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Sketching in Museums

A few months ago, I visited the Art Institute of Chicago with a few fellow artists to view a medieval art exhibition there.  We all brought our sketchbooks and wandered around the hall looking for subjects to sketch.  I sat down on the floor and sketched the model of knight and armored horse for the next two hours.

Finding unusual places to sketch, such as museums, may offer you a chance to draw unusual and complex subjects.  The foreshortening, the angle, and the costuming all presented challenges that had to be solved within a relatively crowded environment.  People would walk in front of the subject constantly, and my angle was limited to where I could sit unobtrusively to draw.  However, working through these challenges all provide growth opportunities as an artist, and I left feeling a sense of accomplishment in having drawn this complex subject.

By giving yourself the opportunity to try challenging subjects in less than ideal conditions, you will develop resiliency and grit as an artist, and you will open yourself up to the possibility of expanding your ability and subject matter.

Have fun!

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Daily Painting – Finding your Subject

The other day, I working at the local co-op gallery that I am a part of, and was scheduled to demo oil painting for customers that stopped by.  There was one problem – I had all of my painting supplies, but I didn’t bring anything to paint!  Luckily, my lunch came with a lime garnish that then became a lovely little painting.   Another day, all I had on hand were some extra tubes of paint from my kit, which then became my subject.

Alla prima sketch paintings are great for practice because they pull you out of your typical subject comfort zone.  When I go in search of subjects for these small paintings, I usually don’t know what I’ll end up painting that day.  

I highly recommend doing these small paintings from life as they allow you to observe objects in varying lighting conditions, with varying shadow qualities.  Replicate what you see as best as you can, but feel free to put some artistic personality in these works.  Because you’re not committing to a large, extensive painting, you can try out new colors or application techniques.

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