I learned that if you just feel free, wonderful things will happen.
I’m astounded by how eagerly children take to process painting — and by the joy they discover from trusting their own internal spontaneity and intuition. I see kids taking risks by painting images they’ve never painted before, experiencing how “mistakes” can lead to inspiration, and realizing they can search inside their own imagination for things to paint. These experiences lead children to a deeper sense of confidence and self-reliance.
The adventurous kids you see in these interviews are fourth graders. Most of the process-painting facilitation work I’ve done in schools has been in fourth grade classrooms — and I’ll be back on this blog in the fall with a series of posts written specifically for teachers, to help them bring this unique way of painting into their classrooms.
For now, we thought you’d enjoy hearing what kids had to say about their experience with process painting when I talked with them after class. Not surprising, most of these expressions and discoveries are the same for adults!
What Did You Like About Process Painting?
- You could paint and paint and as you thought about it you would come up with even better ideas.
- You can paint anything you want in a quiet, peaceful room.
- You don’t have to follow specific steps and you can mess up, you can only go forward.
- You can go deep in your imagination and paint whatever you want and no one can judge your work.
- It made me feel more comfortable about taking risks.
- When you process paint it’s like there’s something that you really want to say but no one has time for it so you say it in pictures.
Listen as Amelia describes her experience of learning that she can “paint anything” — even a lion!
What Surprised You About Painting This Way?
- How lively the paintings were.
- That something I didn’t like turned into something I loved on my picture.
- That I could make such good paintings without planning on what I wanted to paint.
- When I opened my imagination, lots of beautiful things popped up onto my paper and I felt good about that.
- It was weird in a really good way and it was weird because I thought you had to draw and make sure that other people liked it but I was wrong in every way — but I’m happy I was wrong.
Here, Bianca talks about how much she likes not having to draw or paint some “thing” in particular — that process painting means it’s okay to draw or paint whatever you want: a mystical flower, a shapey face, a bunch of triangles, dots, or anything at all.
How might you use what you learned in process painting in other school subjects?
- Being quiet.
- I could use it in writing like so I can write free.
- In math and writing I just should take my time.
- I learned that I should do what I want so if I am writing I should take risks and make it exciting.
- I would use them in probably reading because if you’re scared of reading a book then you take a risk.
- Being quiet for all my subjects and to go beyond what I already did.
- You could not say any negative things about other people’s work.
- I learned that if you just feel free, wonderful things will happen.
- I could use my art skills in writing because when you write you have to imagine a situation and when I processed painted with you my imagination grew.
- I took risks in painting so maybe I’ll take risks in school.
- You could use the focus and concentration in any other subjects.
- Ask no one to judge me and paint whatever I want.
- I can just follow the path in my mind and stick with my first instinct.
- I would like to use my imagination more and worry less about what others think.
- You could learn to be patient to do your best and not rush through your work.
- It taught me that risks are okay to take in school.
- Ignore what other people say and do my own work.
- It taught me to accept my work.
In his interview, Jack talks about taking risks, how the silence helped him concentrate — and how cool it is that everyone’s painting is unique!
More About Aziza — Plus Summer Process Painting Classes for Kids!
Aziza Balle is an affiliate facilitator with The Painting Experience and a retired elementary and high school counselor. She has been facilitating process painting with children and adults in her private studio and in elementary and high schools for the past eight years. Aziza finds that process painting teaches her how to move and flow with the “isness” of her own being and watching kids paint drives this awareness home again and again. Process painting offers her a gazillion opportunities to align with a dimension of herself that is deeper than her desires for a beautiful, meaningful or extraordinary work of art.
This summer Aziza will be teaching a six-week series of process painting for kids in her private home studio near Portland, Oregon. Classes start on Thursday, June 30. For more information about this series, other classes for kids and adults — or to find out more about bringing process painting into classrooms — contact her through her website, Paint to Discover.