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How To Create An Art-Lover

While at the Guggenheim Museum yesterday, seeing Visionaries: Creating A Modern Guggenheim, I witnessed an awesome sight–but it wasn’t the art. It was a little girl, still in a stroller, with a sketchbook in hand, attempting to copy a painting by Bonnard. Her mother (presumably) was sitting nearby, but the girl was working on her picture alone.

Initially, though charmed by the pair, I walked by.

But I could not let it pass: I got out my cell phone and snapped a couple of shots. One shows the scene pretty well. Not wanting to invade their privacy–or spoil their moment–I shot it from the back.

I had planned only to share the picture with my Facebook friends. But there it was been liked a lot, and generally brought agreement. One friend wrote that she used to take her kids to the Met  and inform that “they would have to pick one picture in each gallery that they wished they could have, and they had to look at it very closely and tell me what it was about it that made them want it. This could take 5 or even 10 minutes.”

I then wrote about studies I know of in music that have determined that people who learned to play a musical instrument as a child are far more likely to grow up and go to classical music performances than kids who did not. Exposure itself–i.e., going a a concert with a parent–had little or no impact. But playing a musical instrument did. I’d put sketching, as this child is, or being asked to articulate the wonders of an art work, in the same category. Both involve participation.

Taking school groups to museums is laudatory, and welcome, but imho it’s not enough to create lasting art-lovers and lifelong museum-goers.

This mother and child are a great inspiration. And they were having a good time, too!

And, of course, the art was pretty awesome, too.

UPDATE: A friend, just returned from London, snapped this shot at the Tate Britain. Not quite as good as sketching, but looking nonetheless. There is hope!






  1. Wonderful photo! As the saying goes, “A picture is worth. . . .” I love your friend’s comment that her kids had to “tell [her] what it was about [the painting] that made them want it.” It reminded me of when, long ago, my high-school students in art appreciation classes had to write down (to keep it private, at first) if they liked (or disliked) works in projected slides of art, and how much and why. I did the same thing with classical music. – Louis Torres, Co-Editor, Aristos (An Online Review of the Arts)

  2. Jean Tatge says:

    They picked a great painting from which to learn about color as well!

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