Process over product is a teaching strategy art educators often use when instructing children in a classroom setting. The principle is that the process of creating the project or artwork, is much more important and can teach the child more lessons, than simply getting them to create a perfect looking product. Not all children think and learn in the same ways, so this teaching style allows each individual student to thrive in their own way, and if the product or result at the end doesn't quite look the same as the instructors, well, thats ok! We encourage the students to embrace creating the project in the moment, and not overthink. What can you discover simply by mixing the colors right now? How are you using your paintbrush ? Asking questions and engaging the students is crucial.
I've started to realize recently, that this way of thinking is how many artists work in their studios, but I wonder how many people outside of the art community know about it? How would the average art viewers perceptions of art change if they understood that a lot of art is about the act of creating it, rather than the end result?
A lot of artists thoroughly plan out each piece of art, and if it doesn't work out how they intended, they go back to square one and rethink the project and try again. It's a lot like the scientific method. Think of an equation or problem, hypothesize, experiment to try and solve it, and keep trying until you succeed. This method of making art to me, seems very methodical and meticulous, however it is still a process over product way to work. The beginning and end aren't the important pieces to this puzzle. Without the experiments, failures and successes both, not very much would have been learned or achieved! Nothing in life is perfect on the first try, and the same can be said for art! One piece of art that you see now, could have gone through hundreds of transformations until the artist felt it was just right, or that they no longer needed to continue with that piece.
Personally, my work tends to be somewhat of a self discovery in addition to a compositional and conceptual process. The whole process in each piece is cruicial in my work. The first painting in the image above for instance is the finished piece, and as you can see from the image next to it, the piece started out with a completely different intention. The painting as a whole took me over a year to get to the state it is in now. The more I worked on it, the more I explored deeper the aspects that made me have the strongest feelings. I would pause from time to time to reflect on the piece, and explore different ways I could continue. New intentions rise from past intentions , and the painting is a journey for me. The process of art making for so many artists is essential in helping us to figure out and understand the world around us. A piece of art, in many ways, illustrates how that specific artist thinks and wanders through life.
When you look at a finished painting hanging in a gallery, or cafe, try looking at how the artist applied marks on the surface, or what colors were used. How many layers does image seem to have? Can you visibly see the artists thoughts if you really look? When you really engage in a piece of art, you might be surprised with what you find!