Teaching a child to draw is also teaching them to see. Drawing begins in the first grade with drawings guided by the teacher when they are done in the main lesson books. Beeswax block crayons have traditionally been used in the lower grades. More recently, with the concern for proper grip and development of the hand, some teachers have begun to introduce beeswax stick crayons as well.
In first and second grades, their teacher guides the children as they do their drawing. As children move through the grades, they are given more freedom of personal expression in their work.
In third or fourth grade, depending on the teacher, children will be introduced to shaded-drawing techniques such as hatch drawing, which encourages drawing with form and tone rather than line.
In fifth and sixth grade, this technique is developed into tone drawings. Colored pencils are used for this technique.
In seventh grade, with the introduction of the Renaissance in history, perspective drawing is introduced. This is also when black and white drawing is done using charcoal. The students explore geometric shapes with shading and highlight.
This leads to the eighth-grade drawing curriculum, which explores still-life drawing with lead pencil. Pen-and-ink techniques, such as stipple and crosshatch, introduce printable art, which leads to scratchboard and linoleum block printing.
Drawing is a skill that takes years to develop. The children are introduced to various techniques according to their age and development. They gain confidence as they progress and are able to apply this skill to all of their academic work.
Watercolor painting is a part of the curriculum from kindergarten through eighth grade. Each grade ideally paints once a week with their teacher. A skilled subject teacher who can lead the children further than their own class teachers carries painting in the seventh and eighth grade.
Painting is an artistic endeavor that allows expression of the feeling life of the child to be experienced. In all of the grades it is the process that is experienced that is of utmost importance. Throughout the grades the students experience the nature of each color and slowly develop an understanding of how to use the nature of color in an artistic expression.
In kindergarten the wet-on-wet method of watercolor painting is used exclusively. The subject is not taught but is learned through imitation. They come to know how to hold the brush, apply the paint and clean the brush all through imitation. The main objective is for the children to experience the beauty and the nature of color by being allowed to “play” with the color. The teacher fosters a mood of care and reverence throughout the process.
In first and second grade there is an emphasis on the true nature of color, both individually and in combination of two or more colors. The paintings are introduced with a color story that may or may not have been derived from a morning lesson story or from a nature story. If form is presented, it is derived from the movement of color and shows little to no details.
In third grade most teachers paint with the students on a daily basis for a week or two in order to paint the seven days of creation. This is often, but not necessarily the student’s first experience with intentionally deriving a form out of color.
In fourth grade the subject matter for the form in a painting would be animals, Norse mythology, and geography. It may also arise out of the seasons or nature. Use of secondary and tertiary colors is emphasized along with contrasting the qualities of the inner and outer colors in the painting.
In fifth grade wet-on-wet painting continues, and many teachers use the subject of botany or plant life to introduce the students to a style of painting called veil painting. Veil painting is done as a wet-on-dry method of painting. The paints are applied in thin veils and then need to dry before another veil overlaps the previously applied veil. Throughout the year the subject matter for the paintings is derived from the stories told during the morning lesson.
As the children grow older and more capable, the teacher guides them toward ever-increasing skills. The skills taught become inherently dependent on the previous skills learned. In sixth, seventh, and eighth grades the subject matter for the paintings continues to arise from the morning lesson curriculum or out of the seasons and nature. Other styles of painting may also be taught such as wet-on-dry or mixed media paintings. Color perspective is usually introduced in seventh grade but may have been touched on at an earlier year.
By incorporating intellectual, artistic and hands-on learning into one, the learning sinks deeper – not only into their minds, but more importantly, into their hearts and, most profoundly, into their bodies.” – MWS Faculty member