Harmony of colours

Ritika Bhoora
Friday, 24 May 2019

Teaching children about the healing aspect of art, Swadhaa Waldorf Learning Centre is holding a workshop by Jyoti Pagdi in the city till May 24. She tells us more about it

Paint for the Harmony Within for 12-to 15-year-olds is not a usual painting workshop but focuses on the healing aspect of art. A Swadhaa Waldorf Learning Centre initiative, the workshop is being conducted by Jyoti Pagdi in the city till today. 

Pagdi, who is a graduate from SNDT University, Mumbai, with majors in Child Development, has been working with children for more than 20 years. A founding member of Abhaya Waldorf School, Hyderabad, her love for art and a deeper passion to understand the healing aspect of art inspired her to pursue Anthroposophical Art Therapy course (a formal educational, therapeutic, and creative system established by Rudolf Steiner, seeking to use mainly natural means to optimise physical and mental health and well-being).  

Presently, Pagdi works with children, young adults and teachers at many Waldorf schools across India. Here, she talks about Waldorf education, the unique painting workshop, the role of colours in our life and much more.

- Tell us about Waldorf education and what are the teaching basics? 
The Waldorf Curriculum is a process of learning that places the growing child in the centre. Woven around insights given by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, the curriculum nurtures the natural developmental stages of the child.

- Can you elaborate on Paint for the Harmony Within workshop and its objective?
The workshop is one in which the children use watercolours to paint on wet paper and in the process try to find the balance between two or more colours. Painting with watercolours on wet paper allows children to fully experience transparent, flowing colours in its pure state, free from the weight of matter, in a form similar to how we experience them in nature. While the colours in nature present themselves to our senses, we experience them as almost immaterial, but they make a strong inner impression on us. Moving away from the density of colour, the wet-on-wet watercolour painting comes closest to a kind of painting in light, such as what nature continually conjures up before us. This is different from other painting workshops. Our objective is to let children feel and understand the relation between two colours rather than just recreate scenery on a piece of paper. A child is made to experience two very opposite colours like blue (cold, gloomy) and yellow (warm, happy) and is given a moment to reflect on his/ her experience. This is not a visual experience alone, it is a moment to experience and reflect on one’s feelings when one is creating two very opposite scenarios and try to find a balance between both. 

- How did you come up with this unique workshop?
The two things in life that bring happiness to me are art and interacting with people. I was always a good painter but I wanted to learn more. My teacher painted with anthroposophical insights. A session with her six years back helped me to connect with this thought that there seems to be laws behind colours. My journey to explore this thought/ concept started then and I felt the need to share the work. I’ve been conducting workshops like these for children and adults for a long time now.

- In Waldorf education, there is a strong emphasis on teaching through arts. Can you tell us more about it?
In Waldorf curriculum, there is a clear emphasis on moving beyond a mechanical view of colour which perceives them as differentiated wavelengths of reflected light. Children are encouraged to recognise that colours have an inherent quality that has an effect on human beings. Children paint from kindergarten all the way till high school. At the workshop, simple techniques like lightness or darkness of hues, weakness or strength of pigments, wetness or dryness of paper, swiftness or slowness of working are taught to create a  balance. 
- Have you conducted such workshops in the past?
I’ve been doing workshops for a long time now. Swadhaa hosts a lot of workshops like these year round. Some of them include clay workshops, wood cutting workshop and much more. It humbles me to share that I’m invited again to hold this workshop as others experience what I did while painting. The response has been fantastic. It helps propagate the healing aspect of art.

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