English sculptor Henry Moore once said: “Drawing, even for people who cannot draw, even for people not trying to produce a good drawing, makes you look more intensely.” The practice of drawing can help us to see and understand our worlds better. Even young children start to draw as soon as they can drag their fingers through the sand.
Seventeenth-century naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian used drawing to study the life cycles of insects starting when she was only 13 years old, and through her close-up explorations was one of the first naturalists to understand metamorphosis. Similarly, Michelangelo used drawing as a way to study the human body, making detailed sketches of muscles, bones, and even blood vessels.
Drawing together with your children is a great way to connect with each other and with your environment, to look and see together, and to build a little humor into your day. Whether you’re an experienced artist or someone who rarely picks up a pencil, you can see your world through a new lens by drawing—and also have some fun while you’re at it.
Concerned your drawings may not be very good? No worries—it’s a great opportunity to model persistence and patience for your children! Best of all? No need to go shopping—just a pencil or pen, and any scrap of paper will do!
Below, we share inspiration from art and artists in the Getty collection to guide you through five activities.
1. Draw a Hairdo
2. Find a Tiny Creature
Find a tiny creature outside your front door; you shouldn’t have to go far. Maybe it’s an ant or a spider. Take a photo with your phone—quick! before it crawls away—then try to sketch it from your photo. For inspiration, take a look at Maria Sibylla Merian’s The Caterpiller Book, Man Ray’s butterflies, and Durer’s stag beetle.
3. Celebrate Spring!
4. Draw your Pet (Real or Imaginary)
Make a portrait of your pet—or the pet you wish you had. See how other artists celebrated their pets in this portrait of a majestic pet and this portrait of an extra cuddly friend. If you’re into horses, here’s some inspiration, and here’s a selection of some of the best cats in the Getty collection.
5. Use Short Lines
Pick an object in your home—any object will do! Now, try to draw it by using only a bunch of short parallel(-ish) lines. Observe how Vincent van Gogh made an entire portrait using only short lines. Be patient! This challenge may take a few tries.
Let us know how it goes, and share your inspiration in the comments!