15 May 2014

Waldorf Inspired Watercolor Painting

I've been wanting to do a post on the watercolor inspiration I have gotten from a very brief amount of study of Waldorf School art instruction. I have a couple of books from there and when I started a children's art program in my home years ago, I used these as my basis for watercolor experimenting.

Lately I've been pulling out my paints and experimenting again with colors at play. I love the color orange as you well know by now and I've enjoyed playing with red and yellow to achieve varying gradients of orange in a variety of ways. In this painting above I lifted different sides of the wet painting to allow the colors to meld together in their own way. It was fun to see it create what looks like a tree-lined path. In the painting at the top of the post, it was very much inspired by the time I was painting, sunset. I love the simplicity and the depths of color I was able to achieve in both.

Stockmar Premium Quality Watercolor Paint Basic Assortment, 6 Colors
image via Amazon

Let me tell you about the paints I use because they are the best watercolors I've ever used and give you a lot of control over intensity of color. They are made by Stockmar and only come in the reds, yellows and blues -- primary colors. This is meant to teach students how to mix and blend more colors but it can be frustrating to someone wanting to make something they would need to add black or white to in order to get the hue they want.

These small tubes are expensive, about $50 for these small six bottles but I bought this pack once and am still using the originals I bought years ago. The paint comes as a concentrated paste so you take some from the tube and dilute it with water to get the consistency you want. Mixing a small amount of paste and water in baby food jars is a great way to keep the paints fresh for a long time. If you refrain from stirring the bottles up when you're painting you can get deep dark colors at the bottom of the jar and lighter, more watery colors at the top of the jar.

image via Amazon

Here is a great book on teaching children watercolor through story telling, moods and seasons. I used this book in my teaching and it works well for kids to awaken their creativity Painting with Children by Brunhild Muller is a great book for beginner watercolor instruction and inspiration. Painting in Waldorf Education by Bruin and Lichthart is all about the use of painting in the Waldorf philosophy.

image via Amazon

My philosophy as a children's art program founder was to inspire children to keep their creative self alive and thriving. Children are very young when they begin to try to mimic others and give up their own ways of expressing their creativity. By the time we're adults we think we have no creative bones in us at all and very often have to be retaught creative thinking that we freely had as children. 

Adults can become very dependent on instructions, visual examples and a teacher's opinion, rather than cranking out art piece after art piece in quick succession with no hesitation like a three or four year old child will do. One of the reasons I like to make so many different things is just to challenge my mind to think in a variety of ways, solving problems and figuring out how things will play together. Lately I've been very conscious of doing a variety of things and I think it's been good for me creatively.

If you're interested in teaching your children to watercolor or to take your own watercolor adventures I would highly recommend these resources. I'm going to keep playing with my colors and see what happens as I keep tearing out fresh pages our of my watercolor paper pad, wetting them down and painting wet on wet. I'll keep sharing what I come up with.

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