Drawing and Painting Skills in Grades 6-8

“At around the age of twelve, girls and boys stumble into a period of developmental crisis, of pre-puberty and puberty.  Strong upward growth of the limbs leads to ungainliness or awkwardnesss in their whole movement organism.  Psychologically, their judgments become both fierce and emotional.  Another aspect of childhood is lost, and as yet no terra firma is in sight.  Drawing at this point can open up a new world of representation, offering a solid ground upon which new skills and abilities can be discovered…To put aside watercolour paintings for a while, with their more naïve pictorial experience, and to work instead with nuances of light and shade between black and white, is a way of coming to meet the pupils’ violently fluctuating soul life at this age.”

-Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools by Thomas Wildgruber

Some of the drawings in sixth through eighth grade take one and half to two hours to complete.  New approaches to art, design, color and accurate representation are found in these grades.  New materials are used as well.  In sixth grade, one finds the use of charcoal, graphite and pencils, gouache, and pastels.    In seventh grade, black and white drawing becomes more interesting by using grey paper instead of white paper and the black and white subject matter turning from the stereometric solids of sixth grade to natural still life arrangements.  Color perspective through landscapes and color studies are also worked with in seventh grade, and of course, perspective drawing comes in with an entire block devoted entirely to this way of drawing.  Seventh grade also finds a more precise construction of the human figure and portraiture as seventh graders are capable of mastering techniques and styles.   In this way, seventh grade moves toward the spatial concepts and constructions found in eighth grade. 

Wildgruber writes, “At around age 14, not a great deal has altered in teenagers compared to the previous year.  Practising accuracy in perception and clear thinking can continue to help them form a clear relationship with the world around them and their own mental abilities…..”  Eighth graders work with frontal perspective with a vanishing point, shadow construction, modeling and drawing, color contrast studies, lino print and scissor cut collages.  Van James mentions in his book that “Work with black and white drawing continues through sixth, seventh and eighth grade with experiments in charcoal, conte pencils, china markers and wax crayon.”

Eighth graders often also work with Chinese/Japanese brush painting and all black and white drawing techniques including contour, circular scribble, pointillist, and vertical-stroke, horizontal stroke, slant-line and cross hatch.

In Waldorf Schools, these techniques are often worked on during a weekly art class period, along with handwork and woodworking in other sessions.  In the home environment, I find these techniques need to be brought into Main Lesson Work and with plenty of time allowed in the morning or continuing into the afternoon to work on these pieces. 

I would love to hear your experiences.

Blessings,
Carrie

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