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The following is a re-print of Rebecca Watkin’s guest Blog post at http://www.ourbigearth.com/2010/02/27/watercolor-painting-in-the-waldorf-style/#. Thanks, Rebecca, for letting us repost this incredibly clear and concise introduction into Waldorf watercolour work!

A Painting Verse

The sunlight shines into each day

And sends the dark of night away

It brings the colors to my eyes

The bright green earth, the deep blue skies.

The yellow sun, the red, red rose

That in the gentle garden grows.

And from within my loving heart

The light always conquers dark

So on my paper let it be

Sunlight and water – joyfully.

-Author Unknown

I did it. I painted with my two and four-year-olds. It took me a few days to psych myself up, but the day came – I could put it off no longer. It occurred to me as I sang and handed out sopping paper, that painting in a Waldorf way is quite unique.

I use the same technique at home with my children as I do at school with six and seven-year-olds. The difference, of course, is that I don’t do a lesson with my own children.

I love painting, so I thought I would give you something to try.

Why the wet paper? Why only three colors? Why cut the corners off? These are things that are really Waldorf specific, so it is no wonder that these questions come up.

The paper is wet so that it’s a challenge, if not impossible, to create a form. For the young child painting is a color experience, rather than an attempt to create a picture. It is really nice for children to see what comes out of their painting once it has dried. They love to look at them like clouds and see a dragon here, a fish or a bird there. Without a purpose going into it, the child can really sink into their love of color.

As far as color goes, the primaries give the child the opportunity to discover all the colors in the rainbow and then some. In Waldorf a guiding principal is “from the whole to the parts.” Using the primaries is in keeping with this philosophy. Once children know how all the colors came to be, we save time and give them secondaries (and then, later, black and white).

Now, those corners. In Pre-school and Kindergarten the corners are cut off of drawings and paintings to soften the shape of the paper. The form of the right angles is awakening and we want our young ones to stay dreamy.

There you have it, you are ready to go.

Supplies

The supplies we use at school are what I am familiar with, but I’m sure that there are some really great substitutes out there.

Technique

Paper

To begin, you want to wet the paper. The paper should be soaked, but without puddles.

At school, I soak the paper in a flat Rubbermaid container for about 10 minutes before we use it. At home, I use a very wet sponge and I rub the paper about twice each side immediately before use.

If you use the soaking method, it is necessary to put each page in separately so that the water can coat each side of each piece. If you use the sponge method, you have to be careful not to over wipe and create paper balls (you’ll know what that is if you do it).

When your paper is sufficiently wet, make sure there are no air bubbles.

Paint

For kids up to age nine, you will only need the primary colors: red, blue and yellow. The mixture will be 1 part pigment to 4 parts water.

At school I choose colors based on seasons and begin grade one with yellow only. I teach the children about types of brush strokes and how to get different results, etc. Then I introduce red and the children play with blending, and on it goes.

At home I gave my daughter all three colors at once. I told her about rinsing and how to hold her brush. We did some paintings side by side when she was younger and discovered the secondary colors: green, purple and orange.

It is really important to enjoy yourself, so paint often!