PSC - At The Heart of Education.

We enjoyed a day of renewal at the Pedagogical Section Council conference yesterday! It was great to see old friends, and to also meet some in person for the first time! Brian led his chalk drawing class through a figure-drawing warm-up and then into a color wheel exercise. They pulled out something associated with each grade level and also managed to fit in the four elements. When in doubt, you can always start a chalk drawing with a color wheel!

At the end of the session, Brian led the group through an "Art show" of all their work. The teachers talked about ways to have our own students share their work, and how to create positive conversations within that experience. Such a great discussion!

Annapurna Living : Soulful Business interview

Once or twice a month, the creative team at Annapurna Living spotlights a creative entrepreneur who chooses to do business with integrity and soul. We were honored to be featured as a part of this Soulful Business series!

 photo credit:  Danielle Cohen

photo credit: Danielle Cohen

A sneak peek: 

" I operate out of an understanding, on a very personal level, that life is short. Our time here is limited. If what I'm doing isn't helping to improve other people's experience, then it feels like wasted time. Soulful business for me means continually asking the question "will this (product, workshop, piece of art, etc) improve someone else's experience?" Also because I am acutely aware that our lives have an unknown expiration date, I'm really only interested in projects that allow me to spend as much quality time with my family as possible....." 

You can read the full interview by clicking here!

One-day live workshop - 10/08/16

 Click image for registration info :)

Click image for registration info :)

We're so excited about this event in Sacramento coming up in just a few weeks!! Open to class & homeschool teachers, this is an incredible opportunity to learn from some of our own favorite teachers-of-teachers. Brian will be teaching an afternoon chalk-drawing class!

$30 is unbelievably affordable for a full day of deepening & enrichment. Please SHARE with your friends & colleagues. Teachers, this is a great way to fulfill some of your required continuing ed for the year!

Perspective - Art in the middle grades

Teaching perspective drawing to seventh graders has always been a highlight for me. This is one of those magical moments where the curriculum meets the students everywhere they need to be met.

 Thirteen year olds are always right.

 Just ask them ;)

 A seventh grader is desperately trying to form his or her own point of view and beginning to understand that we all see the world through our own, unique lens. The most important concept of perspective drawing is the establishment of point of view. In perspective drawing, the artist must constantly ask "how would this look from my perspective?"

If you'd prefer to listen to the audio version of this post, you can do that right here:

 The Horizon

The horizon represents the limit to how far the eye can see, assuming we can look beyond the buildings, trees, and mountains that might be in the way. In perspective drawing, the horizon is a straight line that establishes the "eye line" or point of view of the artist. In reality, we know that the horizon is not straight because the earth is round. We draw it as a straight line because that's how we perceive it. (More on perception versus reality later)

It's fitting that a seventh grader should grapple with the idea of learning to understand the world between him/and the flat horizon which, in turn, begs the questions: "What's beyond the horizon? and... Isn't the world round?"


Vanishing Points

 In the sixth grade, students are often satisfied with isometric three dimensional drawing. All of the lines of an isometric box are parallel. It looks real! Life gets a little more complicated in 7th grade, however,  as the students move farther away from the simplicity of childhood. The typical seventh grader begins to question everything (especially the teacher!).

 When it comes to teaching perspective drawing, I like to teach by asking questions. "If the sides of this cardboard box are equal in length and parallel in real life, why do they look like they're getting closer together as they go off into the distance?" Soon they discover that straight lines going into the distance appear to line up with vanishing points on the horizon. Now they are ready to construct rules for drawing the world as it appears to us.

 On more subconscious level, there is another phenomenon at play. As human beings, we can venture beyond the horizon in the physical world, and we can explore the depths of our inner selves. The vanishing point on the horizon mirrors the vanishing point inside each human being. Interestingly, both the horizon and the vanishing points are not fixed.

They are simply boundaries placed by the artist based on his or her unique perspective at a single moment in time.

Art as metaphor for life.


Perception vs. reality

 I love taking seventh graders through this journey of building a set of rules to create reality and then realizing that we need to keep bending the rules when a new piece of information is introduced.

 "Why does it seem like there's more than one vanishing point?"

 "Why does it seem like all the vanishing points change in reality when I move my eyes?"

 "Is there really a point out there?"

 Some students are happy to live inside the set of rules for perspective drawing and some edge closer to the idea that this set of rules is a convention that humans created. It's a method of taking our visual perception of the three dimensional world and putting it onto a two dimensional surface in a way that accurately represents the artists point of view at that particular moment in time.

The process is akin to learning a language in order to express your point of view. It's all the more valuable if our students can be guided towards developing this set of rules on their own. As they work with the drawing exercises, I encourage you to try not to give in to the temptation of TELLING them what they are experiencing. The questions that lead to the rules will naturally flow out of them if they are given many opportunities to EXPERIENCE the drawings!

~Brian (& Robyn!) Wolfe

*Want more? Read another piece from our Art in the Middle Grades series - Black & White drawing, G6.

Waldorf education won't fit in a box (Part III).

You may have noticed that we don't think a good Waldorf education will fit in a standard sized box. 

More importantly, it will not necessarily resemble what our Waldorf friends and neighbors are doing either. We HIGHLY recommend asking yourself a couple of questions before you make any decisions related to your children. Consider:

  • “Is this toy (or school supply or activity, etc) helping to nurture a spiritual depth and creative thinking within my child? 
  • Do we currently own something that can be used to the same end? 
  • Could we make/do something similar ourselves?”

What is most important?

Brian and I have spent the past couple of years distilling our decades of experiences in classrooms down to the most essential components. 

We’ve been looking at what is really important. For example, our online course, Waldorf Art for Beginners, is one product of this distillation process. 

While planning it, we asked ourselves: 

  • What art tools and supplies does a family just getting started with Waldorf education really need? 
  • What’s worth spending money on, and what’s not so important? 
  • What are the most basic skills they’ll need to move forward with chalk-drawing, watercolor painting, and using block crayons?

The results of taking the time to reflect on these questions is a course that is JAM-PACKED with value, and yet is still simple. Filled with ease.

Take a minute to reflect on what is most important for your family. What do you really need? 

Claim your quiet.

What would more simplicity look like? Find the ease.

What does a balanced weekly rhythm look like for YOUR family? Are you doing more than feels good because you feel like you need too to look like other Waldorf-inspired families?

Let's cheer each other on as we move towards creating more simplicity in our days, our weeks! 

It's so worth it. 

Much love,

Robyn (& Brian) Wolfe

Read Part I

Read Part II