Thursday, October 04, 2012

Exploring light and dark


Sunburst and I spent some time over the summer exploring the lovely qualities of charcoal.

We decided to tackle a series of exercises from Thomas Wildgruber's inspiring book, Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools, and we had so much fun.  They start very simply with spheres, and then increase in complexity with each exercise.



The guidance provided with these drawings is wonderful.  I was required to do a little bit of charcoal work in college, but with very little guidance.  Looking back at my youth, I am so aghast that I paid and attended college level art classes that involved no actual instruction.  While we inadvertently learn something through our own repeated ill-attempts, with guidance the process is much less painful and infinitely more productive.

Another thing that struck me about these exercises is that even with such a simple medium, the results vary.  While Sunburst and I were drawing the same things, stylistically, there is a huge difference.  Her drawing style with charcoal has a scratchiness to it that no matter how hard I try, I cannot manage to replicate.  The same is true for her-- she can't soften her drawings to match the feel of mine.  We had a lot of fun trying though.  And as Sunburst is getting older, she really enjoys it when there is something obviously off about my drawings.  Yes, the teenage years have truly begun!

Here you can see the style differences.  I wonder if it has anything to do with temperament.


 


At one point in the exercises you progress to drawing your own image using what you've learned-- the examples for this exercise differ between the German and English editions.   Sunburst couldn't wait for this exercise, because of course she knew exactly what she wanted to draw-- horses!




I was more reluctant because I had absolutely no idea what to draw. In the end though I managed to surprise myself.


We took a small break from there to begin our study of discovery, renaissance and reformation.  We hope to get back to it and complete the last three exercises-- trees and landscapes.  The difference these charcoal drawings have made in Sunburst's renaissance artwork is definitely noticeable.  On more than one occasion lately I have heard her exclaim, "Did I really draw this?!"

We've moved on into taking the dark/light exploration into our work with colored pencils, and the results are really fun.  Moonshine, meanwhile, has been watching this progression with awe.  "Will I be able to draw like that too someday?"

"No," Sunburst told her with all sincerity.  "Your drawings will be even better."


13 comments:

  1. Those are fabulous! I keep saying you guys are seriously talented, but everything you do proves me right and I have to keep saying it. :)

    Sunburst must be the sweetest sister ever!

    Right now my kids take art with Katie W., but I may have to look into this book to work with son2 at some point.

    (re shading: I've always loved how using just shading, one can make a circle into a sphere or a hole...it's amazing how our eyes and brains can be fooled)

    Hope you've been having a lovely week! xo

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. I've actually never met Katie W. I would love to see the kind of art your boys are learning-- will you share on your blog? And I would love to see more of your artwork. It was your birds that inspired me. :)

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    2. I ended up buying the book and look forward to trying it with son2! I'm flattered that I inspired you for a change. :)

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  2. I worked out which were hers and which yours from the shape of the signatures at the bottom :-) I am truly impressed by both of you. I'm certain you have an inherent talent which supports the learning process.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. You are very sweet!

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  3. The drawings are incredible. It took me a while to figure out who had drawn which picture, Sunburst's drawings show such maturity!

    One of the criticisms I hear about Waldorf education is that the children are made to do all the same drawings, paintings, handwork etc, and that somehow this stifles children's creativity. I can understand that reservation, yet I can see from my own experience how helpful it is to be guided through the artistic process, that drawing (etc) is a skill which can be taught and that drawing the same picture as the teacher is a really effective way of doing that. As you say, without actual instruction what we can achieve is limited.

    I love reading your blog because it gives me a sneak peek into our future. I have never had any kind of artistic education; I am really just teaching myself as I go along. Your enthusiasm for what you do with your children is so contagious it has me believing I can do this too.

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    1. I think that's a common early perception of Waldorf, but I think we forget that even the master artists learned by copying the work of other master artists. It's hard to see that in the early years, but it seems like the artistic growth becomes slowly more palpable each year. And then around grade 7 something magical happens and there is a tremendous leap.

      Conversely, I recently read that most adults, unless they've had training, never progress beyond the drawing ability of a 10yo. I found that statement astounding, and yet, I can imagine that it's true. Unless we push ourselves to go beyond our comfort zones, how can we expect to grow?

      Thank you for the sweet complements, Cathy. Your comment makes me so happy. Yes, you can absolutely do it, too! :)

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  4. Both of your drawings are amazing and I've added that book onto my wishlist as I really do think it would be helpful here. I really like your drawing of the birds!

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    1. Thank you so much, Nikki.

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  5. What stunning drawings, absolutely wonderful! I am going to buy this book, thank you:)

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    1. Thanks so much, Linda. And thanks for stopping by. :)

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  6. Wow!! so, so inspiring. Actually, you just inspired me to buy the book. My oldest son loves charcoal and this will be perfect for me to help him along. Thanks for posting! You always have the best ides. xo

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    1. Aw, thank you Saraelise! I hope you have as much fun with these exercises as we did! xo

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Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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