Choirs of Colours: 16: Primary Painting, Sculpture, Drawing Class 1 to 7: A Rudolf Steiner Approach: Honeycomb Houses: Class 1 Block Crayon Drawing Lesson
By Alan Whitehead
Copyright Alan Whitehead & Earthschooling: No Part of this book, post, URL, or book excerpt may be shared with anyone who has not paid for these materials.
Additional note by Kristie Burns of Earthschooling: Alan speaks in a very symbolic manner in some parts of the book. Although they can be read anthroposophically, passages speaking of Atlantis, archangels, gods, etc. do not need to be taken literarily to be meaningful. I have kept the writing as close to one-hundred percent original so you will also find that he speaks of Australia often and some spelling or manners of speaking may be cultural. Any words I have changed are presented like this: <word>.
Also keep in mind that these books are written by a Waldorf teacher with decades of experience who also studied with Steiner himself so he speaks to an audience that is dedicating their lives to the Waldorf method without exception. Not all of his views will be reflected in the Earthschooling curriculum and not all of them may be ones you want to embrace or are able to use. However, as I read through these passages, I am finding I can distill wisdom from even those paragraphs that do not apply to me.
We invite you to read with an open mind and heart and with eagerness to learn and discuss.
Note from Kristie: This chapter may start out shocking to some. However, Alan has impressed me with his openness and willingness to discuss matters that others avoid. I can see why they try to avoid them now. Reading through this I was initially taken aback – why are these horrible images being presented to me as a teacher? Shocking! Then I realized that Alan was ahead of his time. He wrote this many years ago when these kinds of discussions were almost never brought up. And even today, in a world of more openness, this is still an issue many avoid and don’t recognize or talk about. So, of course, this chapter is not to share with the children, but is important for all teachers and parents to be aware of.
The judge checked the wall clock; his life-drawing class started in just an hour. He hoped to be able to wind this case up in time to make it. Turning abruptly, the lawyer faced the 7-year-old girl. She was only just tall enough to peer over the polished timber of the dock.
“Now tell the court if your uncle played with your private parts when you used to sit on his knee.”
The prosecutor’s black vestments were bat-like, his visage grim. Little Alice paled, and the tears welled.
“I… I don’t know!! I can’t rem-remember…”
“Of course you can – think now, did you uncle, that man over there, lift you dress and…”
“ENOUGH!” barked the judge, “You’re leading the victim, er, I mean witness again. Will the mother please take the child and leave the courtroom. Thank you. Now there is a prima facie case of molestation brought against the accused on the basis of the little girl’s drawings.
These clearly show a violation of some kind in the child’s neither regions; but the prosecution has failed to make a convincing connection between the defendant’s proclivity to lavish affection on his niece, and the allege offence. We’ve heard evidence from child-care ‘experts’ that this violent, smudgy red crayon between the legs of Alice’s simple figure definitely means defilement. This may be so in some cases, but in the court’s opinion (and Rudolf Steiner’s – see ‘Conferences’) any accident, irritation, vicarious sexual experience – such as watching per parents in bed – or a dozen other reasons, could be expressed in this way.
Drawing analysis has been given increasing credibility; but as a science, it is still interpretive. One thing is sure though, this nefarious focus on the child has done grave damage to here – whether an offence has occurred or not! The inquisition she has been subjected to; the suspicion and hatred among her loved ones – is tragic. She has been made a heartbreaking victim of adult salaciousness.”
The judge fell silent for a few moments to let the import of his statement sink in, then continued in a softer tone.
“Alas, the court simply cannot determine – on this evidence alone – whether a crime has been committed or not, let alone whether the uncle is guilty of it. I therefore dismiss the case. And a word to the defendant, you sir are in the clear; you may be a loving uncle, maybe not. But if you appear before this court again on a similar charge, I will not rest until a conviction is obtained.
Due to the mud-sticking factor, your character is stained for life, whether you’re guilty or not! It would appear that everyone connected to this case is a victim – except my highly-paid learned friends of course. I feel sick; thank God for my drawing class! Case closed!”
Modern psychology has acute powers of observation; regretfully there is not a comparable wisdom. It recognizes problems, but rarely provides solutions – especially where children are concerned. This essentially pseudo-science does acknowledge however the development states of children’s drawings, from the simple round ‘head’ scribble of 3-year-olds, to the beautiful perspective illustrations of Class 7 children.
There has been a lot of work on the subconscious, hence cryptic, symbolism used. But the application of this knowledge has a poor history indeed. It has been used, not to help the child in a healthy way, but to probe – with a psychic coat hanger – the inner sanctuary of the Being; a place the profane should never enter.
The black dog took its position on the mat by the door; she loved these warm Autumn afternoons.
“Now children”, said the Class 1 teacher amiably “this is the first lesson of our 3-week drawing unit. We’ll be doing this every afternoon (Not Friday of course, that’s our Games day.)
Now you’ve just heard the short story of the Magic Mirror House, and now we’re going to draw it. You have lovely, new block crayons – they’re made of beeswax you know. Next week we’ll do a special drawing for the bees, just to show our gratitude. They’ve spent many hours gathering pollen from the flowers to make wax so that you can learn to draw. These bright flower colors are the same as in painting, we’ve got two reds, twoyellows and two blues.”
“Why can’t we use white or black – or brown even?!” said Robert, a bright little dark-haired boy.
“Well you have got white, see, the paper’s white – and black? Pure black doesn’t exist in nature at all – certainly not with any subject we’ll be drawing! Black is really a very dark mix of other colors.”
“Abigail’s black!” retorted Robert proudly. The dog lifted her head to acknowledge this unexpected attention. Then she rolled over, sighed heavily, and dozed off again.
“It may look that way at first but take a closer look,” said teacher stroking her soft, ebony fur.
“I see,” said Yvonne, “her coat is really lots of dark colors, purples and blues. And when the light shines on it, I can see tiny rainbows!”
“Yes Yvonne, and you can get all those colors with the ‘sun’ spectrum I’ve given you. And brown; well that’s easy to make, just shade over with reds, blues and yellows – the right ones of course. I know you want to make short cuts. You want to use brown for tree trunks and the like; but there really aren’t that many brown trucks. There are grey, silver, light blue, olive green, violet – and in a warm sunset, as we’ll have today with a bit of luck, all tree trunks are orange. And what color are they at night?”
“Black!” yelled Robert triumphantly.
“Er, I think it’s time we got started.”
The children began their drawings, on large, A3 sheets of sun-white quality cartridge paper. The block crayons were perfect for the sweeping arm movements small children should use when drawing. The colors began to overlay and shine with luminosity – ultramarine blue overlaid crimson to create lovely purples – overlaid with a lemon yellow added another lovely but unexpected dimension to the hues of sky and hill.
“Remember children, no outlines; Mother nature doesn’t do that – a leaf is green, not green with an outline. That’s a lazy way to draw. People who use outlines simply show that they don’t know how to place color beside color.”
“I want a bulldozer in mine.” Said Robert.
“But there are no bulldozers in the story, so leave it out this time.”
Teacher stared out at the soft, golden landscape “Robert, there wasn’t a bulldozer in the story, so why do want to put one in?”
“Because…because I like yellow!”
“Ah, then how about the giant buttercup in the story, that was the yellowest thing in the land remember?”
“Hmm, that’s right, now it grew next to Aqua Pond didn’t it?”
Teacher had deliberately left out contraptions and mechanicals, knowing that – unless they are invested with Being – these create little phantoms, a negative image, which can enter the Life Body of the child in the region of the heart, and lodge there as psychic obstructions.
They penetrate furtively on the flow of love that the child has for her/his drawing, on the innate river of artistry. This open-hearted attitude makes small children vulnerable to the formation of pockets of hardness, forcing the Life or Etheric Body, an infinitely complex organism of invisible energy, to by-pass the dark thrombosis – maybe leading to a different kind of by-pass later in life! And those hard outlines? Also a recipe for sclerosis in old age!
“Ha, ha, ha – your house looks funny Britt; the roof is cut in half!” cried Anthony, being distracted yet again to make uninvited comment.
“You should talk – look at your stupid tiny windows stuck up in the corners – windows aren’t like that!” Britt riposted with equal gratuity, “I like the path and flowers in Robert’s drawing; so many colors.
“Hmm,” thought Teacher, “Britt’s left roof is truncated; left-side brain problem maybe?
No wonder she has so much trouble with her letters. If I can get her to draw in that roof – and maybe put a chimney on, it may break the nexus. And those tiny windows of Anthony’s – they’re his lungs’ his breathing is too high and shallow. He won’t like it, but I’ll coax him to drop them and make them larger.
And remove those bars! What’s he trying to protect his feeling life from anyway?! His heart’s in good shape though; the door is large and well-drawn – and it’s open in welcome! Robert’s grounds are nice; a veritable picture of metabolic health; and his path is clear, a healthy alimentary canal”
“Alice hasn’t done anything yet.”
“Hello Dear, don’t you feel like drawing today?” the wispy-blond 7-year-old looked up sullenly; her paper was empty except for a red scribble in the middle.
“That’s a funny house?” said Teacher kindly.
“It’s not a house, and I don’t want to draw. People always look at my drawings and say awful things!”
“Actually I know it isn’t a house,” Teacher continued in the same reassuring tone. She picked up the paper and looked at it, first this way and then that. “It’s the most valuable jewel in the world – the Sacred Ruby! But how could you have known about that? I’m going to tell the story of the Sacred Ruby tomorrow – red’s your favorite color, yes? Here, let me help; now the gem was cut into four facets – see how it gleams. It was so precious, that it was kept hidden in a chest of gold. Here, you draw the chest; and there was a special house built to keep it safe – near an enchanted tree – that’s it! Oh it’s looking lovely!”
“I can’t get my drawing dark enough!” roared Robert in frustration, “look, Yvonne’s – ha, ha, – you can hardly see hers?”
His face was red, his temper short. The young dynamo’s drawing was heavy indeed, with scabs of crayon stuck to house and hill alike. Yvonne looked over, her face pale, her tin lips white. Yvonne’s drawing wastenuous!
“Now let’s see Robert”, said Teacher tilting her head for another perspective “why don’t we do another drawing; this one’s good, but the next will be better. And this time we’ll keep the colors safer…no, softer still. Imagine that Mistling Mist has crept into the valley. You can only just see things through her grey veils – use pastel shades only.”
“You mean like Yvonne’s?”
“Yes, something like that – see if you can do it. And Yvonne, I’d like you to add some more color to your house and garden. Pretend that you were given Bright Light Spectacles, which made every color much clearer. You know, like on some summer afternoons after a storm – and put a rainbow in. There, that’s it – make the sun yellower still – and bigger…goooood!” Teacher’s concern about the over-active heat nature in Robert’s blood – and Yvonne’s anemia, was well-founded.
Teacher knew that with gentle persuasion, a balancing – a balming – effect could occur through the medium of the drawing.
“Oh, Yvonne’s put a cloud across the sun! Something’s cut her off from her Higher Self – or her divine origins – her Guardian Angel perhaps? She is inwardly in despair. Now let me think, what’s happened to her lately?
I KNOW!– Her father has been threatening to take her out of the school – ‘Too much art and other flim-flam!’ he claims – and she’s been so happy here. Oh-oh, she’s drawing the two big trees on opposite sides of the page; apparently Mum doesn’t agree with the move; there’s sure a serious division in the home. Mother Tree’s protecting the house.
“My house is so big I can’t fit the fence in,” complained Britt, “not like Anthony’s; his house is only big enough for a mouse to live in. He draws nice big mountains though. I want to do another drawing – I’ll do the fence first.”
“Well, well,” thought Teacher, “the tooth fairy will be including Britt’s ‘house’ on her visiting list. That picket fence has got to be her, as yet invisible, teeth pushing up! By her large house size, she really feels herself to be the center of things, dominating her surroundings. I bet she gets her own way at home!
Not like poor little Anthony; his tiny mouse house is a metaphor of his feeling of intimidation in the world. Those powerful landscape forms certainly dominate. I’ll see if I can get him to make the house bigger – and sit it down more at the bottom of the page. I think the bonding of his Life Body with his physical organism needs a little help – not too much though, we don’t want it like Yvonne’s, sinking down below the page even. That sure is an incarnational crash-landing. I’ll try to get her to center the next one.
This drawing of houses is really exciting; it is a picture of the liberation of the Life Body to become an independent organism for the child’s sojourn on earth. I guess it won’t be all that long before we do the equivalent drawing lesson in Class 7, the culmination and artistic full cycle of this House/Etheric journey, with Perspective Drawing. Then the ‘house’, whether cathedral, bridge or cottage, will be so much more sophisticated.
“Why is Britt putting red dots all over the sky? The sky doesn’t have red dots!” said Robert, plainly puzzled.
“Be quiet Robert – I don’t feel well…sob!”
“Let’s see your tummy dear,” said Teacher, her smooth features betraying the concern beneath.
“Just as I thought – you’ve got measles Britt. No, don’t worry, you’ll have some time off school, that’s all. And when you return, you’ll feel so much better!”
“I decided to make it night – you know, where the sacred ruby is hidden. It would be harder to find at night. I love those blues – and I’ve put the moon in, see.”
“Gosh, that’s really pretty!” enthused Robert.
Abigail just wagged her tail in agreement.