drawn into nature

at this National Gallery of Art family workshop Drawn into Nature, we explored the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and learned about her interest in nature, color, and abstraction. we then used soft pastels and conté crayon to make our own artwork.


sail into seascapes

mercyGirl, prayerGirl and I attended a family workshop
at the national gallery of art for the first time.
i thought the stories in art programs for ages 4 – 7 were great,
but this family workshop for children ages 8 – 11 (and their parents)
was an amazing experience.

in sail into seascapes, we explored 17th–century Dutch seascapes,
learned about the symbolism behind different weather conditions,
and afterward the girls created monotypes.



i love how this workshop expanded their art vocabulary.


help keep the National Gallery of Art homeschool-friendly

the winter drop-in programs at the National Gallery of Art
are starting again.
Stories in Art, for ages 4-7, includes spending time looking at one artwork in the collection,
reading a related story,
and then making their own artwork.

in Artful Conversations children ages 8 – 11 and their families spend a whole hour
exploring a single work of art with a museum educator as their guide.

they say that most people spend less than 10 seconds
looking at a single piece of artwork.
these educators are skilled at guiding our eyes to what we may not normally notice
in our average gallery stroll.
after we’ve finished with a program,
i always feel like we’ve made a new friend

we attended Artful Conversations this past weekend
and spent time with French painter Francis Picabia’s The Procession, Seville.


when we met The Procession it was a pyramidal jumble of geometric shapes.
when we left, we knew where Picabia got his inspiration,
had a more clear idea what the painting was about,
why he painted it in the style that he did,
and we did a little sketching of our own.

i love the format of these mini-workshops.
as a homeschooling mom,
i enjoy learning alongside my children
and watching them interact with other educators in our world.

we’ve been attending either Stories in Art or Artful Conversations
for about three years, i think.
our attendance is a testimony unto itself.

here’s where i need your help:
looking at the winter schedule i notice that there are less workshops each day
and less days of workshops.
they used to have at least one weekday of workshops
and they used to have an additional workshop at 2:30pm.

like many other kids,
my kids have Saturday-morning activities,
so that the 2:30pm session that they used to have worked perfectly for us.
as a matter of fact, we would usually get to the sign-up table at 2:29PM.
it was also great to have the less crowded weekday option
available for those of us that don’t attend school.

would you join me in contacting the museum at (202) 789-3030 or family@nga.gov
to politely request that they offer these insightful family programs
once during the week
and/or a little later in the early weekend-afternoons?

thank you in advance,
and we’ll see you there.

matisse cuts up

last january, the educators at the national gallery of art
began their winter stories in art series
investigating modern and contemporary art with henri matisse’s huge cut out piece,
“les betes de la mers”.

they carefully observed and analyzed this work from top to bottom, left to right,
listened to “a bird or two: a story about henri matisse” by bijou le tord,

and then used their informed imagination to create their own cut-out masterpieces.

we always enjoy mike venezia’s “getting to know the world’s greatest artists” series,
including his book on matisse:

for those closer to baltimore, the baltimore museum of art
has several matisse’s as a part of its cone collection
and an entertaining interactive web site to explore
matisse’s use of props, color and patterns.

next month, these young investigators will eyeball one of my personal favorite artists: georgia o’keeffe.

david smith’s voltri vii

david smith was the final modern artist the girls investigated
at the winter series of the national gallery of art‘s stories in art program.

after reading Half of an Elephant by gusti,
in which an elephant goes on a humorous journey to find his missing half,
they examined an assemblage sculpture of david smith
— voltri VIII —
and then assembled their own sculpture with wood and metal.

david smith's voltri VII
surrounded by Impressionist paintings while reading Half an Elephant

the girls decided to work independently
— like on opposite sides of the room —
and came up with remarkably similar creations.
great minds think alike.

their prize for attending all three sessions of the winter stories in art:
a hard-back copy of Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder
(by tanya lee stone and boris kulikov),
one of the artists that they’d studied earlier.

i wonder what the national gallery of art has up their curator’s sleeve for the spring?

at jim dine’s gate

we attended part two of the national gallery of art‘s
family program investigating modern and contemporary art
as a part of their winter stories in art series.

after reading how an old man uses discarded scrap metal to create a forest
in helen ward’s the tin forest,

we examined jim dine’s assemblages sculpture, the gate, goodbye vermont
made of tools, steel and wood.

jim dine makes art that allows him to pay homage
to the people he loves and places he’s been.
he used to play in his father’s paint store
and grandfather’s hardware store while growing up.
later, as an artist, he would often travel to get inspiration for his work.
while in france, he had a view of an ornate gate from the window of his room
where he did his sketches.

after examining dine’s piece from top to bottom and left to right
and listening to marjorie — our guide — read his explanation of the work,
the kids took that inspiration and,
using colorful chenille pipe cleaners and flower foam,
created a modern masterpiece of their own.

here is radianceGirl’s assemblage installed on her window sill at home:

"garden of horse" by radianceGirl