My local Waldorf homeschooling group recently had its first class with a wonderful trained Waldorf teacher who provided us with an introductory class to wet –on -wet watercolor painting. It was a peaceful, meditative discovery of the medium of wet- on -wet painting, and I learned more in this class by doing than in all the things I have read regarding wet on wet painting.
We started at the beginning by learning to tear large sheets of Arches watercolor paper into halves, quarters and eighths and then we rounded off the corners with scissors to provide a pleasing shape of open possibilities for the young child. Paint was mixed from a tube into a baby food jar with a very small amount of water while the 90 pound watercolor paper soaked for about 15 minutes. We then were called to our task by a wooden pentatonic flute, and a beautiful song to sing together as a group.
We all listened raptly to a story about a young child who came upon some gnomes in the wood who were using sticks and three colors to make all the colors of the world. We received our own paintbrushes to make our own colors of the world and said this verse together, written by Regina Reiter in 1997:
All the colors of the world
Are gifts of love to me,
With skill and trust
I take my brush
And place it carefully
So that my work a gift will be.
Once the paper was on our board, we took sponges and smoothed from the center of the paper out to the corners until there were no bubbles under the paper. We all felt like children again with the excitement of holding our brushes and the prospect of creating something beautiful!
Next, we listened to three separate stories and painted three separate paintings with each of our three color friends: blue, red and yellow. As we painted, we were searching for answers to questions about the qualities of the colors. What is yellow like? Does yellow explode onto the middle of the page or creep from the outside in? What is blue like? Does blue shy around the edges or start in the middle? Does red lend itself to a form as it comes up from the bottom of the page or should it go from the top of the page down or radiate from the middle of the page? At the end of class we did a painting of the color wheel through a story of a party of our three color friends. The paintings we did can be viewed at Loveyland’s blog through this link: http://lovey-land.blogspot.com/2008/12/paintings.html
Being able to live in and feel the colors is the basis for all the wonderful art students create throughout the Waldorf curriculum.
There are several excellent Waldorf books I have read in the past regarding the subject of wet- on- wet watercolor painting. These include the little “Painting with Children” book by Brunhild Muller, “Painting in Waldorf Education” by Dick Bruin and Attie Lichthart, Waldorf Without Walls’ little booklet, “Waldorf-inspired Watercolor Painting with Children” by Anita Briggs and Nadia Tan and the painting sections in Donna Simmons’ kindergarten and first grade syllabi. I also have the little booklet “How to Do Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting and Teach It To Children” by Rauld Russell being sold by Oregon Waldorf Teacher Marsha Johnson through her Yahoo!Group waldorfhomeeducators. Marsha Johnson also has few FILES on her Yahoo!Group of color stories to help get you started. You can also explore A Little Flower Garden to see what painting resources Melisa Nielsen has available (www.alittleflowergarden.com). For younger children, there is also a small section with a verse in the book “A Child’s Seasonal Treasury”. I will provide a review of some of these resources within my next post.
Remember, you are not painting shapes or forms at this point (and neither is a kindergartener, first grader and even a second grader is painting more out of moods, feelings and gesture than distinct forms and representations). You are painting feelings and you are painting with the qualities the colors themselves dictate.
If your child is age 4 or 5, it would be a great thing to start painting with them. You can never tell too many stories, you can never sing too many songs and you can’t do too many paintings! It would be wonderful if you could paint three times a week with your small child if that is possible (and yes, this can be challenging with the younger than kindergarten set around! Wet –on- wet has a beautiful, peaceful, meditative quality. That mood can be readily destroyed by the lack of reverence of toddlers – see if you can arrange some time to paint with your kindergartner, first grader or second grader during naptime!)
Work on it yourself after the children go to bed for several weeks and you will be able to bring this wonderful gift to your child!
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.