Childhood Retrospection

By Katherine Rudolph

A key to the development of Exploring The Word In Colour and Speech lies in the courses of work I completed in the fourteen years of my time at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

The intertranslation of colour and word were always a guiding experience for me, and from the beginning, this kind of interpretation was my artistic, pedagogical and therapeutic impulse.

There is a simultaneous experience also in the painter’s world as such. Through the world of colours, archetypal truths can be made visible. So, I owe a basic component of my particular path to the study of colour painting with Gerard Wagner at the Goetheanum Painting School.

The above process was, in my case, always accompanied by a study of Formative Speech and, later, therapeutic viewpoints from anthroposophy.

So it is with thanks and reverence that I present this excerpt from ‘Gerard Wagner’, by Elizabeth Wagner-Koch and Theodore Willman.

Retrospections of Childhood

When a painter stands in front of his easel and paints, he is making journeys; and on these journeys, having experiences; and the experiences penetrate more deeply than any others that he could possibly have.

Therefore, one should look at a painter’s paintings, if he wishes to learn something about the painter’s life. For on these painting journeys, the true painter unites much more with his own deed than he can realise, or consciously will in the moment of creating.

If in the course of a biography one wants to hold to that which was meaningful on the painter’s path then, from the first a problem occurs; because when one goes back in the memory and looks into nature as it appeared – then every single thing becomes meaningful. The little child sees the smallest, most separate thing: the violet, the spider, the anemone, the grasshopper…everything that grew and crawled, that swam and flew, in short, everything that caught his eye as if it were of the greatest interest.

The child’s eye is alive and sees the life within each thing; and this life speaks directly and utterly to the child’s living awareness. He becomes what he sees and therefore every impression of that time is meaningful. Only later does the painter notice that the colour experience which he is trying to bring about has an inner relationship to the quality of his sense-impressions in earliest childhood.

An early call to attention for the painter’s destiny was to be heard when one day, an English governess was leading her two children along a path through woodlands and meadows. To the children’s amazement she bent and scooped up a handful of spawn near the banks of a small pond. This she placed in a large jar in the nursery and tended it until tadpoles wriggled out and gradually turned into little frogs. Finally she painted a picture of this process in watercolour on a large paper which she hung up in the nursery…