Leo Klein taught for 37 years at the Waldorf school in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, his work including classes with elementary school children and with high school students. Since 1992 Leo Klein has traveled Canada and the United States, stopping at Waldorf school across the continent to share his artwork, observe, converse, laugh, and coach teachers, gently reiterating the basic pedagogical principles that underlie the work at Waldorf schools. Leo’s purpose is to generate conversations, with the hope that out of the conversations will arise renewed inspiration in faculty members at the school.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Leo Klein led a seminar at the Tucson Waldorf School faculty meeting, talking with the teachers there about black board drawing.
He spoke of the movement of color and gesture. And his demonstration drawing began with a swift working of orange, at the bottom of the board, to suggest the forces of the dragon. “Not this,” he said, drawing a hard zig zag line over the flowing light orange — too harsh, too defined. Always an advocate of experimentation with color, and with the tools used to apply it to surfaces, Leo Klein reminded the teachers in Tucson that it is good to use the hand directly in chalk work, blending lines with his fingers to soften their edges and merge them with the surrounding color in dynamic blending.
Leo worked with the side of the chalk, varying pressure to make darker merge with lighter across the black of the chalkboard. He began with ideas of composition, his subject in this demonstration Michael and the dragon, and when the quick yellow strokes indicating Michael’s position fell too close to one side for balance, he simply drew his chalk across the board more toward the center and created another suggestion for where St. Michael should stand in the drawing.
In a second demonstration, a drawing of a stand of trees, Leo Klein went on to show how a rhythmically sketched background of color can support additions of further small applications of color that begin to bring out the form of the subjects at hand. Not afraid of black, Leo Klein demonstrated its importance as an accent color, bringing a nice drawing to life with a touch or two of black chalk.
A repeating theme in Leo Klein’s message to teachers is the importance of gesture, and of leaving a picture open to the imagination of the child. Blackboard drawings do not have to be completed in one session, although Waldorf teachers certainly will continue to work late nights at school to get a room ready for a new Main Lesson.
A teacher he knew, Leo Klein told the Tucson faculty, worked over time on a drawing in his classroom, adding pieces here and there until at last the board held a complex work of art. Unable to let his drawing go, the teacher found carpenters who were able to cut the section of board out and replace it with blank black board; the drawing is framed now, and hanging in the teacher’s house.
Leo Klein leaves artwork in his wake. At the Tucson Waldorf School, the faculty blackboard drawing stood at class end.