The National Portrait Gallery.
So Yesterday I wrote about our morning in Notting Hill, at the famous Portobello Market. Today I am writing about our inspired trip to the National Portrait Gallery. We thought this would be a fun place to visit and we hoped it would capture our kids imaginations about how they could interpret a portrait.
Most of the London galleries are free to enter, all they ask is for a donation so everything is very accessible to all.
The Gallery is a wonderfully calm place and despite the fact that there are a lot of visitors, you can still soak it all in without feeling like you are pushed along.
The gallery cover a good range of history from Tudor and Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian, 20th Century, Contemporary and many more.
The Children loved the contemporary portraits, and they enjoyed the experience of visiting the gallery. We asked them to look out for something that they really liked in the gallery and we could chat about it later. In each room I would sit with one of them and talk about what we could see spotting the detail in some work and in others how the rough mark making of a brush could create a face. Some portraits looked so real you would be forgiven for thinking they were a photograph, but actually they were painted in the most skilled way.
And of course some fantastic photography many of the faces we recognise. The whole experience inspired us to create a theme for the activities we do with our kids this month. We're calling it 'A Month Of Portraits'
Most of these postcards above were chosen by our kids, and each one has a very different approach to portraying the face. I thought it was interesting how already they were making a choice, based on their association and connection with the image. For example Joshua who is only four picked out Christopher Robin with Pooh Bear, Caleb chose Paul McCartney because of the music and beetles connection. Naomi picked out the beautiful Malala Yousafzai painting since she has read and heard so much about her, and the inspiration she has been inspiring girls around the world in education.
So once we were back home from London, the following day we asked the children to pick a postcard to work from and try to copy what they saw, just as a way of identifying and observing.
We all sat down to the task including Joshua, we got some lovely calm music playing and began to draw.
It all began quite nicely with everyone choosing a postcard to copy. There were a few outbursts of exasperation at the difficulty of the task I can't deny, but with a few pointers and the assurance that it was just all about having a go we were away.
Trying to get children to draw what they see is certainly harder than you think. They are so used to using their imagination to make up fantastic drawings, that to observe without artist license can be a struggle.
And with each child thinking someones else's is better than their's or they are the quickest at the task, presents plenty of challenges.
Davinder chose to sketch David Bowie and we were able to talk about the recent sad news of his death and what influence he had on music and the arts.
I drew Malala, not my best sketch but fun to get back to some hand drawing all the same.
Caleb was probably the speediest and was happy to draw his version of King George IV since he had a fantastic uniform and of course the sword.
By the end I think Joshua was just drawing whatever he wanted, but the time spent together as a family around our kitchen table with pencils paper and a bit of music was such a valuable time and we were able to encourage the children and praise them for their great effort.
Why don't you try this with your kids? you may not feel like you have the drawing skills but just try and have a go, get that coffee pot going and a bit of Jazz or classical and enjoy some unique family bonding that will cost you nothing except your time.
Look out for some more posts coming in our 'Month of portraits'
bye for now
If you want to visit the National Portrait Gallery here is the website.
And Many thanks to Elizabeth from the National Portrait Gallery whom I chatted to on the phone to obtain permission to feature a couple of images from the website.