Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"Plant in the Rainbow Colors" aka Watercolor Painting Outside!

Well, I have to update my list of recipes for the week. I'm adding Overnight Refrigerator Steel-Cut Oats with Chia & Strawberries. Yummy! Zac and I went strawberry picking today! He was soooo cute with his little red pail.

We have been doing as much as possible outdoors, absolutely 100% making the most of these sunny warm days. Yesterday we had an impromptu trip down to the Dayempur Farm pond to release 10 little froglets. Their metamorphosis was complete and it was time for them to leave our living room and head out to the great wide world. But you can see how teeny they still were from the one sitting in Becca's hand!

My students were also really excited to find an huge old toad and a tiny baby painted turtle.

Then, today, the kids at Farm Day got to go canoeing down at the river. This was a surprise and Becca hadn't packed a bathing suit or a towel, but she just got wet and it was fine and everyone had a grand time.

Monday, though, was the highlight of the week thus far. We had a lovely outdoor watercolor painting session. This is our final watercolor painting of the year! We sat outside under the enormous magnolia tree (this also happens to be the tree under which I got married). I had to carry a ton of supplies outside to make this work. These were

  • painting boards
  • masking tape, for stretching paper
  • watercolor paper
  • extra small pieces of watercolor paper for testing paint colors
  • popsicle sticks for mixing my new paint color
  • bottle of the new paint color
  • little white porcelain dishes of dried concentrated paints
  • lots of empty baby food jars for mixing paints
  • rinse water jars
  • a gallon jug of water, for refilling rinse water jars
  • paintbrushes
  • baby wipes, for painty fingers
  • yoga mats, for sitting on

I had my Organic Chemistry and my Botany kids share their initial lessons (The Honey Bee, The Plant Kingdom, Photosynthesis). Our painting was inspired by this wonderful painting image on Pinterest. It's a pretty standard Waldorf exercise, called "Plant in the Rainbow Colors."

If you have THE book for learning how to paint in a Waldorf way, The Individuality of Color: Contributions to a Methodical Schooling in Colour Experience by Elisabeth Wagner-Koch and Gerard Wagner, you will find this painting on page 18.

I did this on dry paper and so my background colors don't have as much flow as the example on Pinterest, but I was happy with it all the same. I was especially happy with the green I mixed! My watercolor painting teacher (Gail McManus) suggests buying a purple because it is so hard to mix one... but not buying the golden yellow because it's so easy to mix that one. She likes Winsor & Newton paints and suggests their mauve, but I had Stockmar red violet on hand so we used that.

I did have to mix this color, since I had never used it before. This is simple: use a popsicle stick to get a bit of the concentrated paint out of the bottle and then mix it with water in a baby food jar. The paints once mixed need to be refrigerated, so keep that in mind. They will spoil if you cover them and leave them at room temp after they've been diluted.

Letting all the water evaporate out is a different story however!

For the other Stockmar colors (lemon yellow, golden yellow, vermillion, carmine red, ultramarine, Prussian blue), I learned in my watercolor painting class at the Arteum School of Painting (1030 Route 21, Ghent, NY) that it's perfectly fine to put some of the concentrated paint into a dish and let it air dry. It won't spoil that way. You then wet your brush and lift up some of the concentrated paint and put it in a new dish with some water and repeat until you have the saturated color you are looking for (thus the scraps of watercolor paper used as test paper). It's a pretty nifty little trick.

I did a whole blog post about How to Do Waldorf Watercolor Painting when I came back from that class. It was so inspiring! And really practical to boot.

These are the white porcelain 1 oz. ramekins they used and I like them because you can write on the underside in Sharpie which color it is, in case you have trouble telling the blues apart when they are dry.

What they did to keep the paints organized was so clever. They would use the little white dishes for the pure concentrated Stockmar colors, and then they used little glass dishes for the colors you've mixed yourself at the easel. So you know right away what's a pure color and what's not.

For our watercolor paper, we used what Gail suggested. It costs... but it lasts for a long time and I was glad I purchased it. And if you are doing veil painting it's great because it absorbs a ton of paint. She STRONGLY recommends Arches bright white cold press 140 lb watercolor paper in the 22" x 30" size, which can be found at Dick Blick. She buys the pack of 5 sheets of paper and cuts each one into fourths, making a sheet of 11" x 15" paper. The painting board you get should be large enough to accommodate this with a little extra around it for the taping. It's about $5 per sheet of paper, so $1.25 for a quarter sheet.

For the best grassy green, I mixed lemon yellow and Prussian blue. And that little baby painted turtle turned out to be the exact color I mixed for my painting on Monday. Life is just amazing.

Here are some photos. Please feel free to write if you have any specific questions. It was my first try at this painting so I don't pretend to be an expert, but it was a wonderful way to spend an hour outdoors on a gorgeous day. And I liked how painting the root system first (and observing how it mirrors the shoot system) really made us slow down and think about how plants grow. It was lovely!

lifting up some of the concentrated paint

and mixing it with water

some of our painting supplies

and a big jar of fresh water

such a gorgeous day to be outside

green (lemon + Prussian)

testing my green -- perfect on the first try!

strengthening my golden background

I love how Becca lined up her paint jars in rainbow order

my finished painting

By the way, if you're looking for a poem for your Botany block, to memorize or to put in the MLB, I found two. (Plus a really great read-aloud story.)

Read Aloud)

A perfect read-aloud for this block is The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.


Lovely poems to memorize, or to add to the MLB, are "Trees" by Sara Coleridge, p.135 OR "Plants" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, p.138, both of The Waldorf Book of Poetry.

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

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