Sunday, October 2, 2011

Viewing A Painting: Sketching in A Museum

Leslie here.  Last month I traveled to the Netherlands with my husband, who had business in the area.
One of our favorite things to do is visit the amazing art museums.  Among the treasures in the Mauritshuis Museum in Den Haag is a small painting by Carel Fabritius called "The Goldfinch".  I'm captivated by this small painting, which the artist painted shortly before his death in 1654.  I can't explain what it is about this painting that draws me in.  I just know that it haunts me long after I view it.
This year, I took my sketchbook into the museum and spent a bit of time doing a quick drawing.  I think that, while viewing the painting as I draw, I go deeper into it.  I'm looking at the nuances of the painting in a different way because I am drawn into the shapes and I look more carefully at the cast-shadows.

Later, in my room, I took my small box of gouache paints and continued to work.  I began the drawing on a gessoed page that had splatters from the adjoining page.  I like the imperfections they create under the painting.

Since I had some letter & number stencils in my little travel kit I decided to paint the artist's name and the date the painting was created.  There are a few things wrong with the size of the perch, as compared to the original, but I'm not concerned about that.  For me, the joy was in the seeing, the drawing, the painting.  
Have you ever taken your sketchbook into an art gallery to draw from a painting or sculpture?  I'm interested to read about your experiences.


  1. I love this Leslie! Your shading is wonderful as well as your color mixing. I love to sketch in the museum too!

  2. ..well I'm not an 'artist' but I sure love seeing what artists can do. I enjoyed your post and the little goldfinch is captivating on the watercan. I like that you had your lettering stencils with you and could add relevant detail like you did.

  3. Hi Leslie, I was in a museum a couple of weeks ago and used two different "media" to copy a couple of paintings. One I completed at home but the other I did in it's entirety in the museum, only adding text later while in the train heading home. This is where you can see what I did.

  4. Have never done that, but sounds really exciting. I'm sure it adds new levels to the experience.

  5. Several years ago, I visited the Mauritshuis Museum and this painting was one of my favourites, after Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring".
    Never tried drawing while at a museum though. I know it's a time honoured method for artist's to learn while viewing the masters, but I always felt slightly intimidated to try this.

    Your painting is wonderful and just might be inspiration enough for me to try one day.

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  7. Beautiful Leslie! I have sketched in museums before but only with a black pen. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Love, violette

  8. I love these birds. Am waiting for them to start singing :)


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