Process Art vs. Skill Development

Process Art vs. Skill Development

Let me start off by saying that I believe ALL art is a process, not a product. There is always a great debate about creating for the sake of creating, and creating with an end goal, or product, in mind. And yes, one could argue that there is always a product, but the true magic of art-making is the journey of overcoming obstacles and fear that one takes to get there.

We have become a society that pushes our children out of childhood younger and faster, we compare our children to every other child we see, and we have lost patience for the educational exploration that happens when children lead the way. Which are just a few more reasons why Arts Education is incredibly important for the development of our children. So, what exactly is the difference in Process Art and Skill Development? Process Art is any art that is created with no end goal, or product in mind. It is also very child-centered. Some types of process art could be squishing paint in Ziploc bags for infants, finger painting or stamping with apples or potatoes for toddlers, painting to music, intuitive sketchbook practices, and media explorations to name a few. This differs from Skill Development in that when teaching a skill, you are looking for growth or mastery of that particular skill. Did they draw a figure proportionately? Did they place eyes in the middle of the face (where they are realistically located) or up on the hairline? Skill Development is certainly more appropriate for school-aged children, and will show a progression (I will be digging more in to that topic on my next blog post). Skills in art are almost endless. The skills can be fine motor skills, such as cutting, gluing, pencil/crayon grip, weaving, rolling clay, adding value, drawing in 3D, carving, sculpting, building, drawing in perspective, enlarging using grids, etc. Skill Development is more teacher-centered, meaning we are often modeling a skill and guiding students gradually to be able to complete on their own. Below is a chart with a few ideas for each category, with best ages to begin. 


 Earlier I mentioned the pressures of societal "norms" we place on ourselves and our children, the comparison that swallows us whole some days. Here's the thing, art is beautiful, and messy, and full of failures and triumphs, and AHA! moments, and tears, and stress, and problem-solving, and wanting to give up, and believing we're "no good". I am an artist. I am an Arts Educator. But guess what?!? My oldest, who is almost 7, just took an interest in coloring THIS YEAR! He will randomly sit down and do something art related with me, and draw me pictures on occasion, but he is almost always the first one done in my classroom, he puts in about 75% effort in to his artwork, and his progression on certain skills is average, and THAT'S OK! We have always said that we want our kids to find their interests without pressure from us. Now, do people probably look at my kids and wonder why they aren't "the best artist in the class"? Probably. Do I care? HECK NO! So, if you are planning to start incorporating more art practices into your home life, which I obviously FULLY support+encourage, manage your expectations as the adult. Remember that all art should be JOYFUL! KNOW that the amount of clean-up required for a 2 year old to create will be more than the time spent creating. KNOW that your child may get frustrated with their work not looking "perfect" in their eyes. Have a plan for how you can coach through that. Create with them! Let them see you struggle or fail, and erase and keep trying. Because you see, what the entire point of Arts Education is, is that through making art, students develop+strengthen life skills that will help them persevere in college, in their future jobs, and when things in life get really, really tough. A lot of adults forget that beautiful, magical connection unfortunately, which is why we have a lot of districts, parents, and eventually students, that find our content to be a waste of time. But, I assure you, when it's done right, it is anything but....and you hold the power to start doing it right!

So, here's our process art project from the weekend...MARBLED PAPER!

Let me preface this by saying that this was the first time I have EVER done this with gel food coloring. Based on its staining power, I don't know if I would do it again. The colors were vibrant, but fingers were pink for about 18 hours lol I usually do marbled papers with liquid watercolors. Liquid watercolors are awesome and so bright, but they are also not super budget friendly, especially if you are only using them for one project, so we have the gel food coloring a go.

Basking Sheet/Dish/Tray (foil or parchment paper to cover optional)
Foam Shaving Cream (not gel)
Gel Food Coloring or Liquid Watercolor
Stir Stick (pencil, pen, kabob, knife, straw, etc.)
White Paper
Old Credit Card or Piece of Cardboard for Scraping


1: Use a baking sheet or dish as your base. Personally, I would put foil or parchment paper down to cover the dish/sheet. We had a blue plastic cafeteria type tray from Michaels that the kids use for Play-Doh or as a serving tray in their kitchen lol Also, cover the surface UNDER your tray with paper towels, newspapers, plastic table cloths, etc. just because, KIDS :)

2: Spray shaving cream to fill enough space for the size paper you are using

3: Add drops of color, either food coloring or liquid watercolors. You could even experiment with Tempera Paint.

4: With your stir stick, slowly start drawing wavy lines from left to right, then top to bottom. You will want to repeat this a few times to get the colors mixing, and overlapping. You want to still see white to give the marble effect, but not mixing enough will leave your paper splotchy.

5: Lay paper down on shaving cream and lightly press down.

6: Peel paper back and scrape off shaving cream. I use an old credit card or piece of cardboard. You can wipe the excess back on to your tray to save for your next print. VOILA! It's instantly dry and beautiful!

I will be sharing our process video later this week on my social channels, so if you are interested, be sure you're following along either on Facebook or Instagram. I have seen this done with Easter Eggs too! So, if you are planning ahead, and by planning ahead, I mean Easter is in like two weeks!  EEK!


Happy Creating!


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.