We tend to think of art as a product: a thing to hang on a wall.
We, that is, those of us who aren’t artists, miss out on all of the messiness about and tossing aside that happens long before you have anything to hang up.
As a choreographer, I know how many ideas I try on for size before I hit on one that I like and that works with my dancers.
Young children approach the creative process differently. Their art is, quite literally, ALL ABOUT PROCESS. We often talk a good talk in education about process-based assessment and about looking beyond the product for insight into learning but at the end of the day we remain quite concerned about what’s on the paper; the product.
Many kindergarten students couldn’t give a hoot about what their painting looks like when they put down their brushes. They are interested in how the painting changes as they add layers of paint, how the paint behaves, how it mixes together. They will often start with an image and then paint over it. Their process often has more in common with storytelling than it does with paint-by-numbers. SH, for instance, began by painting a robot and then added several layers of paint over top. You can just glimpse the robot underneath.
This art work challenges us to closely observe children’s process as they work through their creative ideas and not to settle for assessment that is only interested in the product.