Today was a long awaited treat come true. A little while ago, I was telling my art student about how in the olden days, the way people learned about drawing and painting was to visit galleries and copy from the great masters. She was quite intrigued by this so on a whim, I asked her if this would be something she might want to try sometime. She very enthusiastically agreed we should do this one day.
As a reward for working in her sketchbook so diligently lately, we set up our trip for today. I decided to take her and my youngest (another avid sketcher) to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. I was way less busy than other times I've been there so it was the perfect environment to settle down and draw uninterrupted.
When I was a girl at Langley Fine Arts School, a huge highlight was the regular class sketching trips we took to downtown Vancouver. Architecture, Vancouver Art Gallery shows and the busyness of downtown were all captured during these jaunts. Today brought back a lot of great memories for me and hopefully made some great memories for the girls.
We started on the top floor and visited the West African Gallery as well as the Warrior Exhibit. I had the girls warm up to sketching in public by getting them to pick an object in each exhibit to draw for 5 minutes. This got them focused right away as well as kept things moving fast and loose. We all enjoyed doing these quick pictures. We then went down a floor into the New Sun Gallery and the Mavericks exhibit where we chose some some more favorites to draw for 5 minute sketches. We enjoyed looking at all the Albertan and Native artifacts as well.
Finally we ended our trip doing some longer copies of paintings on the lowest floor. To sweeten the deal, we even broke out the watercolour boxes to add even more interest to their sketches. We spent around 15 minutes on each these pictures. We enjoyed the new acquisitions as well as an exhibit called Kaleidoscopic Animalia that featured interesting vignettes that were really fun to draw from. Caught a sneak peek of the Group of Seven show that is opening tomorrow too. Bonus!
The thing that makes trips like this really great is that you have to slow down and appreciate one piece for many minutes. Drawing forces you to slow down and see the details. It was neat to see what the girls zeroed in on in each of their drawings. Instead of racing from one object to the next, they probably saw less objects overall but absorbed far more information.
After we went for a special lunch I also showed them a great store to buy pens and journals. Paired with beautiful springlike sunshine and lots of laughter, it was a great field trip. I'm already planning the next one!
FYI this Sunday, Feb 21 2016 is a free admission day for the Glenbow. If you want to take your artists on a sketch trip to try it out, this is a painless time to do it (although it will be much busier) Also, the Glenbow is free from 5-9 the first Thursday of every month for all of 2016.