Discovering Waldorf - 'Wet-on-wet Watercolor Painting'. - The Magic Onions

Discovering Waldorf – ‘Wet-on-wet Watercolor Painting’.

When I read Amy’s post a couple of months ago on the Waldorf method of wet-on-wet painting with watercolors, I knew immediately that she would be a wonderful guest blogger for the Discovering Waldorf series. She described an enchanting painting experience, both for herself and her child. I loved to read how she brought magic and intrigue into the process and made painting almost spiritual. I am so happy that she agreed to share this method with all of us today.

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Wet-on-wet Watercolor Painting

There is something soothing and relaxing about painting with watercolors. In Waldorf education, wet-on-wet watercolor painting is the chosen method for painting. It is said that color in the liquid form reveals it’s truest nature. If this is accurate, then this is one reason for using watercolors. Watercolors are vibrant, clean, and true. In addition to this, the use of watercolors allows for fluid mixing and movement on the paper. Colors bleed one into another, they move and creep and spread. They play, they grow, they seem to have life.

Because young children are so connected with their environment, they draw energy and feelings from the colors around them. A young child’s interactions with the colors through the watercolor painting process can allow them to feel the effects of color within themselves and each color’s quality (bringing warmth or coolness). Unlike other creative means, watercolors don’t limit the child to exactness in form, shape or outline so many children feel more free to create and experiment.

I have found the use of playful comments, poem or verse to be a wonderful way to invite creativity to a painting session. For a recent watercolor session with my daughter I began by selecting the poem February Twilight by Sara Teasdale.

The tone is set beginning with the preparation of the paint, water and paper (soaking or wiping with a wet sponge). While we prepare to paint I provide an image from the poem I will read at the end of our painting time. “This poem is about that time of day just before it gets dark.” A comment like this adds to the anticipation of our painting time while also providing a picture image for my daughter to work with (if she so chooses). When we sit at the table ready to paint I add a bit more imagery. “We’ve seen the sky just after the sun goes to bed, and the beautiful colors. Think of that time right after the sun is gone and it is almost dark.” This is her invitation to paint.

My daughter paints the sky. First with blue then with the other colors. (To encourage her to wash her brush after each color I have told her to wash “Peter Paintbrush’s” hair after painting and dry his hair on the towel. Then he is ready to wear a new color.) After she seems done with the sky I add another image from the poem. “There is a hill. A hill with newly fallen snow.” She then paints for a few minutes more. I then add “A single star shines in the sky.” I try not to talk too much, just adding the images of the poem as we progress along. When she seems finished I ask if she is ready to hear the poem. Reading the poem at the end brings our painting session to a close. We listen to the words, we look at the colors. We take time to enjoy the moment.

February Twilight
Sara Teasdale

I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.
There was no other creature
That saw what I could see —
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

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I am truly inspired, Amy! Thank you so much for sharing this magical painting method. Once again, the Waldorf way of gently guiding the child with beauty and reverence while allowing the child to freely express his own personality and creativity is awe-inspiring. This post reminds me of the power I hold in what I say AND in what I don’t say.
Amy has a truly lovely blog called The Wonder Years which is full of the fun and gentle learning experiences she shares with her two sweet girls. Whenever I read her words, I always come away with a sense of pleasure in being a parent… she makes me feel proud of what I have done and motivates me to keep on doing it… she reminds me, even without words, that I am the spring that gives life to these two bubbling brooks who will, one day, go out into the world to work their magic. A more important task you could not find.
Here are the other inspiring posts in the Discovering Waldorf series.
Thank you, Amy. Blessings and magic to you!
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Donni Webber is the mom behind the popular natural living Waldorf website and blog, The Magic Onions - where the magic of nature and the wonder of childhood collide to make each moment a precious gift. She is a photographer, writer, crafter, wife and mother of two inspiring young children. Her work has been featured in many popular publications, including HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Disney and Apartment Therapy.

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  1. Funny. We did this yesterday. Wet paper, relief (with crayons), salt for patterns), fingers… :)

  2. How timely! My son and I have been painting to our hearts content this week, inspired by all the rain we’re getting on the island. Wet on wet watercoloring is simply magical.

  3. Beautiful post. Time to get out the watercolors!

  4. We have just discovered wet on wet watercolor painting. Our stockmar watercolors arrived just last week. I love the gentle guiding with the poem. I will be searching for poems now to use with my girls. Just beuatiful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love the idea of using an image from a poem for inspiration and then reading the poem for closure. Wet on wet watercolor painting has such a calming effect on my children.

  6. Thank you for “Discovering Waldorf”, it’s inspirational for parents who (like me) are starting our journey on Waldorf homeschooling.

    In my blog I share a little story I made for our sesion of painting. It is in Spanish, we are from Spain.

  7. “the Waldorf way of gently guiding the child with beauty and reverence while allowing the child to freely express his own personality and creativity is awe-inspiring”

    I think this is the perfect summing up of what is so attractive about Waldorf, and why it appeals to me so much. This has been such a wonderful, inspiring series and it’s so good to learn of other wonderful Waldorf parents out there. Thank you so much

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