Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1-8 by Thomas Wildgruber
This is a book I've been wanting to write a review on for a couple of years. I first stumbled upon it at the Goetheanum bookstore in Switzerland with my good friend Cari. One look inside the book and we were both immediately smitten. It didn't matter that the text was in German or that its purchase price was enough to choke a horse-- we both HAD to have it.
Early this summer it was released in English, and I hemmed and hawed about whether or not I needed a copy of it that I didn't have to translate. The pre-order price at The Book Depository made it worthwhile though-- a mere pittance compared to what my German copy cost me. So I winced only slightly before clicking the order button, and I'm so happy that I did, because while most of it is exactly the same, some things and images are different. Plus, it saves me the time and effort of translating.
Let me repeat myself. This book is so good that I bought it TWICE.
It's a wonderful guide to every type of painting and drawing experienced within Waldorf education. Almost every section contains step-by-step guides and thoughtful commentary. The pictures alone are so inspiring. This is the book I had wished for when I started homeschooling Sunburst so many years ago and had only the vaguest idea what main lesson artwork should look like.
This is the book we've been waiting for.
Included in this masterpiece are the beginning painting lessons-- the ones that leave most of us homeschoolers with our heads spinning. It goes on to give a wealth of painting examples for the main lessons in grades 2-5. As a busy homeschooler teaching three grades, there are not enough hours in the day to do this many paintings. But I love that they exist. I love being able to flip though the book and pick and choose a few ideas to bring here and there. Some ideas I change because that's the nature of art, and others I bring as is because they are just that good.
One major thing this book has done for us is to re-enliven our form drawing. Form drawing is actually presented very differently in Europe than in the United States. Okay, I don't know if I can honestly say "all of Europe," but I can definitively say that the main lesson books I saw when I toured the Steiner schools in Switzerland were filled with very colorful form drawings, not much different from the ones in Wildgruber's book.
Here's an example from our own form drawing lessons so you can see what I mean.
Other sections of this book that I particularly love for the lower grades are the botany paintings and the drawing section with inspired artwork to display in the classroom. If only I could draw this well! The author goes so far as to recommend that children will learn more from our guided drawing examples on paper than from our use of blackboards. I have noticed this to be true with my own children, and it is so nice to hear someone say this.
For the middle grades, I love that there are several wonderful explorations of light and shadow using different mediums. And as if the book wasn't already useful enough, the entire section on perspective drawing is priceless.
But you shouldn't take my word for it. To see all that's on offer here, you should have a look at the Table of Contents which is available as a pdf download HERE. And then take a look at some of the images included in the book gallery HERE. (Note, some of these images have been replaced by even better ones in the English translation.)
I absolutely adore this book. I could go on and on. There is one series of exercises that Sunburst and I attempted over the summer that really lifted our work in so many ways. I look forward to sharing some of our drawings with you in the next few days, so I hope you'll come back for that.
Now if only we had a book like this for the high school grades... Yes, I can dream!