would have such a hard time with this part but I did! As an art teacher, I have spent my whole career teaching kids how to make art so that it looks like what they are trying to make and then grade them on how well they were able to accomplish their goal. Process art turns that totally on its head. I was like a fish out of water for our first class. There were multiple times I would start showing the kids the “right” way to paint and I would get the “back off” look from my wife lol! So I did and that is when the magic started happening.
You see kids are natural artists. It’s us adults that have gotten jaded with the right and wrong way of how to do things. We tend to analyze everything as good/bad or by the end result, especially with our selves. But if you can let go of that, you free yourself so that you can actually enjoy the process because there is no goal to begin with! This is when I had the epiphany that this is a microcosm of the macrocosm.
Alan Watts is one of my favorite philosophers. He has thousands of youtube videos of his past lectures available but there is one that spoke to me in particular entitled “Life is NOT a journey.” In this particular lecture (which includes a great little illustrated accompaniment), Watts explains the faults in popular human psyche of believing and teaching that life is a series of steps that need to be accomplished in one’s life. Watts explains, “We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.” WOW this was a bomb shell for me! I have always looked at life and art in this manner of getting somewhere or accomplishing something! The ability to let go and enjoy the process is not only valuable in the making of art but also in the process of LIVING!
So here we are 4 months after starting our little company (no pun intended) and I am feeling very proud of what we have accomplished and excited for things to come. I feel that I have grown not only as an art teacher but as a person. I have learned to let go and not always have a goal in mind. I’ve learned not to be afraid to create a lot of mess because everything (babies included) can be cleaned up. I’ve started enjoying the little moments in life that I once overlooked. I have learned that things will not always go as planned and that is ok. Most importantly I’ve learned that the purpose of life is not to get somewhere or to attain something but to just enjoy the ride. Thanks for reading:)
Co-owner and teacher at Little Humans Art Co.