The Art of the Process
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
I’d like to start by sharing that I am NOT AN EXPERT: in art and definitely not in parenting. And I’m not trying to be. Raising kids is hard and I would estimate a solid majority of the time I have absolutely no idea what I am doing and it’s just a free-for-all guessing game 🤷♀️
I would also like to share that while Nick is an art teacher and has a pretty great background in art, I myself have no formal training. I am not an “art teacher” by society’s terms, I did not go to school for 4 years to earn this title. And while I LOVED art as a child, I think this part of me has gone missing for a really long time. I got older and busier and the little girl that loved getting messy and loved art and playing was gone.
But isn’t that what happens? We grow up and we get busy and we get tired and we get tied into our day-to-day grind. Our bills and our laundry and our adult worries. Our to-do lists and our obligations. I barely have time to take a shower (full disclosure!) And definitely no time for a hobby or to sit and color.
I remember talking to Nick one night on our porch and saying that I used to love to do art and create. But I just don’t do it anymore. I’m not good enough, I don’t have that degree, I’m not an artist. I can’t. These are my grown-up thoughts and that all too common self-defeating dialogue that maybe a few of you have as well. At what point does a child stop loving the process of art and stop creating altogether, because they aren’t good enough or because they aren’t perfect or because someone told them they’re not a real artist?
I really missed making art. The carefree-child that made things just for the sake of making them. I missed not having to create perfection for it to still be a worthwhile experience. And today, as an adult and a mom, the pressure is constant and the bar is high. Be the perfect mom. Find the perfect filter. Show the world only your best side. It is exhausting.
Me as a mom: I let my kids watch a lot of Daniel Tiger. I sometimes feed them fruit snacks for breakfast and let them eat off the floor if they want to. I used to avoid extra MESS because with 3 kids, my house is chaotic and messy enough as it is.
When it came to art, I was afraid to let my kids use markers because it would get on the table or the walls. Glitter is insane. And my kids think glue sticks are great chapsticks 👍🏻 I knew that I wanted to do something with my kids and I knew that art was valuable. Maybe some of you feel this as well? I just didn’t know HOW. And then I discovered process art.
It allows you to just enjoy the process, no expectations or strict guidelines. It is permission to not be perfect; just showing up is enough. And I’m here for it. The world needs more of this. There is so much to gain through the process and the experience. This is something I needed and so did my kids. This was giving us some grace. In art and in motherhood.
I am thankful for process art and for the permission to LET GO and relax. To let my kids be messy and be kids and touch paint and color themselves with magic markers. To allow kids to be kids and to explore and experiment. To trust themselves without me hovering and making decisions for them. I think I will be learning the art of letting go for many, many years with these 3. But this is a great way to begin.
Letting go even in the simplest ways can be a challenge; but our kids need it! They need to explore and grow. And they need supportive adults to allow that. So for now I just sit back and watch my kids dump oatmeal on my floor as they dig through a sensory bin. And I watch from a little distance as they wonder and question and experiment. I have also invested in many, many magic erasers for when Mila goes rogue on the wall. And floor. And couch ;)
I will say that art has brought joy to our home and to our kitchen table. It is okay to breathe and just be present and not have to do things “right”. It is carved out time for fun and for play, because adults need that too. And it is just allowing kids to be kids. To disconnect and to reconnect. To have fun and play in a world where there‘s more pressure than ever to achieve milestones and standards. It is grace. And it is so, so needed. It has been an unexpected calm in the midst of our chaotic days. Plus, kids are washable ;)
I hope to catch you in a class soon, the mess is on us ;)