Education, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Draw a Tree with Us—It’s Easy!

I have the good fortune to spend my days on a hillside with a view, in buildings filled with artistic treasures and surrounded by gardens. Still, I often amaze myself at how infrequently I take advantage of what’s around me. Somehow, my days as a developer of educational experiences for visiting kids and families rapidly fill with e-mail, meetings, and the general flurry of tasks.

So I was particularly thrilled recently to reconnect with the fun of artistry while talking with Kelly Williams, a project specialist here in the Getty Museum’s Education Department, about the Family Drawing Hour workshop she was planning in conjunction with the photographs exhibition In Focus: The Tree. A free program, Family Drawing Hour combines a gallery visit with fun drawing projects.

In this workshop, Kelly planned to look at images of trees with family visitors and share some techniques for drawing them. When I expressed further curiosity about what these techniques might be, she got out her drawing pad and gave me my own private five-minute lesson on how to draw a tree.

While I’m somewhat comfortable with a sketch pad as a result of several art classes in college, I usually feel too rusty now to pull one out and play around. But that hesitation soon melted and I was inspired to grab a pad and head outside to try my hand at creating one of the amazing tree drawings I had just seen Kelly produce before my eyes in a matter of minutes. (That’s my tree below.) By working with negative space—sketching in the tree’s form and then creatively erasing—you can create a dramatic tree without rendering leaves and branches in detail.

Perhaps you’re like me, someone who needs a little extra nudging or inspiration to turn on your artistic mind and pick up a pad? So Kelly agreed to give an encore five-minute tree drawing lesson on video to share with you using one of Myoung Ho Lee’s photographs of a tree as inspiration (pictured below). At your next coffee break, or with your kids this weekend, I invite you to grab your pencil, pad, and eraser, and give it a try.

Kelly uses several charcoal pencils, a kneaded eraser, some tissues and a sketchpad, and gets great results with these materials, but being a minimalist, I tried using the #2 pencils and eraser that I could find at my desk.

<em>Tree</em>, Myoung...

Tree #11, Myoung Ho Lee, 2005. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.893.1. Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council. © Myoung Ho Lee, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Tree drawing by Rebecca Edwards inspired by Myoung Ho Lee's photograph

Come meet Kelly and be inspired to draw some more at Family Drawing Hour, offered on selected Saturdays from October through May. “Tremendous Trees” is offered on May 7; a related theme, “Our Natural World,” is the topic on April 16 and May 21.

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.


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