Fun for Mum at the National Gallery

I fondly remember taking Life Drawing classes few years ago at Victorian Artists Society in Melbourne with Christine Wrest-Smith (I thought her to be a wonderful tutor: friendly, kind, encouraging, enthusiastic, helpful and knowledgeable). Now that I started drawing again I keep on contemplating finding another well-tutored class here in London. Alas due to my current mum commitments I can only attend at weekend, while most of the classes seem to be during the weekdays.

If I can’t go to the class for adults, because I have children; maybe I should use their existence to attend some children art classes. So on Sunday morning my daughter and I travelled to London for the National Gallery Life Drawing workshop for 5-11 year olds. It was based on Nicolas Poussin’s “The Adoration of the Golden Calf” painting and after we sat down in front of it Viyki Turnbull, one of the workshop leaders, talked with the children about the painting. I liked how she got them to really study the painting by combining story telling with asking the children questions and answering theirs.

Next everyone, including the parents, was given some paper and a pencil. I’m not sure if it is the standard practice to involve parents, but since I was planning to draw anyway in my little sketchbook I was happy not to be the only one. For our first exercise we drew one of the figures from the painting without looking at our own drawing or lifting the pencil off the page. For the next one we did outline of a figure (again from the painting), squinted our eyes and used shading to give it more depth. For the third we drew a figure using circular motion.
Sketching from painting
Next it was time to work from two live (clothed) models. We had about 5 minutes to draw a man in red drapes and than another 5 to draw a woman in blue on the same piece of paper though they were posing separately.
Sketching from model
Next came the fun part – drawing the man and the woman together at the same time by holding a pen in each hand. After about 10 minutes we were giving few more to finish the sketch using only one pencil (at which point I pulled out my trusted Staedtler pigment liner – I feel so much more comfortable with it than with the pencil).
Sketching from model
I enjoyed the workshop and my five-and-a half year-old daughter loved it. Both of us studied Poussin’s painting in much more detail than we would on our own. The tutors were great at interacting with children, remembering to encourage them and praise their work. I suspect we’ll be coming back every other Sunday for other workshops.

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