When my two daughters were much younger we would often take our sketch books to a gallery or museum and while away the afternoon drawing the paintings, sculptures and exhibits found inside.
I had always enjoyed the life-drawing classes at Central Saint Martins but never continued with them after graduation. Taking my children on drawing expeditions felt like a good excuse to pick it up again whilst seeming like a fun and educational family activity.
The lovely simplicity of putting pencil to paper is satisfying and creative. I tried to encourage the girls to enjoy drawing with freedom and not worry about mistakes or to feel that their pictures needed to be too ‘perfect’.
The National Portrait Gallery was always one of our favourite places. It’s great for children because it has lots of pictures of easily recognisable public figures.
These first images are from a visit in October 1999 with my eldest daughter, Romy, who had just turned 6. She would record famous faces in her sketch book while I would try to capture her calm concentration in my own.
The next two drawings are from February 2001. I was an official parent helper assisting with Romy’s school visit to Tate Britain.
The first image is of her class listening patiently to a tour guide talking about David Hockney’s Painting A Bigger Splash which is on the wall in the background.
The second picture shows some quick impressions. I can’t remember which ‘Blake’ Romy was trying to draw but I do remember those suede boots.
The following drawings are from The British Museum’s ‘Big Draw’ event in 2001.
Now in its 13th year, The Big Draw aims to encourage the act of drawing as it ‘makes someone really look – as drawing heightens curiosity’ and ‘Encourages participants to spend 20 to 30 minutes or more really looking at objects through drawing them’. It was at this event that we met legendary Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake.
The final picture is from another National Portrait Gallery visit in May 2002. It shows my youngest daughter, Eve, who was just 5 at the time.
Being a paranoid parent I’ve sometimes wondered whether the children ever felt that they were being dragged along to galleries against their will.
Today I asked Evie whether this was the case. She said that she always remembers them as nice things and doesn’t have any negative feelings about it at all. Which is fine by me.