Field Trips and Young Artists

Posted by on Jun 13, 2010 in blog, illustration

sketches from field trip to National Gallery

One of the things I’ve always tried to do throughout both my kids school lives is chaperone on every field trip. That being said, I can relate to the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Well, not “everywhere” but I have been to crazy places, some weird, some downright awful. I won’t even go into the story about my daughter’s second grade field trip to a local nature reserve where the surly park ranger (who should’ve never been allowed to work with young children) told the children that squirrels ate baby birds and were nothing more than “tree rats”. This may be true, but one just doesn’t unleash that sort of info on wide-eyed, ponytailed little girls. It was devastating.

Now that my daughter is in a special high-school for the arts, the field trips are more up my alley. We recently took the entire school’s visual arts students— seniors to freshman— to D.C. to visit the National Gallery. This is well-charted territory for Katie and me. We’ve gone to the gallery more than a few times and have a tradition of day-trips to the Nation’s Capitol, riding the Metro from Springfield, VA.

This was a fun trip for the simple reason that it was with a group of kids that actually wanted to see the museum and have an interest in art. I had four under my watch, two girls, Katie and “Skittles” (a junior) and two freshie boys, “Lip” (he has two lip rings) and Spencer. We stayed in a sector of the gallery en masse, but the kids were free to wander about that area and view the artwork. As a chaperone, I just had to make sure they were rounded up in the herd when we moved on to the next section. I am proud to report that I didn’t lose anyone. (whew!)

The kids seemed to enjoy the artwork. Many were impressed by an exhibit of German Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1580–1900. I was humbled by the intricate, delicate renderings and the sketchbooks (OMG — I’m not worthy!).

The collections in the National Gallery are, as one would expect, first class. I am disappointed that it seems to be the least travelled of the museums that grace the perimeter of the National Mall. If you happen to live near or travel to D.C., I highly recommend a visit.

What I don’t recommend is taking a two and a half hour trip (two ways) on a school bus (budget cuts eliminated using a tour bus) when you are over 30. I don’t know if it’s the rough roads up and down I95 (budget cuts – again!) or that the bus was in dire need of shocks, but my backside was so happy to see the end of that trip and my VW’s, ergonomic leather seats!

It wasn’t easy to draw on the bus, but I managed. I’ve posted a spread from my trip, above! Maybe next field trip will be on a tour bus or at least a vehicle with some shock absorption.