The Timeless Hour
Hour - a workbook containing 22 practical experience-aimed exercises
for children aged 5 to 12.
A transfer of 30 years experience from the area of visual expression in
Target groups: primary-/grammarschool, healthcare.
of the above mentioned 22 exercises already brought many positive
experiences in different worksettings over many years, working with
children as well as with adults. The central theme of this workbook is
that the child can totally surrender itself in a direct way to the
intuitive expression of its inner world. In addition the exercises
provide countless opportunities to strengthen the bond of trust between
the teacher and the children. The teacher may choose to participate
with them. This book can also contribute towards greater job
satisfaction for the teacher as the child's mediator. Stimulating the
child's expression of feelings and the ability to visualise has a
direct effect on the ability to concentrate and the total learning
performance. In this book reference is made to scientific research in
the US and The Netherlands, in which this is confirmed. The ability to
concentrate and visualise clearly in different cognitive learning
situations is fed by these visual processes.
is een factor die de leeroverdracht in sterke mate blokkeert. Het
gedrag van een kind in stress is door volwassenen niet altijd makkelijk
te traceren. Vooral in een begin fase. Stress frustreet de ontwikkeling
van genoemde vertrouwensrelatie tussen het kind en de volwassene of
groepsleerkracht. Jonge kinderen zijn overmatig gevoelig en daarmee
kwetsbaar voor stres aangezien hun zenuwstelsel nog niet volgroeid is.
De door stress aangerichtte schade veroorzaakt in mindere of meedere
mate de groei tot een volgroeid volwassen mens.
Stress is a factor that
greatly inhibits the transfer of learning.
distinguish stress in the behavoir of a child is not so easy for an
adult or in this way a tutor. Most likely in beginning phase of a
Stress frustrates the devolopment of confidence in the relation between
the child and the adult / tutor.
Children up to their age of 7 till 9 years old are vulnerable for
stress because their nervous system has not yet come to a natural
Damage by stress more or less decreases the growth to become a centered
exercises in this book make it possible to decrease stress in the
child's behaviour. Through this the development and learning ability of
the child will be affected in a positive way.
my teaching experiences with children, this approach has also been of
benefit for adults. The 22 exercises being offered consist of
individual as well as collective exercises to be carried out by two or
more children. Within certain working areas the book can therefore be
applied to both children and adults. I am thinking of Remedial
Teachers, the Altra Foundation ( former Boddaerd), people who
provide assistance to asylum seekers, health workers/people who provide
assistance to handicapped people, and intermediate vocational
this book has not yet been published in English there is no price as
yet. The complete text has been translated into English. A video film
in Dutch and English is provided with the book. Possibly in the future
also in German, French, Spanish and Finnish. Which publisher on the
international market is interested in an English edition?
body aim of the learning models offered here may be summarised as
stress in the child through release
the child's ability to concentrate through an integration process of
the left and right side of the brain
body feeling, emotional experience and mental-cognitive ability, in
order for the child to develop into an internally independent acting
human being. This will make the child feel more involved in what it is
of the creative ability out of thinking and acting, through stimulating
the child's ability for expression
of the emotional intelligence in relation to the cognitive intelligence
of the child/learning integration
the development of social intelligence in social behaviour, especially
regarding relationships between children of different ethnic
you are interested or want to buy the book contact Uitgeverij Lambo
(Only a Dutch edition for the moment), tel. 0031 26 3515613, fax: 0031
26 4430791 or see www.lambo.nl ISBN
Price: € 30,= (beautiful 4-color book including instruction video).
Group session of group 7&8 of Grammar/Primary
Clay exchange (with closed eyes)
Example of an excercise with clay from the book 'The Timeless Hour'.
exchange (with closed eyes)
Example of an excercise with clay from the book 'The Timeless Hour'.
Through social interaction unity in the group feeling of the
class is created. Play situation by means of an exchange (non-verbal
Body feeling strengthened by various ways of moving and
touching the clay. Interaction between you as the teacher and
the children if you should participate while at the same time
indicating the subsequent actions. Confidence by mutual
exchange of roles between you and the children can be improved.
This exercise of clay-exchange comprises the theme of giving (letting
go) and receiving (non-verbal communication). Independently determining
whether to continue with the same or completely change it. There will
be a stimulance on enhancement of resolution and selfresponsable
choice. Through co-operation thoughts, feelings and ideas are
exchanged. Stimulation of the integration of children in your class,
aswell active as verbal in composing two pieces of sculpture together.
B.R.L.H. (Enhancement of the Balance between the Right- and the Left
Hemisphere) First non-verbally and in the final stage verbal
communication also takes place.
Clay the size of a tennis ball or a bit larger, fitting in two child's
Clay board 25 x 35 cm.
If the children make a drawing afterwards:
Paper 65 x 50 cm 160 grams / 4 crayons / tesa tape
The children are sitting in groups of two next to or opposite each
other. In this way they can easily exchange the pieces of clay among
them. If there is an odd number of children in your class you as the
teacher can do the clay exchange with one of the children.
When you have handed out the clay you first have the children knead
their bit until it is supple. A clay board can be very useful. They can
throw the piece of clay onto the board and hit it with their hands.
This makes the clay very supple. Often this initially leads to a rather
busy working atmosphere which afterwards can change into a relaxed
atmosphere in your class. This is also a focussed way of expression,
creating greater peacefulness for the clay exchange which is to follow.
A little working noise also creates an activating atmosphere.
Then they close their eyes and with both hands start kneading the clay
intuitively. They can however express themselves through hitting the
clay and making noises with their voice. Especially if they have just
received the clay object after the exchange. However, there is no
talking. You indicate the exchange by saying the word 'exchange'.
In the beginning the 'exchange' is a little faster, but in such a way
that the periods of time are never the same (no habituation). The
periods of time may become consecutively longer. Maybe in between twice
an exchange that is a bit faster. Usually this exercise does not take
much longer than 15 to 20 minutes in total. If you feel that the level
of concentration is high, you can let de exercise continue longer. You
determine whether you tell the children the duration of the exercise
beforehand. Explain clearly to them that after the 'exchange' they
first give the clay object to each other. They first thoroughly feel
the clay object they then receive and don't start changing it
immediately. They feel during approx. 12 seconds. Only then are they
free to continue with what is already there or change it completely.
During this complete transformation they can make hand movements and
clay hitting movements. The clay hitting can take place between both
hands or on the clay board. Also tell the children that they can also
keep their hands still now and then and only hold or touch the clay
object. They do not need to be active all the time but may also be
In the exercise clay 'exchange' in pairs the giving (letting go) and
receiving (taking in) are an important part. Here the 'mine' and
'thine' plays an important part. After a number of exchanges both
pieces of clay represent the work of both children. Not controlling
with the eyes but feeling everything by touch could also be accompanied
by a stimulation of the child's visualisation ability and giving up
mental control. Experience through feeling can take over more easily.
The choice to 'continue with' or 'change into' is a strong stimulus for
intuitive self determination. Just as in the following collective
drawing exercises it is important to clearly explain to the children in
advance the difference between 'mine' and 'thine'. Learning to deal
with the feeling of 'mine' and 'thine' in letting go of 'my' clay
object and accepting and/or changing the 'other' clay object/'thine'.
Tell the children the following clearly: "the clay object is for 'you'
but not 'yours'…, and also for 'you' and for 'you', but not 'yours', so
no one owns one of the two clay objects. When using the words 'you' and
'you' you indicate different children, so all children know this
applies to all of them.
When you explain the 'exchange' it becomes clear that the exercise does
not have a specific form or theme. At least there is no final aim at
all. Because if you say the word 'exchange' once more or once less, the
image keeps changing. The final 'exchange' determines the final image.
exercise part 1
Tell the children clearly
"Close your eyes, feel the clay in your hands and do with it what
your hands want to do. Do keep the clay in your hands or on the clay
As the teacher from now on, now and than you keep saying the word 'exchange'….............
clay-exchange-session with closed eyes
determine how often you let the children exchange the clay.
Within 15 seconds after you mentioned to exchange their clay objects
now and then softly say the following sentences:
"relax behind your eyes", "let go of your exhalation".
exercise part 2
After having said the last 'exchange' you softly but clearly audible
tell the children:
"Keep your eyes closed...
With both hands bring the piece of clay to your face
and softly touch it to your forehead...
then open your eyes very slightly so you can just see something of the
clay and of your fingers
look at the light and dark areas on the claysurface
and also look at your fingers, your skin, your nails and whatever else
Gradually let some more light into your eyes
You now see more of the clay
Look into the cracks and holes in the clay
And discover what there is to see
Find a place somewhere where you feel safe and comfortable.
It can be a hole, a crack or may be a top like a little hill
Once your eyes are completely open you let your hands with the clay
figure rest in your lap
Stay sitting like that for a while
From now onwards you don't change the clay figure any more"
This concludes the practical part of the exercise.
If as the teacher you wish to make time available, you can let the
dialogue take place now. However, you may also decide to continue after
the exercise without having the dialogue.
variety in choices:
the teacher you may decide to follow the above exercise with 1 or 2
exercises given below. You can now choose for a verbal, social
interaction between the pairs of children. The children show each other
the clay objects and tell each other about them in pairs. What the
process was like for them and what they see in the clay figures. This
does not take place at class level. Finally you can tell them to think
of a title or a name for the clay figure they are holding. Everyone
their own title. The title consists of one to three words at most.
the children make a drawing in charcoal or with crayons based on their
most important experience during working with clay with their eyes
closed. They make this drawing with the hand they usually do not write
with. For crayons see chapter 11.
the children make a drawing in charcoal or with crayon based on the
clay figure they are holding after the last exchange.
Have the children who have been working on the clay objects as a pair
make a composition of their two clay objects. They do not change the
objects any more and put them on top or against each other. In the
meantime they keep telling each other what they see in these new
compositions. They give the final composition they like best a common
title or name. The title consists of one to three words at most.
b. With all the children in the class combine the single figures into a
collective clay sculpture. This can be done on the floor or on a table.
c. With all children combine the compositions which were created from
4a into a single collective clay sculpture. This can be done on the
floor or on the table. This concludes the final part of the exercise.
If as a teacher you wish to make time available, you can have the
dialogue now. All joined excercises also have their effects on creating
natural/spontanous etnic relationships.
Deep concentration through sense of touch.
If you want to see some of my visual artwork,
take the link to exposities
Michiel Czn. Dhont
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Art put into service of 'wholeness'
- for children as well as adults -
interview by Inge Evers, journalist,
visual artist (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Michiel Czn. Dhont, author of 'The Timeless Hour' - 22 exercises for
the benefit of the integration of the cognitive, emotional and social
Expressive Work: "One of the essential aspects of drawing and painting
in general, is the fact that one gets to be confronted with a totally
blank, usually white sheet of paper or cloth, or with an empty fully
open space. Briefly: to be on the Spot and in the Now." elementary
expression in space primal rhythm "White paper has a way of looking at
you, I always feel when I start to attack a new piece of paper. Even
more so when it is sitting there in the typewriter. On top of that it
gives me the feeling that it should stay neat and that I am not
supposed to mess in the margin. So, I still write an article first by
hand, with a lot of crossings and references, exclamation marks, stars
and other signs of which I am the only authority. I knew I wasn't the
only person, but after this interview I am convinced that it is quite
normal, yes even essential."
of the essential aspects of drawing and painting in general, is the
fact that one gets to be confronted with a totally blank, usually white
sheet of paper or cloth, or with an empty, totally open space. That
very confrontation evokes a tension which can cause something into
being, something that can actually give birth. However, it can also
happen during that first phase that a person meets with his or her
deepest fears. One feels as if one jumps into an empty swimming pool,
not knowing whether the pool is fille with water or not. Fear often
leads to 'closing up' entirely, in a way that nothing is coming out any
longer. But a person can be taught how to deal with situations like
this. A person can learn how to let go off himself and give in to a
pure motion without fear of failing. A person can learn to feel
comfortable in emptiness, eventually that person can intuitively do
something with that emptiness. The paper has patience and doesn't cause
Speaking is Michiel Dhont from Amsterdam, an all-round artist and
musician, who, besides creating works of art and performing music, has
developed a specific way of teaching for children as well as for
adults. In his Molenpad Studio he offers various courses
as:orientation-techniques, drawing, acrylic painting, clay modeling,
collages and life-model drawing.
These courses are all based upon his own method: drawing and painting
done through motion by intuition. Among his students one frequently
find artists from various disciplines who got stuck in their flow of
ideas. Those who have taken his lessons find in general they have a
healing effect and stimulate towards an inner growth to inspire
directly their art expressive flow.
The method, the motion in it, is intensely related to everyting he has
done and developed during his life. It is intensely related to his own
"Several years I have done things I didn't really want to do.
I was miles away from my own feelings."
In 1963, when he was 23 he left for Mexico and the USA, just to be
alone. In that tranquility and time-lessness he found himself again. He
drew a lot and made music and he knew he wanted to be an artist.
'Molenpad Studio', Amsterdam
Alternation in left- and righthand ......................child
(group 3) drawing with both hands
drawing by drawing and rubbing the charcoal
Joosten, his teacher at the Montessori school had advised similarly to
his parents in those days. However, that advice was not taken
seriously. On the contrary, Michiel was sent to another school. He
still remembers her radiation "She was the only person who actually
saw me as I was as a child." In her class the foundation was laid
for a creative development later on. Without that experience he would
not have had the courage and the confidence at twenty three to switch
from his study in economics to 'Visual Arts'. Back in Holland from a
long tour through the USA and Mexico he embanked upon Ateliers '63 in
Haarlem, in those days by far the most interesting art academy in The
Michiel continued his education with M.O.A. and M.O.B. in Amsterdam in
masters degree in teaching arts. He intended to earn a basic living by
teaching. To be independent had his highest priority and he knew as an
artist it would not be easy to survive in the world of free arts.
"Sometimes it is frustrating and difficult, but perhaps that
is what I need. If all of a sudden I would have no financial problems
as an artist, I would never give up teaching, teaching is a very
essential part of me. I grow just as much in working with people, as
people grow in their work they do with me."
When he finished teachers's college he continued his study at the
Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, in sculpture, under Jos Wong and Aart
Riethoek for a period of one year. Six years after he stood up in the
General Education system before he got out. As long as he remembers
during his time at teachers college there have been people asking him
to teach them. In the course of the years the number of people
increased. This gave him enough confidence to start as an independent
small entrepeneur when in 1975 he had a large attic at his desposal at
the Molenpad in Amsterdam.
Together with his colleague Lou Heidendaal he founded the Molenpad
Studio in Amsterdam. "A lot of work had to be done before we could
start, there wasn't even daylight and not a single pipe or wire. Now
all equipment is there including full daylight."
Lou and Michiel both gave lessons and both were occupied / charged with
the acquisition. Lou didn't last very long and Michiel continued on his
own. Something Michiel discovered "Only rarely some people could
express their real, pure inner pictures in the drawings and the
paintings. I could see the difference in my own art work where I always
have been able to express my inner pictures. How could I find a way to
give my students the tools to do so?"
'Molenpad' Studio, Amsterdam..........................................
workshop in Boston, USA
let it hang as a questionmark above my head. Through meditation I
received the images shown on this page, which I drawed spontaneously on
a piece of paper laying next to me. On the sheet I discovered the
variety of sketches based on left handed and right handed drawing. When
this had happened a world opened. I felt a strong connection to these
images. I did realize that it became a basic structure from where other
pictures could rise. This basic structure has always been very simple.
From that moment I felt the left hand drawings as an important image to
develop. Al this grew to an introduction in my courses toward
expressive art through movement and from intuition."
original images of a variety in left- and righthand drawing
started out to bring into practice specific exercises during his
classes. These exercises were mainly focused on 'centring', meaning: to
bring into balance, to achieve equilibrium. When a person is in balance
or equilibrated he has a connection hetween the left and right
hemisphere, the large back muscle functions flexible and both feet are
well grounded. This may sound theoretical and perhaps far from
attractive. However, proof to the contrary and speaking from experience
have recorded part of a drawing lesson focussed on script …
Course-members enter the workshop slightly out of breath due to
climbing all those steps. They take their own paintbox, brushes and
painting clothes out of the cupboard as they proceed to prepare
everything for the course. At the start there is still some talking,
but eventually everyone works in silence. In order not to have to
interrupt oneself all the time, one usually hangs three or four
sketching sheets and one drawing sheet on top of each other over the
drawing board. Charcoal and chalks are handed out, pots are being
filled with water for painting later on in the afternoon. Nearly every
one walks on socks or on slippers.
Before Michiel starts his course he gives a short explanation of things
to come. The theme is the script - the motoric script - that will be
used starting from writing into drawing. "There are two types of
script", Michiel says, "the melodic, (continuous) connecting script,
and the rhythmic staccato script. Both types can be combined with one
another in a later phase, and/or used very freely in regard to one
another. That is called the harmonic script."
Michiel suggests to start with one script at the time, the melodic
script. One doesn´t need to work constantly towards the right,
one is allowed to refer back into the writing motion. He does advise to
stay on the sheet. Which is not necessary with the rhythmic script. One
starts to work with one hand in columns, when a column is filled one
starts again on top of the sheet and writes through the existing signs.
example of a staccato script example of a more complex script example
of a melodic script example of a harmonic script which combines
rhythmic and melodic script Michiel joins in with his students, often
whith his eyes closed. Meanwhile he makes remarks in order to make his
students aware of what they are doing.
of a staccato script ...............................example
of a more complex script
of a melodic script .................example
of a harmonic script which
rhythmic and melodic script
your feet, feel the ground, (re)move your feet in accordance with your
arms and with the way your hand moves over the sheet. Take a
comfortable distance between you and your sheet." "Don´t get too
close. Let the non-drawing arm hang relaxed along your body. Loosen
your shoulders, also drop the shoulder of the writing arm. Go three,
four, if necessary five times over the same line. Occasionally you
should grab back with your charcoal as though you are writing away from
you." From time to time he repeats these remarks. Other than the
scratching of the charcoal over the sheets and an occasional tooter of
a boat passing by the canal, there is not a single sound.
More directions are given when Michiel starts to look around. "Try
to stand a more with your body on your basin/pelvic. Losen your arms,
keep your head free into space when you feel tension, continue freely
for a while in your own rhythm. Take your charcoal and try once to move
across the sheet. Do not try to keep up anything. See it as a play.
There´s no need to write ten sheets full."
One senses the reactions to his slow almost monotonous voice.
both hands drawing and touching..............
girl in deep concentration
the intermediate silences one hears the charcoal scratching again. "When
you feel tension, slow down a little and exhale all the way."
This time, when he askes to feel a sound, there is more volume to it
than the first time. One can actually hear tones. Again Michiel
indicates a number of things, such as disconnecting the head, directed
to the sheet, towards a horizontal position of the head. It will take
away the control function of the eyes and will let your hands move free
to express. The pressure on the charcoal may vary.
"Relax, also behind your eyes and behind your forehead. Go
easy about changing your feet. Direct your attention towards the earth.
In between try and make a melodic motion across the entire sheet to the
left and try to alternate these movements."
At a given moment the right hand joins in and everyone works
two-handedly. Now everyone works as he likes. And so it lingers on.
After a while he has them change the charcoal from the right hand to
the left hand. On a new sheet the same exercise is repeated writing
from right to left with the left hand.
"Draw with your hand in a slanted way from below. Loosen your right
arm. Let go off your thought."
Towards the end of this exercise Michiel has everyone visualise the two
lines in which can be written with large signs and with eyes open.
"Write continuously in an undulating melodic way", he says
again and "feel the musical sounds of the movements. You should be able
to feel yourself inside. Listen to that melodic sound. Let it become an
interaction with the motion of your hand. Bring that sound up, outward.
Keep it to yourself, no need for other to hear it."
holding clay in left hand during right hand drawing ......complex
drawing with both hands left- and righthand drawing
circles naturally becoming ovals
gives a few examples: left - right in reverse, parallel, big small or
small/big simultaneous. "Let it be a large feeling of writing. Let
the sound come up again. Work in a quasi (pseudo) nonchalant manner."
Then we draw with two hands and a few minutes later we are drawing with
one hand and we alternate hands.
have to do less and less. Continually half of the half of the half and
so on. The transition of an exercise in drawing toward painting should
go in a gradual and shelve like manner. Occasionally you let your hand
go off the sheet, sometimes left, than right. The instructions keep
"Bring the action from one hand to the other. Take a little
distance from the sheet by stepping backward and continue working
within that space. Stay in motion. Go easily about filling up the space
between you and the sheet. Keep looking at your hands and close your
eyes. Alternate those actions too. Now you can feel quite involved,
evoked by the inner easing of the tension, in such a way that you can
react very directly and impulsively, straight from the gut."
"Loosen up your belly muscles while diminishing all movements.
Now make a transition to the next sheet."
Michiel is now quietly explaining, that while exercising rhythmic
writing one is allowed to write of the sheet. Everyone is totally
involved now, no one seems to get out of concentration or look at his
watch. A timeless concentrated quietude is reigning. An exercise like
this one lasts about 25 minutes. When they/we talk to each other some
later it seems as though everyone is coming from his/her own world and
it is not easy to actually snap out of it. Everyone is sitting on the
floor in a circle. If anyone feels the need to talk about what he or
she felt during the work, they can speak up. After that everyone turns
to painting and once again it is very quiet in the studio.
His lessons were partially inspired by his experience with Tai Chi. "Historically
one can say, to put all things together, that someone like the
artist/tutor Johannes Itten from the Bauhaus (Germany 1922) was a true
pioneer in the period after the first world war because he introduced
basic movements from the East into his lessons. He was one of the first
peop1e who actually instructed to combine the two hemispheres."
That might very well be the main reason why he no longer connected with
Bauhaus, which eventually grew more and more into Functionalism. There
is the Frenchman Merleau-Ponty, who became well known for his intuitive
drawing script. And Betty Edward, who wrote a book: ´Drawing from
the right side of the brain´ (read : drawing with the left side
(hand) of the body).
All the exercises Michiel developed and exposes to children and adults,
make it possible for children as well as adults to express themselves
from their intuition in true pictures by drawing and painting.
one-hand lemniscat drawing ........................exploring space both
hands basic motoric drawing
group session with teacher participating
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