Just a little bit “sketch-y”

When you imagine walking into a museum gallery what do you see? Paintings on the wall and a hushed quiet filling the room? A group of school children sitting on the floor engaged in animated conversation with their teacher? College students deep in thought as they sketch the works before them?

On any given day, you can see any one of these scenes here at the Dallas Museum of Art. We’ve shared many ideas on the blog about how to create a family visit that is more than just a “drive-by” race through the galleries (click here, or here), and I thought today I’d share some ideas on using sketching as a way to help your children “see” with their eyes and their hands.

Sketching in the galleries is an easy, no-fuss activity—all you need is paper and pencil, and you don’t need to do a lot of legwork to make it happen. Just stuff a notebook and a pencil case in your bag, and you are ready to go! And even better, all ages can sketch. From scribblers to experienced draftsmen, everyone can do something when it comes sketching. (And I say this as a self-proclaimed non draw-er!) The goal isn’t to produce an exact replica of the work of art before you. Rather, through the act of sketching, you’ll notice details you didn’t see before, experience somewhat of the process the artist might have experienced, gain a hands-on understanding of how the parts of the artwork relate to the whole, and get new ideas for your own art-making. With the drawing games below, sketching in the galleries can even be a way to create fun family memories.


  • Pictionary: Choose a work of art and have your child turn her back to the piece. Describe the work of art so that your child can sketch what she imagines the piece to look like based on your description. When she is ready, look at her sketch alongside the word of art. What is similar? What is different? Trade places and play again.
  • From Many Angles: Have your child choose a work of art to sketch from several different angles. What does he notice from different viewpoints? Seeing with new eyes is an important skill, not just in looking at art, but in understanding life situations and learning to see others’ point of view.
  • Half and Half: Have each family member choose a work of art to sketch. When everyone is at a good stopping point, tear your sketches in half and trade one half with another family member. Now start a new creation, incorporating the two drawings into one.
  • Crazy Sketchbooks: Make a homemade sketch book out of different types of paper. Staple together lined writing paper, scraps of old maps, graph paper, watercolor paper, wrapping paper, paper grocery sacks, transfer paper, scrapbook paper, and so on. How does drawing on each type of surface feel differently? Which do you prefer?

 Spring break is coming up soon, and the DMA will be a perfect getaway for the day. Bring your paper  and pencils and try out some of our “sketch-y” ideas!

 Posted by: Leah


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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, In the galleries, Parents, PreK

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