Thursday, September 24, 2015

water and the will

wet on wet workshop

Teaching wet on wet watercoloring is as enjoyable with children as it is with adults. Wet on wet is a medium of painting used widely in Waldorf classrooms. It allows for the development of the whole child as its lessons encompass the expression of the curriculum and the expression of the self. In comparing my instruction for children with that of the grownups, I made some observations.

Children are less bounded by self-consciousness. For them, the act of painting is truly an exploration of the moment, not tethered to pre-conceived notions of their abilities. In this regard, they dive right in, they experience the art as it unfolds in front of them, they are not subject to self-critique or comparative inner dialogue. They are less afraid. 

It is a normal part of human development: as adults, our intellectual selves intertwine with our feeling lives and our will forces. This balance helps us think, feel, and act with the right intent. And together, we move through life with the right purpose. Often, however, our thoughts actually keep us from tackling life. 

Wet on wet painting for adults is a wonderful exercise in reclaiming our will forces. The medium asks us to work with water in such a way as to not so much control it, but to make friends with it. So the process is a balanced experience of the will. For us, it gives us wiggle room to try out our will without being hyper-critical of ourselves. The relationship with water, a powerful elemental being, guides us in gently rediscovering our will forces without judgment. And this builds confidence to allow oneself to not always be guided by our hyper-intellectualized self-doubt. We discover how to have the hands of a child, experiencing the beauty of the moment.

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