But a mom reader in Kuwait mentioned to me the idea of 'art as process and recommended a book called The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family Life with Art & Creativity by Jean Van't Hul. I haven't got the book yet (I plan to order it on Amazon) but wanted to try something to get started and found a great post online about painting with chopsticks and cottonballs as a way to enjoy the 'process' rather than the end product.
So this weekend, we decided to give it a try. I laid out cottonballs, chopsticks and palettes of paint on the kitchen table (covered with newspaper in anticipation of the mess) and gave the girls each a large white piece of paper. Both were a bit hesitant at first. "What do we do, Mama"? I read somewhere you should not tell kids what to do but instead show them how so that they can investigate and figure out for themselves and also learn or explore new ways of doing. I admit I'm super guilty of always offering up a quick and tidy answer but this time I showed them how to pick up the cotton balls with the chopsticks, dip them in the paint and then just stood back and waited.
The kindergirl first tried to use the chopstick alone but after a minute she got into it and really had fun trying to catch the cotton ball with her chopsticks and then dip it in the paint. After experimenting with the different things she could do with the cotton ball, she set about creating on paper the image in her head.
I'm not sure if she manipulated the cotton balls and chopsticks to fully realize the image or if she evolved the image as she painted to suit the materials and results of the cottonball/chopstick effect but either way she got very focused and in fact her painting turned out to be one of the more detailed and developed that she's ever made.
She was more focused and meticulous than usual, which I found interesting as she usually rushes through any painting/drawing project. I attribute this to the 'process' aspect since it was new to her and will definitely find more ideas for art as process.
The 2.5 year old, meanwhile, focused on the materials. She quickly dispatched with the chopsticks and instead focused on the cotton balls. She swabbed the paper back and forth with the paint covered cotton balls one or two times but I think she was more interested in amassing as many paint-dipped cotton balls as possible and collected a large pile of them next to her paper. When the container of cotton balls emptied, she was done and got up to take her painting outside to dry.
I enjoyed the activity as much or maybe even more than the kids. I grabbed my own chopsticks and cotton balls and painted. Typically I just watch while the kids play or else I'm busy guiding their activity but it was refreshing to actually engage in the same activity with them as participant rather than teacher.
Something we will definitely do again and now I will seek out more materials/techniques for exploring 'process'.
Thanks to @misferah for the recommendation!