Monday, June 28, 2021

Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting of the Sphinx

I learned this wonderful painting in my Waldorf Handwork teacher training.

Like all Waldorf teacher trainings, we study more than the topic we'll be teaching. We study child development, the Waldorf curriculum for the grades, curative education, anthroposophy, eurythmy, painting, clay, and woodworking along with the fiber arts. I neglected to write up my notes from my Spring 2021 training (on Zoom), so I'd like to do that soon because my Summer 2021 training (in person) starts up July 5th -- a week from today!

Here are the notes on how to do this lovely painting. You'll notice starbursts on two of the paintings. This is because some salt from a previous activity was accidentally left on the tray where we soaked the paper. When salt meets wet watercolor paint, it gives that effect. The paper which was left in the paper the longest (mine) has the most salt on it.

Before beginning to paint, the children mixed their own paints from concentrate. This painting uses lemon yellow, golden yellow, vermilion, and ultramarine.

Notes on how to prepare paints and soak paper for wet-on-wet are found in my previous post, How to do Waldorf Watercolor Painting.

wiping the paper with a sponge to lift up the extra water

My teacher had us do a color exercise as the first step, so that we could experience the colors as a story on their own, before bringing in the form. The idea is that the form should arise naturally out of the relationship between the colors.

In this case, we are looking to see what happens when the colors meet each other, and we are practicing controlling and blending them. The ultramarine will represent the shadows. The vermillion will represent the desert sands and the body of the Sphinx. The golden / lemon yellow will represent the higher thinking of the Pharaoh, leading his subjects through clear thought.

This painting builds on the Thinking / Feeling / Willing parts of the complex human being which are studied in the Man & Animal block in 4th grade.

willing - bull - rhythmical and digestive processes

feeling - lion - passion, power, movement, strength, variety of activities

thinking - eagle - high flying, can see over all, can go from place to place freely, airy realm, movement, mobility

ego - I - higher directed

The Sphinx represents the new consciousness that occurs during the Egyptian cultural age. Ego is penetrating more deeply into our physicality. The statue itself is like a human being coming out of an animal. However, as the Sphinx shows, the pharaoh was the one who had that new level of thinking. He did not consider his subjects, who were using their powerful physical strength to build his pyramids and his temples, to be his equal.

Color Exercise
vermilion, lemon or golden, ultramarine

This color mixing happens on the diagonal. Let them be wet and blend.

Step 1 - bring vermilion from the lower left corner upwards to the upper right corner but do not go all the way (2/3 of the paper)

Step 2 - bring golden from the upper right downwards to the vermilion

Step 3 - bring ultramarine very strong from the lower left corner upwards part way

for the form painting, I recommend having both lemon and golden, as well as the vermilion and the ultramarine

Lion with upright, alert, awake head of man

Head is lifted up and lemon yellow shows the clarity of thinking

She suggests having had the Sphinx up as a chalkboard drawing for quite a while first so that they know it well. We did the Sphinx painting as our culminating activity for Ancient Egypt.

Same beginning (vermillion in diagonal lower 2/3 and golden in diagonal upper 1/3) and then paint with blue everywhere the Sphinx is not. Blend the blue line into background to be the shadow (this is tricky, and many of my students ended up with outlining).

NO GREEN! No matter what, do not allow green to form (this is also tricky).

Add lemon to face to brighten it. If you do this painting correctly, the lemon will be right at the Pharaoh's forehead, where his clear higher thinking is.

My teacher, who has done this painting several times, was an absolute expert at going back and adding details such as the cobra on the headdress and the braiding of the beard!

my first attempt
my amazing painting teacher!
(above and below)
our inspiration

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