June 10, 2013

Water Colored Note Cards and Waldorf Art Supply Analysis

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We're getting all Waldorfish over here today!  We are so excited to finally have some painting boards, so we had to do a little wet on wet watercoloring to christen them.  My goal for the new school year is to incorporate more art into our days.  If you know me, or you've read my book, you're aware that when I get lazy in the planning, my default mode is to hyper-school and just plow through masses of content, neglecting the artsy stuff altogether.  And kids need the artsy stuff.  I know they do.  And I love the artsy stuff!  I just forget to go for it when I'm not planning things in advance.

So I try to plan our very trivium-based academics within a Waldorf-inspired framework.  I know.  Those two methods couldn't me more different.  But Trivium is what I trust and it is in line with my core educational values, but Waldorf brings in the nurture and warmth that the trivium can lack.  The best way that I've found to plan a Waldorf-inspired, trivium based day is to follow a trivium course schedule, and transition between classes with verses, accentuate everything with dance, art, poetry, and bright cheery colors, and observe the heck out of every single kind of celebration you can think of (like solstices and equinoxes and such).  

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Today, to welcome our new paint boards into the house, we made boho-flower note cards to give to friends.  They turned out so, so beautiful and cheery and everything I hoped they would be.

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 Even Haven's, which was made without following directions in the slightest, and which ended with the death of a brand new fine tipped Sharpie (GAR!!!!) ended up pretty stinking lovely.  Secretly I hoped he would feel the sting of not having followed directions (I know...what kind of mother am I?) but it was gorgeous and he was pleased and I am enough over the Sharpie destruction now that I can be happy for him and his successful, if somewhat rouge art project.  LOL!  

After we set up our boards and sketched out the boundaries of our boho-flower, we said our painting verse:
Now I take my brush so gently, in my hand with loving care,
Watch the colors flow so softly, on the paper clean and clear.

Isn't that so sweet?  It's exactly the mindset I want the kids to be in for art.  Gentle and appreciative.  Love it!  The boys (one in particular, who shall remain nameless) can be like tiny bulldozers, not just as they move, but in attitude as they work, just plowing through art projects like tankers (or like their mom plows through school work when she isn't prepared with art projects).  The verses really remind them about how they should approach their painting (and how their mom should approach all of life).  We really need that little reminder at the outset of each task.

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Hunter's final product really impressed me.  The colors he chose worked well together, there was good variation between fat petals and kind of gnarly petals, and it just felt good to look at.  He generally doesn't like having to participate in art projects, but today he was present and ready to roll and in the end he was really proud of his creation.  He asked me to take his picture with it so many times, and Hunter often hides when the camera comes out, so that says a lot about his feelings about his flower.   

So hooray for painting boards and a successful first project!  

I've held back on buying paint boards forever because when I look at the Waldorf boards online, they're either crazy expensive, or the white topped ones, which allow for the truest paint color with wet on wet especially, are made of laminated particle board.  Particle board is chock-full of chemicals and doesn't hold up well when exposed to moisture, and it's not exactly what I would consider a natural product anyway, so I decided to go with large white cutting boards.  I'm so glad I did.  The little channel to catch meat juices also catches run-away paint for that kid who refuses to wring some water out of his brush before each stroke, keeping our counter tops and the woman who cleans them happy.  

I've also hesitated to buy the expensive "real" paint supplies.  Technically we will be reimbursed for art supplies this year anyway, but I can't even bring myself to spend that kind of money on water colors when someone else is paying.  I can't.  I'd rather buy Crayola and let them paint their little hearts out than buy $20 paints and then hover over them and analyze their appreciation of the high quality materials to decide if they are worthy of this major investment.  Art is supposed to be laid back and I can't relax when a 6 year old has his brush in $20 paint.  Sorry, dyed in the wool Waldorfians, but our flowers turned out right nice with the $1.98 paints.  And I've found that the crayon brand called Cray-Z is so cheaply made that it's super blendable and waxy like the beeswax crayons, so score!  I did break down and buy the spendy oil pastels, but I've tried the cheap of those and they aren't nice and blendy like the big ticket stuff, so I feel justified.  

So that's how we've budgetized the Waldorf-feeling art class: alternative board material, cheap on the paint and crayons, spendy on the oil pastels and colored pencils.  

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