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Process Art: What is It?

Four story brick building with adjacent courtyard

By Lana Sommers


“Art is an experience that requires freethinking, experimentation, and analysis—all part of creativity.”

~ MaryAnn Kohl, Early Childhood Art Educator and Author

The Children’s Art Centre’s Studio In-School Residency uses Process Art as part of the Hurley School student's arts education. Process art focuses on the experience of making art through exploration and experimentation with materials. The final product may not be a realistic representation of an object but will display the learning and discovery that occurred during the art making process.

Shaving Cream Painting

Spray a glob of shaving cream onto a piece of thick paper (watercolor or card stock). Add a few drops of liquid watercolor or food coloring. Let children use their hands to swirl the colors around the paper, experimenting with patterns, color mixing and texture.


•  Engages many senses - Children can feel the shaving cream, smell it and see the way the colors mix when they swirl it with their hands.

•  Experimentation - Children can explore what happens when they only slightly mix the colors or what happens if they mix all the colors together.

•  There are many possibilities - Each child can mix their shaving cream and color a different way and can see how their classmates mixed them.  Each picture will look different and unique.


Ice Cube Painting

Put an ice cube onto a piece of thick paper and sprinkle kosher salt on top of it. With an eye dropper children can drop different colors of liquid water color or food coloring onto the ice cube and watch the colors mix and run as the ice melts. Add more salt to see what happens. Encourage children to experiment with colors or move the ice cube around the paper.


•  Sensory exploration - Engages visual and touch senses.

•  Allows for experimentation and discovery - What will happen if you add more salt? What do these colors make together?

Process Art Activities, Tips and Resources:

•  Primary Art, Art with Anything, and Science Arts by MaryAnn Kohl

•, a blog for parents with art and learning activities

•, a blog for infusing art and learning into your home

Lana Sommers is an Art Therapy and Child Studies double major at Lesley University. She works in our Vacation Arts program as a Petit Picasso's teacher and was a Children's Art Centre intern for the 2014 fall semester.

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