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Sketching at Museums and Galleries

Sketching at Museums and Galleries

Question from William, Drawing Academy student

I went to the local art museum to sketch some classical sculptures. I found it rather difficult to sketch what I know versus what I see. My sketches were terrible, especially since people were walking around and kids were being kids. You are clearly a skilled individual.

I spoke with the front desk staff again before I left and they mentioned the issue of getting a permit for sketching. Is getting a sketching permit a common practice? They said its free, and that I can get a chair and drawing board (also free). I find it funny that they did not mentioned that earlier when I first got there and told them my intentions.

Also, how long should I spend on a sketch at a museum?
Thank you for your time.

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy tutor

Hi William,

The aim of museums is not only to exhibit artworks, but also to provide upcoming artists a possibility to study from the best masters by making copies. Policy of permits varies from museum to museum, but it is more or less a common practice.

I haven’t come across a museum that would not allow sketching, although in many filming and photography is forbidden.

In some museums, an artist has to arrange a permit to paint in oils. In such cases a museum could provide a painting easel, which is very handy. In others, an artist can simply draw in a sketchbook and no permits are necessary.

Regarding how much time should you spend on making copies, it depends on what your goals are. Copying great works of art improves your techniques and forms your creative style. Nevertheless, drawing and painting after someone else’s artworks is copying, after all. By solely copying you can get into a trap of a reproducer who is not able to draw an original artwork from imagination or life. So, go for a rule 20/80 – spending one-fifth of your time on making copies and the rest on drawing from life, memory and imagination.

Sketching at Museums and Galleries

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