Review – Waldorf in the Home dvd – Watercolor Painting

I watched this dvd with great anticipation, having considered doing a series of dvd’s myself to help visually guide people through some of the basic artistic elements of Waldorf education. And as I have great respect for the work of Rahima Baldwin Dancy who sponsors and organizes the Waldorf in the Home conferences in Colorado and California every year, I knew that this would be something good!
 
And it is.  It’s a very simple but nicely done film of a workshop on watercolor paining given by Kelly Morrow at one of Rahima’s conferences.  I especially like how one can get a nice peek at the beautiful third grade (I presume) classroom – this alone will give food for thought to those parents watching this dvd who have never seen a Waldorf school!
 
Kelly shows parents how to tell a color story and then how to paint a picture following on from the story. The first part of the film is a story for first graders and she tells us a bit about the consciousness of the first grader and what they need  most from painting lessons, ie the pure experience of color. She also addresses the important issues around a child’s experience of painting and what might seem, to adults, to be simple copying.
 
I like how Kelly tells her story – it’s a usual Waldorf first grade story which a parent could use for a nature lesson. But, of course, Kelly is a teacher, used to standing before more than 20 children, weaving a story to a group. A homeschooling parent might find it an odd experience indeed to try to tell a story using the kind of voice and gestures as these which, whilst absolutely appropriate for the classroom experience, would be very strange to do at home! But I think it will be helpful to parent educators to listen to how she tells her story and see how artfully she crafts the mood she is trying to convey.
 
More serious, I think, is the fact that she tells one story and then uses quite different imagery when doing the actual painting! She does not, as one might expect, say things like “And here are the rain fairies…” She instead switches to quite different imagery based on the temperaments – perfectly good material for a story but this unexplained change could be confusing to parents and certainly would not be recommended to do with ones child!
 
Lastly, there simply isn’t enough basic how-do-you-get-the-paint-on-the-brush information to make this video of much use to very new Waldorf parents or homeschoolers.
 
I should say that this dvd is in two parts – the second part is for third grade and she tells a story about Lucifer’s expulsion from Heaven. She then goes on to do a Creation painting based on this – please know that there are many ways that Creation stories are presented in Waldorf education and this is only one!
 
Unfortunately, my dvd broke up during this part of the film – hopefully, that was a glitch only in my dvd!
 
Last comment – Kelly also painted a tree growing while she spoke. I hesitate to add yet another grumble here… but as she specifically mentions in the film how important it is to mirror reality in the painting as one shows the growth of the tree, I have to say then that she should have showed her seed first growing down into the earth and THEN up toward the Heavens as that is how seeds grow. There are no roots on her tree either….. This might sound trivial but I also think it is extremely important that one show truths to young children during their lessons (nature lesson in this case).
 
Anyway, I do think that this is a valuable dvd – but I would not recommend it for someone very new to Waldorf. I think an old hand who has had a few watercolor painting lessons and who is familiar with the pedagogy might get a lot from this, though!
 
Please go to www.informedfamilylife.org to find out more about this and other dvd’s Rahima has for sale.

Posted on April 3, 2006 in Waldorf Curriculum

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