Museum Sketching

One of my students asked me about museum sketching, and I thought my answer would make a nice blog post:

This is me sketching from Velazquez’ Las Meninas in the Prado museum in Madrid, Spain a few years ago. There was a near-constant crowd of people in front of this painting so I started the sketch while standing further back, with people crossing my view. But most people look at a painting for just a minute or 2, then move away, so pretty quickly I was able to step forward and have a clear view, for about 30 minutes. Once people see you drawing they tend to stay out of your way, but you have to be a bit bold. I wear earbud headphones so I can focus, otherwise drawing with people so near me is too hard.

In the Prado photos are strictly forbidden, and the guards watch closely, so my husband snapping this pic was also quite the accomplishment as well. We both felt pretty victorious after this!

My favorite sketching pencil is the Palomino Blackwing. The lead has a wide value range, great for when it’s too cumbersome to switch pencils for different leads. You can buy a portable sharpener for them, same brand, that makes a nice long sharp point, and the pencil has a relatively good eraser, in case you forget (or lose) a bit of kneaded eraser. I always like to draw on the same Strathmore 400 paper I recommend to students who take my online drawing lessons, they have small pads in a couple comfortable sizes.

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