Waldorf Without Walls

Crayon Drawing

by Barbara Dewey

Many of you have asked about the crayon drawing done in Waldorf schools. It is a simple process, but be sure you don’t rush your child into it at too young an age.  Young children need to have a chance to draw the archetypical line drawings that young children all over the world draw:  The circle with legs and arms attached to it, the house made with of a square with a triangle roof and chimney with smoke coming out, etc.  These drawings need to be done with a stick crayon, contrary to the popular belief that young children should have block crayons.

In grade one, the use of block crayons may be introduced, creating the form with color, rather than drawing a line and then coloring it in.  It is as simple as that, but involves some practice.  It also means that in introducing the method to your child, you say something like, "I am going to show you a new way to draw, which will allow you to make even nicer drawings than you can do now."  This introduction is much more easily made if your child has been shielded from cartoons and the use of coloring books!

The block crayons have sides of varying widths, to allow the artist to make smaller or larger forms.  For instance, if you want to draw a person, start with an oval, sketching  motion using one of the longer edges of the block crayon.  When you are satisfied with the shape of your oval body, make a head the same way with a smaller edge of a flesh colored crayon.  Then put legs or a skirt and feet on the person, some hair and maybe a face.  For trees, start at the bottom with some narrow roots drawn with a narrow edge, then draw the trunk with a wide edge and then go back to narrower and narrower edges to form the branches.  When you are done, you have a winter tree.  To make it a spring tree, color over the whole top area with a light green, or else just place little buds on each branch for a very early spring tree.  A summer tree will have darker green thick foliage that you apply with a wide edge so that it nearly covers the branches underneath.

Give it a try yourself and see how it feels.  Don’t expect that your first few tries will look like the best Waldorf drawings you have seen in main lesson books or on websites!  Most of the samples you see are the best drawings that teachers have selected, although Waldorf children get really good at drawing with all the practice they get!  But if you look at those samples, you will see that you can't detect any lines at the edges of the forms and figures in them.  That is the hidden beauty of them, simple as it is!

If you don't have block crayons or if they are all worn out from using the corners to draw lines, take the paper off a stick crayon, break it and use the sides.  

You may find with this technique, as with many Waldorf techniques, your own artistic education may be healed!