What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. ~George Bernard Shaw
Noah, unlike his big brother, is all about the fiery colours. Ask Julien what colours he would like to paint with and you will get blue, green, purple and maybe red, but only dark red. Ask Noah the same question and you will get orange, yellows, bright red. As bright as you can get them.
Two days a week Julien is out of the house at a Waldorf program close to our house. On those days I have been trying to be mindful of not just running errands and cleaning the house, but of actually taking the time to be with Noah and do things just with him. I never get time with just Noah, and it is easy to get caught up in the “to do list”.
Last week, I did some wet on wet watercolour painting with him. There is a really lovely video by Sarah Baldwin of Bella Luna Toys found here for those who are unfamiliar with this beautiful painting done in Waldorf schools. He has done a bit with Julien and I, but he never had the attention span to really immerse himself in it. That is partly my fault as by the time he was joining us in our painting sessions, we were already on two colours at a time and this takes away from him really experiencing the character of each colour. Traditionally, young children start with just one of the three primary colours, fully experiencing it before moving to the next colour at a different session. With time to go back to the beginning and Noah at a point that he can embrace it, I decided to have a painting day with him.
As I did with Julien, I made a big deal of doing our “special painting”. We paint a lot here, but I like to set this aside as special so it sets it in their minds that this is a more mindful experience. I chose a simple fall story. We soaked our paper and mixed our paint, put our brushes in their blankets and sat down to paint. Which colour did Noah chose to start with? Red, of course. I explained how “Tippy Brush” likes to be clean before he plays with his friends and how to dry his feet. Then I started in on a simple story about Tippy playing with his friend red as they danced and played in the leaves. He was so excited and was so immersed in it, it made my heart happy.
We painted in silence for the most part. His face was scrunched up in concentration and his strokes were long and flowing. I sat painting and watching as he played with the colour, stretching it to the edges of the paper, making it brighter and deeper by adding more paint, then realizing that he could take it off by using a clean brush. Every once in awhile he would sing that Tippy needed a bath and he would gently swirl the brush in the jar of water, wipe it against the side and dry it off on the cloth. It was so beautiful to watch. I had forgotten how peaceful it was to watch a child experience this for the first time. It was also interesting to see how each child takes in the colour. Julien was and still is most at peace when he is painting with blue. It compliments him and seems to calm his soul. Noah it seems has this connection with red. I am curious to see how the other colours unveil themselves to him.
If you have never experienced this type of painting with your child, I highly recommend it. Many think that their child wouldn't enjoy it as it is only one colour and their children are used to a rainbow of colours. As I said, we paint with the rainbow as well, just not for this. For this we meet each colour on its own and then move on to discover how other colours can also come to play and before you know it, a whole rainbow is dancing on the page. It is meditative for the adult as well. I paint without the kids to use the paintings for lanterns and such and I have found it one of the most calming things I can do and I really should do it more often. It is a lovely way to spend some time!