A Homeschooler’s Review of the Book Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools

How we are using the book Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools to teach art in our homeschool.

My daughter and I just started her sixth grade year of homeschooling. One of my favorite aspects of this year for our family is the introduction to charcoal in art. An interesting part of Waldorf pedagogy is that it meets the child in their development. As a child navigates puberty and the world seems black and white, we move into using charcoal to create the values of black and white and discover the grays that move in between them. We learn that things are not quite as black and white as we once thought, and some areas are definitely gray.

I’m not sure how much I buy into this metaphorical use of black and white drawings and it’s relationship to the child. However, there does seem to be something here, and the use of charcoal in these years brings a definite change and some kind of excitement at using and learning a new material. This does seem to correspond with the changes and newness of this time of their lives. Either way, the resources that I love best for this, that I come back to again and again are the program, Waldorfish.com and the book, Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools by Thomas Wildgruber. My video review of the book is below.

Layout of the Book

Of all my art books, Painting and Drawing is my favorite resource. It has several chapters in the beginning that goes over serval art concepts. As someone without out an art background, this information is invaluable, and I poured over it when I bought the book. It also has some form drawing information. Though I found the information valuable, it is definitely not enough to implement form drawing in our homeschool program. (For that I suggest Angela Lloyd’s Creative Form Drawing with Children Aged 6-10 Years. She also has books for older children.) There is also a color study that I found very intriguing and want to replicate sometime in the future.

After the the art concepts in the beginning of the book, the follows follows with grades in sequential order. Beginning in the elementary years with Grades 1 through 5, each grade has a series of lessons. Following Grades 5 are the middle years with 6th through 8th grade.

Content

Each lesson has one or two examples, or occasionally a set of chronological series of pics of the same example, and clear instructions with an introduction and sometimes notes on things to consider when teaching the lesson. The first five years are mostly wet-on-wet. I did not feel like enough time was spent on preparing for wet-on-wet. It really is an art, and learning how to prep was a steep learning curve for me, as I do not have a Waldorf or art background. I have a post that includes resources for this: Wet-on-Wet Painting Supplies and Resources.

The lessons however, do a fabulous job describing the techniques and how to implement them. If you are following the typical schedule for Waldorf, you’ll be happy to know that it also follows that schedule with relevant exercises in the book. The challenge for my family is that we do not follow Waldorf’s traditional schedule of what to teach or when to teach it. Ours overlaps, but that made some of the projects less useful to me. The other downside for me personally, is that the first five grades focused almost exclusively on wet-on-wet painting. I adore wet-on-wet, but we needed a little more diversity. That’s where Waldorfish came in.

In 6th grade, charcoal is introduced and this year is almost exclusively black and white drawing. It does, however, have a few other exercises that are not drawing, giving it just the right amount of diversity. In seventh grade, it begins introducing perspective drawing. The perspective drawing is then reviewed and explored deeper in 8th grade. In the middle years there is also some overlap in the traditional Waldorf timeline. For instance, some of the 8th grade drawings include geometric drawings, which is typically taught in 8th grade. However, there are enough lessons just on artistic skills and techniques that this does interfere with someone not following a traditional schedule precisely.

Pros

  • Beautiful introduction that is perfect if you don’t have an art background.
  • Lessons are clear and easy to follow.
  • Goes from Grade 1 all the way through Grade 8.
  • Follows the Waldorf Tradition schedule for lessons.
  • Has some form drawing information.

Cons

  • Grades 1 through 5 are almost exclusively wet-on-wet watercoloring; definitely needed more diversity in art forms.
  • It follows the Tradition Waldorf schedule, so if you you aren’t following that schedule, its use can be tricky in the elementary years.
  • The form drawing information is not enough for a teacher without form background to teach form drawing.

Even though there are a few downsides for our family to this books, the benefits are far more. This is my go to book for art after Waldorish’s program. It was especially helpful in first and second grades for wet-on-wet, and then all of middle school years.

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