The National Gallery of Ireland has downloads of its masterpieces for kids to colour in for National Drawing Day
Is there a budding artist in your house?
This Saturday, May 16 2020, is National Drawing Day and it's being marked by a wide range of museums, libraries and cultural organisations right across the country. Chief among them is the National Gallery of Ireland.
When I was a child, I often visited the National Gallery with my family. I will always remember one mid-term break from school when my granny took me to drawing sessions for kids that were taking place in the gallery.
A huge group of under 10s sat on the floor in front while one of the curators explained the story behind the painting that we were looking at. We then all drew our own versions of the painting with crayons and coloured pencils.
I've never been particularly good at drawing – I much prefer to craft than art – but I remember really enjoying that day and being immensely proud of my own rendition of St Jerome removing a thorn from a lion's paw.
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Inspired by #NationalDrawingDay (coming up this Saturday, you’ll find all the details in our bio!) our Work of the Day is a drawing by the beloved Irish artist Harry Clarke, called The Travelling Companion. This is an illustration of a story from Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. It shows a princess being transformed into a witch, with jet-black wings, by an evil magician. The vivid colours and fantastical detail in the drawing bring this magical fairytale to life. Notice the many different patterns the artist, Harry Clarke, included in the picture, from the wizard’s chequered pants, to the princess’s floral dress, to the bird’s feathers. In 1913, Harry Clarke, aged 24, was given his first major book illustration commission by George Harrap and Company, a prominent London publisher. This prestigious job involved producing 40 full-page illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. Clarke completed the commission in Dublin in April 1915. The book was published the following autumn to great praise. - ✂️?ACTIVITY IDEA: Create an illustration of your favourite character from a story or fairy tale. Use colour to capture the mood and atmosphere of the story; what colours would you use for a spooky or mysterious story, or for a happy and funny story? - #NationalGalleryIRL #nationalgalleryirlathome #NationalDrawingDay #harryclarke #irishart #NationalGalleryIRLEducation
More importantly, it began a life-long love of the National Gallery for me, and set the tone of my interaction with it: not seeing it as somewhere serious and unwelcoming but a collection of fascinating stories told through a collection of art that belongs to every single Irish person.
It's sadly not possible to visit the Gallery at the moment but your little ones can still begin their own relationship with the national art collection for this weekend's Drawing Day. Log on to its website where you'll find a selection of art themed activities that the whole family can enjoy, as well as links to other galleries and institutions celebrating Drawing Day.
I particularly love the 'colour the collection' section, which has free downloads of some of the Gallery's most famous paintings for kids to colour in. They include Woman Reading a Letter by Gabrielle Metsu, Boy Eating Cherries by Pierre Bonard and The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by William Frederick Burton, which is my own favourite painting from the collection.
If National Drawing Day leaves your little ones eager for more gallery goodness, there's also a virtual tour available online.