I used to have a book on Paul Cézanne (which I have since donated so it is difficult for me to look up its exact title) that told the story of Cézanne’s early years in Paris. One of the things he did was take trips into the museum with his paints so he could make color studies of the artworks on display.
The paintings he created weren’t exact copies, far from it in fact, but they did help Cézanne build his ideas on color theory and usage.
I remember reading this and thinking about how most museums today don’t even like cameras, let alone paints that could potentially (either by accident or design) get on their priceless works of art.
Well it looks like one museum kind of likes the idea of encouraging visitors to spend a long time focusing on their exhibits.
Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam, recently launched a new campaign called “The Big Draw.” It’s an effort to get museum visitors to ditch cameras and simple snapshots in favor of drawing the artworks in order to more fully appreciate the easy-to-miss details.
Of course we’re talking drawing here as opposed to painting, but for most that’s a much more accessible media anyway. I think this is a fantastic idea, in part because when you’re in a room full of people with sketchbooks and pencils, you become a lot less self-conscious about pulling out a sketchbook and pencil.
As any art teacher will tell you, the best way to improve drawing skill is to spend more time drawing.
One thought comes to mind, though: If fewer people are taking photos of the artworks, will that mean more people will be buying the photo books and postcards the museum is selling in the gift shop?