Form Drawing

(the following are two posts from our old Yahoo group, Waldorf At Home on the topic of form drawing).
by Donna Simmons


Form drawing is like water, it is like the movement of plants as they grow, it is like the forms snowflakes make… Form drawing is about a moment of movement caught on a page. It is about concentration , perseverance, control of the will, grace, and purposefulness.

Form drawing is a therapeutic art practiced in all Waldorf schools usually from first through 4th grade (after that geometric drawing somewhat takes its place).  It is not worked with in kindergarten because it is too “waking up” – it calls for a mindfulness that kindergartners, who are still in the state of consciousness that keeps them “at one” with the world should not be asked to have. In first grade it usually precedes writing (which precedes reading) not so much because it improves handwriting (which is a nice by-product and not the aim of form drawing) but because it calls up the inner discipline the child needs to work beautifully and skilfully within the confines of a page. It helps a child learn about boundaries – and about many other things as well.
When one does form drawing one needs to be aware of one’s surroundings, think ahead where one is going with a form, control what one’s crayon or pencil is doing, and relax into the movement of the form. It is a profoundly healing art. Anyone can do form drawing and  one should start at the beginning. So an older child or an adult should really start  with the first forms and progress through them. I explain all this in my form drawing book and lay out many guidelines, tips and ideas for how to proceed.  On the “Homeschooler’s Work” page on our website there are also several lovely examples of form drawings done by homeschooled children.
(In another post, a list member asked about doing form drawing with her third grader, who was resistant to the idea of form drawing).

In my work I often suggest to people that they work “homeopathically” with children, starting with what is present and trying to ennoble it – not opposing it with something different.So why don’t you and your daughter spend some time watching water move or leaves fall – and draw what you and she see. Let her experiment with  how nature does form drawing – currents, ripples, streams etc. Do non-directed form drawing for a while, that which is called for by nature. Let the power of your child’s observation – and her desire to do what is true and beautiful, find expression in a way that takes it out of the potential head-to-head conflict with you. Work sideways (there’s mantra number three for Christopherus, closely following “not school at home” and “homeschooling is about family”!). Don’t get into her stuff or into an unnecessary conflict.

Then let form drawing rest for a while. Do none for a time. When you judge the time is right,  spend some time talking about the forms in nature that you two drew and then perhaps let her look through your form drawing book for a form that reminds her of the water (or leaves). Let her copy it – and if she’s still being a tricky customer, let her copy it directly out of the book – otherwise, I’d suggest you do it in the usual way with you drawing it large on the board and then her copying. Maybe recite a verse about water or leaves while she works – (though some children would prefer not to have a verse, would prefer to remain in the memory of what they experienced in nature) let her work with it in her own way. This might just help break any stalemate that could be forming over this issue between you two. And, assuming all goes well (??!!!) you can see what to do next – “Here’s a more complicated form – let’s try this”.

Additional Blog Articles on Form Drawing are:

Posted on October 9, 2006 in Active and Therapeutic Education, Waldorf Curriculum

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