Education Insights – The Creative Process

The chance to develop and strengthen creativity and be exposed to a wide variety of artistic endeavours, are real advantages of a Wellington education. All children have the ability to be creative. At Wellington College International Hangzhou, the study of visual art and design enables pupils to build upon this ability and extend their capacity for artistic expression and representation. To express themselves, pupils focus on being mindful of their inner thoughts and feelings, use their imagination, observations, and experiences. Inspiration from this awareness provides them with new and innovative answers, solutions, and new questions to pursue and evaluate. Through the creation and presentation of art works, pupils express and communicate their creative insights in a range of forms; from drawing and painting, to assemblage and printmaking. These often show astounding originality with varying degrees of concreteness and abstraction. But for children to develop their creativity, they need to synthesize invention and the assimilation of new thinking and integrate it with their pre-existing knowledge. Creativity does not occur in a vacuum.

Art making is a process requiring both creativity and skill, and it can be cultivated by establishing conditions that encourage and promote its development. Pupils use the creative process to help them acquire and apply knowledge and skills in the arts while developing creativity and imagination through a range of complex activities.

Stages of the Creative Process 

  • Inspiration: Pupils are introduced to the initial idea, challenge, stimulus, inspiration, or experience. Expectations and parameters are defined, and learning goals are set.
  • Imagination and Planning: Pupils generate ideas inspired by the stimulus by creating brainstorms, lists, and sketches. They discuss and pose questions while drawing on prior knowledge and experience. They make choices about art forms, tools, strategies, and formal concepts.
  • Exploring and Experimenting: Pupils use a range of art elements, techniques, conventions, and principles in a variety of open-ended activities. They are asked questions to stimulate their exploration and strategically provided with direct instruction.  There is encouragement for risk taking, and an expectation on focus, practice and skill mastery.
  • Producing Preliminary Work: Pupils commit to artistic choices and works to make their meanings clear for an intended audience. They begin to create.
  • Revising and Refining: They share their preliminary work with their peers. Then, they invite outside opinions as they develop and refine formal concepts (elements, techniques, conventions, principles). They rework the piece, building on strengths and incorporating feedback.
  • Presenting: Pupils finalise and share their work. They may have an audience in mind (e.g., teacher, parents, peers, community) and also prepare a space for sharing their work.
  • Reflecting and Evaluating: They reflect on their process and the degree of success and identify further learning goals, opportunities and next steps.

The creative process is not entirely linear. It is intended to be followed in a flexible, fluid, and cyclical manner; pupils move deliberately and consciously between the stages and vary their order as appropriate. For example, many pupils may benefit from exploring and experimenting before planning and focusing; or in some instances, the process may begin with reflecting. Ongoing feedback and opportunities for pupils to engage in reflection and metacognition are integrated into each stage of the creative process. In this way, assessment by both the teacher and pupils is used to inspire students’ creativity and support their development and achievement.

Learning through the creative process stimulates creativity and imagination. It provides visual, tactile and sensory experiences, and a special way of understanding and responding to the world. It enables children to communicate what they see, feel and think, through the use of colour, texture, form, pattern and different materials and processes. Children become involved in shaping their environments through art and design activities. They learn to make informed judgements, and aesthetic and practical decisions. They explore how to make connections, and form strategies for both divergent and critical thinking, and ultimately prepare themselves to become creative thinkers.